Bass Bonanza

Now that the sacalait season is just about over (I have one more last ditch hope to pick up a small mess of the beautiful white slabs of goodness), my thoughts have turned to catching bass on my fly rod. I hooked a very nice bass a couple of weeks ago while targeting sacalait and I caught another nice one that swallowed my strike indicator and I actually foul-hooked it when I pulled the strike indicator out of its mouth. I also saw small bass feeding on tiny dragonflies and so I realized that the fish were looking up. I think my favorite way to catch fish, other than purely sight fishing for them is watching them hit a topwater popper.
I decided to make a couple stops after school to get an hour or two of fishing in-between having to fix supper and take care of school paperwork. On Monday, I managed to catch 4 bass in the neighborhood lake. On Wednesday, however, my trip to a friend’s backyard pond yielded 27 bass between 10 – 13 inches. Even though they were small, there were tons of fun. In fact, I scored a trifecta as I was able to catch a big fat catfish, the bass, and several bream. That will have to hold me for a while but I do plan on making one last trip to catch a few sacalait (crappie) to make one last fish fry before Easter.

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Testing the Waters

It’s pretty hard to believe, but prior to today’s trip, I haven’t caught a redfish in 2015 ūüė¶ ¬†The¬†weather finally cooperated…well somewhat, and I had a good yard pass (my wife was in Galveston). So I loaded the kayak on top the old suburban and headed south.

I had so many options. Should I fish a new spot (Delecroix)? Should I fish Dularge? How about the Highway 1 corridor? I chose the latter but as I was nearing my destination, I then wondered, “Should I should fish Golden Meadow, Leeville, or the Bay Laurier area?” I again chose the latter because I would be targeting redfish and the sky looked clearer the further south I drove. The weatherman predicted winds from 5 – 10 mph, but I guarantee you it was 10 -15 for most of the day. During one part of the morning I paddled through white caps in the bay. It was a bit treacherous but I didn’t have far to go. I hunkered down, keeping my center of gravity low and made it through dry. The morning was beautiful. The temperature was very comfortable. The sun peeked out for a couple of hours early but at around 8:30 or so,¬†the cloud/haze mix put a huge damper on any sight fishing I had planned to do.

I tied on a couple of spoon flies, some new colors to try (again, a great day for testing the waters and some new colors). First, I used one that I made that was gold on the bottom¬†side and pink on the top. The other was what many in the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club have dubbed the “black spoon of death.” Well, at least it was the fly fishing version of the BSD.

I probably went an hour and a half before I saw a redfish that I could cast to. The wind and rains of the previous week had stained the water up and I found that I wouldn’t see the reds until I was right up on them and I spooked two or three before I was able to cast to one. I was really getting kind of frustrated when I saw the tell-tale sign of an angry redfish feeding in a shallow duck pond. I made one cast to it and stripped my spoon pretty fast, to avoid getting caught up in the snot grass. When that red saw the spoon, it attacked like an angry pit bull. Five minutes later, I netted my first pumpkin of the year, a 23-inch beauty.

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No sooner had I snapped this picture, than the cloud/haze sky kicked in and the wind picked up. I covered a lot of ground, looking for redfish but the fish must still be in their cold weather pattern. I did see some mighty¬†nice sized crabs along the way (looking good for crab season this year) and a bunch of stingrays. Any day on the water is a blessing and today didn’t disappoint because there was plenty wildlife to watch. I actually think I saw two stingrays mating. A smaller one looked like it was attached to the large one (female, I presume). I also saw a pair of dolphin feeding in about a foot of water.

Well, I guess it was around two-o-clock before I was able to make a cast at another redfish. Actually, I did some fruitless blind casting to some cuts and points but didn’t get any hits. I found some clear water (lots of widgeon grass to clean it up) and I saw a redfish crash some bait on a point. He saw me and he spooked. After his initial run away from me, he slowed down a bit and I was able to put a lucky cast right in front of him. I say lucky, because remember, the wind is blowing over ten mph right now. I did have a little protection in the broken marsh I was fishing but it was a real challenge trying to hit a target with the fly in that wind. The fish ate, made a couple long runs, and then spit the hook. I was not to be denied though because about ten minutes later, I got his buddy to eat the BSD (Black Spoon of Death) and I landed another great-eating-sized redfish at 21 inches.

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You can just see the black spoon in his mouth. I had to edit the picture to get it bright enough because the cloud cover didn’t give me a good picture at first. I fished for another couple of hours and was able to spook a few more redfish. They were there but not in the numbers I had seen in the fall and early winter. Overall, it was a great day on the water. With the new daylight savings time hours, I didn’t have to wake up as early as I normally do so I’m not exhausted. I think the fish are starting to get on their spring patterns. In addition to the large crabs, I saw tiny shrimp jumping in the marsh. Soon, the speckled trout will be making their migration south to spawn. You’ve got to love our fertile estuary!

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A Little Rain Never Hurt Anyone!

I had a little time before heading home to fix supper this evening so I ventured¬†over to the neighboring¬†neighborhood lake¬†to see if I could catch Friday’s lenten supper. Under a light drizzle, I worked the bank for about a half hour. I had told myself that I would only keep a half dozen sacalait for a meal and the good Lord obliged me. ūüôā ¬†I found the fish all in one spot near some downed limbs and they all ate a size 8 chartreuse and black fluff butt under a VOSI. On the way back to the car, I was stopped by the neighborhood “rent-a-cop,” who informed me that the lake wasn’t actually MY neighborhood lake. I have two very good friends who told me that if ever I got stopped, to tell the officer that I was their guest. Well, the guy didn’t buy that. Even when I told him I was a guest of the guy who actually built the neighborhood, he kindly asked me to leave. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. Next time, I’ll park in my buddy’s driveway and launch my kayak in the lake.

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Early Fishing, 2015

This blog has really been quite pitiful. I’ve only managed one trip to the coast, another to central Louisiana, and a few sporadic trips in my neighborhood. The first was a trip with my good friend and colleague, Neil Borel, to a spot I’ve never fished before, Bayou Bienvenue. The water in late January was beautiful but very shallow and I didn’t see a single redfish. I did manage to catch one little marsh bass and I picked up a small jack…yes literally netted a dying jack.¬†DCIM100GOPRO

I tried to revive it but it had been stressed beyond its limit and was going to end up being dinner for crabs or raccoons. There was extensive flooding in the area during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and nearly 10 years later, there are still signs of the loss of property in the area, as the marsh is still littered with abandoned, destroyed boats. DCIM100GOPRO

Late February, I made a trip to my buddy’s house in central Louisiana to fish Lake Cotile, which is literally in his back yard. We fished the afternoon I arrived and I hooked a very nice sacalait (crappie) but it broke the tippet when I tried to lip it. No worries, we planned on catching a lot the next morning. Well, the very next morning, the wind picked up and the fishing never turned on. Between the two of us we probably caught 50 baby (we call them micro) sacalait. We managed four nice keepers between the two of us and a few bream.¬†DCIM100GOPRO

It’s always fun to fish with “Catch” Cormier. He and his Best Friend, Belle, make a great fishing duo.
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Belle got a little bored that day because we couldn’t put enough fish in the boat. A couple of weeks later, I just couldn’t resist the urge to catch some fish so I stopped off the side of the road near my neighborhood and I managed to catch 2 nice sacalait and a bass on a fluff butt.
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These were released to fight another day. With meatless Fridays during the season of Lent, I was really looking forward to catching a mess of these for a fish fry, so after school today I launched the kayak in my neighborhood lake and went looking for the elusive sacalait (aka crappie). I didn’t find any but I did manage to catch about 18 feisty bream and one 15 – inch bass. I did keep two of the red ears that were over 9 inches. I’ll have to catch a couple more later this week to make a nice fry on Friday.
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15-inch bass
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10-inch red-ear

Well, this winter has been unseasonably cold with a lot of rain, wind, and large contrasts from nearly warm days in the upper 70s to cold and windy days near freezing. I’m really looking forward to some spring weather and the bass spawn. I hope to be able to put a line in the water and write about it.