Friday, July 6, 2012

C'mon, C'mon, Let's Go Carp Huggin'

* Sung to the tune of Space Truckin' by Deep Purple
Photo by Michelle Woo Bowman
Recently I had the pleasure of doing some social media support for a fishing contest. I also paid, like everyone else, to enter and compete. This was The Carp Throw Down held at Lake Henshaw and hosted by Al Q, Conway Bowman and had the participation of a great collection of cats. Most were from So Cal. I have never competed in an actual tournament and add to this the fact that I was fishing new water. I was happy to fly the newbie flag on this weekend. The whole experience was in great company which added a lot to the experience as well. Even while competing, some of the guys would share ideas and words of encouragement. It was clear that some had dialed it all in better than others and had I not fished the previous day AND had some great help from Randy, I would have had a slower start.
For those following this event the word spread like wildfire that we were catching Carp on hopper imitations. The area was so rife with these that they would flush by the hundreds as you walked the shore. Needless to say, many could be seen int he water. There were, however, some lulls in the bite during which I did some experimenting. People often use various buggers as go to flies for Carp but I and others only scored catfish when we did this. I haven't polled all of the anglers so this is purely what I observed within a closer circle. Seeing that the fish were cruising just below the surface but not always rising to a hopper, I had success with a trout rig (hopper and dropper). Quite humorously, the dropper was an actual #16 mayfly pattern. Feeling goofy and forgetting that it was a competition, I used a beadhead lightning bug. I had the dropper a mere 8 inches under the hopper. I caught carp and also got catfish this way. As the day wore on, it was clear that channel cats were surface feeding too. Saw it with my own eyes yessir!
At one point, a dust devil blasted us for a few seconds. At this time, it brought a ton of debris into the water and I witnessed a small flury of surface activity as the carp swam around checking out what may have been blown in. They were very aware of what just happened. It was a sight to see. A flotsam hatch! The whole ecosystem of the lake and the environs was right there before your eyes. Abundant fish, numerous birds of prey, lots of food for the fish in the form of terrestrials and tons of birds in general appreciating the bugs. On the night that I camped, I awoke to hear someone's dog getting attacked and killed by coyotes. There was no doubt about it. The soundtrack told a story and ended with a celebratory wave of yelps and howls that resonated through the valley in a bizarre movement not unlike the "wave" at a sports event. It was all in your face.
Some great images are at the Facebook page as well as the CTD official site. Here are the links: and A closing note is a hats off to Dave Wratchford who won the event in the Wading Division and in the Total Count category. He fished with focus and nary any breaks. He also pre-fished with similar determination. Add to this skill and a quiver of smart techniques and he took the prize; well deserved.

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