Largemouth Bass Lineup

Largemouth Bass Lineup

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Carp Trip That Wasn't

Back in July, I took a trip to Beaver Island, Michigan in search of monster carp and smallmouth. Among others, I traveled to the promised land of carp nirvana with Cameron from The Fiberglass Manifesto.  We spent four nights and three days on that magical island.  It has been a month since I returned and it is time to blog about my trip.  I wanted to take some time and think about what I was going to say.  The reason being is that there is so much to talk about when one speaks of Beaver Island and the amazing guides at Indigo Guide Service.  As a side note you can also find them at Third Coast Fly or for Austin at Grab Your Fly Charters.  Because I will be covering a lot and the post will be photo heavy, I decided to break it up into two posts.  The first will cover Day 1 and 2 while the second will cover Day 3 and 4 as well as some lessons learned.  For this blog post Day 1 will start with the beginning of the trip for me which was the travel day on Sunday.

Day 1

Since this trip was being hosted by Cameron from The Fiberglass Manifesto, I knew I needed to bring some glass to throw.  I decided on a Steffen Brothers 8'6" 8/9 3 piece rod for the heavy stuff built by them. I also went with a Blue Halo limited edition black 7/8 built by Shane Gray of Graywolf Products and Services.  For reels I went with the Waterworks-Lamson Konic II.  I loaded one with Rio Redfish line in 9wt, one with Rio Carp in 8wt and one with SA 7/8 Bass line.

Day 1 had me leaving my house at zero dark thirty.  Two things about this before I go on (1) I should have planned better and not shopped for clothing 12 hours prior to leaving which pissed Melissa off and (2) airports provide fantastic people watching.  OK, on with the show.  I flew out to Detroit and then to Traverse City, Michigan.  In TC, Cameron was kind enough to pick me up and drive me up to Charlevoix so we could hop on the plane to Beaver Island.  Despite that I have been talking with Cameron for the past year and a half now, this was our first meeting.  Great guy.  All in all it took me three plane rides to get there.

Once there, we were able to meet up with Austin, who was waiting for us.  Austin is a super nice dude and a terrific guide.  Do yourself a favor and check him out.  Anyways, Austin dropped us off at the house we would be staying at.  It was a nice place and it would become our base of operations for the next few days.  It was also a block away from the market and a block or so away from the deli which is where we would meet every morning for breakfast. It was also close to the guides and the boat ramp.  Two very important things to be near!

While we waited for the rest of the guys to show, Cameron and I hit the deli and then the market.  It wasn't long before the others showed up and greetings were exchanged.  I was able to meet Adam, Ken and Chris who were also on the trip.  All of them are fantastic guys with great personalities.  Chris traveled all the way from Sweden to take this trip.  He certainly made the longest commute for these monster carp and smallmouth.

Well as evening rolled around, I decided to hit the docks and chase the smallmouth for a bit.  I was using my 5/6 cranberry Blue Halo.  For me, I was dying to use one of those sculpin patterns I had tied up so I figured why not.  With an orange/black one tied on, I started slinging the bug.  In the end I landed my first 6 smallies of the trip.  I was off to a rocking start!  The rest of the evening was spent making new memories over beer and cigars with my new found friends.

Day 2
The day dawned gloomy and wet.  A storm had rolled in and everything was put on hold.  We had to wait for the waves/wind to settle a bit before we could head out.  It wasn't looking good for carp either.  Carp fishing requires sun in order to see the fish.  Unfortunately, there wasn't any.  So what were we to do?  Well fish for monster smallmouth of course!  What's a little competition between friends right?  Cameron had secured prizes from several companies.  The first full day of fishing we would be competing for a $100 gift certificate to TrueFlies.  After a few hours, we were finally able to head out.  The weather wasn't great (rain!!) but it's only water right?  Some photos from the ride out:

My guide for the day would be Steve Martinez.  Steve is an outgoing, jovial sort of fellow.  He is very knowledgeable and he put me on some great fish.  This fishing was truly incredible.  I mean I am used to catching smallies in the 8-13 inch range.  Now, at the island I was landing them in the 16-18 inch range.  Huge difference.  Huge!!  Fish like these tend to spoil a man.  The only fish under 16 inches was the first fish I landed of the day.  Other than that one, they were all 16 or better. Cookie cutter fish.  Its funny though just how soon one can get spoiled.  After like the 3rd or 4th fish over 16 inches, I stopped taking photos.  Steve asked me "You want a photo of this one?" to which my reply became "No I want one bigger!"  I have never caught a smallie over 18 inches.  In fact I have only caught two over 17 inches.  We just don't have them that big on a regular basis here in Maryland.  Soon I landed one that went 17 and 1/2 inches and 4 pounds.  I was over the moon with this fish.  However, he was not the biggest.  Steve gave me a small crab pattern to try.  It worked like a charm.  I managed to land a smallie that went 18 and 1/2 inches and 4 pounds.  It was my biggest smallie ever and the biggest one of the trip for me.  It was also the second largest smallie caught that day among us anglers on the trip.  Chris managed to land one that went 20 inches.  So Chris got 1st place for the day and I took second.  Nothing wrong with a $100 dollar gift card right?  By the way, that fly now sits in my display case.  Steve was more than generous to allow me to keep it.  For that and the awesome guiding I say thank you my friend.  My total for the day was 16 smallies boated.  I probably lost just as many. No matter how many times I landed one, they still amazed me.  These fish are strong.  I mean S.T.R.O.N.G.  Every time I hooked up I would be hooting and hollering during the fight.  I was constantly telling Steve how freaking strong they were.  It was mind boggling. 

Before I knew it, the weather started to turn against us and it was time to head out.  I'm not going to lie, I didn't want to.  I didn't want the day to end as I was having way to much fun.  This is a short video I shot while we were heading back to the island.

Days one and two ended with no carp...  Will days three and four be better to me?


  1. Wow, that's a post. Is that sculpin black with orange legs?

    1. Thanks Josh. It is actually orange and black with orange being the primary color

  2. Thanks for taking us along, great story. Reminds me of our annual trip to Wildness.