I created a short Youtube video made from a couple recent trips to the Southeast Louisiana Marsh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnlQvLwGzbg
I created a short Youtube video made from a couple recent trips to the Southeast Louisiana Marsh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnlQvLwGzbg
Addendum #1 – Gear.
The ideal way to sight-fish is by standing so be sure when you purchase your kayak, you select one that is very stable. I fish out of a Jackson Cruise, for the stability, tracking, and it’s lightweight.
When I first started sight-fishing for redfish, I had trouble maneuvering my paddle and my fly rod. I would push through the marsh with the paddle and then clip it on my belt. Here’s a good post by a buddy of mine on how to make one of these: https://mountainstomarsh.com/2012/06/04/dawgknots-paddle-holster-belt/
When I would see a fish, I would clip the paddle on my belt, bend over and grab my fly rod, which was laying down on the floor of the kayak and by the time I looked back up, I had lost the fish. My solution was to purchase a fly rod holder or holster. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enmYw0PijDw
That was a game changer for me. Now, I could keep my eyes on the fish while I grabbed my fly rod. I started having more success but the real game changer for me came with the purchase of the Parknpole, by Yakattack : https://www.amazon.com/Yakattack-Parknpole-Stakeout-Push-Pole/dp/B009335UAU/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&gclid=Cj0KCQiAt_PuBRDcARIsAMNlBdqutoik1sINV_KEUomHw-O2BT10wKwSsaPXq4ZUkHds_WXEfZkMhM8aAipWEALw_wcB&hvadid=182518131977&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9025395&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=13129700939419524766&hvtargid=aud-840076997981%3Akwd-69281524443&hydadcr=16032_9870530&keywords=parknpole&qid=1574814226&sr=8-1
Now, I just push-pole through the marsh and when I see a redfish, I grab my rod, which is holstered to my side and in a few seconds, I’m able to present my fly to and unexpecting redfish. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Addendum #2 I think my next purchase will be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGHf6fZTvOA
I like my Smith Creek holster but I see so much potential in this and it’s the same price.
Like my last blog entry said, “Fall is my favorite time” to get to the marsh to do some sight-fishing for redfish. I often get asked how does one “sight-fish” for reds. I made a solo trip this morning (one of my favorite big-league ball players stood me up late last night) to Grand Isle to do some sight fishing for Louisiana redfish. Here are some of the prerequisites for sight-fishing:
This morning’s trip down Highway 1 took me to my favorite water for this time of year. The tide was low, the water was clear, and the wind was a non factor until around 10 AM. Right away, I had two fish chase down my crab fly and I missed the hook set. I thought to myself “this is going to be one of THOSE days.” I got my composure and I just stuck my push-pole in the water so I could check out a feeding raccoon nearby. (sorry, I wasn’t able to get pictures). That’s when I spotted four redfish cruising within 15 feet of my kayak. I made the mistake that duck hunters make when a flock of a dozen or so teal buzz their blind. I cast to the middle of the pod, which spooked them…well all except the lone straggler which couldn’t resist my crab fly imitation. Bam, hook set and I was off on a sleigh ride.
This was a perfect little eating sized fish so it went in my ice chest.
I spent the next half hour or so chasing down fish but I wasn’t having any luck. They either would not eat or I would spook them. Finally, I connected with redfish number 2.
I did some experimenting with camera angles. This kept up for a while.
I was only going to keep three of the smaller fish (my self imposed limit) so I began releasing the big ones. A few of those would have been good tournament-sized fish.
By 1 PM the wind had picked up a little but the water had come up and it was dirty. A redfish was going to really have to make a big mistake for me to see it now. I did manage this leopard red (it had five spots on each side)
I had one break off my crab fly so I decided to tie on a “purple assault.” I caught several on that fly including the big girl of the day at over 28 inches.
The only fly I used that didn’t land a fish was my spoon-fly. When the water clarity got poor, I switched over to the spoon. I got a couple of eats and had both redfish break me off. Oh, well…
When I got home, my wife asked how my day went. I told her it was great. I caught 8. Of course, she commented “only 8?” Yes, dear. Eight redfish over 22 inches each and all caught on flies I tie myself is a good day! Not quite epic, but it certainly was awesome.
Most people who follow my blog or my Youtube channel know that my favorite time for fishing the marsh is the fall. It’s a time when the speckled trout migrate north inside our bays, bayous, and canals and redfish get real…well…stupid. They are like a love-sick, doe-chasing bucks, only they are on a ravenous eating frenzy and they gorge themselves with reckless abandon. This all means that even a novice like myself can catch fish. 🙂 Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. My first two trips down to the coast this fall have been anything but easy. I had to fight stronger-than-predicted winds and high water with not-so-good visibility. I did manage to catch a few keeper speckled trout but the sight-fishing for redfish just never did emerge.
I was able to catch a few descent sized trout during my first two trips.
Yesterday, I decided to make a quick trip down to one of my favorite spots down LA 1 in search of some redfish. The weather was predicted to be sunny all day with a 5-10 mph wind, but mostly on the 5 mph side. I made an early pit stop and picked up four keeper-sized trout. By 8:30, I was anxious to get down to my happy place…a place where a guy can push pole through the marsh looking for signs of the “spot-tailed Elvis,” like a good buddy of mine calls it. Whereas my last trip down south I only saw two redfish all day, I saw about a dozen in my first 15 minutes. Of course the winds were blowing closer to 10 mph and I wasn’t able to get a descent cast to any of them but my luck would change soon after. I was able to get a cast off to a redfish I hadn’t spooked and I watched him eat my “purple assault.” So, within a half hour of getting on the water, I had hooked my first fish. Well, after a short fight, it spit the hook.
So, it’s redfish 1, Doc zero. I push poled my way through some winding ditches and came across another of my “money holes.” I made another perfect cast to an unwary fish and bam, fish on. Only it broke my tippet within 10 seconds. Redfish 2, Doc zero! There were more redfish in the area that had followed the first fish and I noticed I was visibly shaking as I tried to find and tie on another fly. I was out of purple assaults, so I tied a tan colored variant of my purple assault. 20 minutes later, I was easing my first redfish into my landing net.
I continued to fish the broken marsh, which by now seemed to be disappearing out from under my kayak. The north wind, plus the outgoing tide made for some really “skinny” water. This actually was in my favor, as I was able to spot many dark shadows moving in the shallows. Sometimes I was able to get a fly in front of one. Sometime they would ignore my offering. In fact, I don’t remember seeing so many fish simply ignore my flies. I did manage to get some more to eat though. I had two fish take me into my backing. One of those broke me off (I had three fish break my tippet). I finally replaced my tippet with some fresh line and I think that made a difference because I didn’t loose another fly all day. The other fish that took me into my backing was just a little over 28 inches…my first baby bull on the fly rod this year. I was determined not to loose that one and it took me 15 minutes to get it landed.
Over all, I was able to land 6 redfish, despite finicky fish, steady 10 mph winds, and very low water. I eagerly await the chance to get back out there and try it again.
Photo fail! 🙂 My go pro snapped this picture right after the redfish wiggled its way off my fish grips.
Haha. Now that’s the way to pose for the camera 🙂
By the way, if you look closely at the bellies of the last two fish, you will notice that their stomachs were full. I did keep three fish for the grill and all three were FULL of crabs, baitfish, and one had about a 10 inch mullet in its stomach. I think they are feeding heavily and preparing for the coming winter. I fished a purple assault, a tan assault, a tan Lafleur’s Charlie, a Coma Cacahoe (for the speckled trout), and a crab fly (that’s the one that caught the most fish, seen with the 28 inch red).
We are officially in the fall season, but don’t tell that to mother nature. It’s been a hot summer for everyone and any fishing I’ve been able to do has been early morning shots and get off the water by 9 AM. Now that school has kicked in, I’ve been even more busy than ever because we have moved into our new facility. I’m still unpacking and trying to figure things out. On top of that, we’ve started a bathroom remodel on the home-front, so my free time has been limited, to say the least. However, all work and no play, make for a very dull “Doc” and I’ve been hungry to get on the water…somewhere.
I’ve been seeing reports of good redfish action down in the marsh, so I’ve been looking for a chance to head south. The forecast for this weekend, however, looked too hot and windy (10-15 mph) for my blood, so I decided to take a quick pond trip nearby to feed my fishing hunger before church this Sunday.
I wasn’t disappointed. I was treated to a beautiful morning with lots of wildlife to help distract me (I missed about a half dozen good strikes). There were ducks, doves, and an early morning fox that visited me. Sorry, no pictures. As far as the catching, well, the action was pretty darned good. I was able to catch and release 21 bass on a deer hair popper by 9 AM. The popper was one I still had tied on from my last trip and I figure I’ve caught over 40 on that same bug by now.
I brought my camera and I was able to get some good video. I have some editing to do before I post it so it will have to come in a later post. Meanwhile, I’ve got more demo work to do, sanding, and painting. Tight loops and tight lines everyone!
People might ask, “Why would anyone want to climb Mount Everest? Why would anyone want to white-water raft a class 10 rapid? Why would anyone want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” Most of these questions could be answered, “Because it’s not an easy thing to do.” So why would I drive five hours to Arkansas to sight-fish for a fish that’s arguably much more intelligent than bass or redfish? Because it’s not an easy thing to do. I would learn that lesson though, the hard way when I joined a fellow kayak fisherman and friend, Drew Ross, near his home waters in Arkansas this past Tuesday. Drew is fortunate enough to live near water that holds a “target-rich” environment of very large grass carp and acres and acres of shallow flats in which to sight fish for them with dry flies!
So here are some of the reasons why I am so intrigued by these fish.
So, spoiler alert..you aren’t going to see any photos of me holding a massive carp in this blog post. I can tell you I never worked so hard to get “skunked” in my life but I had a blast and I look forward to getting a chance to go again.
First of all, Drew is a super nice guy and was probably more disappointed than me that I didn’t land a carp. Because we were going to be sight-fishing, we had to first pick a day that was forecast to be mostly sunny, with very little wind. The good news was, I didn’t have to leave my house at 2 in the morning to get out there at the crack of dawn. I left at 6 AM and made it to his house a little before 11. The bad news was, it was going to be very hot! No problem there, because my mom didn’t raise a wimp!
For the first hour or so, Drew pointed out fish to me. I quickly began spotting fish on my own and was tossing a small dry fly to cruising fish. I soon learned the importance of being very accurate with my casts. That’s when you realize just how intelligent this fish is. As a fly fisherman who frequently sight-fishes redfish in shallow water, I thought I would be able to cast a foot or two in front of a fish and “intercept” it. I would make a “perfect” cast and watch the fish swim right under the fly without even budging. Sometimes they would swim around it like they wanted to avoid it all together. When I practice my casting, I try to land my fly in a 14 inch circle (actually and old drum head from school). It became apparent to me that I was going to have to present my fly to a moving fish, with a slight breeze to contend with, in a circle about the size of a pancake. What a humbling experience!! I struggled! All this time, Drew had not even made a cast. I told him, one of us had catch a fish so I eventually talked him into casting to a few fish for himself. I just wanted to see if it could be done.
Well after about 15 minutes, I heard a loud commotion and saw that Drew was indeed hooked up. It, however, only lasted a couple seconds because the fish straightened his hook out. Meanwhile, my presentations were getting better but twice I missed opportunities because an aggressive bream ate my fly just when I thought I was getting a carp to rise.
Drew and I kept push-poling our way through the flats and I probably cast to over 50 carp in about 5 hours before I got my first fish to eat. I saw a loner heading toward me very slowly and I put a legitimate “perfect” cast out about 6 inches in front of its nose. I watched it rise and its “kissers” opened up and sucked my fly in. I set the hook and….I missed!!! (Insert explicative of your choice here). I was distraught, but I was encouraged that I got and eat. Then I watched Drew get another eat (another straightened hook) and another… this time landing the pretty fish:
We were running out of time when I got my second eat. I let the fish actually take the fly down before I set the hook and again, I came up empty. I actually got a third fish to eat my fly and this time I actually felt some weight when I set the hook. Drew heard the commotion and thought I had actually hooked one, but I missed again. Oh well, these are times when I just have to chalk things up to Cormier’s Rule #1 of Fly Fishing: Fish make the rules; not the fisherman.
So, as I sit here waiting out this tropical storm, I am tying a few dry flies of my own to target these beautiful fish the next chance I get and although it was a very humbling experience, I know I learned a lot and will use what I’ve learned to be better prepared the next time I give it a shot.
Each summer, I look forward to putting all those flies I tied during the rainy winter and spring to a field test. Last week, I spent a lovely week in Florida with my wife and we spent four days in St. Augustine. St. Augustine is the oldest city in America and it’s full of historical venues and a few newer “watering holes” to boot. We toured the Basilica, the Castillo de San Marcos, The Fountain of Youth, and more. Here are a couple pictures from that trip.
Now before you exit my blog, let me get to the fishing report. As you see in the pictures, I wasn’t allowed to bring my fly rod, so I have to make up for it this week. 🙂
I took a quick look at the weather forecast and figured that my best opportunity would be Tuesday, because the wind, clouds, and rain were in the forecast for Wednesday through the weekend. AND…I start with one of my camps next week. I decided to revisit PAC (Pointe aux Chenes) and do a little sight fishing for sheepshead and redfish.
Since I planned on doing some sight fishing, I decided I didn’t need to get there at the crack of dawn so I left Baton Rouge for the 2 hour journey at 6 AM. I was on the water and fishing by 8:45. Now, I periodically get to fish with a fly fishing icon. Most people just call him “Catch” and that’s because he knows how to catch fish. He has been my fishing partner for the past three years in the Fly Fishing For the Mission Tournament. Anyway, at this year’s event he caught 6 or so sheepshead on the fly! So, I tied up a couple of the shrimp patterns he was using (a tan colored Lafleur’s Charlie) and made sure to tie one of my first rig. On the second, I put a crab pattern.
You can see the three flies I used today on the pool noodle to my left.
Today’s conditions were good for sight fishing except, the water was extremely high and dirty. The fish were going to have to make a big mistake for me to see them in that water. I even went to my usual spots which have a lot of grass, thinking that the water would be cleaner there but it was just too high. I think the incoming tide was bringing dirty water from the shrimp boats. From about 9 AM until just before noon, I had the shrimp pattern and the crab pattern on. I was able to spot a few misguided redfish and sheepshead but they were 1) very spooky and 2) they just wouldn’t eat. I made several perfect presentations and watched as the fish followed the fly but something didn’t look right and they just would not eat. Finally, around noon, I figured I had better change tactics. I refuse to get skunked, so I tied on my trusty spoon fly.
Right away, I spotted a trio of big sheepshead. Great! They hadn’t seen me. So I put a cast out to the left of the group…I didn’t want to put it right in the middle of them because I figured I would hit one of them in the butt and then they would all scatter. As luck would have it, one of them peeled off and took a look at the spoon. Come on…Eat it!! Eat it!! Nope 😦
Of course, by now the wind had picked up to around 10 mph but I can deal with that as along as I can fish the lee side of the marsh. I spotted a pretty redfish but an errant cast that landed on its snout didn’t work out so good for either of us. Ahh, “there’s another one,” I thought to myself. Maybe I’m finally in a target-rich area. No sooner had I gotten those words out, the fish chased my spoon fly down and gobbled it up. After about a 5-minute or so battle, I landed my first fish of the day. It measured 21 inches and I let it go.
After I released the fish I paddled back to my “target-rich” spot. I spied another redfish in the shallows and put one cast toward it. BAM, fish number two! It was a fun little fish but noticeably smaller (probably 17 or 18 inches).
I went back to my spot but the “target” had moved on. About 15 minutes later, I was cruising a bank with the wind to my back, when I spotted two really nice sheepshead. I was able to put my push pole in the water and stop my kayak. I placed a couple really nice casts out to the fish but when it was looking like it was interested…BAM! A redfish swam in and smoked my fly! I fought this one for a while and was getting it close to the kayak when it took one more big run and spit the hook.
It was getting to be about 2 PM (my self designated time to start heading back in) when I saw a very large dark shadow. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but when it turned, I saw the telltale stripes on its side. Well, what do you know? I finally got a big sheepshead to eat my spoon fly! We engaged in a battle that lasted a couple of minutes. It too spit my hook back at me. That’s one of the things about sheepies. They have that mouth full of teeth. It’s hard to find a spot in there to get a hook in.
I know I say that any day on the water is a good day. It’s just some are better than others. Today was not one of those great days. The water clarity was poor, the water was high, and the wind picked up to make things even more challenging. The two fish I did land were beautiful. I’m going to have to rethink PAC for a while. I think my next trip south will be to Grand Isle. In the meantime, I may take a trip up north to try my luck at some big carp. I’ll leave you all with a few closeups of these beautiful fish.
Fly fishing, fly tying and maybe an ale?
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