Happy Birthday To Me :)

Traditions. It’s what makes us who we are. Every culture, every family has some sort of tradition that identifies us uniquely to each other. One such tradition in our family was each year we got to fish in Daddy’s homemade kayak for our birthday.P1181303.jpg

That’s it on top the car. I thought I had another picture somewhere but this was all I could find. Of course, I’m not in the picture…I’m taking it with my birthday present, a brand new camera of my own 🙂 There are so many things about that picture…oh my! Like my dad’s shorts, my brother Keith’s baseball socks, the white rabbit (that our dog ate for supper one afternoon), and the fact that there are only four (plus me) children. Kory wasn’t born yet. I’m thinking mom looks pretty hot here and lets’ see…Kory came soon after 🙂 I know, T.M.I. and this is supposed to be about my birthday, fishing, and family traditions.

Well, for our birthdays, we could fish with either mom or dad in that tandem kayak. BTW, daddy made it from a kit. I can remember one birthday when dad and I paddled to Lake Boeuf and he pulled under a tree branch to rest in the shade. I was in the front of the boat and there was a huge snake sunning itself on that branch. I freaked out and nearly jumped out of the kayak! Then there was the time when I hooked a monster bass near Lake Des Allemands and mom couldn’t get the net quick enough to land it and I lost what would have been my personal best. However, most of my birthdays were spent fishing a farm pond in Labadieville and it was a special treat to be able to fish out of the kayak.

This year, I decided to celebrate my birthday early. My options were 1) do some sight fishing for redfish in Point aux Chenes, Delecroix, or Hopedale or 2) visit one of my favorite nearby farm pond/lakes. One thing I knew I didn’t want to do was paddle out a mile or so into the marsh and have to haul butt back to the landing and try to outrun a thunderstorm. I chose option 2. With this heat, I knew the bite would be early so I hustled out early and launched shortly after 5:30 AM. Within five minutes, I had netted bass number 1.GOPR3904.jpg

Then came bass number 2GOPR3905.jpg

Then…well… you get the picture (pun intended)GOPR3907 2.jpgGOPR3909 2.jpgGOPR3910 2.jpgGOPR3911 2.jpgGOPR3912 2.jpgGOPR3913 2.jpgGOPR3914 2.jpgGOPR3916 2.jpg

I caught 11 bass and probably missed 8 others. I also caught two bull bream on poppers. After my third big bass, I decided to downsize my popper to the small frog. I continued to catch bass but I noticed they would only slurp the small popper, whereas they smoked the large one! I put the big popper back on before I called it a morning and that’s when I caught that last big bass. Of the 11 I caught, only three were under 15 inches, so they are quality fish! IMG_2563.jpgSo going fishing has been a very important tradition in my life. As I look at my fly rods, I cannot help but think that I relish the peace and tranquillity that fly fishing brings me. I only wish I would have been introduced to the fly rod sooner. As for that old kayak. It dry-rotted many years ago, but the memories it holds are still imbedded in my mind. I’m sure it’s the same for some of my siblings. Now…to continue that tradition with my granddaughter. IMG_4734.jpg
Hudson models her very first monogrammed fishing outfit 🙂

 

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Bass Therapy

It seems we have all kinds of therapies available to us today. Of course there’s physical therapy, music therapy, occupational therapy, and a host of others we won’t mention here. Today’s post is brought to you by the bass therapy. That’s the kind of therapy I needed today. I got a good report from some of my band parents after our spring concert last night and I decided to load the kayak on my truck for a couple hours of bass therapy. That is, a couple of hours of peaceful solitude on a quiet lake with hungry bass that eat what I’m tying.

Well, at least, that was the plan. I got to the lake a little after 5 PM and was throwing one of my deer hair poppers shortly thereafter. I got to one of my favorite spots in the back of the lake and I missed a monster strike by one of those hungry, post-spawn girls. She made one good jump and threw my popper. That’s OK. Being a fly fisherman, I get used to missed fish. Anyway, I was just really starting to relax when three vehicles approached on a dirt road and five young 20-something-year-olds got out and started setting up to do some target practice. They were very nice about it and told me things were going to get loud. I had plenty fishable water so I didn’t mind but the constant shooting did get annoying.

So I paddled away from the shooting and caught my first bass of the afternoon on a fire tiger deer hair pattern. GOPR3855.jpgThings were really getting slow when I noticed a nice bass that nosed on up to the popper but refused to eat it. I had a crease fly tied on to my other rod so I tried seeing if it would eat that. Still no bite. At this point, my bass therapy was going to need more therapy.

I paddled to the opposite end of where the shooting was taking place and around 6:45, someone turned the switch on. I proceeded to nearly be able to call my shots. The bass were taking some explosive shots at my crease fly and boy was that fun. Each one seemed to be right around the 15 inch mark with a couple that pushed 16. I tried to switch back to the deer hair popper, but they only wanted the crease fly. I finished the afternoon off around 7:30 with my largest bass of the day, one that pushed just a little over 18 inches and probably weighed over three pounds.  I wish I had gotten a good photo but my GoPro is acting up and I was only able to get a few pictures off the sim card. None of my video came out 😦 and I thought I had gotten some really good video of some good eats. I’ll keep working on the card and hopefully I can extract some of that video.

In conclusion, the bass therapy did the trick. I ended up catching and releasing a dozen bass and probably lost just as many. The action was fast for about an hour, as the fish were feisty and fought hard. Here are a few pictures that I was able to get off my GoPro.

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This is my last freshwater trip before my Mission Six Tournament this weekend. Catch Cormier and I look to defend our title from our big win last year. The trash talk has been going on for quite some time. Now it’s time to get out there and catch a couple big slot redfish. I plan on posting a good report here early next week.

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.

Bass are staging up.

I usually look forward to my Mardi Gras holiday break to do some fishing in central Louisiana (CENLA) with my good buddy, Catch Cormier. However, this year, with weather and family commitments, it looks like a trip to some of my favorite sacalait and big chinquapin waters won’t happen. Well, at least just yet.

So, I’ve been relegated to fishing around here in-between rain showers and more chilly weather. I was able to get out Friday after work for an hour and caught my first bass of the year. The temperature had warmed up and I had heard some reports of the bass starting to do their pre-spawn thing. Also, our neighborhood association reported that since the devastating flood a year ago, they were going to stock the lakes with bass and sacalait. I really wanted to see if I could catch any sacalait so I launched my kayak and had a rod loaded with a fluff butt under a strike indicator and another with a new fly that I tied called the Coma cacahoe. The Coma cacahoe is a pattern developed by Catch that is supposed to imitate some of the soft plastics that conventional guys use to catch speckled trout and redfish. The last time I saw Catch, he said that the bass were tearing that fly up too.

I caught a pretty nice chinquapin (9 inches) early on the fluff butt and I thought I might be able to catch a pretty nice stringer of those that afternoon for a fish fry. However, I was only able to catch one more over 8 inches so, I didn’t keep any fish. I did, however, test Catch’s theory that the bass liked the coma cacahoe and sure enough; I caught my first bass of the year on it. It measured 15 inches and I could almost bet it had eggs in it. IMG_2124.jpg
This was my first fish caught on the coma cacahoe.

I had about an hour-and-a-half window to fish the very next morning before a wedding gig, so I slipped out into the lake at sunrise. I was able to break the ice with my crease fly, but the fishing was pretty slow. GOPR3821.jpgThere were no signs of the afore mentioned sacalait stocking. They may be too small to catch right now anyway. Anyway, if the cormorants have their way, there may be no more juvinile sacalait left in the lake to grow to maturity.

Anyway, I’m looking to try a few old spots for sacalait and bass later this week so I should be able to post a few more reports on here.

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School is Almost Out!

Yep. It’s getting to be that time of year. The bass have spawned out, the bream and sacalait are just about spent, but the speckled trout fishing is about to get good in the surf. I’ve made some poppers that I hope will be the ticket in the murky green water down in the Grand Isle/Forcheon area.

Meanwhile, I was able to get a couple of hours of bass fishing in my neighborhood lake. I like fishing the post spawn here mostly because the fishing pressure has backed off. However, this time of year also offers some special fishing if one gets there right at first light when the shad do their summer spawning rituals.

This Saturday proved to be one of those special mornings. I put my kayak on the cart and walked a couple blocks to where I put in. Right when I got there I knew that the action had already started because there were about 8 or so white and grey herons battling for position along a bank where the shad were boiling. As I launched my kayak, I heard the sound of bass feeding. Some were just boils while others were splashes that sounded like someone’s dog had just jumped into the lake. Anyway, while the thought of tossing a popper into a school of hungry bass might seem like child’s play, it really isn’t as easy as it sounds. With such an abundance of fresh, live bait in the area, it can be a challenge to get a bass to eat a fly. Luckily, I have an answer for that. It’s my crease fly! (see prior post).

I had my first hookup around 6 AM, but it jumped and I lost it. Bass – 1. Doc – 0.  I have found that some bass follow the schools of shad around the bank as they move, picking off unsuspecting ones as they are more interested in procreating than watching their backs for predators. Those are harder to fool on the fly. It’s a numbers game…too many options for the bass to chose. I have, however, found that it is easier to fool a bass once the fast excitement has died down. The numbers then favor me. AND, if I put my fly real close to the bank, near the grass where some of the shad have decided to stay and hide, I’ll spook them from their hiding place and the scurrying of 5 or six stragglers will prompt a strike from a lurking bass. You see, my crease fly just doesn’t see to scurry as fast as the real thing, thus making my offering look like an easy meal. At about 6:15, I was able to land my first bass of the morning. It was a nice post-spawn bass that measured 19 inches. She probably weighed 4 pounds or more when she was full of eggs. GOPR3643.jpg
Just look at how big her mouth was! She actually stripped line off my reel and I had to fight her like a redfish. I can’t recall having a bass strip line off my reel like that in years 🙂

My next two bass were 12 and 15 inches, which were nice fish by any means on the fly.  I began fishing for bream around 7:30 and I managed a few small ones that wanted to play. Before heading back home, I decided to try an area that is lined with big Louisiana Irises. I have found that baitfish hide in the leaves of these plants and the bass hangout nearby to pick off any stragglers. Right at that moment, two guys in a small bass hunter boat passed near me and said hi. Before I could answer their, “Having any luck?” question, I had another big bass explode on my crease fly. I was determined to land this one (especially with my audience) but it was a jumper. I was lucky enough to land her though, even after 5 or 6 big jumps. She measured 17 inches.GOPR3645.jpg
You can actually see the line of lilies in the background of this picture where I caught her.

Anyway, it’s been raining for two days so the water will be dirty the next few days. However, the water will be flowing over the dam in the morning so I expect I’ll head over there for a half hour before school starts to see if I can get any fish to play before coffee and exams. 🙂

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A Bad Case of Bass Thumb!

You know that feeling when your thumb is scraped raw and feels like sandpaper? Well, I have a bad case of it right now…and it feels awesome!

One of my students invited me to fish a lake in St. Gabriel with him this morning. While the lake was dug out mainly as a water ski lake, it has been stocked with bass, bluegill, and striped bass. The weather man (not my favorite guy/gal this year) had forecast a cold start to a day that was supposed to warmup considerably. We got on the water early, a little before 7 AM and the thermometer on my truck said it was 45 degrees. I was hoping to catch some bass on the fly rods, as I hadn’t caught one yet this year and it’s nearly mid February!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the fish were not going to be looking up so I ditched the poppers and went with what is probably the most fish-catching fly ever tied, the Clouser minnow.

It didn’t take long for me to find some hungry chunks and I had my first bass of the morning shortly after 7. Actually, my first bass of 2016!

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So, repeat and repeat all morning long and, well, you get the picture.
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The wind picked up considerably and I decided not to fight it. I took a break and fished off the bank.
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And it started getting warmer. I lost the coat and I’m in my turtle neck with a long sleeve t-shirt under that.

 

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Now I assume the temperature is around 70 and things were getting downright warm. I picked up my largest of the morning at 16 inches. It weighed 2.25 lbs.
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It was getting close to 11 AM and I was thinking about packing it in when I hooked a monster that broke my tippet. I retied quickly, thinking that it may have been a striped bass. Ten minutes later, I was battling my very first striped bass. I fought it like a champ and got it right up to the kayak. (I had gotten back in the yak). But…like an idiot, I tried to lip it and swing it in the boat. BAD DECISION!! It slashed back and forth in the water and broke my 6 lb tippet. Nooooo!!! I’m 56 and have never caught a striped bass in my life! Here I find one that wants to eat a clouser minnow and I try to lip it like Bill Dance.

Oh well. There will be other trips to this lake. No, but I have until noon. By now the wind is howling and I decided to fish my way back in. Bam! Another bass (number 15). Then 16. Now 17. I found a bunch schooling up right near a drop-off near some grass. Then it happens again. Something hits my fly and snaps my tippet like it was a piece of sewing thread. On a hunch that it was another striped bass, I take the time to tie another three feet of tippet material on my leader. Boy, did it take some time too. The wind was blowing probably 15 mph with higher gusts. It’s hard to tie a double surgeon’s knot when the wind isn’t blowing, much less in those conditions. After what seemed like 15 minutes, I was back in fishing form and had just had a ferocious strike and a miss. I cast back out to the same spot and BAM!  Fish on!!  My buddy commented immediately that it was a striper. After about 10 seconds, I concurred. It dug in and was stripping off line. I wasn’t going to make my same mistake twice, so I played this one out perfectly and landed my first striped bass. It was 19 inches and weighed 3.18 lbs.
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Notice that by now I had gotten rid of my coat, my turtle-neck, and my hat. 🙂 What a fun morning. I went through my stock of freshwater closures. I actually had three break-offs. You know I’ll be back at my vice tying some more and looking forward to another morning out there!
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