Out In the Cold

by John McGreevy

John - Snow Carp.jpg

As the winter months and the cold weather approaches, a lot of anglers take the time to hang up their gear, do a little maintenance, tie rigs, make bait or catch up on their carp porn.  Then there are other anglers, the brave souls that just can't bring themselves to submit to the Winter conditions, even when it means sitting in sub zero temps with the howling winter winds freezing the extremities just for the chance of one more bite...

I'm not sure if I'm a 'brave soul' or not but I can never get enough, I'll fish year round as long as the temps aren't down to where it's dangerous... Same goes for my very good friend and partner in crime, Bob Harnish. Yep, we're Guilty as charged....   ;)

Is it the chance of a wailing alarm taking you by surprise when it screams off while you sit in the chair with a steaming hot coffee... never knowing what could be on the other end of the line? Or is it the peace and quiet we find being out in nature and its surroundings? Maybe some days, it's just getting off the couch for a few hours? Whatever it is on any particular day, I know, we can never get enough it...

The Charles River, our regular Winter venue is an 80 mile long river that starts in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and travels through 23 towns and cities before it dumps out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Charles River swim.jpg

Not so very long ago, as with many of our rivers around the country, it used to be a very polluted waterway but thankfully this river and most others these days have been cleaned up and are now once a gain thriving with wildlife and activity.

The Charles is home to 30 or so fish species including some migratory salt water species such as Herring, Shad, and Striped Bass. Many fresh water species also reside here in this fishery including the specie we're chasing, the common carp along with a few, very rare mirror carp that swim with them.

Many anglers have started their carping here for the sheer reason it is such a great and prolific fishery; even at the novice stage, with a bit of luck, most people could hook up. For a more experienced angler this could mean finding a swim that produces very high numbers of fish, especially with a bit of pre-baiting. One could easily get a good handful of fish in a very short, 2 or 3 hour session. Most fish are doubles at average with a good handful in the 20s.  My Charles river PB is 26.6 and I’ve known just a few fish that have exceeded that; a couple from Bob and one from the legendary Massachusetts angler, Scott Osmond.

Today's session is on a Sunday morning with free parking meters being a bonus, so I pack up the truck and jump on the mass pike to head into the city.

Temps are below freezing, wind at a steady 20mph from the north and in the city, it feels like wind chills are in the negative! We park the truck in a ritzy Boston neighborhood and gear up with the full monkey suit, pack the barrow with all the necessities which I may add, includes plenty of sweet corn.  Finally getting the barrow to Storrow drive, we wait for a break in traffic. Folks driving along there look at us crazy, no one crosses Storrow drive on foot but crazy carp anglers and homeless people.

Storrow Drive?.jpg

Once we get to the swim, it’s like a breath of fresh air...no matter how many times I’ve been here, every time I’m just as excited as the first.

Today, the Sun rose at 630 am and we get all the lines in the water by 6:40.... There are days we wait all day for a bite and other times, all hell breaks loose right from the git go....So we sit in our chairs, full of anticipation talking union business as usual over a couple Red Bull’s and a pinch of chewing tobacco. Typical carpenter laborer drama, like Red Sox and Yankees. You can’t have one without the other lol...
One rod goes off! I engage with the fish, then the other rod starts screaming!!! Now it’s gone crazy...Fighting fish while you can’t feel your hands, one fish is soon in the net so I grab the other rod and start working on fish number two!

So we've now got two fish in the same net!! It's not much past 7 am now and it keeps going!!! In between action the net gets crispy frozen. We need to keep it in the water or it turns solid!  We exchanged pictures of our catches and then send them gently and respectfully back home to the Charles...
We ended up landing a half a dozen fish or so I guess, including the double run with both Bob and I getting our first braces of the year, all beautiful, golden commons up to around 20lbs.

Having got our 'fix' of carp, we're near frozen to death and packed up at 11 am and I'm defrosting back at the house with the kids by noon.

Winter in Boston on the Charles rarely lets us down...and there’s just no better way to spend a Winter Sunday for us.

It wasn't too many days until the next time we got out to chase these beauties again. This time, the sun came out, encouraging a slightly bigger class of fish to play  :)