Blackfoot Once More - with Andrew Holt
This year’s visit to Blackfoot took on a little different flavor, instead of the usual lads from the American Carp Society; I got to go with a friend of mine from England. Peter Standing had actually made the trip with Steve Ruck, Wayne Boon and I two years ago and he was looking for a repeat visit. Wayne and Steve couldn’t make the trip with me this year as both had other commitments. Between the four of us we have made several trips to Blackfoot and outside of last year when Steve made the trip late in the year with his wife and boss Mike, we had not caught a fish over twenty seven pounds. As you may have read Mike had caught a 33 lb fish on his first carp trip ever… go figure. So anyway I digress, Peter flew in from London and we threw together some gear and took off on the 900 plus mile drive up to Idaho.
We arrived Sunday evening to beautiful clear skies and light winds blowing over the lake, hardly enough to cause a ripple on the mirror like surface. There was not a soul in sight; we had the place to ourselves. We set up our camp, next to my truck, we had erected a couple of bivvy’s and unlike the previous year I made sure we put a little snap out before it got dark and we got our heads down for the night.
Before the sun broke the horizon Monday morning I woke eager to get at them, my keenness to get started was quickly stifled when I stepped out of the bivvy to a really hard frost, everything was frozen, and there was a thin layer of ice covering all the bait cans and all the gear.
We were real slow to get moving; I was stood in shorts and a sweatshirt trying to put my rods together, my hands freezing every time I touched anything. It took much longer than usual to get things going, but eventually we had our rods together, baits in the water and the kettle was on for a brew.
I happen to be a strong proponent of fishing with method mix, but I dislike the use of in-line method feeders or method weights, I don’t think they are safe for the fish and I don’t like the fact that I can’t easily detach from my set-up when I break down my rods. I also think that most method mix feeders and leads are not heavy enough to set the hook when empty. So I designed a lead that can be slid on and off of a weight clip and still hold a good sized ball of method mix and is about 3 ounces. I made a mold and my buddy Steve Ruck cast some samples for me to try out on this trip. I guess I need to go on a little more about “in-line” method leads and feeders. I know they are advertised that if lost they will not foul the fish but I’m not comfortable with that, first I think they are too light to do that effectively and second the whole in-line thing just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s a personal thing, I know many people that fish with them are perfectly at ease with how they work, it’s just not for me. I like the Korum type line clip and use it or variations of it all the time. I shed a lot of weights when playing fish and that makes me feel even more comfortable with the system. My methods leads clip on and are heavy so I expect to loose them from time to time when I’m playing a fish, that’s an expense I’m more than willing to pay to catch and preserve fish for the future. Right time to get off me soap box.
As I said before I fish method mix most of the time, I use a good sized method mix ball and when I say a good sized ball of I don’t exaggerate, I have heard Karl Haymer refer to big balls of ground bait as “Babies heads”; this is as close as I can come to describing my balls of method mix. When I chuck one out it can cause quiet a stir, when other people are around they must see or hear them hit the water and I can tell by their reaction its one of amazement. But regardless of the size, it doesn’t seem to put off the fish. I have a set of three, 3-1/4 test curve Cassien rods I got from Scorpion that I really put through their paces. I can cast a good sized method balls 75-95 yards no problem. On this trip it was to be the first time that I got to use the new leads and Peter and I were both using the same set-up.
So for me this trip was kind of two fold, I wanted to beat my own PB and in doing so get a fish bigger than any caught in previous years, as well as fishing with and catching them on my new method weight, quiet a challenge, but all I felt very doable.
The fishing this year was different to past years, again we caught plenty of fish, but unlike years past we started catching on the first day and caught continuously for the first three days, then the fishing really dropped off in the last two and I can only put that down to the tremendous heat. We had temperatures in the high nineties for the last couple of days and lows at night, down to the high thirties. Sixty degree temperature swings in a twenty four hour period was a shock to our system, I have to believe it had some effect on the fish.
My quest for a personal best was achieved with a beautiful 29 lb 8 oz fish and the capture of the biggest fish recorded by our group was also achieved, not by me, but by Peter. He landed a stunning 33 lb 7 oz fish that was one of the longest carp I’ve ever seen; it was also a new PB for him.
So driving back we had plenty to reflect on. The new leads worked great, I did loose a bunch when fighting fish but they held on to the method mix and worked great for setting the hooks. Two new PB’s and string of stories to tell when on the bank talking to the other guys when we get back.