Somewhere between Rufus and Biggs we crossed over into Martian landscape.
Are there carp on Mars? That was the big question on my mind as we made for a landing at Carpocalypse 2013. Sensors indicated a surface temperature of 102-degree-Fahrenheit. Humanoid lifeforms were rare, and mostly limited to refrigerated enclosures. Vegetation included tumble weeds and a few varieties of non-tumbling weeds. Martians would have felt at home in Kennewick, Washington. I wasn’t so sure about fish.
I have no idea why we got up this early, but it was a nice sunrise.
As usual, the sunrise brought a much more hopeful perspective. At breakfast we met our rival anglers, pored over tiny iphone screens searching for likely carp flats, and got some much needed advice. John Montana and Adam McNamara laid it out for us: “Don’t cast until you can see their head. Cast to the side, so you see the head move to your fly. And if the fish looks like it’s on your fly, don’t just stand there waiting for an invitation. Set the @#$% hook!!”
Adam McNamara of Orvis-Portland lays out the rules for Carpocalypse 2013.
No problem. Team Idyl-Unlimited soaked in the sage advice and hoped for an opportunity to practice.
Dwayne and Kyle (the “Unlimited” part of the team) requisitioned three beach cruisers as our transports. Old Robe (yours truly, and the “Idyl” part of the team) carried an assortment of killer carp flies, as well as herbal remedies to protect us from prolonged sun exposure. I also brought a well-worn Visa card in order to provide cold pitchers of beer whenever the opportunity presented itself. And with all preparations in order, we hit the bike trail for Burbank. Washington, that is…
Huffy Cruisers get it done in style!
We hadn’t made it off of Clover Island before we were checking out our first tantalizing flat from a high bank. Kyle and Dwayne spotted a big feeder, and I sneaked into position. I couldn’t see a thing down there, but my spotters guided me toward the gold. “Set! Set Set! Ahhhh, too late!”
Once they start swimming, they’re spooked.
Dwayne was the first to wade into the hot green garf. “It’s kinda nice!”
We bush-wacked our way around the bottom-lands adjacent to the confluence of the Snake River and the Columbia. Here was a vibrant oasis in an otherwise desolate landscape! The delta zone was riddled with oxbow ponds and lagoons, not easy to find or enter. But we worked our butts off, had some thrilling chances at big, beautiful carp, and soaked in the local scene.
Prime carp habitat, but a bit weedy for successful fly presentation. We didn’t catch fish here, but we saw lots of big ones. Enough to bring us back for a rematch in 2014.
Highlights of the trip included 1) Having our beach cruisers hand-washed by a team of local gals; 2) Garnering locals-only fishing intelligence from Scooter at the Burbank Bar & Grill; 3) Being told we were idiots by a passing cowboy; and 4) Seeing dozens of big-shouldered goldfish just as they saw us. Smart fish! But by far the BIGGEST highlight was listening to Heidi (manager at the Orvis store in Portland) shut down a grumpy old dude who was complaining about the tournament because he hadn’t seen a fish in two days. “Yeah, they’re tough. It was my first time, but somehow I landed fish both days!” She also taught us all a thing or two about drinking beer.
As we drove off Clover Island, several fishermen could be heard cooing over road beers, “I think I’m in love…”
How often does this happen to you?