Monday, May 12, 2014

Big Jacks Creek, CJ Strike and Lips Only a Mother Could Love

My most recent adventure took me to Big Jacks Creek, a tiny tributary of the Snake River with north flowing head waters originating from the Owyhee Mountain range. I have been scoping out this small creek for some time now and decided to fish it before any major spring snow melt.  I chose to visit the confluence of the Jacks creek and CJ Strike, hoping the shallow waters there might hold carp or trout cruising for food. I had heard rumors that carp congregate at the mouth of Jacks Creek in late spring and summer and I hoped to visit the place then return later in the year. It was early in the year for carp fishing and I knew it but curiosity often wins out when it comes to me and fly fishing.   I arrived at 0650 AM greeted by the rolling yelps of coyote and their pups frolicking in the sage brush and Russian olive groves. A quick peeked at the Google satellite image of the area directed me toward my destination about one half mile away. I tromped along a game trail rimmed by last summers cattails, cracking dry and clustered in frost. Nearing the reservoir, coots raced away, half running, half flying across the shallow bay to my right.  The water at CJ was glass, reflecting the blue light of dawn, only my wading disturbed the surface.
Not A Carp But Just As Pretty 

Clean Lines and A Powerful Body

I waded out about 50 feet into the reservoir then turned back toward the bank, casting my line onto still waters. It was hard to make a gentle cast under the circumstances and I imaged any nearby carp would get spooked. I repeated my casts walking slowly, parallel to the bank, landing my carp fly about 5-10 feet from the bank. During a slow retrieve a few casts later I felt my fly drag over a log and snag, that was until the log began to move. The fish looked like a torpedo as it sprinted for deeper water as I held on with steady pressure; my heart jumped at the weight and my reel sang as line peeled off. Seconds later a plunk and my fly slipped off, I suspect it was only snagged of one of the massive carps scales. I repeated my technique and two more carp repeated their escape protocol. I swear they were speaking carpanese to each other, passing on how to get off a hook.    Jacks Creek was a bust for trout and carp but the opportunity to get out and watch the morning break was well worth the effort.

I have mentioned fly fishing (rather unsuccessfully) for carp in a blog one year ago.  My goal of landing a carp on a fly rod still stands unfulfilled. I have hooked a few carp (most accidentally), snagged a couple more and scared away the rest with my clumsy presentation. A cleaver friend of mine recommends we use the name "Carpon" instead of carp as a nice blend of carp and tarpon and a fitting tribute to this hard fighting, clever fish that can reach 60 lbs in some Idaho waters. It has sure been more than a match for me!

I have yet to land a carp on my fly rod. However, my efforts to catch carp using large googly legged flies has resulted in catching a lot of  Idaho's other less savory, bottom feeding fish. "Trash fish" we call them here in Idaho.  I am referring of course to suckers, squaw fish, chubs and white fish; the later at least has seen a mild bump in popularity fostered by the fly fishing community. In fact, if it weren't for these wrong-side-of-the-track fish, I would have a lot more zero-fish-caught outings. Fly fishing has fostered a new respect for all fish. The sucker pictured above was a stout, clean, powerful fish even if it didn't jump like an acrobat out of the water during our fight.

As a side note I met John Wolter, owner of Anglers in Boise, We had a nice chat near CJ Strike and shared our passion for fly fishing. I think I had verbal diarrhea and did most of the talking to be honest.