Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cool River Fishing

Due to the plenty of recent rains, I decided to try fishing the San Gabriel river east of Georgetown at the intersection of Highway 29 and CR100, a.k.a. Mankin's Crossing. The only thing was that a cold front came through and so the north wind was blowing 15-20mph and the morning temps started in the upper 40s so I set my expectations kind of low. Fishing a cold morning right after a front usually have not been too productive in the past. This was the first since the start of the year that I donned breathable waders and it was good thing I did.

I got to the low water crossing to launch my kayak at around 9am. The water was suprisingly slightly above average and clear with no signs of floating algae/scum anywhere. The water was moving well also.

I paddled upstream to before the first rapids and saw carp "puffs" (sediment stirred up by carp I was spooking) but other than that no brim or bass and I did see small baitfish and the occassional schools of juvenile carp.

Just as I was about 80 feet from the rapids something jumped onto the boulders and a log strewn across the rapids. It was an adult bobcat about the size of a medium-sized dog! First time I've ever seen a wild one. That was cool! He jumped to the other side of the bank and disappeared in the trees before I could snap a photo of it.

Looking around the section below the rapids looked somewhat different. There was evidence of flood waters that had receded and reshaped this section a little to where a new pool below the rapids existed and the sand bar moved downriver about 50 feet from where it used to be.

On the other side of the rapids the pool there also looked a little different and I could see plenty of carp roaming. Here the occassional wind could be felt in the more open area. I decided to stalk my first carp.

I ended upwith my first carp along a hump near the center of the pool. It gave some great runs and I was wishing that my 5wt had a fighting butt and a foregrip so I just loosened the drag a bit so I didn't put too much pressure on it. The fight lasted a good 10 to 15 minutes and I removed the fly from the carp's mouth without ever taking the fish from the water. The fish likely weighed about 5 pounds.

About 20 minutes later I hooked up with the second carp which was a bit smaller, likely around 3 1/2 or 4lbs, and also removed the hook without taking it out of the water. I then waded closer below a riffle that came to the pool that held several carp. I waded slowly and stood still and occassionally had carp school less than 3 feet from me before getting spooked. I wasn't able to hook any more from the pool so I headed upstream.

Upstream from the pool had the river turn and face right into the north wind so it felt colder and I was getting chapped from the wind constantly in my face. I found plenty of carp suspending in the current along the shoreline like rainbow trout waiting to pickoff morsels brought to them downstream by the current. I kept trying different flies and drifting it to them but they would just reposition and ignore me. After about 30 futile minutes and getting a headache from the cold wind, I headed back to the first pool.

I spooked several carp back at the pool but saw two that had not seen me that were right along the bank below a tree. I overshot my cast and the fly landed on the grass on the shore and was snagged a bit. When I pulled the fly and it plopped into the water, it got the attention of one of the carp and it inhaled the fly and carp #3 gave some good runs for about 10 minutes.

There were so many carp in the pool active, it really surprised me but I didn't get any further hookups except for a foul hooking of one on the back which I won't count.

I proceeded back below the rapids and found some carp below it so I cast into them. I think I almost foul hooked one because they all exploded and the fly flew back at me on the hookset.

On my way almost out, I saw a large carp below a tree to which I cast to and the fly sunk out of sight and so did the carp. I thought I spooked it but seconds later I felt the pressure of it and strip-striked and it exploded out of the water and broke my tippet right at the knot. Man! That carp was likely around 10lbs and would have been a real test on the 5wt.

BTW, the fly that caught all of the carp was a #10 Flashback Tri-Tail nymph in black with a gold beadhead that I got from an Orvis trout fly sampler. Since it was my only one, I need to learn how to tie one since it turned out to be a pretty productive carp fly.

I ended up leaving at 12:30pm feeling pretty good but I may likely bring the 6wt with the fighting butt next time if all I target is carp.

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