A Chance to Even the Score

Last Saturday, I had the chance to fish with a buddy of mine and while he caught a lot of fish, I didn’t. I jokingly wrote…Redish 20, Doc 2 in my latest blog post. Catch Cormier told me later, “sounds like you had more blown chances than LSU did when they played Alabama.” Well that just didn’t sit right with me, so I was determined to get back out there and even the score up a bit.

My lovely wife decided to travel to Houston to visit my daughter, her husband, and my beautiful granddaughter without me and that left my Saturday free to either do some fishing, cut grass, rake leaves, or watch LSU beat up on Arkansas at 11 AM. Uhh…you can guess what I chose 🙂  The all important forecast called for sunny skies, which is perfect for sight fishing, but windy. Now, it looked like the wind would be stronger the further south I went. During the week, I texted Drew and asked his opinion, because he fished down there for three days, and he said the fish were thicker further down south. I figured that because of the warm fall we’ve had, the speckled trout haven’t moved as far inside the marsh yet. So my plan was to head further south than I had fished last weekend. On Saturday mornings, I listen to Don Dubuc’s radio show http://www.dontheoutdoorsguy.com for the day’s fishing reports from local guides around south Louisiana. They all complained about the wind and dirty water that the front had brought in. One even said he had cancelled his plans for the day (he flies a sea plane to the Chandelier Islands). Add to that, the coastal duck season opened that morning and I found myself in a pickle. I had already driven an hour from home and I could either turn around or keep going. A very wise person once said, and it’s been quoted by many fishermen, “You can’t catch fish while laying on your couch watching football!”  So I keep on driving south. I did, however alter my plan to fish closer to Grand Isle and hoped the wind wouldn’t be so strong  in Leeville.

After making my combat launch, I paddled a couple hundred yards and started throwing a pink Charlie under a VOSI. About the third cast into the morning I caught my first trout. Nice…but it was about 11 inches. I stayed in that spot for about 20 minutes and continued to catch trout but all were between 10-11 inches. GOPR3725.JPGGOPR3720.JPGI told myself that there were bigger fish out there so I headed out to a couple more trout spots I like to fish this time of year. I was able to catch trout at several locations, but they were all clones of each other. Now, catching is fun, so I continued to play around with the trout until I was sure the hunters were finished for the morning. Oh, and for those of you who may be concerned, I also planned on staying far away from their lease. I know they get pretty angry this time of year when people stray on their duck leases and disturb the birds. I lost count at around 26 trout and only about three of them touched the 12 inch mark, so I decided not to keep any trout unless I caught some around 14 inches or so.

Well, around 10:30 or so, I decided to head out in search of redfish. The wind had picked up considerably, but I figured I could find some leeward banks to do some sight fishing. The sun was in my favor but the wind and dirty water made things very tough. I didn’t even see my first redfish until probably 11:30 or so and I wasn’t even able to make a cast before it darted away. It wasn’t until about noon that I had my first redfish eat. I saw a descent sized slot redfish in a small pond but I lost sight of him when all the mullet and sheepshead started darting around and muddied the water even more. I was determined, so I put a couple casts where I figured it was and bam, I was hooked up. I learned my lessons from last week and didn’t try to horse it in too quickly. Five minutes later, I eased a nice 24-inche redfish into my landing net.

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I started seeing more redfish but because of the windy, muddy, conditions, I was doing more spooking and wouldn’t see a fish until it was only several feet from my kayak. At that point, I couldn’t get a cast off without spooking it. I even tried letting the wind take me away from the cruising fish but that didn’t work either. My second redfish was an upper slot fish that I saw cruising another little pond and I was in luck because it didn’t see me. I put a descent cast on it (remember the wind is now blowing 10-15 mph) and I got a textbook eat. I strip set the hook on it and thought, “boy I’m not going to have as many missed opportunities this week” Just then, the redfish decided to strip line out and head toward a very small cut in the back of the pond. I knew that would mean trouble so I tried to put some pressure on it to turn it and it broke my tippet. 😦  Upon inspection of my tippet, I saw that the line had become frayed. I probably should have inspected it after landing my last redfish. I noticed that the previous fish had nearly swallowed the fly and its gills and crushers had probably done a good job of fraying the line. The problem was, that was the last fly like that in my box. I tied it to try to mimic the fly that Drew had used last week. PB100001.JPG

I tied on a similar pattern but discarded it because it was too light and there was no casting it in the steady wind I was fishing. I ended with a fly version of the LSU chub, a purple and chartreuse fly with medium barbell eyes. It was a bit heavy for the shallow water I was fishing but I figured it was my best option. My next redfish was my biggest of the day at 26.5 inches. That would have been a great tournament fish.GOPR3730.jpgGOPR3731.JPG

I only keep tournament fish when I’m fishing a tournament and that one was released back in the water.GOPR3732.jpg

I did manage to catch another good-eating sized fish at 22 inches so this one got released into my ice chest. I have been trading fish fillets for fresh farm eggs with one of my colleagues at work. 🙂GOPR3735.JPG
THAT’S MY LSU CHUB IMITATION IN ITS MOUTH

I ended the day trying to see if the trout had grown since the morning but all I could find were a few more 11-inch fish. I called it a day after landing 3 redfish and 26 speckled trout. PB110005.jpg
I THINK THE EYES ON A REDFISH ARE ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFIUL
PB110003.JPGTHE SCALE PATTERN IS PRETTY NEAT TOO.

 

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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.

Avoiding the skunk

Near Skunk!

One of the reasons I usually don’t “skunk” on fishing trips is I pick a day when the weather will be favorable for fishing. This usually begins with winds: they have to be under 10 mph. Next, there should be some descent tide movement. Finally, I don’t really enjoy fishing in rain, dodging water-spouts, etc. so I usually check the rain forecast too. This past weekend looked like the stars would line up for me, so I decided to make a trip down LA 1 on Sunday morning.

I joined fellow fly fishermen, Mike and Victor, down at the “Telephone Post Hole,” a sand pit off of the highway that was dug out to build the road. This spot is a well-known wintertime honey-hole for speckled trout. We enjoyed a beautiful morning of fishing with a gorgeous sunrise. Mike actually hooked about a four-foot alligator garfish but he lost it at the boat. We fished some of the deep holes there with clousers and were rewarded with a few small redfish for our efforts. I tagged and released two of them, while Victor tagged five or more. Mike isn’t in the tagging program but I believe he also caught and released a few undersized, “rat” reds too.

I decided to pick up and head back up north to Forcheon. I had been down there a month ago and I had experienced similar conditions…cold with no water in the marsh. The difference today was that the water was going to be rising all day, as well as the thermometer. I found myself to be the only guy at the public launch. Talk about ominous! Well, I paddled out to some spots that I’ve fished during the spring and summer and was shocked to see mounds of oyster bed where there was once water! I will check my route on Googlemaps, but arms feel like I push poled and paddled six miles in very shallow water. The disappointing part is; I paddled all that distance and didn’t see the first tail or pumpkin color of a redfish. The only thing I saw other than small schools of baitfish was a lone stingray.

At around 1 PM, I was thinking about heading in, getting a bite to eat, and launching again further north, toward Golden Meadow when I decided to try a shallow area near the launch that had been productive in the past. I finally spotted my first redfish, but as expected, I spooked it in the shallow water. This was encouraging though, so I push-poled a little further. I was rewarded with a beautiful sight…two redfish were heading down a little cut in the marsh over some very clear water on top of a bunch of oysters. I put a fly I call the “black and gold Charlie” about 2 feet in front of the lead fish. I watched its predatory instincts kick in as it stalked and chased down the block and gold-looking piece of baitfish. The dog-gone fish whiffed and missed on its first attempt. I made another cast out two feet in front of it a second time and WAM, textbook eat! I had to horse the fish in more than I’d like to due to the abundance of oyster shells in the area but my leader and tippet held and I was able to land a nice fat redfish. It measured right under 24 inches so it was going in the ice chest.

I had great expectations of battling with a few more redfish in the same area but I couldn’t get any to eat. I spooked a few and a few more said no to the fly. 😦

Overall, it was a great trip. I REALLY got some exercise in with all that paddling, I caught a fish to enter into the Massey’s Tournament, and I brought home some fish for ceviche` for supper! I also got some neat video that I will be processing in the next couple of weeks.  I did learn a few things about the area I was fishing. I made a mental note of where all the oyster reefs are and can’t wait until the water comes up in the spring…along with a new crop of young redfish willing to play. 🙂

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Today’s trip map. Nearly 6 miles, not including the paddling I did at the TPH.