One More Post for 2021

I didn’t know how to title this post. My choices were several, including “Fun on the 3 wt,” “A Crappie Ending to a Crappy Year,” “The Sunfish Trifecta,” or “Self-Quarantine Fun.” I couldn’t find a winner so I just chose, “One More Post for 2021.” Also, please forgive the two attempts I made at inserting a quick video. Not I cannot seem to be able to delete them. Just read on. πŸ™‚

I had actually been looking forward to this week. I had a whole week off from teaching and I had just said goodbye to my daughter’s family and my three grandchildren. Wouldn’t you know it, the weather got hot, cloudy, and windy…not good redfish sight fishing weather. In fact, the weather looked pretty crappy so I’ve been staying inside, tying flies and cleaning up my tying table.

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got a cup of coffee, did my “Bible in a Year” podcast, and I headed out to my neighborhood lake with my kayak in tow, a popper on a 5 wt, and a fluff butt on the 3 wt. I made a valiant attempt to hit the banks with the popper but I was having no luck at all. So I decided to focus on my favorite sunfish, bluegill and red-ear sunfish (chinquapin). I started catching small bluegill right away.

small but pretty
a little larger at 7 inches

I realized that the larger fish were hanging in deeper water, about 8-10 feet from the bank. I then hooked into a descent chinquapin.

These red-ear sunfish are thick and they fight hard on a 3 wt

Not long after that fish, I hooked what is probably my personal best chinquapin on my fly rod.

I measured that big one out at 11 inches on my paddle and I released it.

I was about to call it a day, when I caught my third different species in the sunfish family, a crappie (sacalait).

This one was 9 inches long

I was completely content at this point and I started heading back to my pickup point. That’s when I hooked a larger sacalait.

Now I had just told one of my neighbors who lives on the lake that I wasn’t keeping fish today. Heck, I hadn’t even thought about bringing my stringer because I’ve never caught a bunch of sacalait or big chinquapin in the month of December on the lake. Well, I proceeded to catch three more sacalait (all big enough to fillet) and I released them. That’s when it hit me…we have been eating Christmas leftovers for five days now and it’s time to eat something different. So, I beached my kayak and took the five minute walk over to my house to grab my stringer. I paddled back to where I had caught the last three sacalait, and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t get a bite…well for about five minutes or so. Then I caught a nice one…then another… then another.

I had one break my size 3x tippet. I found that to be strange because it broke it off at the loop where I made the loop-to-loop connection. I patiently tied on another three-foot piece of tippet material and another fluff butt and I continued to catch a couple more sacalait before that tippet broke too. I was beginning to wonder if the brand new Orvis 3x tippet was defective. I wasn’t going to chance breaking off again, so I tied on 0x on my 3 wt. πŸ™‚ I finally called it a day with 8 good slabs.

They weren’t “hammers” but they were good-sized “slabs”

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my morning with just two days left to the year. Heck, I’m probably going to try another neighborhood lake tomorrow morning. What a great way to end 2021!

Fried to perfection

A Crappie End to 2021

Dusting off the 8wts

I had to look back on this blog to see when was the last time I made a fishing trip to the South Louisiana Marsh in search for redfish and speckled trout. I saw that I made a couple trips in June and that’s it. That’s either a sad state of affairs for me or, the fresh water fishing has been awesome and it doesn’t warrant making the 2-and-a-half hour trip down to the coastal marshes to get some fishing in. Well, luckily for me, it was the latter. However, I do love fishing our South Louisiana Marshes in the fall and I saw a window of opportunity that opened after church yesterday. Here’s what my window looked like:

The winds were going to lay down
There was zero chance of rain and 100% chance of full sun
I had no school or family obligations
My wife was in Disneyworld with her sisters πŸ™‚

What I didn’t count on was this:

The water was high and muddy
There was zero tidal movement

Here’s the abbridged story:

I left Baton Rouge around 9:30 and headed to a spot I’ve fished for 10+years just north of Leeville. Most of you are probably aware that this area was destroyed by Hurricane Ida this past August. I saw lost of blue tarps on houses along the way and as I got closer to Leeville, I noticed buildings that had been gutted and it looked like some of those will not rebuild. There was debris all over the marsh, from empty fuel tanks to refrigerators and a lot of sheet metal.

After a quick combat launch, I made the quick paddle out to one of the spots that has produced for me in the past. Right off the bat, I had hooked into a small “schoolie” trout. About 3 casts later, I hooked into a nicer one at 16 inches

I know it doesn’t look like 16 inches but I measured it when I got home

I thought this was going to be the beginning of a wonderful afternoon, but much to my dismay, this trout must have been a loner. 😦

After catching a few more dink trout, I decided to switch gears to see if I could sight fish for some redfish. I thought surely, the storm would have brought some fresh fish inside. I guess the visibility was around 8 inches but I couldn’t see a thing. The wind was calm (too calm because the gnats were bad) and I constantly listened for the sounds of fish chasing bait along the marsh grass. I didn’t hear a thing except for the lively mammals in the area (nutria, otters, and porpoise) I just wished the fish would have been that lively. I chalked it up to the fact that there was no tide movement. About two hours into the hunt for redfish, I finally saw a huge bull red that was cruising about 15 feet from me. It was probably cruising about 3 mph while I was drifting about 3 mph in the opposite direction, so I couldn’t even get a cast off.

One of the highlights of the day were the numerous sheepshead I kept seeing. I didn’t check the time, but around 3 PM, I decided that the trout and the redfish weren’t going to play, so I tied on one of my musicdoc sheepshead shrimp flies. Of course, not that I had a shrimp fly tied on, I wasn’t spotting as many sheepshead as before and those I did see, were spooking and high tailing it to deeper water. I was casting toward a sheepshead when I noticed another large wake around the bank. That’s when I spotted my second redfish of the day. It made the mistake of staying in the shallows where I could see it and I attempted to make a well-placed cast toward it. Notice the emphasis on the word, “well-placed?” That was the original plan. My fly, however, nearly hit the redfish on its gill plate. It spooked momentarily and then it violently chased down that shrimp fly that had nearly hit its gill plate. Bam, fish on! I hadn’t felt the pull of a redfish since late June. This one had a lot of fight in it and it took a while to land this 23.5 inch beauty.

23.5 inch redfish put up a good fight on my 8 wt.

You can see just how calm the water was in this picture. It was a great day to be on the water. Like I told a friend of mine, “you can’t catch fish by sitting on your couch in the living room.” I hope to be able to get back on the water before Christmas. I’m still looking for that perfect day when everything lines up perfectly: sun, moon, water, and wind. That’s full sun, good tidal movement, clear water, and very little wind πŸ™‚

The absolute highlight of the day was when I was able to Facetime my grandchildren to show them the “big fish” Poppie had just caught. Their eyes lit up and they shared their excitement with me. That must have looked something like this:

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 πŸ™‚

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!

Fishing Post Hurrican Ida

I got a chance to fish for the first time, post Hurricane Ida this morning. To say the hurricane was catastrophic is an understatement. The national media has just been focused on New Orleans. There are places in rural South Louisiana that will take many years to repair. Some businesses that have been open for 70 plus years were destroyed and will not be rebuilt. We continue to pray for those who have been effected. Personally, my house didn’t receive any damage, except for 150 feet of downed fence. My parents in Thibodaux lost nearly all the shingles on their roof but suffered no major damage. Many, if not most of able-bodied South Louisianans have been helping neighbors, friends, and family. I made it down to the epicenter of the eye-wall, Port Forcheon, to help a friend repair some plumbing on his camp. While his camp suffered major damage, he was fortunate and he will be able to rebuild. Here are some pictures from some of the damage there:

This large houseboat (barge) broke off its mooring, took out an entire camp and damaged much of the boat lifts in the area. Oh, the roof in the foreground belonged to someone’s camp.
My friend’s boat is a total loss. Look how the winds completely removed and relocated the roof.
There was a building on that empty slab. Notice, however, the camps in the background look untouched.

After spending a day down there, I knew I needed to get on the water, but I wasn’t going to be heading south for a while. So, I decided to do some much needed, hurricane recovery at my peaceful, happy place. My view this morning was much more peaceful, as you can see in the next photo. I watched a flock of ten teal buzz over the water as I unloaded my kayak.

A much calmer and tranquil morning.

The fishing was great! I caught 10 bass and lost about a handful as well. They were all caught on a frog-colored deer hair popper, tied on a size 2 hook. This is one of my smaller deer hair bugs tied with rubber skirt legs. The first bass of the morning

The slight fog on the water indicated the water is warmer than the cool morning air.
Bass number 2
Bass number 3. They kept getting bigger.
A chunky number 4
Number 5
Number 6 was 2.75 lbs and was 18 inches long.
Number 7
Here’s number 8. The sun was starting to really get bright at about 8:30.
Number 9 was released quickly back.
Number 10 was another good chunky bass that weighed over 2 pounds.

After the sun had come up pretty good and the topwater bite slowed down, I switched to a baitfish streamer pattern. I had fished with it for about a half hour without a bite. Then I received a text with a couple pictures from my daughter, who is in Orlando with my wife, my son-in-law and the three grandkids. I put my rod down to look at the photo. When I put my phone away and I picked up my rod, I realized I had a fish on. I never got to see it. I tried to set the hook in it and it doubled my rod over. The fish ran underneath my kayak and then it promptly got off. Oh well… that’s fishing. If you’ve followed this blog before, you have read that my friend who owns this lake wants me to harvest fish under 15 inches. So, I took home six for supper.

Today’s harvest

Please pray for those who’ve lost so much to this hurricane. Everyone I spoke to yesterday said they would rebuild. They will build it stronger. It seems after each hurricane, we learn more about how to effectively build to withstand strong winds from a major hurricane. I just hope I don’t have to see another one like this one in my lifetime.

Until then, tight loops and tight lines!

Summer Bassin’

The rainy weather is keeping me from going to the marshes so I’m going to make the most of it by staying local and fishing for bass and bream. Oh, and I’ve been tying a few flies too. I’ve been venturing away from my deer hair bugs and I’ve been tying with foam lately to target bluegill.

So, this report will cover two morning fishing trips. One in my neighborhood lake and the other at my buddy’s private lake. The private lake is my go-to spot when I really want a quiet morning that us going to be 90% productive. So Monday, my body clock woke me up at 5:30 again and I walked my kayak a block-and-a-half to our neighborhood lake. I’m really blessed because we actually have two lakes that are adjacent to each other…separated by a small concrete dam. We call them the “upper” lake and the “lower” lake. To get a change of scenery, all I have to do is either fish the upper lake or the lower lake. I find that the upper lake, which is more shallow, provides a better fly fishing experience (mostly with poppers). The lower lake is deeper, it is much larger, and it has more numbers (and probably has larger fish). I have heard reports of local kids catching 8-pound bass in both lakes though, so there are probably big fish in both. However, I find that the bass can be more challenging to catch on flies in the lower lake. Well that theory went bust, if you read my previous post. I caught five nice bass in the lower lake.

I was wanting a change of scenery Monday, so I slipped my kayak in the water around 5:50 in the upper lake. I noticed that the shad were no longer spawning near the banks but I still had confidence that I could get a couple of takers on poppers. Much to my surprise, it was a very slow morning. I did catch a nice bluegill on a size 1/0 popper and two 12-inch bass.

This was a very ambitious eater!
Just under 12 inches
Right at 12

I decided to hop the levee and fish the lower lake, the one where I had success on the previous trip. I didn’t even manage a bite. All was quiet. My biggest catch of the morning was this. I always pick up any trash I find in the neighborhood lakes and dispose of it appropriately. Hard seltzer and Coors Light?? You’ve got to be kidding me! πŸ™‚

Does no one in my neighborhood drink good beer???

So fast forward a couple of mornings. I had the kayak loaded in the back of my truck and I was armed with two 5 wt rods; one with a deer hair popper (to imitate the crawfish the bass have been eating) and the other with a Musicdoc shad. I made the 35 minute run to my buddies lake and I slipped my kayak in the water just before 6 AM. Immediately, I saw some bait working the shoreline (spawning shad) and a few big swirls of fish feeding. After a few misguided casts, I finally was able to get a nice one to eat. It was a healthy 14-inch bass that I released. I had to work the shoreline pretty hard before I caught my next bass on the popper.

crawfish imitation deer hair popper worked on this 11-inch bass

My buddy has instructed me that if I want to continue to fish his lake, I have to harvest everything under 15-inches. He wants to make it a trophy lake. So, this little guy went on the stringer. I noticed that the herons and egrets (I wish I would have taken pictures because I saw at least 4 different species) were having a lot more success than me and were gorging themselves on the shad that were flittering and fluttering near the shore. I decided to switch to my rod with the shad streamer on it and I soon had a nice hookup.

This one ate the Musicdoc shad

I kept looking to see if I could identify a specific pattern. In previous trips, I’ve been able to sight fish for the bass by watching for them as they work in groups of two or three to “herd” baitfish up against the bank. I never saw that this morning. I did see an occasional single fish eat near the bank but by the time I paddled over there, it had most likely either moved or gotten its fill. It has been well documented that summertime bass fishing is tough. Large bass seem to know that they have to get a lot of bang for their buck. They need an easy meal, one that will fill them up so they don’t have to feed as aggressively throughout the hot day. I figured that was why I was only catching smaller fish. Most of the bass were in deeper water. I began to fish my shad fly about 10-15 feet from the bank and that’s where I had my most success.

Even this chunky bluegill was eating shad today.
Another one that ate the Musicdoc Shad

I managed to catch seven bass, which is normally a good morning. However, this lake usually produces double-digit numbers of bass for me. I decided to call it a morning around 9:30 and I headed home to get some work done for school. I did catch an 18-inch fish that had the mouth of a 4 -pound fish but the body of a 2-and-a-half pound fish. (I actually weighed it)

I did harvest six bass in all and I was surprised to see that all of them had empty stomachs. I guess the summer heat has them lethargic. Oh, well, you know what that means, right? More research! πŸ™‚

Tight loops and tight lines!

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!

The Neighborhood Lakes, Revisited πŸ™‚

Based on the fact that my last post here was a “revisited” post, and we’ve had all this rain lately, I did want to share a small story about the benefits of this rain during the months of April, May, and early June. During those months, the shad in the neighborhood lakes begin to spawn. They look for floating debris (weeds), foam, and shoreline and they do their “morning dance,” as I call it every morning from about a half hour before sunup right to sunrise. When the rains come and the water overflows from the upper lake, over the dam, to the lower lake, the morning bite can be spectacular! It’s nothing to see over a thousand shad “fluttering” by the bank edges, but they especially like the moving water and the foam it creates as it cascades over the man-made dam. When this happens, one gets to witness the feeding frenzy that the bass and sacalait have for one special half hour in the wee wee hours of the morning.

I made the 6-minute walk a couple days last week and I was treated to this special phenomenon…and a few fish. All fish were caught on my shad-fly, which I think I have finally perfected. One morning I caught 5 sacalait and three nice bass. The very next morning, I caught 3 sacalait and three bass. The bass were all released back into the lakes. The sacalait will be released into a skillet of hot grease very soon. πŸ™‚

Doc’s Sheepie Shrimp Revisited

How to instructions for a dynamite shrimp pattern

After my success with the sheepshead on my last trip and with all this rain, I decided if I cannot fish, I can tie flies. I was putting together a presentation for my high school’s fly fishing club when I realized that my last “how to” post on this fly needed a bit of clarification. I have since modified the fly so here is my “improved” version.

Step one- put down a thread base on a size 2 saltwater hook. (I use shrimp colored 210 denier)

Step 2 – tie in the shrimp eyes. I am using stonfo plastic eyes V type in this example but you can make your own mono eyes. Notice that I tie them at the curve in the hook so that they are facing down. When I tie in the weight, this fly should ride hook up so the eyes are facing normal.

Step 3 – tie in the rubber legs and the javelin mane for antenna. Notice I have the stems of the mane bent in this photo. I will fold them back over my original wraps so it doesn’t slip out when a fish hits. I also tie in some flash. Here is what I’m after.

Step 4 – tie in some Krystal flash Chenille (medium) in bonefish tan

Step 5 – Now palmer that up and tie in some dumbbell micro lead eyes.

Step 6 – tie is a shrimpy brush. I make my own but I’m sure you can purchase one or dub your own “shrimpy” body material with some “legs” in it. Notice the flash and the tiny rubber legs in the brush.

Step 7 – palmer that up to the dumbbell eyes and trim.

Now flip the fly over in your vice, tie in the craft fur, whip finish, and put some bars on it with a brown permanent marker.

Here is the finished fly. This fly will catch sheepshead, redfish, drum, speckled trout, and probably flounder too (maybe with a heavier dumbbell eye).

Tight loops and tight lines!

School is out. Time to get down to the SELA marsh.

I have been looking for a chance to get down to my beloved Southeast Louisiana marsh to do some fishing for (as a good friend of mine calls him)the spot-tail Elvis, also known as poisson rouge. It seems nothing has worked out for me between my busy schedule and the all-important, weather. We have been experiencing flash flooding and other crazy weather phenomena. So, in the meantime, I keep my fishing obsession in check by going to my neighborhood lakes and chasing the fish by the dam after a heavy rain. My best morning was a 40-minute trip where I caught 5 bass and 3 slab sacalait

It’s really something with the sacalait are almost as big as my kayak paddles.

I also made a few trips to my friends private lake and had a blast trying different variations of deer hair poppers on the bass and bream.

I found out they were chasing crawfish in the shallows. Thus the crawfish patterned popper.
This one is from the neighborhood lake.
Even the bream were chasing crawfish-colored patterns.
Big bull bream fight like nothing else for their size!

So, when I finally got a break in the weather and I was off of school, I decided to join my brother for a trip down Highway 1 toward Grand Isle. The wind was forecast to blow 5-10 and for once, the weatherman got it right. However, (and I HATE the “howevers”) we found the water to be high and very dirty. That meant our plans for sight fishing would probably have to be scrapped. I went the entire morning without even seeing a single redfish. Then, around noon, I finally saw an upper-slot redfish in the murky water. Of course it was about two feet from the bow of my kayak and when I was able to grab my rod, it nearly bumped into my kayak and took off. I was able to catch a small trout in some moving water, so at least my trip wouldn’t be a total skunk.

I knew where some water with grass would be so I paddled to a few spots in search of clear water and some action. A little after noon, I spotted a very nice sized sheepshead, AKA, the cajun permit. These fish are a challenge on the fly rod and in my experience, they don’t chase down too many patterns. One has to really entice them to eat by putting the fly right in front of its nose without spooking it. This fish was cruising the bank looking to grab a snail or two off the stalks of the marsh grass. I probably made 10 or so casts with one of my shrimp patterns before it finally decided it had seen enough and this invader to its domain should get sucked into those humanlike teeth. Bam! Perfect hook set and the fight was on until it got caught in some grass. A short time later, I was posing with a nice cajun convict.

Posing with my first cajun permit of the year.

A short time after, I saw a healthy redfish cruising that clear water too. I was going to be heading to Houston in the morning to spend time with my wife (who was already there) and my daughter’s family (three grandchildren). I was given instructions to bring a fresh redfish to be baked in my wife’s red gravy. My heart started racing when I saw that redfish! I told myself to FOCUS and remain calm…my first cast…horrible…my second cast…the darned redfish had just changed directions…my third cast…the CHARM! I watched a perfect eat in that clear water. When I set the hook, the redfish turned in an angry burst of water and weeds and just like that, my spoon fly came flying back at me. I was totally dejected. I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong. That is, until I got a closer look at my spoon fly. The doggone redfish actually snapped my hook in half. The fly was dangling by the little bit of epoxy that held it together.

It’s blurry but you can see that hook broke at the base of the “spoon”

I was not ready to give up yet. I saw one more redfish and I kept poling through the marsh trying to get it to eat. It didn’t want to have anything to do with any of my offerings and I figured it was the same redfish I had hooked earlier, so I moved on. Then I saw another pair of sheepshead. Again, I had to make several “offerings” to the fish before it decided to eat my shrimp fly.

This one was actually bigger than the first

Having landed two nice-sized sheepshead and running out of options for clear water, I decided we were going to have to find another fish option in Houston with my grandkids. I headed home with a big smile on my face though. I had caught and released not one, but two “cajun permit.” There will be more chances to face Mr. Redfish later this summer πŸ™‚

I’ll close this post with a humorous short, unedited video of me trying to get that second sheepshead up for a picture. πŸ™‚

Things are starting to “Pop” around here.

We just experienced a record cold snap down here in the deep, deep south. Photos of fish kills in the gulf have surfaced everywhere. We have had some family issues so it’s probably been a couple of weeks since I’ve even thought about fishing. Well that changed this morning. My “internal alarm clock” woke me up at 5:30 and I ventured out to my neighborhood lake. I brought three rods with me. One with a deer hair popper, one with a fluff butt under a VOSI, and another with a small baitfish pattern. I wanted to target bass, bream, and sacalait.

The morning was absolutely beautiful. In fact, I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Songbirds were everywhere…singing, courting, and busy building nests. The squirrels were doing the same and I saw many little bucks chasing females as others nervously cut pine branches for nests. Then there were those magnificent Canada geese. They too were interested in courting and there were females being chased as they flew low over the lake. So, with all this love in the air, I thought, “surely the fish will have love on their mind too.”

I quietly worked the banks without any luck until I saw some action near some submerged branches about 100 feet in front of me. I quickly paddled over and I was greeted with a perfect eat on my popper. This fish quickly got me on my reel and I worked it carefully to the kayak. I was determined not to loose any big fish this morning.

Poppers were the fly of choice this morning.

After releasing that fish, I continued to work my popper, occasionally switching to my baitfish pattern and my fluff butt. I did manage to catch a couple bream over 7 inches and I let a little 3-year-old boy on the bank get a chance to “reel” it in. He was so excited. I think that made my morning. I did catch a couple more bass and one of them was a PIG! It’s so cool when you see the wake of the fish as it approaches your popper. It takes an enormous amount of patience not to set the hook too soon. This one was a perfect eat and I did everything by the textbook. It too took me to my reel fairly quickly and was a “jumper.”

Selfie with MusicDoc πŸ™‚

I weighed her (4.18 lbs), I took one more good picture, and I let her go. I did creep up on a few pairs of pretty decent-sized bass that were either guarding beds or getting ready to spawn. They would not eat anything I threw at them. In conclusion, I suggest everyone get on the water and tie on a popper. I have a club meeting this week with my high school fly fishing club and I’ll be instructing them on how to catch bass with a popper.