My eyes strained behind my polarized lenses, trying to identify exactly which one of the cruising shadows was the one I was looking for. I could've sworn I had seen… there! A shadow that was slightly darker and more cigar-shaped than the others rose to the surface and sipped a mulberry delicately. Hidden from the sun behind my Buff, my lips curled back in a determined smile. This just got interesting.
Hello Mr. Grasser. I would like to make your acquaintance.
Over the years I have caught a great many species of fish, first on conventional tackle and then, as I progressed in my evolution as a fisherman, on fly tackle. As many species as I have put on the life-list though there has been one that had eluded me to this point – the grass carp. I had cast to many and seen some true monsters of the kind but had never even had one mouth a fly.
So when I thought I saw one as I studied the deeper pool I had crept up to, it was a surge of excitement and I immediately picked up a berry and tossed it into the general area where the slightly-different-than-a-carp shadow had been. And another. Common carp appeared quickly, swirling on top of the water and for a moment it appeared like a koi pond frenzy without the rainbow of colors.
On a hunch, I tossed a berry behind the main frenzy, and that's when my heart started pitter-pattering at the sight of the confident rise from a grass carp. That's a catchable fish, I said to myself. I checked connector knots over and ran my fingers down my tippet looking for any nicks that could ruin my day. All set and ready for launch. The fish was difficult to get to; he was in a slot sheltered from the current by a submerged tree. Most of the branches had been ripped from the trunk, but there was still a pesky branch with twigs sticking out of the water between the fish and I. Using a curve cast (a technique more at home on a trout stream, but useful in many situations), I threw a big upstream bend in my line to allow for a natural drift. Berries by nature find it difficult to swim, so imparting any motion at all to the fly would let the fish know something was up. I leaned forward slightly, watching line, fly and the spot where the fish had been. Again, the dark shadow rose up. Again, it deliberately moved to the berry. The white interior of the fishes mouth showed as it started the gill flare that would mean sweet success for me.
And then, it totally, utterly, absolutely refused and turned away.
Dear reader I am not ashamed to say that I stood there in shock for a moment. I felt a little betrayed, even. I have received refusals from a variety of fish (and uh, female humans), but never one like this. I retrieved the fly, inspecting it carefully. Ah, I thought. This fly has caught several common carp, perhaps it doesn't float high enough in the water column. Fresh fly selected (debating the berry-ness of each one to find the most realistic) and carefully tied on, I made another cast. The fish rose again, drifting backwards in the current studying the fly, and then sank from sight. At this point I maaay have started to mumble questionable things about the fish's mother. This wasn't friggin' blue ribbon trout stream fishing, ya know. Just eat the damn thing.
I rested the spot for ten minutes and then tried again, changing my angle of attack to high upstream so I could more effectively get around the raking twigs eager to snag my line and ruin my drift. I made my cast, dropping the berry from high up with a loud plop that I hoped would trigger the fish to eat without staring at the fly too much. Immediately two commons rose, but ahead of them came the grass carp. The competition was too much for the persnickety fish and he inhaled the fly and turned away.
I hit him with a strip and that fish went NUTS. I am not kidding you when I say he backflipped up out of the water, landed perfectly in the middle of the raking twigs that I had so carefully avoided, and thrashed like he was having an epileptic fit. This was too much for my poor tippet and the 8lb test parted, leaving me staring incredulously, again. Only ripples remained to tell the tale.
That... was... AWESOME!
I say this; Salud to you Mr. Grasser, wherever you are. I hope my fly causes you no undue harm and that the girl grass carp dig it. We shall meet again someday soon to match wits once again...
Until then, stay classy.