Fish tales from Carpocalypse 2013
Among the competitors: Two anglers who drove 1,105 miles to catch Colorado carp
There is something to be said about fly-fishing for carp.
And as any dedicated carp chaser will tell you, most of it is good.
“It’s a really challenging fish, it’s big and strong and we have an unlimited amount of opportunity on the Colorado and lower Gunnison rivers,” said Justin Edge, a fishing guide for Western Anglers Fly Shop in Grand Junction and certainly a dedicated pursuer of old Mr. Rubberlips.“I probably go out two or three times a week and every time I have the opportunity to catch 25 to 30 fish that weigh over 10 pounds.”
Earlier this month, Western Anglers and other local sponsors hosted Carpocalypse 2013, a one-day carp fly-fishing tournament, and a dozen anglers showed up.
The list included Jake Brady and Dylan Brody, two otherwise sensible-looking anglers who drove 1,105 miles from Faribault, Minn., just to fish for carp on the Colorado River.
“They were really excited about the tournament and kept calling the shop weeks in advance,” said Edge. “When they showed up with carp tattoos, we knew they were serious.”
Brody finished second in the tournament with 149 inches of fish, a carp’s whisker behind overall winner Jason Brown of Grand Junction, who spotted, stalked and caught 7 carp measuring a total of 151 inches.
Keith Hutcheson of Western Anglers Fly Shop said the Carpocalypse anglers gathered for a “typical carp fishing” breakfast of coffee and doughnuts since it was thought there wouldn’t be much action until mid-morning.
“But they weren’t gone 30 minutes when we started getting phone calls that guys were into fish,” Hutcheson said.
By the time the anglers wrapped up at 5 p.m. the thermometer had hit 100 degrees.
“It was bad for fishing and worse for the fishermen,” Hutcheson said. “We had a couple of guys who came back looking like they’d been through the Sahara Desert.”
A total of 27 fish were landed, with Ned Mayers catching the biggest fish, a 27-inch common carp.
Most of the carp were the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) but Mayers, better known for his trout-catching exploits, also tagged a mirror carp, a less-common variant.
The difference — Common carp have an even, regular scale pattern, whereas mirror carp have irregular and patchy scaling, making each fish unique and often individually recognizable.
You can laugh at carp fishing, but that just leaves more room, and more fish, for those anglers finally exploring a resource a few locals have been touting for years.
“It wasn’t until I moved here that I learned about the opportunities of carp fishing from Phil (Timms) and Keith (Hutcheson) down at the (Western Anglers) fly shop,” Edge said. “Like most people it never occurred to me, but now, on those rare days when I can go anywhere I want to fish, I usually stay around town and fish for carp.”
There is, as Edge noted, nearly unlimited potential for carp fishing in the valley and western Colorado (have you ever seen those huge carp in Lake Powell?).
While there now are several websites devoted to fly-fishing for carp, your best start may be the 1997 book, “Carp on the Fly — A Flyfishing Guide” by Brad Befus, Barry Reynolds and John Berryman (Spring Creek Press, Boulder, 155 pages).
Befus, formerly of Montrose, is an avid pursuer of what’s sometimes referred to as “Colorado bonefish” and as a professional fly-designer came up with a specialized 14-fly selection carp flies for fly maker Umpqua.
As with any outdoor pursuit, just about the time you think you have it dialed in…
“I used to fish a lot at the Audubon Ponds back when they had water there and one day I was killing them, I had like 12 fish that day,” Hutcheson recalled. “And the next three days I didn’t catch a single one.”
If you’re not busy the second weekend in August, the Orvis shops in Portland, Ore., and Bellevue, Wash., are sponsoring their own version of Carpocalypse 2013 on Aug 10-11 in Kennewick, Wash.
There a prizes and a portion of the proceeds are dedicated to the fight against the Pebble Mine proposed for Alaska’s Bristol Bay.