The snow is melting and mud everywhere! This can mean only one thing Wyoming, spring has arrived! As winter releases it’s frozen grip on the land and water, my thoughts, probably like most of you, turn to fishing. I have been over gear, check every ferrule and every wrap of my fly rod, cleaned and dressed the line on my reel, organized my fly box (three times actually), and checked my waders for holes and tears.
But this year has been different. Normally during this ritual my thoughts focus on large wild trout, wide red slabs laying in the rocks, speckled browns rising to a dry fly, and the leap of running fish. This year, however, I close my eyes and I see a large golden slab of pure muscle, tail up, nose down in the rocks, I hear the scream of my drag as the fish runs from the hook up, and I hear the hum of overstretched fly line slicing through the water. I see the big round trumpet snouts gulping the surface of the water, and my size 2 dry fly disappearing into the gaping maw. All of this action is set close to home, right here in Wyoming, and yes I am dreaming of the lowly carp!
You see, last season, on a whim, and a bit of a dare, I spent a day with Mark fishing for carp at Pathfinder reservoir. That day of fishing rivaled any of the saltwater trips I have taken, and most of the trout fishing I have done. It was sight fishing at its best. Stalking tailing fish in the shallows, and throwing drys to gulping pods of fish. The day was one long battle after another as fish from 6 to 15 pounds took my fly and ran for deep water. By the end of the afternoon my arms were so fatigued and shaking I could no longer cast. But this does not mean that the fishing was easy, these fish are spooky and run from the slightest disturbance, and even when feeding they will not come to a fly, the presentation must be perfect, just in front of the fish, but not close or they spook.
This trip was more than just arm busting fun, it was also a great educational experience. I have done some saltwater fishing on the fly, even with some success. After my day of carp fishing with Mark, I am sure that my saltwater success will increase dramatically. Mark taught me new techniques for casting, something he called the Tarpon roll, I can now start with a fly in my hand, and in one motion make a 50 foot cast to a tailing fish. I have learned how to stalk fish in the shallow flats, and how to present a fly to a tailing fish. This information alone was worth the trip. Anyone who is planning a saltwater trip, especially to the flats needs to spend a day chasing carp with Mark first. This is the best tune up there is for bonefish and permit. Mark is a great teacher, I look forward to more trips with him this summer.
So, this year, as I organize my fly box, it is not the size 22 nymphs that are being matched by color, it is the size 2 weighted wooly burgers, it is not the size 18 mosquito patterns that are being checked over, it is the size 0 royal wolfs. Trout fishing has become a way to get ready for the heat of late summer and tailing carp.
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