Living to fight again.

Living to fight again.

On my last post, I showed what happens to one of my deer hair poppers after doing battle with over 2 dozen bass. Well, after cutting off all the deer hair with a razor blade, I retied the fly and had it ready to do battle again. See my last post 

It was kind of a slow morning at my favorite bass hangout but I was able to catch 14 on the same popper. Again I probably lost about 7 or 8 but that’s pretty good for a bunch of deer hair on a hook.

Warning! Graphic photo attached. Hide your wife. Hide your kids :)

Warning! Graphic photo attached. Hide your wife. Hide your kids :)

So here’s what happens to a deer hair popper (fire tiger) when you land 24 bass on it in one morning.

Pretty nasty, right?  I landed 24 bass on this one fly this morning and I missed another half dozen or so on it as well. In fact, early on, I had a big mama suck it down and she broke my tippet. I found the fly, intact, floating about 20 feet from where I lost her and I tied the popper back on. I kept count because I wanted to show just how durable these poppers are.

Not a bad fish story, right? But here’s where it gets interesting. I took the fly home, did some more trimming, added some more fabric mender glue, added eyes, and here’s what I got..

Not bad, if I must say so myself. All it took was about 3 minutes of work and I’ll have another popper ready to catch at least another dozen bass this week. Yes, I’m on Spring Break. 🙂  Let’s see you do that with a traditional popper. You’ll have to probably repaint the body, add eyes and epoxy the whole thing. Not that it can’t be done, but this took me all of three minutes to do.

Well, I said I caught 24 bass on that popper this morning. While, I won’t bore your with 24 pictures of bass, I will post a few here:

Most of them were in the 11-12 inch range, but I had about 6 that were 15 inches or larger. Most were caught on the Fire Tiger popper. I caught a few on a Tokyo Spider and a few on a shad baitfish fly. The good news is spring break has just begun. The bad news is, the wind will probably keep me from fishing my beloved South Louisiana marsh this week. Oh, well…there are plenty bass, bream, and sacalait that will want to play 🙂

 

Covid thoughts (how I’m dealing with the stress)

This challenging time in our lives has got a lot of people battling depression. Some people are actually fighting the virus itself, some have family and friends battling the disease, and some are manning the front lines of the battle and will suffer from PTSD for some time afterward. On the other hand, some of us are fortunate to be able to work from home. Some people think I’m just enjoying a staycation. Nothing could be further than the truth. For a music educator whose classes are predominantly performance based, I’ve been scrambling to create online lessons that are engaging and are rigorous. My wife has noted on several occasions that she has never seen me work as hard as I have these past two weeks. At the tender age of 60, I’m actually in a high risk group (I’m older and I suffer from asthma). I tell my students that every morning you wake up, you have a choice to make. You can either be the person who whines and complains about your situation or you can be the person who makes the most of your situation. Either way, I think everyone needs to be able to deal with stress. Stress is a part of every person’s life. How we deal with stress makes all the difference in the world. I am fortunate to have a hobby…fly fishing.

Those of you who know me well, know that I work very hard, but I play hard too. So, I have had to make time for myself. Case in point…last Wednesday I received a call from a colleague of mine, our basketball coach, that he wanted to do some fishing and he wanted a change of scenery. I offered him a chance to join me for a couple hours one afternoon after we were through with online classes. I knew the bass would want to play but I’ve been intrigued by the sacalait (crappie) that I know good and well are in our lake but I haven’t “found them” yet. Well, about 10 minutes into our trip, my buddy yells out to me, “Hey, Doc. Are you keeping sacalait?”  I immediately stuck my paddle in the water and high-tailed it over to where he was. I knew there was a sunken tree in the bottom there so I started tossing a chartreuse and black fluff butt in the area. Five minutes later, I was bringing a chunky little 10 inch one in my kayak. I put on a VOSI (vertical oriented strike indicator) to keep me from hanging up on the tree and I caught 23 more. Most were around the 6 – 7 inch range (not my keeping size) but I was able to put together a stringer of 9 for our Friday fish fry. IMG_1113.jpeg

I went back the next morning and I counted 40! Again, I only keep the nice ones and I had a few that fit that requirement. IMG_1116.jpeg

Saturday morning, I got an invite to join a couple of my “band parents” and their son at our favorite lake for some bass fishing. Their son is in my high school fly fishing club and I decided to go and help him (from a 6-foot distance) with his casting, etc. While I wasn’t able to get him to catch a fish, I ended up catching and releasing nine chunky bass of my own.

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That last one was full of eggs and she weighed 2.8 lbs.IMG_1120.jpeg

So, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday all pass and all I can do is school work and house work. My Wednesday was going to start out slow with nothing to do until 9 AM, so I got up and carted my kayak on over to the neighborhood lake at 6:30. I figured I could fish for an hour and a half before I would head home, shower, and make my 9 AM class. When I got out there I began hearing crashes on the bank. It was the telltale sound of bass chasing shad. The shad spawn is beginning and the bass know it. I was able to land two and lose one in the first 15 minutes or so. Slowly my interest changed and I switched to my fluff butt rod. After about 10 minutes or so, I put my first sacalait on my stringer. The bite slowly began to pick up and by 8 AM I had landed 24. I had a heck of a stringer of big ones (I only kept 9), with four of them going at or above a pound and three-quarters. So, this Friday, we will fry fish and I’ll have some to pass over the fence to my neighbor (social distancing) too. GOPR0365.jpegGOPR0367.jpeg

I realized after taking the picture that I was wearing that shirt. “Poppy,” as some of us called him, was my favorite Irish priest, Fr. Michael Collins, who passed from this world and is now with our Heavenly Father. While Fr. Mike wasn’t a fisherman, I’m sure he was with me and I was feeling the luck of the Irish that morning.

While so many are suffering around this world right now, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed on me and my family. I am especially thankful for the gift of life and my health…and the gift of being able to blow off steam by taking a five minute walk to a quality fishing hole.

Got my mojo back

I know I haven’t posted here in a while and it’s really not that I haven’t been fishing, because I try to slip my kayak in my neighborhood lake at least once a week. I just haven’t had much to write about. I might catch one bass here or there…or IMG_0885.jpeg
one 10 inch bream (red-ear or called chinquapin down here)IMG_1067.jpeg
I even made a trip to one of my friend’s “old reliable” lakes to catch some bass on poppers but I lost three and only managed to land one healthy bass.

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Yesterday, we received word that in and attempt to stem the growing tide of the COVID-19 virus, we will be teaching school for the next few weeks online. In addition to that, I had to cancel our high school’s band trip to Disney World, and I had to move my band’s big fundraiser from March 29 to May. I had been in meetings with band parents, meetings with administrators at school, and I had been on the phone for hours with Disney, charter bus personnel, our hotel in Orlando, and God’s knows who else. Thank God my wife was able to purchase some toilet paper earlier in the week 🙂  To say it’s been a stressful week is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a whiner (maybe a winer 🙂 ) and I know it’s been tough for a lot of people in the world. All I know is, I needed some time alone in a kayak with our Lord and a fly rod in my hand.

I loaded up my kayak in my truck and headed to my “old reliable” lake/pond again. After praying my Glorious Mysteries on the way there, I knew my mind was right and it was going to be a great morning. I think I caught my first bass on like my second cast. GOPR0349.jpeg
And then anotherGOPR0350.jpeg

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That was a terrific start. I caught about a half dozen on a Frog style deer hair popper before the fish had destroyed my fly.

GOPR0351.jpegI probably lost about twice as many before I tied on another popper with a different color combination to change things up. Again, I started missing fish and I began to wonder if my hook gap was wrong or something. I figured those bass were just a little bit small and then I got into an area where my hook ratio really picked up.
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Notice the algae in the background. It was a challenge to cast close to that and not get a big clump of salad every now and then.

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I kept a count of how many I caught (19). All were caught on poppers. At around 9:45 I started heading back to the truck but I was going to fish the bank on down toward where I had parked. I got to one little change in the algae line and right away I missed a fish. Two casts later…another miss! By now, I’m thinking I need to take lessons on hook setting or something….and that’s when I saw this big girl lift her head out the water to slurp my popper in. I let her go down with it a second before I strip set the hook hard in her mouth. By the way she was pulling, I knew she was the fish of the day. Of course, I started talking to her. “Don’t you dare jump!” “Don’t you dare spit my hook!” Every time she would rise to the top to jump, I would give her a little more line and I was able to keep the fish from jumping. After a few more minutes, I was able to lip this beautyIMG_1094.jpegIMG_1097.jpegGOPR0355.jpeg

I decided that after that fish, I had had enough for one morning. The owner of the property asked me to keep fish under 15 inches. I have a hard time keeping bass, especially during the spawn but I did keep a dozen under 14 inches to eat on a Lenten Friday soon. In fact, the way people have been clearing the shelves of food, water, toilet paper, etc. that may be the only meat I eat in a long time 🙂

So when I researched ways to avoid the Coronavirus, I keep seeing the phrase, “social distancing.” Well, I did some social distancing and I was able to get some fresh air, some fresh fish, some sun, and some stress relief. I think I’m good for a while. 🙂

 

 

 

The Dog Days of Summer Continue Through the Fall???

We are officially in the fall season, but don’t tell that to mother nature. It’s been a hot summer for everyone and any fishing I’ve been able to do has been early morning shots and get off the water by 9 AM. Now that school has kicked in, I’ve been even more busy than ever because we have moved into our new facility. I’m still unpacking and trying to figure things out. On top of that, we’ve started a bathroom remodel on the home-front, so my free time has been limited, to say the least. However, all work and no play, make for a very dull “Doc” and I’ve been hungry to get on the water…somewhere.

I’ve been seeing reports of good redfish action down in the marsh, so I’ve been looking for a chance to head south. The forecast for this weekend, however, looked too hot and windy (10-15 mph) for my blood, so I decided to take a quick pond trip nearby to feed my fishing hunger before church this Sunday.

I wasn’t disappointed. I was treated to a beautiful morning with lots of wildlife to help distract me (I missed about a half dozen good strikes). There were ducks, doves, and an early morning fox that visited me. Sorry, no pictures. As far as the catching, well, the action was pretty darned good. I was able to catch and release 21 bass on a deer hair popper by 9 AM. The popper was one I still had tied on from my last trip and I figure I’ve caught over 40 on that same bug by now.

 
Poor fellow only has one eye, but it still caught fish 🙂


This is one of the chunky bass I caught this morning.

I brought my camera and I was able to get some good video. I have some editing to do before I post it so it will have to come in a later post. Meanwhile, I’ve got more demo work to do, sanding, and painting. Tight loops and tight lines everyone!

Musicdoc

 

The Purists are going to Hate Me!

I’ve learned that fly fishermen are a different breed. We look at nature from a different perspective. We typically are more aware of conservation. We constantly think about tight loops, back casts, etc. and we look at all materials, both natural and synthetic from a different perspective too. So, over the Christmas holiday, I saw what appeared to be a large earthworm on the floor in my living room. Now, with a two-year-old granddaughter, nothing surprises me anymore. However, upon closer examination, I saw that it was a broken ponytail rubber band that had belonged to my daughter (the two-year-old’s mother). I just knew I had to put that thing on a hook and give it a shot one day.

So, I tied it on a 2/0 hook, put a small dumbbell eye on it and colored it with a sharpie to make it look like one of those purple plastic worms that I cut my teeth bass fishing with. Last weekend, while I was fishing my favorite bass lake, I found an opportunity to do some “research” with the fly. Now before some of you storm out of here mad as a hatter, know that I do call this a “fly.” Sure it’s made with synthetic materials but if one can catch fish on spoon flies, foam flies, and other streamers made of synthetic brush material, then “Doc’s Ponytail Worm” is a legitimate fly.

So, I told myself I would only fish it for about a half hour and if I didn’t get any bites I would change it out for something else. It took me about 15 minutes before I hooked this beauty. worm fly bass.jpeg

I have since tied up a few on Eagle Claw weedless hooks. Now it’s time to do some more research on them. IMG_3550.jpg
Tequila sunrise, olive green and the Bill Dance Blue. 🙂

Bass Thumb?

Bass Thumb?

The Robert Palmer’s song goes something like this: “Doctor, doctor, give me the news. I’ve got a bad case of …. BASS THUMB!”  Haha. I had a Saturday morning free so I headed to my buddy’s lake for the first time this year to chase some bass on poppers. When I got there, I saw one of my former students, his dad, and some other hunters, who were making a late season rabbit hunt. It was cool to be fishing in a kayak while listening to the dogs work. Every now and then, the silence was shattered by the sounds of shotgun fire, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the peaceful solitude, and the constant blowups on my deer hair poppers.

I probably had my first blowup about five minutes after getting on the water, and as one might expect, I missed it. I thought to myself, “I’ve got to get my bass mojo back.” My next blowup resulting in a large 15-inch bass doing acrobatic maneuvers out of the shallow water. After a substantial fight, I gently lipped it, snapped a picture, and sent it back to the water to continue its annual spawning ritual. GOPR0060.jpeg

After that, I began to catch a lot of 12 and 13-inch bass. I kept hearing gun shots from the rabbit hunters and I thought to myself, I’ve got to keep up with them 🙂

I was up to bass number 7 (all caught on a frog pattern deer hair bug) when I got a HUGE blowup. I didn’t have a chance! Note to self, after catching 7 bass on the same fly, you MUST RETIE!! When I inspected the line, I saw the line had been frayed by the tiny teeth bass have. Those teeth act like sandpaper. When I spend a morning constantly catching and releasing fish, those sandpaper-like teeth will gnarl up my thumbs; thus bass thumb. Well, one can imagine what it does to fly tippet too.

So I retied, this time with a fire-tiger popper and was treated to some more action. GOPR0079.jpeg
Fire-tiger catches big bass.

The top water action slowed down and I tied on a new fly that I tied a while back that I’ve been wanting to try. One day while cleaning my house, I saw one of my daughter’s hair rubber bands laying on the floor that had broken. I tossed it into the garbage and notices that it had an uncanny resemblance to one of the earthworms I see that make it into my pool. I fetched it up out of the garbage and put it on a hook in my vice. I’ve been saving it for a moment like this when I could do “some research.”  I told myself that I would fish it earnestly for about a half hour before changing to something else. 15 minutes later, I hooked into the largest fish of the day. Sorry, I don’t have a picture. I only have video that I’ll have to try to add to this post at a later date. I will also do a step-by-step on the “hair rubber band worm fly.”

I tried fishing the worm fly some more, but I was catching grass and algae (it’s not weedless) and I heard some commotion over by a nearby woodpile. I new I had no chance with the worm fly so I retied my popper.

I think it was my second cast when I connected with another 17-inch fish. GOPR0072.jpeg

Again, a couple quick pictures were taken and the fish was released.

I was getting hungry and so I decided to call it a day. I met up with the hunters at the truck and asked how many rabbits they killed. They kept up with me 🙂  They killed 20 rabbits and I caught 19 bass. I guess they had shotgun shoulder but I wasn’t complaining…I had bass thumb 🙂

The Perch Float Popper

The Perch Float Popper

I was asked by members of my fly fishing club at the high school to teach them to make some bass poppers. They wanted to tie something that they could use during the approaching bass spawning period. I started thinking about what I could teach them to do that wouldn’t a) break the bank and b) be easy enough for beginners to complete. I came up with two possibilities. The first was the Froggy Fly, which you can read about in my previous entry. The second was the “perch float” popper. So here is how we do it.

First, get a bag of Comal Tackle perch floats ($1.00 will make 8 poppers). For this tutorial, I purchased some with the slit already cut in them. You can purchase the others and cut your own slits (for your hook).
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I begin by lightly sanding the color off the corks. I guess one could just put a few coats of white spray paint but it may eat away at the cork. I don’t know because I haven’t tried that yet:
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Next, I cut them in half with a hobby saw:
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After that, I do some more sanding and I create the head angle:
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Once I have the angle, I use a dremel tool to make a “cup” in each head. This helps with the pop when the popper is fished:
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Next step is to put a thread base on a Mustad 33903BR, size 2 kink shank popper hook:
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Once that is done, I glue the hook to the popper by using a super thin CA glue or a very thin super glue:

When the glue is thoroughly dry, I use a little water based wood filler (I use Elmer’s) to smooth out the hole where the hook was glued and then I use a bit to fill the hole in the perch float by the hook eye:
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When that is dry, I do a little more sanding and then I add about five coats of a white under-coat of hobby paint. Here I use a metallic pearl:
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Once that step is completed, it’s time to paint the poppers. You can use acrylic paints from a craft store or any other method you prefer. Here I used a COPIC sprayer. Eyes were added from stick ons that I had in stock, but you can paint them on using different sized nail and needle heads. Here are the poppers ready for a 30 minute epoxy coat:

Pictured next are the heads on a home-made dryer. You can use alligator clips to dry them but you have to flip them over every 5 minutes or so. I made this dryer for about $5 or $6 several years ago:
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Once the popper heads are dry, all there is left to do is tie in the tailing material. I used several different approaches here to show different styles and effects, all of which should catch fish:

 

 

 

One More Trip

I know I’ve already posted my end-of-the-year report, but I couldn’t resist just one more short outing to my neighborhood lake. It began when my brother called me and said he’s trying to get his dog to learn to sit still in his pirogue while he fishes so he wanted to launch in my lake. He met me at my house a little after 3:30 and I hadn’t really planned on fishing with him. The weather has been real cloudy and dreary, plus my daughter, her husband, and my granddaughter have been in town for a New Year’s visit.

I helped my brother unload his pirogue and we walked the block and a half down to where I normally put in. When I got there and saw just how calm and pristine the lake looked, I just couldn’t resist. I hustled back home, put my kayak on wheels, grabbed my fly rod, and joined him on the lake.

It was neat fishing with my brother and we reminisced about old times fishing and hunting together. We were both avid hunters when we were younger but now we both enjoy fishing and the beauty, peace and relaxation that it brings. My brother brought one rod and fished a swim bait for bass. I brought a 5 wt rod with an olive fluff butt. My brother is and artist and has a great eye for things that would make a great painting, so he was snapping pictures most of the time. I, however, proceeded to catch about 8 small bream and two sacalait. We only fished for about an hour but it reminded both of us what really matters…family, friends, and the grace and beauty of God’s wonderful creations. Happy New Year to all those of you who follow this blog. I hope to get on the water more often in 2019. Funny thing is, I just realized I started the year off with a sacalait (crappie) and I ended it with one as well. 🙂

Tight loops and tight lines to you all!

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The Year in Review

It’s time, once again, to reflect on this past year’s fishing’s memories, successes, and lessons learned. First of all, I’m so blessed to be able to enjoy the outdoors and to be able to do so very close to my home. Most of my freshwater fishing is either a short walk to my neighborhood lake or somewhere within an hour’s drive from my house. My salt water marsh trips, although a couple hours away, are still doable for a day trip. Along the way I am always treated to the God’s beauty from the moss-covered trees to the deer, waterfowl, racoons, nutrias, alligators, and otters I encounter each trip.

Here’s a pictorial review of the past year:

It began with fellow kayakers and fly fishing enthusiasts, Glen “Catch” Cormier and Sarah Giles as we fished for sacalait in Lake Cotile.180122 doc sacalait.jpg180122 sarah sacalait2.jpg

As the weather warmed up, so did the bass fishing. IMG_2209.jpg
Catch with one of Lake Valentine’s nice bass.

I even got some great lessons on how to cast in a kayak IMG_2221.jpgIMG_2222.jpg
That’s a tight loop there!

If I had to sum up my fishing in one word, it would be deer-hair bugs. I know that’s technically, more than one word but I have gotten good at tying them and the fish love to eat them. There were the little ones:GOPR3909.jpeg

The big girls:GOPR3846.jpeg

And lots and lots of fish in-between.GOPR3885.jpgGOPR3878.jpegGOPR3877.jpgGOPR3912.jpeg

I was able to place in a couple of tournamentsIMG_2422.jpg26850532_1811142835623389_6288145374840920564_o.jpg

And even put a few in some hot greaseGOPR3841.jpeg

I caught some ugly ones:GOPR3831.jpegGOPR3947.jpeg

And some pretty ones.GOPR3870.jpg

Merry Christmas! I hope your 2019 is a good one! Tight Loops and Tight Lines!