Never Have I Ever…

Today’s fishing report is brought to you bye the game, Never Have I Ever. In today’s pop culture, I understand it is a drinking game. From what I understand, players sit in a circle and someone says, “Never have I ever…and they fill in the blank with something they have never done before. Anyone in the group who has done the “thing” must drink. So, I’m starting this blog entry with Never have I ever and let’s see if you have to take a drink. It can be coffee, tea, water, or any beverage of your choosing.

Never have I ever been on the water in my kayak and seen a water spout.

Yep, this one got bigger and actually touched down, did its thing, and went back up as the storm lost all its energy.

So, how many of you had to take a drink? I’m sure some of you have been on the water with one of these. I have seen several of these over the many years I’ve been fishing. They really are quite beautiful. This one was probably 30 -50 miles away from me, out in the Gulf. This next one, from 2013 was a little bit closer. I didn’t take the pictures, someone else did and it is quite menacing.

This was in Leeville

This was the same water spout as it passed over Grand Isle

Back to my fishing report. I passed on a trip with my buddy yesterday because I saw the radar and it looked like a mini hurricane was going to be hitting Delacroix right around the time I planned on getting there. It was probably a good call for me to stay in Baton Rouge but my buddy did land 8 redfish between squalls. After hearing that, I decided to get up early to beat the rain and headed to Delacroix myself. Herein lies my “never have I ever” number 2 or my never have I ever for the day.

Never have I ever had so many redfish REJECT a gold spoon fly! Conditions were quite favorable. There was virtually zero wind and I had a full sun until noon. The water was dirty (even where there was grass) but the redfish were feeding on crabs. I love sight-fishing for redfish but today, I had to rely on my ears. I push-poled my way through the flats and I would hear a big splash. I would then head toward the area where I heard it and I would wait for the fish to make its presence known. More times than not, this tactic worked for me. I saw a few redfish angrily come out of the water as they chased down bait. I later realized the “bait” they were chasing was baby crabs. The crabs were all over the place.

My first and only good eat came early during the day (actually while I was still monitoring that water spout). I saw a fish chasing bait in the shallows near a broken island. I pushed poled my way over to the fish and I slowly and stealthily eased my way up to where I had last seen it. I noticed several times during the day, that as I approached a feeding fish, I could hear my own heartbeat in my head. It’s absolutely nuts what adrenaline can do. I imagine that’s what happens to a bow hunter as he/she draws his/her bow on a big buck. As I got closer, I saw my pumpkin-colored adversary. I put my spoon fly about a foot in front of it…strip…strip…strip…bam! The fish immediately dug down in the grass. I tried to keep my rod tip high to keep the fish from digging into the grass but It was fruitless. The redfish had about 5 pounds of “salad” attached to my leader. I reached my hand in the water several times to strip the grass off my leader so I could work the fish. I would pull grass away and add a little pressure to my line. Then I’d feel the fish shaking on the other end so I knew it was still on. I guess having to fight a kayak and several pounds of grass zapped the fight right out of the redfish. After what seemed like 10 minutes (it probably wasn’t that long), I was able to get the fish in my net. I felt like I had really earned that fish with all it took to sneak up on it, get it to eat, and then fight it without it breaking my tippet.

I worked hard for this one

I was on the board. I usually don’t keep anything over 24 inches and this one went 25. I had a hard time trying to revive it and after about five minutes of trying, I decided to put it in the ice chest. My daughter and the grandkids will be here this week and I know they love Nanna’s redfish courtboullion.

I got as much of the grass off as I could.

Little did I know it but that was the last eat I would get all day. I saw lots of fish. I spooked lots of fish, but never, ever, have I seen so many fish reject the spoon fly. I tried casting 2 inches away from their nose. I tried a foot away. I tried two feet and then strip the fly across their path. They either spooked and took off or they ignored it completely. I had two or three that actually followed the fly for several feet and then they decided not to eat. I got several multiple shots at fish that didn’t even see me. Oh. I forgot to ask. How many of you had to take a drink? I’ve had fish reject my fly before but I guess I had about 20 fish just say no to the gold spoon fly.

So, I changed tactics…and flies. I tied on one of my crab imitations. The problem with my crab flies is, I use a small lead dumbbell weight to turn the hook point up. While this works just fine, it sinks too quickly and I end up catching grass on every cast. The spoon fly wobbles on down and can actually be fished in a way where I rarely have to clean grass off it. Well, after I had two redfish follow my crab imitation and decide not to eat. I switched back to my spoon fly. This pattern continued all morning long. By noon, I saw several small squalls heading my way, so I decided not to be a statistic and I headed in. Wind, rain, and clouds don’t work well when sight fishing. So, now I’m a man on a mission. I will work on tying a crab fly that isn’t so heavy. That just means I’ll have to do some more research. You all know how much I like “research.”

Tight loops and tight lines!

Playing around with foam

I’ve had a little time on my hands as I prepare for upcoming time with my grandkids and then band camp. So, I’ve been trying different types of foam flies that 1) would be easy for my students in my fly fishing club to tie and 2) would catch fish. I tried a different version of my last “crease” fly and I finished with these:

These aren’t my creation. Just a copy of someone else’s idea.

I don’t mind trying other people’s ideas, as long as they catch fish. Well, here’s proof of concept:

This little guy inhaled the fly

More proof this fly works
Sorry about the blurry picture. It was getting late

That last bass hit around 8:30 PM and it was getting dark, thus the blurry picture. I almost didn’t see the bass slurp the fly and had me laughing out loud as it tried to jump, but it just flopped and plopped on the surface of the water. It’s always nice to know that the neighborhood fish are eating well and are looking healthy. I am hoping the weather cooperates tomorrow and I get to get my 8 wt out to try for some marsh redfish.

Tight loops and tight lines.

Update on, “Just Because It Looks Like it Will Catch Fish”

This is just a short addendum to my last post. As I mentioned there, I bent the hooks a bit to widen the hook gap. I got to do some “research” after the monsoon rain we had this afternoon and the bass didn’t disappoint. I did miss three strikes but I think it was because of poor hook sets by the fisherman and not the fly. I did manage to land these two and you can see the hook was lodged firmly in the side of each fish’s mouth.

This first one was a good pound and a half
The second one I landed was also hooked well.

I think I have some more tweaking to do (like getting that hook eye closer to the “belly” of the fly). I can’t wait to improve on this one and teach it to the students in my fly fishing club at school. It can be tied with inexpensive foam, inexpensive Mustard hooks (size 2/0) and some stick on eyes. A little craft fur for the tail, stick on eyes, epoxy, and these flies will be ready to catch fish.

Just because it looks like it will catch fish…

As a fly fisherman and someone who loves the challenge and thrill of catching fish on flies that I tie myself, I am always looking for new fly patterns, new color combinations, and new materials to tie. I recently stumbled on some beautiful flies on social media that were tied using craft foam. These were basically crease flies but crease flies on “steroids.” I have tied crease flies in the past and I had some success catching fish on them, but I found my hookup ratios weren’t as good as those on deer hair poppers and divers. After seeing these beautiful I thought I would tie a few of these up myself. These are ties by Carl Harris (you can find his work on facebook). I think he ties these in size 5, probably for big pike, so I wanted to tie a few in a size 2 for bass. Another motive I had for trying to tie these was to be able to teach an easy pattern to my high school fly tiers next year. They looked pretty easy enough. 🙂

Well, I came up with these.

Boy, they sure look pretty, don’t they? Well, it was time to do some “research” in my neighborhood lake. I got up early this morning and put my kayak in our upper lake. I was fishing with the shad colored one and I got an early blowup before the sun had even come up. My first missed fish. About 15 minutes later, and I missed another fish on the popper. I also had a lot of small bream that snapped and missed my fly. No worries because they were my target fish anyway. This pattern of missed fish continued until I had missed four bass. Well that was enough “research” for me. I cut my foam imitation off and tied on one of my deer hair bugs. In a hurry, I didn’t tie a good knot. About four or five casts with that diver, I had a big blowup. My hook found its mark and I had a nice bass on for about 3 seconds when it popped my leader. Had tied a bad knot, but luckily, the fish spit my dahlberg diver out and it was floating about three feet from where I had lost the fish. I quickly retied, making sure to secure my knot well. Ten minutes later, I had a big bass roll on the bug but it didn’t eat it. Two casts later, its little brother couldn’t resist and I landed a feisty little largemouth bass.

I was back at my house before 8 AM and I had to do some thinking about those foam flies. First of all, I realized my hook gap wasn’t wide enough.

Notice how high the eye of the hook is. That’s no good. There isn’t enough hook gap on this fly

I actually threw that fly in the garbage and I decided to widen the hook gaps on the other flies I had tied.

While the eye of this hook is still too much in the middle of the fly, I was able to slightly widen the hook gap.

So, now I have to do some more research. My goal is to come up with an easy pattern for my club members to tie with inexpensive foam they can purchase at a local hobby store. I’ll do some tweaking, some more research, and I’ll post my results here. Research is fun!!

Tight loops and tight lines.