With the trout season in New York at an ebb, I stopped at the Andover wetlands one morning to have a look at the carp. Two young guys were stalking along the railroad track with bows for “the queen of rivers” (Izaac Walton). One of them made a good shot from the dam and pulled a small carp from the water. “After it rains in the evening you’ll see lots of them swimming around in here,” he said. I decided to return that night and bring a 9-foot fly rod.
Carpe diem, I thought. Seize the day, or seize the carp, when the waters are too warm for trout, when you realize that life’s too short to disregard the urge to stay outdoors, when you want to keep a bend in the rod and in your all too mortal bones.
The numerous ponds found in these rivertop wetlands have long been an excellent location for birding, and I’ve even caught some carp here with a fly rod, but the fishing tonight was lousy in the muddied water thick with grass. I caught neither carp nor bass nor sunfish, though the carp were a tease, their heavy bottom-sucking forms occasionally bursting through the surface of the ponds beyond my casting range. At least I saw an eagle, a mature bald eagle, flying low above pond #3, a touch of wildness on the wing.
The strategy I employed was to make a quiet, careful approach, to lay out a cast as smoothly as possible and to let the fly sink in an area approached by a cruising fish. But again, the carp I saw tonight were distant, reminding me that a small canoe might be a useful instrument. My fishing here seemed a little desperate, lonely and uncertain, at odds with the warm, still water. Carp are interesting foragers and I wanted to connect with them again, to feel that unholy power flowing through the line and rod, but it looked as though I’d need to search the lower river pools. I didn’t have an eagle’s touch for carp, but a poet looking for the Queen of Rivers keeps an eye on the wetlands for an opportunity, at least.