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carp on the fly

jim m

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Posts: 52

Joined: 28-July 05

From: tualatin, or

Member No.: 1265

It's not every day that a guy sets out to catch a 20 some pound orange koi on a fly rod...it wasn't today either. I woke up this morning happy to know that I had an entire day planned at one of my favorite carp lakes. Of course, plans don't always hold up, and today mine didn't. I arrived at the lake and while the sun was out and the wind calm, the water level was so high that I just couldn't see the fish. They were there, but hard to target, and even harder to reach due to the depth of the water. After nearly swamping my waders a few times I managed to hook a couple of fish, and landed one of them, a nice carp of about 15 lbs. It was fish like this that I had come for, but the tough conditions quickly chased me home.

After some debate, I decided to go look for Highway Cone. I hadn't gotten serious about throwing flies at him in a while, and had been hammering his buddies, so at the least I figured I would chase him around, and then try to catch some of his friends. Armed with a fly I tied up just for Highway Cone, I zipped back to Portland.

As soon as I got there I spotted my adversary...that doesn't say much as he is pretty hard to miss! I stalked along the bank about 3o feet behind him, hoping he would turn and head towards me. I had learned long ago to forget about casting to him from behind. The fly line traveling over his head would immediately spook him. Eventually he worked his way into a little bay, with me not far behind. I set up shop and took a moment to put on the special fly I had tied...I had seen Highway Cone in this bay a few times, and I knew he would circle back toward me, hopefully on the feed.

Twenty minutes later, he did just that. I stood in a semi-crouch hidden by some bushes as he worked slowly towards me, and for the first time, he really seemed to be actively eating. Unfortunately, he seemed to be actively eating the algae blooms in the water...something I didn't think I could imitate at that moment. I prepared to cast anyway, and when he got about 15 feet out I flipped the fly into his path. As usual, he moved right past it. I tried a second, then third cast with the same result. By this time he was only a few feet away from me, and was beginning to turn with the bay's contours and start back on his circuit. I made one final cast and managed to put the fly about 10 inches in front and 2-3 inches to his left. Highway Cone eased forward, then slowly, his huge head turned in the general direction of my fly.

His gills puffed out.

I lifted the rod.

Water flew everywhere.

Line exploded off of my reel.

I was hooked up! In shock I watched as the fly line sped through the guides and the big fish made a wake as he blasted out of the shallow bay. Highway Cone made short work of my trusty Plueger and 6 wt St. Croix...thank God I brought the 6 wt today!

After a long run I settled in to what would be a tough battle. This was a big fish, and while I finally had a fighting butt to use, I was still fishing 4x tippet. I brought him back to me one time only to have him blast into my backing again. Slowly but surely I brought him back to the bay, but as soon as his belly touched bottom, he headed into my backing for the third time. The third time would be it though. I kept up the pressure, and eventually had him headed in toward shore, clearly exhausted.

At this point I had a problem. There was NO WAY Highway Cone was going to fit into my net. It was not even close. I frantically looked around for a 12 year old kid in dirty shorts, or a 50 year old chinese guy...the two saviors from the last two big fish I had taken. No one was in sight.

I steered Highway Cone into the shallows, and prepared my next move. Bending down, I dropped my tiny little net over his head like it was a burlap sack, dropped my 6 wt to the ground and grabbed for his tail as quickly as I could! Got him! In this awkward position I managed to lift this behemoth up and brought him to the bank. I removed the fly, firmly planted in the huge fish's top lip, and reached for my camera. With no one around I did the best I could in snapping a few pictures of this fish I have chased for 6 months, then picked him up and set him back in the shallow water.

In no time Highway Cone flipped his tail and headed for deep water. I walked up the bank a bit and sat down...soaking it in. As I stood up to collect my flyrod and net I looked out into the lake, and there he was, cruising along about 40 ft away. Slowly he slipped out deeper, and then disappeared.

Highway Cone is still out there, but I bet I have to come up with another fly.


john montana

tualatin, or

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  • 2 weeks later...
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just saw this post...highway cone was quite the saga. it took me seven months to finally land him...i hooked him one other time, but he broke me off. carp on a flyrod are a great test!

hope all is well in your neck of the woods!

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  • Root Admin

Admire the picture you took... more interesting is that you took it yourself.

It might be common knowledge on your board, but how did Highway Cone get his name?

Lilleys Landing logo 150.jpg

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that picture turned out great, but it was a lucky shot. i didn't want that fish out of water for long so just before i landed him i hit the self timer button on my camera. i brought the fish to the bank and fired off the camera pointing it from where i was kneeling to the ground, then dropped the camera on a clump of grass, held highway cone up and hoped for the best. it turned out much better than i could have expected. i took another shot of him on the ground and let him go.

highway cone is alive and well, and still snubbing my flies on a weekly basis. i'll get him again...in about another 7 months! i dubbed him highway cone because it was the only think i could think of that really described him. i'd never seen a koi that size. i'm guessing he weighed around 24lbs. he is close to the biggest fish i've caught.

here is another good fish i caught on a fly last month...i have hooked 7 really big carp in the last two weeks (all around or above 20lbs) but highway cone stole my mojo and they all broke me off! this fish was around 20...i'll post the story up behind the pic as well...it was pretty funny:


A moderate angler armed with a wispy 4 wt fly rod and 4X tippet should never win the battle with a 20 lb carp, but today the stars aligned and I met goal #1 for the year! With the cloudy weather I cancelled a planned trip into the gorge to my favorite carp lake, but I couldn't resist an hour or two out at a local lake I like to fish, just to look for carp. I got there about 1pm and walked around the lake with my eyes peeled. I spotted some fish, but without the sun the fish were there and gone in an instant. Still, enough activity to keep me excited, and I was getting a few chances to throw the fly at some nice sized carp. After 30 minutes or so I spotted the Highway Cone Koi and raced down the bank to get ahead of him. I knelt down in the mud and prepared my size 12 rubber legged hare's ear. As Highway Cone neared I noticed that a few feet behind him came a carp of similar size. I waited until the two fish were nearly upon me and gently flipped the fly into action. Highway Cone ignored my offering with his usual disdain, but I left the fly in the water. When the second fish was right above the fly I gave it a tiny twitch, and the big fish stopped. I almost didn't set the hook, but after about 2 seconds I realized that I hadn't seen either fish stop in their entire circuit down the bank, so I lifted the rod and immediately felt the weight of a heavy fish. The carp blasted out for deep water and I quickly palmed the Hardy Bougle as it screamed a shout of joy across the lake. The battle was long and with 4X tippet I carefully played give and take with the monster fish. After about 10 minutes I got the fish close to the bank and leaned down with my tiny little net. At this point, I realized I had a problem. I was pretty sure I could get the fish in the net, but only if I made the perfect stab, and with rod in hand and small tippet, I was in no position to make an error. I looked up in mild panic, knowing that this fish quite likely would meet or exceed my 20 lb goal. A kid and his friend of about 12 years were standing on the pathway above me, avidly watching me struggle with this monster fish.

"Want to give me a hand?" I yelled.

"Sure thing!" replied the kid enthusiastically. He sprinted down the bank and I prepared to hand my net and hopes of reaching my goal to this 12 year old in shorts and a dirty Tshirt.

After a quick and dirty lesson while I fought to keep the monster fish under control the kid declared himself ready. I angled the fish back to the bank, once, twice, three times and on the third time the kid reached down and went for it! With such a monster fish I had told him just to try to get the fish's head into the net, and the rest would (hopefully) follow. With practiced aplomb and complete disregard for his white sneakers he stepped closer to the edge and nailed that big carp in one swoop! The fish went crazy went it felt the net and its impending imprisonment and the kid nearly lost his cool as a 20 lb behemoth thrashed and flopped inches from him. For one second I expected him to drop the net and run in horror, but with ice in his veins he grimly held on. The thrashing ended with a cloud of mud, water and debris obscuring the net.

"I think I got him!" the kid yelled.

"Lift him up!" I encouraged and the kid did his best to comply, but the fish was simply too big! "Use both hands!" I nearly screamed at him and he quickly grabbed the rim of the net and lifted the beast out of water!

As soon as he got such a close view of what he had just captured his steely nerve nearly failed...I could see him breaking before my eyes. I dropped my precious 4 wt and the mud and leapt forward to take the net from his shaking hands.

I laid the monster on the bank and gently removed the fly. This was a BIG FISH. I lifted the net, and unscrewed the handle that holds the internal scale. With a loud clunk the scale bottomed out. This fish was nowhere near the 14lb maximum weight of this scale. I hefted it a few times, and while there is no way to be 100% sure, I declare my goal of a 20 lb carp on the fly official realized.

As proof I list a picture, taken by the sure (but slightly shaken) hands of a 12 year old. Without this kid I really don't think I would have landed this fish. The moral of the story, I need a MUCH bigger net!

hope you all are catching fish!

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