Dam it! Bass!

Well, I’ve given the neighborhood fish a bit of a break but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to fish the bottom dam again this morning after the torrential rains we had yesterday. It didn’t take long for me to be hooked up on a big bass…and it didn’t take long for me to try to overpower the fish and have the fish break my line. :( I never saw this one but he had to be 2 and a half to three pounds. A few minutes later, I had another one smash my fly but miss the hook. I started thinking that this would be another one of those mornings when the fish would beat me. I foul-hooked a shad and curiosity got the best of me. I cast the now wounded shad out where all the action was and let it sit for a spell. Seconds later, I hooked a small bass. It made one jump and threw my bait back at me.

Well, I remained patient and kept reminding myself, “strip set.” “Don’t try to overpower the fish.”  Minutes later, I was hooked up again. I kept my mantra going. “Take your time.” “Don’t try to overpower the fish.” I landed my personal best on my fly rod at 20 inches. I didn’t have my scale with me :( but it had to go over 3 pounds. It was early and overcast so my picture came out disappointingly blurry.

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I caught a second bass by the dam before the feeding frenzy stopped. It was 6:15 so I decided to put my kayak in and test the bream. I wasn’t disappointed as I caught a half dozen over 8 inches. The two biggest went over 10 inches.

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I noticed last week I had a few fish that tried to inhale my VOSI. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased (on sale) a fluorescent green which was nearly identical to the color of the VOSI. For some time now, I’ve been thinking about tying an Accardo Round Dinny so I put together a couple of those and fished one this morning. I caught about a dozen feisty bluegill on it and a couple of spunky bass too. Looks like I’ll be tying a few more of those soon!

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Cute little bug, isn’t it!

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The Research is In!

The data does not lie. Or does it?

I hit the same spot this morning with the fly rod determined to see which fly would reign supreme. Would it be the hare’s ear nymph, dyed brown or would it be a black and chartreuse fluff butt? Yesterday I began my morning fishing with the nymph and caught four red-eared sunfish (chinquapin) over 9 inches long before I switched to a fluff butt. I caught 3 over nine inches on the fluff butt.

This morning I began fishing with the fluff butt and it did not disappoint! Right away I started catching these big guys.

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I had four on the stringer in a half hour.

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I threw back three that were over 8 inches but under my self-imposed nine-inch or better limit.

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I got my fly caught in a tangled mess at around 8 am and decided to switch to the nymph. I didn’t get a hit for about 15 minutes so I changed back to the fluff butt. I proceeded to catch another under-sized chinquapin and another keeper in the next five minutes.

One of the added features of fishing with the fluff butt is you will occasionally catch one of these.

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I caught my personal best too. A bream over 11 inches long on the fly rod.

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Overall a great way to spend an early summer morning. Just two days before my birthday. :)

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Got fish?

Since there isn’t much else going on in the fly fishing world (at least around these parts :) ) I’ll just have to post another report. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. If the specs and reds won’t cooperate, then the red-ears, aka chinquapin, lake-runners, or shell crackers will have to do.

I ventured out this morning in my neighborhood lake to find these big daddies of the bream world biting.

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And you micro guys…well I had a couple like this one for you too. :)

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This big daddy touched the 11-inch mark when I pinched his big tail.

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I actually tried to see which fly, a hare’s ear nymph or the fluff butt would catch more fish. I put 4 on the stringer with the Hare’s ear and three with the fluff butt today. I’ll have to go back in the morning and do some more research. ;) Gotta love that research.

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I kept seven (released everything under 9 inches) for a fish fry tonight. I filleted these so my wife won’t have to worry about bones.

The One That Got Away

I usually don’t post reports about poor fishing. To be honest, I usually have good days on the water and I don’t think a report about a bad trip is usually a good read, but I assure you this one is. Spoiler alert! I did battle with Redzilla on the fly rod. Redizilla won! Read on if you dare!

First of all, let me make it clear that it wasn’t a bad day of fishing. The weather was good, light winds, sunny, and hot. I had a chance to take my brother and one of his sons fishing for redfish and specs this weekend. My brother now lives in Atlanta and doesn’t get to fish our marsh very often. With the tropical system that passed through earlier this week, I had my suspicions about how the fishing would actually be. Would the water still be very high and muddy? Would the tidal surge have brought in more bait? I contacted many of my fishing buddies to get a report from Friday and Saturday’s fishing and the reports didn’t look promising. The only good fishing I heard about was in Delecroix and I had never fished there before. Thus, I wasn’t going to take a couple of inexperienced kayak fishermen to a place I didn’t know well. I opted for an old faithful spot near Bay Lanier. I had caught redfish there a few weeks ago and I knew there would be some grass to clear the muddy water up a bit.

We got there bright and early and paddled out to one of my more promising spots. Right away, I saw a couple of big swirls working the banks. We cast to them multiple times; my brother and nephew with spoons and myself with my fly rod. We got no hits at all. Even more surprising was there were no redfish in the grass. Just three weeks before, there were hungry reds in the grass feeding on shrimp and baitfish. I didn’t see one fin or blowup at all for a half hour or so.

We left that spot and headed out to fish some other promising water. During our paddle, I spotted a couple of shrimp jumping out the water near the bank ahead. I stopped paddling and placed my gold spoon fly a foot ahead of the commotion and I was hooked into my first redfish of the day. “This is how it’s done,” I chimed. Wow, I must have jinxed us all. We proceeded to fish the rest of the day and not land another fish. My brother and nephew never got a bite. I actually hooked up on three redfish but two broke my tippet and one got away while I was fooling with my camera.

It’s the last one that made the day memorable for me. In the past, I’ve seen and done battle with what some of us call ‘redzilla.’ Redzilla is the Moby Dick of inshore bull reds. On my paddle back to the car, I spotted a small tail sticking out of the water near a marsh bank. I knew the area had oysters on the bottom so it always was a promising spot. However, I originally thought that it was only another of the thousands of mullet that we had been seeing all day long. As I got closer, I was able to make out the telltale pumpkin-orange color of a redfish. I stayed seated in my kayak to keep my presence less noticeable and started casting my gold spoon fly toward the fish. From this far away, I estimated the fish to be a slot redfish but nothing really big. After a few casts that were clearly rejected by the fish, I decided to stand to get a better view of my adversary. That’s when I noticed how big the fish really was. Yep, it was redzilla! It looked like a submerged submarine out there! I must have been putting the fly over its back and it hadn’t spooked it! The fish looked like it was sunbathing in a foot-and-a half of water. Of course my knees started shaking as I cast several more times. The first landed too far away from it. It slowly turned away from me and my next cast sailed too far out in front of it and my line was resting on its back! I just knew that I was busted and it would spook. I slowly stripped but it casually turned again to my right and never saw the fly. Now the fish was facing me and I presented the fly to it like I would a carp. I put my fly three inches in front of its nose and I let the fly wobble down to where it could see it. Strip ever so slowly…slowly…slow. Bam! Fish on! At first, I don’t think it even knew it was hooked. It kind of lumbered off, taking me on a slow sleigh ride with it. When it finally figured out that it was hauling a twelve-foot kayak and a fisherman with it, it got angry and slammed around to my right. It circled the kayak once and I winced as I tried to maneuver my fly line around my other rods behind me. I thought about calling my brother to tell him that if he was near me, this was going to be quite entertaining for the next 15 minutes or so. I dared not lose my concentration so I didn’t pick up my phone. Then the redfish started coming toward me. I stripped frantically to get back my line and banged on the kayak to keep it from going under me. It veered again to my right and I thought it would circle me again. Then it took off to my left like a rocket. I have seen videos of guys fishing for big game fish where you see the fish jumping about 20 yards away from where you see the line. Redzilla didn’t jump, but the wake from its explosive run was about 20 yards ahead of my line. I didn’t know what to do but hold on and my line sliced through the water. There’s a cool feeling I get when I see my drag working on my reel. The fish is stripping line out. It’s still on. My reel is doing its job! Excellent! Well, when that run ended it started back toward me. Again I stripped frantically because I couldn’t reel the fly line in fast enough. I probably had nine feet or so of line in my lap before the redfish slowed and turned away from me. I let it take more line out on its next run and to my dismay, my fly line got tangled around the handle on my reel. NNNOOOOOOO!!!! Without much effort, it broke my tippet!

At first, I was so mad. What an idiot I had been. I hate losing fish! After I settled down, however, a peaceful calm came over me as I thanked God for the opportunity to battle such a worthy adversary! I estimate the fish to have been well over 30 inches and probably 15 pounds or so. As for you Mr. Redzilla, we will meet again. We will do battle again. I’m sure it will be epic, but you better bring your “A” game because Musicdoc won’t make the same mistake twice. J

Carpe Diem!

I recently spent 5 days in Texas doing some house painting for my daughter and her husband as we prepare to move her from Kansas to Texas at the end of the month. You know how they say “all work and no play…” Well, I was able to do some bank fishing at her neighborhood pond one morning. As I approached the water’s edge, I heard a strange popping sound. As the sun begin its slow rise on a beautiful, dry (for a change) morning in south Texas, I saw that the culprit was some type of carp. I had gone out there with two rods, a 5 wt. and a 3 wt. One was loaded with a frog popper, in hopes of dueling with a bass, and the other was tipped with a hare’s ear nymph and a VOSI (for bream or whatever else wanted to come out to play). I dangled the hare’s ear by the fish and it didn’t seem interested at all, so I began pounding the banks with the popper. After 10 minutes or so, I switched from a popper to something that I thought I could fool the carp with, Catch Cormier’s SR72 Wooly Bugger (olive color). There were several carp making a ruckus near the concrete bulk head so I tried every kind of presentation to try to fool one of them to slipping my fly into its mouth. My first taker was a nice chunky crappie (sacalait) that I quickly released. Then the fun really began as I hooked into my very first carp. It was very angry, so say the least, and it took me all around the bank for about 13 minutes. The problem was, I had never dreamed I would be hooked up on something that large and I had no net or boga grip with me. I eased the fish close to the bank and tried to grip its tail to land it. Boy was that a mistake! It didn’t like that at all and took off with a big splash as it broke my tippet.

Lesson learned, I walked back to my car, grabbed my boga grip, and returned to where there were at least another half dozen fish working the algae on the bulkhead. Ten minutes later I was doing battle with another big carp. This time I was able to get the fish to the boga grip and land it. Oh, I forgot to mention that when I went back to the car, I picked up my gopro camera and a tripod. I was able to snap a quick picture before I released the fish.

I later found out from a buddy of mine that it really wasn’t a carp…or was it. Technically it is a smallmouth buffalo. But further research shows that it is in the carp family. So carpe diem!

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Oh, on a side note. Both carp were actually foul-hooked. The first was hooked on its dorsal fin. The second one (the one I actually landed) was hooked under the mouth on the fleshy underbelly. Hey! It still counts! :)

School’s Out. Time to Fish!!

Now that school is out, I’ve finally had a chance to get down to the Louisiana coast. I joined my good friend and colleague, Neil Borel down at his camper trailer in Grand Isle for a couple of days. As my luck would have it, the wind was blowing 10-15 for the first two days I was there.

Day 1: I went my own way and fished an area where I knew there would be grass to filter the dirty, wind-blown water. I wasn’t disappointed in the amount of redfish I saw. They were smashing baby shrimp in thick grass. The only problem was, I couldn’t get a weedless fly in that grass. The score for the morning was redfish 4, Doc 1. I did catch a nice redfish on my trusty gold spoon fly but I had two others break my line on my bait caster and I lost two more on flies. It seemed like a comedy of errors as I decided to run a ribbet frog across the weeds. I can’t tell you the last time I used my bait caster and that was the problem. The line on it was probably a couple of years old. The first redfish that inhaled my frog popped the line at the tie in point. Later that morning, I had one break off with about 20 yards of line. I tried to grab the line in the water but wasn’t successful.

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Day 2: I fished with Neil and even bought some live shrimp (Neil’s favorite way to fish for specs). I didn’t catch a single trout all morning. The water was very dirty and I only managed a couple of hard-head catfish. I did pole around for some redfish and saw some big bull drum that were tailing over some oyster beds but they weren’t interested in any I was chunking.

Day 3: The wind finally died down. We were hoping to be able to fish the gulf side of the island but it was still too windy so we opted for the back of the island. I caught my first speckled trout of 2015…on live shrimp. I ended up with 5 keeper trout and Neil caught 8

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I had fun and was able to catch enough fish for a couple of meals.

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Warm Water Fishing is Good Fishing

Again, we had storms move through our area (tornado warnings and everything). Once I got the debris cleaned up and put the icing on the year which has been a productive one at school, I finally got on the water to chase some willing warm water species. The bream in the local ponds and lakes have been hungry and are easily fooled on a chartreuse fluff butt under a VOSI. I even got a few bass this afternoon that were willing to eat a fire-tiger popper. Most of the fish are being caught on the fluff butt though. I even kept a few big 9-10 inch bream for the frying pan.

On a sour note, I sprained a tendon in my fighting elbow at school (really poor decision on my part to try to move a loaded soda machine to plug in a wire by myself). I’ve been having a tough time trying to fight some of the big bream and bass with my elbow. Anyway, I am looking to get down to the coast to target some redfish and speckled trout, but if my arm doesn’t get any better, I will have a heck of a time trying to set the hook on any big girls that may be interested in my flies. Oh well, I may have to rest it for a couple of weeks. :(  In the mean time…lots of ice and therapy hopefully will do the trick.

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