I tucked myself into my wading jacket as we made our way towards the first fishing spot of the morning. Cloudy skies dominated the horizon and a choppy wind swell threw around Captain Austin Adduci’s boat as we motored away from shore. “Can that thing get wet?” Captain Adduci asked, referring to my camera. “Nope” I responded, “but the bag is water tight.” “This boat is definitely the most comfortable boat between the guides, but It will also get you the most wet,” Captain Adduci warned me. Mario rode beside me as we made our way towards Fisherman’s Point to take our first shots at Beaver Island carp—sunny skies finally appearing in the distance as wear neared our destination.
I was up first; wielding a TFO Axiom 10wt, 3-TAND’s T-90 fly reel and a 10wt Rio Outbound fly line. Although the water was slightly nervous, one could still see straight to the bottom of the Beaver Island’s freshwater flats. The bright sunlight fell across the islands, flats and reefs, illuminating shades of aqua and blue—you could practically navigate exclusively by color. And navigation was of the highest necessity! The flats and reefs were littered with massive boulders, carried around by the winter’s ice. The most impressive boulder was one that appeared to weigh at least a few tons. A trench marked its miraculous journey for hundreds upon hundreds of yards. The thousands of shadowy rocks, densely spread across these flats, nearly resembled a graveyard—headstones marking the turning over of the lake, the birth, death and rebirth of the ecosystem throughout the seasons. As we rounded the point, the shadowy rocks began to move. This was not an illusion. This was carp! “Well I’ve done my job,” Captain Adduci noted, “now it’s all up to you!”
“Am I leading them correctly? Is there something wrong with my presentation? What’s going on?” I don’t know why it was so hard for me to understand that fish occasionally are just not hungry—after all, I never turn down a meal. After some persistent, hard fishing I finally managed to get a follow. It was a hard look, my presentation had sparked some attention. The carp followed my fly for five or ten yards and then… a flicker of orange lips. Hook set… shit! I felt the fly momentarily set into flesh and then pull out of the carp’s mouth. I was heartbroken.
I turned over the fly rod to Mario, hoping he would do better and get a fish into the boat. I was confident he would succeed; the guy just looks fishy. We were testing 3-TAND’s T-90 reel and I was anxious to see how the reel would hold up against these carp. Mario began working some cruising fish, making a few casts at some happy lookers. Finally, Captain Adduci and Mario spotted the fish we had been looking for and Mario made the cast. Suddenly, the wind picked up in a surge and sent the fly line straight at the boat—Mario had just hooked himself in the head. It went straight through his hat, and after a moment of clarification, we knew that the hook was barbed and very stuck in his scalp. Captain Adduci didn’t seem too keen on removing hooks from scalps, so I offered to do the job.
“Ill take it out Mario, but it’s going to hurt and you have to promise not to hit me,” I said jokingly. “I’m going to faint,” he replied as his body went limp, Captain Adduci and I guiding him into a seat. Unresponsive, with eyes rolling into his forehead, Mario had experienced an adrenalin response to the hook touching a nerve. We had no choice but to call for help and run him inshore. Mario came to shortly after Captain Adduci started the engine, and I held his jacket as the motor revved to nearly full throttle. Full plane across an area that was born to eat boat props, Austin said, “I’m going for it.” It was pretty badass.
After a short visit to the Emergency room, we decided to go back out and continue fishing. The island’s medical staff certainly made the most of their only patient of that week, and we soon learned that our adventure would be the talk of the island within the hour. This scary situation turned out to be quite funny. And although we didn’t land any carp that afternoon, Mario earned himself one freakishly large smallmouth and a bald spot above his left ear!
By Austin Green
Be sure to check out Morgan Kupfer’s perspective of day 4 on his blog, TLTFF!