We pursue that which eludes us.
That’s not waxing rhapsodic, nor is it a profound statement. It’s just simple fact: if it didn’t elude us, there would be no need to pursue it.
And that pursuit is responsible for so much of what we find compelling in this life, isn’t it? We pursue goals, championships, promotions, happiness, pleasure… love.
And fishermen, of course, pursue fish.
Since first fishing the urban South Platte back in early June, and realizing what a unique and challenging fishery it is, one thing immediately made itself clear: there are BIG carp in this river. Shockingly big fish. 15, 20, even 30 pound carp. The kind of heavy fish that almost don’t look proportionate; the kind of fish where you say to yourself, “Is it as wide as it is long?”; the kind of fish that you really, really want to catch very badly.
And so, that became my goal for this summer: to catch a carp. The only qualifier attached to that goal was that I wanted to do it out of the South Platte, because I would just always rather be in moving water.
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself “He made this his goal in early June, and it’s almost September… what gives?”
Turns out, carp are f%cking hard to catch. They’re seriously wary, they don’t see well but their hearing is superb, and they understand that a fly line means danger. Throw in the fact that on two of my last outings the water was up and the clarity wasn’t great (plus I didn’t see any carp, period), and, well, June, July, and August went by in a flash. With no carp.
I went out that morning and hooked my first carp. I didn’t stand a chance. I tried to set the hook like a trout, tried to fight it like a trout, and it was off in under 10 seconds.
I had a doctor’s appointment at 1:30, and was so geeked about that morning’s marginal success that I had to double down and go back out in the afternoon. Sometimes you just gotta go back to the craps table and roll the dice again, y’know?
At about 4:40pm on Friday afternoon, I connected with this beautifully colored fish. After stalking him from the bank on my knees, a short cast to where he was headed, and a vacuuming take on his part (at which point I remembered to strip-strike instead of lifting the rod), he was on. One of the biggest fish I’ve ever had on my line, smack dab in the middle of downtown Denver.
There will be another post down the line about native/non-native species, urban/wildlife interfaces, and whether you should work with what ya got or strive for an ideal. But right now, for me, this post is about that moment where the pursuit pays off, and we finally get to experience what we’ve so far only imagined.
Two other highlights of the day come to mind: homeless men and women helped me spot fish from bridges, and even offered me tips on tackle; and I saw my first ever, real live “wild” rat.
We certainly encounter some interesting situations in our personal pursuits, don’t we? And I guess we’re richer for them, by a long shot.
Though I’m still trying to figure out how I’m richer for having seen a rat.