Fishing before “Stormageddon”

I actually didn’t know what to title this post. Fun in the neighborhood lake? Making lemonade out of lemons? Fun on my 3 wt. Anyway, we got the day off of school today because of the forecast violent, stormy weather. As I type this, I’m listening to the TV weatherman report sightings of tornados, funnel clouds, and water spouts. A tornado did actually touch down about ten miles as the crow flies from my house. How was the weather here? Well, I got out on the lake with little or no wind early this morning before the rain started.

I fished the upper lake in my neighborhood and landed 7 bass and five chinquapin that will hit some hot grease this Friday ūüôā All my fish were caught on a fluff butt under a VOSI on my 3 wt.!! ¬†I tried to target bass but couldn’t get a hit on normal bass flies. When I changed to the fluff butt (to target chinquapin) that’s when I began getting big bass bites.

Since it was my first trip in our neighborhood lake, I took the opportunity to “reel in” some of the trash I found. What a mess! I noticed that most of it was light plastic that simply blew off decks and backyard patios.¬†IMG_3472

I did reel in some of these:IMG_3473

and 7 of these:

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The largest was 16.5!IMG_3471
I had 2 big ones break me off on some structure too. I’ve got to get on my vice and replenish my fluff butt inventory.
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Spent the morning with a good friend

Well, the weatherman heard my complaints and provided us with a simply fabulous morning. It felt like spring with a sun-filled sky that started off at about 45 degrees. Things quickly warmed up in the mid 50’s by the time I arrived a a good friend’s house with 18 shiners, an ultra light rod and reel, and my 3 wt.

For several years now, I’ve been telling my friend that he is sitting on a gold mine of a fishery, for in his back yard lies the best sacalait fishing per acre that I have ever fished! I usually fish there once a year during my spring break and I’ve caught some of the most beautiful slabs within a hundred yards of his back door!

Merriam-Webster gives this explanation of the word sacalait,¬†¬†“Louisiana French¬†sac-√†-lait, by folk etymology (influence of French¬†sac¬†bag, French¬†√†¬†to, for, and French¬†lait¬†milk) from Choctaw¬†saki¬†trout”) So the literal translation is bag of milk. This refers to the white fillets of these fish, which make it¬†some of the best-eating fish in¬†fresh water. The rest of the country just calls them crappie.

This morning, I set out to teach my buddy how to catch these fish on ultra-light tackle and on the fly rod. You know the old adage, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and…his wife can get rid of him for weekends at a time. ūüôā ¬†After about 45 minutes of explanation about flies, strike indicators, knots, hook sizes, depth, and many other things to consider (like is it too early to bring beer with us) we set out in his two-man $50 john boat. My plan was to find them with the live shiners and then catch them with flies. It should be easy enough. Right?

Well he goes and breaks the ice by catching one on a beetle spin. It was lots of fun on his little ultra-light and we estimated the fish to be about a 14-inch slab!  Meanwhile, I figured we had found them and I began chunking my fly rod and he puts another one in the boat on the beetle spin. I actually had a live shiner in the water while I fished with my fly rod and right about then, my cork disappeared. We had three nice slabs flapping on the bottom of the boat and no bucket, stringer, or anything to put them in. No problem, since we are still about 50 yards from his back door. After getting a stringer, we got back on them and I caught another one before he hooked some structure where we were catching them and the bite shut down. We paddled down about 20 yards from our initial honey hole and I started catching more on shiners. So, off with the beetle spin and on with a hook, lead split-shot, and a cork and my buddy was soon catching fish. Things slowed down a bit until we eased on over where that structure was and we put three more big ones on the stringer.

So the morning’s catch looked like this:FullSizeRender

13 nice slabs. By the way, I weighed the stringer and we had over 12 pounds of fish there! We enjoyed a beautiful morning on the water. The camaraderie was great and my friend was ecstatic that he now knows how to target those gamefish in his back yard. He and I plan on hitting some water south of Houma soon to target some more of these “bags of milk.” Stay tuned!

A Bad Case of Bass Thumb!

You know that feeling when your thumb is scraped raw and feels like sandpaper? Well, I have a bad case of it right now…and it feels awesome!

One of my students invited me to fish a lake in St. Gabriel with him this morning. While the lake was dug out mainly as a water ski lake, it has been stocked with bass, bluegill, and striped bass.¬†The weather man (not my favorite guy/gal this year) had forecast a cold start to a day that was supposed to warmup considerably. We¬†got on the water early, a little before 7 AM and the thermometer on my truck said it was 45 degrees. I was hoping to catch some bass on the fly rods, as I hadn’t caught one yet this year and it’s nearly mid February! ¬†It didn’t take long for me to realize that the fish were not going to be looking up so I ditched the poppers and went with what is probably the most fish-catching fly ever tied, the Clouser minnow.

It didn’t take long for me to find some hungry chunks and I had my first bass of the morning shortly after 7. Actually, my first bass of 2016!

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So, repeat and repeat all morning long and, well, you get the picture.
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The wind picked up considerably and I decided not to fight it. I took a break and fished off the bank.
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And it started getting warmer. I lost the coat and I’m in my turtle neck with a long sleeve t-shirt under that.

 

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Now I assume the temperature is around 70 and things were getting downright warm. I picked up my largest of the morning at 16 inches. It weighed 2.25 lbs.
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It was getting close to 11 AM and I was thinking about packing it in when I hooked a monster that broke my tippet. I retied quickly, thinking that it may have been a striped bass. Ten minutes later, I¬†was battling¬†my very first striped bass. I fought it like a champ and got it right up to the kayak. (I had gotten back in the yak). But…like an idiot, I tried to lip it and swing it in the boat. BAD DECISION!! It slashed back and forth in the water and broke my 6 lb tippet. Nooooo!!! I’m 56 and have never caught a striped bass in my life! Here I find one that wants to eat a clouser minnow and I try to lip it like Bill Dance.

Oh well. There will be other trips to this lake. No, but I have until noon. By now the wind is howling and I decided to fish my way back in. Bam! Another bass (number 15). Then 16. Now 17. I found a bunch schooling up right near a drop-off near some grass. Then it happens again. Something hits my fly and snaps¬†my tippet¬†like it was a piece of sewing thread. On a hunch that it was another striped bass, I take the time to tie another three feet of tippet material on my leader. Boy, did it take some time too. The wind was blowing probably 15 mph with higher gusts. It’s hard to tie a double surgeon’s knot when the wind isn’t blowing, much less in those conditions. After what seemed like 15 minutes, I was back in fishing form and had just¬†had a ferocious strike¬†and a miss. I cast back out to the same spot and BAM! ¬†Fish on!! ¬†My buddy commented immediately that it was a striper. After about 10 seconds, I concurred. It dug in and was stripping off line. I wasn’t going to make my same mistake twice, so I played this one out perfectly and landed my first striped bass. It was 19 inches and weighed 3.18 lbs.
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Notice that by now I had gotten rid of my coat, my turtle-neck, and my hat. ūüôā What a fun morning. I went through my stock of freshwater closures. I actually had three break-offs. You know I’ll be back at my vice tying some more and looking forward to another morning out there!
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