In-creasing your odds

I was recently featured in an article in the Louisiana Sportsman Magazine about the popularity of the crease fly. This fly has been my “GO-TO” fly the past year-and-a-half and I’ve caught over 100 bass on it in a year. The really cool part is, I don’t like spending money on a lot of flies. This fly is:

  • Durable – I haven’t kept count, but I’ve been able to catch 30 or so more bass on a single fly as long as a big one doesn’t break me off 🙂
  • Inexpensive to make – Hobby Lobby is my friend!
  • Quick and easy to make – Here goes

First, let me write this disclaimer. I did not invent this fly, so it’s not mine. I actually have to give most of the credit to Bill Laminack for showing me how he tied his and for turning me on to the beauty and simplicity of Lame

Materials list:

  • Gamakatsu B10S (stinger) hook in a size 2
    Thread (any color will do)
    The thin white craft foam with peel back sticky side (I measured mine and it was about 16th inch. It’s probably labeled in mm in the stores)
    The next size up craft foam (1/8 in)
    Craft fur (or buck tail)
    Pearl Lame (to imitate baitfish scales)
    Super glue (thin and gel)
    Mirage stick-on eyes (easy peel 7/72″)
    Permanent markers to color your fly
    Your finish of choice (Sally Hansens, epoxy, delta satin varnish)
    IMG_0857.JPG

Step 1 – lay down a thread base, tie in a small amount of craft foam (or buck tail)  and secure with thin super glue. You don’t want the foam to spin around the hook when the big bass eat. If you don’t have thin super glue, you can use Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails.
IMG_0998.JPG

Step 2 – tie in about a 1/2 by 1/4 in piece of the thicker foam to the front of the hook. I believe this serves two purposes. It gives the finished foam more surface area to adhere to and it helps to make the front of the popper more buoyant. Whip finish and cut your thread. That’s all the tying you will need to do.IMG_0999
IMG_1001.JPG
Nothing Pretty Here. Doesn’t Need to Be!

Step 3 – I created a teardrop shaped templet out of card-stock to create the body of the foam fly. Trim the foam to the dimensions of the templet and remove the backing paper. Firmly adhere a piece of Lame and trim.
IMG_1002.JPG

Step 4 – fold the foam in have and cut a small piece off the tail to allow the tail material to pass freely.
IMG_1003.jpg
IMG_1004.JPG
You Can See How This Material Imitates the Scale Pattern of Baitfish

Step 5 – carefully superglue the foam body over the hook to form your crease fly. It is important NOT to put too much glue or your foam will not stick and you will end up with a mess and probably glue your fingers to the fly. 🙂

IMG_1005.JPG

If you have trouble getting the foam to stick you can try using some mini clamps. (did I tell you that Harbor Freight is my friend too?)
IMG_1006.jpg

Step 6 – use a bodkin to apply stick on eyes, use a marker to color them up, and seal it with several coats of your favorite finishing product, being sure to coat it where the lame meets the foam.IMG_1008.JPG
IMG_1009.JPGI find that Sally Hansens is durable enough to do this with several applications but if you want to really break a record, by all means use epoxy, a very strong tippet, and this may be the last fly you’ll ever need.  AND you’ll catch hundreds of these. GOPR3548.jpg

IMG_1012.JPG           Here’s my saltwater version, jointed and measures 4 inches from tip to tail.

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.

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

GOPR3513.jpg

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 🙂

GOPR3526.jpg

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.

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:

img_0587

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.

DCIM100GOPRO

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.

The Great Flood of 2016

I haven’t been able to post anything here because I haven’t been fishing. Well, I did make one trip to my favorite private pond but the fishing was slow (only two largemouth bass and two nice hybrid stripers). That same day, I planned on making a float trip with a good fishing buddy of mine up the Amite River. When we got to our “take out” point, we noticed that the water was a bit high and dirty, so we did a walk in trip nearby. The fish did not cooperate so we called it a day, ate a sandwich, and drank a couple of good brews. Little did I know what would come the following week. The following is typed up from some notes I jotted down in a notebook during this past week:

It’s been 6 days since we got the message on the radio that school had been cancelled due to the eminent threat of flooding in our area. That was Friday. My initial thought was that this would last a day, people who lived in flood prone areas would flood, and then that would be it. The world would just go on as normal on Monday. I took the time Friday morning to get caught up on my school paperwork. I completed 2 weeks of lesson plans and I even created an online “homework” assignment so we could claim that day as a full day.
Later that night, I received a frantic call from my cousin’s husband asking for help to put his furniture up on cinder blocks. My wife and I promised to go over there Saturday morning to help them. During the day, I learned that my 26-year-old son had spend the day rescuing people stranded by rising waters with his shallow drive boat, a boat that is built for this kind of work but is still treacherous in the raging waters and current of a flash flood. Nothing could make me prouder! I personally spent time rescuing people with a friend on mine on Sunday.
The media calls this the Great Flood of 2016. I imagine tens of thousands have lost everything (I later learned that an estimated 110,000 homes had been flooded). My emotions have run the gamut, from guilt (we didn’t experience flooding in my house), fear, anxiety, and sadness. I just can’t list all the emotions I’ve felt. The main good thing I guess is…I continue to feel. I feel for those who had to swim out with their children on their back. I feel for those who did not have flood insurance. I feel for those who have lost everything…house, vehicles, and businesses. I feel for those who will have to bury loved ones.
Monday, after the flood waters began to recede, I helped ferry people back to their destroyed homes to survey the damage. That was difficult too. I had to watch proud fathers cry when they first saw the damage. I watched mothers sob when they realized they had lost one-of-a-kind family photos. Photos of deceased family. Photos of a deceased first-born child. I’ve seen panic attacks and more! I’ve had to try to console people and tell them that their “things” can be replaced and that the lives of their loved ones are all that matters. Stupid me! They know that!! I just don’t know what to say!
For 5 days in a row, I helped lead a team of faculty members into the homes of our dear friends, family, students, and colleagues. We gutted 11 homes in five days!   I am exhausted. When I ask God why was my family spared? I hear “I’m just granting you the answer to the prayer you pray multiple times each day. I pray, God help me to use the gifts you’ve given me to the best of my ability. My son is pulling people out of harms way, some of whom would not have survived had he not been there. My wife is working night shifts to help manage the disaster from the state level.
And through it all, I do what I pray. I use my God-given gifts to the best of my ability. I plow on through achy bones, joints, and extreme fatigue. The most difficult part for me has been my inability to help people. While I’m working to rid one house of soaked flooring and drywall (what an oxymoron right now), I get phone messages and emails with names and addresses of others seeking help. One of the things that has gotten me through this is humor. My colleagues and I have continually ribbed each other and joked around through this. I laugh to get me through the day and I cry for ten minutes in the shower at the end of the day.
As I talk to God about this, I have tried to get quiet and listen. What I hear is Him telling me to keep going. I really think my family was spared from this thing because God knew we could help so many. It doesn’t, however, mean that just because our home didn’t flood, we still aren’t traumatized.
So to my friends and family members whom I’ve seemed to ignore these past few days, who’s group text messages have aggravated me to the point where I seemed disrespectful, I say that I do love you with every fiber of my heart. If I sound tired, I am. If I sound overwhelmed, I am. If I sound frustrated and cross, I am. It doesn’t mean I love you any less. I do know that I will get up early tomorrow and do it again because there are people that need me.

Our Oregon Experience!

Sometime around Christmas, 2015, my cousin, Pam, and her husband, Neil, were having a drink with my wife and me and Neil declared that this year be called the “year of fun.” We decided right then and there to plan a summer fun vacation to a place in our beautiful country that we haven’t been to yet. Our choice…Oregon!  My wife and Pam had both been there on separate occasions for work and both of them thought to themselves that this would be a great place for us to go for fun.

We did some research and found out that there would be some cold water fly fishing opportunities along with hiking and touring multiple breweries and wineries. Fishing, wine, beer, and some of the most breathtaking scenery in our country!! I couldn’t wait!

We flew into Portland and went to the car rental place only to find out the mini van we were supposed to have had a nail in its tire, so the only thing they could give us was an Escalade!  Hum, let’s see an Escalade for the same price as a mini van? You bet. Our first stop was on the Columbia River. We had gotten there at the wrong time of the year for the steelhead run but we did run into a few Native American fishermen who were cleaning their catch, canning, and smoking salmon. IMG_0057

The guy I talked to said that the scar on that fish was probably caused by a seal when it was out in the ocean. These were the fish they couldn’t sell to market and were keeping for their family. We went up the road a bit and purchased some smoked salmon to snack on in the car. Talk about delicious!!

Along the way we visited Wahkeena Falls and Multnoma Falls. It was beautiful hiking through the green canopies. Here’s a picture of Lisa and me at one of the falls.IMG_0048

It was almost like a rainforest. Along the path, they put up big cable wire meshing material to protect people from falling rocks. I joked that it was put there to keep the velociraptors away. What do you think?IMG_0054

So our first stop for lunch took us to our first brewery of the trip in Hood River.IMG_0066

Our view of the river from out table.IMG_0061

Beer flights.IMG_0062

Beer to go anyone?IMG_0060

After leaving Hood River, we headed to Bend, OR to visit some more breweries. I learned what growlers were. The thing about growlers is, you have to drink all 62 ounces in one sitting because it will go flat once you’ve opened it. Check out this picture of what I called the “Wall of Fame” from Crux Brewery. IMG_0075

We enjoyed some more beer flights here and got to see some of the brewery equipment up close.

We spent the evening in Bend and visited our third brewery for the day. The following morning we went to Crater Lake. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful National Monuments in the United States. It’s the deepest lake (at over 1,900 feet) and is the cleanest. We did the nearly two mile hike down the rim to the water and did the 2-hour boat cruise down there. Here are some pictures from there.

IMG_0102Here is a large picture of the view looking down from the hiking trail. It’s the bluest water I’ve ever seen and visibility has been reported to be a record 141+ feet!
Here’s a picture of “Phantom Ship,” a rock formation left over from the volcanic eruption that caused the lake.IMG_0109
You will notice some of the many beautiful colors of lichen on these rock formations:IMG_0110

One more picture before leaving for Klamath Valley and our guided fishing trip.IMG_0088

By the way, the temperature that morning was in the low 40’s. They actually had snow on the mountain the day before we got there.

I wish I could show you some beautiful pictures of some of the rainbow trout we caught the next morning but we were very disappointed in our guided trip. I’m not going to mention the name of the guide service here, but I will mention that our guide for the day was a very nice fellow from Vermont who had only been fishing Oregon since April of this year! We did manage to catch 5 ‘bows but we had to work very hard for that and Neil’s 22-year-old son nearly stepped on a rattlesnake along the way. Here are two pictures from the day. One is a picture of the best fisherman on the river and the other is a picture of a cool nymph that we were using.

We were disappointed in the fishing but we were able to chase those thoughts with a few more of these that evening. The fresh squeezed was my favorite IPA from the trip!

One of the things that stung a little hard was the fact that our wives did a spa day while we were fishing and they said the physical trainer there said he knew where we could catch 20-plus inch rainbows on the nearby Williamson River without a guide and without a boat…on public land. Oh well. Our next day began our trek though wine country. Oregon is famous for it’s Pinot Noirs. I think we visited four wineries in two days and did some tasting there. Gotta love the Oregonians and their sense of humor.IMG_0137

And we took a tour of a fairly new winery that had some mighty tasty wine.IMG_0141

Toward the end of our week we got a condo on the beach (Lincoln City) and were treated to some beautiful sunsets and viewed some grey whales. I couldn’t get a picture of the whales but I did get these.

More scenery

One our last day, the guys decided to do some of our own fishing on the Siletz River. We caught around 15 resident cut throat trout.IMG_0167
Love the different colors of these trout. The one above ate one of the nymph patterns I tied before I left Baton Rouge. The one below ate a black wooly bugger.IMG_0166Neil caught this small sucker fishIMG_0165
Flying kites is a popular pastime on the Oregon Coast.

IMG_0170

On the last evening, Lisa and Pam cooked us a fantastic meal of fresh salmon and Dungeness crabs. I wish I would have taken a picture of that! They used a variation of a barbecue shrimp recipe but without all the butter. It was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten!

On the last day, we did a little more hiking and visited one more brewery before heading to the airport.

Oh, did I mention the Oregonians’ sense of humor? Maybe this has something to do with it?IMG_0169
Yes, pot is legal in Oregon. Oh, and Lisa and Pam found this energy drink that they bought for their husbands. I better not post the picture on here because I teach at a Catholic high school and I have students that subscribe to this blog I could get into a bit of trouble. 🙂

Anyway, one more picture of Mount Hood from our plane as we headed home. I am looking forward to next year’s trip. Remember, Neil called it the year of fun. I’m renaming it the DECADE of fun!IMG_0176

 

Fishing with Glen, the Gobbule Getter :)

Each year, I try to make a trip to the frigid north (that’s anywhere north of Alexandria, LA for those of you not from Louisiana) and fish with a good friend and fly fishing buddy of mine, Glen Cormier. Most people just know him as “Catch Cormier.”  I may have posted this on an earlier post but it’s worth mentioning again that Catch first got me into the sport of kayak fishing.  I taught his daughter for four years at St. Michael High School and he would sometimes pick her up from after school band practice with one or two kayaks strapped to the top of his car. I was a bay boat fisherman at the time and I asked him what were the kayaks for. He told me that he fished out of them and I asked him where? He promptly replied, “just about anywhere I can.” After pestering Glen for some time about what kind of kayak to buy, he helped me pull the trigger on my first kayak, my Wilderness Tarpon. I used to call it Doc’s Yellow Submarine. It’s a great kayak that paddles very fast and tracks well.

Anyway, I kept trying to set up a trip to fish with Glen so I could pick his brain (he is a walking encyclopedia about fishing and you’ve probably seen me reference some of Cormier’s Laws about Fishing on this blog) but we couldn’t agree to a date until I decided to jump in and purchase a fly rod. I think it’s no coincidence that Glen finally made his calendar clear when I offered to fish with him and leave the “Commie” tackle back home. By the way, Commie tackle refers to anything NOT related to the fly rod. 🙂 Well, we’ve been fishing buddies since then.

As long as I’m explaining a few terms here, the word gobbule, as defined by Catch himself, means: Any sunfish.  The term sunfish is too passive for this hard-fighting members of the Centrachid family.

Last week, I ventured to Glen’s home in Boyce to fish the Kisatche lakes (Valentine, Cotille, and Kincaid). Since I was getting there the last week of June, our expectations weren’t very high for bass, but we hoped to get on some of the great bream or gobbule fishing those lakes have to offer. It took us a while to find them but when we did, we were rewarded with a bunch of these hard fighters
CIMG7920
GOPR3410.JPG

CIMG7918

Many of these fish would have been “frying pan” worthy, but we were just releasing them this week and thanking them for the fight. Speaking of fight, there were several bream that made Catch’s 6 wt. double over. You can only imagine how much fun it was to catch these “bream with an attitude” on a 3 wt!

Another thing that makes fishing with Glen is the scenery. Glen and his wife are now retired and they have some of the most picturesque waters and woods in their back yard.

Even in the extreme heat, I was able to land one nice bass on a crease fly popper. It’s the largest bass that I’ve caught in PUBLIC waters this year, which means that it is…well would have been eligible for the Massey’s CPR Tournament. Sad to say, that after I took this picture, it flopped back into the water.

 

DCIM100MEDIA

Nice bass on the crease fly

Here are a couple pictures from the rest of the trip
IMG_0008
Chinquapin!
IMG_0012
Glen used his son’s Jackson. It looks like we’re on Pro Staff for Team Jackson! 🙂

CIMG7931