EARTH, WIND AND FIRE – the week it only got worse, but all was good in the end

Catching a beauty like this makes any day better!

by Bill Marts

I had just received my new Sea Eagle FishSUP12.6 inflatable SUP and wanted more than ever to get to fly fishing for carp. I am new to fishing from a SUP. But I have day-dreamed, thought about, imagined, planned for and was making it happen on this trip. I KNEW it would be a perfect platform from which to hunt for carp. I, 99% of the time, sight fish for carp and shallow-water fishes (bass, bluegill, crappie etc.) and fishing from a SUP had to be the answer. It is all about stealth with shallow-water-flyfishing and sighting the fish. I also wanted to fish the SUP during a Carp Tourney I organized for Emerald Water Anglers, a fly shop in Seattle, WA. It was being held in Eastern Washington at Banks Lake about a month later. I wanted to know what I was doing at the tourney so I finally traveled to Eastern Wash (over by Vantage), the temps were near and at 100 the whole week. But, have to tell ya, I loved fishing in it. This was in preparation for the tourney. I had fished with the FishSUP the week before and got towed around (fun ride) by a few BIG carp before the hook straightened out on both fish and I was looking forward to trying again with stronger hooks. The FishSUP is designed for an electric motor, so I put one on. I was at the downwind leg, of my first drift of the week, fishing on my new SUP and, so far, it was great, casting to a carp here and there.

Heading out to find some carp.

Got to camp a little late and set up after sundown and looking forward to dinner. Then, I couldn’t use my stove because the wind was blowing soooooo hard. It got up to 60 mph (official) during night and morning. That was OK, my tent held up with no problems, except at 4:30 am, the fire trucks set off their sirens and flashing white and red lights in the campground with the announcement of a level 3 evacuation. GET OUT NOW!!! I could see the wildfire’s glow barely a couple hundred yards away. I got everything thrown, including my SUP, in my truck except my tent when they came by again and said, “leave the tent”. At least I got out OK. Everything was all good then until I rear-ended the guy’s trailer in front of me. Just little dents. Idling in my truck while looking in the rear-view mirror at the fire closing in on the campground. The guy in front of me was good about it.

I calmed down some and went to a nice place at Burkett Lake; made some phone calls to let everyone know I was OK; took a nap and decided to go fishing at another place. Good plan EXCEPT the truck battery was dead. OK…… I just joined AAA this year and they would come to where I was and give me a jump. Great! Three hours later he showed up and jumped the truck and the world was good again. Backing up, I didn’t realize how close the tow truck was to the rear end of my truck. UNTIL I hear this crunch and I look back in the side mirror to see my passenger-side tail light (the whole unit) hanging from its wires (good thing for wires). This kind of got to me and I yelled F*%$ so loud it was still echoing off the canyon walls two days later. All is well —— Just like Red Green, I go nowhere without Duct Tape. The tail light still worked. So, I taped it back on. Too late for fishing so I stopped into a small cafe in Mattawa. I was looking forward to a quesadilla and a cold beer. Slept out under the stars (my tent back at the campground) and it was great. Had my cot and pad. Had some tunes (Allman Bros Eat a Peach album). Had a cold beer. Watched the clear, star-speckled skyway late into the night. Had a great day of fishing the next day with a friend. Went back to the camp and they had taken my tent down and stored it at the ranger station. What a kind thing to do. Went to another lake campground where I was to meet another friend; set up camp again, settled in to have a hot dinner of brats and chili. BUT, I couldn’t get the stove to work. Cold dinner, but I had cold beer. So, it wasn’t a total loss. Beautiful night with calm winds.

Busted tail light won’t keep me down!

The stars are aligned again. My friend arrived at 9 am and we went out on the lake fly fishing for carp. Great fishing. Except for my broken rod on a huge carp. Not to worry, tho. I had a spare back in the boat. Got it rigged up and got back to fish. We both hooked more, that is- UNTIL I slipped in the mud in the lake in a hole and then pulled a muscle in my neck as I was looking UP at the water surface. My feet were doing that forward shuffle (like when snow skiing) and your upper body is leaning back and your feet are up in front of you like trying to walk up a wall. I was still straining, looking up, trying to get to the surface to gulp in some much-needed air. The oddest thought went through my mind while under water, I was thinkin’ “it would be so embarrassing if I were to drown while wading a lake in 3 feet of water. I finally came to the surface. YEAH!!! Another great day as hot as it was there, I am super cooled off.

Well, now it is lunch time, Thursday. Good lunch with a couple of cold pops. Went to one more place. Fish everywhere. Hungry fish. BUT, the mud was up to ankle-deep and was like walking in glue. Every step required rocking your foot back and forth to release the suction, I wished I had the FishSUP at that time but we were fishing out of my friend’s boat. The fishing was better every step forward. There were so many feeding fish that I finally figured it was better to stop and stand still and cast to passing fish. It worked! EXCEPT….. the longer one stands in one place, the more the mud sucks in/down one’s feet. I had been there quite a while and saw a particularly large carp just out of casting range. I took a step toward it, but only in my mind. My feet were Stuuuuuuck. I took another dip in the lake. Since I had some experience in this type of event, I only went in up to my chest. I got up quickly and tried to rock my way out of this predicament. My feet stayed put but my body went forward again. By now, I am very skilled at this game. I started to move but no fish around. All is good again. It is still hot and I am very cool. All in all a great day!

Packed up the next day to head home and it went smoothly. Got home in good shape. I THOUGHT….Later that night I discovered that I had been chewed on around both knees. Little round red marks. No big deal. UNTIL the next day when they appeared much redder and blistered. They broke later in the day. So, life is great again. But, I still have marks some 6 weeks later. Wonder what it was??

I am heading back in 6 days for 4 more nights of camping and carp fly fishing at the 2nd Annual Carp Jamboree. If only it can be as good as last week!

The 2
nd Annual Carp Jamboree, 2018.

Well, I went to Banks Lake at Coulee City Community campground (our headquarters) the next week three days ahead of tournament day of the Carp Jamboree with my brother (Boyd). We got camp set up by mid-day and some friends showed up early, too. Water was calm and perfect so we went fishing. The fishing was awesome. Next day was the same. Great water, skies (need clear skies for good sight fishing) and fish were on the feed. I was getting excited for the tourney. Friday was also good, but Boyd and I stayed in to prepare for other participants arriving and getting ready for a Carp Fly Fishing Clinic I was to give that late afternoon. It went well. The forecasts were for some winds in the AM, getting calm by afternoon. That is good enough!

BUT…..the forecaster forgot to tell Boreas (Greek god of north wind). The North and West winds blew hard bringing the air and water temps about 10 degrees lower than the last three days. No using the FishSUP this day. I just don’t know how to paddle against heavy winds. Where fishing had been excellent the last three days, now there were no to hardly any fish, unless you could go miles up-lake where the wind was not as much of a problem. I was not going to fish for any of the prizes, but I wanted to fish on the FishSUP. No luck this trip.

The winner, Matt Paluch, landed 7 carp this day. He took home the FishSUP 12.6 as his choice first prize. Other participants won rod, reels, fly lines, chest packs, hats and stainless-steel water bottles. Everybody got something whether they caught a fish or not. I had delivered to our camp, pizzas, chicken wings and salads and, of course, the keg was tapped and everyone enjoyed the party into the evening. Can’t wait for next year’s jamboree.

I am now waiting for the arrival for my next craft from Sea Eagle; the FishSkiff16. I will use it for guiding shallow waters in a silent, stealthy manner, next year. We’ll “Fish like a Heron”.

True story, Bill Marts.


It was a crazy week – wild fires, busted tail light, broken stove, broken fishing rod, bug bites…but at least the carp were still biting.


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