Breaking the Surface - with Dave McCool
Our trio has logged countless hours chasing the elusive Golden Bonefish and just when we think we've seen it all, this amazing fish shows us something new. This past June, Pete Hodgman called me in a state of total astonishment as he was pursuing a school of carp that had taken up residence near a remote Lake Michigan shoreline and small tributary. Pete noticed the carp were spending a good amount of time jumping out of the water at a very aggressive pace.
"You almost never see carp consistently breaking the surface and clearing the water nearly three feet," Pete explained. "It's like someone is shocking the fish and they are trying to escape by launching themselves skyward."
Pete noticed that the water would boil on the surface when the fish would jump and he concluded that carp were actually chasing a bait ball of minnows like you see tuna do in the open ocean. Up to this point, all of our fishing had been focused on the use of small nymphs and crayfish patterns fished exclusively on bottom.
A new tactic was born! Hodgman decided to try a small minnow pattern that would be fished only inches below the surface and would imitate a wounded emerald shiner minnow. His first cast with the streamer produced a fish over 20 pounds and the most aggressive run seen all year by Hodgman. More than 175 yards of backing came screaming off of his reel at a blistering pace.
"I've never seen a carp pull so fast, hard and long," remarked Hodgman. Pete compared the fight to a chrome king salmon that had been hooked in 100 feet of water. "The only difference is that a salmon could never take that much line in one run." Pete was able to reproduce his experience with the minnow pattern six times that afternoon before the school of Golden Bonefish decided they'd had enough and moved out to deeper water.