School is almost out. Time to fish!

With less than a week left, I’m getting the fever to really get on the water as much as I can before it gets too hot and uncomfortable. A couple of mornings ago, I walked on down to our neighborhood dam and was able to get one big bass to eat one of my baitfish shad flies. I didn’t have a ruler to measure the fish but I did have a digital scale and the fish weighed in at 3.83 lbs. That’s my fly rod personal best! FullSizeRender

I was also able to get down to another local lake with one of my students and we caught and released over 50 bass between the two of us. Talk about fun! These fish explode on poppers like crazy. In fact, I think they are some of the healthiest bass I’ve caught recently. They have a lot of fight in them and they just seem heavier than other fish I’ve caught that were the same size. I plan on putting together some video when I get off of school so I’ll be posting here soon. I’ll also have to tie a few more flies to replace the ones that have been lost to angry fish:)

 

Following Doctor’s Orders

So I went in for my follow up check up with my hand surgeon and when I asked him about physical therapy he said,”anything you want to do.” “Go fishing, play your horn…go fishing.” Well I did just that. I had a couple of hours to spare before getting supper ready and going to our dress rehearsal with the incomparable, Rene` Fleming so I went fishing in the neighborhood lake. I took only my 3 wt, and another 5 wt rigged with bream flies. I must have landed about 2 dozen small bream but nothing to really brag about.

The afternoon did get interesting when I made a good cast by some cypress knees and immediately got a small 7-inch bass to eat. No sooner had I hooked the juvenile bass than a larger behemoth bass inhaled my fish. It took off and made a pass under my kayak. I let him run for a while but it decided to spit the baby bass back out. I landed it. It had a few scales knocked off but I think it will make it. I revived it and sent it off on its way. I continued to make a couple more casts in the same area and hooked another small bass and a couple of bream when my phone rang. It was my wife, so I figured I had better take the call. She was wondering where I was and what was for dinner. You know. The usual 5 PM phone conversation. After a couple minutes on the phone, I picked up my 3 wt. and went to make a cast when I realized that something had eaten my #10 frog popper. When I got the slack out, I realized is was big. I made sure to strip set the hook but the dog gone thing rose to the top and spit my popper back at me. It must have been over 20 inches! Oh well, I know where I’m going to start fishing the next time I hit that lake:)

On the way back in, I ran into a guy who was bank fishing and he pointed out that there were monster red-ear bream on beds. Sure enough, I saw some nice big bream on beds. Try as I might though, I couldn’t get them to eat anything. They were definitely set on guarding the beds and were not in an eating mood. I’ll be back for them too. I just have to catch them before they head out of the area completely after the spawn.

Sorry no pictures this trip. I’ll try to get back on the water somewhere this weekend.

Therapy…Just What the Doctor Ordered

 

The reason I haven’t posted anything on my fishing blog is because I haven’t been able to fish. I broke both of my wrists during a faculty/student dodge ball game three weeks ago and I’ve had splints on both wrists since then. I did manage a few casts from the bank last week that produced a couple bass so all was not lost. I figured the fish needed a reprieve:)

There is always a silver lining to every story and there are several with my wrists fractures. First of all, it’s forced several of my students to step up and cover for me at school. Second, and most importantly, I WILL NOT have to have surgery to repair the fracture. Third, my hand surgeon has a lake behind his house that is stocked with bass, bream, and hybrid striped bass! He told me I could fish as long as it didn’t hurt. In fact he said to “please come and take out as many under 15 inches that I can.” I told him I normally don’t keep bass but I may make an exception for him. Well, when I’m wearing those splints, I feel like I can do anything and so I made a morning trip Saturday.

When I arrived at 6:45 AM, the sun was just peeking up over the horizon. There was a slight fog hovering over the glass-slick lake. The sounds of birds, the croak of a couple bull frogs, and the dabble of ducks on the lake created a overture to my ears, something I hadn’t experienced in a while. I began working a fire-tiger popper against the bank and within five minutes, I have my first blowup. Of course I missed the fish as I tried to set the hook too soon. I still have to get used to these “paws.” Five minutes later, another blowup but this time it resulted in a hookup. This fish had shoulders on it and it got the best of me as it charged to the kayak, swam under it and then just got off. I guess I didn’t get a good hook set in it. My arms have suffered atrophy because I haven’t used them in three weeks.

Finally, I hooked a nice feisty fish and was able to land my first bass of the morning. I continued to work the bank and found a few patches where I would get strikes and then there would be a section of nothing. I fished for three hours and landed 8 nice bass (a few were over 15 inches).

DCIM100MEDIA

First bass of the morning

In the meantime, I probably lost the same amount, having one break the line right by the popper. I retied another popper, this time trying a frog pattern and after about ten minutes of patience was rewarded with the fish of the day. This hybrid striper weighed just under 3 pounds. When it exploded on my popper I could tell that it was either a five-pound bass or it was a hybrid. The thing was VERY angry and took off like a freight train, much to the dismay of my right wrist, which was hurting (it was the one with the largest fracture). I switched the rod to my left hand and vowed out loud that I wasn’t going to lose this fish. I have to admit that I was proud of myself for keeping pressure on it and not losing it.

DCIM100MEDIA

Fish of the day, my first hybrid caught on a popper

After that fish I did have another fish snap my tippet so I lost my frog popper. I tied on a new “shad” crease fly creation that I’ve been working on and was able to nearly sight-catch my final bass of the morning. I saw something crashing bait about 50 yards ahead of me and I snuck up on it. On my first cast, a 15-inch bass inhaled the fly. I still have to tweak it but I think I have a winner there.

DCIM100MEDIA

Another one eats my frog popper. 

I ended up keeping two bass to feed my son and myself. All in all it was a very therapeutic morning. My wrists fared well and I caught fish on poppers that I created myself. God is good!

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 8.44.19 PMLook out fish! I’m back in the game!

Spring Break Pond Hopping

Spring Break normally affords me several opportunities to get on the water. With a band trip to Disney schedule for the back half of the week, I made sure to get as much fishing in during the front part of my break as I could. I started with and after school/Good Friday trip to the lake behind a friend of mine’s house. The wind was a bit strong but I was determined to find some sacalait. I targeted the usual downed limbs and stumps and was able to land two nice ones on a fluff butt. FullSizeRender
On Good Friday, I was determined to catch a few more to fry for supper. I was able to catch one 14-inch sacalait and an 8 inch bream so Lisa and I had more fish than we really could eat. I caught and released dozens of small bream but wasn’t able to get one bass to play.

I woke up Easter Monday with the intention of trying to go down to Leeville for some speckled trout and redfish action. When I got up though, the wind was blowing just a little bit too hard for my taste, so I decided to hit the dam by my neighborhood lake to see if the bass wanted to play. After the heavy rains for Easter, there was a considerable waterfall by the dam. For about 20 minutes the bass action was crazy! It was like someone had thrown feed in the water. The “feed” was actually schools of tiny shad. I tied on a crease fly (Bill Laminack version) and was able to fool three hungry bass.

FullSizeRender
This one was about 19 inches and was pretty close to three pounds!

Later that morning, I found myself up to my ears in work for school but I put everything down, decided not to answer any more emails or texts from band parents, and I went to my cousin’s house to fish their neighborhood pond. That pond has been “money” for me during past spring breaks. It was a very slow afternoon of fishing, but I did manage three bass, one sacalait, and about a half dozen nice bream.

DCIM100MEDIA

Shows pond bass

Tuesday morning, I decided to try a new fly that I had been working on. I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to “match the hatch” with these shad and I came up with this
IMG_3553

I had a hungry bass eat my new creation on about my fourth cast! I then hooked and lost a really nice one. The bite wasn’t as fierce as Monday’s (the water was only at a slight trickle) and I ended up breaking my fly off on the concrete dam itself. No worries, because I had the rest of the morning to explore the upper lake to see if the chinquapin bite had started. They weren’t plentiful but the six I did keep for supper were chunks. Three were over 9 inches and three were 10 inches plus! With the predicted rain for tonight and tomorrow, my spring break fishing is over for 2016. Time to take my band to Disneyworld for competition! Hmmm, maybe I can bring my fly rod!:)

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 4.38.37 PM

Slow Spring Bite

I haven’t been able to get my usual spring freshwater bite going. Heavy rains and severe flooding have muddied all the nearby freshwater systems. When all else fails, I can usually rely on my neighborhood lakes to provide some solace from work but even those have been very high and muddy.

I did manage to get out Saturday morning and test a new crease fly that I tied to match Bill Laminack’s version. It is tied with a lip in the front so I dives and darts. Well, the fly needs some modifications because I had three blowups and didn’t stick one fish. I think I need a bigger gap in the hook. I did modify these and will be trying these soon.

IMG_3530

Anyway, I also was hoping to get on the bream bite but even that was very slow. I did, however, manage one nice bass on a fluff butt to avoid the skunk. I got off the water right as the wind changed and started blowing hard from the north.  Hoping to get some spring break action in soon!

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 5.13.16 PM

Fun Day in Hopedale

Our friend, Merriam-Webster defines fun as: “what provides amusement or enjoyment.” He also define’s the word, challenge, as “a difficult task or problem.” To say that this past Saturday’s fishing trip in Hopedale, Louisiana was a challenge, would be somewhat of an understatement. To say that I had fun and enjoyed every minute of it…well let’s just say I can’t wait to go back!

For any of you who know me personally, you will know that I am driven by challenges. I thrive on them and I jump at the chance to come out on top and defy the pundits. It goes with my teaching and it also goes with my fly fishing. Saturday morning looked on paper to be a stellar day of fishing. The weatherman predicted sunny mild temperatures with light winds. Well he got it right for a change:)  Allow me to backtrack a little.

First of all, I’ve been wanting to make a fishing trip with a buddy of mine who is in Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club. Chuck (Snake Doctor on our forum) is an avid kayak fisherman who loves fishing with a fly rod. In addition to being avid fly fishermen who fish out of a kayak, we actually share a lot more in common. Chuck has earned his Ph.D. and is an educator (he teaches at Tulane University). We ended up placing first and second in this year’s Massey’s Outfitters Catch, Photo, Release tournament. Oh, if you’re wondering, he earned first place and I earned second. Anyway, after many futile attempts to fish together, we finally found a day that worked for both our schedules and the weather wasn’t going to stop us this time. The plan was for me to meet him at his selected launch site in Hopedale at 8 AM.  As I was nearing Reggio, I noticed people walking on the side of the road swatting in the air. It hit me right then that they were swatting at the most pesky creature that God has put in our Louisiana marshes, the hated no-see-ums. These gnats (biting midges) can swarm by the thousands and can be so bad, that you will actually leave fish biting and take shelter! I find that deet products and skin-so-soft are not effective on these creatures. The best defense is gloves, a hat, a buff, long sleeved shirts and pants, and Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance, which you have to keep reapplying all day. As I type this, I am trying NOT to scratch all those bites I received.

When I met Chuck at the launch site, I realized that I had left my buff at home. Thank God, he had a spare. After unloading our kayaks and applying several doses of Amber Romance we began our paddle to the marshes of Hopedale. We were greeted with very low water and poor water clarity. We found some moving water and bait but the predator fish just weren’t around. Chuck caught an 18 inch redfish while blind casting in a cut that led to a sizable duck pond. Speaking of duck pond. We spooked about 300 ducks from that one pond and they were all puddlers, mallards, gadwalls, and teal! What a beautiful site as they got up and circled us and fussed at us for  interrupting breakfast. We decided to paddle a bit further away from the trucks (we probably covered 6.5 miles) to find some deeper, cleaner water.

From 8 – 10:30, we were attacked by hoards of gnats. Finally at around 10:30, the wind started to pick up and that provided some relief from the bugs but it was making poling around searching for reds all the more difficult. While Chuck and I share a lot of things in common, I noticed that we have two distinct styles of fly fishing from our kayaks. He spends most of the time sitting and has the patience (which I lack) for doing a lot of blind casting. Although he is blind casting, he does it as an experienced angler because I watched him hit little cuts and pockets time and time again. I spend most of my time standing and sight casting for redfish. It combines my love for hunting with fishing. Anyway, I don’t think I saw my first redfish until around 10:30. With the poor water clarity, I found that I spooked a lot of fish. By the time I would see them, I couldn’t get my anchor pole down in the water and my fly rod out in time to make a cast at them before being busted.

Just when it looked like I was going to get skunked, I saw a commotion ahead in a shallow inlet and there was a monster redfish patrolling an area about 30 feet away from me. Great. It hadn’t seen me. I was able to get my park ‘n pole in my scupper hole to anchor my kayak and keep me from drifting up on the fish. I made a perfect cast about two feet in front of it and it attacked with vengeance. I watched as it flared its gills open to eat the fly and in my excitement, I set the hook way too hard. Let’s just say that redfish was able to wear some jewelry in the form of my gold spoon fly for the rest of the day.😦  After tying on another spoon  fly and spooking a few more redfish, I came across another fish that was unaware of my presence. This one was moving away from the bank and toward deeper water when my fly intercepted it’s path. It slammed the fly and the next thing I knew, my line was tearing through drag. After a 10 minute fight and one heck of a sleigh ride, I landed my best redfish of 2016. It was a perfect “tournament” redfish…very fat and measured right at 27 inches. If I had been fishing a tournament that fish would have shrunk in an ice bath and would have been 26.9. Well, it was that fish’s lucky day. All I did was put a tag in it and sent it off on its way to go make babies. I did get a couple of pictures though.

DCIM100GOPRO

Big one of the day!

 

DCIM100GOPRO

Going to be an upgrade to my Massey’s CPR tournament

By this time, Chuck had made it around to me and he told me that he had caught two redfish and a bass. There were some clean pockets of marsh in the area we were fishing and we figured that there wouldn’t be any areas worth paddling to that morning that would be more promising than where we were. Then it was like someone switched on a light. Within five minutes of our conversation, I located another cruising fish and I was fighting a 20 inch redfish. From about 12:30 to 1:30, I sighted another 9 fish and was able to cast to three. The largest of those had it’s back out the water about 30 away from me. My first cast ended up about 5 feet in front of it. Oh, did I mention that the wind had picked up to about 10 mph by now? Well, I thought my errant cast would work to my benefit because the fish was heading to my fly. I let it sit there as the fish neared. Then I lifted it off the bottom to get its attention but it had turned around and was heading back away from my fly. I cast to it again but this time, I put the fly right on its back and I was busted!! I did manage to catch a 24-inch redfish to close out the day.

DCIM100GOPRO

24 inches

Five redfish between the two of us fishing only with fly rods is not a bad day at all. We both missed fish but that comes with the territory. Sure we could have caught more numbers in the murky water if we had brought along spinnerbaits but that’s no challenge.  On the paddle back to the truck, Chuck apologized for our lackluster day but I told him I had a blast. Some days, it’s all about the challenge, and that, my friend, is MY definition of fun!Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 9.12.01 PM