Saturday, September 03, 2011

Carp Slammed 2011

“Carpin’ is hard.” – Michael Gracie

“This shit is easy.” – Nate Taylor

“It’s all about the beat.” – Trevor Tanner

August 28th 2011, 12:20AM
I wouldn’t say that Bruce Smithhammer and I ran from the uniformed officer in the lobby of the Hyatt hotel but we did walk fairly quickly toward the glass revolving doors with a I-don’t-know-that-guy look on our faces as Gracie retrieved the line, reel, and fly rod from the polished tile floor. The Bombay martini in the Peaks Lounge seemed to have weakened Will’s resolve, but we weren’t going to let him change his mind. You bought this ticket, my friend.

August 27th 2011, 6:30AM
The day had started out innocently enough. Wide smiles and excited eyes gathered outside the Fuel Café before being sent off to their designated waters followed closely by their handlers armed with measuring tapes and screen-door screens stapled to wooden dowels.

The morning progressed as you would expect. Some caught fish, some didn’t. The fish that were brought to hand were measured and recorded. The Reynolds/Gracie duo tag-teamed weary caprs as homeless Denverites bathed with sand near the toilet paper tree-racks just out of sight upstream. Louis Cahill stopped by. A sandal floated serenely by between Reynold’s casts under the constant ka-thunk of bridged traffic. At 11:30 we rolled back to Fuel Café for lunch and the fishermen lied and shit-talked over fried chicken, sautéed potatoes, coleslaw and rolls.

The afternoon beat is where we encountered the mohawked, face painted, spear-wielding Laotians, which rumor has it were hired by Trevor Tanner and given six chickens and a set of mildly-worn SUV tires as payment for fouling the beat. I was not able to substantiate these accusations, however Tanner did place first with Clint Packo, who probably had no idea of his partner’s alleged treachery. The investigation is ongoing.

After the fishing day had come to a conclusion, small groups gathered in the Fuel Café parking lot exchanging whispers in hushed tones of numbers and inches. The crowd quickly dispersed as Scott Wells lit a bottle rocket in Tim Romano’s pocket, diving behind cars as Romano did a there-is-something-explosive-in-my-pants dance then returned a volley of RPG fire into the crowd. One blue ExOfficio shirt was injured in the exchange but is in stable condition.

We fled the scene.

August 27th 2011, 7:00PM
The Carp Slam party was held in a conspicuously white tent erected in confluence park on the bank of the South Platte. Servers walked with plates of appetizer-esque edibles, as a local band played moderately-acceptable covers from better known musicians. The bar was open, and so was everybody there. Winners were crowned, and congratulated. There were no losers. We drank and ate and soon it was time to move on as the real party-people walked from the tent and over the river lead by the venerable Will Himself.

A few minutes later we ducked into a doorway where Douchey McDoucheington, the mustachioed line-cook at the bar on Fifteenth and Platte, made it clear that the likes of us were not welcome to hang around the hallway by the bathroom, and if we should choose to stay in the establishment “we do accept cash as well as credit cards,” he informed us and looked pointedly toward the dining area.

Will only stopped here so that he could take a piss and to his dismay upon exiting the bathroom he saw that the growing band of Carp Slam post-partiers had taken up residence at a small table near the rear and already ordered a round of “the cheapest whiskey you have.”

He sat reluctantly as the waitress, who already looked like she was fed up with our shit, approached the table to bring the round of shots.

The group, fueled by bacon-wrapped jalapenos, lamb skewers with avocado cream sauce, bacon-wrapped shrimp and the open beer-and-wine-bar and consisting of Scott Wells and his wife, Bruce Smithhammer, Michael Gracie, Nate Taylor, Trevor Tanner, Trevor Tanner’s first-place Carp Slam trophy, Sabrina of, her friend, and myself were now thoroughly planted and Will was forced to take a seat. Douchey McDoucheington, the mustachioed line-cook spied on us from around the corner. We drank and annoyed everybody but ourselves.

Some time later, after Nate was intercepted on his way to the bar by the mustachioed line-cook and told “you have a waitress and she will take your drink order”, it was time to leave. Will rose and pointed a finger at Smithhammer and I and proclaimed “In five we are out of here,” and walked toward the restroom. Bruce and I looked at each other with a raised eyebrow. He came back and our trio silently made our way to the front door into the warm night.

Minutes later the cab pulled away we stood on the sidewalk across from a side entrance to the Hyatt Regency. We made our way across the street, weaving between Denver’s seemingly ever present construction cones and blinking barriers. Smithhammer, fed up with the obstacles took it upon himself to kick the newly-poured curb, sending out an explosion of concrete that rained down around Will and I forcing us to run for cover inside the hotel. The Hammer is hardcore like that.

As we approached the elevators Will Himself’s easy going demeanor took on an air of seriousness. He pushed the “up” button and turned to his traveling companions. “Okay, in order to pull this off, we have to walk in there like we own the fucker. Got it?” Apparently Bruce and I did because we nodded and slid into the waiting elevator where we met a European magician who was time traveling to the 22nd floor. We didn’t need magic where we were going so Will pushed the button next to the little number twenty-seven and the steel and wood box quickly accelerated into the sky.

The door dinged open and we flew out into the Peaks Lounge like we owned the fucker. Around the marble pillars, past the high-rollers and professional escorts, the business travelers and the first-class fliers we marched. Eyes forward and chins out, all balls and bluster we moved to a leather couch located in prime corner territory where we sat like important people with important things to discuss and important drinks to drink. Bombay, Bombay, Bombay Sapphire with a side of blue cheese olives sealed the deal. We were in. We munched delicious potpourri and sipped our drinks and resumed our unimportance and spoke of unimportant things and drank our unimportant drinks. The view was magnificent and I felt like a man who should have had it all.

Will sipped his martini and leaned forward conspiratorially. “One drink, then we move on.”

One drink proved almost too much. Bruce was on his phone. Gracie was in the lobby and we had to go. I shook Will off the couch and we wove out of the lounge with much more chalance than our entrance. My camera bounced heavily at my side. My flip-flops rang like snare drums.  I felt dirty. I knew I didn’t belong but I would never show it to these swine. Nobody seemed to notice.

Gracie, as advertised, was in the lobby with last-years slam champ Phil Beranto and was still carrying his pirate’s booty of second-place prizes which for some unknown reason the pair began throwing in our general direction, crashing loudly about our feet leading to the unneeded attention of the stone-faced officer stationed near the check-in desk and our speedy exit.

Once outside, we forced our way into another cab as Will flopped his head back and proclaimed “the Diamond Cabaret!”

The van pulled quickly away from the Peaks Lounge full of important people and the annoyed night officer in the lobby.

The manager was a nice man with a bald head, rimless glasses and a dark blue suit that was cut too large. He took our things and handed me a card, promising that he would keep them safe in the office.
First in line, I walked to the counter and smiled at the woman who had a great face but lacked the body of a dancer so was relegated to running the credit card machine. She ran my visa and reached out with petit hands, placing a neon-green bracelet around my wrist. Once I had been legitimated, I turned around. Will was gone.

I pushed out the door. He was not outside. I worked my way back inside, flashing my bracelet at the gorilla doorman and I gathered Bruce for the hunt. We walked into the dark club and I pushed a pair of breasts out of my way and scanned the crowd. There he was. I walked over and grabbed his wrists and held them up into the flashing light. No bracelet. Will Himself was operating in gentleman’s club ninja mode.

He lips stretched into a evil, lopsided grin and quickly disappeared again in a poof of glitter. Gone. Bruce, Gracie, Phil and myself found a chair and lounged like pros. Phil was distraught that we had chosen to sit away from the dance-tables and told us so numerous times as Smithhammer and I ordered a couple absurdly expensive beers. We watched.

The end was near. I could feel it in the air. The Ninja was gone, the post-post-post-post party atmosphere was thinning and I was finding it hard to concentrate. Gracie, who until this point had been sitting docilely in the light tan upholstered chair, sprang to his feet and declared that he was leaving and ran toward the exit, punching a bro in the side of the head who was waving dollar bills at a pair of C-cups on his way. I looked at Bruce. We nodded in agreement and followed in Gracie’s wake.

We gathered out gear.
We went home.
We went to Taco Bell.
We went home again.
We ate tacos and supreme burritos.

Morning came and Bruce boarded a plane for Idaho, Gracie worked on his computer and I went fishing.

The Carp Slam was over and all was good and right in the world.

-Alex who already misses the toxicity of the DSP.

(If you are viewing this post in a feed reader, you are probably missing the awesome slideshow click here

More reportage:
The Drake
Fly Carpin'
Dirtbag Fly Fishing
Michael Gracie
Carp Slam Website



  1. Those blue cheese olives were the shit.

    And I'm still scratching my head at how the hell Rice-cakes got into that club...

  2. Yeah, dude. Ninja for sure.

  3. You have it all wrong. I traded 6 bald chickens and recovered my costs on the chicken feather black market. All evidence is now running around Denver nestled in stomachs and/or blond weaves. Scott-free, can't prove anything.

  4. Damn... there has to be a way to trace the tires, though. I am on to you McTage. Gonna go Columbo on your ass.

  5. I just was shocked at how many free drinks people bought smithhammer and I.

    Tight Lines.

  6. Chasing carp on the fly is a respectable sport. Using dog chow for bait is a bit iffy. I like stalking carp. It is good practice for stalking redfish.

    Thanks for mentioning the RSS reader thing in the post. I was reading the post using feedly on my Android phone and ended up bringing up the post in a browser for a looksee.

  7. I forgot, there is one guy in the photos that always has his rod up. While I am sure he's gonna say, "Up yours smartass" at my suggestion, you'll feel the take from the carp much easier if you put the tip of the rod to the water and remove all the slack. You'll also be able to strip strike quicker when you feel the tension. I take it this guy only fishes for trout and not bass or carp?

  8. I believe that the person you are referring to is Barry Reynolds, aka The Carpfather. Which is funny because he wrote the book on fly fishing for carp. (If you type the book on fly fishing for carp into google his comes up)

    Since he is a super nice guy he probably wouldn't say "up yours smartass", but would take the time to explain why what he was doing was in the best interest of catching the particular fish he was looking at (which he did).

    I do know that when you can see the fish and watch the eat you don't have to worry about feeling the take.

  9. Epic post dude. Epic.

    And Luciano, I think your input would really be appreciated over on the Drake Forums. Those guys are always looking for the kinds of informative tips and tricks you've provided here.

  10. I apologize for coming off like I have that much experience in the area. I have some but certainly not as much as Mr. Reynolds (who I have heard of). I guess, in hindsight it is possible Mr. Reynolds might have been nymphing or drifting the fly like trout fisherman do as the technique appropriate for the given scenario.

    Additionally, I stand corrected as to strip striking for a carp (for bass that is correct). According to Jim Gray, our local Austin area carp fly fishing expert, you should raise the tip of the rod and not strip strike.

    The link below has a great summary of tips that Jim has presented to some of the local fly fishing clubs related to carp fishing. A lot of the things he says I can attest to from my own experience but Jim is really the guy with the most knowledge around here.

    Search for "Fly Fishing for Carp in the Texas Hill Country" within that page.

  11. Hey Luciano. I don't think you need to make amends for your comments. You wouldn't have recognized Barry based on the pictures from his book as they looked like porno stars from the early eighties. Maybe he will take the hint and put out a new edition of his fantastic book on carp fly fishing. As for rod tip up or down I have read suggestions for both techniques. I have always fished with the tip close to the water for fresh or salt water except when I was high sticking with a nymph rig. Hope you are far away from the brush fires down there in Texas.

  12. Hi Mike. Thanks for the concern. I think we had three separate fires within 4 miles of where I live last week. I could see and smell smoke and hear sirens occasionally. Thankfully, the wind died down and they were able to get them under control. The largest fires are south of Austin in Bastrop. Note sure where they stand. Maybe 35% contained and so far maybe 1400 homes lost? It sucks having an extreme drought.

  13. A great way to catch carp on the fly is using a bugger pattern. This pattern can catch pretty much any fish and is a favorite amoung many fishermen.


What sayeth you?