These guys are professionals! I usually get bored with long videos but I watched every minute of this one. The scenery is beautiful. It’s very well put together by a bunch of professionals! Zako River Canyoning and Fly Fishing
Usually, the month of November marks the beginning of my favorite time to be in the marsh with my fly rod. I leave the baitcaster at home and force myself to be stealthy, smart, and patient! This usually provides me with a relaxing, memorable trip where I soak in the experience and marvel at the beauty that God has provided in our Louisiana marshes. With a week off for Thanksgiving (one of the perks of being a high school educator) I can always looks for a couple of days of relaxing on the water. This year’s Thanksgiving proved to be a bit challenging. With some nasty weather at the beginning of the week and some of the coldest and windiest days of the late fall season, I was held landlocked until the Black Friday.
My plan was to fish some of my favorite marsh area around Leeville on Friday and drive to Dularge that evening to spend the night at my cousin’s camp and pick up my Tarpon 120, which has been there since the summer. I was greeted with very cold temperatures Friday morning and VERY low water. It was a tough paddle through the shallow ditch that I put in at and I knew that my early thoughts about catching speckled trout or redfish on a popper just would not happen in cold, shallow conditions. The thing I did have going for me was the fact that the wind had died down considerably from the 20 mph winds we had earlier in the week. However, that constant wind from earlier in the week had left the water dirty and I was beginning to wonder if I should have brought my baitcaster with me. I am constantly reminded of Cormier’s rules for fly fishing and Rule #2 states: Clear water favors the fly-fisherman.
After an early, 6:30 launch, I was only able to manage a couple of undersized redfish and a spec by 7:30. I decided to change my tactic of targeting speckled trout and focus on sight fishing for redfish in the very shallow water. One of the advantages of fishing during very low water conditions is you get to see where all the oyster beds are. These are the bends and shorelines that hold redfish when the water rises! After an hour or so, my nephew and one of his buddies met me out there.
I caught my first redfish around 8 AM on a spoon-fly. I saw some action and the back of a really nice fish near a cut where the water was falling out of the marsh. I couldn’t get the big one to eat, but his little brother at around 18 inches couldn’t resist my offering. I kept poling around the flats looking for signs of more fish. Let me remind my readers of Cormier’s Rule #1: The fish make up the rules…not the fishermen. I assumed that when the sun got higher, the water would warm up and the redfish would prowl the flats. Ha…no such luck. I managed to locate a school of finger mullet that were being chased by a couple of big guys. I quickly paddled over to the action and placed my fly in the middle of the swash of bait and redfish. I didn’t think I would have a chance, since the commotion had muddied the water so very much. I was rewarded with the strike of a very fat 22 inch redfish. I guess my fly was moving just a little bit slower than the fast baitfish so it looked like an easy meal!
After that, the tide switched and started to rise. I poled/paddled around looking for more fish. I did manage to see some redfish along some deeper canals near the grass but had trouble getting them to eat. Plus, by now the wind had picked up to around 10 mph and it was hard to be able to see the fish. I fished some new water and managed to catch another redfish that went right at 24 inches, so I kept him for supper.
Remember earlier in this report, I said that these kind of trips, it pays to be stealthy, smart, and patient? Well, all three of these virtues were tested on this trip…and, although I didn’t completely FAIL at these three virtues, I was challenged. While trying to be smart and stealthy, I came across several big redfish that were completely unaware of my presence. However, before I could get a fly to them, the wind would push me either on top of them or too far away to get a good cast toward them. I was successful on one occasion (redfish #3) but missed on several other attempts. I did have two encounters with redfish that looked to be over 30 inches in length; bull reds, which broke my tippet! One encounter worth mentioning was when I was working one area of shallow water near some oyster beds. I was being pushed by wind over the area when I first saw him cruising slowly toward my yak. I grabbed my rod and was ready to make a cast when he angrily spooked and bolted. Only after a couple of stop-and-go attempts to escape my presence, he settled down about 30 feet from me. I put a perfect cast on him and watched him angrily charge and eat my fly. I strip-set the hook at the same time he shook his head and he cut my line like it was nothing. Patience Kevin!! Had I been patient, I probably would have let him ease away and let the hook penetrate his mouth on its own. Anyway, I learn something from every trip I take. My final count for the morning was ten redfish (seven undersized) and three keeper trout.
Speaking of which, I spoke with my nephew and his buddy and they found some nice keeper redfish in deeper water. I guess my idea about targeting them in the shallow flats was not the smartest but it still provided me with some fun.
Some of the things I learned from this trip:
- Never discount casting into a school of baitfish. It’s like the lion and the gazelle. You don’t have to be the fastest gazelle in the herd to escape the lion. You just have to be faster than the slowest one. If you work your fly slower than all the fleeing baitfish around you, it will get eaten!
- When setting the hook on a big redfish, let the fish set the hook for you. Too many times I’ve broken off by setting the hook too hard! Be patient! Once the fish is hooked I will have a better chance of letting the rod tire the fish.
- In cold, shallow conditions, don’t forget to check the deeper water for redfish.
My favorite pastime these days has got to be fly fishing the marshes of South Louisiana. This month marks the beginning of a period (November – March) when one can find cleaner, shallower, water in our beautiful estuary. Since Cormier’s fly fishing rule number two states that: Clear water favors the fly fisherman, I was poised to make my annual “beat down” on speckled trout this past weekend as I fished our annual Red Stick Fly Fishermen’s Catch and Eat. This annual event is not a tournament but it offers fly fishermen in the club an opportunity to get together after a day’s worth of fishing and share fish stories with some great vittles prepared by some of the best amateur chefs known to man!
My morning began with a “combat launch” off the side of the road down in Leeville. We had just endured the strongest cold front of our early fall season earlier that week and the winds were just letting up…a bit. I was greeted by high, stained water as I paddled my way out to an open area of the marsh a couple of hundred yards from the road. I tried a couple of my favorite fall and winter spots for speckled trout with my “go-to” fly, a Lafleur’s Charlie under a Vertical Oriented Strike Indicator (VOSI) to no avail…not one bite! I worked my way to a point that I have had a ton of success in the past. This area is an extended point on the edge of a shallow canal where water moves in two directions during a moving tide. If I locate my kayak a bit to the east, the tide moves the water to my left…a little more toward the west of the point and the water moves to my right. I usually like to position myself right where I can hit both sides of the moving water. After about my third cast, my VOSI disappeared under the rolling water caused by the moving tidal water against the north wind that was still blowing around 10 miles per hour. I landed my first speckled trout of the morning. It was a small one at about 11 inches but it was a start. I then prepared my GoPro camera to record some of the action that I was hoping I would get very soon. The specs didn’t disappoint. Soon, I was bringing in trout after trout. Most were in the 11-13 inch range.
At this point I realized that I hadn’t brought any ice for my ice-chest so I decided to keep only the big ones (over 14 inches or anything I knew I wouldn’t have to measure) and stop at a self-imposed limit of 15 trout. I would then paddle back to my car and head on over to the nearest retail market to purchase some ice.
I had eight keeper trout in my ice-chest by 8 am when I noticed a few gulls diving about 80 yards behind me. I pulled my stake out pole up and paddled on down toward that area, being sure to position my back to the wind because there was absolutely no way I could cast into the winds that had picked up by that point. After my second cast toward this new point, I set the hook on a fish that I knew would be the largest of the morning. I figured it was a redfish but it came up shaking its head and I knew I had a big yellow-mouth on. I netted my biggest trout of the day at 19 inches strong! After a few good pictures, I cast out to the same spot and landed a 17 inch trout. Another cast and a 15 inch trout! I thought for sure I had hit the mother-load! I then landed a couple more small trout and then the bite shut down!
It was now around 9:30 and I had 14 or 15 nice specs in the ice chest. My buddy, Catch, called me on my cell phone to see how I was doing. He had caught 60 or so trout in Bayou Lafourche but only three of them were over the 12 inch slot. I invited him to join me and to bring some ice with him when he came. Not too long after giving me some ice, Catch was reeling in a keeper spec on the fly. We continued to fish the rest of the morning and early afternoon, picking up a few more trout here and there. I tried to sight fish for some redfish but the conditions were brutal. I managed to spook three nice reds and I caught, tagged, and released a small slot redfish and another undersized one. We got off the water somewhere around 2 PM, quite exhausted, but with a real sense of accomplishment. Catch had probably caught around 100 fish and had 18 over 12 inches in his bag. I had caught over 50 or so and had 17 really nice specs in my ice chest.
At the fish cleaning table, we truly realized the accomplishment of our fishing trip as other anglers had a few small fish that were caught mostly with conventional tackle. It didn’t matter though, because we were getting ready to feast on a meal of fried speckled trout, fried jumbo shrimp, French-fried potatoes, fried eggplant, and some fresh home-made guacamole. Good food, good friends, great stories, and beer…well, that’s the way to cap off a great day of fishing and make everyone “happy, happy, happy!”
Here’s a closeup of the fly used to catch all my fish and the lone white trout of the day.
Mending the Line is the extraordinary story of Frank Moore, a 90-year old WWII veteran and fly-fishing legend, returning to Normandy to fish the rivers he saw as a soldier. The feature film will release in Spring of 2014 and a tour cut will travel with the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4)
Not too many videos touch me like this one did. I’m sure you all will enjoy this one.
Here’s a great video put together by some guys in South Carolina. I know it’s different from the fishing we do in south Louisiana, but it’s on the fly and it’s redfish! It’s a very well edited video!
With the hint of cooler weather that the month of October brings to south Louisiana, I long to get down to the marsh to stalk my favorite prey, the red drum (redfish). Because of my active performing and teaching schedules, I have not been able to take advantage of the recent cool spell that we’ve been treated to. That all changed for me this Sunday afternoon when I was presented with an opportunity to make an afternoon trip down Highway 1, an area that I’ve fished since I was a boy. I still have memories of bank fishing with my five siblings, my parents, and my grandfather as a kid. I happened to catch this little fish on my fly rod during yesterday’s trip and it had me reminiscing about one of my early fishing trips.
I was a young teenager and I thought I had this “fishing thing” down. My grandfather, Pawpaw, as we called him, was a bass fisherman, a hunter, an animal trainer, (hunting dogs and horses) and an avid outdoorsman. We loved to fish with him and hear him tell us fish stories from a time long ago. Paw Paw used to fish with these Crème plastic worms completely rigged from the manufacturer with hooks already in them. This one trip had us bank fishing the marsh down Highway 1 and we “know-it-all” teenagers were having some limited success with market shrimp on a tandem shad rig under a popping cork. We tried to get my grandfather to switch from fishing with the crème worm and put on some bait and a popping cork, but he just smiled, gave us a wink, and kept on chunking his worm out to the bay and would reel in it like he was fishing for bass. Lesson number one from Pawpaw, be persistent! Lesson number two, don’t be swayed by peer pressure! I don’t remember how long it took him, but before long he was catching big trout on that plastic worm. I still recall him catching a MONSTER trout that day that was larger than any speckled trout I had ever seen up until that point. I just knew that earthworms weren’t on the redfish and trout’s dining menu.
Well I now know that the worm imitated another food source for the saltwater species we were after, most probably a needlefish or some other type of baitfish. Yesterday’s needlefish reminded me of that and that fishing trip from so very long ago. I think I’m going to experiment and come up with some kind of needlefish pattern. Oh, there’s one more important lesson that I learned from my grandfather and it’s probably the most important thing I learned from him. The entire time he spent fishing with us, he wasn’t necessarily trying to catch fish. He was trying to catch us. That, my friends he did very well. So, Pawpaw, this fish is for you (even though I caught it on a gold spoon fly and not your favorite crème worm) I love you and know that one day we will be united together again when I can share some of MY fish stories with you!
I realized that I have only three more months to complete my goal of catching (featuring) a different fish each month of the year. Here’s how things are shaping up:
January – choupic (bowfin)
February – sheepshead
March – sacalait (crappie)
April – black drum
May – bluegill
June – garfish
July – redear sunfish
August – hardhead catfish
September – redfish
My options for October, November, and December include speckled trout, largemouth bass, and one other species. If I make a float trip, I should be able to catch several species of different sunfish. I may catch a sailcat too on one of my marsh trips. Decisions, decisions…so many fish, so little time.