Putting the “Fat” into Fat Tuesday, part 2

Part two actually begins Monday evening Lundi Gras when Glen and I pulled up to a local restaurant, Tunks Cypress Inn, to drink a celebratory beer and chow down on some hot boiled crawfish. The placemats there have a map of Kincade Lake. We planned strategy as we ate and noted the weather report for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) was calling for very high winds from the south. After hashing over it for a while, we decided to launch our kayaks in Kincade the next morning and target big chinquapin (red-ear sunfish) and sacalait (crappie). The hills and big camps on the lake should provide us a little relief from the high winds.

We began our morning by chunking small poppers in shallow water. Surprisingly, we caught lots of bream early on. I managed a couple chinquapin that were around the 8-inch mark and I decided to put some on a stringer to have a fish fry for Ash Wednesday. The morning was actually slow for me and I tried to keep close to Catch so we could communicate but I kept going back to this one spot where I caught a nice big fat bluegill, knowing there had to be some more there. At about 11:30, Catch whistled over to me and I saw that he was heading back to the launch. I figured he was tired of fighting the wind and he had had enough. I had five fish on a stringer, including a pretty nice sac alit that I caught on a hare’s ear nymph. When I got back to the launch site, Catch was excited and mumbled something about me staying there to watch his kayak while he went to buy ice. He said,”I found ’em, I left ’em biting, and I’ll be back with some ice.” I went over to take a peek in his fish bag and I was blown away by the huge bream (chinquapin) and sacalait he had in there.

Let me tell you something about Glen. People don’t just call him “Catch” for nothing. He has caught more fish on a fly-rod than any one else I’ve ever met. Now, I haven’t met Lefty Kreh yet, but Lefty is 92 and Glen is only…well, I won’t tell. 🙂 Catch tells me what fly he was using (a green fluff butt in a size 10). Naturally, I don’t have any of those but Catch gives me a couple and says he’ll be back shortly.

When he got back, we proceeded to head back into the wind to the little secluded finger lake, or protected cove and we started fishing where he had caught his earlier. I was stripping an olive colored fluff butt without a strike indicator when I got my first hit. It felt like a speckled trout bite and not like any bream I’ve ever caught. When I asked Catch why he wasn’t using a strike indicator, he said the fish wouldn’t hit it with the indicator on. He figured the water was too clear (we had about 5 feet of visibility) and the fish were spooked by the strike indicator. Once again, I had to sit there and watch Glen catch fish after fish, while I caught one or two every now and then. My luck soon improved and I was landing fish like this:GOPR3541.jpg

and even some like this:GOPR3542.JPG

We both remarked at how these strong fighting fish would actually pull our kayaks! We called it the Kisatchie Sleigh Ride. Not only did they pull us around, but they pulled us agains the wind too. It was a ton of fun on my five weight!

Meanwhile, Catch kept on with some more like thisIMG_0711.JPG

and even a monster crappie that measured 16.5 inches! (sorry, the picture was taken on his camera and I don’t currently have a picture of it)

When the day was over, we had iced down about 15 fat sacalait, about a dozen fat chinquapin and about another dozen fat bluegill. This is a large 48-quart ice chest. IMG_0725.JPG

My stringer looked like this. That’s minus the 5 I had put in the ice chest in the car before we left out for a second time. IMG_0714.jpg

My largest chinquapin was over 10 inches and was bigger than my hand. IMG_0722.jpg

And here are a couple of Fat Tuesday slabs:IMG_0719.JPG

This was definitely the most productive fishing I’ve done in the Kisatchie area with Glen. I’m already looking forward to another chance to not only fish these waters but to fish them with such a fun-loving, nice, gentleman, who has a zest for life and a passion for fishing like I do.

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Spring Break Pond Hopping

Spring Break normally affords me several opportunities to get on the water. With a band trip to Disney schedule for the back half of the week, I made sure to get as much fishing in during the front part of my break as I could. I started with and after school/Good Friday trip to the lake behind a friend of mine’s house. The wind was a bit strong but I was determined to find some sacalait. I targeted the usual downed limbs and stumps and was able to land two nice ones on a fluff butt. FullSizeRender
On Good Friday, I was determined to catch a few more to fry for supper. I was able to catch one 14-inch sacalait and an 8 inch bream so Lisa and I had more fish than we really could eat. I caught and released dozens of small bream but wasn’t able to get one bass to play.

I woke up Easter Monday with the intention of trying to go down to Leeville for some speckled trout and redfish action. When I got up though, the wind was blowing just a little bit too hard for my taste, so I decided to hit the dam by my neighborhood lake to see if the bass wanted to play. After the heavy rains for Easter, there was a considerable waterfall by the dam. For about 20 minutes the bass action was crazy! It was like someone had thrown feed in the water. The “feed” was actually schools of tiny shad. I tied on a crease fly (Bill Laminack version) and was able to fool three hungry bass.

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This one was about 19 inches and was pretty close to three pounds!

Later that morning, I found myself up to my ears in work for school but I put everything down, decided not to answer any more emails or texts from band parents, and I went to my cousin’s house to fish their neighborhood pond. That pond has been “money” for me during past spring breaks. It was a very slow afternoon of fishing, but I did manage three bass, one sacalait, and about a half dozen nice bream.

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Shows pond bass

Tuesday morning, I decided to try a new fly that I had been working on. I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to “match the hatch” with these shad and I came up with this
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I had a hungry bass eat my new creation on about my fourth cast! I then hooked and lost a really nice one. The bite wasn’t as fierce as Monday’s (the water was only at a slight trickle) and I ended up breaking my fly off on the concrete dam itself. No worries, because I had the rest of the morning to explore the upper lake to see if the chinquapin bite had started. They weren’t plentiful but the six I did keep for supper were chunks. Three were over 9 inches and three were 10 inches plus! With the predicted rain for tonight and tomorrow, my spring break fishing is over for 2016. Time to take my band to Disneyworld for competition! Hmmm, maybe I can bring my fly rod! 🙂

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Spent the morning with a good friend

Well, the weatherman heard my complaints and provided us with a simply fabulous morning. It felt like spring with a sun-filled sky that started off at about 45 degrees. Things quickly warmed up in the mid 50’s by the time I arrived a a good friend’s house with 18 shiners, an ultra light rod and reel, and my 3 wt.

For several years now, I’ve been telling my friend that he is sitting on a gold mine of a fishery, for in his back yard lies the best sacalait fishing per acre that I have ever fished! I usually fish there once a year during my spring break and I’ve caught some of the most beautiful slabs within a hundred yards of his back door!

Merriam-Webster gives this explanation of the word sacalait,  “Louisiana French sac-à-lait, by folk etymology (influence of French sac bag, French à to, for, and French lait milk) from Choctaw saki trout”) So the literal translation is bag of milk. This refers to the white fillets of these fish, which make it some of the best-eating fish in fresh water. The rest of the country just calls them crappie.

This morning, I set out to teach my buddy how to catch these fish on ultra-light tackle and on the fly rod. You know the old adage, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and…his wife can get rid of him for weekends at a time. 🙂  After about 45 minutes of explanation about flies, strike indicators, knots, hook sizes, depth, and many other things to consider (like is it too early to bring beer with us) we set out in his two-man $50 john boat. My plan was to find them with the live shiners and then catch them with flies. It should be easy enough. Right?

Well he goes and breaks the ice by catching one on a beetle spin. It was lots of fun on his little ultra-light and we estimated the fish to be about a 14-inch slab!  Meanwhile, I figured we had found them and I began chunking my fly rod and he puts another one in the boat on the beetle spin. I actually had a live shiner in the water while I fished with my fly rod and right about then, my cork disappeared. We had three nice slabs flapping on the bottom of the boat and no bucket, stringer, or anything to put them in. No problem, since we are still about 50 yards from his back door. After getting a stringer, we got back on them and I caught another one before he hooked some structure where we were catching them and the bite shut down. We paddled down about 20 yards from our initial honey hole and I started catching more on shiners. So, off with the beetle spin and on with a hook, lead split-shot, and a cork and my buddy was soon catching fish. Things slowed down a bit until we eased on over where that structure was and we put three more big ones on the stringer.

So the morning’s catch looked like this:FullSizeRender

13 nice slabs. By the way, I weighed the stringer and we had over 12 pounds of fish there! We enjoyed a beautiful morning on the water. The camaraderie was great and my friend was ecstatic that he now knows how to target those gamefish in his back yard. He and I plan on hitting some water south of Houma soon to target some more of these “bags of milk.” Stay tuned!

Spring Break, 2015

It’s been a very busy spring for me at work. I enjoy what I do, so I’m definitely not complaining, but it has limited my fishing this year. No worries, though, because I’m blessed to have friends who have fishable waters in their back yard who allow me to escape for an hour or two when I get the chance. These waters have been very productive this year and have given me lots of action on my fly rod!

I made a quick trip to my cousin’s this past Thursday and was able to land 13 bass (lost about 4 fiddling with my camera), and a nice stringer of 10 crappie (sacalait) and bream (chinquapin). This is my last “hold out” spot for sacalait and I usually am able to catch a few during the Easter break each year. The sacalait really weren’t in full swing yet but I did manage to boat 6 that will be visiting a skillet of hot grease very soon. All the bream and sacalait were caught on a black and chartreuse fluff butt under a VOSI. What was really surprising to me was the number of bass I caught on the fluff butt. Of the 13 bass I landed, I probably caught 10 of them on the fluff butt. The three others were caught on a fire tiger popper. These were also the largest bass (most over 14 inches) I’ve caught to date, with the largest measuring at 17 and-a-half inches. You’ve got to love the bass spawning season! I hope to get out again before my trip to Orlando next week.

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Large Fish of the day
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These will make a good fish fry soon!

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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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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