Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Cottonwood Hatch

Since I first took an interest in targeting carp on the fly, I have been enamored with rumors of the fabled mulberry and cottonwood seed "hatches." Visions of carp sucking off the surface with abandon tempted me to consider destination trips. Where I'd once planned vacations around salmon flies and salmo trutta, I was now planning them around mulberrys and Cyrprinidae. 

Well, yesterday I finally happened upon such a hatch, and I didn't even have to leave the city limits.

I came through the woods in the early afternoon to find the sun high and the flats well lit, if only a little dingy.  The view from my favorite lookout point revealed chaos, the water boiling with orange lips pac-manning little white puffs off the surface. There were literally dozens of fish working in unison ranging from dinks to fish that would have easily exceeded Shop Vac status. With shaky fingers I clipped the oversized bass popper from my leader and frantically combed through my fly selection for something small, white, and fuzzy. I briefly considered MacGeyering some match-the-hatch concoction with white marabou and monofiliament, but in my haste I settled on the closest thing I had, a tiny white BoogleBug slider.

Both of my first two casts got eaten by monster grass carp. Unfortunately, I tried to play it cool and wait for the inhale before setting. Instead, both fish instantly spit the fly and flipped me the fin as then went back to sucking seeds. I did manage to stick and land a handful of smaller fish, but it was extremely challenging and I saw far more refusals than I would have expected given the circumstance. Unlike trout, surface-feeding carp are extremely erratic and unpredictable. They do not follow the same line for long. They are also extremely efficient, and won't move far out of their way to take an offering, even if it is a bigger meal. I also noticed that of my first dozen or so casts, each one was inspected and considered closely by one or more fish. After that, the majority of them were completely ignored, or flat-out spooked the pod. 

These fish continue to intrigue me in new ways, and the release of Kirk Deeter's Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing For Carp couldn't have come at a better time. We finally got our copies into the store today and I will be be leafing through mine for the first time this evening. In conjunction with that release, Orvis has also announced an entire web page dedicated to scales and whiskers - Carp Central. Take some time to check it out and get in on the photo contest, which will tie in with our DW contest to be announced later this summer. You might even recognize a handful of images from previous posts.

Sunday I pull chocks for the mountain west again and after that it's back to the North Country where a smorgasbord of warm water quarry awaits. It's shaping up to be a pretty spectacular couple of weeks in Dudewater Country so stay tuned!


  1. the cotten hatch is thick right now down here in new mexico. i was just fishing it today in the albuquerque area ditchs. they are fun!!

  2. Hi Jim. Great photography. I found the link through the Orvis site, like those hats. What kind of camera do you usually carry with you on the water? -Todd

  3. Hey Todd,

    Believe it or not, the pictures in this post are all from my iPhone. I generally carry a Nikon D5000 though and that's what most of my better shots come from. Thanks for visiting the blog!