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barbelfloat

April Fishing - Specimen Angling - 45Lbs-14Oz

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I can retire and un-retire as many times as I like….look at Michael Jordan, he’s retired many times over. :lol:

No but seriously, let me explain this retirement from big carp thing. I hope that you guys realize that I’m kidding around when I use the word “retire.” It’s suppose to be funny because how can I “retire” when I never had a professional career in carp fishing to begin with? Get it :lol: ? But the intent of the word is truthful, i.e. that I wouldn't be participating in exclusively fishing for big carp when I go fishing.

But this next point is important. When I say that I’m retiring from big carp angling (BCA), this does not mean that I’m not going carp fishing. In fact, I can go leisure fishing. And if I go leisure fishing and I catch a big carp by luck, this does not mean that I was participating in BCA. This whole discussion is getting really weird :lol: ....but I started it by using the word “retire” in the Memories of Carp (Fishing) thread and I think it’s now time to put an end to all the confusion and clarify this once and for all.

To understand what the heck I’m talking about, you have to first understand carp fishing the way I do. Below is a diagram of how I view carp fishing.

Barbelfloat's View of Carp Fishing

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Before I go fishing, I decide what type of fishing I’m going to do that day. This in turn, determines the amount of effort and time I put in. As shown in the diagram above, to me big carp angling (BCA) is strategic (tactical) carp fishing but strategic carp fishing is not BCA.

Big carp and especially specimen angling is arguably the most demanding and difficult. The “Pursuit of the Largest” can consume your whole life, if one is not careful.

There was once a time when I was consumed by BCA (2005-2008) and I could not control it. Luckily, I came to my senses and was able to consciously make the choice to stop chasing big carp at the end of 2008. No more spending +14 hours on the bank. Traveling hundreds of miles in search of big carp. Thinking about big carp 24-7. I had “retired" by the end of 2008.

I became active on this forum in 2010 and I started talking about big carp a lot, especially during the fall of last year. This inevitably led to me wanting to catch one again so I tried for 3 days straight and I failed. I was out of practice and it really showed during the November sessions. But I got lucky and I caught one on November the 28th, 2010 which led to my NACA article. Then I went back into “retirement” again.

But you know what :o ? Based on my behavior, it was inevitable/predictable that I would not be able to “retire” because I was active on the forum, looking at big fish pics, reading big fish stories, etc. etc. If one wants to retire, they shouldn’t talk about or hang around people who aren’t retired.

The big carp monster that was dormant inside me woke up :D and by late March 2011, it could not be stopped. I made up my mind. It was now time to take my fishing to the next level. I decided to push and test my BCA tactics to the limit and see if I could successfully capture a specimen….nothing short of 40 plus. Specimen Carp.

Edited by barbelfloat

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Dude, I wonder what goes on in your head. How long does it take for you to decide in the morning to have a cup of coffee or not. :P

All joking aside, go get'm dude... ;)

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Hahaha Mike good luck on your quest! I'm with Mario...how long does it take you to get up and decide what you're gonna wear in the morning? :P

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In many ways, 99% of the time, when we say that we don't have time for carp fishing…this is not entirely true and is an excuse. Rather than not having time, it’s more accurate to say: I don’t really want to do it or I want to do other things with my free time.

Because of the nature of my work, I’m tied up on most weekends until the fall and winter. And work is not something I could trade in to go carp fishing (that is unless I want to be homeless :D ). But I’m free on weeknights. I can easily trade in hanging out with friends, happy hour, and exercise for carp fishing…that is if I really wanted to. And I really wanted to.

Luckily for me, the first weekend of April freed up. The PR was chosen as the venue where I would target the specimen. I now believe that a lake may actually be easier than a big river for a specimen but because most lakes around here close at dark, it was not a good choice because I would mainly be fishing on weeknights after work. So the PR was chosen.

When many people think of the Potomac River (PR), I think they unconsciously think it’s either the Tidal Basin (TB) or HP. But nothing can be further from the truth. TB and HP is nothing but a speck and are not representative of the Potomac at all. In fact, both HP and TB misrepresent it….they are both more like a lake than a tidal river. I broke away from TB and HP by the end of 2008 and started exploring the other 400 miles of the PR (albeit I didn’t make much progress – it would take a lifetime to explore the whole thing and maybe 5 or 10 lifetimes might be required).

April 2nd, 2011

To keep it interesting, on April the 2nd (Saturday) I fished a section of the river that was ~15 miles away from DC. It was a difficult venue to say the least. That section of the river is choked with weed. Lots of catfish were caught but it was difficult to get into any carp. But I did manage to get one carp and it was a good size too. But not the specimen I was targeting.

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April 3rd, 2011

On April 3rd, 2011 I fished a different section of the river. I estimate this section to be between 20-25 miles away from DC. This section of the river was small carp city.

Small Carp City

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It didn’t matter what tactic or rigs I used. The carp under 10 lbs still managed to get on my hook and they had no problems attempting to swallow two 20mm boilies and get hooked.

To get to this swim, I had to walk for about 15 minutes and make 2 trips in order to carry all the bait and gear. For the amount of effort and time in just setting up, I decided that this would be the last time that month I would fish this swim. This swim is near a Marina and I believe that my mistake was prebaiting. I know with certainty that a specimen carp either resides or visits this swim because it’s near a Marina (food source) and it’s highly structured. But by my prebaiting, I had collected too many carp to the swim, driving the specimen away. Either that or the timing was wrong. Maybe the specimen only arrives at night to feed? Whatever the reason, only small carp were caught that day.

For the next couple weeks, I either had to work overtime or the weather wasn’t cooperating. One thing I realized was that when specimen hunting, we are under the mercy of the weather….especially when the venue is a tidal river. The current can be magnified tenfold making it impossible to fish. The Potomac was flooded from heavy rain twice this Spring, making it unfishable for at least 10 days total this year and to compound the problem, we sometimes had days with wind gusts in excess of 25 mph :really angry: .

Initially, the plan was to fish 3-4 days a week on weeknights after work for the entire month of April but it just didn’t work out that way. When my schedule was free the river was either flooded or the weather was terrible and when it was nice, I had to work OT.

April is all the time I had for serious fishing. From May until October, it would be very tough due to other commitments I could not break. I had no other option but to use up my vacation time but there was one problem…I didn’t have any. I decided to do something really nuts. I would ask my boss if I could have a couple days of leave without pay. I didn’t tell him that it was so I could go and target a 40 lb carp of course (because surely he would fire me for he would realize how I crazy and weird I really am :D ).

I picked a time when projects were slow to ask my boss and it worked it out. He set me free for a few days. :letsjam:

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I was finally free. I could be on the bank 24-7 for the next couple days. Session fishing is where I shine as an angler. I’ve never been an angler that likes to target the big one by trying to catch a lot of fish but my strengths are in setting traps and waiting for one fish.

The choice of swims was limitless for this 2 day session. But I decided to play it safe. I would fish a venue I knew like the back of my hand...the tidal Basin. I know TB and HP well for I had spent a good chunk of my life there from 2006-2008. TB was an excellent choice for a specimen this time of year because it fishes best during the spring.

Once I arrived at the TB, I felt good. All 3 rods were immediately set up and I was watching the water for any signs of activity.

TB

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I noticed that the water level was low. Did they close the gates? But then, to my utter horror and shock, I heard very loud rumbling noises which almost shook the basin. As I looked over to the Jefferson memorial, they were doing some major construction and renovation work a 100 yards from me.

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Needless to say, all my energy and excitement disappeared. I knew there was no specimen carp here today. He was 100 miles away. Shortly afterwards I packed up and left.

Time for plan B. TB was now out of the equation so I decided that I would spend all my efforts at HP the next day.

The next day, I arrived at dawn. Waited for the Park Police to open the gates and I was the first one in the park. Saw fish activity on the spot that I had baited so that was encouraging.

November 2008 was the last time I did any BCA at HP. I did some leisure fishing after that but nothing serious. But being back there and going for the biggun and being there that early in the morning brought a moment of déjà vu. I almost thought it was 2008 for a second and I was young again :) .

To make a long story short (now I’m getting lazy), I only caught one fish that day but it was the biggun I was targeting. Waited 5 hours for him but it was well worth it to say the least.

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Mike you suck, post up the damn pic already :P

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5 hours passed and I saw many small carp crashing but I resisted in casting to them. One of the things I learned a long time ago which has pulled out a biggun for me in the end in more than one occasion is confidence in one's tactics and PATIENCE. Around noon, I was looking out in the water and then all of a sudden, my middle rod takes off. The moment I pick up the rod, the weight and power of this fish was just unbelievable. I hooked it very close to the wall but it took so much line that it was literally in the middle of the river (+100 yards). I had absolutely no control of this fish and I kept braking the drag with my finger but it did not want to stop. The initial run was so long that a couple spectators gave up and went on there way after what seemed like 10 minutes had gone by.

It had a couple more runs after the first one but slowly I started to get my line back and make progress. It stayed deep the whole time and I remembered how difficult it was playing big carp at HP. It is deep throughout and there is no bank but a wall which is like +10 feet depending on the tide. I had to literally lift this fish up the water column and I was very careful to use the tip of the rod rather than the butt section to avoid the risk of a hook pull.

Once the fish surfaced, I almost fainted. Not only because it was over 42” long but the orange color on it was unmistakable. This was the coveted carp by all the anglers in DC, which I had banked in 2008.

Eventually I got him in the net and it was all over. I did it! I captured the specimen carp. :D

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PICTURE!!!!!!!!!!

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I usually take my own pics with my programmable self timed camera but I asked someone to help me with it since there were so many bystanders watching. I am very picky when taking fish pics and these did not come out to my personal satisfaction so in a lot of them, I cut my head off :lol: . Needless to say, I will now be taking my own pics unless I'm with a carper who understands how to take carp pics. But in the end, it's not a big deal...I am very grateful for the gentleman's help. :):yourock:

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This fish was so long that it kept sliding off my oversized Gardner unhooking mat. I may need to get a bigger mat :D

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This is a true tidal water specimen. It doesn't have obesity problems like it's stillwater cousins but it's streamlined and long (+42"). The majority of the weight is not in it's belly but in it's thick muscle. Note how thick the head and body is.

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For comparasion purposes. Here he is in 2008 (+37 lbs) and in 2011 (+45 lbs). He has filled up his long frame very nicely....from the muscle around his tail area to it's shoulder. Needless to say, I'm holding him closer to my body in 2011 but he still looks thicker.

2008

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2011

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Edited by barbelfloat

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Holy crap Mike congrats!!!!! Thats the catch of a lifetime! And a repeat too!!! What a beautiful carp!!!!! :o :o :o

:yourock: :yourock: :yourock: :yourock: :yourock: :yourock: :yourock:

Congrats again bud!!!

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Outstanding! Loved the build up story!

That is a "specimen carp", congrats on an outstanding fish! :)

Edited by possum

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Mike,

You are making it HAPPEN! Well Done!

HOPPY4

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Holy #### Mike... that is awesome.. massive congrats man! :yourock:

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Well done mate. Best looking fish I've seen for a long time, luuuverly colour, nice weight too.

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