Putting the “Fat” into Fat Tuesday, part 1

Each year, I make one or two trips to central Louisiana to fish with my buddy, Glen “Catch” Cormier. I met Catch around 13 years ago when he showed up after band practice to pick up his daughter and I noticed two kayaks strapped to the top of his vehicle. I asked him, “What do you plan to do with those?” He replied, “I fish out of them.” I asked “Where?” His reply has stuck with me to this day, “Anywhere I can.” Not long after that, I sold my bay boat and purchased my first kayak. The rest is history.

Anyway, we made plans for me to visit during my Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) break from school and do some fishing. First of all, the area where Catch lives now is in the Kisatchie National Forest area, the only National Forest in Louisiana. It is a somewhat hilly area (remember, I’m from flat, swampy South Louisiana) with several great fishing lakes and reservoirs all within a 15-30 minute car ride. So when I drive up there, there are always many options for us to choose from to do our fishing. We planned to do some bass fishing so I could A) test out some of my crease flies on some CENLA bass and B) catch a bass worthy of being entered into Massey’s Catch, Photo, and Release tournament that goes on all year for members of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club. Monday, know down here as Lundi Gras, we planned to fish Lake Valentine.IMG_0700.JPG
My view from the top of the lake.

The morning started off cloudy and very overcast with very little wind. Except for a couple of bank fishermen, we had the whole lake to ourselves all day. I began fishing with my crease fly popper and Catch was using a frog popper. We noticed the water was crystal clear, so we would definitely have to proceed stealthily. My first blowup was exactly that. A huge fish gulped my popper and proceeded to bury itself into the thick vegetation. I ended up with ten pounds of salad and no fish 😦

Meanwhile, Catch started doing his thing. They don’t call him “Catch” for nothing. He promptly started landing some pretty nice bass and he caught one that was 16 and a half inches that was going to bump him up in first place in the CPR tournament. GOPR3522.jpg

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I promptly hung a pig of a bass, set the hook too hard, and watched in utter frustration as it snapped my tippet.

I was using a large popper (I’m thinking larger fly = larger fish) while Glen was using a tiny frog popper. His choice for poppers was an easy one for a guy who fishes these lakes all year long and knows about the large populations of frogs in the estuary. So, I tied on a small popper. I immediately started catching bream, which was fun, but it was not my target species so I put the crease fly back on. Then I started catching a few fish. I caught a small 8-inch bass, then a 12-inch little chunk of a fish. Then, things stated picking up for me as we found some fish hiding in heavy grass around dormant lotus (huge water lilies). You can see the stickups in the background in this picture. GOPR3525.JPG

You can also see in that picture just how calm the wind was. The water was absolutely gorgeous and flat. So you can guess how much racket a big bass can make as it explodes in fury over a bass popper. That’s what happened on my next fish. Right away, I knew I had a quality fish and Glen began paddle over to get some pictures. I landed one heck of a bass (my largest of the year) and it was in public water! Hey, now I have a bass to enter into the CPR tournament. GOPR3529.jpg

She was just a tad bit over 16.75 inches and I think (we will have to see pictures of Catch’s fish on the ruler) she will bump him down for the time being 🙂

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How cool will it be if the first and second place fly-rod bass were caught on the same morning from the same lake? Honestly, there’s a lot more time left until the tournament is over but it’s nice to get a bass entered. Even though I caught over 150 bass last year, I wasn’t able to enter any fish into the tournament because nearly all of them were caught in private water. The one good fish I could have entered I wasn’t able to get a picture of. The good news was, this fat girl was full of eggs and was released to go do her thing. 🙂

Of course,  Catch wasn’t through for the morning. He changed tactics and caught several sacalait (crappie), including this pretty fish.GOPR3539.jpg

So much for our day in Lake Valentine. Our tally was 7 bass each and four sacalait for Catch.

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I love field-testing :)

I’m heading out to CENLA in the morning to do some fishing with my good friend, Catch Cormier, and I will be demonstrating how to tie a couple of my more productive fresh-water flies Monday evening. Everyone knows there are two types of lures (flies)…those that catch the fisherman and those that catch fish. I was thinking I had better do some field testing of my flies so the guys in the fly-fishing club will know that I like to tie flies that catch fish. I tried my local neighborhood lake yesterday afternoon but I only caught a couple of bream. So, I decided I needed a change of scenery.

I got permission from a friend of mine to fish his neighborhood pond/lake and did some field-testing this morning. A dry cold front blew in overnight and the morning was a beautiful, but chilly one (started out in the mid 50’s). Right off the bat, I thought I was going to have trouble because I left my anchor home and the wind was blowing. I fished for about 15 minutes without getting a strike and when I did get my first strike, the fish took my fly with it as it broke my tippet. I retied and 15 minutes later, I landed this chunky 3-pound fish. buxiVznhRF62vXtvcLhN5Q_thumb_6e76.jpg

This went on for a while and I ended up landing 9 over the next hour and a half.M5XwLZctTdaWzWAoID0kew_thumb_6e78.jpg

I think my fly proved to be fish-worthy because I even caught one of these on that popper.TkE4XUZ6RFOYkvVK4qMl6w_thumb_6e77.jpg

It’s exciting to be able to catch quality fish on flies I tie myself. It’s even more exciting to be recognized by others in the sport who think enough of my flies to have me demonstrate at their club meetings. I’m hoping those guys in CENLA have as much fun catching fish on these as I do.Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 9.28.15 PM.jpg

 

A beautiful morning in Cocodrie

After fishing with a buddy a couple of weeks ago, I realized I left my 8 ft. park n’pole at the launch site. My buddy got a friend to hold it for me so I’ve been looking for a chance to get back down there to retrieve it. I did this morning and launched out of Coco Marina.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning. There was very little wind. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperature started somewhere around 57. The gnats were a bit of a nuisance but my Amber Romance (Victoria’s Secret) worked like a charm. I was excited to explore some new water. My anticipation quickly turned sour when I got on the water and realized that the water was very dirty, with only about 6-8 inches of visibility. I found some redfish but they found me first. I wouldn’t see them until I was about 15 feet away from them and they would bolt for a quick escape.

Around 9:30 I figured that I was going to have to find a really stupid fish, one that would have to screw up pretty bad just to get a chance to cast a fly to it. Just as I was thinking this, I saw a big redfish crash some minnows up against the marsh grass only about 50 feet from me. I put my stakeout pole in a scupper and began putting the fly about 6 inches in front of its nose. No take! I couldn’t believe it. I kept casting to the spot where I last saw it knowing that it hadn’t seen me. On about my fifth cast, my line went tight and I strip set on a fish that was an upper slot or a baby bull. I felt like a bull rider. I fought it for nearly 8 seconds before it went on a lightning fast run and broke my tippet. I was so frustrated.

After that, I tied on another gold spoon and combed the banks for any more tell-tale signs of feeding redfish. By this time, it was getting close to 11 am, so I began heading back in. I stopped to fish a point where I knew there were some oyster shells and I hooked a nice 18-inch redfish. I also caught a lone speckled trout when the tide started moving.

Anyway, conditions were actually favorable today but the water was dirty and the tide didn’t begin to move until around 9:30 or so. That’s when I really got all my action. I saw a guy in a truck with a Hobie in the bed and I asked him how’d he do when we both stopped at a traffic light together. He found clear water in Point aux chenes. Looks like my next stop will have to be there. 🙂

Until then, I’ll just have to settle for this 18-inch guy who kept me from a compete skunk.

My Version of the Round Dinny

 

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I’ve been invited to demonstrate some fly tying for the CENLA (Central Louisiana) Fly Fishing Club in Alexandria at the end of the month and I’ve been thinking about what kind of flies I wanted to tie. I’ve tied simple foam spiders and other bream flies so I thought I’d do a more advanced session this time. I’m going to tie some Round Dinnys and probably some foam crease flies. To help with my tutorial, I’m going to present my recipe on this blog so tiers can use it to reference later.

First, I purchased some round cork balls on the internet. I think I got mine from Canada. 14mm-Cork-Balls.jpg

Here are the rest of the materials:

#10 kink hooks (http://www.jsflyfishing.com/mustad-signature-ck52s-fly-hook)
Marabou (http://www.jsflyfishing.com/hareline-extra-select-strung-marabou)
Black Whiting Farms Bugger Hackle (http://www.jsflyfishing.com/whiting-farms-bugger-pack)
Micro Rubber legs (I think I bought mine from Bass Pro)
Various colors of craft paint (Hobby Lobby is my friend 🙂 )

First, I cut a small slot in the cork with a hobby saw (again…Hobby Lobby is…)
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Then I used a thin super glue to set the #10 shank hook in the slot. I think I got my glue from a hobby store that sells radio control air planes.

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Then I use some Elmers wood filler to fill the slot and any other small imperfections in the cork.

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I then paint it with several coats of hobby craft paint and create the eyes. See this link to my friend, Ron Breaux’s tools for creating painted dots and eyes.(http://www.flytyingforum.com/index.php?showtopic=58016)

One it’s painted, I then put a coat of epoxy on it.

To tie the fly, simply start a thread base

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Add a small tuft of marabou (about a hook’s length)
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Add the legs:

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Tie in the hackle like this:

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At this point, I add a small amount of Sally Hansen’s or head cement to secure my legs and marabou.

Palmer it up (I use hackle pliers so I don’t break the hackle), whip finish, and add a couple drops of your choice of head cement. I use a bodkin to apply it. IMG_0656.JPG

You can get real creative with your choice of colors. I think the fish really don’t matter. The reason I use this chartreuse pattern is because I kept having fish hit my chartreuse VOSI (vertical oriented strike indicator). It’s a killer fly for all species of panfish and bass.

Happy Tying!

 

Getting on the Water in 2017

I’ve been “chomping at the bit” to get on the water in 2017 and I finally have been able to put together a couple of outings. First of all, I was able to sneak out on my neighborhood lakes to test things out. I found a few of these hungry gobules.img_0588-2

And even a few of these:

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I visited a friend’s pond and caught 14 small bass (mostly 10-inch fish) and about 2 dozen bream over 7 inches. I didn’t get any pictures of the bream but I’ll be back there to harvest a few for a fish fry in the future.

The big outing came this past weekend when I joined a friend of mine and fished the marshes of Cocodrie. We had to work hard for our fish because the wind blew and the tide was very low. Once the tide started to rise the water got very dirty. I managed on a 16.5 inch redfish and one nice trout (the same size) on flies. My buddy caught about 4 trout, two nice upper-slot redfish and a fat flounder on plastics.

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My first decent speckled trout of the year!

I’m looking forward to trying to put some sacalait fillets in my freezer in the near future. In the meantime, I’ll be tying some flies and posting pictures.

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 to you. The end of 2017 went out with a bang as I became a proud grandpa. Hudson Victoria was born December 22. She’s already working on her “Heisman” pose.

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I can’t wait until I can get that cutie in a kayak!

Anyway, this is a fishing blog so I’ve got to get to the fishing. 🙂

I’ve been kind of land locked since Thanksgiving. I did manage a couple of nice bass in the lakes by my daughter’s house in Texas between Christmas and New Year’s. I haven’t been able to time my days off with the good weather. I have, however, been able to sneak out for a couple morning and afternoon trips to my neighborhood lake to try a few new flies that I’ve tied. The bream have been cooperating. In fact, I kept a couple that were over 8.5 inches this afternoon to put in a frying skillet. These guys were caught on a fluff butt on my 3 wt. Lots of fun! I actually caught 2 dozen or more in an hour and a half. IMG_0588.jpg

I also managed to land two chunky bass too. IMG_0587.JPG

The water has been warm and these guys fought hard.

I have plans to put some fly tying tutorials on my blog in 2017, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I haven’t decided if I’m going to try to do my species challenge this year or just keep up with my numbers of bass, speckled trout, and redfish caught liked I’ve done for the past two years. Let me know in the comments below what you think. Here are some of what I’ve been tying the past few months.crease flies.JPGThese crease flies (poppers) were killer on the bass last year. I probably caught around 100 on these alone. IMG_3200.JPGThe next deadly fly for bass was my frog popper. I also tried one of those double barrel flies.IMG_0589.JPG
Here, I’ve tied a couple versions of the now infamous mop flies.IMG_0592.JPGIMG_0594.JPG

And a few round dinnys. IMG_3060.jpg

I’ve also been playing around with a few of these: (Looper Spineless Minnow) and I’m trying my hand at deer-hair poppers. I’ll post a few pictures of those when I finally get something that looks presentable 🙂

 

Red Stick Fall Catch and Eat

Each year, the Red Stick Fly Fishers Club hosts a fall “catch and eat” weekend. Members travel south to Leeville and have opportunities to fish from Golden Meadow south to Grand Isle. I don’t get to go every year but this year I was able to join the guys for a day of fishing and food.

After a late Friday-night playoff game, I was heading out in the dark at 4 AM to my fishing destination because I wanted to get in on what I expected to be an early morning top-water bite.  I planned on meeting up with my fishing buddy, “Catch” Cormier and see if we could put some fish in the cooler. I didn’t look, but I think we were actually on the water by 6:30 and after a short paddle, my expectations were fulfilled. I saw a couple of schools of nervous baitfish near a point and I started casting my popper. Immediately, I began getting explosive hits! The trout were going airborne to eat it. The trouble is, most of them were small. Also, if any of you have ever seen speckled trout eat top waters, they tend to try to kill the baitfish first and then come back to eat it so it’s hard to get regular hookups. This makes it a bit frustrating, but the action is so constant, it’s a lot of fun!  I landed my first trout and she was a beauty. FILE0001.jpg

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The top-water bite continued for about another 20 minutes before it shut down. I then switched to a pink Charlie tied under a strike indicator. I chose pink because in about 5 weeks, we will be welcoming into this world our first granddaughter! That fly continued to produce all day. I lost count but I conservatively caught 40 speckled trout. The only drawback was, only 12 were keeper size.

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After we cleaned up, we enjoyed a great meal with some exceptional fly fishermen. Not everyone caught fish but everyone everyone enjoyed the fried fish, fried shrimp, okra, etc.

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