Monday, April 17, 2017

Paddle Board Carpin'

About a month ago, I made the jump from a sit on top (SOT) kayak to a stand up paddle board (SUP).  I have been (not so) patiently waiting for the weather conditions to be fair enough to bring some carp into the shallow mud flats of the local lakes so I could give the board its first good trial run.  Saturday morning was that time.  The weather looked perfect for carp fishing with warm air temperatures and light winds, but the water was still chilly and very cloudy from the barrage of recent rains.  Nevertheless, I loaded the Kahuna onto my Jeep and headed for the lake.

The board was not the only new product I was trying for the first time.  Because I want to limit how often I am reaching for my gear bag or fly boxes while on the board, I bought a Tacky Tube over the winter to keep the flies I expect to use easily at hand.  After I reached the water, I loaded up the tube and clipped it to my belt loop.  This gave me quick and easy access to whichever black fly I wanted to try.  In murky conditions, I typically don't fish any other color.

Once I got the board on the water, I spent the first 10-12 minutes just paddling around, standing a little, and generally getting a feel for the board.  I was highly impressed with how easy the Kahuna paddled and at the stability while standing.  

Although the weather conditions were perfect for a glassy surface, usually making it easier to spot fish, the fish just weren't feeding aggressively.  I did not get many targets to cast to until I changed my location slightly to a small bay off the main flat.  There, I blew my first shot by incorrectly guessing which position the fish was in.  That's where murky water comes into play in a major way.  Instead of my fly dropping right in front of the fish's face, it hit his body.  Game over.  As I was slowly paddling back to the main flat, I spotted a good bubble line close to the boat.  I quickly dropped the fly in there and the indicator twitched.  Fish on!

I used my stake out/push pole to anchor myself in place while I fought the fish.  Early in the season, with the water temps being cool, this fish did not put up the typical fight with big runs.  Instead, it dogged on the bottom, pulled some drag, but never too much.  On the 2nd attempt, I got the fish to the net and onto the board.

Shortly after releasing the fish, my father-in-law showed up with his drone hoping to get some fun aerial action shots, but I never hooked up again while he was there.  He missed the action by a few minutes.  This shot, however, shows you just how murky the water was.

The fly that tricked that carp was my #1 carp producer, a fly I nicknamed Smaug after the giant dragon from the Hobbit movies.  My assumption is they take it for a large dragonfly nymph, but it could be mistaken for a small fish, leech, or craw.  This fly accomplishes a couple of very important things for a carp fly on a mud flat.  It has a strong/bold outline to help fish see it, has a slow sink rate, and its tail stands upright at rest.  My most productive carp patterns typically have a buoyant tail that stands up.  

It was a great first test of the Kahuna SUP.  I never got dunked, I was able to cruise the flats quietly and get on fish, and the perspective being higher on the water is going to be a huge help in spotting fish.  Once the weather really warms up here, it should be game on. 

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