I definitely missed the camera yesterday. Decided to do a little carping yesterday afternoon. There is a little slough pretty close to home that I learned about last year, it was full of carp every time I went last summer but I never actually hooked anything. After yesterday I am pretty willing to blame it all on fly selection. I had this sneaking suspicion that some of the bonefish flies I had tied up for Belize would maybe turn the trick. One pattern in particular looked especially juicy, it has a little wood duck tail, brown larva lace body, rusty orange rabbit strip fir (no skin) tied in as a wing and bead chain eyes. It's tied to ride hook up and the beadchain is pretty light so it will stay suspended with a slow twitch strip. The water was about two feet higher than any other time I've fished this spot, but I think that made it a bit easier. I could wade in the grass and use it for cover, which made it easy to stay pretty close to the fish. I took up a nice casting station about 10 feet from the edge of the grass where there was a nice open casting lane with fish periodically cruising past about 15-20 feet away and several others hanging near the surface within 50 feet. I started with the fly described above and had follows immediately. When I finally got it in front of a likely cruiser the fish turned hard and came right up behind the fly about 20 feet from my position. I could see the fly in front of the fish and gave it a few mini strips, then watched the fish open its mouth and inhale, a strip set and the game was on. This was a very lackluster fight, the carp just rolled into the grass and dogged around for a bit, but I'll take it. I spent 20 minutes more at that spot then made a move about 30 feet down the shore to another station. Shortly after moving I got into another fish, a situation very similar to the first, but the fish fought much better. This crazy carp had only one eye, the left eye looked as though it never developed, it was just a tiny ring of head flesh, freaky looking. I tried some other patterns for about an hour and got nary a follow. Tied the magic fly back on and within 10 minutes hooked and landed another. This was the most satisfying fish because of the distance, it was at 35-40 feet and I couldn't see his mouth on the take. I saw a pec fin flare and the fish rotated about 10 degrees, so I set up and he was there.
One thing I found very interesting in all of this is that the fish were hooked within 50 feet of one another, there were loads of carp (~75) and the behavior didn't change much throughout it all. Since the slough is only about 200x70 feet I was expecting the whole slough to be abandoned or completely shut off after catching a fish. An article I just read in a dirty fly rag by none other than Whitlock himself said something about chemicals released by carp when they are caught causing the others nearby to quit feeding. In my limited experience this does not occur to any extent. I was thinking that maybe since there in a bit of a high profile spot (there was a family on one end of the slough fishing bobbers for 'em) that they are used to smelling the fear chemical so they don't get as bothered by it. Another thought was that there is slight movement to the water carrying the chemical away, so within ten minutes it was mostly gone. Who knows? I did notice that for 5-10 minutes after landing a fish other carp would come over to apparently scope out what the hell was going on. They would come over close, sometimes in groups of 4 or 5 which seemed a little abnormal, they were moving a little faster than normal and wouldn't follow the fly. So maybe this was the effect Whitlock wrote about, but like I said it only lasted 5-10 minutes so it was easy to wait them out. Regardless of carp chemicals, stinky willamette mud, crazy families fishing to eat those pigs and one dead log of a fight, it was a fucking banner outing. First three carp on the fly in four hours of fishing, given the multitude of hours I spent out there last year, I'll take it and run.