After posting my report from last Saturday, I never thought I would get a chance to fish again for a couple weeks. Well, my schedule cleared up and we didn’t have any after school practices, meetings, or performances. I’ve been itching to get back to my friend’s lake, especially since I only caught two the last time I went there in February (which is basically a skunk for me). So, I loaded up my kayak and drove on over to my buddy’s place. I put in the water around 4:25 and within ten minutes, I had my first bass in hand.
I was giddy with excitement as no sooner had I released that girl, I had another one that came to play.
This continued until I had caught and released three carbon copies (all around 15-16 inches and just under 3 lbs.
Then I proceeded to miss three good fish. The first two were weak hook sets (too much slack in my line when they hit). The third missed fish was a really nice one that jumped out of the water and went behind my kayak. I tried to turn the fish but it jumped and…well we all know what happens when they catch air. 🙂
I was really having a blast, laughing out loud and talking to those fish when I hooked my big one of the day. It measured 18 inches and weighed in at 4.12 lbs.
I continued to work the banks and I ended up bringing nine bass to hand and two enormous bluegill. I haven’t had this much fun catching fish in a while. It was definitely one trip that I’ll remember for a long time.
This past Saturday was our local club’s annual fly-fishing festival. The Red Stick Fly-Fishing Club puts on this day-long extravaganza the first Saturday in March each year and features great casting instructors, world-renowned fly tiers, interesting presentations, and yes, even a chance to fish on premises, in several small ponds stocked with bass, catfish, and bluegill. In recent years, I have been asked to be a guest fly tier and tie my deer-hair bugs. It’s a great opportunity for me to hone my skills as a tier, share notes with other tiers, meet old friends, and make new ones. I meet a couple of young men who were just getting into the sport and I gave them each a bass bug to take home with them with the instructions to take a picture of any bass they caught on it and send that picture to me. They were thrilled to be able to take home one of my flies.
These are four of my recent ties.
So, when the festivities were over, it was time to get on the water and see if I could fool a few bass into taking a bite out of one of my offerings. I loaded up my kayak and walked it over to the neighborhood lake.
Things started out slow for me and it took me a while to get a fish to look at my LSU (purple and gold) popper. My patience was rewarded, however, and after about 30 minutes on the water, I was able to lip a nice little male largemouth bass into my kayak.
It was long and skinny, and I thought to myself, it was either a female that had just laid its eggs and hadn’t eaten in a while or it was a malnourished male. Notice that dot on its tail. I was thinking it was a redfish want-to-be or maybe even a choupique. 🙂
A little while later, I hooked another small bass on the same popper. You can clearly see the deer-hair popper that it ate.
I continued to fish until the mosquitoes began to bother me and I picked up a couple more bass and missed another two.
I tell people that the purple and gold color combination is a fish-catching combination! While these were relatively small bass, they still put up a good fight on my 5 wt and they provided me with an awesome finish to an extraordinary day. Now comes my busiest month of the year. I will try to sneak out when I can but with after school rehearsals, performances, an Orlando band trip, and several birthdays (including Miss Lisa’s), I may get only a slight chance to get back out on the water before Easter…and that’s OK, because I have better luck on my fly rod AFTER the spawn and the crappie (sacalait) will start getting active in my neighborhood lake in April and May. So many fish to catch. So little time. 🙂
As anglers, we all know the frustration of wanting to go fishing but being unable to do so because of bad weather. Whether it’s rain, wind, or cold temperatures, bad weather can put a damper on our fishing plans. I was stoked to be able to get on the water this Mardi Gras Holiday and I was looking forward to making the drive to central Louisiana to fish with my buddy in the fertile CENLA lakes. The wind, however, which was forecast to blow 12-20 mph put an end to that thought. But fear not, because there’s a great alternative to fishing on dreary days – tying flies!
Tying flies is a fantastic way to spend a rainy or otherwise dreary day. Not only is it a productive use of your time, but it’s also a relaxing and enjoyable activity that can help you hone your skills as an angler. So, let’s dive into some of the benefits of tying flies when the weather is too dreary to fish.
BUT, before I do that, I did make a quick runout to my favorite bass pond/lake to see if the big girls were getting ready to hit the beds. I was greeted Sunday afternoon with 7 small males, all on a deer-hair diver.
These were two of the largest but I was really interested to see if the females were getting ready to spawn this early in the season. So, I got up early Monday morning to get some fishing in before the wind picked up. I was treated to a gorgeous morning. The whistling tree ducks sang to me early as the sun started to peak over the tree line. I was fishing the same deer-hair diver that I had used the afternoon before and it took a while, but my fly was inhaled by my first nice bass of the year.
About fifteen minutes later, I fooled another big girl into eating my bass bug. That was the last fish I would catch that morning. The wind picked up and I missed two other short strikers.
Anyway, so much for the fishing. Like I said earlier, if I cannot be fishing, I want to do something productive. So I spent some time at my vise and whipped up several deer-hair bugs. Tying flies allows me to create custom flies that are perfectly suited to my local fishing conditions. By experimenting with different colors and patterns, I can create bass bugs that mimic baby bream, shad, frogs, and even crawfish. I find that tying deer hair bugs requires a lot of attention to detail, which can hale me develop my patience not only for tying, but also for the time I spend on the water. I think one of the most important reasons I tie my own flies is that tying flies is a great way to stay connected to the sport of fishing even when I can’t be on the water. It’s a way to immerse myself in the world of fishing, learn more about the fish and prey in my area, and connect with anglers who share my passion. I just love catching fish on flies I tie. Here are a few bugs that I tied these past few days. I have a conclave coming up and I’ll be one of the guest tiers, so I just added a few more bugs to my box. Notice that LSU theme. That’s one of my productive color combinations! I also tied up several “fire tiger” color combinations that are currently awaiting “eyes.”
I was able to get out to my beloved south Louisiana marsh and get my first fishing trip of the year in. Well, kind of…I never left the pier. 🙂
I got a call from a buddy of mine who said the fish had been biting off the pier of his camp in Fourchon and he asked me if I wanted to go. I replied, “Only if you’ll take an old fly fisherman with you.” He replied that it didn’t matter so naturally, I took him up on the opportunity to make this an easy trip.
We arrived after sundown Friday evening and after a cold beer, I headed out to the pier to fish under the lights. I tied on a pink Lafleur’s Charlie that I thought looked like glass minnows and after a few casts, I was bringing my first speckled trout of the year to hand.
I quickly released the 12-inch fish because I thought we would be able to catch a few larger trout that would end up in hot grease the next day. The fishing was slow. I did end up catching a half dozen and I ended up keeping three of them for the table.
Our Saturday morning began with biscuits, fried eggs, and coffee. I was told the fish had been biting later in the day so there was no need to fish the pier before sunrise. The air was cool and crisp, and the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon as we sipped the last bit of our coffee. I was eager to get some quality fish on my fly rod, so as soon as I had downed that last bit of coffee, I headed out on the pier. As I got to my spot, I could see several other fishermen casting bait in the distance. I knew it would be a good day of fishing.
I was throwing my Lafleur Charlie again and it wasn’t long before I felt the first tug on my line. I knew right away that this first fish was a nice one as it fought to free itself. I brought to hand a beautiful 19-inch speckled trout, a highly sought-after species in South Louisiana.
Soon after, I found myself lifting another chunky 16-inch trout up over the pier. I wish I could say the fishing was non-stop as we caught trout after trout, but that was the last trout I would catch that morning. The pier was bustling with other anglers, but they were not having much luck at all. There were four young guys fishing on the point to our left, however, where were doing quite well. They were the only fishermen we saw who were actually catching fish. In fact, after about 6 hours in that same spot, we watched them pick up a stringer of about 75 trout that they had managed to catch before they headed home. We eased our way to their spot after they left but we didn’t get a bite.
Somewhere around 1 PM, we decided to call it a day. We cleaned the fish we had caught and headed back to Baton Rouge to spend some quality time with our wives. The trip was not only about catching fish, but also about the experience of being out on the water and enjoying the natural beauty of South Louisiana. The sights, sounds, and smells of the area made for a memorable and enjoyable day. It was also about spending some time with an old buddy of mine whom I hadn’t fished with in a couple of years. The last time I had been to Fourchon was to help him clean up after Hurricane Ida a year-and-a-half ago. The devastation down there is still horrid, and I pray for those who are still trying to rebuild. I am looking forward to some warmer weather and a chance to get down there again to do some sight fishing for redfish.
As the year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the past 12 months of fly fishing in south Louisiana. It’s been an incredible year on the water, with numerous memorable trips and experiences. I have learned to really focus on the beauty of our local waters and the peace it brings to me sitting in a kayak and “blending in” with my surroundings.
One of the highlights of each year is to be able to make new friends and kindle relationships through the sport. While I don’t get the opportunity to fish as often as I would like with them, I do cherish the friendships I’ve gained with Chuck and Chris. I have had the pleasure of fishing with Chuck on numerous occasions throughout the year and although I haven’t been able to fish with Chris yet, I have had opportunities to share a couple of beers and tie flies with him.
In addition to trips down in the Southeastern Louisiana marsh, I also spent a lot of time this year in my neighborhood lake. This quiet little spot offers an opportunity for a quick “get away” when my busy work and family schedules don’t allow me to venture far from home. It also provides me with an opportunity to test new flies and variants on the local fish. In the coming year, I plan on exploring the many bayous and estuaries that make south Louisiana such a great place to fly fish. The variety of species that can be found in these areas is truly impressive, and each trip offers the opportunity to encounter something new. One of the goals I have set for myself is to up my species variety.
Overall, it’s been a fantastic year of fly fishing in south Louisiana, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store. Here’s to hoping for more good weather and plenty of fish in 2023!
I looked back on this blog, and I see I haven’t added a post in quite a while. That’s because I haven’t gotten to fish in quite a while. Between work (LMEA state conference, district and parish honor band audition weekends, and Christmas concerts), weather (lots of rain, wind, and clouds), and family I’ve not gotten a chance to hit the neighborhood lakes, much less get down to my beloved South Louisiana marsh. I did get to take my grandson fishing at the neighborhood lake, and he caught a couple bluegill.
Other than that, it seems every chance I get to head south, it’s too cloudy, windy, or rainy. I did manage to spend an hour on the neighborhood lake this week before attending one of my feeder schools’ Christmas concert, and I was able to land four species on a fluff butt. The recent drop of the leaves has made it difficult to work flies in the lake. I did manage to find a point where the wind had cleared the floating leaves and pine needles and I began casting about 15- 20 feet from the bank. I was fishing my 3 wt with a black and chartreuse fluff butt under an indicator. I missed a fairly large fish early on that I figured was because I didn’t get a strong hook set with the ultra-light rod. I vowed not to do that again and the next strike I got sent a two-inch sacalait (crappie) flying back at me in my kayak. I released it quickly and I forgot to take a picture. I did get pictures of the next three fish, a nice bluegill, a small bass, and a chunky chinquapin.
I’m hoping this isn’t my last post of the year but looking at my weekend schedules for the next couple of weeks and the weather, of course, it just might be. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all those who follow this blog. I’ll be tying at the New Orleans Fly Fishers Club Expo in January. Maybe I’ll see some of you there. In the meantime, wishing you tight loops and tight lines.
I was looking for an opportunity to get down to my beloved Southeast Louisiana Marsh and the weather looked to be outstanding this past Saturday. I called my buddy, Chuck, up and we met at our favorite combat launch in Hopedale at 7 AM. A strong cold front earlier in the week had me psyched to be able to sight-fish for some redfish. As we launched, I noticed that the weatherman had finally gotten it right. We were greeted with calm winds and bright skies…perfect for sight-fishing. I really needed this trip. It’s been a busy, stressful, semester with work, health issues of loved ones and family and other “roadblocks” I’ve had to go around. I started to tell Chuck about some of it and he stopped me and said, “Relax buddy.” Thanks! I needed that!
It was a gorgeous morning. I noticed the usual suspects as we peddled our way to our first fishing spot. There were herons, kingfishers, a descent sized alligator, a few “French ducks” and a small group of teal. The teal brought back many great memories as I watched them zig zag their way over the marsh grass. It’s been at least ten years since I went duck hunting, a passion that I enjoyed for many years. Reduced limits, more posted lands, expenses, and a growing family have kept me away from my shotgun. I make up with it by fly fishing.
I got to my first spot, and I stood up to see that the water wasn’t as clean as I had wished. In fact, visibility was quite poor. I push-poled my way through the marsh and looked for action in cuts in the marsh with no luck. As I poled my way, I heard some drumming. I looked and saw that I had spooked a redfish as I saw it’s wake plow away from me. That was redfish number one. I continued to work my way along the bank, and I saw redfish number two. It too spooked before I could get my rod into a good casting position. Thank goodness it was a calm morning. I saw a large splash about 100 yards away from me. I knew it had to be a redfish, although there were a lot of large mullet in the area. One couldn’t assume that every splash or boil was a redfish. Well, I thought it was a redfish until I saw a large heron fly away from the spot. I then deducted it was just a splash from the feeding shorebird. So, I continued on. I got to some more grassy area and the water cleaned up a little bit, but nothing to get too excited over. If I was going to spot fish, they were going to have to be feeding in the very shallow areas which were clear enough for me to see them before they spotted me. That’s when I saw another large boil and the tell-tale wake of a big redfish in the same area I saw the commotion earlier. I push-poled my way over there, stopping about 60 feet in front of where I saw the commotion. I was determined NOT to spook this fish, so I patiently waited to see if it would show itself again. Water was slowly trickled out of a cut in the marsh and the water was dirty so again, I didn’t want to through away my chance by rushing in. My patience paid off because about five minutes later, I saw the tail of the fish as it chased baitfish nearby. I poled about 10 feet closer, and I waited for my shot. Then I saw it. It was moving about 40-50 feet away from me and it hadn’t seen me. I placed my spoon fly about two feet in front of it and it turned on me. Darned. I knew I didn’t spook it, so I just waited some more. A couple minutes later, I saw its tail again and I put my fly ahead of it again. No eat again. I told myself, “This is supposed to be relaxing. Come on, Doc.” I could feel my heartbeat race as I anticipated the eat. I relaxed and waited some more and about a minute later, the fish made another pass close enough for me to put my fly two feet in front of its nose. Strip. Strip. BAM! It was on! I made a good strip set and I hung on. Determined not to lose this fish, I let it get on the drag quickly and I let it do its thing. The fish angrily fought and fought, picking up grass on my line as it went. I actually thought at one point that I had foul-hooked it in its belly but that was just grass holding my line down. When the fish changed directions, the grass fell off and I was able to keep its head high enough to keep it from digging down in the grass again. About ten minutes later, I was easing the big redfish into my net, which by the way, isn’t big enough AND the weight of the fish pulled one of the rings out of the net handle. Santa Clause is going to have to get me an upgrade.
The redfish was what we call a “baby bull,” that is, one that’s over the slot limit of 27 inches. It was fat, heavy and long at 28 inches.
After a couple of pictures, I let her go because I personally don’t like to clean or eat any over about 24 inches.
That was the last redfish I would see all day. The wind picked up to a steady 12 mps and that, combined with high dirty water, made sight-fishing nearly impossible. We peddled over 8 miles, and I can tell you I’m quite sore even two days later. I got back to our combat launch around 2 and I was disgusted by what I found. I had noticed when we put in that there was a large amount of trash that had been left by bank fishermen. It’s embarrassing to have to admit that I’m from Louisiana at times. You just don’t see this in the streams in other states! I picked up enough trash to fill a crawfish sack and that didn’t even put a dent into the mounds of trash. That put a damper on what otherwise was a relaxing, fun day.
Most of the time, when people down south begin to celebrate crisp cool mornings with bluebird skies and temperatures in the low 50’s, it backfires on them and they end up with just a tease as the high temps creep up to 90 degrees within a few days. I cringe just to say it out loud, but I’ll do it anyway… I think fall has arrived in south Louisiana. We hit several mornings with temperatures in the low to mid 50s and I took advantage of a free morning to visit my favorite little piece of paradise close to home. I actually had to wear a sweatshirt out on the water as I slipped my kayak in the calm cool morning. I learned one thing from last week’s outing. The bass were only active very early in the morning. I was hoping the cooler weather would have them more actively feeding today.
I must have slipped my kayak in the water at 6:35 and by 6:45, I had landed my first big bass of the morning. I was going LSU colors or nothing today.
Within fifteen minutes, I had landed three bass and I thought it was going to be a stellar morning. Well it was stellar. I mentioned the crisp clear air and the calm winds. I heard the tell-tale cracks of several shotguns from hunters who were also taking advantage of the cool morning to try their luck at the opening day of squirrel season. From the sound of things, they shot enough to have a nice squirrel gumbo. I spent some time after my third bass looking around for that alligator but I didn’t see it this morning. I did see an array of birds from white herons to red-headed woodpeckers, to those whistling ducks and a pair or two of wood ducks. Of course it was futile to try to get pictures of them with nothing but an iPhone. Anyway, the disappointing news of the day was I didn’t get another bite after about 7:05. I get asked by my students why I’m so successful at catching fish on my fly rod. I’m probably not all that successful when it comes down to it. However, I do ramp my chances up by getting an early start…a very early start. Most teenagers sleep in on Saturday mornings so they miss the bite.
There was some more excitement this morning as one of the gentlemen who hunts the land behind the lake harvested an 8-point deer with his bow. I got to see the deer in the back of his truck and it was a nice-sized one. I marveled at the perfectly-placed shot that went right through the lungs and probably the heart too. It’s always good to see a deer that has been harvested cleanly, with a good shot. It really disappoints me to hear about the ones that get shot but the hunter isn’t able to find the downed animal.
Anyway, I’ll leave with a picture of the fish of the day, a big bass that was nearly 19 inches long. Until next time…tight loops and tight lines.
With the birth of a new granddaughter, Aniston Kate Andry, school in full swing, and other family obligations, I am the true definition of a “Weekend Warrior.” I look for opportunities to get on the water for a couple hours to enjoy a bit of solitude, watch nature do her thing, and try to fool a fish or two into finding my flies attractive. This Saturday, I found a couple hours to visit my favorite freshwater lake and I wasn’t disappointed. I arrived at dawn and slipped my kayak into the warm water (I found it to be quite warm for September 24). A pair of wood ducks whistled over my head as I began to toss one of my favorite deer hair bugs, the LSU diver, toward the bank…and why not…it was Saturday morning and the highly favored Tigers were set to host New Mexico State that evening.
Shortly thereafter, I got my first strike. It wasn’t one of those big splash strikes which makes fishing poppers so exciting. No, it was a quiet, but confident, slurp of a big fish. I say big, because it measured 17 inches on the ruler on my paddle, which put the fish around 3 pounds. Not bad at all for a fly rod bass and it looked like this morning was going to be stellar.
A short while later, I was lipping my second bass of the morning. This one only measured 13 inches but it jumped and fought like it had something to prove.
The bite slowed, so I paddled toward the back of the lake to get to some of my favorite water. I have a couple students who actually work for the gentleman who owns the property and they told me of a fish (shad) kill during all that rain we had last month. It was good to see some shad flopping around up against the bank near the grass. It was also good to see some bait balls which I assumed were baby shad from this year’s spawn that didn’t perish during the fish kill. I was also told about a six-foot alligator that had been spotted toward the back of the lake too. I actually did get to see the alligator but I didn’t get a photo of it. I was pedaling toward the back when it saw me, and it made it a point to put distance between itself and me before I could get my camera out the dry bin. I continued to fish but the action slowed. By now the sun was completely up and I figured the bass were leaving the shallows to get to some deeper water to escape the heat. I did manage one more bass on the LSU bug, a healthy fish that measured 15 inches.
I spotted the alligator once more and I watched as it swam nearly the entire length of the bank I intended to fish. Any self-respecting fish probably swam away for fear of being breakfast. I tied on a shad imitation streamer (Musicdoc shad fly) and I targeted fish in deeper water.
I also ran across three female whistling ducks with young broods that looked very concerned about the lurking alligator and this crazy dude in the light blue kayak. Sorry, no pics here either 😦
That’s when I noticed some stirring at the boat dock. Two colleagues of my buddy had arrived to do their morning workout routine. It’s a great workout that targets the arms, shoulders, legs, and core. If you guessed water skiing, you’re a winner. My friend had the lake dug because of his passion for water skiing. He only put fish in it as an afterthought. Nowadays, he probably fishes as much as he waterskis.
Anyway, my morning fishing was over and I felt a bit of redemption from my outing last weekend when I landed three bass and missed five strikes. This morning, after spending a little less than three hours on the water, I went three for three. While that might not seem like much to some people, it was just what I needed after a stressfully busy work week, the excitement of new life in the birth of my granddaughter, and stress from health issues of dear family and friends. I am thankful for my “weekend warrior” opportunities but I am truly blessed with a beautiful family and wonderful friends and I close this post out with some of my most prized blessings.
I figure it’s been two months since I have been on the water. It’s been a) too hot, b) too wet c) too busy with work and family commitments d) all of the above. Of course, the answer was d. With a new granddaughter being delivered today and being right in the middle of marching band season, I have had little time to fish or tie flies.
I was able to fish for an hour-and-a-half yesterday before church and I decided to try to test some new foam (crease) flies I tied earlier this summer. As I slipped my kayak quietly into the upper lake in my neighborhood, I observed that the morning was super quiet and there was a dense fog advisory issued. Both of those conditions are perfect for fishing a popper in the shallows. When it’s that quiet, I can actually hear fish feeding in shallows and I can target them. The fog (or overcast conditions) keeps the fish in the shallows longer. About 5 to ten minutes into the morning, I had my first blowup on my popper. I felt the fish on but my hook didn’t stick it and I was left empty handed. No worries. I figured it was fisherman error. Five minutes later, I missed another and this time I never really “felt” the fish. It took my popper down and when I set the hook, my popper came flying back to me. This went on two more times before I told myself, “enough is enough!” and I switched to a more tried and reliable deer hair popper. I didn’t get as many strikes with my frog imitation and I actually missed my first on the new popper, but on my second strike, my hook found its mark in the corner of the fish’s mouth and I lipped a nice 14-inch fish into my kayak. I quickly released it and continued to fish. I struck up a conversation with one of my neighbors and I watched him land a nice 3-plus pound fish on a whopper plopper. Meanwhile, I noticed there was a large concentration of small baitfish (probably fingerling shad) in the area and I saw a small bass go airborne after some bait so I decided to switch to a small shad imitation. A short time later and I was lipping another fish into my kayak.
It was good to get back out on the water and I plan on doing some more fishing once the weather cools. As for the foam popper, I have not completely given up on it yet. It’s going to take more “research.” I love research 🙂 I do think I need to make these with a larger hook gap though. Your thoughts are welcome in the comments section.