There was a storm brewing... had been all day. Night before, we had stopped and spent the night in a motel rather than risk running through what we knew could be a twister-maker of a thunderstorm. You gotta know when to push your luck. Listened on the radio as a tornado was spotted dropping between towns, winding along, and then disappearing back in the clouds. No fuss, no muss - typical plains springtime. Weather cleared and we arrived safely the next morning.
Today was a different story. I watched from orbit as wave upon gnarly wave of thunderstorms marched northeastward, just missing us. I studied the radar, hoping it would reveal the secrets of the storms in motion.
Driving along, I made eye contact with the low hanging wall of clouds in the distance. Nasty looking piece of work. Where I was, though, it was sunny... and when I walked down to the water, I saw the golden flash of a carp's back, upstream a ways.
Storms be damned. I could hem and haw and wait for them to get there, or I could try to beat them to the punch.
It had rained a bit the night before, and the flows in the river were up by about an inch. The carp responded by pushing up as shallow as possible. Sightfishing paradise. At one time I came around a corner and could see twenty backing fish, strung out down the bank into the distance. These fish were crawling around in water just deep enough to cover their eyes.
As I got near groups of these fish I began to occasionally hear strange calls, much like a baby alligator makes. I had no idea what it was until I actually had my eyes on a carp that did it. When feeding, a carp essentially makes a vacuum and sucks food in; if they try to do this with enough of their head out of the water, they can't make a good 'seal' to vacuum with. The resulting sound is like what happens when you suck in air between your teeth and squeak with your lips. It was really interesting.
Man were they hungry. The fresh water flowing into the river stimulated their feeding behavior, and if I made a good presentation it got eaten. Worm patterns, creature patterns, if it looked buggy they ate it. I caught carp on a good selection from the 2013 Fly Carpin' Swap.
Winners included two variations of the Trouser Worm, Pike's Egg Bitter, Frasier's Carp Fly, Vargo's Blind Squirrel, Barry's Carp Fly, Eagan's Headstand, and of course the Rojo Bug. I tried to get pictures of each fish with the different flies but there were several times when I could see more fish backing or tailing as I landed the fish I had on... so. I didn't always manage a picture. You'll just have to take my word for it.
The one fly they refused repeatedly was Bear's Hex for some reason. Even after I mushed it into the bottom of the river a few times. Looked great in the water, but they weren't having it.
I didn't get to use any of the more heavily weighted flies because I was fishing such skinny water, but I have no doubt they would have worked too.
As I bounced upriver from carp to backing carp, the storm drew nearer and nearer. With gentle rain pattering the surface of the water, I looked up and realized that my carp tunnel vision might have gotten me in trouble...