Are there ‘trainable fish’ on the LA River?

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At today’s first Carp Town Hall, carp guru and recent California transplant Trevor Tanner makes a point about our local river’s prime catch. (Jim Burns)

This just in from one of the heavyweights of carp fly fishing: LA River carp are trainable. Trevor Tanner, the master behind the unfortunately almost-shuttered Fly-Carpin’ blog, and recent transplant from Denver to Ventura, ran through a mind-boggling grab bag of carp-catching tips during the first Carp Town Hall at Fishermen’s Spot this afternoon.

Moderated by local salt master Al Q, the informal panel also featured Dustin Sergent, one of the winner’s at and last year’s Carp Throwdown  and longtime river fly fisher Jon Nakano.

This guy is obviously in love with a species once spurned, which has caught on with fly fishers across the country since the publication of “Carp on the Fly” in 1997.

Word on the street and not independently confirmed, but apparently four Colorado fishing guides in town for the obligatory Disneyland E ticket also found some time to fish the LA! Let me repeat that: guides from Colorado took time out of their vacation to fish our river. Wow.

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From one generation to the next, anglers take notes while dreaming of that big fish to come. (Jim Burns)

But the negative of this newfound popularity: If you’ve been loving the lack of pressure on our river, it’s coming. And, as Tanner pointed out yesterday’s fly patterns may not be working as well as they used to because, yup, carp learn what’s being thrown at them and eventually stop responding. I’ll be featuring the newest carp fly in a later post.

It was a fascinating lecture from a man who has established himself as a go-to guru in the field. He estimated his own take at 1,500 carp.

Tidbits from his lecture:

— Carp will thrash your typical trout knots (Amen). Ditch the surgeon’s knot and improved clinch. Instead, learn to tie a Bimini Twist for tippet, as well as the non-slip loop knot for flies.

— But, conversely, use a “trout set” instead of a “strip set” for hook-ups.

— Stick with the more gnarly (and expensive) fluorocarbon, instead of monofilament.

— Forget the overrated crayfish fly and instead try matching your fly to the scenery instead of to the hatch. This may sound weird, but it makes sense.

— Learn the “drag ‘n’ drop” presentation to avoid scaring the bejesus out of the fish with a Blue Plate special — aiming the fly at the sweet spot “dinner plate” around the head, only to watch him quickly swim away, spooked by your fly.

— Use a net.

And, of the 12 states and various places in which he has fished for carp, Tanner rated the No. 1 most difficult as Denver’s South Platt River and the easiest as … I’ll let you put two and two together.  So if you’re just starting out and missed a load of hookups, don’t despair, it could be worse.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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4th Carp Throwdown loves the locals

THE FOG: No, it's not a John Carpenter thriller, but it makes for a great shot! (Courtesy Al Q.)

THE FOG: No, it’s not a John Carpenter thriller, but it makes for a great shot! (Courtesy Bernard Yin.)

On Saturday, June 13, the Carp Throwdown celebrated its fourth go-around.
The night before began with some good, ol’ revelry, including rock and roll featuring CTD co-founder Conway Bowman on drums! The CTD tradition of the band always being called the Three Blind Carp was kept alive with Bernard Yin and his wife, Rebecca, on guitar and bass.
Next morning, a solid group of anglers hit Lake Henshaw in the fog, caught fish and had a great time. The legendary hopper hatch was not as elusive as in previous CTDs and many anglers earned their rankings with the help of hoppers. Certain areas were rife with the bugs and it was clear by the bird life that these hoppers are a huge part of this area’s seasonal ecosystem.

SO CAL RULES: And locals Tiffany and Dustin Sergent represent. (Courtesy Al Q.)

SO CAL RULES: And locals Tiffany and Dustin Sergent represent. (Courtesy Al Q.)

Some anglers leaned small and Zino Nakasuji even went to a size 14 stimulator.
And several catfish joined carp on the catch list. Good fun.
The results?
Well, we’re all warm and fuzzy to add that the first place boat division team was in fact a couple! Hats off to Dusty and Tiffany. They’re locals so you can blame the whole home team thing too.

Matus Sobolic took first in the wade division. He is a noteworthy So. Cal. carp fisher, who nabbed a first in last year’s Off Tha Hook on the L.A. River. Like many, he pre-fished the lake to dial it in.

A shout-out to organizers, Al Q and Conway Bowman, the Fly Stop and anyone else we neglected to mention. Not a single person didn’t bring something good to the table.

THREE BLIND CARP: Keep it real with Bernard Yin, left,  Rebecca Ramirez Yin, center, and Conway Bowman. (Courtesy Al Q.)

THREE BLIND CARP: Keep it real with Bernard Yin, left, Rebecca Ramirez Yin, center, and Conway Bowman. (Courtesy Al Q.)

Carp Throwdown 4 Results 2015
1st Place Boat Division

AYE, AYE,CAPTAIN CARP: You shoulda been there for a fine day (Courtesy Dylan Scott Moore)

AYE, AYE, CAPPIE CARP SEZ: You shoulda been there for one fine day. (Courtesy Dylan Scott Moore)

Dustin and Tiffany Sergent

6 qualifying carp

5 best — total 110 points
2nd Place Boat Division

Tod and Brian Suttle

4 qualifying carp

4 best — total 79 points
1st Place Wade Division

Matus Sobolic

5 qualifying carp

5 best — total 92 points
2nd Place Wade Division

Mike McVay

4 qualifying carp

4 best — total 73 points
Big Fish

Dustin and Tiffany Sergent

26-inch carp
Trash Fish

Dan Jazozewki

21-inch catfish
Fish count for 40 anglers (26 boat, 14 wade)

36 carp

3 catfish
Special thanks to rock ‘n’ roller Bernard Yin for helping me get this report together.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Carp Throwdown winners experience deja vu

Does lightening strike twice? Well, for this year’s Carp Throwdown on Lake Henshaw in San Diego County over the weekend, it sure did.

Just like last year, David Wratchford once again captured the wading division with 97 points. And the boat team of Dustin Sargent and John Hendrickson snagged first place with 102 points.

The winners walked away with an Orvis H2 saltwater 6 weight and a Yeti cooler, respectively.

Wratchford also got the prize for “best trash fish,” which includes everything in the lake, excluding carp.When’s the last time you heard of a bass being considered as a trash fish? In Wratchford’s case, it was a catfish, and he won a Galvin T-5 reel for his efforts.

Everyone else, well, you can tell from these photographs, snapped by Bernard Yin, had the swag of enjoying this fab tournament.

If you can’t get enough, consider participating in the Carp-Ocalypse in Seattle, Aug. 10-11.

See you on the river, Jim Burns