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Wharton: The tale of Sad Sally Carp

Published May 9, 2013 1:48 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ahab had Moby Dick. Quint had Jaws. And Eddie Tostado has Sad Sally the Carp.

That's why if you know where to look, you might find Tostado and his friend Todd Cleaveland at their secret spot on the Jordan River four times a week. It is there where the duo use a bread-baited heavy jig and leaded line to try to lure Sally out of a maze of heavy twigs.

They've managed to land Sally a few times. She weighs 17 pounds and is 30 inches long. After photos are snapped, the pair return the giant fish back to the river with the hope that they will meet again.

"When we pulled her out, we called her Sad Sally because she looked like she was sad because nobody liked her because she was a carp," Tostado said. "She has this little droopy mouth."

It wasn't long before Tostado and Cleaveland began to make up songs to sing when pursuing Sally. These include "Go Sally, Go!" "Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle!" and "She's Sexy and You Know It!"

The strange thing about all of this is that the two anglers seem disappointed when they hook what most others would view as a prized game fish. They have caught several species of trout, catfish, white bass, sunfish, bluegill and perch out of the Jordan. In fact, on a recent night, another angler had landed five nice brook trout.

"People don't catch carp, so they get that big," Tostado said. "It's almost comparable to catching an ocean fish. I've gone deep-ocean fishing."

Tostado began fishing the Jordan about 10 years ago because his favorite spot was a short distance from his home. Cleaveland guesses he's been fishing the river for 18 or 20 years, since he was a teen.

"It's mysterious," Cleaveland said. "You catch a little bit of everything, and it's right in the middle of everything."

Except for the occasional car alarm or siren, the two anglers think of their shaded spot on the river as a little piece of heaven in the middle of a bustling city. The types of wildlife they see never cease to amaze. They've named a local beaver they describe as the size of a small Labrador retriever "Justin Beaver" and see him almost every day.

The carp quest began when Tostado caught three 14-pounders. Then they landed a 16-pounder, a record that held up for about four years. Then they hooked Sally, the biggest so far.

From their spot on a steep Jordan bank, they often can see Sally and her friends appear from the depths of the murky water. One of the challenges of catching her involves negotiating the heavily wooded snags where she hangs out and then trying to either net her or hoist her up a 5- or 6-foot-high embankment.

They use soft white bread fished right off the bottom. When they hook a big carp, it's often a two-person operation to bring one to shore.

It's rare when an angler actually likes a species most others hate. But, when Tostado and Cleaveland hook Sad Sally, there is no carping involved.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton