Using this blog as a fishing log

I occasionally look back on this blog to see what time of year certain fish turn on for me, kind of like a fishing log of sorts. For example, I have kept track of when the speckled trout begin to make their move inside during their fall migration. I also keep track of when the sacalait begin to bite and when the bass begin to cruise the shallows in the neighborhood lakes in the spring and in the fall. I was looking back on a morning trip I took last year right after the first cool snap (temps in the lower 50s) and I noticed I had some considerable success right after our first cold front brought temperatures down in the 50s. So, I kind of had I idea that slipping the kayak into the neighbor lake this morning would bring me some action.

And why not? After a week of homecoming festivities that kept me at work until after 10 PM two evenings and after 8 PM another, I was due a morning of peaceful solitude with my fly rod and a deer-hair popper or two. The color of choice for this morning’s adventure? The purple and gold of our Tigers who upset those pesky Gators yesterday! I slipped my kayak into the water around 6:45, right at first light and began tossing a deer-hair diver toward the bank. About ten minutes into my morning paddle, I had hooked into my first bass. It was a small one, probably under 10 inches, but I recalled my trip from last year that the morning began with small fish and progressed nicely to larger ones.

The first fish of the morning smacked my version of the purple and gold Dalhberg diver

Five minutes later, I landed another one…and it was a little larger.

Here is a good picture of that diver

I began to notice a pattern. The fish were pretty tight against the bank and they seemed to consistently get larger as the morning wore on. Still, it was only around 7:15 when I landed fish number three.

Another one was liking the Tigers 🙂

It seemed I was catching fish every five minutes or so, and by now I had caught four bass and I had lost a couple. Some of the takes were small slurps and others were downright slams! There was no consistency in the way they were hitting the bug. I did tell myself to pay attention because one of the missed fish was because I never really noticed the slurp and I didn’t get a good hook set in it. I was casting to a shallow area near one of the fountains when I saw a slight swirl and my popper disappeared. I set the hook good in it and it took off. I realized this one was larger…much larger. It took off toward the water fountain and started dragging me toward the water. I started cracking up because it seemed like this fish thought I needed a shower or something. I frantically tried to turn it and that wasn’t working, so I dug my paddle in the water to keep from getting soaked. I was beginning to think I was going to loose this fish in the wires or the downed debris under the fountain when I finally got the fish to turn away from the fountain. Meanwhile, I had gotten wet. If anyone was watching me, they certainly got a show and watched as we both laughed at my predicament. The fish tried one last time to get under the fountain and I was able to turn it without getting another shower from the fountain. When I saw its mouth, I knew it was a beast. I got a measurement from the ruler on my paddle at 21 inches, which is probably my personal best in length (not in weight) on the fly rod. I was in my yellow Wilderness Tarpon kayak and not my Jackson, so my fish scale wasn’t with me but I estimate the fish to be over 4.5 pounds and probably a conservative 5. This fish will be in the 6-7 lb range in the spring with it fattens up for the spawn.

Long and skinny but very long!
My arms weren’t long enough to get the full fish in the picture.
And my kayak wasn’t wide enough. That’s what you call a ‘bucket mouth.’
I love watching this big ones swim off. Thanks for the adventure!

Soon I regained my bearings from that adventure, I found myself setting the hook on another nice chunky bass. This one was 16 inches.

Another nice fish that went for the LSU diver.

It seemed like I was catching a fish now on just about every other cast.

This one had a smaller mouth but was quite a bit chunkier than the others.

I continued to fish until 8:15, when the action slowed and the fish started getting smaller again. I was able to walk my kayak back home and fix breakfast for Lisa and myself. What a great morning of fishing!

This small fellow was hungry!

Dog Days of Summer (Video)

Dog Days of Summer get you down? Pandemic get you down? Then, check out my latest video. I spent 2 hours at a friend’s lake/pond and I was able to entice a few bass to eat a deer-hair frog popper. The days are actually getting shorter and I think there is a little bit of thermal cooling taking place. That, coupled with some afternoon showers, is gradually cooling the water enough to get them to come back to the shallows to feed on frogs and baby bream. Enjoy!

Happy 5th of July :)

That’s not a typo…Happy July 5th…well.. I mean, I had a happy trip to my neighborhood lake this morning. My body clock woke me up at 5:30 so I grabbed a cup of coffee, put my kayak on wheels, grabbed two 5 wt rods and my 3 wt. and I carted my yak a block and a half to my neighborhood lake. My goal was to relax and just catch fish. I began with a hare’s ear nymph under a strike indicator and I started catching small bluegill.

It was a bit foggy and there was a slight mist on the water. I heard a few splashes from some feeding bass, so I switched over to a deer hair popper in one of my frog patterns. I was working some water near some overhanging brush in the water when I caught my first bass, a feisty 10-inch fish. I quickly released that fish and began to wonder if maybe a pattern would develop. Two casts later, I was fighting a very feisty 14-inch bass that went airborne several times.

This feisty fish went airborne several times. Notice the frog pattern popper by its tail.

If you take a closer look at the photo, you can see the overgrown brush by the water’s edge. I began to think that the bass were sitting in the shade, waiting for an easy meal. So, I continued to work that stretch of water. After about 10 minutes or so, I found myself stripping my popper parallel to the edge when a massive explosion of water struck my fly. I set the hook hard and I knew right away it was a big fish. This bass dug down and took off for deeper water at first. It started pulling my kayak and then it doubled back toward the cover where it probably was initially hiding in wait for an easy meal. I tried to turn it but it dug down into a bunch of cover and my line had wrapped around the branches of a sunken tree limb. You know that sinking feeling when you know you’re about to lose a good fish? Well I had that feeling. I’m sure at that point I started talking to that fish, calling it a few names I won’t repeat here. That son-of-a-gun was a smart fish! I didn’t quite know how to approach this. If I tried to horse it out, it would surely break my tippet and the fish would be gone. So, I gave it some slack, thinking it might unwrap itself and head back out to open water. That didn’t work. My third idea was to reach my hand down and grab the limb and pull it up toward me. I thought I could land the limb and the fish. I started pulling the heavy branch up but the best I could do, was get the fish closer to me where I could see its size. I nearly tipped my kayak over a couple of times trying to pull the limb up while I kept tension on the fish. Finally, I worked my fingers down the tippet until I found the branch it was wrapped around and I was able to snap the branch. The fish took off…still hooked! By this time, one of the the people who lives on the lake had seen the commotion and he walked over to the water’s edge to see if I would land it. As long as I could keep it in open water, I felt like I had a chance. Finally, what seemed like forever (well maybe 5 minutes), I lipped the fish and brought it over the side of my kayak.

This was a very healthy fish.
It’s hard to get a perspective on just how big its mouth was. Here, you can see how this 1/0 popper looks tiny in its mouth.
This fish measured 20.5 inches.

I wish I had a scale with me. My last digital scale got soaked and it doesn’t work anymore. I would conservatively estimate that it was between 4 and a half to 5 pounds, but I’ll never know for sure. Maybe I’ll catch it again some day. By now, I thought I had found a pattern. I had caught three bass in a 50 yard stretch of water within a half hour of each other. I continued to work the same bank and 15 minutes later, I had caught another bass. This one wasn’t as big as the last one but it was a descent fish at around 14 inches.

It was around 8 AM now and the sun had burned through the early morning fog. I wasn’t getting any more action with my popper, so I switched back to my hare’s ear nymph. I continued to catch bream and must to my enjoyment, I was able to catch bluegill, a red-ear sunfish (chinquapin) and a pumpkin-seed sunfish.

Close-up of the bluegill
Close-up of the pretty red-ear
Closeup of the pumpkin seed, the prettiest member of the sunfish family (in my opinion)

I had a few more areas I wanted to try, in search of bull bream but the big bluegills and chinquapin just haven’t shown themselves since the flood of 2016. Since I had caught three different species of sunfish (well 4 if you call a bass a sunfish) I thought I’d try to see if I could catch a crappie and make it five different fish. I tied on a chartreuse and black fluff butt and began working some downed timber and the posts to a bridge that I have had some success in previous trips. I didn’t get any crappie to hit but I did get another descent-sized bass to eat my fluff butt.

This one was long but wasn’t as fat as the others I had caught this morning.

Well, It was nearing 10 when I decided to call it a morning. I had grass to cut and other honey dos to get to before the rain comes this afternoon. It was a “happy” and productive morning. I hope yours was too.

Tight loops and tight lines to you all!

Another Beautiful Evening on God’s Wonderful Planet :)

God has blessed us with so much, it’s sometimes easy to take the small things for granted. After school today, I had one of my high school fly fishing club meetings. We talked about purchasing a new combo and those who had combos, brought them to practice our casting. When I dismissed everyone I had an itching to get on some water so I slipped my “yellow submarine” into our neighborhood lake for some quiet time. Who says we don’t have fall colors in Louisiana?

Click on the picture and get a closeup of those pretty red leaves!

About five minutes after I snapped that picture, I received a Facetime call from my wife and my two grandchildren (ages 3-and 3/4 and a 1 and 3/4). She had taken a surprise trip to Houston to see them. I proceeded to paddle to a spot where I know I can catch a few bream and nearly call my shots, so I had to show off in front of them. I was able to catch three small but beautiful bream with my phone in one hand and my fly rod in the other. It was awesome to hear them shout, Poppie! Poppie!

After I hung up with them, it was time to look for something that would put a good bend in my fly rod. I haven’t fished in my yellow submarine (Wilderness System Tarpon 120) in a while and I forgot just how effortlessly it glides through the water…almost too easily because as I cast and began stripping line, the kayak would still be moving and that cost me my first big bass. I wasn’t able to get a good hook set in it and it easily spit my fly out after a very short fight.

15 minutes later, I was in a similar situation but this time I had no slack in my line and I sent the hook home…or so I thought. This one broke my tippet. You can imagine my frustration with having lost two fish back-to-back. I was getting ready to tie on another deer hair popper when I spied my old one floating on the water. I retrieved it to see that the fish had broke it right above my loop knot. The know wasn’t the problem 🙂 I tied it back on and fifteen minutes later, I landed my first bass of the evening.

This hungry bass couldn’t resist the deer hair diver.

I took a quick picture, released it and a few casts later, I landed another one that was just a bit larger.

It was getting dark when this one ate my diver.

It’s always cool when you catch one while another fisherman is staring at you from the bank. Anyway, I had had enough for one evening. I did have some work to do at home. Before I go though, I wanted to post a closeup of that fly of the evening. In this photo, you can see the details and intricacies that go into these Deer-hair bugs. Notice the wispy marabou feathers in the tail section and the subtle flash. I think I’ll fish this pattern again very soon.

Closeup of my Deerhair bug

Getting the Skunk Smell Off

Getting the Skunk Smell Off

Two weeks ago, I ventured down to the southeast Louisiana marsh to do some sight-fishing for redfish. The trip was a feudal attempt by my standards and I ended up with a big fat skunk. A couple of days later, I rode my bike to a neighborhood pond and I broke my jinx by catching some bream off the bank.

Fast forward to this morning when I put my kayak in the back of the truck and headed to “Old Faithful,” a private pond owned by one of my former band dads. This large pond/small lake rarely disappoints and this morning was no exception. I arrived right at first light and paddled to some of my favorite spots. The morning began with the bream feeding on top. I was tossing a tan-colored attractant and I caught 10 fat bream in about 10 minutes on my 3 wt. I then saw some big swirls on the bank and I changed to a 5 wt. and a small deer-hair frog imitation. I managed two pretty bass right away and then I saw a nice commotion over by a tree that had fallen in the lake a few months ago during a storm. It seemed the bass were trying to catch the dragon flies that were flying around the structure. I proceeded to land my largest bass of the morning, a 19-inch beauty that probably weighed close to 4 pounds.

Big fish of the day- a tad bit over 19 inches and probably close to 4 lbs. I can’t find my digital scale 😦

I was able to pick up a few more in that spot before moving on down the bank. Although it’s been hot down here, I think there has been some slight thermal cooling going on and the bass were hugging the bank looking for something to jump in the water. That little deer-hair frog pattern did the trick for me and I landed 15 bass on it before a greedy one broke my tippet.

You can see the frog legs on the bug (Pat Cohen’s frog legs)

I got all of them back in the water quickly so they wouldn’t be stressed. This one lost a little blood but it swam away very vigorously when I released it.

After I lost my deer-hair bug, I tried on one of my double-barrel frog imitations and I caught three more to round off my morning.

The trip was a great way to wash off the “skunk” from my trip down south two weeks ago. It, however, was a costly one for me because I lost my wallet to Davy Jones’ Locker. I had put it in my front pants pocket and it must have fallen out and into the lake at some point during the fishing. I’m not looking forward to having to go to the Office of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver’s license. Oh well, catching 10 bream and 17 bass kind of takes the sting out of it.

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 🙂

 

How do I tie my deer hair bugs?

I have had several fly tiers in the fly fishing community ask me it I had a video demonstrating how I tie my bugs. Surprisingly, there are very few videos out there in the world wide web. I don’t know if it’s because it’s some sort of secret fraternity or what, but I’m going to give it a go. I really think the reason is it takes so long to tie one of these flies and no one wants to sit though a 45-50 minute how to video. So, I’ve decided to do mine in a series of videos. The first one is ready to view. It’s an introduction into tying and it asks, “Why would you want to tie these anyway?” It’s not an inexpensive hobby, it takes a lot of time, and it takes a certain level of skill that a novice fly tier shouldn’t attempt. I also go over my tools and I give links where some of these can be purchased.

Enjoy!

Doc

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. 🙂