Happy Fourth of July!
I think this past weekend must have been prime time for the cottonwoods to release their seed. At times is looked like the beginning of a snow squall! Little tuffs of cotton (no wonder the tree got its name) drifted wherever the wind blew. Watching all this I had a flashback of sorts…
Years ago, on another day when the cottonwood seed was heavy in the air, I was doing some fishing along the edge of a small pond. I kept hearing a slurping noise and trying to figure out what I was hearing.
Across the pond from me, in a small bay, the cottonwood seed had been driven by the wind and was gathered up along the shoreline. As I watched I could see the mouths of carp break the surface and suck down the cottonwood seed. I was intrigued! There must have been 20 carps milling around.
I thought this would be a great way to bow fish for carp, or to catch a carp on rod and reel. But how would you make a lure that would attract a carp? Based on what I was looking at, something the resembled cottonwood seed would be a good fit.
I began to experiment with several designs. White yarn was too opaque and didn’t look right. Real cotton balls worked for a few minutes and then became waterlogged and sank. Then I stumbled across polyester fiber fill material.
This material was perfect. It was white, it did not absorb water and sink, and it had “the look” of cottonwood seed. The design of the lure was so light that I a fly rod was going to be the way go. I tied up a few of these flies.
It is quite simple to tie one of these flies. Place a small hook (I like #6 Aberdeen hooks) in your fly tying vice and whip a few wraps of white thread on the shank near the eye. I usually put a dab of Super Glue on these wraps to hold them in place. Next, I pull off a little bit of the polyester fiber fill and lay it on top of the hook shank. A few more wraps of the white thread and the “cotton” is held in place. I wrap some more thread at the eye to give the lure the look of the seed pod at the end of a cottonwood seed.
Finally, I was ready to test my creation. The only problem was that the cottonwood trees had completed their cycle for the year. No more cottonwood seed was being released. I attempted to cast my fly wherever I saw carp working the surface, but never got a bite. I had to wait a whole year to try it again.
Finally, the day came. Cottonseed was flying everywhere. I grabbed my carp flies and a flyrod and headed out to find some carp. I found a spot where the wind had pushed up some cottonwood seed along a shoreline. Sure enough, carp were working the area.
I rigged my fly rod, tied on one of my cottonwood seed flies and started casting. I had made about a dozen casts when a carp took the bait. My line snapped tight and there was an explosion in the water at the first resistance. The fight was on!
If you have never hooked up with a six to ten pound carp on light tackle, you are in for a surprise. Regardless of what you think about carp, they are a powerful fish and will test the skills of any angler.
I’m guessing it took me 15-20 minutes to land the 8-pound carp. All the action had managed to get the attention of several other anglers, all waiting to see what kind of mega-fish I had on the line. A few walked away when they saw it was a carp, but I bet they would have felt differently if they had the rod in their hands.
Since that time I’ve flyfished for carp a number of times. A friend of mine calls them Diamond-Backed Grass Trout. I refer to them at Platte River Bone Fish…anyone who has ever fished the flats in the Gulf of Mexico knows what I mean.
4th of July
Many folks will get a long weekend this week. We celebrate the birthday of our country. Then, as it is now, we need to thank those men and women who serve and have served our country to keep us free and to be able to enjoy a weekend with family and friends.
Keep that in mind while watching the rockets red glare. Give thanks to all veterans and say a special prayer for all active duty members out there in harms way.
For me, it is also a sad time. It was 20 years ago this week that I lost my youngest son, Isaiah, while on a family camping trip. He was six years old.
Isaiah was playing with his brothers and friends when he got caught in a landslide on the banks of the Cedar River in central Nebraska. I was unable to dig him out fast enough. I still miss my little buddy.
I hope everyone else has a safe and fun 4th of July week.