Last night, I woke up to the sound of rain pelting our metal window awnings. Normally good news, checking the weather forecast for the next couple of days, apparently rain will continue. But you know what that means — goodbye spring carp spawn.
Man, was that fun! It was my first spring spawn, and now I know why the more seasoned veteran re-checks his fly box in anticipation. During the last week or so, fish were everywhere — holding, circulating, tailing — waiting for (enjoying) nature’s main event.
Of course, the down side to catching carp during this season is getting them to strike. Their minds are on romance, not Glo Bugs.
Any trout fisherman who’s been around will do two things before the first cast: check to see what bugs are on the water, in the trees or the creekside grass; and pull a nice scoopful off the bottom to see what creepies are in it. That way, you can cover dries and nymphs — at least that’s how the theory goes.
During the six months or so I’ve been carping, I’ve never seen any sort of hatch on our river, nor have I found any crawlies in riverbed samples. There are crayfish for carp to munch, but it makes you wonder what our omnivorous friends chew on to get so gigantic! Our river bottom is an odd mix of concrete, mud and sand.
Case in point, Wednesday, we were trying to get any of the dozen or so fish my son and I spotted to strike. Tailing indicates a fish feeding by butting its head into the bottom to dislodge a meal. The go-to fly on the L.A. River is the lowly Glo Bug, an egg pattern, either weighted or not, in either chartreuse or white. The hot pink, unnatural colors don’t work here.
Anyway, think spawning salmon. Same deal. You basically have to entice a fish who really isn’t hungry to strike. Will and I ran through the fly box — chartreuse and white Glo Bugs, without and with weight; the trusty San Juan worm in red; a larger size Wooly Bugger in green; a larger size Hare’s Ear; even a dry hopper, just for grins. Nada, squat, nary a strike.
The ticket turned out to be a size 18 bead head Prince Nymph. The flash, the “shock and awe,” got tails wagging. And the pull on a Loomis 5 weight, the sound of fly line moving to backing, the run …
What turned our smiles upside down was losing the fish under freshwater seaweed. The warmer-water bloom made us clean the fly before every cast. And in this situation, the carp certainly knew that a nice, heavy roof of weed would help him (her?) to break us off.
But, then again, that’s why we all keep coming back for more!
See you on the river, Jim Burns