School Buses , Football Sunday and cool crisp mornings...all signs that Summer is on it's way out and Fall is here to take it's place. After the long hot summer we've endured in my part of the country I don't imagine you'll hear too many complaints either. While I'm certainly looking forward to the cooler weather and diminished crowds that fall/winter bring I have to admit that the exit of summer is a little bittersweet this year. On my home waters winter means lakes and rivers that are more suited to ice skating than fly fishing which also means my recently acquired love affair with Cyprinus will be put on hold until next year. What started as a means to pass the time when I couldn't make it South to fish my favorite coldwater haunts turned into a full fledged obsession with ole bugle-mouth. It had been a couple weeks since I'd stalked the flats of my local mudhole and I knew the cool nights recently would've lowered the surface temp of the water pretty drastically so I wasn't sure what to expect to be honest. Saturday morning I got a call from my wife who was on a weekend trip to Melvern with her horse for some trail riding , she had forgotten a bag with several items that she needed and I was being designated as courier for said objects. I had planned on hitting Hillsdale for the day but since I was making the trip anyway I decided to spend a couple extra hours at Melvern and walk some shoreline there looking for carp. By the time I dropped off the forgotten bag and made it over to Eisenhower State Park where I intended to fish it was right around noon. I rigged up quickly and Joe and I hit the water in search of our quarry for the day.
It was a beautiful day and conditions were about as good as you can ask for , unfortunately I just couldn't find any cooperative fish. The water here was clearer than I was used to and the few fish I saw were ultra shallow and were just sunning themselves as opposed to tailing. I made casts to a couple fish but just ended up spooking them in the end and finished the afternoon with no hook-ups.
For about the last fourty-five minutes I switched tactics and started casting some structure for anything that might eat. This proved fruitless as well and one short smallmouth was all I could raise.
So it goes , that's why they call it fishing right??
After a short stop at a small town tavern made somewhat famous for their smoked ribs , we pulled back into Olathe at around 4:00.
With a full stomach and renewed enthusiasm to catch a fish or two we headed out to a local pond after a quick stop off at home.
Nobody else was there and the water looked promising , I'd made a few casts and Joe was enjoying chasing frogs in the weeds when without warning the skies began to darken. Within minutes the wind began to pick up and large raindrops fell from the heavens , I looked at Joe and he said it was time to head for the car.
Sometimes the dog has more sense than the owner , so we called it a day. An unsuccessful fishing day yes, but I enjoyed every fishless minute spent with my best buddy wandering along the lakeshore. It's amazing how the company of a good friend, dog or man, can overshadow a poor fishing day.
Sunday I had a list of things to do , like firing up the smoker for the afternoon and watching a little football. Sometime around mid-morning I realized that the nagging thought in the back of my mind wasn't going anywhere unless I acted on it. I had to get back out and give ole cyprinus another shot. Ten minutes later Joe and I were headed down to one of our favorite mudflats to see what kind of action we could drum up. Upon arrival the water looked good , calm and just clear enough to make the fish visible to the patient eye.
A quick pass through my first spot proved fruitless , only seeing one drum lazily sunning on the rocks. The next spot proved no better and I was starting to think it just wasn't gonna happen , that I might as well just head back to watch the game. About that time I noticed some action on the surface about 30 yards away in a small shallow cove. Thinking it was probably some smalll bass chasing shad I figured why not check it out while I'm here. When I got close enough to identify the fish I was surprised to find four small carp swimming along the surface slurping something. Of course I got excited at this discovery and backed up to make a plan of action. For the life of me I couldn't see anything on the water that the fish were eating , but they were staying with it in that one area just going around and around, those big lips halfway out of the water. The only thing I could come up with was a cottonwood seed fly I had tied when I first started fishing for carp , probably never thinking I'd actually use it.
Fly on and back within casting distance I could still see the same fish sucking an invisible something off the surface so I made a cast and placed the fly out in front of the roaming fish. The white marabou tuft floated high on the water and as I watched it drift along I had to think it looked like nothing a carp would eat. Ten seconds later I was watching my first topwater carp swim up and suck in my fly.
This fish was small but when he felt that hook he freaked and headed for the hills , I was totally stoked to have my first carp on a dry fly (does a cottonwood seed fly count as a dry??). One of the best battles I've had all year , the cooler water obviously equating to stronger fish.
On a chance I decided to let the spot rest for a while and see if the other fish would come back. Sure enough within twenty minutes there were two more fish back on the surface and once again the cottonwood seed proved it's worth.
Another small fish but man , carp on a dry fly!! Another half hour provided no other shots at fish but I happily headed for home still riding high on the thought of catching two carp on dries. Maybe it'd be allright if summer held on for just a little bit longer , I'm not quite ready to say good-bye.