Summer Bassin’

Now that school is officially out, I thought I’d have some time to do some fishing and head down to the coast to target a species that I haven’t had a chance to target yet…the speckled trout. Yep. When I look at what I’ve caught this year, it shows I’ve caught only 4 redfish, no trout, but a ton of bass. That’s because whenever my schedule does allow me to fish, the weather does not. I’ve been off this week and the winds have been blowing 10-15 mph all week long. I’m thinking I may have to say, “damned the torpedos!” and head to the marsh anyway.

No more venting here though. This is my fishing blog and I will conform and write about my last two or so trips. One of my friends had me over and told me they will be selling their home, complete with acreage and a small pond that has provided me with lots of fun mornings and late afternoons chasing small bass and nice bream. I decided to give it a shot one last time and I was rewarded with a nice mess of bream for the fryer. The bream didn’t bite until around 7 PM, but they were smacking a small popper in some moving water and I was able to put about 20 of them on a stringer before the mosquitos ran me off the water. I told my dad he would be so happy with me. He grew up in the Great Depression and he cannot stand to see anything go to waste. He cannot understand why I would spend a morning fishing and not keep any of the fish I catch 🙂 I Told him that the thrill for me is to catch them on flies I tie myself and I have a freezer full of bream, sacalait, redfish, tuna, and snapper. I don’t need to keep any more. I mostly practice “catch and release” these days. However, when I get on a good bream bite and most of them are between 7 and 9 inches long, I practice catch and release all right…release them into a hot skillet of grease 🙂 So, I kept eight for myself and I vacuum-sealed the rest for my buddy and his wife to enjoy. IMG_2469.jpg

I mentioned earlier that I’ve caught a ton of bass this spring. I made it out to my neighborhood lake and my doctor friend’s lake and caught 10 on frog poppers and shad flies. I find that I loose as many as I land, though, and it gets a bit frustrating. I think I have good hook sets but somehow, when the fish changes direction, it spits the hook. I’ve tried setting the hook harder but even then, I find I’ve pulled the hook right out of the fish’s mouth. I’m using sharp Gamakatsu hooks too. I guess it’s part of the game. A couple trips ago I had another friend and his wife fish the same lake with conventional tackle. I easily outfitted them 2 to 1, so I guess I’m not complaining 🙂

GOPR3896.jpgGOPR3894.jpgGOPR3898.jpgGOPR3901.jpgGOPR3899.jpgNotice, they are all healthy fish. The largest in these pictures weighed 2.9 pounds. I did catch one in my neighborhood lake that was 3.1 lbs on a subsurface shad fly.GOPR3902 2.jpg
When I haven’t been fishing, I’ve been preparing for my various summer band camps that I will teach and a deer fly tying class as well. That had led me to refine my tying skills and experiment with new patterns. One of my latest is this baby duck. While I know that bass are opportunistic and will eat anything that looks like food, this baby is going to go under glass somewhere and sit on a mantle. IMG_2481.jpg
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Here’s a commission job I did as well.

One more thing. Many people look at these flies and wonder about durability and fishability. I think the pictures of the bass speak for themselves about the fishability. As for the durability, I find that they hold up pretty well. Here’s a frog fly that I used during a recent trip. I landed 8 bass and probably lost at least as many. It did get messed up and the bass had knocked both eyes out of their sockets.

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Glue and eyes are cheap, so guess what? I think it’s going to catch another 8 or so before I have to retire it.

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I Love it when they eat what I tie!

I finally finished up with school for a couple of days (I take my band to Disney World next week, so I decided to do an Andry Good Friday tradition and do a little fresh water fishing. I had a couple flies that I wanted to try out so I made a trip to my wrist doctor’s lake for a little “research and development.”

First up on my fly rod was a new variant on my crease fly. It was tied on a barbless hook that a colleague had given me. After missing three fish early on, I decided to ditch it and go with fly number 2. Fly number 2 is a frog pattern that I’ve been tying with dyed deer hair.IMG_2203.jpg
Here’s my weedless version with Cohen’s frog legs. The one I used this morning was one that I still had tied on my rod from my CENLA trip. It’s basically the same frog but the legs are just a bunch of rubber skirt legs.

Anyway, I got a big blowup on the frog right away but I missed it too, so it was bass – 4, Doc – 0. By now the wind was starting to pick up. We had a beautiful blue bird morning after yesterday’s rain and cool front passed through and even though I wasn’t catching fish, I was relishing the beautiful weather. I figured I had better paddle to the back of the lake where I could get some protection from the wind by the tree line. On my very first cast, I got this big girl to inhale my frog! She, like most of the big bass I’ve caught throughout my life, just dug in deep and never jumped. That was a blessing because she was barely hooked in the top of her mouth.GOPR3846.jpg
Although she measured a little over 18 inches, she is probably my personal best by weight. I didn’t want to stress her by digging for my scale but I estimate she weighed over 5 pounds. As I’m writing this, I’m looking on my wall where I have my personal best (8 lbs) mounted, which was caught on a craw worm in a kayak that I made many years ago. Today’s fish was definitely over 5!

Anyway, the fish acted like they were eating frogs today. I actually caught the same fish twice within 5 minutes of it’s initial release. I know many of you would say that wasn’t possible and no, I don’t have a picture of it, but it had a very unique stress mark on its right side, and a flesh wound on its belly. When I caught the same fish 5 minutes later, it had the same two marks on it.

I ended up catching 7 this morning and only two of those were under 15 inches! GOPR3849.jpg
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Most of them inhaled may frog!IMG_2291.JPG

After 7 bass on that one frog, I needed to retie because the tippet had gotten tangled and was digging into the hair. I’ll do a little trimming on it and put it back into service soon. I did try a crawfish imitation that I tied last winter but I didn’t get any looks from the fish.

Now, another Good Friday tradition…eat some fish. I plan on pulling out a pack of sacalait out the freezer for tonight’s dinner. Happy Easter to everyone.

New frog patterns

I haven’t been fishing in a while; mostly because of home commitments and a back issue that has been very painful. I got a short-term fix on the back and most of my “honey dos” taken care of so I’ll traveling to CENLA to try to catch my buddy, Catch Cormier’s, big bass he entered already on the Massey’s Fish Pics Tournament. I also hope to catch some sacalait and big chinquapin for a Friday Lenten meal soon too.

In the meantime, I’ve found some time to sneak away to my tying vise and I’ve developed my version of a frog popper that I learned from master tier, Bill Laminack. I also learned a new way of putting a weed guard on my popper that’s frankly, ingenious. Again, kudos to Bill.

First, are a couple pictures of the frog popper/slider:IMG_2203.jpg

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Notice the hard mono on the back side. It fits well into any fly box because the mono is behind the fly. When I’m ready to tie it on my tippet, I just run my tippet through the weed guard and tie off through the hook eye. I used some backing in the following picture so you could see how I do it. IMG_2204.JPGIMG_2202.JPG
Her’s a view from up front. I can’t wait to see some bass gulp this thing up. I should be able to bounce it over cover too with that weed guard.

A quick morning. Quick trip. Quick Report

All work and no fishing makes for a very dull…  Someone must have written those words but I just can’t remember who. 🙂

Anyway, I’ve been pulling up bushes and clearing dirt to prepare to install over 250 square feet of pavers in my back yard and it has been a back-breaking, soaking-wet sweatfest. On my son’s advise, “Dad, take a break. Go fishing.” I decided to hit the lakes in the neighborhood this morning.

We are now entering the dog days of summer in south Louisiana and the heat index pushes 100 degrees and over each day. The fishing gets really tough, especially with the fly rod. I was fortunate this morning to catch two quality bass on a frog popper. There were small pockets of baitfish near the banks early on so I tied on a shad fly. I actually caught a nice chinquapin on the shad fly early on but decided that frogs were going to be on the bass breakfast menu for the day. By 6:30 AM I had hooked up on a very nice fish. It was a jumper, which frankly, I hate. Jumpers find a way to throw the fly so I let this one run so it would not try to jump. Even then, I counted, one jump, two jump, then three…holy cow, I’m going to lose this fish. I tried to keep pressure on it but not so much that it would rise to the surface to jump. After seven jumps I started to feel that I was destined to land this fish, and I did. It weighed 2.97 inches and was a little over 19 inches. A trophy fish for any fly rod enthusiast. I was beating myself up for not bringing a camera. It took a while to revive it after the extended fight but it eventually swam off strong.

About 20 minutes later, I caught one that was a bit over 14 inches. On the way in (at 7:30), I decided to switch back to my shad fly because I saw some bait working a shady bank. On my first cast, something inhaled it and took off toward me. When I went to set the hook, it cut my line. I’m thinking it may have been a garfish.

Anyway, it was a fun morning. Now time to get back on the shovel. Gotta finish this project before school starts.

Red, White, and Blue Independence Day Fishing

My wife and I joined my cousin and her husband at their camp in Dularge for a weekend of relaxation and fishing. After a late start Friday morning (July 4th) I paddled my kayak to some marsh within 10 minutes of their camp. There were already two boats with fishermen in them anchored in the canal when I arrived. I paddled into the grassy flats where the big boats couldn’t go and was greeted to the explosion of a hungry redfish as it angrily ate my frog popper. This frog popper was patterned especially for this area with its hook facing up, because of its thick vegetation. After a nice sleigh ride, the fish got lodged in a thick chunk of salad and I knew it was going to get off. But, I was lucky and landed a 29-inch redfish.DCIM100GOPRO

Now, normally I would release a fish this big, but the long fight and the time out of the water taken for pictures had the fish entirely spent. Plus, I had brought along all the ingredients to make a ceviche and I knew that this fish was going to easily feed the six of us staying at the camp so into the cooler it went. 

I caught two more that morning and had another beast of a redfish break my tippet. All the other reds were caught while sight fishing with my gold spoon fly. Oh, and I caught a small marsh bass on the popper too. 

Three redfish that morning…Red

Now for the White…Did I mention I brought limes, an onion, jalapeños, cilantro, a cucumber, tomato, watermelon, and chips for ceviche? Well, after the redfish cured in the acid (lime juice) it produced a beautiful, fresh, white meat that was delicious with the chips. Everyone enjoyed that ceviche as an appetizer for supper Friday night and there was enough left over for for lunch on Saturday.

Now, the blue…I went back out to my spot Sunday morning and I skunked 😦 I actually enjoyed my morning as I saw various marsh birds, gallinues, bass, a huge marsh turtle, numerous garfish, sheepshead, alligators, AND REDFISH! I must have spooked a dozen redfish in two hours of push-poling my way through the flats. I was being extremely stealthy but the minute I would raise my rod tip to cast, the redfish would high tail it out of there! 

On a good note, my son joined my cousin, her husband, and their 20-year-old son on an excursion to Lake Mechant Sunday morning and came home with 9 nice redfish and three flounder. My son’s flounder must have weighed close to 4 pounds! Oh, and the chinquapin bite that has been going on over here…well it’s ended. I did manage to catch and release 4 this morning in a new spot in the lower lake. Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 3.25.45 PM