After we got back from Mexico, I started having this desire to catch different fish. Now...there's absolutely nothing wrong with trout but catching Bones and Tarpon really expanded my horizon's and I wanted a way to do that here in Colorado because I know that it will make me a better fly fisherman both here and the next time we go anywhere there's salt water. Years ago when I first started fly fishing, I always wondered if Carp could be caught on a fly but I was so new to the sport that I was in way over my head. So when I started thinking about "different" fish, Carp were the first thing that came to mind.
Carp are an interesting fish. A lot of people think they are trash fish and bottom feeders but this isn't necessarily true. Carp eat anything. I've seen them sip off the surface, eat things while suspended, and dig around in the mud looking for leeches or crustaceans. The other intriguing thing about Carp is that they are constantly mixing things up in terms of what they eat or where they are at. They are extremely hard to figure out and incredibly challenging to land on a fly. So...this seemed like a good idea at the time.
I started fishing a smaller lake in Colorado Springs about a week ago but I came home frustrated (really I was pissed off) almost every day. The bank was really not a good fit for me and the wind wasn't helping me either. I would always see groups of 15 or so Carp cruising around, some would suspend, some would break the surface with their mouths, and some were digging. No matter what I threw at them, they spooked. I also spent an enormous amount of time retrieving snagged flies from bushes and trees after my back cast. This alone is maddening.
My friend Scott kept telling me about a pond at his work that was packed with Carp so I decided to drive up and check it out on Monday. Sure enough, there was no shortage of big Carp. The issue for me, again, was that the trees and layout was just killing me and the fish were just out of reach every time. I fished that pond for several hours in the heat before I got fed up and decided to try to find fish on the South Platte. After looking at a map, I made it to a spot and got ready. I was a little hesitant to wet wade in the river because of concerns with pollution so I put on my waders. I walked quite a ways in that heat in those waders. I was suffering. Finally, I started to see fish. Big fish. But the water was really slow at that point and I kept spooking the fish and I was so uncomfortable. I was very dehydrated when I decided to call it and get back to the car. Stupidly, I had not drank any water all day and seriously thought I was going to pass out while walking back to the car. When I took off my waders, my shorts were soaked from sweat. I told Scott that I would give him a ride home and once we got to his house and I sat in the AC, I started feeling better but I was still incredibly upset that I couldn't figure out these Carp.
I crashed at Scott's place and was feeling better in the morning. I drank a bunch of water before leaving the house and made sure to bring several bottles with me as it was supposed to be another hot day. I looked over the maps and decided to go to another location (still on the Platte though). I immediately spotted fish from a bridge and found a way to get down to the bank. I decided not to wear waders today and just figured I would try to work form the shore. That didn't last long and, ultimately, I ended up in the river but I was significantly cooler.
Straight away I could see some large fish and I was really liking the water in this stretch. It had a lot of riffles instead of deeper and slower moving pools. Water clarity left a lot to be desired but this was in a very urban setting so it's probably as good as it gets. Within 45 minutes, I had a hook up but it only lasted 15 seconds and the line went slack and I growled. Within another 30 minutes, I had another take but it also didn't last long. The fish were significantly less skittish and if I led things far enough out, I could easily make multiple drifts with a double nymph rig before they got spooked and drifted off. I found another fish and hooked up on the second drift and it felt solid. Immediately, the drag started screaming and it made a huge run upstream and to the far side of the river. We yo-yo'ed back and forth for about 15 minutes and I was really starting to think that I would not get this fish to the net. I honestly thought the 5 weight rod might break. Eventually I was able to finesse the fish to the bank and I got the net ready. I went to scoop it up and it ran again. We did this three more times and finally I was able to get it in the net. I screamed. Then I realized I had an audience. It was a couple of guys that appeared pretty rough and dirty. I suspect they were homeless because they had quite a bit of stuff with them. They gave me 2 thumbs up and I screamed again and threw a hand in the air.
I snapped this picture and then thought I took about 10 more from different angles. I had one where I was holding the fish with one hand and several underwater shots. None turned out but this one. I was so bummed after checking the photos after reviving it. This fish was probably a bit under 10 pounds and taped at about 24 inches. I was soaked when I got done.
Afterwards, I walked up under the bridge to find one of the homeless fellas. I kinda startled him and apologized and then realized that he was firing up a big bowl. He asked me if I wanted a hit but I declined. Then he was curious about what I caught. We talked for a few minutes while he got high. It was then that I started to put together all of the things from the last 2 days. It was super tough. The water can be a bit dirty and stinky. I got a lot of weird looks but I also got a few props and one guy rode by on a bike and yelled, "Stick em!" I learned a ton. I love fishing for trout but I will for sure do this again. Hopefully soon.