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 :(  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.


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.

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. :)  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.

3:11:15 sacalait

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.
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.
3:4:15 sacalait 1 3:4:15 sacalait 2
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.
15-inch bass
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.

Let the New Year Begin!

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I wish I could say that I’ve spent the last couple of days of my Christmas break catching fish, but to be honest, the weather has been horrible with lots of rain and wind. I did walk (getting my cardio in) the neighborhood Saturday with my 3 wt. and stopped to toss a Hare’s Ear Nymph at them but I couldn’t buy a bite. I did, however manage an afternoon at my buddy’s pond again and I caught a trifecta (bass, bream, and catfish). The fishing was slow (under a high pressure) but it was nice to get on the water for a spell. All fish were caught on my three weight with a hare’s ear nymph, which made it lots of fun.

atfish ate the hare’s ear nymph

Ugly selfie :)

So Long, 2014! Welcome 2015!

This will be my last post of 2014. It’s been a fun, relaxing year. When I look at my numbers of fish, it looks like my production was down, especially for saltwater (speckled trout and redfish), mostly because I made fewer trips down to the marsh and my daughter got married. The wedding and the parties that followed were epic so it really doesn’t bother me at all that I didn’t get to fish as much as usual.

DaniNandiWED-249We pose together for a picture before I walked her down the isle.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my wife is my soul and my children are my heart.  Here’s baby Dani and me.

Daddy loves baby Dani 1 My little girl has her mom’s smile!

Pretty Dani 1
Dani and Dustin with a speckled trout from years ago.

Dani & Dusti's Spec  She’s growing up but she still likes to fish.

Dani's red Here she’s all grown up and even catches redfish from a kayak.

Danielle's redfish

Well, back to the fishing. I did manage a few firsts that made it a memorable year so here are some of the highlights:

  • This year I had my first recapture of a redfish that I had tagged the previous year. I found out that the fish hadn’t moved more than about a quarter mile from where I first caught it.
  • Another highlight from this year’s fishing was when I caught my personal best redfish from a kayak at 33 inches. It’s also my personal best on a fly rod.
  • I also caught my first flounder on a fly.
  • This year marks the first time I document my redfish, bass, and trout catches and I was able to catch over a hundred bass on a fly rod. That’s a hundred fish that were caught and released to grow up and fight again and that’s pretty cool.

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Some of my goals for 2015 are to:

  • Increase my numbers of redfish and speckled trout.
  • Make a few more sacalait trips.
  • Catch a new species on my fly rod. I nearly caught a mangrove snapper this past summer.
  • Just have a lot of fun on the water

Happy New Year to all my subscribers!

Nearly Skunked but a Good Day Still The Same!

First of all, any day on the water is a good day…whether one catches fish or not. I almost titled this post, “worst day on the water in many years.” But there were many things that made Saturday a good day…catching quality fish just wasn’t one of them.

The morning began at my brother, Keith’s, house at 4 am where we loaded my kayak into his van. He fishes out of a pirogue and I have to give him credit. Back when I owned a bay boat, he would always tell me about all the fish he would catch out of his pirogue. His pirogue is rigged with a trolling motor and he looks like quite a sight when he gets that thing cranked up and moving in open water. The water line goes right up to the gunnel on his pirogue and you’d swear he would capsize out of that thing quite often. I think he’s only sunk it once and that was when a stink pot left a huge wake that sunk him in no time. Anyway, Keith and I are a year and two days apart and we grew up fishing and hunting a lot together. We are both competitive outdoorsmen and neither of us likes to get out fished by the other. It’s been quite a while (maybe over 2 years) since we’ve fished together and I was really looking forward to spending a day on the water with him. We left Baton Rouge with lofty expectations because the wind was going to be relatively calm all morning, blowing lightly from the west, and the tide was going to be falling hard all morning. Keith would be fishing soft plastics all day while I would be tossing flies at them.

We watched the sun try to peak through the fog as we crossed the high rise bridge in Leeville and my brother and I got really excited to see the calm water over the marsh in the are. In fact, I had to tell him a few times to quit looking for redfish hitting in the marsh and keep his eyes on the road! We launched our paddle craft around the Bay Laurier area in a heavy fog. Keith, just as he would do when we were kids, ventured off on his own because he heard some redfish crashing bait real close to the road. I was anxious to hit my usual spots that had been so productive the last three trips down there. Meanwhile I heard some redfish chasing bait on a bank and I began tossing a popper at them. I saw what looked like four or so redfish right up against the grass. I had one redfish attack my popper right as I was lifting it up out the water to toss it back out in front of the pod. When the fish missed, all hell broke lose. The rest of the pod took off and scattered. That was an omen for more things to come.

Ten minutes later, as I was poling through some flats, I saw a large pod of redfish moving toward me. There were at least a dozen or so in the group and I put a gold spoon fly two feet in front of them. Perfect cast right? Wrong. The minute they saw the fly they split up like a bunch of roaches when you turn the lights on. They left a muddy mess of the 11 or so inches of water they were in. I continued to pursue redfish for the bulk of the morning with the same results. I would spot a fish or two…or three or four. Make a perfect cast (remember there was no wind) and they would either go around the fly or they would scatter like crazy. Then there were the ones that I would sneak up on and not see until they were about 10 feet from my kayak. The minute I would lift my rod or move an inch, they would flee. I tell you if I didn’t see 50 redfish that morning, I didn’t see a one!!! It was very frustrating, to scythe least. I tried several different flies (clousers, charlies, poppers, and in different colors) but they all ended in the same futile result.

I called my brother and he said that he had two bites, hooked one nice redfish but lost it at the boat. By about 10:30, the wind started to pick up and my sight fishing took a turn for the worst. I did hit a few areas that were protected from the wind but nothing was doing. I also saw about 30 or so stingrays that morning too. In fact, I witnessed something I hadn’t seen before. On two occasions I saw a redfish that seemed to be following a stingray. Like he was waiting for the ray to stir something up off the bottom and then steal it from the slower stingray. After spooking one of them I found the same redfish about 20 yards away following what looked to be the same stingray.

So, about noon, I decided to try to target some speckled trout in deeper water. I did manage to catch two undersized trout on a charlie under a VOSI, but by now, my brother was ready to call it a day. When we got back to the car, we both remarked that we had never had such a bleak day of catching fish…not in a very, very, long time. Neither of us could figure it out. The water was clear (probably too clear), the tides were good, and the wind was very light. I figure they fed all night on the full moon.

Well, since there were no fish caught that were camera worthy, I’ll just insert a picture from a more successful trip with my brother and my daughter. I can’t get on the water for another two weeks but I hope the next time the fish will be in a eating mood.

Dani and her Parin 12:29:11 Danielle's redfish 12:29:11