Dough Balls and Dog Food

Flying up the highway, windows down, we were already reminiscing about our four days spent in the Eastern Sierra.  We were both experiencing that feeling you get when on your way back home after a few days in the mountains.  Your mind starts to wander towards the impending work week and the rhythm of the road starts to lull you to sleep.  To keep from swerving into oncoming traffic I kept glancing towards the mountains, peering into the passing lakes, and taking in the small mountain towns as the car ate up highway miles.  As we passes yet another body of water some surface commotion caught my eye.  Fully expecting it to be another duck diving for submerged vegetation, I couldn't help but keep looking.  Immediately upon recognizing it not to be some sort of water fowl, I reached across the car, pointing at the disturbance, asking Aaron what it was.  Quickly we both figured it would be best to stop the car and examine the activity a little more closely.  Once we stopped moving, we were convinced it was feeding carp.  Sure enough, after racing down the hill, kicking up dirt amongst the sage brush our eyes widened with what had to be a dream.  Hundreds of carp rooting around in an expansive flat.  

Without communicating, we both realized our trip home was about to be delayed by a few hours.  You see...neither of us had caught a carp on a fly rod.  As I kid I had caught them on dough balls and dog food, but never on a fly.  To heighten the drive, I had a standing bet with one of my best friends that included landing a carp on the fly.  

Racing into our waders, trying to stay calm, neither of us could believe what was going on just feet from our car.  Once at waters edge, we made some casts but there was little interest shown by any of the passing sewer salmon.  My hopes were through the roof and with each cast, frustration began to creep in.  We both meandered through the flat, literally surrounded by carp. Aaron changed tactics a bit and I came to the realization that they were displaying some pretty heavy pre-spawn behavior, completely uninterested in feeding.  Thirty minutes in and I was already beginning to think about how long our return home trip was and how we should probably cut off the carp flies and get back on the road. 

That's when the pattern was cracked.  Aaron called from across the flat and his rod was bent in half.  He was hooked up.  Filled with excitement and jealousy (I've been wanting to land a carp on the fly for years now but have never taken the time to try) I ran over to help with the net.  Eventually, the hefty carp found its way into the bottom of our net.  One wet, slimy high five later we were back at it, with a new approach. 

For the next two hours, we landed fish after fish.  Most often, we'd both be hooked up at the same time hollering at each other from across the lake, smiles deep into our cheeks.  After landing 6-7 of them each, we decided we should land a few more and get on the road.  At this point, my arm was already getting tired and I kept putting a deeper bend into my 5wt with each successive 8-12 lb carp.  Sure enough, we both hooked up again and recognized this as the last of our fish.  Muscling it closer to my net, my rod exploded from the pressure.  After landing it and raising the beast into the air as Aaron did the same with his, my head was telling me, "Just one more" but my new five piece rod was a clear signal to both of us that this little mid trip divine intervention had come to an end.  An oasis in the high desert of the Eastern Sierra, a pause in our journey home and the elusive Eastern Sierra bone fish had been bagged.  We spent the next few hours of our trip in utter disbelief.  What had just happened was truly epic and unexpected.  From time to time that boring ride home from a weekend road trip can really take a turn for the better.