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)
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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.
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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
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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.
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Step 4 – fold the foam in have and cut a small piece off the tail to allow the tail material to pass freely.
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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. 🙂

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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?)
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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.

A beautiful morning in Cocodrie

After fishing with a buddy a couple of weeks ago, I realized I left my 8 ft. park n’pole at the launch site. My buddy got a friend to hold it for me so I’ve been looking for a chance to get back down there to retrieve it. I did this morning and launched out of Coco Marina.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning. There was very little wind. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperature started somewhere around 57. The gnats were a bit of a nuisance but my Amber Romance (Victoria’s Secret) worked like a charm. I was excited to explore some new water. My anticipation quickly turned sour when I got on the water and realized that the water was very dirty, with only about 6-8 inches of visibility. I found some redfish but they found me first. I wouldn’t see them until I was about 15 feet away from them and they would bolt for a quick escape.

Around 9:30 I figured that I was going to have to find a really stupid fish, one that would have to screw up pretty bad just to get a chance to cast a fly to it. Just as I was thinking this, I saw a big redfish crash some minnows up against the marsh grass only about 50 feet from me. I put my stakeout pole in a scupper and began putting the fly about 6 inches in front of its nose. No take! I couldn’t believe it. I kept casting to the spot where I last saw it knowing that it hadn’t seen me. On about my fifth cast, my line went tight and I strip set on a fish that was an upper slot or a baby bull. I felt like a bull rider. I fought it for nearly 8 seconds before it went on a lightning fast run and broke my tippet. I was so frustrated.

After that, I tied on another gold spoon and combed the banks for any more tell-tale signs of feeding redfish. By this time, it was getting close to 11 am, so I began heading back in. I stopped to fish a point where I knew there were some oyster shells and I hooked a nice 18-inch redfish. I also caught a lone speckled trout when the tide started moving.

Anyway, conditions were actually favorable today but the water was dirty and the tide didn’t begin to move until around 9:30 or so. That’s when I really got all my action. I saw a guy in a truck with a Hobie in the bed and I asked him how’d he do when we both stopped at a traffic light together. He found clear water in Point aux chenes. Looks like my next stop will have to be there. 🙂

Until then, I’ll just have to settle for this 18-inch guy who kept me from a compete skunk.

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:

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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.

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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.

School is Out. Guess What?

School has been out down here in south Louisiana since last Wednesday and I’ve taken advantage of the time to get on the water. My first excursion was a trip to Grand Isle with a good friend and colleague of mine. We were able to fish only one day  (Thursday morning) because the wind picked up Friday and made it just about impossible to fish from a kayak with a fly rod. I did manage to catch three pretty speckled trout on poppers by anchoring and casting with the wind to my back to a wind-driven point. I had numerous misses and even lost a real nice one at the net but was able to land this one before the wind just got impossible. I actually foul hooked her (look under the pectoral fin) so for a while there, I thought I had Moby Dick on the end of my fly rod!
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I came back home to spend time with family, as my daughter and her husband were coming to town for the Memorial Day weekend. The whole time, I kept a watchful eye on the winds and decided there would be a window of opportunity to get some trout fishing in the surf Tuesday. The CCA STAR Tournament began Saturday and I finally decided to enter the tournament and fish it in the fly division. I caught 8 speckled trout Tuesday morning but they lacked the size of the fish I caught the previous Thursday. I had two fish that were 15.5 inches so I entered my biggest and low and behold…Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.36.28 PM
I received a text from a former student of mine and I agreed to meet him early Wednesday morning to fish for a couple of hours in what has become my favorite fresh water hangout. It’s ashamed it’s a private lake but it has afforded me hours of chill time and I’ve caught 44 bass there the last two visits! I was able to sight cast for bass on crease fly poppers. I would see a wake and cast to it and then watch as the bass would explode on my popper. My largest of the morning was 2.87 pounds.
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I’m still fighting the pain of two broken wrists. I’ve had my left splint off for three weeks now but the right one is still bothering me. Here’s a copy of the X-ray:
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It doesn’t take a radiologist or a hand surgeon to see the crack on the radius bone. It will be seven weeks tomorrow and I still cannot land a fish without my wrist brace. The darned thing (the brace, not my hand) is beginning to stink now 🙂

Anyway, here’s another picture from yesterday’s bass fishing:

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My hand surgeon made me promise to keep some of the bass from the lake that were under 15 inches, so I kept these 8, filleted them and gave them to some of our custodial workers at school. They were thrilled!
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Summer Fishing 2014

Now that school is out, I’ve been getting more opportunities to fish in-between “honey-dos” and other chores. That means quick hour-and-a-half jaunts out to the neighborhood lakes either by foot or by kayak. If I get out very early, I can usually find some bass willing to eat a fly. By early I mean 5:45 – 6:30. After 6:30, they get lockjaw but I can usually get a few bream to play.

I did make a cool trip with my friend, Glen “Catch” Cormier last week on up to Lake Cotille and Toledo Bend, via Pirates’ Cove. We brought only the fly rods. The bream bite was pretty good, but like I told Catch, if I don’t see another 3-inch bream for a long time, it won’t be long enough! I did manage to catch 6 bass and get an entry in the Massey’s Tournament at 13.5 inches. Image

It’s nothing compared to the 18-inch bass I’ve been catching in my neighborhood lake but those aren’t eligible for this tournament.  I have been using shad flies on the neighborhood lakes early in the morning with some success. As for the bream, small poppers and a hare’s ear nymph have been the ticket. I tried my hand at tying the Cormier version of the hair’s ear and came up with three very ugly flies. I had a concert to play at White Oak Plantation today and I threw my hare’s ear at some bream today between my rehearsal the the performance. The baby bream were very willing to play as I caught and released around 25 small bluegill. I couldn’t believe the fish were eating my UGLY fly. I really need to post a picture here but I’m telling you it’s embarrassing. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures. I’m hoping to try my hare’s ear on some bigger bream in our neighborhood lakes. I’ll try to post some pics up when that happens.

 

Massey’s CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) Tournament

One of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s sponsors, Massey’s Professional Outfitters, sponsored a CPR tournament. This Catch, Photo, and Release tournament began sometime around March and ended October 31st.

It consisted of seven categories over two divisions:

  • Conventional Rod and Reel Division

    • Speckled Trout
    • Redfish
    • Flounder
    • Large Mouth Bass
  • Fly Rod Division

    • Speckled Trout
    • Redfish
    • Large Mouth Bass

This tournament was free to members of BCKFC and lasted throughout half the spring, all summer, and the first half of the fall fishing season. The goal was then to get the most points by trying to catch the longest fish in each category. This made each species just as important as the last  Each division would win a kayak so no division held more value over the other, both fly and conventional divisions would be competitive.

Because this tournament lasted eight months, it really made fishing in it fun. It wasn’t the “all or nothing” approach most tournaments have where everyone fishes the same area on the same day, no matter what the conditions. I was able to fish at my leisure and pick weather conditions that were favorable to me. I also chose to fish strictly in the fly division.

Right off the bat, I was able to put two good fish on the leader board. During my first weekend in the marsh, I caught a 19-inch speckled trout and a 22-inch redfish on the fly rod. That trout ended up being the fish that would choose my destiny in the tournament. Image

As you see, it was caught on a popper.

My largest bass was a 15-and-a-half inch fish that I caught on False Rive in May. It too was caught on a popper.Image

I caught larger bass (up to 19 inches) but they weren’t eligible due to the fact that they were caught in my neighborhood lake. The rules of the tournament stated that all fish had to be caught in a kayak in public waters.

While I put a good redfish on the leader board in March, I spent the rest of the tournament trying to upgrade my original catch. After a couple upgrades, I finally finished with this redfish that I caught in Dularge on a popper.

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I had a lot of crazy miscues with fish that would have probably won the tournament for me but as fortune would have it, I would finish second in the tournament in the fly division to Jonathan Craft. Jonathan caught a 34-inch monster redfish and a small bass the very last weekend to nudge him ahead of my first place finish. Second place earned me a plaque and a $300 check, which is pretty cool anyway. Image

I’m really looking forward to next year’s tournament. I learned many things during my first year with this format.

  • First, superglue foam under the laminated tournament fish token. (and have a spare with me whenever I fish)
  • Target big bull reds in late August and September by going further south than the places I usually fish. Those bulls just don’t get that far north before November.
  • Target my bass early on in the tournament before it gets too hot. With marching season being so busy for me in the fall, I cannot afford to wait until September or October to catch my bass.

I also hope that the tournament officials will add more species to the fly rod division… like a bream, sacalait, and even flounder. While the flounder is so difficult to catch on the fly, it could be a game changer to whomever catches one on the fly.