Carp Slam 2017 Recap: Thrills, Chills and an Interview with The Champ
By Reid Baker, Vice President and Carp Slam Operations Manager
Another great DTU Carp Slam is in the books, and this year was certainly one for the ages. In our 11th year, we were thrilled to see this tournament continue to thrive and bring back all the familiar faces, good old-fashioned competition, and most importantly to raise proceeds to benefit our home river, the South Platte through Denver, aka the Denver South Platte, aka “The DSP”.
For those new to the Denver Trout Unlimited (DTU) Carp Slam, the region’s top professional fly fishing guides, retail representatives, writers and media titans team with “amateur” die hard anglers from throughout the entire US for this unique and ironic fly fishing tournament. The funds raised by the tournament are all used to improve the habitat and flow in the Denver South Platte ironically making it less attractive to Carp.
15 Pro/Am teams come together to share over 20 miles of the DSP and target the river’s resident finned behemoth—carp– who can easily measure over 30”, and tip the scales well over the 20-pound mark. Some contend this is the hardest fresh water game fish to target on the fly. But combining this rubber lipped quarry with the urban, and at times even gritty, backdrop of Metro Denver, well, you can’t exactly describe the Carp Slam as a traditional fly fishing tournament.
The game is simple: a Pro/Am team needs to land the most total inches of carp during the morning and an afternoon fishing sessions. Other awards include “Largest Carp” and “Largest Exotic” (trout, bass, walleye, live beaver etc.) caught.
The morning of September 23 was cool and overcast. Flows were low, and the water was clear. As is usually the case, finding carp and accurately sight fishing to these wary fish was going to be the key. In the low light, it was going to be challenging. Despite the conditions, within minutes of tournament start, numbers were starting to roll in to Carp Slam Central Command through our real time cell phone catch reporting system.
Pro competitor Dave Maynard rang in first with a 23.5” carp landed 5 minutes into the day. Six minutes later 2X reigning champion Chris Galvin would phone in a 27” fish. Repeat amateur Barry Howsden was the first amateur to land a carp, bringing in a chunky 27” fish himself just after 10AM. But at 10:46 long time Pro Competitor Ty Clifton broke the 30” barrier, firmly placing him in the running for the coveted “Big Carp” award for 2017.
Heading into lunch it was clear that the morning was a hot start despite the low light and low flows. Five teams had landed 1 carp each, but the team consisting of Dave Maynard (Pro) and Austin Stewart (Amateur) was leading with 2 landed fish. Halfway through the tournament it was a 2 carp game, and every team was still in it.
At lunchtime the scoreboard read:
Team Dave Maynard and Austin Stewart: 2 carp for a total of 47.5”
Team Ty Clifton and Jeremy Elms: 1 carp for a total of 30”
Team Jake McKittrick and Ronnie Crawford: 1 carp for a total of 27.5”
Team Chris Galvin and Joe Marr: 1 carp for a total of 27”
Team Tom Bie and Ryan Russell: 1 carp for a total of 25”
As competitors geared up for their afternoon session, the weather wasn’t likely to improve. As zippers on rain jackets growled and teams suited up, it was clear the afternoon was going to be a real challenge.
Carp Slam central command, where teams called in their scores, was quiet for hours after lunch. Worry mounted that the fish had all hunkered down with the impending cold front and the looming rain. Was the afternoon session a total bust? Did the fish totally shut off? Had our teams just thrown in the towel and found their nearest micro brewery to wait out the storm with a beer in hand and college football on the screen? Halfway through the afternoon as 3:30 hit, not a single carp was scored, and only an hour and a half of fishing time remained. What was perhaps more concerning was the rain began falling… hard… and the temperature was dropping. Combining a fish less afternoon with cold and rain would test the mental fortitude of any hardcore angler. Concern mounted.
Finally, at 3:34, Pro Dave Luna opened the flood gate, bringing in a 28.25” carp. Then, Amateur Jeremy Elms landed a healthy 25.75” fish. Right on his heels came Pros Frank Smethurst and Rick Mikesell with 2 carp landed within 5 minutes of each other. It was on fire out there!
In the last 1 hour and 26 minutes of the tournament, over 200 inches of carp were scored between our 15 teams. It was going to come down to the wire. As final scores poured in at the closing bell of 5:15 PM, a clear victor emerged. Starting in the afternoon with the team’s amateur Joe Marr landing a 23” carp at 4:20PM, followed by Chris Galvin’s second carp of the day inching to 24.75” with under 3 minutes left in the competition, team Galvin-Marr would seal victory.
The final board read:
Team Chris Galvin and Joe Marr: 3 carp and 74.75” total
Team Ty Clifton and Jeremy Elms: 2 carp and 55.75” total (Ty Clifton wins Largest Carp at 30”)
Team Rick Mikesell and Barry Howsden: 2 carp and 55.5” total
Team Dave Luna and James Davis: 2 carp and 53.75” total
Team Tom Bie and Ryan Russell: 2 carp and 50” total
Team Dave Maynard and Austin Stewart: 2 carp and 47.5” total
Team Jake McKittrick and Ronnie Crawford: 1 carp and 27.5”
Team Frank Smethurst and Kyle Richard: 1 carp and 19.5”
This would mark the 3rd consecutive year that Chris Galvin would win the coveted Carp Cup. Clearly, the guy knows how to catch these fish. But, the victory would not have been sealed without his amateur partner, Joe, bringing in the crucial 23” game changer. Three fish made the difference for this team and it was the key to victory.
We had a chance to catch up with Chris Galvin (www.galvinguiding.com) following his victory and got the exclusive post game interview here:
DTU: Chris, congrats again on your 3rd consecutive victory. Thank you for your continued support of DTU and the Carp Slam. What keeps you coming back to this bash year after year?
Chris Galvin: You’re quite welcome! I feel honored to have been a part of it since the beginning. Back then I was attending a few DTU meetings per year and was also friends with Tim Emery, who was one of the founders of the event. He knew I had been chasing carp on the DSP for a few years and that may have had something to do with my getting in.
The tournament idea was a way to bring not only funds, but also attention to our local waterway, and obviously, this has been working! Along the way, I’ve met governors, seen different film crews, different venues, met great amateur anglers, and bonded with many of the pros and DTU staff. There’s still work to be done on the river, trash, homeless camps, and funky smelling inflows to name a few. Selfishly, I hope the river improvements don’t squeeze out the possibilities for sight fishing to carp. (laughs)
DTU: Here here! In the 11 years DTU has held the Slam, no one has ever won the Carp Cup 3 times, let alone in a row. You are clearly king of the DSP carp fishing scene. So what is the key to your success?
Galvin: I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the fish and fishery. Trial and error with new flies, new approaches, techniques, rigging… just kept tweaking. One of my main fishing partners and former champion, Trevor Tanner (McTage), and I would constantly compare notes. To say he likes to tweak is a massive understatement. The guy built his own gimbal-controlled action camera to shoot smoother video, not to mention a 3d printer! He helped me fill in some blanks, as I’m sure I helped him as well.
I’ve also got a favorite fly that I developed a few years back that the fish seem to like. My brain goes into overdrive when I’m fishing for them… light angle, water temp, cover, habitat, fish mood, readiness to cast, potential landing area are a few thoughts that I have. And really, you usually aren’t fishing to carp, you’re hunting them.
DTU: Well you’re obviously the man at hunting them. Which brings to mind another question. With all the fish in the river… why carp? What do you like about this fish?
Galvin: It’s the thrill of stalking and sight-fishing big, wary prey. Like a lot of fishing, it’s full of surprises too! Sometimes I’ll fish a spot that usually has only smaller fish around and suddenly a beast of a carp comes into view. I’ve fished a certain flat on consecutive days at the same time, with the same temps and light type – first day had fish tailing all over the flat, the next day the area was completely vacant. Where’d they go?!? I also don’t mind the other elements of “urban” fishing, and feel like it keeps most of the “gentleman anglers” away. (laughs) I’ve had some exceptions to that though, like a retired CEO of a major company who’s been out with me a few times. On our last outing, I had him walking through homeless camps and kneeling in pigeon poop. He seemed to love it! I’m also drawn to the real challenge… these are tough and smart fish! Luckily, I’m patient and don’t need constant action to be engaged.
Obviously, it’s great to have in my backyard as well!
DTU: I hear you there! Congratulations again Chris and enjoy yet another year of the Carp crown. We’ll see you next year!
The other big victor this year was the Rainbow Trout. With a total of 17 rainbows totaling almost 300 inches combined, it was clear that something is changing on the DSP. Pro Scott Wells and Amateur Jason Hearle landed an astounding amount of these inches, with Wells landing one rainbow that edged to 19.5”—winning the Largest Exotic. What’s even better was most of these fish were caught on dry flies! The conventional wisdom that the Denver South Platte will not support healthy populations of trout is clearly put to rest just as these healthy trout have been put back to grow some more. Here at DTU we are more than delighted to see the habitat, aquatic insects, temperature and water quality sustaining populations of so many species of fish, especially trout.
From all of us on the DTU team and board, we want to thank our competitors, sponsors, volunteers and public supporters for making 2017 arguably the best Carp Slam we have ever held. We would like to specifically thank our key sponsors, Fly Water Outdoors, The Orvis Company at Park Meadows, Trout’s Fly Fishing, RepYourWater and Fishpond. We couldn’t do this without you!
The biggest victor of the year goes to the Denver South Platte, who continues to showcase improvement year after year. Clearly, there is still lots of work to be done, but thanks to the support of our community there is good news being told, and this is a very exciting time to be involved.
Carp Slam 11 and our after party, Evening on the River, which is open to the public and showcases live music, food, drink, raffle and silent auction, raised more funds than any Carp Slam on record. All of the proceeds this year will go toward the Chatfield Reallocation Project, which, simply put, will raise the flows of the river as it leaves Chatfield Reservoir in order to help improve water quality and habitat for the entire river. We could not be more grateful to all of our supporters, and we look forward to CSXII and beyond. The date is already set, so mark your calendar for September 8, 2018!
Think you got what it takes to be a competitor? Amateur signups will open soon and are first come/first served with entry fee. Bookmark www.carpslam.org for the sign up date, latest news and other updates.
Come to our Evening on the River event, scheduled to be back at the DaVita building rooftop atrium on September 8, 2018 starting at 7PM. Check back for ticket sales!
Check out the full day carp scoreboard for CSXI here: http://carpslam.org/results-of-carp-slam-xi-2017/