|16.5" of native cyprinid goodness!|
I started off the day hunting down a Master Class fallfish. I knew right where to head to and I started slamming lots of fallfish, mostly in the 12-14" range. I needed 15. I hooked a big fish and thought for sure it was the one, but it ended up being a lucky take from a 20" pike. Not long after that I got into a 16.5" fallfish. That was the one I was looking for. Since it was raining, I was wet wading, and I have been getting over a cold (brilliant Drew) I decided to head to other waters.
|Check out the colors on this fallfish's face!|
When I got to this spot, I looked down and saw a big carp working the edge of the river. I ran back to my truck, grabbed my rod and headed down to get it. It was right where I had seen it last and it was mudding hard! I knew I was going to get this fish. As I looked at it I realized that it was a mirror carp. Mirror carp are a variation of common carp that have larger, mirror like scales. More importantly, I haven't caught one yet. My first cast got his attention but he missed the take. The second cast he took it solidly and the race was on. It headed up around a log so I had to run out into the river waist deep to get to a rock pile. Then the fish went up through a log jam. I had to run up there and thread my rod through the jam to keep it on. The fish went deep and it felt like it was on some obstruction on the bottom.
|Trying to get the fish to hand|
I was a bit worried but it pulled out of whatever it was in. Then it decided to come back through the log jam again. So I had to run to the other side of the channel to get it out. It took about 25 minutes fighting this fish to get it to hand. I was pretty psyched. I got a bunch of great pictures and watched it swim off. The carp was 31" and I estimate the weight somewhere between 12 and 15 lbs. Now for the bad news.... as I started up the bank I heard a crack. Looking down I noticed my leader was caught up on my pliers. I pulled the rod up and there was the tip to my old faithful Orvis TLS 9' 6wt MidFlex dangling. Goodbye old friend. You go back to Orvis Land today.
|My first mirror carp|
|Almost scaleless on this side.|
|Check out the skin and scale patterns|
|One big scale with little ones behind it|
|On the caudal penduncle|
I quickly raced to my next spot where I was meeting up with someone I hadn't fished with yet, but I was pretty excited to get out with him. Pat Berry is the new Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner and really wants to promote some of the great fishing on Lake Champlain. So after he got done work in Waterbury he came out to join me. He worked as a fly fishing guide in Montana for 10 years and was dying to get into some carp and bowfin. The weather was less than pleasant- a constant drizzle/light shower with low clouds overhead. Not ideal sight fishing conditions.
|VT F&W Commissioner Pat Berry with his first Champlain Carp|
At first we didn't see any fish then the carp started to show. There were mudding fish around and Pat had a take. He didn't get a hook set on that one. The next fish he got a hook set on but it popped out during the fight. I was pretty happy that he was getting into fish. He took to this new (to him) style of fishing like a duck to water. We saw a fish coming through the trees parallel to the boat. He got a great cast in front of the fish and the fish jumped it hard. The Commissioner was using my 8wt bowfin outfit which had 18.5lb tippet. He put the hammer down on that fish and never even put it on the reel. That was the fastest I have ever seen a carp landed... very impressive! It was a nice fish of 9 lbs which is a pretty typical fish.
We tried for bowfin after that and had one take but it got off. We also saw a Master Class bowfin but she was having nothing to do with the fly. It was really difficult conditions to sight fish and we ended up getting off the water shortly after that. I was pretty happy with the day, but I was drenched and shivering. Like I said, it was brilliant of me to wet wade on a day like that.
Awesome day on the water! I am really excited to have caught my first mirror carp and to have Commissioner Pat Berry put some time the water with me. I don't think it will be the last time either!