My brother Chris and my best friend Nick’s birthdays are the 25th and 26th, so, in addition to getting them some assorted lures and plastics, I decided to play Mr. Fishing Guide (inspired primarily by John Gierach’s “No Shortage Of Good Days” which I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying) and take them to a few of the spots in my area. Targeted species were largemouth, smallmouth and carp. First stop was the local ponds. I pulled a Texas rigged worm tail out of a bass’ mouth and Chris had one spit the bit at the surface. Beyond that, nothing doing. So we went to the local creek where I caught my first carp, as I know Chris has wanted to catch a carp for some time now. I let him use my 7 foot heavy action shit kicker with new 10lb line on it. I opted for my Berkley/Quantum ultralight combo with fresh 4lb test on it. I lined up the smallest hook I have (probably like a #12) and baited it with a pea-sized ball of wheat bread. Chris had a number 3 offset worm hook with a wheat bread ping pong ball on it. I told everyone to let the bread ball chill on the bottom and I would distract the overly aggressive and hungry creek chubs from taking their bait with my ultralight.
After hooking and releasing a chub before anyone else even had a line in the water, I had a feeling things would go as planned. After everyone was baited up and lines in, though, it all slowed down. The chubs weren’t even biting. I saw the big mud clouds in the water which are always the signal that the massive carp in the tiny creek have startled, but there wasn’t much action going on. After someone vacated the far bank of the creek, I wandered over and let the slow current drag my hook under the bridge up against the concrete wall when I felt a strike. Assuming it was a chub, I started to reel in. My rod immediately doubled over and I became acutely aware of the fact that I had, despite my best efforts, hooked a carp. On my 5′ 6″ ultralight. With 4# line. Assuming my line was about to snap, just like the other times I had hooked carp on insufficient gear, decided to open up the drag so it could take some line. This creek is not wide, but on my immediate left is a small tunnel where the creek passes under the road, and to the right the creek bends off into the woods. I knew if it got too far in either direction my line would snag somewhere and snap, so I was relieved when it seemed content to make it’s runs up and down the straight section we were on. More importantly, though, I was having a knock-down-drag out fight with a big carp in a small creek on small tackle, and this time I had a viewing gallery with me to see how fun it was. I was, as Alex stated in his 2012 goals, “messing with the drag and shit,” giving enough to let him wear down, but rearing back when he got too far for my comfort. Under the bridge and back up the creek. Darting back and forth. I kept a hand on the line to gauge it’s tautness and adjusted the drag accordingly. A minute or so into this, the shore turned into a Marx brothers episode. Alex (henceforth referred to as FISH GLOVE) was scrambling to find his FISH GLOVES and pliers to help me bring this guy to land. Nick was trying to find my camera to document it. Chris…he was busy, as he hooked himself a carp while I was battling with mine. Half-giddy, half-panicked on the other side of the creek, Chris clearly had his hands full. FISH GLOVE did an excellent job settling Chris down, reminding him he had more than enough leverage and strength in that line to land the fish, all while he was trying to reach down and bring my carp ashore. Once he had clearly worn down I began fighting back a bit, horsing him in to a point where FISH GLOVE could reach down with his FISH GLOVES and pick him up. Right as he did that…the line snapped. Luckily for me, FISH GLOVE was wearing his FISH GLOVES and the tuckered out carp didn’t seem to realize he had been liberated, so FISH GLOVE managed to scoop him out and hand him to me. FISH GLOVE then deftly removed the hook with his handy dandy pliers and I instructed him to head over to Captain Gayhab and assist him in landing his birthday carp while Nick snapped a photo op of me with mine.
On the east bank, Chris was having a similar fight, albeit a less nerve-wracking one since he had proper gear. It looked a little something like this.
His fish was running too, and after I got mine back in the water, I put my rod down and went over to help. FISH GLOVE was still on FISH GLOVE duty, I had commandeered the pliers and Bassmaster Nick was still acting as documentarian. After another minute or so of fight, FISH GLOVE managed to bring a much bigger carp (measured over 26″) out of the water. Bassmaster Nick snapped this excellent shot, showcasing the legit excitement on the faces of Gayhab and FISH GLOVE as I got the hook out.
It was really, really fun. Much more exciting than catching a garbage-eating carp in 3 feet of water on a ball of Target brand wheat bread should have been, but, we aren’t discriminating anglers, and hooking anything that big that fights that hard with friends cheering us on is thrill enough, and instead of exploring mountain streams for steelhead or chartering a boat to go fish for marlin in the Pacific (or the Atlantic…wherever the fuck marlin live), we are pretty happy to just hook a dumb old carp in a creek on the side of the road a mile from my house.
We wrapped up here not long after releasing the second carp and headed to the Fox to see if we could get Alex and Nick on the board for the day, but they ended up shut out, unfortunately. Nonetheless, what was their first outing of the year (and possibly last one on their soon-to-expire licenses), turned out to be a fun one. FISH GLOVE got a cool new nickname, and I bought coffee and donuts for everybody, too.