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

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. We 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.

2020 My year in review…let’s focus on the positive.

We all know that 2020 was a heck of a year that many of us would like to forget. With a worldwide pandemic, a crazy political election, violence in our streets, and yes, a record number of named tropical storms, it would be easy to say, “let’s flush 2020 down the toilet.” However, those of you that know me know that I very seldom focus on negative things that bring us down and I want this last post of 2020 to be a “2020…In your face” kind of post. Just a warning…it’s going to be long πŸ™‚

So 2020 started off with the one year birthday in January of my grandson, Benson. This little boy is a riot! He loves the outdoors, he loves cleaning and blowing leaves. I can’t wait for him to be big enough to get in a kayak with his Poppy.

As the pandemic slowly made its way to the United States, my family took time to get out and do some things before the country shut down. We enjoyed Mardi Gras in Thibodaux

Hosted an engagement party for my son and his fiancΓ©.

And Nanna was able to get out to DisneyWorld with our granddaughter before it closed down.

My daughter and my granddaughter pose in front of Cinderella’s Castle shortly before DisneyWorld shut down.
Lisa and I bought bikes and began riding nearly every day.

We enjoyed social distancing meals in our front yard, and my siblings discovered Zoom meetings.

Family zoom meetings became a weekly thing
Socially distanced meals in the front yard.

My grandchildren kept growing and we looked forward to FaceTime meetings and pictures sent from my daughter. In October, my son married the love of his life and we are enjoying our daughter-in-law.

My son got married and we welcomed Jessica to the family.

Well, this is my fishing blog…so let’s get to the fishing!!

The fishing year-in-review actually begins on New Year’s Eve with a trip I made with Chuck, “Snakedoctor,” to the Pearl River area where we caught some small white bass on flies.

The bass fishing in early January was surprisingly good in the neighborhood lake.

The fishing really heated up for me in March when our school went on lockdown. My idea of social distancing was in a kayak, far from anyone who would give me the virus. Also, by handling fresh fish, I figured I was strengthening my immune system πŸ™‚

Sacalait in March
Bass in March
More sacalait in April
A pretty pumpkin also in April
The bass were still hungry in May
They were eating frog poppers in June
It was hard to get to the marsh in July with all the tropical activity so I just kept on playing with the bass
THIS is why I chose to stay close to home this summer!
So I kept on fishing bass in August
and September
I was able to get out in October the weekend before my son’s wedding
In November, I was instructed to harvest a few for a fish fry.
And I closed out the year in December with a fat speckled trout.

I was able to spend a lot of time on my vise and I tried to get more creative with my flies. All our conclaves got cancelled but I still got to do some deer work.

I started celebrating some of my local high school, college, and major league baseball teams too.

National Champs
The Padres and the Phillies

I also began thinking more about “matching the hatch” on what the fish were eating around here. I came up with the musicdoc shad, a streamer to try to match the shad the bass feed on in my local neighborhood lake.

Musicdoc Shad

I also tied a variation of a shrimp/charlie pattern that I hoped would get the sheepshead and redfish’s attention.

Musicdoc shrimp

I think I’m most proud of this recent fly, which uses duck flank feathers to imitate the scales on a sheepshead minnow that I call the Musicdoc Butterbean.

So, you can see that 2020 was actually a good year. I am thankful for my health, my family, and the great resources we have in Louisiana that help to relieve the stresses that the year brought us. I look forward to what the coming year will bring in sportsman’s paradise and I look forward to being able to document and share it with those who are willing to read my blog. Happy New Year!

Making Lemonade

Making Lemonade

2020 has been a doozy of a year. Covid-19, crazy politics, record tropical season, and more. But through it all, we have learned that family is more important than anything and when life does give you lemons, you definitely have to make lemonade…or lemon meringue pie.

It’s my favorite time of the year to fish the South Louisiana coast and I was blessed to be able to find some good conditions to fish (see my previous post) a week before my son’s wedding. After the wedding, I put a self-imposed quarantine on myself to pretty much stay away from family and friends. The good news is, no one reportedly caught the virus by attending the wedding. The great news is, my version of quarantining includes lots of fishing. πŸ™‚

So, the week after the wedding I chose to do my local pond fishing because the winds were going to be too rough for another Leeville trip. Add to that, Hurricane Zeta ripped through there and they are still without electricity 10 days after the storm passed through there. I was treated to a beautiful morning and the fish seemed to like the cooler temperatures so they were eating what I had to offer them.

Here is the first on of the morning. It ate a fire tiger deer hair diver.
Another hungry bass
It’s great to be able to fish a well-managed pond. It was definitely a stress relieving morning.

I normally don’t keep bass but the owner of the lake insisted I harvest bass under 15 inches for pond management. Additionally, my family loves fish tacos πŸ™‚
This bass loved the LSU diver.

So, another week goes by and I’m looking forward to heading to the Southeast Louisiana marsh for some speckled trout and redfish. The wind was predicted to blow 10-15 mph on Saturday but it showed signs of improvement for Sunday morning. I checked my gear and realized that somehow, I had lost my YakAttack parkNpole, which meant push poling for redfish would be a bit of a challenge. However, it was predicted to be cloudy in advance of a cool front so I figured I would just try to focus on speckled trout.

I began the morning with a popper/dropper rig (deer-hair popper with a Lafleur’s Charlie on the bottom).

I got a lot of hits on the bottom fly and pretty soon I was having a blast, catching small trout on nearly every cast. There were also periods when I was getting blowups on the popper but I was having usual difficulties hooking those small trout. Speckled trout are notorious for snapping at bait to kill or would it with their three larger teeth and then go back to eat their prey. I did land a couple 11 inch trout on the popper before something big broke off my bottom fly. I decided to go with my typical VOSI (Vertical Oriented Strike Indicator) setup for the remainder of the day.

I would conservatively estimate I caught about 100 trout that day. Most were 8-11 inches long so they were gently and quickly released back into the water. I did have one monster trout that I estimated to be over 20 inches that got off the hook right as I was about to net it. What a bummer, but something I could overlook anyway, considering all the fun I was having.

I actually was getting tired of catching “undersized” fish around noon and since the action slowed a bit, I took advantage of the bright sunshine and decided to paddle out to some broken marsh in search of redfish. The tide had been falling all morning long and the water inside the marsh was noticeably muddy. I did end up on a stretch where the water seemed clearer and I could see bottom. That’s when I saw a large slot (or baby bull) red as is slowly cruised the flat. I grabbed the only rod that I had available to me at the time, which was set up for speckled trout. It worked perfectly three weeks ago so I assumed I would be able to cast to the redfish and swim the VOSI and my fly right past the fish without spooking it and get it to eat. Well the redfish swam into some deeper water and I lost if for a second so I cast in the area where I had seen it last. Then it came out of the deeper water and was heading right toward me and was about 12 feet in front of my kayak. My fly was about 10 feet behind the fish so rather than pick my fly up and cast it again, which I figured would certainly spook the fish, I stripped it fast to get it out in front of the approaching redfish.

IT WAS A TEXTBOOK EAT!! With one large rush of its tail, the redfish flared its gills and gulped my…uh…??? My VOSI??? Oh no! There’s no hook in that thing! It’s just a cork! So a big redfish has just swallowed my cork and is now cruising to the right of my kayak. I think it has seen the kayak and it suspects something isn’t right, so it gradually picks up speed. In the meantime, I didn’t know what to do. I knew grabbing my other rod, which was laying on the ground behind where I was standing to throw it another fly would not be an option, so I just stood there and did nothing. πŸ™‚ I watched as the redfish swam away with my cork in its mouth and my fly (you know… the one with the all-important hook in it) trailing behind. I watched the rod tip bend and I thought to myself, there’s no way this is going to end well. However, it didn’t end badly either. As the fish realized that something wasn’t right, it spit my cork out and it took off, leaving a mud boil in its wake. I thought it would have destroyed the cork but it didn’t and I actually used it to catch about 30 more trout that day. I did switch rods and I poled around some more “fishy” areas but I never saw another redfish. I got bored with that and I decided to head toward some diving gulls. I immediately got back on the trout bite and spent the last hour of my trip catching fish on nearly every cast!

Other than the dirty water (which meant no redfish), the trip was a perfect day. I was able to take my Musicdoc limit (18) of speckled trout home to share with my mom and dad, and for a fish fry soon with my family. Typically, the larger trout show up in the next week or two, but with all the hurricanes we have had to endure this season, only God knows. In a way, I’m glad the fish were nearly all undersized. If they had all been keeper trout, I would have been finished by 8 AM and I most likely wouldn’t have been able to laugh at that crazy redfish for eating my cork.

This 15-inch trout definitely made the “team.”