Mission Accomplished

28 05 2012

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a fisherman in possession of the good fortune to catch small fish must be in want of larger fish.

Such was the case with me, as the small trout and white bass haul was certainly teaching me Fishing 101, but me being me, I wanted to go for the rough stuff to challenge myself early on. My target: Carp.

I’ll pause here to give some love to the Carp Anglers Group, and specifically, their Carping for Beginners article as it, and they, certainly helped me along on my quest to land The Big One.

However, me being me, I didn’t do it exactly as they spelled it out. About the only thing that I did copy was chumming with sweet corn (not 800 pounds worth, though) and threading 4 kernels on a hook.

My setup was to lean my rod with the drag set “slack” against a picnic bench near our local carp-infested pond. And it’s not just carp-infested, I mean this is Slob-o City, man. What I’d been doing was threading my line with a walking sinker, then a barrel swivel, then a leader with a hook at the end threaded with corn. Because the pond is so chummed up with corn (it’s the go-to bait of the locals) there was no need to cast the line outward, rather I just slackened the line a bit and set it down where I wanted to target the fish.

Naturally, carp are bastards, and their suck ‘n blow feeding method had a tendency to bury my baited hook in a leaf pile, rendering it useless. It took a few tries to set the hook down on a bare patch where leaf-burial wasn’t an option. The next trick was, the carp would freak out when they saw my sinker, and/or my yellow FireLine® leader. Hey, I improvised.

Yesterday, persistence paid off and inside of 10 minutes I hooked two monster carp. As I had never caught a fish that big before, I didn’t realize that there’s no clearing a 2-foot gap from water line to shore line. I don’t own a fishing net so that added to the challenge. Both carp got away with no chance for a “prove it” photo.

Me being me, I stewed on the problem all night but didn’t come up with much in the way of new ideas. I tried fishing for carp this morning, got a bit after a while, but the fish spat the hook out right away.

Discouraged, I Googled around for new ideas and considered some doughbait ideas, but after further review, I considered the facts:

  • Carps is bastards.
  • They can see my line, and/or my sinker.
  • The sinker may not be necessary for *my* fishing rig.

Since I wasn’t casting (casting about for answers, yes, but not throwing the line), and the corn I was chumming sank to the bottom anyway, why use a sinker? I changed my line to Crystal FireLine® which claimed “ultra low-visibility” and picked up some finesse hooks. And I got bigger cans of corn.

According to one of my fishing apps, 6:00pm (ish) today was as prime a time as it was going to get today. Fish then, and fish ON.

I had my hook in the water at 6:02pm. No pressure.

Here’s why you need a sinker: It was a really strong wind at my back, and with the line slackened the hook was traveling all over the pond floor, and right into – without any carp assistance – a leaf pile. I re-set my hook on the pond floor in a barren patch, chummed up the water some more, and waited.

POW! Fish on!

This time, after some initial wrangling, I snapped a “prove it” photo to show that yes, I really can hook carp. Not land, but we’ll get to that.

Fish on, baby

Fish on!

Next, I thought I was super clever with my chosen location this time as there was a graduated step up from the water to the shore. I’d theoretically have to hoist the fish up one foot, then up another onto the grass for hook removal and photos.

The good news: The finesse hook was totally the right answer. I horsed that fish up and down the shore line until I was good and ready to get him to the landing zone, and the fish never had a chance to escape.

The bad news: No, you can’t hoist a fish that big up 12 inches without a net either.

Luckily, I had a Plan B, but I just didn’t want to use it. There was a deep (and slimy) cutaway a few yards away that for sure would have landed the fish. I horsed him away from my preferred landing zone and slid the fish into the cutaway, then had to lay on my stomach and reach down to pick up the fish.

As I did so, I told the fish out loud (this is true) that I wasn’t going to hurt it, I just wanted my well-earned photo and I’d put it back in the water, alive and well. I had to figure out how to safely slip my hands under the fish to lift it up onto the grass. Once it was safely landed, I removed the hook quickly and fumbled for my phone.

Slob-o

Check out that slobbo.

It drives me crazy when people on those fishing shows take what seems to be a small eternity to put the fish back in the water when they say they’re doing catch and release fishing. Apparently fish can live longer out of water than I think they can, but either way I don’t like to dilly-dally. One more photo (I call this the MySpace pic) before release:

MySpace pic

Me and my slobbo.

After all was said and done, I made good on my promises and made sure the fish was well aerated before letting go of its tail and letting it dart off into the pond. I tossed the remainder of one of my tubs of corn into the water for the fish to enjoy and I packed up. Considering the whole event couldn’t have taken more than 10 minutes from initial hook set to release, I felt the adrenaline for well over an hour.

THIS is why people like to fish for carp, I reckon.

I don’t plan on making a regular habit of carp fishing (I’m really not a fan of hurry-up-and-wait fishing styles) but I’m really happy that I stuck to my goal and accomplished it.

Now to catch a pike.

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