SMALLMOUTH AND CARP, DAY 2

A scavenger’s breakfast was expected for this morning, but I knew I was going to have leftover homemade tortillas on hand. Before we kicked off to fish, I whipped up some breakfast tacos that earned me another spot at the front of the boat. 

Bass were on the agenda for this morning, and feeling extra confident, I had tied on a popper for some top-water action.  Currier had on a sinking line with two dark leech patterns.

Boots motored us over to a rocky bank and we started fishing before it was in reach. We were covering the water quite well before Currier hooked into a smallmouth bass. The little shaker wasn’t much to speak of, but it was a fish none the less. 

“I want to switch to a white sinking fly.” I said. 

“No way man, give that a go for a little longer.” Currier said. “I have only caught one fish. I wait until three have been caught before I switch up my flies.” 

I was casting my popper right against the rocks on the bank; if there was any chance for me that’s where it was going to be. 

“There’s another one!” Currier said, his rod at a bend. 

“That’s nice, but this is nothing like last year.” Boots said, reminiscing about the number of fish caught the first time they had fished this place. 

Currier’s fish was just visible, and he went to pick up the bass when he realized he had two on the line. 

“Oh, a double!” He yelled. 

“That’s three!” I said, as I cut the popper from my line and tied on a white minnow pattern. With newfound confidence, I rocketed my fly on the edge of a jagged rock just near the bank. SLAM! 

“Whoa! There’s one!” I said, setting the hook hard.

“Was that your first cast?” Currier asked. 

“Yep.”

“Look’s like white could be the color this morning.” Boots said, as he brought out the net and scooped up my fish. 

“There we go. Look at this one, Currier.” Boots said, getting a good look at my bass. 

“Damn, get a good shot of that one.” Jeff said, getting back to casting. 

Fish were being caught more often between Currier and I, and every once in a while we would get the pig we were after. 

Boots picked up a fly rod and took some shots at the rocky bank. But with the day heating up we all decided it was time to head to the carp flat. 

Our approach to the flat was the same as the previous day: cut the motor early and stalk our way in.  Currier was behind the sticks now, with Boots and I ready for an opportunity… and there were plenty of them. Tails flapped above the surface like buoys surrounding a marina. 

“Oh my God!” I said, looking at all the tails. 

“Yeah, this is good.” Currier said. 

“It’s beautiful.” Boots added. 

If the clarity of the water was bad yesterday, it didn’t hold a candle to what it was like today.  A small cattle fence stuck into the water offering a drink for, what looked like, seventy five head of cattle; all of which fought for some space in the water.  The mooos were deafening over the placid water, and the sloshing of hooves had the water so turned up that saying there was three inches of visibility would be sugarcoating the clarity. Still, tails were up, and so was our confidence. 

Boots hooked up first, but it didn’t come easy. Lots of missed prospects and spooked carp had us feeling we could do nothing right. Even the loud mooing from the cows seemed condescending.

So when Boots hooked up, it provided reassurance that we still belonged there. 

“Okay, I am getting a little crazy here.” I said, switching flies.

“Oh yeah?” Currier asked. 

“Yeah, I am going sparkly.” I said, holding it up for him to see.  Typically, for carp, you go with drab in color, but with this water I figured some flash may just be the ticket. 

WAM! My line went tight with a carp. 

“Was that your first cast?” Currier asked. 

“Nope, it was my third.” 

“Oh nice.” Boots chimed, but then my line went slack. 

“Damn!” I said, bringing in my fly to be sure it was ok. And was it me, or did the cows seem more cheeky after I lost that carp?

“Mooooo!  Mooooooo!” Currier yelled back at the cows…”Shut the hell up!” For a second, every cow was silent. 

“Nice.” Currier said. Boots laughed, but it wasn’t long before the mooing proceeded.

Currier hooked into a carp, but after a long struggle he recognized it was foul hooked. The hook thankfully popped off the dorsal just as Currier had it near the boat.

After discovering it was foul hooked, I scoped the flat, looking for some options. There, a bit further than I would have liked, was some nervous water. A double haul helped land my fly right on target. 

“Whoa, here we go!” I said, feeling the pressure of a carp. 

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… There was no holding this carp at bay, it bolted like a freight train, ripping me into my backing faster than any fish prior. 

“Oh wow, look at this thing go.” I said. 

“Is that your backing already?” Boots asked.

“Yeah.” My line screamed as the carp showed no sigh of giving up. “This is the first time a carp has done this to me.” 

“It happens on the Blackfoot Reservoir on occasion.” Boots said, as Currier focused on catching his own carp for a possible double. 

“We may have to chase that.” Boots suggested, as I stood there holding my rod out, letting line rip off the reel. 

“How far out do you think it is, Boots?” I asked, figuring with his experience he would have a good estimate. 

“Pretty far.” Was all he said. 

This fish was not coming back, so Currier reeled in and Boots pushed us towards the fish. I reeled in line fast to keep the pressure on the fish as we drew near.  The water got significantly deeper, and I was finally getting my fly line back into my reel. The carp hadn’t reveled itself as it charged through the thickest weed beds. 

“It feels like a big carp, but I bet half of this weight is weeds.” I said, as Boots stopped the boat so that we were right on top of my fish. My line was twisted in the submerged weeds, and the carp was not moving.  I heaved with the fly rod, but was making zero progress at bringing up this carp. The fight was over by now, it was just a matter of getting the line and carp out of all the entangling weeds.  I grabbed the leader and lightly lifted the fish from the depths. 

“Oh, that’s a nice common.” Boots said with the net ready. 

The sun fully reflected the golden scales of a massive common carp that floated lazily beside the boat. My hand was still on the leader when Boots went to net the fish. 

SNAP!

Zero-X leader recoiled in my face. 

“Boots, get it! It snapped the leader!” I cried in a panic, but it was no use. Boots only had the tail in the net when the fish kicked, and what would have been my biggest carp ever disappeared into the murky depth of the Snake River. 

“Uhhh… It’s always the ones that get away that haunt the most.” I said. 

“That’s true.” Boots concurred. 

“Yeah… Grabbing the leader like that seldom ends well in my experience.” Currier said. Boots and I both chuckled at the comment, as the mooing cows seemed to agree.

“You could have said that thirty seconds ago.” I said with a laugh. 

“Well, boys! What do you say we head back in for dinner, then we hit it hard for cruising carp this evening?” Currier suggested. It was hard to believe it was already passed 5pm, and in 90 degree weather we were all a bit parched. 

Back at the boat ramp, Boots had something special planned for dinner. Three slabs of New York cut steaks with fried vegetables was on the menu. Boots cooked each steak to perfection. 

As we sat down to eat I saw that Boots had cooked his steak so rare that it was difficult to determine whether or not I was hearing the distant moos of the corralled cattle, or if that sound was coming from his steak. 

The plan was to take a small siesta then get back out to fishing, but mother nature had other plans. Heavy gusts of wind tore through the trees, and the once placid water-column was whitecaps as far as you could see. 

“Well, so much for our night of carp fishing.” Currier said with a sigh. 

“Shall we head to the next put-in so we can get an early start for tomorrow?” Boots asked, seeing no reason to stick around here. We all agreed that would be the best plan, so reluctantly we packed up our gear and headed to the next day’s spot, ending fishing for day two.

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