My favorite pastime these days has got to be fly fishing the marshes of South Louisiana. This month marks the beginning of a period (November – March) when one can find cleaner, shallower, water in our beautiful estuary. Since Cormier’s fly fishing rule number two states that: Clear water favors the fly fisherman, I was poised to make my annual “beat down” on speckled trout this past weekend as I fished our annual Red Stick Fly Fishermen’s Catch and Eat. This annual event is not a tournament but it offers fly fishermen in the club an opportunity to get together after a day’s worth of fishing and share fish stories with some great vittles prepared by some of the best amateur chefs known to man!
My morning began with a “combat launch” off the side of the road down in Leeville. We had just endured the strongest cold front of our early fall season earlier that week and the winds were just letting up…a bit. I was greeted by high, stained water as I paddled my way out to an open area of the marsh a couple of hundred yards from the road. I tried a couple of my favorite fall and winter spots for speckled trout with my “go-to” fly, a Lafleur’s Charlie under a Vertical Oriented Strike Indicator (VOSI) to no avail…not one bite! I worked my way to a point that I have had a ton of success in the past. This area is an extended point on the edge of a shallow canal where water moves in two directions during a moving tide. If I locate my kayak a bit to the east, the tide moves the water to my left…a little more toward the west of the point and the water moves to my right. I usually like to position myself right where I can hit both sides of the moving water. After about my third cast, my VOSI disappeared under the rolling water caused by the moving tidal water against the north wind that was still blowing around 10 miles per hour. I landed my first speckled trout of the morning. It was a small one at about 11 inches but it was a start. I then prepared my GoPro camera to record some of the action that I was hoping I would get very soon. The specs didn’t disappoint. Soon, I was bringing in trout after trout. Most were in the 11-13 inch range.
At this point I realized that I hadn’t brought any ice for my ice-chest so I decided to keep only the big ones (over 14 inches or anything I knew I wouldn’t have to measure) and stop at a self-imposed limit of 15 trout. I would then paddle back to my car and head on over to the nearest retail market to purchase some ice.
I had eight keeper trout in my ice-chest by 8 am when I noticed a few gulls diving about 80 yards behind me. I pulled my stake out pole up and paddled on down toward that area, being sure to position my back to the wind because there was absolutely no way I could cast into the winds that had picked up by that point. After my second cast toward this new point, I set the hook on a fish that I knew would be the largest of the morning. I figured it was a redfish but it came up shaking its head and I knew I had a big yellow-mouth on. I netted my biggest trout of the day at 19 inches strong! After a few good pictures, I cast out to the same spot and landed a 17 inch trout. Another cast and a 15 inch trout! I thought for sure I had hit the mother-load! I then landed a couple more small trout and then the bite shut down!
It was now around 9:30 and I had 14 or 15 nice specs in the ice chest. My buddy, Catch, called me on my cell phone to see how I was doing. He had caught 60 or so trout in Bayou Lafourche but only three of them were over the 12 inch slot. I invited him to join me and to bring some ice with him when he came. Not too long after giving me some ice, Catch was reeling in a keeper spec on the fly. We continued to fish the rest of the morning and early afternoon, picking up a few more trout here and there. I tried to sight fish for some redfish but the conditions were brutal. I managed to spook three nice reds and I caught, tagged, and released a small slot redfish and another undersized one. We got off the water somewhere around 2 PM, quite exhausted, but with a real sense of accomplishment. Catch had probably caught around 100 fish and had 18 over 12 inches in his bag. I had caught over 50 or so and had 17 really nice specs in my ice chest.
At the fish cleaning table, we truly realized the accomplishment of our fishing trip as other anglers had a few small fish that were caught mostly with conventional tackle. It didn’t matter though, because we were getting ready to feast on a meal of fried speckled trout, fried jumbo shrimp, French-fried potatoes, fried eggplant, and some fresh home-made guacamole. Good food, good friends, great stories, and beer…well, that’s the way to cap off a great day of fishing and make everyone “happy, happy, happy!”
Here’s a closeup of the fly used to catch all my fish and the lone white trout of the day.