DIY Fly Drying Wheel Tutorial

In my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment of catching fish on flies that I make myself. My favorite flies for bass are poppers and my go-to fly for redfish has been my gold spoon flies. Both of these flies require time on a drying wheel to cure the epoxy correctly. These commercial drying wheels can be purchased from anywhere form $40 – $100. I was looking to make one on my own for about $15.

Here is how I did it:

First, I disassembled my broken dryer and took the wheel and foam (thin piece of plywood with foam glued on it so I could reuse it. Then I headed to the party store and purchased a disco ball for $15.


The unit has a colored plastic piece that screws on to a round black base that is then attached to the bottom base that houses the motor. I then predrilled and screwed my old wheel to the round base and then screwed the bottom assembly to a piece of small plywood that I attached to a stand.

You can see in this picture the small stand where I attached my plywood wheel (I even reused the screws that came with the rainbow light for this). I then predrilled holes on another piece of plywood and attached the base mount to it using the three screws from my old dryer. I made a quick stand for it and I was in business.IMG_3214
I even chose to keep the light which will come in handy when I’m not doing this in our kitchen (don’t tell my wife :) ) You can see old drops of epoxy on the wheel from previous use. I hope this helps anyone considering making one of these. It was a lot easier to assemble than the first one I make years ago. Since it came with that plastic round base (the one that screwed to the plastic bulb assembly, it made the whole project so much easier.

Louisiana Fall Marsh Fishing…Kayak Style

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My absolute favorite time to get to the Louisiana marshes for some kayak fishing has got to be the fall. It’s a period of transition. The  cool fronts that we get down here send a message to the speckled trout to make their annual migration inland to the marshes where they spend the winter months “chilling” out until they are ready to make their run to the coast in late spring to begin to spawn. This time can be feast of famine, depending on that weather. A series of windy, rain weekends has put a damper on my fishing until yesterday.

Although I got a call from a buddy of mine who was going to join me saying that he had to bail (something about taking his mother out for lunch for her birthday), I was determined to take advantage of the only day when the wind wasn’t going to be blowing 10 – 15 mph for the next week (my Thanksgiving  vacation). I left Baton Rouge at 4 AM and was on the water by 6:15 in Leeville, at a favorite spot of mine that I hadn’t fished in two years. By 6:20, I was already getting blowups on a popper ! The speckled trout, aka, spotted sea trout, were feeding on small minnows we call “butter beans.” I don’t know the real name for them (they aren’t cocahoe minnows). They are small and are shaped like a butter bean.

Anyway, by 7 o’clock, I had four nice specs in my cooler and I had released 10 other undersized fish.


I changed to a Lafleur Charlie under a VOSI and paddled to another of my “hot spots” where knew there would be bigger fish. I wasn’t disappointed. I caught some nicer fish and started culling out the smaller, 12 and 13-inch fish for the 14 inch and above trout.


This fish went for the chartreuse Charlie under a VOSI

The fish stopped biting at around 8 so I moved on to some other spots to see if I could get them biting again. For about an hour or so, things slowed down a bit. I caught a bunch of undersized fish and only put one more in the boat. By now, I had about 15 trout in my ice chest so I knew the day was a success. Additionally, I had a 16-inch trout that I was going to submit to our CPR  tournament (which finishes up at the end of the month).


16-inch trout on a charteuse Charlie

I then switched to a darker colored Charlie and it was on. Nearly every cast produced a fish. I told myself I would stop keeping fish at the “Cormier Limit,” a self-imposed limit of 18. After this, I would only keep fish larger than 14 inches. Well, as my luck would have it, I kept catching 14, 15, and 16 inch fish. I had promised one of my co-workers some fish, so I didn’t mind keeping the extra fish to clean. I tried switching flies to target redfish but I couldn’t get to the redfish without a trout hammering my spoon fly. I saw a couple of blowups on the bank near some grass that I thought were redfish so I cast toward the bank, only to have a big trout inhale it!

I continued to push-pole my way through the marsh looking for signs of redfish but the overcast sky, the high water, and the breeze were not going to let me target redfish this day. I did catch, tag, and release a 13-inch redfish that was chasing bait along with the trout. I finished the morning with a Louisiana limit (25), all on the fly rod. The Lafleur Charlie, a pattern developed by a fellow Red Stick Fly Fisherman, Mike Lafleur, was my most productive fly.



Got Fishing?

As I look at my last post, I realize it’s been almost a month since I’ve been fishing at all. Weekends for me have either been busy with work or the weather has been crappy. We finished our marching band contest last weekend so I gave my kids the week off of after school rehearsals. Today I found an opportunity to get on the water in the neighborhood lake.

I caught three bass and a handful of baby bream this afternoon. The weather is unseasonably warm and I thought that the fish would be biting. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get more action than that. The three I caught were all small but feisty. Note to self…two were caught by the dam as it was getting dark. There was a small trickle of water going over the dam. I should try again Monday after we get the predicted rain this weekend.

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It’s almost “That Time”

It’s almost my favorite time of year to chase redfish and speckled trout down in the south Louisiana marsh. From about mid October until mid December, the shrimp migrate to inside waters and the predators follow them. Additionally, a series of cold fronts pushes water out of the marsh leaving cooler, shallower water which in turn makes spotting feeding redfish a lot easier task.

A quick look at last year’s blog entry from the same weekend showed that I was able to catch a limit of redfish in the Bay Laurier area. I was hoping the conditions this Saturday would be similar. Alas, the weatherman messed up the forecast and instead of 5-10 mph winds, I was greeted with 10-15 mph winds nearly all morning. The water was also unseasonably high, very dirty, and there was very little tide movement. I saw a lot of baitfish and an occasional jumpy shrimp but I didn’t see any predator fish except for a few sheepshead. I did manage to catch my first sheepshead of the year, a 19 inch beauty.


It’s always fun to fool one of these with a fly!

I was able to then catch a small redfish while blind-casting over an oyster bed.


10 inch redfish ate the spoonfly.

I finished the morning around noon with an interesting story. I was fishing a stretch of water that has been real productive for me in the past. I push-poled my way around the lee side of the marsh and didn’t see anything except mullet and baitfish. I then decided to check the windy side. By now, there were white-caps in nearby Bay Laurier and the wind was pushing me rather quickly down the side of the marsh. As I rounded one point, I saw a redfish cruising the grass line and then quickly noticed that he wasn’t alone. It was a pod of about 15 redfish!  I was so close to the edge of the marsh grass and the wind was pushing me toward them so fast that they literally swam right into the bow of my kayak before I could grab my fly rod. They quickly spooked and I waited around for them to regroup. Sadly, they never regrouped. I continued to work the windy side of the large duck pond I was in and I saw something that looked like another nervous mullet. This one, however looked a little suspicious, so I stuck my park n’ pole in the scupper hole and waited. A couple of seconds later, I realized it was another pod of redfish. These were a lot smaller in size than the other one I spooked. I made a great cast, considering the wind, and placed my gold spoon fly about three feet in front of them. I waited until they were about six inches from the fly and I made a short strip. Wouldn’t you know it, a small redfish out hustled the larger slot sized redfish in the pod and ate the fly. I put a tag in it and released the 16 inch redfish to fight another day.


Last redfish of the morning.

Although it wasn’t a very productive day, I did learn a few things. I saw a few reports form others who caught fish further inside (Golden Meadow). The water there is considerably cleaner (more grass to filter the dirty water). The fish just aren’t quite ready in the Laurier area just yet. In another week or two, it should be dynamite though! I hope the wind can only cooperate.

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Fall Bass Fishing

I managed two quick trips to my neighborhood lake. This entry will be very brief because the fishing was slow but still important because these blog entries serve as a fishing log for me. I fished Saturday morning, Sept. 12 and caught two nice bass up to 15 inches. I followed that up with an afternoon trip to the same water two weeks later and caught 3 dink bass. Two of the those were caught on a clouser.

I am still waiting for two more cold fronts to blow through before I seriously attempt to get back in the marsh. Meanwhile, I will continue to make short trips to area bass ponds to pass the time.

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Finally, back in the marsh with my kayak.

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been in the Louisiana marsh chasing tails with my fly rod! With all this heat and the opportunity to put a big hurt on the mangrove snapper (I made another weekend trip with my buddy in Fourchon), I just haven’t had the urge to go. That all changed this weekend when I realized that I would be home alone. My son was out of town on a bachelor party and my wife was in Philly on business. A cool front in the middle of the week brought the temperatures down to record lows and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out some old spots and maybe a few new ones too.

I got a late start but with the full moon the night before, I didn’t really mind. I didn’t think the fish were going to feed until later in the day. The weather was near perfect. There was just a slight breeze and even that slacked down at one point and Bay Laurier looked like a gigantic sheet of glass…with tiny baitfish dancing on it. :)

I tried fishing the south side of Highway one on the recommendation of a friend but all I saw was one huge drum that I cast to for about a half hour. I never could get it to even look at the fly. I saw lots of sheepshead and mullet but not a single redfish.

I paddled back to my car and launched on the other side of the highway. A short paddle to one of my spots that produced early this summer revealed to me that all the grass that had been holding baitfish (and the red predators with the black spot on their tail) had all disappeared. A buddy of mine said that the salinity rises during the summer and kills it off. Anyway, I kept working all my old spots and didn’t see a redfish until 11:30. I was leaving an area of broken marsh ponds with I spotted a nice 18-inch redfish that had gotten in a little shallow ditch. I slowed my kayak down and tried not to spook it. My first cast was bad…over my back right shoulder. I used my push pole to back myself up just a little bit and I spotted the fish a little further in the marsh. This time my cast was right on and I had my first fish of the day.


First Redfish of the day ate the gold spoon fly

I searched again but the only real action I saw was a multitude of baitfish and mullet. Every now and then, I would see a sheepshead but I couldn’t get them to eat a fly. That’s when I tied on a purple and gold bunny streamer that my buddy tied for me. He is a novice tier but he has gotten real good lately and he asked me to fish with one of his creations. I think I was in my 5th cast or so, when I hooked a 14 inch speckled trout.


I was determined to catch another redfish so I paddled on over to some of my favorite spots. I saw one bull red cruising the bank. It was almost right under my kayak by the time I noticed it and it passed me by before I could even swing a fly at it. Finally, I got to one of my money ponds only to find out that there was no grass in it either. In fact, it was very murky. However there was a ton of baitfish (mullet) that was feeding on the decomposing grass. That’s when I saw a very large wake heading toward me. I put the streamer right in front of it and it immediately exploded on the fly. I fought the redfish for about five minutes and it got off. I kept trying to get more fish to eat my fly. I had a fish (the same fish I think) that I actually stuck with the fly. It immediately got off. I saw it about five minutes later near the same area and it tried to eat the fly again. Again, it only ate the back of the fly and never felt the hook.

The winning tactic for me was to anchor my kayak in the middle of the pond/flat and wait for a cruising redfish to get near me. Because of the murky water, I would only see them when they were about 10 – 15 feet away from me. It meant that I would have to make a fast, accurate cast without spooking them. I can tell you that I missed several fish that way but my persistence paid off and I did land a 24 inch red.


I put a tag in it and released it to fight another day. I ended up spending 9 hours on the water and had caught three fish. Can I tell you I still had a great time! I will, however, wait until the fall to go back there again. By then, the redfish will be schooling.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 10.26.04 PM

Not Kayak Fishing, Not Fly Fishing, But Certainly Fun Fishing!

I received an invite this weekend to fish with a good friend of mine down in Fourchon. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up as I would be fishing with my son, two friends and my son. We planned on targeting red snapper and mangrove snapper but we had to stay within ten miles of the coast if we were going to keep any red snapper. Saturday’s trip turned out to be a great day. The weather was good early on and we managed to put 20 mangrove snapper, a couple redfish (red drum) a large sheepshead, and a black drum in the box before the weather and wind forced us back in. We didn’t land any keeper sized red snapper but one of the highlights of the morning was when one of the guys hooked into an unidentified fish, a UFO if you will, that doubled over his big rod and ended up breaking off. We never did see it but we guessed that it was either a bull red or a large jack crevalle.

Sunday’s trip didn’t provide us with large numbers (we only cleaned four fish at the cleaning table) but we had a blast and caught 12 different species of fish. One of the fun things about fishing our wonderful Louisiana Gulf Coast estuary, is you never really quite know what you might catch. Here is the list of the fish we caught Sunday:

Jack Crevalle
Black Drum
Mangrove Snapper
Red Snapper
Spanish Mackerel
Trigger Fish

The highlight of the day was when I caught my first cobia. Allow me to set the scene:

The weather looked more promising than Saturday so we decided to begin a little further west than the day before. We tried a few new rigs and Dustin (my son) and Scott (captain) caught several triggerfish and one nice mangrove at our first stop. Since we couldn’t keep the trigger fish, we decided to hit another rig nearby. Well as is typical in our gulf during the summer, you have to watch out for storms and we noticed that a nice little storm was brewing to our southwest and was slowly moving toward us. We picked up and and motored 6 miles to our east to hopefully avoid the storm.  When trying to select a rig to fish, I suggested we try a small platform, thinking that the larger ones had been fished heavily since June. There are literally hundreds of small platforms and rigs to choose from in the gulf. We chose one such platform and I hooked us up to the rig. We all baited up with live shrimp on medium to medium-light rods because we were going to be targeting mangrove snapper. No sooner than Scott had gotten to the bow of the boat with his rod he yells, “COBIA!” Cobia, ling, or lemon fish, as it is commonly called around here, is a sought after species. They are large strong fish that will challenge any angler and the meat is very tasty. When we fish, we bring several rods with us to handle everything from big amberjack and cobia to small snapper. When School yelled cobia, I brought his stout rod to the front and switched rods with him. That was significant because instead of putting Scott’s medium-light rod down, I inadvertently put mine down and fished with his. That turned out to be significant because Scott’s rod (gold Shimano Calcutta reel) was loaded with 50 pound braid and 30 pound mono leader. Mine (also a gold Shimano Calcutta reel) was only loaded with 14 pound mono.

While Dustin and Scott tried to locate the big cobia, I decided to fish on the other side of the boat. On my first cast, I hooked a small hardtail. As I was reeling it in, I saw what looked like a shark attack my fish. It got off and I sighed a big sigh of relief thinking that I had just adverted a problem, fighting a four foot shark while Dustin and Scott were trying to lure a large cobia into eating what they had to offer. I thought for a second, I should actually catch a hardtail and they could use it as bait for the cobia. Yeah! Great idea!  So I put on another small live shrimp and cast to the pilings of the rig. Before the shrimp could get to the bottom I felt a tap and I started reeling in so the #3 circle hook could do its job. Only…this hardtail was much bigger…it had shoulders…really big strong shoulders. Then Dustin yells, “there he is!” Scott tosses his large jig toward the fish and that’s when I realize…it’s on MY line!  Immediately I thought that there was no way I was going to land this thing on my 14-pound test, but I looked down to see that that was green braided line that the fish was peeling off my reel. Wow! I had a chance! Then I thought to myself. “How am I going to land this thing on a medium-light rod?” I was able to put the breaks on the fish a couple of times and was able to turn the fish away from the barnacle crusted legs of the old rust oil platform. After a surprisingly short battle of 5 – 7 minutes or so, Scott had put the gaff in it and was hoisting it over the stern of the boat. It was hard to believe that with all the other large rods on the boat, I had landed a 20 pound cobia on a very small shrimp.

My very first cobia

A little later, I hooked into another big fish and thought it might be a companion, but it got off and I never saw it. Things slowed down at that rig so we moved on over to another nearby rig. Dustin spotted another big cobia swimming by the legs of the platform and right away we all started casting around the fish. Dustin actually hooked it and fought it for a while but sadly, it broke his leader :(  We weren’t done for the day because Scott hooked a monster jack crevalle and then both of us hooked and landed bull reds.


You can see from the second picture that the storm died out before it got to us and the sun came out. Anyway, it was great to spend some quality time with my son and a couple of friends of mine before I start school. Yes, I start with my camps in the morning.

One a side note. I’m going to have to save up to get a 12-weight. I bet that would be a thrill catching one of those on a fly rod!