May 20-23, 2010
I’m just back from the Fin Chasers Carp Classic VI Fly Fishing (Fun) Fundraiser held on Blackfoot Reservoir of South East Idaho. Each year this event raises money to help an angler, fishing guide or fly fishing industry worker in need. There are no cash prizes as all entry fees, raffle ticket purchases and donations go entirely to the one in need. This year it was for Peter and Lisa Holman’s three month old daughter Laney who needs a heart operation. Many fly fishing manufacturers and shops donated products to be given out as awards for good angling and prizes for raffle tickets. The event consisted of seventeen three person teams. This is the first time I attended as a competitor. My team included friends Trey Scharp and Ben Smith. The weather was forecasted to be horrific so we named our team “Could Be Worse” just for fun. At least that’s what we kept telling ourselves.
Although the contest occurred on Friday and Saturday, most contestants arrived Thursday. Ben Smith and I hit the shores of Blackfoot Reservoir around 4 pm to scope out the lake looking for the best place to fish. I’ve carp fished here many times; however, water levels are the highest in years. All my usual haunts were flooded and there were no signs of carp. That sent us driving all over and on several hikes scouting new water. Finally we found some free-jumping carp. With carp located we returned to event headquarters where we met up with Trey and camped with the other contestants.
Many of the contestants are friends whom I haven’t seen in months. Those I didn’t know are friends now. We shared stories, ate deer burgers and of course consumed numerous beverages. Although forecasted to be raining, we had mostly stars and temperatures in the upper 30’s. It was great fun. With doing well in the competition a priority, the “Could be Worse” boys retired before midnight for a good sleep.
I expected the bad weather to start during the night, but the sun rose and the lake was glass. King grebes, coots, pelicans and a variety of duck species squawked from shore to shore while the meadow larks and cranes echoed around camp. This gorgeous morning was bonus time as the weather was about to change fast. After a $5 all you can eat pancake breakfast (this money also donated to the cause) and a meeting about the rules of the tournament, contestants took off to their secret carp spots. Fishing would end at 5 pm.It was a twenty minute drive on rough roads and through grain fields to our honey hole. As we drove across the last pasture, abusing our rigs all the way, we arrived where Ben and I saw carp the night before. Sure enough, as we slipped into our waders, the first carp left the water and crashed back in making us super psyched.
Our confidence didn’t last long. During the first two hours of fishing, none of us hooked a fish. The sunshine was replaced by drizzle and the calm turned to gale winds. By now, I was chest deep using the tail wind to get some long casts to free-jumping carp nearly out of range. I prefer sight fishing carp on shallow flats or grassy areas, but there was no chance to see one there in these windy sunless conditions. I crept one of my favorite carp flies, the rubber legs hare’s ear, along the bottom where the carp were splashing. I was just waiting for a grab, but nothing. Just as I began to shiver, I heard cheers from nearby as Trey hooked up.