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Take a Kid Carping in MA

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 9 years ago

Take a Kid Carping in MA



June 27th, 2010


Spy Pond, Arlington


Jerome, Domm, Eric and a bunch of kids


Note: all kid pictures were published with explicit written authorization of the corresponding parents.


Preparing the event


As part of the new TAKC national event launched by the Carp Anglers Group, I started to advertise for a local event in Arlington (where I live), and lined up Domm and Eric to help initiate kids to carp fishing.
We designed and printed a few flyers, my wife Edith helped me displaying them in various public locations, schools, public libraries and Boys & Girls facilities. To attract the kids, I used the pic of a 21 pounder I caught in our local pond a few years ago. According to Edith, this worked well, plenty of kids in the middle school (where she's the librarian) were excited and asking questions.



I contacted the Friends of Spy Pond Park association, and had a short write-up published in their newsletter. This proved timely as I was planning to fish with the kids on the 27th, and the FSPP planned to organize a local festival of sorts for kids on the corresponding Saturday. Karen Grossman was super helpful and gave me various useful e-mail addresses, notably e-mail lists of parents in Arlington (this proved surprisingly effective). Keeping with the advertisement, a similar write-up was submitted (and published) in the local paper, the Arlington Advocate (thanks Nicole). I even got interviewed by the Boston Globe (West) for their People section (thanks Cindy). 

I also secured the authorization from the town of Arlington to use the park for the event, thanks to the local recreation department (thanks, Joe), and checked with their health department that they were ok with the event (as long we promote catch & release, which was of course the idea). Some paperwork was required, including to make parents sign up waivers to avoid liability issues, which actually gave me a good opportunity to solve a few challenges at once:
- no liability issue
- getting the parents authorization to publish pics 
- capture contact information for parents (cf. TAKC prizes)

Attracting fish


I didn't fish Spy pond in years, having focused on more ambitious fishing goals since I landed this 21 pounder (check the story here). As I knew that the pond suffered from a bad problem with thick invasive weeds, and that the pond was treated with various chemicals to try to reduce the weeds, I really didn't know what were the (carp) fishing conditions nowadays. I was actually a bit nervous, as some plumbing showed that there are no weeds at all left in front of the park, which makes fishing convenient, but made me wonder if any food source was left for carp to eat.


So I decided to prebait quite heavily, throwing a full bucket of boiled maize every morning for an entire week, spreading it from one side of the park to another. Good thing is that it gets quite deep relatively fast, so I knew I was feeding fish, not ducks or geese. I didn't see a single carp jumping while doing so, but I remembered that spy pond carp do not jump much during the day (no clue why), so this wasn't worrying. Still... I had no idea if fish were in the area or not, and this was gnawing at me.

So on Saturday evening, after attending the park's festival with Felix, I took my fishing rods with me, and decided to go give it a try. I went to the roundabout at the end of Linwood Ave, very close to where I caught my biggie, threw a bit of bait, set up my rods and... got 4 runs in no time with a single bait. That was a good start to say the least. Only trouble was that there is a bad ledge, making me lose one fish and struggle to get another one. I decided to go try another spot, more or less at the center of the park. Same scenario, some light prebaiting, single bait and two fish took off relatively quickly. Now I was truly relieved! I moved again, closer to the playground, I had to wait a bit longer, and I landed one more. All right, the worry became... do I have enough helpers for the event if they start biting like crazy? Only Domm and Eric agreed to come to help, a few other requests didn't materialize (this was admittedly really short notice). This was a good concern to have though!

Sunday June 27th, fishing frenzy!


I was there at 7AM, threw some spoons of boiled corn in every opening, plus some calf manna pellets. Dom and Eric joined me around 7:15, we displayed a few signs (derived from Monty's excellent drawings!), we agreed on who was fishing where, the logistics of getting waivers signed (I would be the one centralizing that), and before we knew it, it was 8AM and kids started to arrive. As I had not requested any formal registration to keep things simple, I really had no clue how many kids to expect. After dealing with the paperwork, I sent the first kids to Dom and Eric, before the flow started to thin a bit and I kept the rest of the kids with me. 


I didn't want to bother them with complicated explanations, better have them hooked with the excitement of catching a big fish and then and only then start explaining more tactics. Still, I made them practice some "pump and reel in" fish playing skills with me before setting up rods. Amazingly enough, the first run came before 9AM, and Ashby was the first kid catching a nice carp. He was quickly followed by Jason (mark this name!). 



We released the fish, I had two more kids set up at the same opening, and guess what? Run#1, we started to play the fish when the second rod started to scream too. This was interesting to say the least to manage two kids catching their first carp at the same time, not get tangled, not lose the fish, land them in the same net, but... we made it! Amazing! Here are Quinn and Ford, with two nice fish (I guess-timated Ford's fish to 14 pounds, probably the biggest of the day), which we quickly released as I was nervous about having another run pretty soon from the rightmost opening.



We had another run pretty soon indeed, but poor Brennan lost the fish, due to a hook pull. Around 10:30, I had enough time to recast all rods, set up two new kids (the general idea was to make them take turns) and practice pump & reel. My son Valentin also came to help which was a relief, given how busy this event was turning out to be.



Still, we didn't have to wait that long, and a little girl named Alexandria was on a fish soon after practicing. The rod was really quite big for her, and this fish was pulling hard. I was so happy that we did land the fish that I didn't pay attention that she was frowning, and a bit of teasing about kissing the fish sent her in tears right after the great smiling pic below. I felt really stupid, but Alex' mom assured me this was no big deal, and we took another picture claiming this was a catch from two old bearded guys instead of a little girl!



We recast, waited a little while and had another run from the same swim, and it was a pretty thick fish. The force of the carp was with Luke (Alexandria's twin brother).



Now, remember Brennan who lost a fish earlier in the day? He was waiting patiently with his rod while other kids were catching in the same (rightmost) opening. Around 11AM, he finally got what he was hoping for. We played this one very gently, I tell you! Here is a happy angler, one has to love his smile!



Runs kept happening in the rightmost opening, while the leftmost opening dried up. This was the turn of Tom and Jack, brothers. Tom (mark this name too) is pretty young, but fishing seems to be right in his blood, while Jack was more intent on making faces to be funny!



We recast, and once again, this opening delivered rather quickly. Oliver caught his first carp within a few minutes of being set up. Now let me explain something. Contrary to what the following first pic seems to imply, this carp didn't slap Oliver's sister (Amelie) in the face! This was close though (and I know the feeling, I've been slapped by a carp myself!). Amelie was very intent on catch a fish herself, but alas, this didn't work out, we lost one a bit later and that was it for her rod. 



The kids patiently waiting at the other opening weren't lucky either, I tried to recast, to change a bit the distance, but the fish were moving away as the air temp was rising. We stuck to it for a while, and Ben finally landed the last fish of the morning session, which he played like a champ with next to no assistance. He held his fish by himself for the pics, and released it too. Well done.



By then, I was absolutely winded and badly sunburned. The plan was to have a break between noon and 3PM, before resuming for another session. I sync'ed up with Domm and Eric, and to my amazement, next to nothing had moved in their respective areas. They lost one fish each, and only Michael in Eric's section landed a fish around 9AM. Huh? Yesterday evening, this is exactly where I was fishing with fast success. Go figure. They ended up deciding to stay on the bank while I went home to take a nap, quickly boil a bit more corn and eat something (not exactly sure about the order!). 



So we resumed the event at 3PM, and a new group of kids arrived, all at the same time! After dealing with the paperwork, and sending some of the kids to fish with Dom and Eric, we resumed the "play the fish" practice, recast 4 rods, and waited. Well, it didn't exactly work as well as in the morning, and we had to wait until 4PM for a first run to occur. Hunter (an interesting first name for somebody eager to fish!) was on a nice fish, and landed it with my friend Dom's help - as I had forgotten my own net at home in my haze. Quite a crowd had gathered to see this young angler landed this very dark fish.



And then fishing completely died. None of us succeeded to do anything about it. Participants were getting a bit discouraged. We tried to make good use of the time by practicing casting (young Anya proved real good at it - mark this name too!), but hot weather and fatigue was taking a toll. And then, as most other people had given up, we got a run out of nowhere, and young Tom played his second carp of the day with much poise. 



Many thanks to all involved, notably Karen, Domm and Eric. And congratulations to no less than 13 new anglers who caught their first carp today.


A week after... Let's try again!


I still had a couple of buckets of boiled corn left, and although the event worked real well, there were a couple of kids I noticed who stayed very patiently and weren't rewarded. Also, the side-effect of having a lot of fishing action was that I had no time to explain much to the kids. So I decided to improve a follow-up session, this time in short committee, just inviting a handful of kids, plus taking my younger son Felix with me. As I had to travel (for work) early on Thursday, I changed my prebaiting strategy, and threw corn in the water late in the evening Wednesday and Thursday. 


On Friday morning (July 3rd) at 8AM, we were at it again. Some of my guests didn't make it, but Anya (the master caster) and Ben were right on time. We went through a few fishing explanations, and quickly set up four rods. We had to wait a bit, and Ben got the first run, a fish which took a lot of line, and found a way to get rid of the hook. Here is what we dragged out of the water, not exactly what we were after!



Soon after, Anya's mom left us for 15 minutes for an errand, and sure enough, Anya caught a fish in the mean time! Anya was real happy, but we released the fish a bit too quickly and mom didn't see it. Oh well, I thought that Anya would catch another one quickly enough, and indeed, she got a second run a bit later. This was a furious take and... oh no... we lost this fish too. 



Things weren't as fast as last Sunday though, and we started to have to wait longer between bites. This time, we used bite alarms to monitor the rods, allowing us to stay in the shade. It was Felix' turn, and he finally got a run. Although he had some previous experience, this fish gave him a hard time, this was hard work (in his own words!), and he was rewarded by a nice one, which we weighed at 10 pounds and a half.



Things really slowed down by then, so we practiced casting (both Anya and Ben did real good, while Felix discovered that braided line needs to be dealt with using some care). We killed some time making pics in front of the water, hoping the flash would trigger fish to bite! It didn't work!



Anya had to leave, and poor Ben still hadn't caught a fish by then.  I think he was putting a brave face but had lost hope. The gods of carp anglers was with us though, and we got a run out of nowhere around 10:30. And after a spirited fight, the fish relented and Ben had caught his first carp ever. Two more new anglers! With the 13 from last week-end, this was a total of 15, not too shabby!



A while later, it was Felix' turn, and lucky him, he got another nice one, which we weighed at 11 pounds and a half. So we celebrated with a family hug. Including the carp!



Life was good by then, but things became less fun a few minutes later. As Felix was playing his fish, a passerby fiddled with the other rod on the rod pod, and I didn't pay much attention to it. Big mistake. As I was fixing a rig on a picnic table, I saw my rod pod fall over, and I knew instantly what was happening... A carp was pulling the rod behind it, with the baitrunner having been disabled (so the line wasn't flowing freely). I jumped in the water, but just couldn't see the rod anymore. I tried to cast for a while with Felix' rod, to no avail, I never recovered my lost rod. And figured out later on this was one of my fancier rod & reel. Arumph. Amazingly enough, I never lost a rod in the past 10 years of fishing (while all my friends lost one or two at some point in time). Well, I guess I'm truly part of the club now...


Ben had to leave, and Jason showed up. If you remember, Jason was one of the very first ones to catch a fish last Sunday, and was obviously quite hooked himself. Jason is a very smart and witty kid, who understood very quickly that a good book can be very useful during a carp fishing session. Ahem, I did forget to take something for Felix when we left early in the morning, so I was very glad when those two started to chat and play together. Fishing was indeed quite slow by then. Felix stayed with me a total of six hours, and this never stretched his patience, impressive.



Finally, an alarm screamed, and we all ran like crazy towards the other opening where a vigorous carp had almost unspooled a small reel (this one wasn't fancy at all!), and luckily enough, we put it under control quickly enough. Jason played his second carp either and another very dark carp came to the net.



We waited a bit longer, as I was still hoping to see another young angler who had indicated she might come, but nothing else happened, so we wrapped up at 2PM. This was a nice day, different from the frenzy of last Sunday, but we had more time to enjoy and learn about fishing today. We'll be back next year, probably planning a bit more ahead, and hopefully lining up more helpers.


Reporting on the event


Of course, I uploaded all pics on a Picasa album, advertised on the local e-mail lists, and quickly issued a post on the Carp Anglers Group forum, with all key pics. The Boston Globe folks were also kind enough to create a photo gallery about the event. And the Arlington Advocate issued a full page report on the event, based on a short write-up I provided. Very cool. Can't wait for next year now!




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