Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s Fish!

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 9.45.02 PMI took advantage one one last opportunity to fish before rehearsals and concerts make it impossible to fish until the week of Christmas. After a week of strong winds and dirty water, I made a morning trip back to my spot in Leeville with my brother, Keith. Keith fishes “old school” out of a pirogue that he has rigged up with a trolling motor. He also fishes with conventional tackle only. (mostly plastics)

Our morning started out with both of us chasing diving birds. I could tell early on that I wasn’t going to repeat my performance from last week, as most of the trout were small. I did, however, keep track of all the fish I caught today and I ended up catching 49 trout (only 8 were legal sized) and 4 redfish (3 legal sized).

The morning started with very calm winds and high water. The tide quickly made a change and started falling hard. I caught trout on a popper early on but I then changed to a Charlie under a VOSI and started putting numbers in the kayak. My thoughts of a big limit of trout were waning when I saw a big splash against the bank what was a sure telltale sign of a feeding redfish. By the time I paddled over to the spot (riddled with oyster shells on the bottom), the fish had moved. I made several bling casts around the spot I last saw the fish and I got him to eat a gold spoonfly.

An hour later, and I was poling my way through a small “duck pond” filled with clear water. I spotted my first redfish but it moved before I could get my rod up. I threw a couple of blind casts where I had seen it last but I couldn’t get a bite. I then paddled further to the back of the pond where I spotted two redfish. They were not interested in my spoon, so I tied on a crab fly. I  immediately poled my way back to where I had seen the first redfish and I soon landed my first redfish on a crab fly. I ended up catching four (only three kept) redfish.

Notice the big redfish doesn’t have a spot on its tail!

On the paddle back in (I had to be back on the road for 1 PM) I started seeing redfish all over. The water had dropped a foot and now they were visible in the shallow water. After spooking a few, I finally got a 26-inch fish to eat. It ended up being long enough to submit as an upgrade to my redfish entry in our CPR tournament.

I have so much to be thankful for! Hope all my followers had a great Thanksgiving too!



DIY Fly Drying Wheel Tutorial

In my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment of catching fish on flies that I make myself. My favorite flies for bass are poppers and my go-to fly for redfish has been my gold spoon flies. Both of these flies require time on a drying wheel to cure the epoxy correctly. These commercial drying wheels can be purchased from anywhere form $40 – $100. I was looking to make one on my own for about $15.

Here is how I did it:

First, I disassembled my broken dryer and took the wheel and foam (thin piece of plywood with foam glued on it so I could reuse it. Then I headed to the party store and purchased a disco ball for $15.


The unit has a colored plastic piece that screws on to a round black base that is then attached to the bottom base that houses the motor. I then predrilled and screwed my old wheel to the round base and then screwed the bottom assembly to a piece of small plywood that I attached to a stand.

You can see in this picture the small stand where I attached my plywood wheel (I even reused the screws that came with the rainbow light for this). I then predrilled holes on another piece of plywood and attached the base mount to it using the three screws from my old dryer. I made a quick stand for it and I was in business.IMG_3214
I even chose to keep the light which will come in handy when I’m not doing this in our kitchen (don’t tell my wife :) ) You can see old drops of epoxy on the wheel from previous use. I hope this helps anyone considering making one of these. It was a lot easier to assemble than the first one I make years ago. Since it came with that plastic round base (the one that screwed to the plastic bulb assembly, it made the whole project so much easier.

Louisiana Fall Marsh Fishing…Kayak Style

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My absolute favorite time to get to the Louisiana marshes for some kayak fishing has got to be the fall. It’s a period of transition. The  cool fronts that we get down here send a message to the speckled trout to make their annual migration inland to the marshes where they spend the winter months “chilling” out until they are ready to make their run to the coast in late spring to begin to spawn. This time can be feast of famine, depending on that weather. A series of windy, rain weekends has put a damper on my fishing until yesterday.

Although I got a call from a buddy of mine who was going to join me saying that he had to bail (something about taking his mother out for lunch for her birthday), I was determined to take advantage of the only day when the wind wasn’t going to be blowing 10 – 15 mph for the next week (my Thanksgiving  vacation). I left Baton Rouge at 4 AM and was on the water by 6:15 in Leeville, at a favorite spot of mine that I hadn’t fished in two years. By 6:20, I was already getting blowups on a popper ! The speckled trout, aka, spotted sea trout, were feeding on small minnows we call “butter beans.” I don’t know the real name for them (they aren’t cocahoe minnows). They are small and are shaped like a butter bean.

Anyway, by 7 o’clock, I had four nice specs in my cooler and I had released 10 other undersized fish.


I changed to a Lafleur Charlie under a VOSI and paddled to another of my “hot spots” where knew there would be bigger fish. I wasn’t disappointed. I caught some nicer fish and started culling out the smaller, 12 and 13-inch fish for the 14 inch and above trout.


This fish went for the chartreuse Charlie under a VOSI

The fish stopped biting at around 8 so I moved on to some other spots to see if I could get them biting again. For about an hour or so, things slowed down a bit. I caught a bunch of undersized fish and only put one more in the boat. By now, I had about 15 trout in my ice chest so I knew the day was a success. Additionally, I had a 16-inch trout that I was going to submit to our CPR  tournament (which finishes up at the end of the month).


16-inch trout on a charteuse Charlie

I then switched to a darker colored Charlie and it was on. Nearly every cast produced a fish. I told myself I would stop keeping fish at the “Cormier Limit,” a self-imposed limit of 18. After this, I would only keep fish larger than 14 inches. Well, as my luck would have it, I kept catching 14, 15, and 16 inch fish. I had promised one of my co-workers some fish, so I didn’t mind keeping the extra fish to clean. I tried switching flies to target redfish but I couldn’t get to the redfish without a trout hammering my spoon fly. I saw a couple of blowups on the bank near some grass that I thought were redfish so I cast toward the bank, only to have a big trout inhale it!

I continued to push-pole my way through the marsh looking for signs of redfish but the overcast sky, the high water, and the breeze were not going to let me target redfish this day. I did catch, tag, and release a 13-inch redfish that was chasing bait along with the trout. I finished the morning with a Louisiana limit (25), all on the fly rod. The Lafleur Charlie, a pattern developed by a fellow Red Stick Fly Fisherman, Mike Lafleur, was my most productive fly.



Got Fishing?

As I look at my last post, I realize it’s been almost a month since I’ve been fishing at all. Weekends for me have either been busy with work or the weather has been crappy. We finished our marching band contest last weekend so I gave my kids the week off of after school rehearsals. Today I found an opportunity to get on the water in the neighborhood lake.

I caught three bass and a handful of baby bream this afternoon. The weather is unseasonably warm and I thought that the fish would be biting. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get more action than that. The three I caught were all small but feisty. Note to self…two were caught by the dam as it was getting dark. There was a small trickle of water going over the dam. I should try again Monday after we get the predicted rain this weekend.

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It’s almost “That Time”

It’s almost my favorite time of year to chase redfish and speckled trout down in the south Louisiana marsh. From about mid October until mid December, the shrimp migrate to inside waters and the predators follow them. Additionally, a series of cold fronts pushes water out of the marsh leaving cooler, shallower water which in turn makes spotting feeding redfish a lot easier task.

A quick look at last year’s blog entry from the same weekend showed that I was able to catch a limit of redfish in the Bay Laurier area. I was hoping the conditions this Saturday would be similar. Alas, the weatherman messed up the forecast and instead of 5-10 mph winds, I was greeted with 10-15 mph winds nearly all morning. The water was also unseasonably high, very dirty, and there was very little tide movement. I saw a lot of baitfish and an occasional jumpy shrimp but I didn’t see any predator fish except for a few sheepshead. I did manage to catch my first sheepshead of the year, a 19 inch beauty.


It’s always fun to fool one of these with a fly!

I was able to then catch a small redfish while blind-casting over an oyster bed.


10 inch redfish ate the spoonfly.

I finished the morning around noon with an interesting story. I was fishing a stretch of water that has been real productive for me in the past. I push-poled my way around the lee side of the marsh and didn’t see anything except mullet and baitfish. I then decided to check the windy side. By now, there were white-caps in nearby Bay Laurier and the wind was pushing me rather quickly down the side of the marsh. As I rounded one point, I saw a redfish cruising the grass line and then quickly noticed that he wasn’t alone. It was a pod of about 15 redfish!  I was so close to the edge of the marsh grass and the wind was pushing me toward them so fast that they literally swam right into the bow of my kayak before I could grab my fly rod. They quickly spooked and I waited around for them to regroup. Sadly, they never regrouped. I continued to work the windy side of the large duck pond I was in and I saw something that looked like another nervous mullet. This one, however looked a little suspicious, so I stuck my park n’ pole in the scupper hole and waited. A couple of seconds later, I realized it was another pod of redfish. These were a lot smaller in size than the other one I spooked. I made a great cast, considering the wind, and placed my gold spoon fly about three feet in front of them. I waited until they were about six inches from the fly and I made a short strip. Wouldn’t you know it, a small redfish out hustled the larger slot sized redfish in the pod and ate the fly. I put a tag in it and released the 16 inch redfish to fight another day.


Last redfish of the morning.

Although it wasn’t a very productive day, I did learn a few things. I saw a few reports form others who caught fish further inside (Golden Meadow). The water there is considerably cleaner (more grass to filter the dirty water). The fish just aren’t quite ready in the Laurier area just yet. In another week or two, it should be dynamite though! I hope the wind can only cooperate.

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Fall Bass Fishing

I managed two quick trips to my neighborhood lake. This entry will be very brief because the fishing was slow but still important because these blog entries serve as a fishing log for me. I fished Saturday morning, Sept. 12 and caught two nice bass up to 15 inches. I followed that up with an afternoon trip to the same water two weeks later and caught 3 dink bass. Two of the those were caught on a clouser.

I am still waiting for two more cold fronts to blow through before I seriously attempt to get back in the marsh. Meanwhile, I will continue to make short trips to area bass ponds to pass the time.

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Finally, back in the marsh with my kayak.

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been in the Louisiana marsh chasing tails with my fly rod! With all this heat and the opportunity to put a big hurt on the mangrove snapper (I made another weekend trip with my buddy in Fourchon), I just haven’t had the urge to go. That all changed this weekend when I realized that I would be home alone. My son was out of town on a bachelor party and my wife was in Philly on business. A cool front in the middle of the week brought the temperatures down to record lows and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out some old spots and maybe a few new ones too.

I got a late start but with the full moon the night before, I didn’t really mind. I didn’t think the fish were going to feed until later in the day. The weather was near perfect. There was just a slight breeze and even that slacked down at one point and Bay Laurier looked like a gigantic sheet of glass…with tiny baitfish dancing on it. :)

I tried fishing the south side of Highway one on the recommendation of a friend but all I saw was one huge drum that I cast to for about a half hour. I never could get it to even look at the fly. I saw lots of sheepshead and mullet but not a single redfish.

I paddled back to my car and launched on the other side of the highway. A short paddle to one of my spots that produced early this summer revealed to me that all the grass that had been holding baitfish (and the red predators with the black spot on their tail) had all disappeared. A buddy of mine said that the salinity rises during the summer and kills it off. Anyway, I kept working all my old spots and didn’t see a redfish until 11:30. I was leaving an area of broken marsh ponds with I spotted a nice 18-inch redfish that had gotten in a little shallow ditch. I slowed my kayak down and tried not to spook it. My first cast was bad…over my back right shoulder. I used my push pole to back myself up just a little bit and I spotted the fish a little further in the marsh. This time my cast was right on and I had my first fish of the day.


First Redfish of the day ate the gold spoon fly

I searched again but the only real action I saw was a multitude of baitfish and mullet. Every now and then, I would see a sheepshead but I couldn’t get them to eat a fly. That’s when I tied on a purple and gold bunny streamer that my buddy tied for me. He is a novice tier but he has gotten real good lately and he asked me to fish with one of his creations. I think I was in my 5th cast or so, when I hooked a 14 inch speckled trout.


I was determined to catch another redfish so I paddled on over to some of my favorite spots. I saw one bull red cruising the bank. It was almost right under my kayak by the time I noticed it and it passed me by before I could even swing a fly at it. Finally, I got to one of my money ponds only to find out that there was no grass in it either. In fact, it was very murky. However there was a ton of baitfish (mullet) that was feeding on the decomposing grass. That’s when I saw a very large wake heading toward me. I put the streamer right in front of it and it immediately exploded on the fly. I fought the redfish for about five minutes and it got off. I kept trying to get more fish to eat my fly. I had a fish (the same fish I think) that I actually stuck with the fly. It immediately got off. I saw it about five minutes later near the same area and it tried to eat the fly again. Again, it only ate the back of the fly and never felt the hook.

The winning tactic for me was to anchor my kayak in the middle of the pond/flat and wait for a cruising redfish to get near me. Because of the murky water, I would only see them when they were about 10 – 15 feet away from me. It meant that I would have to make a fast, accurate cast without spooking them. I can tell you that I missed several fish that way but my persistence paid off and I did land a 24 inch red.


I put a tag in it and released it to fight another day. I ended up spending 9 hours on the water and had caught three fish. Can I tell you I still had a great time! I will, however, wait until the fall to go back there again. By then, the redfish will be schooling.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 10.26.04 PM