The most significant thing that happened in my life was my first ghost on the fly. When people here the word ghost, they think of that super natural being that can go through walls. But what I mean by ghost is the fish called the carp. It’s a slang term given by fly fisherman. You might wonder why a carp is called a ghost, because one second there in front of you and in next second they are gone. Generally people think carp are slow stupid fish, a nuisance for the environment, and are not a targeted sport fish. Well those people are wrong. Carp are intelligent, fast, strong, like with any other fish they’re essential, and a sport fish to some fly fisherman.
The journey begins on May 19th 2012, it was a Saturday, was an abnormally warm day for May, and my high school prom was on that day. The day began early in the morning around 7am, my dad and I got up ate a warm breakfast, put our 9ft 8 weight fly rods in the truck, put our canoe on the truck and set out for our trip. Our destination was Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield Massachusetts. I never fished in this lake before so I didn’t know what to expect to catch. On our way over I ask my dad what we might catch in this lake. My dad told me that it was a warm-water lake so warm-water fish and that one of his social media buddies told him that there were carp in this lake. I never caught a carp on the fly before, but I tried so many times, on the Concord River, the Sudbury River, and some reservoirs with no success. Like with any of those other trips I would get excited to catch a carp but not get one. But I had a good feeling about this trip.
When we finally arrived at our destination my dad got out of the truck and walked down to the lake to look in the water while I assembled my fly rod. Immediately my dad yelled “Matt! come over here”. I dropped my fly rod and ran down to my dad’s side. He pointed to the murky water, a dark silhouette swimming in the shallow water. I looked at it closely and it was a huge carp. I waited in that one spot for a while and saw one after another. After my rod was assembled I made a few cast from shore before we launch the canoe. Soon after those bad casts all the carp disappeared, my dad and I set out on the lake to look for more fish. When we were in the canoe we had specific jobs, my dad would paddle and steer the boat, and I would stand up and spot for fish to cast to. My dad and I had many opportunities to cast to some fish but with no luck. After we paddled and fished by the boat launch in the north side of the lake, we decided to paddle over to the high bank across the lake in the east to try and find them over there.
When we got over there we did are jobs again. As I was sighting for fish I saw a cloud of silt, I looked closely and I saw a fishtail sticking out of water. Which is good sign that a carp was feeding aggressively. Immerging from the cloud of mud I saw a large carp appeared. Immediately I cast my fly 5ft in front of the path it was swimming. Before it went over my fly I moved it slightly so it would see the fly, I saw the tail come up out of the water on top of my fly, I waited five seconds, and then went to set the hook. Like a ghost I thought one second its there and the next second its gone. I spooked the fish, ever thing was perfect in those few minutes, I don’t know what went wrong. I was so frustrated I shouted F%$@! All the people on the shoreline just stared at me wondering why I was so upset.
When we were done fishing by the high bank, we paddled across to weedy side on the west coast. On our way over there, in middle of the lake we saw carp feeding on the surface and normally there bottom feeders. Seeing them feed on the surface calmed me a bit, I never saw anything like that schools of carp feeding on the surface. We tried casting to them with tiny dry flies but they wouldn’t hit the flies. When we paddled over to the weedy side we saw no fish just lots of weeds. My dad and I then paddled and fish up the coast back to where we started. I was still frustrated how I had that perfect opportunity with that fish, and I thought maybe it was fly, is that why it didn’t eat. So I changed it, I put on a fly with olive marabou tail, with olive zonker strip wrapped around for a body, with black bead chain eyes, and tiger color rubber legs. It was a hand tied fly I created, that sort of imitates a crayfish; I called it the Carpe Diem Fly.
As I made one more cast with the new fly and let it sink to the bottom, I started stripping in my line and my line went tight. I thought I was snag at first, but then I saw my line moving out deeper really fast. I didn’t know what I had on the end of my line. The battle had begun.
When whatever it was swimming toward the boat, my jaw dropped because it was a carp. Next thing that fish did was run hard my drag on my reel was screaming. The fish must have run 75ft cause he went into my backing. He then started swimming back to me and my line went loose, I thought the fish spat the hook or snapped the line, but it turn out the fish was swimming faster than I could reel in. The fish swam back to the boat and the drag went screaming again. I thought that fish would bend my rod 90º. I brought the fish back to the boat for the third time and my drag went screaming again.
Finally the fourth time was a charm we were able to net the fish. When I was able to pick up the fish he was that golden brown color, really slimy, and smelled extra fishy. The only way I knew it was a male carp because it spewed sperm all over my hand while I was holding it. My dad made a comment saying “You skipped prom but you still manage jack off your date” I laughed sarcastically not liking the comment. I released the fish and let him swim back to his domain. Now I understand why some fly fisherman respect these fish and not spin fisherman.
After the battle I shouted with joy and, tasted victory and the refreshment of ice-cold water that battle wore me out. While recovering from the battle I sent a text message along with a picture to my buddies and my girlfriend, saying, “I caught my prom date”. My buddies laughed and my girlfriend never responded, I guess she was still mad at me for not going to prom with her. She later said that she was proud of my achievement. All I could say now is that it is possible to catch any fish on the fly and, that’s one less fish I need to catch on the fly.