I’ve been searching and searching…and then I found you :)

I have been trying to find a consistent sacalait bite in our neighborhood lake all spring, but I have fallen short on several occasions. Then there were other obligations like school, family, and weather events. So, I don’t post the trips when I go out and I skunk (rarely happens) or I only catch a few bluegill or a bass or two. I guess I need to post those reports too, so I look human πŸ™‚ However, I took the opportunity to walk my kayak over to the neighborhood lake this afternoon after chores (repairs to the chlorinator) and supper and fish for an hour.

I met a young man and his dad at my “put in” spot and we struck up a conversation. I watched him (a 5th grader) reel in a small bass on plastic. I tried to lure him over to the “dark side,” the fly rod, and his dad said he remembered his grandfather trying to teach him to catch fish on the fly rod and how much of a thrill it was to catch fish on a fly rod. After about 10 minutes or so of chit chat, I finally launched my kayak and was paddling over to one of my spots that had produced sacalait in the past. I was fishing with one of my black and chartreuse fluff butts for about 10 minutes when I saw my strike indicator disappear beneath the murky water. I stiffened up my fly rod and I found myself doubled over with a slab sacalait on the other end. The young man was very impressed on the bank.

My first nice slap on the fluff butt

Five minutes later and my 5 wt was doubled over again. I eased another 15 inch crappie (sacalait) into my kayak. The little boy was so excited now. I think he and his dad were heading over to Bass Pro to purchase a kayak and a fly rod. LOL!

slab number 2

So, you get the picture. Cast, strip, repeat. Cast, strip, wait a while. Repeat. Cast, strip… watch the strike indicator disappear, set the hook and ease another slab into the kayak.

I know. This is getting monotonous

After about an hour of this, the bite stopped, but by then, I had put a half dozen on my stringer. For those of you who don’t know this (I’m sure most subscribers to this blog do), crappie, or sacalait like we call them down here (Native American/French translation = “sack of milk”), is one of the best eating fish that swim in fresh water. When I got home I put some of them on the measuring board.

14.5 inches
Just under 15 inches

This was the largest in the bunch

I sent these pictures with a message to the members of my fly fishing club and I’ll repeat it here. There is so much joy and peace in God’s good outdoors. Get off the couch, throw the gaming devices in the garbage, and get outside and experience the beauty that God has created for us. It is the best therapy out there, it’s less expensive than a psychiatrist, and it can provide you with dinner too. πŸ™‚

Tight loops and tight lines to all of you!

When the Good Lord Provides

It’s been a windy spring down here in south Louisiana so the fishing chances have been slim. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten a few chances to hit the water between storms. As the title of this post eludes, “I love it when the Good Lord provides.” He provides me with a wonderful family, good health, and yes, even the windy days we have been having. But this is a fishing blog, so let’s get down to it. As our spring break approached, I looked for opportunities to get on the water of my local neighborhood lakes to a little “catch and eat.” I needed some fish for those Friday fish fries. The sacalait just haven’t shown themselves yet, except for maybe a couple here and there, but nothing that would be worthwhile to keep to put in some hot grease. So, I changed tactics and I decided to tie on a hare’s ear nymph and see if the bream and chinquapin would be willing to provide dinner. My hunch proved to be correct one afternoon as I was able to sight fish to some chinquapin and bluegill that were stalking the shallows.

This fat red ear (chinquapin) went for the hare’s ear.
Another large chinquapin
And a few bluegill made it to the fish fry

After a successful afternoon trip, I decided to wake up early Saturday morning to see if I could replicate my luck. I was able to catch a few chunky bass in the morning and then I managed to put a few more big bluegill and a couple sacalait on the stringer.

The LSU popper is still the color of choice around here
These joined the Friday lenten fish fry too.

Well, fast forward to Good Friday morning. I knew my three grandchildren would be heading to Baton Rouge later that day and I wanted to fry fish for them for supper. We had a good downpour overnight so I figured the water would be running over the dam from the upper lake to the lower lake. I got out early to see if the shad were doing their thing at the base of the dam and sure enough, they were in numbers that attracted a lot of bass. I hooked a descent bass early on my musicdoc shad and I then changed my retrieve to allow the fly to work lower in the water column. I was able to land four slab sacalait before the bite stopped. I was just in time to walk my kayak back home to greet my grandchildren. My granddaughter was more than happy to take a picture of Poppie with his fish.

The smile on his face says it all. BTW, the fish weighed a pound and a half.

So, after lunch, I dug up a few worms and offered my three-year-old grandson an opportunity to catch a fish of his own. He had a ball and he caught his first fish ever on his Mickey Mouse rod and reel.

Proud young fisherman
Fish number 2

We had a wonderful Easter with the grandkids and we were sad to see them go. Our weekend was fun of tractor rides, Easter egg hunts, kayaking, dancing, and a crawfish boil. So Monday rolls around and I’m looking at the winds and weather for this week…my off week. Wow. 15-20 mph winds Monday and Tuesday. That’s no good. My wife and I walked the neighborhood Monday and we came on a stash of blackberries. I rode back there later with a gallon ziplock bag and managed to pick about 10 cups of berries, which I turned into some good blackberry jelly.

That’s a gallon sized bag
Which we turned into blackberry jelly

Like the title of this post says, the Good Lord does provide. Oh, and speaking of providing, I got up early this morning before the winds kicked up and I managed to catch 5 nice bass on the LSU deer hair popper. No sacalait though, but that’s OK. These bass were released to go make babies (one was full of eggs)

Things are Poppin’ ‘Round Here.

Spring is about to crack open its delights down in south Louisiana. That means the oak trees are starting to create those little “popcorn” hulls that fall in my pool. The small song birds are busy collecting twigs to build nests. The crane flies have begun their mating ritual, the Canada geese are chasing each other, and the blackberry bushes are beginning to bloom. So, what does that have to do with fishing, you might ask? Lots. The bass are fattening up and are getting ready to sit on their beds. The crappie and the bream won’t be far behind them.

We have had some unusually warm weather (in the 80’s) the past couple of days and I was wondering if the water had warmed up a bit in our neighborhood lake. I checked and it was still in the upper 50’s yesterday. This afternoon, it was 61, so I decided to make a quick hour-and-a-half trip after work. I began by trying my go-to spots for crappie (we call them sacalait). I didn’t get a bump. I then decided to try hitting the banks for some bass with my old, and I mean old (beat up) LSU deer hair diver. I saw a swirl about a foot off the bank and one nice cast later, I was fighting a 3 pound bass.

I could tell she had eggs so I put her back in the water quickly.

About 5 minutes later, I hooked into another bass about the same size, only to watch it disappear under my kayak after a brief struggle. By this time, I had company. A couple of fishermen (friends of mine from the neighborhood) were trolling around in a small bateau. We struck up a brief conversation and I found myself hooked into another chunky bass.

Another one over 3 lbs

After seeing me land and release that fish, my friends trolled over to another end of the lake/pond to try their luck. A short while later, I saw a slight commotion in the water near the bank ahead of me and I let out a lot of line to try a very long cast. I was rewarded when I saw a huge swirl and the back of another bass came out the water to inhale my popper. Another one that went over 3 lbs.

It seemed too easy for a while. I paddled a little further and I saw another swirl near the bank. This time the fish bolted toward my kayak and I couldn’t get a really good hook set in it. I watched it disappear beneath my kayak too. Now, I was really satisfied by this time and I didn’t care if I caught another fish or not. That was when the biggest one of the afternoon sucked down my popper.

Another one that was eager to take my LSU Popper.

I caught three more dinks that were around 11 inches long and I was totally content to begin heading back in to cook supper. The fish had other ideas and I was able to land two more on the beat-up popper.

They all looked like carbon copies of each other. What a fun afternoon. I know it doesn’t always happen this way, but it’s way cool when you hear that you caught 7 (four over 3 pounds) and the guys in the other boat only caught 2 on conventional tackle. I’m hoping the sacalait begin moving over cover to spawn in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, it’s good to know the bass are “popping” around here.

Tight loops and tight lines!

Getting my Mojo Back

It has been a long time since I had a good day “catching” fish down in our South Louisiana Marsh. Any trip in our marsh is indeed, a blessing; whether I catch fish or not. Being able to experience the beauty that God created for us is worth the price of gas (whew… it keeps getting more expensive to enjoy). Yesterday’s trip was one for the books when it comes to enjoying the beautiful creation that too many of us take for granted.

I joined my friend and fellow fly fisherman, Chuck (Snakedoctor), for a trip to Hopedale, Louisiana. We knew we should have good fishing conditions (good sun, low winds, some tidal movement) and we hoped the fish would cooperate. I was breaking in a new kayak…yes, I have gone over to the dark side and I purchased a Hobie Compass, and I was looking to “slime” it. Chuck fishes nearly exclusively out of a Compass, so I was also looking for tips from him on how to load and unload the kayak, how to secure it to the bed of my truck, and how to fish out of it without getting my fly line stuck in the pedals. Right away, I started getting my line caught around the pedals and Chuck showed me how to secure the pedals in a way that would make casting easier.

I guess the biggest help Chuck was to me was, he taught me not to be so stubborn with my sight fishing. He showed me that quality redfish can be caught on the fly rod without having to sight fish for them. If any of you follow this blog, you know that for me, nothing beats sight-fishing for redfish in the shallows. I’m always searching for the perfect day with perfect conditions…low, clear water. However, with the cold water temperatures we have been experiencing, sight fishing the way I traditionally do has been out of the question. The shallow water, although gin clear, is just too cold and the only fish I’ve seen in the shallows the past two trips have been mullet and garfish. Chuck caught a couple of bass early on and I caught and released a 12-inch speckled trout. I figured I would have to do better than 12 inches if I was going to have to clean any fish today (sorry dad and mom). We decided to try our luck with speckled trout by fishing in deeper water. Chuck was the first to catch a speckled trout. I saw him with a big curve in his rod and he was getting the net. He said it was an upgrade to his Massey’s CPR Tournament. Anytime you catch an 18 inch trout on a 6 wt. fly rod, you have a reason to be excited.

Chuck smiling with an 18 inch trout

I snapped this picture of Chuck and his trout and I continued fishing. I then hooked into something that I thought was a small redfish, because it pulled hard and stayed down…not the traditional tell-tale head shaking that most trout do. I soon realized it was a huge trout! I netted it and measured it on my paddle at 20 inches. After weighing it (2.9 lbs) I realized I had just caught my personal best trout on the fly rod.

At 20.5 Inches, this trout is my personal best on the fly rod.

We continued to fish that stretch of deeper water and we each only picked up another trout, which was nothing worth sticking around for, so we headed off to some other areas in search of redfish.

Chuck was the first to hook into a really good “tugger” that measured 26 inches on his spoon fly. He caught it in deeper what (not sight fishing)

What a beautiful redfish! But who is the masked fisherman? πŸ™‚

I decided to forego sight fishing in the shallow flats and I began to “blind cast” certain points and the edges of the grass flats in deeper water. That was the ticket for me. I hooked into an energetic 27-inch red that took me into my backing. After a long fight, I got that one to the net.

I think we’re going to need a bigger net.
27 inches released to fight another day.

We continued to pound the deeper water around cuts and ditches in the marsh and Chuck connected on his third redfish of the day.

Anyway, I don’t want this post to get too long. I’ll do a review of the Compass (maybe during the halftime show of the Superbowl LOL). The day was actually incredible. We saw tons of wildlife included diving and puddle ducks, numerous other marsh hens, herons, and other birds. I did look for the alligator that roams this area (it’s about 8 to 10 feet long by now) but I didn’t see it. This should hold me for a while…honey do’s to do πŸ™‚ Until next time. Tight loops and tight lines.

You can’t catch fish sitting on your couch :)

To say I’ve been a little stir crazy lately is an understatement. There are only so many movies you can watch on Netflix and the Disney Channel. I am really not interested in NFL post-season (except for Joe Burrow’s Bengals). I’ve been tying flies for weeks now. So, with season-low temperatures in the air in South Louisiana, something had to give. Why not go south and see if conditions would allow me to do some sight-fishing for redfish?

I made a couple of phone calls and texts to buddies of mine and I finally decided to try Hopedale. Some of the other options I looked at were Leeville and Highway 1 between Forcheon and Grand Isle. I know the water has been very low there and there isn’t much vegetation. Chances are, the water was going to be very low and dirty. I knew that a Sunday afternoon trip would allow things to warm up. I also figured I would be able to find clean water in Hopedale because of the vegetation. Plus, I had talked to a buddy of mine who had fished there the day before in the BCKFC Minimalist Challenge.

So, to be honest, my heart wasn’t really into it. I woke up to 22-degree temps Sunday morning. At around 9 AM, I started putting my 8 wts. together with the reels and it was still around 35 degrees. About 15 minutes later, I told my wife I wasn’t going and I disassembled my rods and put each one up in its case. 15 minutes later, by buddy was prodding me on the phone saying, “It would be a good afternoon out there. And not that cold.” “Most people did not catch anything until after 10 yesterday.” “the water is 50 degrees but will warm up on the flats.” So, I changed my mind again. Yes, my wife thinks I’m crazy but she’s been married to me for over 38 years so I guess she comes to expect it by now πŸ™‚

I pulled up to the combat launch on the side of the road around 12:20. I had quickly slipped my kayak in the water and began the mile paddle to where I’ve caught fish before. I also planned on trying out a couple new patterns that I tied this winter including a new paddle-tail fly (see this video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlg3yQ-1vEs&t=109s

After the half hour paddle to the lagoon I was going to fish, I immediately saw the water was nearly gin clear in spots. I stood in my kayak and poled around (oh, that’s another story…I guess I lost my push pole after my last trip in October). I could clearly for large stretches of water. There were NO FISH 😦 I push poled around for nearly 2 hours and didn’t see the first redfish or bass. So, I decided to try to find some deep water and work my paddle-tail fly slowly. About 10 minutes drifting in a deeper bayou, I got my first strike. It was a 13 and a half inch trout. Good! I wasn’t going to get skunked. I wondered, should I keep it? Would I catch more? I decided to toss it in my ice chest. I haven’t eaten speckled trout in a year or so. About 10 minutes later, I had another head-shaker heading into my landing net. This one was 14 inches. Things were looking up. I thought I had found a pattern. I continued to drift that canal and work the spots where I had caught those two previous fish. About 20 minutes or so later, I caught my third trout, but it was just under legal size, so it went back in the cold water to grow some more. I didn’t get another bite. I had a couple more spots I wanted to explore, so I paddled over there to see what things looked like. I did some blind casting down some deeper duck hunter ditches but I didn’t get a bite.

That is all I have to report. Like my title says, “you can’t catch fish sitting on your couch,” so I made the trip anyway. Here are some of the positives I got from the trip: I did catch fish on my new paddle tail. (I’m going to have to post a picture at the end of this) I saw some amazing wildlife, especially the hundred or so ducks (mostly big ducks) that I spooked in one spot. I got back home without swamping my kayak. (especially good with the frigid temperatures). I got a good workout in (I probably paddled over 5 miles). On the negative side. I forgot my camera, I found out I must have lost my “park n pole” after my last trip in October, and I only caught two keeper trout, which won’t feed the two of us. But it was a great day!

Tight loops and tight lines.

The bottom one saw action this weekend. It kind of reminds me of the Chicken on a Chain plastics I used to fish with. The middle is my “smoke” cacahoe version.

First Fish of 2022

First Fish of 2022

It’s been over two weeks since the start of the new year and I’ve been able to get on the water of our neighborhood lake twice. The first time, I was completely shut out. Since the new year, we have had cold, damp, windy weather…well except when I’m at work. I have really been looking for an opportunity to get down to our Southeast marshes but the weather…did I mention the weather?

Martin Luther King’s holiday was looking like it might provide me with an opportunity to head to the marsh, but the latest weather report forecast a very cold morning with winds blowing from 10 – 18 mph, which is too windy for me to be in a kayak with a fly rod. So, I decided to get some cleaning done at the house and tie a few deer hair bugs to pass the time. We have a couple of conclaves coming up this spring and I’m going to be donating some flies for the gambler’s draw. I guess you could say I was feeling kind of froggy πŸ™‚

My wife and I went for a walk in the neighborhood and when the sun warmed things up a bit, I decided to put the kayak on wheels and roll on over to the neighborhood lake. I tied on a fly designed by a good buddy of mine, “Catch” Cormier, he calls the Coma Cocahoe. I knew it would be heavy enough to get down to where I was hoping the fish would be in this cold water. About 15 minutes into my afternoon trip, I thought I had hung the bottom, but I soon realized the “bottom” was moving. A short fight later and I was lipping a fat female bass full of eggs.

I did have my scale in the kayak and this girl weighed 3.6 lbs

Hopefully, that was a good omen for 2022! The very next cast, I caught her baby brother.

You can get a good look at the Coma Cocahoe

I fished for about another half hour and I did get a massive strike that nearly pulled my rod out my hands but I never got a good hook set in that one. Anyway, the wind was still blowing pretty hard and the sun was going down behind the trees so it was getting a little too cold. Here’s to a healthy new year to everyone. I pray we put this pandemic in our rear view mirrors.

Tight loops and tight lines to you all!

One More Post for 2021

I didn’t know how to title this post. My choices were several, including “Fun on the 3 wt,” “A Crappie Ending to a Crappy Year,” “The Sunfish Trifecta,” or “Self-Quarantine Fun.” I couldn’t find a winner so I just chose, “One More Post for 2021.” Also, please forgive the two attempts I made at inserting a quick video. Not I cannot seem to be able to delete them. Just read on. πŸ™‚

I had actually been looking forward to this week. I had a whole week off from teaching and I had just said goodbye to my daughter’s family and my three grandchildren. Wouldn’t you know it, the weather got hot, cloudy, and windy…not good redfish sight fishing weather. In fact, the weather looked pretty crappy so I’ve been staying inside, tying flies and cleaning up my tying table.

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got a cup of coffee, did my “Bible in a Year” podcast, and I headed out to my neighborhood lake with my kayak in tow, a popper on a 5 wt, and a fluff butt on the 3 wt. I made a valiant attempt to hit the banks with the popper but I was having no luck at all. So I decided to focus on my favorite sunfish, bluegill and red-ear sunfish (chinquapin). I started catching small bluegill right away.

small but pretty
a little larger at 7 inches

I realized that the larger fish were hanging in deeper water, about 8-10 feet from the bank. I then hooked into a descent chinquapin.

These red-ear sunfish are thick and they fight hard on a 3 wt

Not long after that fish, I hooked what is probably my personal best chinquapin on my fly rod.

I measured that big one out at 11 inches on my paddle and I released it.

I was about to call it a day, when I caught my third different species in the sunfish family, a crappie (sacalait).

This one was 9 inches long

I was completely content at this point and I started heading back to my pickup point. That’s when I hooked a larger sacalait.

Now I had just told one of my neighbors who lives on the lake that I wasn’t keeping fish today. Heck, I hadn’t even thought about bringing my stringer because I’ve never caught a bunch of sacalait or big chinquapin in the month of December on the lake. Well, I proceeded to catch three more sacalait (all big enough to fillet) and I released them. That’s when it hit me…we have been eating Christmas leftovers for five days now and it’s time to eat something different. So, I beached my kayak and took the five minute walk over to my house to grab my stringer. I paddled back to where I had caught the last three sacalait, and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t get a bite…well for about five minutes or so. Then I caught a nice one…then another… then another.

I had one break my size 3x tippet. I found that to be strange because it broke it off at the loop where I made the loop-to-loop connection. I patiently tied on another three-foot piece of tippet material and another fluff butt and I continued to catch a couple more sacalait before that tippet broke too. I was beginning to wonder if the brand new Orvis 3x tippet was defective. I wasn’t going to chance breaking off again, so I tied on 0x on my 3 wt. πŸ™‚ I finally called it a day with 8 good slabs.

They weren’t “hammers” but they were good-sized “slabs”

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my morning with just two days left to the year. Heck, I’m probably going to try another neighborhood lake tomorrow morning. What a great way to end 2021!

Fried to perfection

A Crappie End to 2021

2021 A Year in Review…or the crappie year.

Wow! What a year! Another crappy year of pandemics, political upheaval, family losses…and crappie. Lots of crappie…and that’s a good thing. Thank God for the peace and comfort that fishing brings. Each year I put together a post that recalls the high points of the year.

January saw the addition of a beautiful new granddaughter, Angeline Rose Wijay.

Angeline Rose Wijay
Then there were three πŸ™‚

There was very little fishing for me in January. I did manage to tie some flies but we were busy with family and work. Things did warm up for me in February and so did the fishing. The neighborhood lake didn’t disappoint and I was able to catch several varieties of sunfish, including crappie, redear sunfish, and bass.

Things picked up a bit more in March, as I was able to catch some numbers

and some with shoulders.

I do love this time ofΒ year!

April was actually more of the same. More crappie. πŸ™‚

May…well…you get the point

Love it when they are as big as my paddle.

The bass got bigger and so did the bream.

In June, I was able to get down to my beloved South Louisiana marsh, where I fooled a few sheepshead into eating my “sheepie shrimp.

This fly caught sheepshead, trout, and redfish this year.

The bass and the sacalait (crappie) were still biting down at the neighborhood lake in June and I was able to harvest a few sacalait for the table. Heck, they were almost as big as the table.

In July, we took a family trip to Texas with my grandkids and I was able to hook a few new species on the fly

My first Guadalupe bass

August…well it was too hot to do much fishing. I did tie some flies and I enjoyed my family

These two are so much fun.

The end of August and the first weekend in September brought us Hurricane Ida. The devastation was hard to believe.

I did manage to get to my favorite lake and get some bass therapy.

October saw me catch my personal best on the fly rod. It also proved a point that the purple and gold of the LSU Tigers is a hot color for bass.

In November, I dusted of the 8 wts and was able to get down to the South Louisiana Marshes to chase after Mr. Poisson Rouge

A pretty redfish that ate my Sheepie Shrimp

That brings us to December. So far (halfway through the month) I haven’t been able to get on the water. I’ve tied a few flies but concerts and work has keep me busy. I hope to be able to get down to the coastal marshes one more time before the beginning of the new year. If so, I’ll post an addendum to this one.

So in the meantime, I wish all my subscribers a blessed Christmas and a Happy New year. May your upcoming year be nothing but tight loops and tight lines!

Dusting off the 8wts

I had to look back on this blog to see when was the last time I made a fishing trip to the South Louisiana Marsh in search for redfish and speckled trout. I saw that I made a couple trips in June and that’s it. That’s either a sad state of affairs for me or, the fresh water fishing has been awesome and it doesn’t warrant making the 2-and-a-half hour trip down to the coastal marshes to get some fishing in. Well, luckily for me, it was the latter. However, I do love fishing our South Louisiana Marshes in the fall and I saw a window of opportunity that opened after church yesterday. Here’s what my window looked like:

The winds were going to lay down
There was zero chance of rain and 100% chance of full sun
I had no school or family obligations
My wife was in Disneyworld with her sisters πŸ™‚

What I didn’t count on was this:

The water was high and muddy
There was zero tidal movement

Here’s the abbridged story:

I left Baton Rouge around 9:30 and headed to a spot I’ve fished for 10+years just north of Leeville. Most of you are probably aware that this area was destroyed by Hurricane Ida this past August. I saw lost of blue tarps on houses along the way and as I got closer to Leeville, I noticed buildings that had been gutted and it looked like some of those will not rebuild. There was debris all over the marsh, from empty fuel tanks to refrigerators and a lot of sheet metal.

After a quick combat launch, I made the quick paddle out to one of the spots that has produced for me in the past. Right off the bat, I had hooked into a small “schoolie” trout. About 3 casts later, I hooked into a nicer one at 16 inches

I know it doesn’t look like 16 inches but I measured it when I got home

I thought this was going to be the beginning of a wonderful afternoon, but much to my dismay, this trout must have been a loner. 😦

After catching a few more dink trout, I decided to switch gears to see if I could sight fish for some redfish. I thought surely, the storm would have brought some fresh fish inside. I guess the visibility was around 8 inches but I couldn’t see a thing. The wind was calm (too calm because the gnats were bad) and I constantly listened for the sounds of fish chasing bait along the marsh grass. I didn’t hear a thing except for the lively mammals in the area (nutria, otters, and porpoise) I just wished the fish would have been that lively. I chalked it up to the fact that there was no tide movement. About two hours into the hunt for redfish, I finally saw a huge bull red that was cruising about 15 feet from me. It was probably cruising about 3 mph while I was drifting about 3 mph in the opposite direction, so I couldn’t even get a cast off.

One of the highlights of the day were the numerous sheepshead I kept seeing. I didn’t check the time, but around 3 PM, I decided that the trout and the redfish weren’t going to play, so I tied on one of my musicdoc sheepshead shrimp flies. Of course, not that I had a shrimp fly tied on, I wasn’t spotting as many sheepshead as before and those I did see, were spooking and high tailing it to deeper water. I was casting toward a sheepshead when I noticed another large wake around the bank. That’s when I spotted my second redfish of the day. It made the mistake of staying in the shallows where I could see it and I attempted to make a well-placed cast toward it. Notice the emphasis on the word, “well-placed?” That was the original plan. My fly, however, nearly hit the redfish on its gill plate. It spooked momentarily and then it violently chased down that shrimp fly that had nearly hit its gill plate. Bam, fish on! I hadn’t felt the pull of a redfish since late June. This one had a lot of fight in it and it took a while to land this 23.5 inch beauty.

23.5 inch redfish put up a good fight on my 8 wt.

You can see just how calm the water was in this picture. It was a great day to be on the water. Like I told a friend of mine, “you can’t catch fish by sitting on your couch in the living room.” I hope to be able to get back on the water before Christmas. I’m still looking for that perfect day when everything lines up perfectly: sun, moon, water, and wind. That’s full sun, good tidal movement, clear water, and very little wind πŸ™‚

The absolute highlight of the day was when I was able to Facetime my grandchildren to show them the “big fish” Poppie had just caught. Their eyes lit up and they shared their excitement with me. That must have looked something like this:

Using this blog as a fishing log

I occasionally look back on this blog to see what time of year certain fish turn on for me, kind of like a fishing log of sorts. For example, I have kept track of when the speckled trout begin to make their move inside during their fall migration. I also keep track of when the sacalait begin to bite and when the bass begin to cruise the shallows in the neighborhood lakes in the spring and in the fall. I was looking back on a morning trip I took last year right after the first cool snap (temps in the lower 50s) and I noticed I had some considerable success right after our first cold front brought temperatures down in the 50s. So, I kind of had I idea that slipping the kayak into the neighbor lake this morning would bring me some action.

And why not? After a week of homecoming festivities that kept me at work until after 10 PM two evenings and after 8 PM another, I was due a morning of peaceful solitude with my fly rod and a deer-hair popper or two. The color of choice for this morning’s adventure? The purple and gold of our Tigers who upset those pesky Gators yesterday! I slipped my kayak into the water around 6:45, right at first light and began tossing a deer-hair diver toward the bank. About ten minutes into my morning paddle, I had hooked into my first bass. It was a small one, probably under 10 inches, but I recalled my trip from last year that the morning began with small fish and progressed nicely to larger ones.

The first fish of the morning smacked my version of the purple and gold Dalhberg diver

Five minutes later, I landed another one…and it was a little larger.

Here is a good picture of that diver

I began to notice a pattern. The fish were pretty tight against the bank and they seemed to consistently get larger as the morning wore on. Still, it was only around 7:15 when I landed fish number three.

Another one was liking the Tigers πŸ™‚

It seemed I was catching fish every five minutes or so, and by now I had caught four bass and I had lost a couple. Some of the takes were small slurps and others were downright slams! There was no consistency in the way they were hitting the bug. I did tell myself to pay attention because one of the missed fish was because I never really noticed the slurp and I didn’t get a good hook set in it. I was casting to a shallow area near one of the fountains when I saw a slight swirl and my popper disappeared. I set the hook good in it and it took off. I realized this one was larger…much larger. It took off toward the water fountain and started dragging me toward the water. I started cracking up because it seemed like this fish thought I needed a shower or something. I frantically tried to turn it and that wasn’t working, so I dug my paddle in the water to keep from getting soaked. I was beginning to think I was going to loose this fish in the wires or the downed debris under the fountain when I finally got the fish to turn away from the fountain. Meanwhile, I had gotten wet. If anyone was watching me, they certainly got a show and watched as we both laughed at my predicament. The fish tried one last time to get under the fountain and I was able to turn it without getting another shower from the fountain. When I saw its mouth, I knew it was a beast. I got a measurement from the ruler on my paddle at 21 inches, which is probably my personal best in length (not in weight) on the fly rod. I was in my yellow Wilderness Tarpon kayak and not my Jackson, so my fish scale wasn’t with me but I estimate the fish to be over 4.5 pounds and probably a conservative 5. This fish will be in the 6-7 lb range in the spring with it fattens up for the spawn.

Long and skinny but very long!
My arms weren’t long enough to get the full fish in the picture.
And my kayak wasn’t wide enough. That’s what you call a ‘bucket mouth.’
I love watching this big ones swim off. Thanks for the adventure!

Soon I regained my bearings from that adventure, I found myself setting the hook on another nice chunky bass. This one was 16 inches.

Another nice fish that went for the LSU diver.

It seemed like I was catching a fish now on just about every other cast.

This one had a smaller mouth but was quite a bit chunkier than the others.

I continued to fish until 8:15, when the action slowed and the fish started getting smaller again. I was able to walk my kayak back home and fix breakfast for Lisa and myself. What a great morning of fishing!

This small fellow was hungry!