In large part thanks to wonderful wives and kids, Wendy Berrell and I have been able to spend a few days each year fishing together. The trip goes back to shortly after we graduated from college and has taken many shapes over the years. We have hunted big trout on the Deschutes, little trout on the limestone creeks of MN, steelhead on the Clackamas and our famous "grab bag" nymphing trips below the dams in MN (one year we caught 27 different species I believe). The last few years have had a distinctive carp flavor. We have both become enamored with the worlds greatest freshwater fly rod quarry, and it shows in our locations and efforts.
This year was all about my home water on the big C. A few trips ago we had discovered a place we call the Death March, and hadn't been able to fish it together since. Water levels dictate success and even accessibility on the Death March, so things have to come together. We had marginal water this year, but day one was spent stalking the ultra difficult, and extremely large fish of the Death March.
It was a good day. We had full sun, clear water, but zero wind. On the big C wind is often your enemy, but for two reasons. Blowing too hard is an obvious issue, but a dead calm is even worse. You can't get on the fish, and you can barely get a fly to them. Wendy tougher it out...spotted fish at a distance and somehow managed to stick a monster 23 lb female in a location where I have NEVER seen a fish that size before. It was a remarkable fish, made even more amazing by Wendy's calm demeanor. He hooks up and calmy tells me to get the net..."I think it might be a big one."
As is usual on the Death March, we were rewarded for expending the effort. The Hybrid is the fly of choice out there and proved effective as usual. Late in the day we stumbled onto a cluster of carp...by cluster I mean 100-200 fish hanging out along the shoreline. They were tired, likely from a full day of spawning, and as we found the right targets within the group, they ate flies well. Day one was a good start, but as we were about to find out...it was going to get a whole lot better.