Sharing Ideas And
Information On Fly Fishing In Louisiana And Around The World
August 24th, 2011
On a couple of recent fishing trips, I was faced with having lots of tailing redfish around that were difficult to catch because they had their heads burried in thick grass. I tried coaxing with crab flies, seducing with spoon flies and a number of other things to get their attention, but was just unable to present anything into their sight window while they kept their heads down in the thick aquatic vegetation
I finally decided to stop trying to "show" them a fly, and to let them hear it instead. I tied on a "Hot Lips Gurgler" which is a version of the Gartside Gurgler with an upper and lower lip. The Hot Lips Gurgler makes a very sexy sounding "ploop ploop" sound when stripped and popped, and was successful at getting a few fish to look up to see what all the racket was, and to eat. Redfish on topwater is always an exciting game when the fish are willing to play. Because of their under slung "inferior" mouth, redfish practically have to come completely out of the water to eat a topwater offering. Next time you're in a marsh with redfish actively feeding, try tossing an offering that floats, the explosive results are quite rewarding.
June 1, 2015
Winter 2014/2015 Photo Dump
It's been far too long since I've updated this site. Life's too busy and time is too short. I still don't have a ton of time to write, but here are some photos of the Winter 2014/2015 season. There were a lot of big fish around, the weather just didn't present a lot of opportunities to persue them.
January 2nd, 2014
2013 Went Out With A Bang
Having taken the last 2 days of 2013 as vacation days, my friend Jack Smith and I planned a trip down to the Mississippi River Delta in search of big redfish. Jack picked me up late Saturday and we drove down and checked into our accomodations. Sunday we were up early to beat other anglers to where we wanted to fish, and to catch early morning crawlers if possible
Jack and I pulled up to our first spot hoping to catch a couple of slot fish for dinner that night. We still had overcast skies, but with the low tide on the shallow bank we could still see fish move and soon picked up 3 slot fish for the blackening pan. Those were the only slot fish we caught on the entire trip, but by no means the only fish
Jack and I then made a long run out to big fish territory. There was a bit of chop on the water and in his 16 foot Whipray it was a less than dry ride, but we were well prepared with rain gear and stayed comfortable on this cool morning. We got to big fish water right as the sky was clearing and the the sun coming out. Jack soon saw and landed a nice black drum. We kept fishing and started seeing lots of fish, including a lot of REALLY big fish. The fish were being spooky and fly shy and we were having trouble feeding them. Finally we made adjustments to leading the fish more and very slowly stripping it into their site and started getting bites. While the fisher were a little tough to feed, they definately were looking for food. Every time we had a fish on, the commotion the fish made in it's struggle would attract other fish intent on stealing whatever it was eating. It's a strange sight to have a 13 pound fish on the line being rolled over by 2 -20 lb class fish trying to mug him for food. We did on occassion take advantage of this resulting in a couple of doubles. The fish were plentiful and large
We also encountered some really big black drum.
Through the course of the day we boated around 20 redfish and 4 or 5 black drum. The first 3 redfish were slot sized, everything else ranged from 11 pounds to 20. It was a nice finish to the year
July 9th, 2012
On the night of July 3rd I got a text from my friend Barret Bertucci that said "Do you want to fish tomorrow". That was a stupid question of course I WANTED to fish, but more importantly, I would actually be able to as I had absolutely no plans for the 4th of July. We talked about going east to the Calcasieu estuary, but conditions weren't quite right for it to be prime. Instead we decided to head west toward the Mississippi River Delta in Southeast Louisiana. While I've spent a bit of time "down east" looking for bulls the last few winters, it's been years since I fished the eastern portion of the state in summer.
We met at 4am to make sure that we would be on the water early after the long drive. We got to the launch reasonably early and were soon running through marsh in Barretts Ankona Native SUV skiff. We had launched and were fishing a specific area that I had never been in, and it had been a while since Barrett had been in it, after a couple of quick backtracks after wrong turns we found ourself at the north end of a large pond. Almost immediately after getting into this pond we started spotting schools of redfish moving all over the place. I took a few cast to knock the rust off and soon Barrett had me positioned to make a quick short cast to a crossing school. My line came tight and I quickly boated a small redfish. We switched off and within a couple of minutes Barrett had his first fish of the day. It was obvious by the number of fish we were seeing that switching after every fish would be making entirely too much work for both of us, climbing up and down the platform, so we decided to fish after every 2 fish, then we decided to switch after every 3rd. We moved around the pond, and as we moved to slightly deeper water we found larger schools of somewhat better fish. We were encountering very large schools of fish, one after another, we would land a fish and by the time it was released we would see another patch of water glowing orange and take another shot. By 8:45 we had boated 16 redfish. As the sun began to climb and the wind picked up a little the schools settled down and action slowed. While we could have stayed in the same area and scratched out more fish, we decided we wanted to get eyes on with different areas. We ran and fished different ponds with much slower action. We picked up a couple of more redfish and a black drum. Thunderstorms popped up around us encouraging an early exit. We got back to the launch at noon right as the skies opened up and rain began to fall. As we got the boat on the trailer we watched a funnel form on the leading edge of a nearby thunderhead and counted our good fortune for leaving when we did. It was a spectacular morning exploring new water and finding many fish. Thanks Barrett.
June 28th, 2012
A Little From This Spring
Since Iíve been remiss in posting reports from fishing this spring, Iíll take the opportunity to catch up with a compilation of a little of what went on.
Early this spring I started venturing into Cameron Prairie Refuge and found the marsh to be beautiful. Heavy rains this spring provided lots of fresh water that encouraged a lot of growth of aquatic grasses. Clear water was everywhere and I was finding good numbers of fish. Unfortunately most of the fish I was finding were extremely tight lipped. Apparently others had found them too as I was seeing a lot of boats in areas Iíd never seen another venture. As Iíve learned long ago, it doesnít take a lot of pressure to change the behavior of redfish, and these fish were getting smart. I did manage to catch a few though
I soon ventured into other waters, fishing areaís I had not seen since prior to Hurricane Rita. Happily I found they still held plenty of fish caught in pictures and a video.
Of course no spring would be complete without an abuse filled trip with my buddy Danny
Now weíre stuck in the middle of some real summer doldrums. Insufferably hot temps (pushing 100 daily) and way too much water, south winds and Debby in the gulf have the water up more than a foot over celestial tides, not good for sight fishing, but soon enough Iíll be back out there
January 21st, 2012
Cameron Prairie Closure
The boat bay in the Grand Bayou Water control structure allowing access into Cameron Prairie Refuge will be closing on Wednesday February 1st untill further notice. The East Cove unit of Cameron Prairie Refuge is open to boat traffic and recreational use only when the Grand Bayou boat bay is open. According to Dianne Borden Billot with the U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service, the closure is to allow fresh water to accumulate to lower salinity levels.
The 2011 drought caused elevated salinity levels in the refuge and through much of the coastal marsh of Southwest Louisiana, the gates are being closed to accumulate fresh water and lower salinity levels in the hope of facillitating the growth of aquatic vegetation and preventing land loss. Cameron Prairie Refuge encompases what is arguably the premier opportunities for sight fishing in Southwest Louisiana. Although there is no way to predict how long the boat bay will have to remain closed before desired salinity levels are reached, historically closures of this type have been of a temporary nature ranging from a few weeks to several months.
The press release regarding the closure of the Grand Bayou Boat Bay also made note that effective January 1st 2012, controll of all water controll structures on the east side of Calcasieu Lake has been turned over from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Louisiana State Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. I have called and left messages for the agencies public information director and will report here if or when I'm able to get more information regarding how long the closure may last.
August 24th, 2011
Hot Fun In The Summer!
I just had a now rare experience that made me feel more normal than I have in a long time. I actually got to get out on the water and fish on 2 consecutive weekends. On the past 2 Sundays I made a trip to a beautiful area of marsh that has abundant aquatic vegitation, clear water, and lots of redfish. Sunday the 14th was my birthday and I was determeined to celebrate by going fishing. I took the day to fish by myself and shortly after sunrise found myself surrounded by tailing singles and doubles. My first two cast to singles produced two fish. Working my way farther back into the marsh, I began to encounter school after school of redfish. At this early hour the schools were milling aorund in loose formation, tailing, eating and not covering much ground. These fish were VERY willing to eat. I tied on a fly that my 6 year old daughter had tied and proceeded to catch 4 fish on it before a 5th fish broke it off. I tried a few different flies and had success with pretty much everything I threw. At one point I tied on a Hot Lips Gurgler and caught a couple of fish on top. As the morning wore on and the temperature rose, the fish began to bunch up tighter and started swimming in these tight schools coverning much more ground. The fish also became considerably harder to feed. I fished until about noon when I had to leave for other commitments and the fish were still schooling. I ended up putting 13 redfish in the boat that morning.
The following Sunday the 21st I fished with my buddy Danny Williams. It's been far too long since Danny and I have been on the water together and I was really looking forward to it. We launched Danny's Gheenoe and headed to the same patch of marsh I had fished the previous week. The water was a little higher and slightly murkier, and the fish weren't being quite as active. We did soon start to see a lot of fish tailing in the thick matted grass. After being unable to put the fly in the face of a number of fish, I finally got one to eat and soon boated it. Right after I caught that fish a school popped up and I was poling in hot pursuit to get Danny on the fish. Danny caught a fish out of the school and the rest of the fish kept working so we quickly released it and took off after the school again. After all the ruckus of that fish being caught from within their midst the remaining fish in the school were a bit jacked up and it took Danny a white to convince another one to eat. Eventually he did prevail and the third fish of the morning came to the boat. On this morning the schooling activity almost ended at around 9:30am and it was back to chasing singles with their heads burried in teh grass. I finally decided to tie on a noisy topwater to try to make the fish look up and another school popped up. I tossed the gurgler near the edge of the school, popped it twice and was rewarded with an agressive explosion. It was fish on and I soon landed our 7th and final redfish of the day. Getting out and fishing frequently reminds me of how I was and who I really am.
JUNE 6th, 2011
Having just endured the longest stretch of me not being on the water since the aftermath of hurricane Rita, I finally got to feel a little salt spray yesterday. Lately my weekends have been busy with work and family obligations, but Saturday night marked the last event I was tied to, my nieces wedding.
Sunday morning I drove to Lake Charles and met up with my buddy Capt. Devin Palomino at Cormies Grocery at 6am. Some water, ice, and a B.L.T. for breakfast and we were on our way. We decided to fish a very shallow soft bottomed pond that is a favorite of ours because of the sheer number of fish it holds. Arriving at the pond the water was low and muddy with the tide coming in. When we got to the washed out cut that is the entrance of the pond, we saw about a dozen backs sticking out of the water on the shelf adjacent to the deeper water of the boat trail we ran in on. I hopped on the front of the boat and we quickly realized that the backs were all mid sized black drum. The drum were being fairly lethargic and showing little interest in my fly so we moved to an area about 75 yards away where we could see redfish moving and crashing bait. As we poled into the spot we were seeing signs of a lot of fish. With almost every push of the pole multiple fish would blow out in front of the boat, spooking yet more fish with their frantic run creating a casscade of scared redfish. Devin staked out the boat and we waited a minute for the water and fish to settle down. After a few refusals, I put the fly in front of a fish that ate, a nice 5 pounder came to hand..
From the number of fish present in the pond, the expectation would be for a lot of them to end up in the boat. Unfortunately the muddy water kept us from seeing most of them until it was too late, and the fish were being very spooky to boot, often spooking off of a well presented fly. As the tide came in the water cleared significantly, but the fish remained very tight lipped, we managed to scratch out a total of only 4 redfish and a small black drum for the morning. While not a stellar day by the numbers, it was stellar for me just to get on the water. What a welcomed reprive.
February 6th, 2011
Quantity of Quality.
This morning Barret Bertucci and I made a drive south and east looking for bulls. When we got to big fish territory we encountered dirty water so we made our way farther into the interior marsh in search of clear water. We found large lake with good water and started working the shorline.
We soon established a pattern of finding small shallow pockets in the shore line with a sloping shoreline, and a little shell. When we found these conditions we found fish, usually not in singles or doubles, but en big groups. The cold water had the fish very sluggish and hard to feed, but on the strength of sheer numbers of shots we ended up putting 11 or 12 fish in the boat, 11 of which were over 11 pounds. We even managed to double a couple of times. Big fish of the day was a 14.5 pounder that Barret caught.
January 25th, 2011
Quality Over Quantity./p>
Barrett And A Bull.
Lately, if it hadn't been for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all. Returning from a family cruise a couple of weeks ago, my rod bag got stolen from the baggage area with about $3,000 worth of tackle in it, including my 2 - 8wt setups. On Saturday Barrett Bertucci called me and asked if I wanted to fish on Sunday. We left Lafayette at about 5 and drove east and south toward the coast.
When we got on the water we were greeted by chilly temperatures and a brisk wind. Fishing an area that we had only each fished once before, we had done our homework on Google Earth. We found areas that looked like they had the right combination of features to hold large redfish. Stopping at the first area we wanted to fish, we had barely started fishing when we blew out a big bull. Shortly after we ran over another large redfish, being still early, light was poor and we weren't seeing them until we were literally on them. We spotted a few more fish, never connecting, when finally I looked down and saw a very large fish almost under my feet. I dropped the fly in the water, swept it with the rod tip and watched the fish inhale the fly. After a lengthy fight I finally got the fish to the side of the boat and Barrett lifted him in. He weighed in at 25 pounds.
Barrett took the front of the boat and after a short while the largest redfish I've ever seen appeared out of no where. Barrett made a good cast and the fish took a swipe at the fly but didn't connect. When the fish turned on the fly I got a good look at it and can tell you that it was well over 30 pounds, probably pushing 40 or more. When Barrett and I both settled down from our first encounter of the giant kind, another nice fish showed up. Barrett delivered a great cast and was immediately hooked up to a 15 pound redfish that he soon got to the boat.
We fished a while longer picking up a few black drum up to 13 pounds, and one more redfish. Barret and I moved into a cove that was very shallow and very clear. It was so shallow that we didn't expect to see any large fish in it. Moving into the cove Barrett instructed me to look at 11 o'clock. There was a nice fish laid up in the clear shallow water. I threw my fly just ahead of and to the side of the fish, made one strip and he launched himself out of the water to turn and crash the fly. He made a few good runs and came to hand at 13.5 pounds
While we didn't wreck large numbers of fish, Barrett and I set out looking for specific fish, big ones. We found fish, and actually established a pattern by which we found them consistently. The wind tormented us and neither of us were at the top of our game, else wise we may have connected with a few more. All in all though I'd take this kind of trip any day of the week.
November 11th, 2010
Still A Thrill
After the big wild weekend of catching monster redfish in numbers I never dreamed of, I wondered how I would feel back out on my home water, chasing mostly slot sized redfish. Would I be ruined? Would the thrill be gone from catching 7 and 8 pounders after feeling the backing stretching pull of a 28 pound redfish? Today is the last day of my 4 day weekend, tomorrow it's back to work and reality. This morning I got up, got my daughter dressed and dropped her off at school. After dropping her off I came back by the house and picked up my boat, I pulled out of the driveway at 8am.
There's a particular pond that's been good lately, the only issue is that it's VERY shallw and today a very strong low was predicted. Doing the conversions I figured the tide would be bottoming out at that pond at about noon, and at the predicted level, the pond would be left high and dry. My window would be short. Get in, catch a few fish, and get out before getting stranded.
I launched and made the run to the pond, the wind had picked up quite a bit out of the S.E. The water was still fairly high but ripping out at a frenetic pace. I headed strait back to the Southeast corner of the pond figuring I could work the bank that ran from S.E. to N.W. and end up back by the entrance any my safe escape. I wasn't on the pole long when I spotted the first school of fish in open water. I poled to get upwind of them, I wanted to be able to drift into them, shoot a couple of pictures, then grab my rod and catch a fish. I did as planned and as I held the fish I caught to release him, I realized that for the past several minutes my thoughts had been on nothing other than that school of fish. As I approached that school my pulse had quickened, my vision had narrowed to a tunnel and I saw nothing other than that school and my awareness was limited to those fish and the loop of my fly line...I wasn't ruined, even after catching giant fish in shallow water, I still love what I do day in and day out on my home water.
I made good use of the short window I had. Fish were active, cruising the banks in pods of 5-10 fish like gangs of thugs looking for shrimp to carjack.
There were plenty of fish cruising the open flats in singles and doubles. I caught 9 fish, kept 3 small ones for dinner. I also caught another damn spotless redfish. I've fished Louisiana's waters all of my life and had never seen a spotless redfish in person prior to this weekend. Now I've caught 2 within 3 days on opposite ends of the state and seen another nearly spotless one come ot the boat.
Big fish down east are fun, and I'm certainly going to do it again, but it's good to be home
November 10th, 2010
Running of the bulls.
28 Pounds Of Fun.
Every now and then I get to experience a fishing trip that transcends any single day experience and becomes a benchmark event in my life. This past weekend I took one of those trips. My good friend Capt. Devin Palomino had been after me to take a trip with him down to the eastern portion of the Louisiana Gulf Coast to chase bull reds on fly. Finally the moon and stars aligned (as well as my work and family schedule) and I was able to make a road trip with him this past Sunday and Monday.
Devin picked me up at my house at 5am and we made the 4.5 hour drive east and south. As soon as we arrived at our destination we launched Devin's ECC Caimen and got on the water. The wind was stiff, 11-15 knots out of the NE. We made a short run stopping on a protected bank and Devin told me to take the front of the boat. He began poling us just off the bank in about 2 feet of water. We weren't on the water 5 minutes when I spotted a large dark shape heading toward us at 12 oclock. I made a cast, but the wind pushed my fly wide to the right, the fish then kicked out and was passing us at our 3 oclock, I picked up and laid the fly out on a back cast in front of the fish and the fish pounced on the big black and red weighted seaducer. Soon the fish had me deep into my backing. As I fought the fish, Devin fought to keep the boat from sinking as we had discovered that one of the plugs was loose and the bilge pump wasn't working right. I finally landed the fish, a long lean 12 pounder. We fished out the rest of the day ending with a total of 14 fish landed including 6 over 10 pounds, the largest being 18 pounds.
On Monday conditions looked a bit more favorable, the wind not predicted to be as strong. We launched facing a strong low tide and made a run that was a bit farther. As we worked our way into a small round cove about a quarter of a mile in diameter with water depths ranging from inches near the shore to about 2.5 feet in the center of the cove, we started picking up numerous slot sized reds up to around 9 pounds. After catching a few fish and swapping off a few times Devin was on the front of the boat when a large dark shaddow appeared, he dropped the fly in front of it, the shaddow paused then lurched and line started screaming off of Devin's reel. After a short battle Devin landed a 20 pound redfish
We kept fishing that same cove and kept racking up on the fish. By day's end we had boated 23 redfish including 9 bulls. The 9 bulls combined for a total weight of 211 pounds, with the biggest being a 29 pounder that Devin landed on a black and purple Drum Toad.
It was a truly epic day with many memorable moments and memorable catches. One catch that really stands out was the 18 pounder I landed on Sunday as it was Spotless.
..seem to be appearing with more regularity in our states waters of late. In addition to the spotless 18 pounder I caught down in the delta, on Tuesday I caught a 7 pound spotless redfish here in the Calcasieu Estuary. I've fished Louisiana's waters all of my life and had never seen a spotless redfish in person. I've now caught 2 in a span of 3 days. In addition, on Monday the 29 pounder that Devin caught had no spots on one side, and only a very small spot on the other.
October 14th, 2010
For years I've heard occasional reports, rumors and stories about incidents of tarpon being caught in the Calcasieu Estuary. I've also seen old photo's of catches of many large tarpon from Lake Charles dating back to the 1940's. Recently however a video has been posted on Youtube that confirms at least one recent tarpon hook up, and adds creadence to the other reports. The following video featuring a kayak fisherman jumping a tarpon was shot on October 4th, and you can clearly see the background of LNG at Calcasieu point. Oh what fun it would be to have a tarpon run here at home.
October 11th, 2010
Last week I started paying attention to my schedule for this past weekened, and realized that I had some free time on Sunday. I got a call from my good friend Capt. Devin Palomino and he had the day open too. Watching weather and tide predictions closely we formulated a plan. Start the day fishing some interior grassy marsh that isn't heavily tide dependant, then around mid day, move to a tidal mud flat to fish the low water of the end of the outgoing tide
All I can say is that I love it when a plan comes together. We had suspicions that recent cool fronts would have cleared the water and made the fish frisky. After our morning run, we shut down at the first pond we were fishing and immediately started seeing backs, tails and fish pushing. We fished the grassy marsh until around noon, putting 15 fish in the boat. Most of the fish caught were tailing or cruising singles or doubles, although we did encounter a couple of small schools, one of which afforded us the opportunity to hook up a double
Shortly after noon we made the run north to the tidal mud flat and it was infested with redfish. Fishing this flat was like a chinese fire drill as almost every time we caught a fish, we spotted the next target before being able to release the first fish. In the two hours we were able to fish the mud flat before the water left us, we put another 16 redfish in the boat. We also saw hundreds of smallish tailing black drum in the 3-5 pound range, but they showed no interest in any of our flies.
Apparently October has brought great fishing conditions to the entire coast of Louisiana as I've been getting reports of great catches from near the Tx state line, to Fourchon, Grand Isle, Port Sulpher, Biloxi Marsh and practically everything in between. Get on them now while the getting is good.
September 13th, 2010
September Spot Tails.
Yesterday I spent the day in the Southwest Louisiana Marsh with Barret Bertucci of Lafayette. Barret brought over his "Native SUV Skiff" Made by Ankona boat works.
Barret and I fished Cameron Prairie Refuge and found that the water was still pretty high due to the lingering effects of Tropical Storm Hermine that went into South Texas. Since the marsh in Cameron Prairie refuge is largely impounded, it takes a while for high water to recede.
With the high water, the redfish weren't being exceptionally active, but we did manage to scrape together a decent catch. Barret and I hooked 12 redfish, landed 7.
We found the majority of our fish by focusing on edges and on flats that were flooded by the high water, but that are normally too shallow to fish. In addition to the redfish we caught, we saw good numbers of big sheepshead that refused our every offering, and we saw lots of Gar fish, managing to land one
I've caught plenty of gar fish before, but I've never caught a gar, or any other fish before that smelled as bad as this one. It was an unholy odor coming from the toothy beast. It was an enjoyable day, and I really liked getting to check out Barrets boat. That Native SUV is a great little skiff and I will have more about it in a soon to come update to the "Flats Boat On a Budget" page on this site.
May 17th, 2010
More Fishing Opened In Mississippi Delta..
I just heard from Capt. Travis Holeman, who fishes primarily out of Hopedale, that fishing in the Biloxi Marsh on the East side of the Mississippi River has re-opened. As of yet the interior marsh HAS NOT been impacted by the BP oil spill on either side of the Mississippi, and the fishing and water are fine. No one knows how long the fisheries will remain open and oil free, but if you have ever wanted to experience the worlds finest redfishing, now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity. The guides throughout the Mississippi Delta can certainly use the bookings, and should have availabillity as they experienced many cancellations.
May 4th, 2010
Fish Louisiana Now..
There is an angle on the story about the BP Oils spill in the Gulf of Mexico that you aren't hearing on the news. Obviously the BP Oils pill is a disaster of epic proportions that will have devastating and long lasting effects on much of the Gulf Coast. Some of those most greatly affected, are of course the fine folks who make their living guiding. As was the case after hurricane Katrina in 2005 their living is being greatly impacted...but in many cases not because their fishery is closed, or because they aren't on fish, rather because the perception is that there is no fishing available.
Currently fishing has been closed for areas east of the Mississippi River, but the area's to the west of the river have not been impacted by the spill and are still providing excellent fishing. Now I'm not just referring to the area I fish on the west end of the state, I mean the west side of the Mississippi Delta including Port Sulphur, Empire, Myrtle Grove, etc....In fact, the guides in the area I've spoken to have been having one of the best springs ever, and given the quality of this fishery, that is saying a lot.
If you were considering a fishing trip to Louisiana, or for that matter are just looking for a great place to go fishing, right now those guides need your booking more than ever. The fishing is fine, the water is clean and oil free, and sadly, they probably have a lot of available dates coming up. Even if you were planning on fishing with one of the guides that works the east side of the delta, give them a call. I'm sure a lot of those guys will be pulling trips on the west side.
Some of the guides regularly fishing the east side are Capt. Alec Griffin, Capt. Rich Waldner, Capt. Brian Carter, Greg Arnold fishes both sides, and Uptown Angler in New Orleans is connected to other guides in the area as well.
These folks have been through a lot over the last 5 years, the support of anglers willing to book them and fish when things looked scary is what's kept them afloat this long, they certainly need the help now.
April 29th, 2010
He Ain't Heavy..
My older brother Steve and his bride Liesl were visiting Louisiana from their home in Denver earlier this week. Steve and Liesl spent Saturday and Sunday in Lafayette soaking up the sounds of Festival International, then came to Lake Charles Sunday evening with plans to fish with me on Monday and Tuesday.
After carefully watching the forecast for days on end, Monday morning I made the decision to make the run to Cameron Prairie Refuge, an adventure I normally reserve for days that or either calm, or that have prevailing winds out of the east. The forecast for Monday was showing winds out of the northwest, but at a level that still woldn't be too troubling to run. We launched at Heberts at about 7:15 am and made the run to the refuge in a light chop.
We quickly made our way to an area where I have recently been seeing a lot of schooling fish. With Steve and Liesl both being novices to this type of fishing, I figured that having a target the size of an entire school of fish to throw at would help weigh the odds in their favor. We hung out in this area for a while, getting on 9 different schools of fish, ranging from maybe 20 fish to upward of 80 fish. Out of these 9 schools we managed to boat 3 fish. Eventually the fish had been beat up on enough and the schools quit popping up, so I decided to make a short run to some shallower flats that have been holding a lot of fish working in singles and doubles. Arriving at these flats, we found the water gin clear because of the very prevelant growth of filimentous algea. Visibility was perfect and fish were everywhere, but initially they were not being very cooperative. The wind had completely died and the water had grown slick, this combined with the extreme clarity ahd the fish on high alert and unwilling to eat our flies. Eventually the wind began to build again and the ripple on the water seemed to make the fish willing to eat. In the course of the day we boated 11 redfish, including the first 2 fish Liesl had ever caught in her life.
April 10th, 2010
Updated Imagery Of LA Coast Now Available On Google Earth
Perusing Google Earth this morning, I noticed that they have made available more recent imagery of our coastal areas. Looking at areas within the Calcasieu Estuary I noted an imagery date of May 18th, 2009. When using Google Earth the imagery date appears in the lower left hand corner of the image. Previously the most recent imagery I was finding of hte Louisiana coast on Google earth was 2006. Lacoast.gov has aerial photo imagery of the Louisiana coast available that was taken in 2008, post hurricane Ike. While it's a little older than the new imagery available on Google Earth, I do find it to be of a higher resolution than what is available on Google Earth. Google Earth however is a little easier to use. Generally I'll use Google Earth to look for areas I want to fish, or other features, then if I want a closer look than what the imagery on Google Earth can provide, I'll use Lacoast.gov.
April 4th, 2010
After the longest, most fishles, miserable winter I can remember, I was finally able to shake the fierce case of the shack nasties, winter blues, or whatever you call the malady of going entirely too long without feeling a tug on the line.
Saturday morning weather, tide and opportunity all came together for me to get on the water. The predicted tide was fairly low, wind predictions light, and temperatures have been warm for a couple of weeks so my suspicion was that the redfish should finally be on the flats. Early Saturday morning my buddy Rusty met me at my house. Now Rusty is a great guy, a very good friend and a good fisherman, but he operates on "Rusty" time. Knowing that I wanted to be on the water at very first light, I asked Rusty to meet me at 5:30, which means he'll actually show up at 6. Well Saturday he showed up at 5:50 which actaully made him 10 minutes early on Rusty time.
We made the drive to Hebert's Marina, launched the boat and set out in dense fog navigating by GPS. The tide hadn't gotten quite as low as predicted, but for once the weatherman didn't lie about conditions.
We made the long run to Cameron Prairie refuge because water levels there are less effected by tide than by water control structures. Pulling up to the first area we wanted to fish, the water was extremely low. We couldn't actaully get on the flat we wanted to fish, but a nearby deaper flat was at a good fishable level. We began to see fish moving in two's and three's, we kept grounding the boat so we staked out in an area with a lot of activity and picked up a couple of fish. We poled around a bit more, picking up one more fish, and missing many other opportuinties. After working this area for a while we ran to a larger, deaper marsh pond. When we pulled into this bigger pond the wind had died and the water was like glass. I got on the poling platform and soon spotted a large school of redfish tailing and feeding in a very relaxed manner. As I was poling us toward the first school, Rusty spotted 2 other schools working. I got us right in front of the first school and as Rusty worked on getting his fly in front of a fish the school moved to within a rods length of the boat, never spooking, Rusty dropped his fly in the middle of the school and it was quickly inhaled by a 6.25 pound redfish. With water temperatures still fairly cool, all of the fish we caught fought like larger fish. After Rusty landed the fish out of the first school, we switched positions and started working toward the second school. I put down my rod and picked up my camera to take advantage of the opportunity to get shots of schooling fish. As we approached the second school I was steadily snapping pictures and finally said "well I guess I ought to catch one", I grabbed my rod out of the stripping basket, plopped the fly down in front of the school and was immediately hooked up. We repeated this routine a couple of more times before it was time to head home. Rusty and I had both made promises about what time we would be home, and I wanted to make sure we got home on time...even if it was on "Rusty Time".
On Sunday my family and I drove to Broussard to spend Easter at my sisters house as we always do. My sister has a small pond in her back yard that has always held plentiful numbers of bass and very large bluegill. After arriving at my sisters house, I said a quick hello to everyone then grabbed my fly rod and walked back to the pond. The pond looked better than it has in years, clear water, a healthy amount of grass, schooling bait, and lots of bass and schooling bluegill visable in the clear water. I tied on a size 6 yellow popper and started working the pond. In just a little over an hour I landed 10 bass that ranged from just over a pound to just under 3 pound as well as many baby bass in the 6 - 8 inch range, and one very large bluegill. After fishing I walked back up to the house and enjoyed large quantities of boiled crawfish and way too many desserts.
I can't remember an Easter weekend I've enjoyed more. Spring has definitely arrived in Southwest Louisiana.
March 14th, 2010
Not Quite Yet
Today the lure of beautiful weather and promising tides was more than I could resist. With beautiful warm and sunny conditins, and an ideal low tide level mid day I had to get on the water. I brought my wife and daughter with me to at least enjoy the day.
Arriving at Prien Lake Park, tides were low as we launched and the wind very light out of the west. The water on flats with some protection from the west wind was extremely clear, lots of bait was present, but unfortunately the redfish were not yet. It seems that every year my itch to fish draws me to the flats before the redfish arrive, in some sense I guess I'm trying to will the fish to show up. I know it won't be long though. I have however been getting good reports from big lake. Anglers are finding good numbers of redfish and speckled trout over shallow reefs and along shorelines in the lake.
February 17th, 2010
A Sad Note
I just got word that Al Crise passed away at a little after 12am this morning after battling cancer for quite a while. Al was an FFF Master Certified Casting instructor and was always extremely generous with his time in helping others learn, or refine their skills. Al was a great help with the casting program at the Gulf Coast Council Conclaves, and was known and recognized for his tireless work assisting many clubs and counsils.
February 8th, 2010
What More Needs To Be Said...
The Saint's won the Superbowl, the fish get a reprieve until the weather doesn't suck, now bring on Mardi Gras. WHO DAT!
January 24th, 2009
If You Like Solitue And Unpressured Fish...
If you don't like crowded water, and enjoy casting to unpressured fish, plan a trip on any Louisiana waterway on Sunday February 8th, if you do happen to see another boat, it's somebody from Texas, because every Louisianian will be home preparing for and watching the New Orleans Saint's in the Superbowl VS. the Indianapolis Colts. WHO DAT!
November 29th, 2009
Making Chicken S@%& out of Chicken Salad
It always seems that just when I think Iíve got something figured out I get humbled, particularly if I happen to talk about what I think I know. Today was a day for just such a smackdown.
Looking at the tides, it looked like Iíd have a nice window of low water starting a little before noon. It also looked like that low water would be accompanied by lots of wind. For once, forecasters were right on both predictions.
Arriving at the flat I wanted to fish a little before 11am, the water was at a very favorable level, the wind was not. Winds were ripping out of the southeast at 10-15, occasionally gusting to 20. With conditions similar to, but slightly better than my last outing, I thought that Iíd start out in the same area, attempting the same pattern I had fished two weeks ago (see report below from November 16).
I worked my way to the southeast corner of the flat, the most protected area, which has a drain coming in from the marsh grass bringing clear water. Right after arriving in the southeast corner I spotted a happy redfish feeding with his back out of the water. I made a cast, made a bad presentation and spooked the fish. Shortly thereafter, I spotted another fish feeding on small shrimp, made a good cast, striped the fly, and when the fish lunged for the fly mouth open I tried to set the hook too early pulling the fly away from the fish. For the most part, this inauspicious start defined the remainder of my outing.
Conditions were challenging with the strong winds, and cloud cover limiting visibility, but I had my shots and just kept blowing them. I exhibited all manner of shot blowing techniques today, lining fish, hitting fish in the head with the fly, popping the fly off on the back cast with 2 fish sitting right in front of me, having my cast at fish stopped short because my line was wrapped around the rod butt, wasting time and tide making cast after cast at a large hardhead that I thought was a redfish, and more. My performance today was a clinic on how to snatch defeat right out of the jaws of victory.
Along the long and windy road to failure, I did manage through dumb luck and determination to catch 2 redfish, but by all rights I should have had at least 8 fish in the boat. Iíll chalk up today as dues paid and hope I get another shot at sight fishing redfish before they leave the flats for the winter.
November 16th, 2009
Making Chicken Salad Out Of Chicken S@%&
The further we move into fall, the closer I am to the end of my season for sight casting to redfish. Unlike the S.E. area of the state, we donít keep fish on the flats through the winter. Once water temps drop enough to drive bait off the flats, the fish leave too.
Sunday morning was predicted to be a good day for me to slip in yet another trip before the season ends. Tide tables were calling for a strong low, early at the pass, which translated to late morning in the area I wanted to fish, and winds were predicted to be S at around 5. Knowing I had time to wait for the tide, I slept in than took off at 8, launching at about 8:40 am.
Unfortunately weathermen Lie, a lot. South at 5 turned into S.E. at around 12, enough to hold the tide up and muddy the hell out of the big marsh pond I wanted to fish. The predicted low this morning was supposed to be Ė 0.20, but the level the water was at was equivalent to a tide of +1.3. The water was coming out at a decent clip, so I figures Iíd make the best of the situation. I staked out in the canal near one of the cuts into the pond, figuring I would blind cast the cut with weighted flies to try and catch a flounder for dinner.
As I was blind casting to no avail I looked up into a small flat that was formed where the canal ended. There was a small marsh drain pouring into the corner of that flat, which was protected from the southeast wind.. I saw a fish pushing in there so I pulled my stake and started poling his way. As I poled into that corner, the water cleared greatly. The water coming out of the marsh grass was clear, and with the corner protected it stayed clear. I soon spotted the fish I had seen and caught him.
The pond I was just outside of is large, about a mile long by more than a third of a mile wide. It so happens that in the Southeast corner of the big marsh pond is a sizable drain coming out of the marsh. I figured that the southeast corner of the big pond might replicate what I was seeing on this small flat, so I cranked up and ran to the southeast corner. I shut down a couple of hundred yards away from the corner and started poling in. I was still in muddy water, but I started pushing a lot of fish. I just couldnít see them. Finally, when I got tight to the corner, the water cleared. The area of clear water was small, about 150 feet by 100 feet, but there were a lot of fish blowing up in the area, so I staked out in the corner and waited. Soon I saw a 2 foot long dark torpedo move into my little patch of clear water. I dropped the fly about 2 feet to the side of him, twitched it once, and he was on.
I waited patiently, and occassionally, but steadily, fish kept moving into my little zone of visibillity giving me a shot. On this day, I was on my game, converting every shot into a caught fish.
Finally around noon I saw a huge blowup on a point about a hundred yards west of me, but oddly, it kept blowing upÖ.it was a school. The school kicked off of the bank and ended up directly down wind of me. I pulled the stake and started drifting toward them, quickly moving into range, I took a couple of quick shots with my camera, then picked up my rod, layed a cast ahead of the school, and with one strip had a fish on. I finished the day with 8 redfish in conditions that had me thinking it would be a skunking
Today made me think about how Iíve evolved as a fisherman. A couple of days ago I was talking to my good friend Devin Palomina. He asked me if I thought we were catching a lot more fish now because the fishery had improved so much, or because we had become better anglers. I answered truthfully that it was both.
When I first started trying to catch redfish on fly, I had no clue what good conditions were, didnít know the tides, or even how to identify good areas. I just stumbled about and if I happened to catch a fish that made it a great dayÖhell Iíd be excited about a trip if I just saw some fish. As I progressed and began to learn the tides, features and conditions that provided good fishing, I would get excited when I caught a few fish, and with more experience my days were gauged on larger and larger numbers of fish in good conditions. Yesterday I got out in aweful conditions and put together a day that most folks would consider pretty damn good because I knew the water, and had a pretty good idea of how the fish would act. This feels pretty good, now I wonder whatís next.
October 19th, 2009
The Rise Of Fall
Fall can be both the most productive and pleasant time for Louisiana Fly Fishing. Air temperatures and water temperatures drop, making things more comfortable for man and fish alike.
Last week Southwest Louisiana got our first real cool front of the year, clearing skies, lowering humidity, and dropping temperatures into the upper 40's. Of course with every front come a blast of north winds, but by Sunday the winds were predicted to moderate and to even get a little bit of east in them. For the first time in a long time, I had time to get out Sunday morning to fish.
With wind having a little east to it's bearing, I took the opportunity to make the run to Cameron Prairie Refuge. The run to the refuge requires a 9 mile run down big lake, but launching at Hebert's, I was able to run close to the east bank avoiding rough water. Passing through the boat bay in the Grand Bayou weirs, I was soon on the flat I had planned to start on.
Because Cameron Prairie Refuge is essentially impounded, changes in water level occur very gradually. Due to recent rains, the water in the marsh was still quite high, in fact, it was too high for the first flat I stopped on to be productive, plus it was blown out by the wind and muddy. I moved to another area nearby that consist of marsh that is more broken and enclosed, essentially a series of small interconnected ponds. Normally this area is too shallow to fish, but in these conditions it was just right. Water clarity was decent, largely due to the generous amounts of widgeon grass growing all over
Almost immediately after pulling into this area, I spotted a nice tail sticking out of the middle of a matt of widgeon grass. The fish had his head completely burried in the grass and there was no way to put a fly in front of him. I cast my fly tight to the edge of the grass, intentionally making it land with a loud "splat", the noise got the fish to pick his head up to investigate and I soon boated a 6 pound redfish. Things got tough for a while as the wind was really humping. Fishing alone from the poling platform is challenging enough, but doing it in the wind is really tough. There were a lot of fish around, but they weren't concentrated in schools or small area's, rather they were scattered thoughout the marsh wherever there was widgeon grass. I worked from pond to pond, continually picking up fish, all on small weighted seaducers tied on #4 hooks, tan with a bit of orange on teh head. By days end I had boated 14 nice redfish and made a nice start to the fall.
August 19th, 2009
Digging The Dog Days
While the heat of summer can sometimes mean a slight slowdown in the shallow water redfishing action, this summer is seeing no such down turn. 2 recent afternoon-after work trips were testament to just how good the fishing still is.
Danny Williams and I watch the tides, and if see a prediction of a low tide at a time when we can slip out, you'll find us on the shallow flats somewhere in the Calcasieu Estuary. When that window of tide and time happens to fall on a weekday afternoon, you'll find us on the flats near town for a quick afternoon trip. On two recent afternoons, about 2 weeks apart, we made a quick after work excursion to chase tailing redfish. On the first of these afternoons the wind was howling out of the west southwest. Normally we can easily get out of a south wind on some of our near town flats, but the wind had enough west in it to limit us to fishing a couple of specific protected coves. Even with the screaming wind, we were able to pick up about 10 redfish in a few short hours.
Our most recent afternoon outing was last Wednesday. I had to fight after work traffic, so it was 5:30 by the time I met Danny at the boat launch. As we arrived on the flats I stuck my hand in the water and almost recoiled like I had stuck my hand in a pot of hot oil. The water was extremely hot, well over 90 degrees. These kind of water temperatures are usually not a great sign for finding redfish on the flats, however we weren't on the water long before we started seeing, and catching fish. The numbers of fish around were incredible. They were showing cleavage with their back sticking high above the water all over the place. The hot water did have the fish in a non agressive mode. They simply would not eat unless you touched their nose with the fly, and as a reasult we had many more refusals than hookups. Even with the finicky fish, we managed to boat 17 in 2 hours and 45 minutes of fishing. The water was exceptionally low and we came close to getting ourselves stuck for the evening. All of this was without ever being out of sight of the top of L'Aberge Du Lac. Watch the water levels, if you get a low tide and have the time get on the water, if you can get shallow enough, you'll catch some fish.
June 29th, 2009
Hot Fun In The Summer Time
On Friday afternoon Danny Williams called to see if I had plans for Saturday morning. Fortunately the stars were aligned right and I actually had a window of time to take advantage of. The moon was aligned right too because we had a good low tide predicted for Saturday morning.
I met Danny at his house at about 5:15am and after a quick stop at the local shop and rob to get Danny some chew we were on the water at Prien Lake park at about 5:45. We made a quick run to a shallow cove and soon started seeing redfish tailing and showing their backs.
As we started working this cove, another boat was paralelling us along the bank, about 100 yards farther out. Without the benefit of the shallow draft of Danny's Gheenoe under the power of a push pole, they couldn't think of fishing as tight to the bank as we were. It didn't take long until we managed 3 fish on virtually consecutive cast. The normal program for Danny and I is to switch positions push poling and casting after each fish, if there are a lot of fish around, and it's apparent the action will be hot, we'll switch after every 2 or 3 fish. Saturday was shaping up so good that we switched only after every 5 fish.
We worked this bank, reaching it's south end and losing our protection from the west wind, so we cranked up and moved a short ways to another bank protected from the west wind. This bank was shallow and firm with lots of stumps logs and other snags, it also had lots of redfish on it. We started fishing and immediately hooked up. We worked this bank a ways north, then retraced our path back south and continued south until the bank became more broken with a softer bottom, catching fish the whole way. There wasn't any area we coverd that wasn't holding fish. By 9:30 we had caught 20 redfish and called it a day shortly after that.
It's great to hit conditions right, but it's even better to fish with a well worn fishing buddy. Danny and I have spent countless days push poling each other around the marsh after redfish, and it's practically automatic for us. We know the measure of each others cast, and know how and where to position the boat to give the other his best shot at a fish. We have the same interpretation of "Fish at 2 o'clock" and understand what the other means when he say's "There's a redfish toodling out of the middle of that school of finger mullet, pitch it at him". In short, we increase each others chances for success with the way we fish together as much as we increase each others enjoyment of the trip with friendship. Saturday we were on our "A" game, the fish didn't have a chance.
June 15th, 2009
It's Good To Be Home
Sunday morning, I had a very short window of opportunity to slip out for some fishing. The flats in the upper part of the Calcasieu estuary near town, provide very good sight fishing opportunities IF you catch them at low tide levels. I knew there would be a short window of low water early, and had been getting reports from my buddy Danny Williams that there were a lot of fish around.
I was up early Sunday morning, and on the water at first light. As soon as I shut down and started poling I could see fish moving. I was fishing a long bank and could see backs and tails down the whole length of it. I started on the east end of the bank, which really wasn't the best move, the tide was still trickling in, moving down this bank from west to east, and redfish almost always work into the tide when feeding, so I was approaching fish from behind rather than working into them.
As soon as I started working the bank, I saw a pod of 3 fish, dropped a small Kwan tied on a #4 hook in front of them, and was hooked up on the first cast of the day. I kept working down the bank, getting plenty of shots at fish. The fish were not being boat shy, but as Danny had reported to me, they were being tough to feed, with a lot of them spooking off of a well presented fly. Dispite the somewhat surley mood of the fish, they were plentiful enough that within 45 minutes I had a limit of 5 nice redfish in the boat. After having been on the water for 1 hour I had to leave the flat, run back to the launch and go pick my daughter up from my mother in law's house. I returned to the flat with my daughter about an hour after having left it, but the tide had gone slack and the wind had picked up
and the fish were not moving around like they were before. I fished for a very short while with Marie, but she wasn't in a particularly patient mood, so we ended up at the water park at Prien Lake Park.
Later in the day, when I cleaned the fish it was interesting to see that each fish was feeding selectively, but the fish were feeding on different things. 2 of the fish had a stomach full of small shrimp, and only shrimp. 1 of the fish was stuffed with about 12 juvenile blue crabs ranging from the size of a 50 cent piece down to as small as the nail on my little finger, and one of the fish was stuffed with small shad. Even though all of these fish came from the same bank, within a few hundred yards of each other, they had settled on different feeding patterns.
I ended the evening on a feeding pattern of my own, enjoying fried redfish, along with boiled shrimp, potato's carrots and corn, jalepeno cornbread, and collard greens.
June 8th, 2009
My wife Tina, and I just got back from a week at Club Med on San Salvador Island in the Bahama's. This was primarily a "make the wife happy" trip, not a fishing trip, my wife selected the location with the caveat that I could "make do" with what fishing was available.
San Salvador is a small island, about 12 miles long by 5 miles wide. It is one of the eastern most islands in the Bahama's and is the reported site of Christopher Columbus' first landing in the new world. The island is sparsely populated with about 1,000 residents scattered in small settlements around the island. Other than Club Med, there is a marina catering to scuba divers and blue water fisherman, and not much else.
A while back I posted on Dan Blanton's Bulletin Board asking about D.I.Y. techniques for the Bahama's and received and email from Walt Kleckley. Walt saw that I was heading to San Sal, and forwarded to me a ton of great info on fishing the island, as he had been there in November. Using Walt's descriptions of the area's he fished, I got on Google Earth, set points, then entered the lat/lon info into my GPS.
San Salvador island has a tidal creek and lagoon system in the southeast corner of the island, which is the opposite side of the island from the Club Med resort. Per Walts reccomnedation my wife and I rented a car for the week to be able to access the fishing, and tour the island with Tina.
Tina and I arrived at San Salvador on Saturday, and spent the afternoon getting aquainted with the resort, which was fantastic. Sunday we got up, did the beach thing for a while, then Sunday afternoon I decided to drive around the island primarily to find my walk in spots and to get oriented. I wasn't really planning of fishing hard Sunday afternoon, but was bringing a rod "just in case". As I was walking through the resort to the car, carrying my fly rod, I bumped into a gentleman walking with a fly rod also. His name is Brian Anderson, from Calgary Alberta. Brian had been on the island for almost a week at this point, fishing every day. It turns out that Brian had gotten the same info from Walt that I had, and had been fishing the area's I was targeting with good success.
My talk with Brian got me excited so my plans for the afternoon changed from re-con to full bore fishing. I got to the flat and easily found the walk in. The water was a bit high and still coming in, it was overcast and quite windy, not the best conditions. The wading however was very good, the flat very firm and easy on the legs. After a bit of wading along the mangroves, I saw a shark pushing and he spooked out a school of bonefish. The bonefish quickly settled down and continued cruising my way along the mangroves. I made a quick cast to the magrove edge ahead of the school, gave the fly a small strip as the fish approached and it was fish on. I landed my first D.I.Y. bonefish. After releasing him I continued wading south on the flat and saw another good sized school of fish pushing toward me, another quick cast, strip and fish on.
After the second fish the wind started kicking much harder. I spotted a few more fish tailing and pushing, but never got close enough to them to get a shot.
Brian and I decided to fish together for the next couple of mornings. Monday morning we got to the same flat as the water was pouring out. Our window was fairly short before the flats completely dried up. Brian went north, and once again I went south. I blew 3 shots that morning, including one on a HUGE bonefish, and 2 shots on small schools of tailers. On the big fish, I had cast and didn't realize he had turned onto the fly, I picked up to re-cast spooking him, that's when he lifted up out of the water and I saw how big he was. On the schools I just threw too close and too noisily.
On Tuesday Brian and I checked out a different flat that Walt had told us about farther north. This flat is huge, about a mile wide by a mile and a half long, and is a little tougher to get onto. We made our way to the mangrove bank on the far side of the flat. While the main body of the flat offered excellent wading, once we approached the mangroves it got very soft, sinking to the tops of our boots. The tide was coming out so we set up near cuts in the mangroves hoping to intercept fish coming out with the tide. Brian was on the right cut, he picked up 3 nice bonefish, I caught 2 baby lemon sharks.
I didn't do any more flats fishing that week, I'd get up in the morning to check conditions and it was overcast and windy each morning. I decided to take it easy with my wife rather than fight the conditions. One morning I did get up early and make a few cast from the beach at the resort, and landed a nice trigger fish on fly.
Tina and I toured the island, visiting some very old ruins on the island, an old kerosene powered light house and generally enjoying the natural beauty and friendly people who live there. Club Med was great with outstanding food, very good service, comfortable rooms, and actually fairly reasonable package rates for an all inclusive.
I'm back at home now refreshed and recharged.
Thanks to Walt for all his help, and to Brian.
MAY 26TH, 2009
Memorable Memorial Day
With a week long vacation looming, and my heart set on spending quite a bit of it fishing, I had made the decision to stay close to home Memorial Day weekend and stock up brownie points with the Warden. Memorial day morning I had gotten my daughter situated in front of the 32 inch Sony babysitter and sat down to knock out a few last bonefish flies in anticipation of our vacation at the end of this week.
At about 11:45 my phone rang, it was my buddy Capt. Devin Palomino. Devin had the afternoon free and wanted to know if I wanted to make a quick run to the marsh with him. I was torn for about a half a second "let me see if I can get a yard pass, I'll call you back" I replied. I went to the warden with my most sheepish look, and explained that Devin had called, he's been working hard guiding, never gets a chance on the front of the boat and spends most of his days poling guys who can't cast past their shadow. It would be a great mission of mercy and Christian charity for me to go fishing with him so that I could pole him, or at least make the shots he called out when on the front of the boat. While the look she gave me didn't offer any encouragement that I would se her in any less than a parka for the next week, she muttered "go ahead". I called Devin back and we made plans to for him to pick me up at about 1pm.
Waiting for Devin, I had time to knock out 2 suspended epoxy spoon flies, which I was completely out of, and which I knew would be necesarry because of grass. Devin picked me up and we got on the water shortly. We started out working a shallow slough. The edge of the slough was grassed up with widgeon grass, offering fairly clear water and good numbers of cruising redfish. We picked up 3 fish, and hooked and lost a couple of other on this pattern, when Devin decided to crank up his E.C.C. Caymen and head to an area of very shallow, recently opened up marsh.
Similar to the pattern we've been on lately, this flat was an area that used to be solid marsh that got opened up by the hurricanes of the past 3 years. The water was a little on the high side, so were were able to actually float the flat, and not relegated to creek beds and ditches. As soon as we transitioned onto the flat from the adjacent canal we saw a school of fish. I was intently watching the front edge of what I though was a small school. As I stood on the casting platform, waiting for Devin to get me close enough to the school to take a shot, it soon became apparent that the school was a LOT bigger than we thought, in fact we were already in the school, which covered about 1/4 of a pretty large flat. I cast and hooked up while Devin staked the boat out and grabbed his rod. We picked up 4 or 5 fish one after another without moving before the school broke up and moved on. I got on the poling platform and started working Devin down an edge of the flat. We quickly encountered another good sized pod of fish. Devin put his spoon right in front of the school multiple times, stripping the spoon in front of the school, through the school and at various angles, all of which should have gotten a strike, but didn't. For some reason they were ignorning his offering. Finally one of the fish in the bunch, angry at having been beaned on the head by a heavy spoon fly, turned and ate it. Devin boated the fish. We flaoted the rest of that flat, and the very edge of one other before thunderstorms and a funnel cloud conviced us it was time to leave. We finished the afternoon having boated 10 reds in about 3 hours, all in the heat of the day.
MAY 18TH, 2009
It's Finally Feeling Springy
I don't ever recall a spring where it has stayed so windy for so long. Saturday was perhaps the first day this spring that the wind gave us a window to fish. Danny Williams and I made a run into the marsh and saw that whatever the wind has been doing, it hasn't kept the fish from stacking up in the marsh. Backs and tails were everywhere and we ended up boating 16 redfish. The marsh was very grassy so a spoon fly was the only thing we could throw, but the fish at it willingly.
Year before last we began to notice a pattern. When hurrican Rita came through, she opened up a lot of area's of formerly solid marsh. Many of the area's that were opened up are now very shallow flats filled with clumps of stubble remaining from the marsh grass that had been there. Redfish love these area's, they seem to hold a lot of crabs and the water stays fairly clear in them. The only problem is that most of these stubble fields are too shallow to push pole over. We've started looking for old creek beds running through these area's. We pole the creek beds while fishing to either side, it's very productive..
April 21st, 2009
Counting Down The Days
My wife decided that we needed to take a vacation. It was quite apparent that she was at a point where the only appropriate response from me was either "ok" or "yes ma-am". It was not an opportune time for me to push for a fishing vacation. I shut up and let her decide where she wanted to go. As luck would have it, Tina decided on the Bahama's. Now if she had picked Andros Island, Long Island or Crooked Island it would be awesome for fishing, instead however she picked Club Med on San Salvador Island.
At first blush it may seem that San Salvador isn't the place for a flats fishing fanatic like me to get a fix. Heck there isn't even a flats fishing guide on San Salvador (although blue water services abound). After some map study and research however, it seems that San Salvador is a more than decent place for some DIY walk in flats fishing for bonefish, and with a little work, even offers some back lake opportunities for baby tarpon. We leave on May 29th and I'm waiting with baited breath.
January 5TH, 2009
Louisiana Fly Fishing in the Winter.
While some folks seek activites in warmer environs once winter sets in. Many opportunities still exsist for the warmly dressed angler. Depending on the area of the state that you are in, patterns and
techniques may be a little different than what you are used to in warmer weather, but there are still fish to be taken on fly.
Here at home in the Calcasieu Estuary, shallow water sight fishing opportunities get very limited in the winter. Once the cold fronts of winter push the shrimp and bait fish off of the flats, the redfish are generally absent as well. There are a few
isolated area's where fish may move up in the skinny on sunny afternoons, but for the most part, redfish in the Calcasieu Estuary spend the winter months in Big Lake itself. Now that doesn't mean you can't catch a lot of redfish on fly in winter, it simply calls for a change in tactics. Right now many redfish are being taken along the
eastern shore of Big Lake, fishing outside of the 4 sets of wiers when water is flowing out of them, and even just beating the banks. If you are fishing near the wiers, a great technique is weighted flies on a sinking line, if your just beating banks in 2-3 feet of water, a floating line or intermediate sink tip will suffice. Many specks are still being
caught throughout the estuary, including as far north as Lake Charles propper, some under birds, others by fishing drop off's into the ship channel.
In other area's of the state, things are a little different. Many redfish, including some true hogs, are still patrolling the shallow marshes of Grand Isle, Port Sulphur, Empire, and Hopedale. I've heard reports and seen photo's of many huge bulls being boated on fly this winter. Traditional winter favorite spots including some of the deep holes along hwy 1 are producing numbers of specks as well.
Warmwater anglers aren't left out in the cold either. Indian summer afternoons can cause bass to start looking up. Christmas Day I brought to hand a lot of healthy fat bass and a couple of gigantic bluegill out of a private pond south of Lafayette. Don't let the cold keep you home. Take the opportunity to fish with less pressure than normal. Just adapt your techniques to current conditions and get on the water to enjoy some Louisiana Fly Fishing.
November 10TH, 2008
It Ain't Over Yet.
About the only complaint I could have about the Calcasieu Estuary with regard to it as a fly fishing destination is the seasonal nature
of the shallow water sight fishing opportunities here. Unlike area's of the Louisiana coast that are farther east, once the cold of winter sets in redfish leave many of
our flats and shallow ponds, not to return until spring. The major exceptions to this are area's withing Sabine and Cameron Prairie Refuge that both close seasonally.
That being said, this season ain't over yet. Yesterday I got into the marsh with Danny Williams and we had a banner day. We arrived at one of our favorite ponds shortly after
first light, and began seeing fish immediately. It wasn't long before we were seeing huge schools of redfish in water that wasn't even deep enough to cover their backs. We ended up landing 24 redfish up to about 6 pounds, all sight casting. The marsh was full of very small shrimp
that the fish were feeding on, the water was clear, and the tide ideal. The small shrimp and those fish probably won't be going anywhere until we get a very strong cold front, so every opportunity I have I'm going to get after them. Of course, about the time the shallow water fishing starts to
shut down, it will be time for me to start targeting big specks in the lake. A fishermans work is never done.
July 15th, 2008
The quality of the fishing in the Calcasieu Estuary this year continues to amaze me. I am seeing, and catching redfish in the marsh in numbers I've never imagined
On Saturday July 12th Capt.Devin Palomino got into the marsh on the East side of the estuary, and were greeted by massive numbers of redfish. In a half day of fishing we landed 30 redfish on fly, and lost over a dozen that had been hooked due to the thick grass. The fish were tailing, crawling, schooling, and most of all EATING.
We started our day throwing spoon flies, as they handle the grass well, but after boating better than a dozen fish, we started fishing poppers just to make it interesting, and the redfish were accomodating in eating those as well. A week prior to this trip, Major Wylie Huffman and I had a great day in the marsh just a few miles further south. While I'm not a huge fan of throwing spoon flies, there is no denying their effectiveness, and they are perhaps the most weedless of all flies. After having tied and tried virtually all of the various forms of spoon flies, I've settled on the suspended epoxy spoons, such as the ones Rich Waldner has popularised as the ones I preffer. Directions for tying them can be found on this site under "Saltwater Flies"
May 27th, 2008
Loads Of Fish Being Caugt.
Both from seeing first hand, and from reports, I can tell you that amazing numbers of redfish are still present in the marsh in the Calcasieu Estuary, and as often as not, they are in a mood to eat. I've been encountering tremendous numbers of redfish in the 4-6 pound range in marshy area's throughout the estuary. Often I'm finding the fish in extremely shallow area's of water filled with grass and stubble. These area's were solid grassy marsh, but were opened up into ponds by hurricane Rita. The remaining stubble and aquatic grass that now grows abundantly in the rich soil in these areas clears the water tremendously, and provides favored habitat for crabs which in turn bring in the redfish...in droves.
In addition to these area's, I've been getting reports of really good numbers of fish, as well as somewhat larger fish, being taken off of a lot of the traditional mud flats in the upper parts of the estuary.
If you plan on fishing in the next week, don't be surprised if you have company in areas you are used to having all to yourself. The Redfish Cup tour is making a stop in Port Arthur this weekend, and many of the anglers are making the run over this way to fish Louisiana Waters because we have more fish. They are pre fishing right now, the tournament will be Friday through Sunday. I know quite a few of the anglers who fish the cup, and to a man they are good guys, but one thing I have learned about them is that they don't miss a trick. If there is a good spot, they will find it. Since the tournament blast off is in Port Arthur however, if you get on the water early this weekend, you will no doubt be in your favorite hole before they make the run over.
May 5th, 2008
A Fly Fishing Friend Has Passed.
Earlier today I recieved some very sad news. Our friend Mark Delaney has passed away. I was going to fill this space by listing the many things he did to contribute to the promotion and growth of the sport of fly fishing, and his contributions have been immense. But I would rather relate
how passionate he was about fly fishing with a simple ancedote. Every fall I do something for my employment that envolves me being stationed outdoors in front of a local retail store for a few days on Thanksgiving week. Invariably each year while I'm based in front of the store, Mark would stop by one or two evenings to see how I was doing, and to talk fishing. Every time he stopped we both
ended up staying up much later than either of us wanted because we got caught up in the fishing talk. Mark was generous with his time to a fault when it came to fly fishing related organizations and activities.
Mark will be missed by many as a friend, and will also certainly be missed by the many clubs and organizations he worked so tirelessly for. My heartfelt condolences and prayers are offered to his wife and 2 daughters.
April 21st, 2008
These Are The Good Old Days
I have become a firm believer that Mother Nature knows best. I've now had the opportunity to see first hand the kind of rebirth and renewal that can come out of seeming devastation. When Hurricane Rita hit Southwest Louisiana in 2005 (yes there was "another" hurricane in '05) we really got pounded. The devastation to peopleís lives, livelihoods and property was immense. Our estuary was also turned upside down. Untold acres of marsh uprooted, and a massive amount of debris, some of which was hazardous, was strewn through the marsh.
After the storm passed we held our breath and watched to see what would happen to the estuary. The first few trips out on the water were not encouraging, but a few months after the storm things were looking up. The spring following the storm we started seeing absolute hordes of very small redfish everywhere in the Calcasieu estuary. Somehow, the hurricane triggered some element of the cycle that drove recruitment through the roof. We also started seeing many more speckled trout being caught in what was already a great fishery. Those fish are still around, but now they are bigger and hungry. There is virtually no place in the marsh you can go without seeing redfish and the fishing is better than it has ever been.
This past Saturday my buddy Maj. Wylie came down from Fort Polk to fish. We got on the water at safe light, welcoming the great conditions we had. Clear skies and very light wind was the order of the day. We made a pretty long run across Calcasieu Lake to get to the marsh we wanted to fish. Once back in the marsh, we worked our way to a very big marsh lake that is about 14 - 18 inches deep and filled with widgeon grass, clear water, and redfish.
At first we were seeing no signs of fish, but then I saw a group of birds working at the back of the lake, the redfish were starting to school up and the gulls were taking notice. I poled us toward the first school spotted, Wylie had never fished redfish that were schooling like this, and wasn't sure what to look for, their signatures can be pretty subtle some times. I got us in range of the school and told Wylie to launch one long at 12 oíclock, he obliged even though he had his doubts that fish were there, and was rewarded with an instant hook up.
Often schooling redfish in these large open bodies will be moving extremely fast and are hard to get on. These fish were more relaxed, lazily milling about eating small shrimp; they started slurping at the surface like trout taking dries, so we started throwing deer hair. Redfish on the top are a blast. Because of their under-slung inferior mouth, they have to launch themselves out of the water to come crashing down on top of surface offerings.
After putting a good number of reds in the boat, the schools began to break up and sulk. We poled into a cut in the bank and moved into an area of broken marsh, made up of small potholes connected by ditches and trails. Even though we had only moved a few hundred yards, this was now a completely different type of fishing. Casting at singles and doubles cruising and tailing. The fish even looked different. In the clear water of the open lake, the fish were as bright as a copper penny, but in the slightly stained water of the broken marsh, they were paler. Fish were everywhere, every pond, pothole, ditch and trail was loaded and Wylie and I were on our game. It was mostly close quarters action, the hand to hand combat of the fishing world. We ended up hooking 29 redfish, putting 25 in the boat. This is the kind of day my dreams are made of.
March 14th, 2008
40 Fish In The Hole! (To the tune of Humble Pie "30 Days In The Hole")
You can call me Tuco, because this past weekend was a marsh version of ďThe Good, The Bad, and The UglyĒ. The good was the fishing, the bad was the weather, and the ugly was....well, I'll get to that. I was booked to guide Friday, Saturday and Sunday by Grosse Savanne lodge. I don't work for Grosse Savanne, but they sub me out whenever they have large groups and need and extra boat, and sometimes when they need an additional "fly fishing specialist". Now normally I have to work at my day job on Friday mornings, but I had recently won a comp day, so I took the day off to guide.
Friday morning we had a large corporate group booked. The local Conoco plant was rewarding a group of their employees for a long period of accident free work. I woke up Friday morning to 41 degree weather with 20 - 25 mile an hour winds, gusting to 35. This was going to be miserable. I got up to the lodge, launched my boat at their boat house, prepped it and tied off, then went up to the lodge itself to meet our guest. They showed up at about 7am, and like most corporate groups were a mixture of hardcore fishermen, casual anglers,and people who had never touched a rod before. They served the group breakfast then started pairing them up with guides. I recognized a guy I knew in the group that's a pretty fun fellow to be around, so I grabbed him and told him that he and his partner were fishing with me. Although I had all of the needed gear, they both said they wanted to bring their tackle. The guy I knew pulled out a pretty nice rod with a Shimano Corrado on it. At least he knew decent tackle. The other guy, completely under dressed for the conditions pulled out 2 "rhino" rods with Zebco 33's on them. I began to envision a very long day.
We got on the water and headed out into the marsh at about 8 am. The raging North wind had blown out most of the water, so places to fish were pretty limited, in addition, the whole marsh was a complete mud hole with water that looked like thick chocolate milk. I staked us out on the edge of a canal, where a flat drains into it, rigged the guys with shrimp under a popping cork and had them start casting right at the drop off. They started picking up fish, and surprisingly, the guy with the Zebco 33 was actually a decent angler. We fought the wind and cold until about 11am when the guys wanted to head back in to get some hot gumbo in them. The guys had picked up 5 nice redfish, the biggest of which went about 6 pounds, not bad considering conditions, and that we only fished for 3 hours.
I left my boat parked at the lodge Friday night as I was returning to guide some fly fishermen Saturday morning. I arrived early Saturday to launch and prep my boat. Capt. Devin Palomino and I were taking out a group of 3 fishermen from Colorado, Montana, and Texas. The guys from Colorado and Montana were fly fishermen, the guy from Texas was not. I took Montana and Texas in my boat, they were brothers, Devin took Colorado. We started fishing an area of marsh a stones throw due west of the lodge, where we knew some schools of fish had been hanging out . Unfortunately because of the conditions, once again chilly and windy, with muddy water, we couldn't find the ever wary schools. We ran back to the dock and trailored South to a different area of marsh.
We re-launched, this time with Colorado in my boat, and Montana and Tex in Devins' and ran to the general area where we had fished with the corporate group the previous day. We slid into a shallow marsh lake that was about 14-16 inches deep that a couple of other lodge boats were working. Our anglers were willing to throw conventional gear in order to catch fish, and given the muddy, windblown conditions, we rigged them up with spinning rods and let them go at it. They were doing OK, picking up fish fairly consistently, when Montana started blind casting with his fly rod again, after a few minutes he was hooked up to a decent redfish. Seeing this, Colorado immediately picked up his fly rod. "What did you catch it on?" Colorado called over to Montana. "A spoon fly" was Montana's reply. I dug in my tackle bag and pulled out a beautiful red and gold epoxy spoon I had tied a couple of nights before (see the pattern at http://www.redchaser.com/suspendedspoon.htm). Colorado tied it on and started casting, within just a couple of minutes...WHAM... he had on a nice keeper sized red fish. We released it and he went back to fishing. A few minutes later and another hook up...this was working out and things were looking up.
Then into the Good, Bad, and Ugly, crept the bizarre. One of the other boats fishing the area had hooked a nice red on shrimp under a popping cork. As they tried to boat the fish, the line broke above the popping cork. For about an hour we watched the fluorescent chartreuse cork mill around the lake, following small schools of fish. Finally the cork started moving toward my boat. I picked up a spinning rod with a Johnsonís spoon on it, and started firing off cast near the cork, hoping that the fish attached to the cork had company that would eat my spoon. Most of the time, if my cast landed to near the cork, the fish would spook and move. Finally I placed a cast ahead of, and past the cork, and started a retrieve to bring it in front of the fish. As I made my retrieve, I suddenly felt weight, head shaking, and a surge on the end of my line. My spoon had managed to actually hook the cork the fish was attached to. He put up a good fight, but I got him to the boat, removed the hook from his mouth and released him, and returned the popping cork to its owner. Colorado kept blind casting the spoon fly and by the end of the day he had caught a total of 12 redfish, 7 of which were on fly. At the very end of the afternoon the wind had laid, and he even got to catch a couple of them sight casting to pushing fish. We brought them back to shore as happy clients.
Sunday morning we were once again guiding Colorado, Montana, and Tex. It was once again breezy, but not as much as the previous 2 mornings. We again put Montana and Tex in Devinís boat (he has a bigger outboard and could better handle the extra load), and Colorado in my boat. Since I had showed up early and pre-prepped the boat for the day, Colorado and I were away earlier than Devin. I went back to the same muddy lake where we had caught the fish the day before, and started poling the boat along the edge, hoping to see fish pushing in the protected water near the bank. We never saw any fish, but Colorado quickly picked up a few redfish blind casting a spoon fly as I poled.
After we made our second circuit around the lake I staked the boat out in an area near where we had caught most of our fish the day before. At about this time Devin showed up with Montana and Tex and staked out near us. Colorado was consistently catching fish. I normally never fish while guiding, however since we were staked out blind casting, Colorado insisted that I fish too. Since he had been catching on the spoon fly, and only having 2 more left in my box, I wanted to save them for Colorado, so I tied on a weighted seaducer in black in red, adhering to the old adage "dark water, dark fly". I quickly hooked and landed 3 fish in the time that Colorado caught 1. He asked what I was throwing so I showed him, and offered to tie one on for him if he wanted. As it turns out, black flies were the order of the day. In the course of the day, we did a little experimenting, one of us throwing something else while the other still threw black. The only fly other than black that caught any fish was a spoon, but the black out-fished it as well. By the end of the day Colorado and I had boated over 40 redfish blind-casting flies without every moving from the original spot. Colorado caught 24, and I caught 17 or 18. Out of all of the fish, maybe 7 were undersized, the largest was a 7 pounder Colorado caught, he also had a solid 6, we had several 5's and 4's and the rest were around 3 pounds. It was an unbelievable day. In addition to the redfish, we had picked up 3 flounder which I will enjoy as a Friday Lenten dinner this week. Devin's guy's picked up about 12 fish, but with 2 anglers fishing itís a little tougher to stay dialed in. When I got Colorado back to the boat house, he was plain giddy over the day, Montana was pretty happy too.
Now for the ugly. When we were guiding the guys on Saturday, as we were running back to the launch from the first area of marsh to trailor south, my outboard started to hesitate a little, then it would just lose power and die. I re-cranked and it started fine, ran some more, then the same thing happened again. Finally on the third try, I was running when the motor suddenly started knocking hard and shut down and wouldn't re start. I had to finish the weekend fishing out of one of the lodge's aluminum boats. I think the motor is shot, but I will probably spend the money to get it re-built. It is a Yamaha 3cylinder 2 stroke 25 hp, which they don't make anymore (they only make the 2 stroke in a 2 cylinder). Having the 3 cylinders it is has much more torque and considerably more power than the current models, plus they are easy to "hop up". In fact, when I get it rebuild, I'll probably have him do some performance enhancements as well.
May 21st, 2007
Corps approves closure of M.R.G.O.
In a meeting held Saturday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan
to close the controversial Mississippi River Gulf Outlet canal, which has been blamed for much of the flooding related to hurricane Katrina, and which has
contributed greatly to the erosion of the coastal marsh in the Mississippit Delta. The Corps's plan calls for the constructin of a $50 million earthen dam to
close the canal, trap sediment, and slow saltwater intrusion. More at WDSU.
A Great Time Was Had By All
This past weekend marked the Inaugural Federation of Fly Fishers Gulf Coast Expo, presented by the newly formed "Gulf Coast Council" of the federating of fly fishers. The event was held at the Lake Charles Civic Center, and featured headliners Lefty Kreh and Nick Curcione, as well as a host of local and regional experts on different aspects of fly fishing, fly casting and fly tying..
For a first year event, the Expo looked amazingly like a well polished show. The weather was perfect, the venue outstanding.. and the food... fattening and delicious.
Things got kicked off Friday with a series of workshops and classes followed by a massive crawfish boil on the lake front Friday evening. As the crawfish boil ended and the sun was setting, hordes of juvenile redfish starting exploding through schooling shad right off of the sea wall.
Saturday featured a full day of workshops, programs and casting demonstrations, lots of sales by our vendors, and fine examples of fly tying by our tiers. Silent auctions and bucket raffles were held throughout the day, and the evening was capped off by a Cajun Creole banquet featuring a Cochon de lait' pig, shrimp pasta and crawfish pistollettes, featuring a live auction.
On Sunday the fun continued with more programs, workshops and fly tying, plus a couple of silent auctions.
The consensus of the room was that the Inaugural Gulf Coast Expo was a great event that virtually all who attended want to return to. Offering things like a crawfish boil and great food at the banquet as well as during lunch each day really created a real "Laissez les bon temps rouler" atmosphere. Vendors also seemed please with the amount of business they were able to do during the conclave. Now planning starts for next year.
A Couple of Great Resources For Fly Tiers
It's no secret that good fly tying materials are hard to come by here in Southwest Louisiana. We are at least a 2 hour drive from the nearest fly shop, and of course, what you can find even there is limited by what they have in stock. Now before proceeding, I would like to say that whenever possible, we should all purchase for what is our "most local" fly shop. Particularly since both Richard Whitner of Gulf Coast Outfitters, and Alec Griffin of Uptown Angler do so much to help and support our regional clubs. At times however, I need materials or items that they don't have and must look elsewhere.
During the "Expo" this past weekend I spent some time visiting with Don Reed, who is the proprietor of the "Saltwater Fly Tyer" in Jacksonville Florida. Don had a booth at the expo, and in his booth alone featured a better selection of tying materials than I have ever seen in any 3 fly shops. Not only did Don have a lot of material in both variety and quantity, Don had the right material. Don's booth was a display of the kind of materials that populate the dreams of saltwater anglers and bass fishermen. Beautiful Whiting American capes and saddles in varieties ranging from Cree to Coq de leon in a large range of natural and dyed colors, a huge selection of E.P. Fibers and Brushes, Spirit River marabou and deer hair, and much more. Don was very friendly and knowledgeable, and as sole proprietor, salesperson, and janitor for his business, if you call in an order, you will speak to him. Don said that if you call him for an order, he will be happy to talk to you about your specific needs, and hand select materials that are best suited for your purpose. You can visit the "Saltwater Fly Tyer" online at Saltwater Fly Tyers
So Which Came First, the Hackle Or The Egg?
All of the capes and saddles that Don at the Saltwater Fly Tyer booth featured were by Whiting, and were surprisingly affordable for the quality of hackle offered. While at the Expo I was also able to visit with B.J. Lester of Whiting Genetics.
Whiting has spent a great deal of time developing their line of "Whiting American" hackle which is perfect for saltwater and bass flies. In their "American" line, the hackle is all so consistent that it is no longer separated into grades of "Gold", "Silver", or "Bronze", it is essentially all of "Gold Quality". The good thing is that with this consistent production, has come a level, reasonable price. A number of years ago I remember paying $40 for Whiting "Gold" saltwater necks. The Whiting "American" necks sell for around $24, the saddles around $12, and are more beautiful and have a larger quantity of useable feathers than any saltwater/bass pelts Whiting has produced in the past. Some of the variants in the Whiting American hackle are stunning. Cree and Coq de Leon hackle that looks like shrimp on a patch, glossy and iridescent natural blacks, and shiny whites, all with long, beautiful, well formed feathers.
Whiting also has a line of "Euro hackle" that is a little softer, and features the longest saddle feathers I've ever seen. There are other neat goodies from Whiting worth checking out including "Bird Fur" and others.
A Much Needed Online Niche Is Filled
Larry Offner has started a web site for warm water fly fishng enthusiest at Warmfly. Larry, who has
made quick work of becoming a very accomplished warm water fly fisher, will be featuring articles and tips on fly fishing and fly tying for warm water species, as well as bulletin boards and article by guest
authors. Visit Warmfly if you get the chance.
Here in Southwest Louisiana we are lacking any kind
of local fly shop where tying materials can be purchased, but that
doesn't mean that industrious fly tiers can't find materials to make
effective flies with. If you have a "craft store fly" pattern that
you would like to share, please do so. Mark Delaney will lead the
round table and demonstrate a few of the numerous craft store patterns
he has learned or developed over the years.
I've added tying
instructions, including step by step photo's of the Suspended Epoxy
Spoon. It's not called the suspended epoxy spoon because it
suspends, but because it's made by suspending epoxy across a wire
frame. See the pattern HERE..
March 29th, 2007
Shell Oil Cancels
Plans For Open Loop L.N.G. Terminal in Gulf.
Shell Oil has
announced that is canceling plans to construct the controversial
"Gulf Landing" Liquified Natural Gas facility 36 miles off of
the Louisiana coast out of Cameron.
facility had drawn much criticism from anglers and conservation groups
because it was designed to operate with an "open loop" system,
drawing in seawater to warm Liquified Natural Gass. The process would
result in the death of plankton and larval sea life drawn in with the
A Shell spokesman
has said that the cancelation of construction is in response to market
conditions, and not a response to criticism. Whatever the reason, this
is good news for Southwest Louisiana anglers.
Let Me Go Out On
are not generally considered good indicators of a fisheries health or
outlook, and I usually leave predictions with regard to how many fish
swim in the sea to biologist and experts. I think however there is
a point at which anecdotal reports become so frequent and consistent
that they just can't be ignored, particularly when many of the anecdotal
incidents have been my own observations.
Beginning a few
months after hurricane Rita plowed through Southwest Louisiana, I and
quite a few other anglers I know, began to see and report on very large
numbers of small juvenile redfish in the upper reaches of the Calcasieu
and Sabine estuaries. There were frequent encounters with hordes
of aggressive, fly eating redfish in the 12 - 15 inch range.
Similar reports have remained numerous and consistent since that time,
and of late reports and my own personal experience has indicated that
there are many redfish now in the 16 to 20 inch range being caught
almost at will throughout the system.
has always been blessed an abundant fishery for redfish, but nothing in
my experience has been comparable to what appears to be happening
now. Now for the prognostication. Given that redfish
normally remain inshore until they reach sexual maturity, which normally
translates to a period of 3 to 6 years, I think we can look forward to
excellent fishing for Mr. Poisson Rouge for the next several
years. With the rapid early growth rate of redfish, many of those
fish that are now 16 to 20 inches, will be 24 - 26 inches by fall.
With the number of redfish now staging in the shallows of Calcasieu
Lake, I think we are in for an exceptional spring. Once water
temperatures in the marsh begin to rise and bait begins to return, I
think many of the redfish now in the lake, will find their way into the
shallow marsh, where they will make prime targets for sight fishing with
a fly rod.
Who Pulled The
Late Sunday morning
I decided to try to get in a little fishing. I hooked up the boat with
the intent of trying to find redfish in the same area that I had caught
them in a week and a half ago.
Since I was planning
on fishing in Calcasieu Lake propper, I didn't bother looking at the
tide charts, figuring I would still be able to reach any area of the
lake I wanted to regardless of tide. I drove down Big Lake road, intent
on launching at the old Crab Lady landing. As I drove South I began to
notice that all of the area's of marsh and canals adjacent to Big Lake
road were pretty thoroughly drained. I began to get a little worried.
When I arrived at Crab Lady landing, my fears were confirmed. The tide
was so far out that the canal that runs out to the lake from Crab Lady
was dry. In fact the "basin" that you normally launch into at
Crab Lady was little more than a puddle, with perhaps 5 or 6 inches of
water in it
Looking at the tide
tables, the predicted low for Sunday morning was at around 9am, and was
predicted for a level of -.06 feet. Now -.06 is a very strong low tide,
but it isn't enough to account for how low the water was Sunday. The
real culprit was the cool front and accompanying North winds that blew
the estuary almost dry.
I finally made my
way to another launch and got on the water. Big Lake was a muddy mess,
having all of the water drawn out of the nearby marshes and into the
lake. When I got on the redfish a week and a half ago, I was fishing in
2 and a half feet of water about 60 feet off of the bank. To find a
depth of 2 and a half feet on Sunday, I had to position myself SIX
HUNDRED feet off of the bank. I have never been on Big Lake when it was
so low. With the extremely low and muddy water I never did find the
fish, but I did take the opportunity to take a good look at several
reefs that I normally like to fish that were exposed above the water,
memorizing features and details for future reference.
February 13th, 2007
February C.F.C. Meeting Pushed Back.
"Jaws" a Documentary?
There are reports
that a group of bull sharks rammed and bit a shrimp boat off of the
coast of Ft. Myers Florida until it sank. Just when you thought it
was safe to go back into the water, there is This
the last week or two, huge numbers of speckled trout have been active
under birds in Lake Charles, and this had been a source of great pain
for me. The pain coming from the fact that I didn't have time to
get on the water and partake of the action, but had to see the melee in
progress everyday as I drove to and from work along the lake front.
in the last few days I was able to get out a couple of times with Danny
Williams and enjoy the action. On our first trip, Danny and I
launched at what passed for first light. There was nearly zero visibility
because of the heavy blanket of fog that covered the water.
and I started fishing near the confluence of the ship channel and
the South end of the lake and picked up a couple of fish on spinning
gear, but it wasn't the all out catch fest we were expecting. Soon
we decided to relocate in the lake, and quickly spotted massive amounts
of birds working. There was a good many boats on the water, but
the birds and schools of fish were plentiful enough, and spread out
enough to ensure that everyone had room. We quickly caught around
15 fish on spinning tackle then switched to fly gear. We continued
catching, and ended the day having caught about 40 fish. The fish
were nice little chunks, averaging around 16 inches with a few going
larger, probably around 2 to 2.5 pounds. We only had one
though they were under birds, the fish were holding fairly deep and the
most productive method was to throw a weighted fly on a sinking line,
count it down for 10 seconds or so, then begin stripping the fly.
The fly I caught on was a Chartreuse Sea Duecer with dumbell eyes tied
near the bend of the hook.
Sunday Danny, his son Seth and I went back for more of the action.
With word spreading about the bite, there were a lot more boats on the
water, and in the heavy fog that once again covered the area, a cautious
approach was called for. We started fishing the immediate area
where we had caught the fish previously, but the action was fairly slow,
and the birds not as numerous or committed as they had been
Danny heard a large number of birds working that were not visible
because of the fog. The flock was making the excited chatter of
siblings fighting over the last piece of desert. We followed the
sound until many hulking figures began to appear in the fog. We
found the birds, and the many boats that were already on the scene
fishing the school under them. Although there were a lot of boats
present, everyone seemed to be handling themselves in a courteous
manner, and everyone was getting the opportunity to get on the
fish. The action was insane. I don't know how many fish the
3 of us caught, but it was fast and exciting. Because there
were 3 of us in the boat, it wasn't practacle for us to fly fish on
Sunday, but I have no doubt that the sinking line/weighted fly combo
would have once again been effective.
of A Feather.
past Sunday I took the opportunity to spend a little time on the
water. Still experiencing runoff from recent heavy rains my
expectations were not very high.
recently had major flooding in the area, I figured that a lot of the
estuary would still be quite muddy and much of the marsh high.
Hedging my bet against the likelihood of bad water conditions, I decided
to spend some time fishing Black Lake in Cameron Parish. Black
Lake is somewhat isolated and really doesn't drain any runoff. I
figured if anyplace had settled and cleared up yet it would be Black
launched at Ellender Bridge and arrived at Black Lake about 30 minutes
after sun up. When I motored out of the canal and into Black Lake,
I thought I had stepped into the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "The
Birds". Everywhere I looked huge flocks of Gull we diving and
pecking as shrimp skipped across the surface of the water trying to
escape hungry yellow mouths below.
first couple of schools I tried working just wouldn't hold
together. I would set up several hundred yards upwind of the birds
and primarily drift under the power of the wind to the school and begin
casting, only to have the school of fish go down and the birds disperse
well before I was in casting range. Finally I found a few schools
of fish willing to hold together long enough for me to pull out a couple
of specks before they would break up. Of course since I was fly
fishing, I was having to work the schools a bit closer to stay in
casting range, then if I were fishing with casting tackle.
picking up a few specks in the 14 to 16 inch range, there was a brief
lull in the bird activity, so I began blind casting across a point that
some birds had been working earlier. I threw my fly tight to the
grass and the water exploded as a 10 pound redfish inhaled my fly.
I enjoyed the fight he put up, then released him into the cool
water. I chased a few more groups of birds, picking up a few more
fish, then left with the birds still flocking and the fish still
biting. Fresh speckled trout almondine was on the lunch menu.
I instructed a beginners fly casting class at a "Gals Just
Want To Have Fun" retreat for women that was held at Camp Wi Ta
Wenten. I taught a total of 9 women in 2 sessions, none of whom
had ever fly fished before, but all of whom finished the session able to
cast a nice loop. Because of time constraints the lessons had to
be limited to a very basic pick up and lay down technique, with emphasis
placed on developing a nice controlled loop.
with any group I have every taught there were a couple of individuals in
each session that seemed to really excel. One woman however
demonstrated the most natural ability to throw a beautiful loop that I
have ever seen. I began each session with a brief explanation of
the mechanics of fly casting, the weight of the line carrying the fly,
the loop being formed by an acceleration and stop, and the line
traveling in the direction the rod tip was moving in when stopped, hence
the necessity make the rod tip travel in a relatively strait line.
10 minutes into the second session a lady named Lucy showed up,
apologetic that she was running late. I gave Lucy an even more
brief explanation of casting mechanics and handed her a rod to
try. She picked it up, made a nice back-cast, and then threw a
perfect loop on the forward cast, straightening the line and leader on
the grass. "Oh so you've fly fished before" I
commented. "No" she replied "I've never fly fished,
but I do like to fish, I used to watch my daddy fly fish
though". I was astounded. Nobody ever gets it right on
their first try. "Try again" I encouraged her, just to
make sure it wasn't a fluke. Lucy proceeded to make picture
perfect cast after cast. It was a completely natural and relaxed
motion for Lucy, and really looked effortless. Her timing was
continued making my rounds to each of the students, trying to gently
correct mistakes and teach the basics of casting, the most common
instruction being "stop the rod higher". When I would
get to Lucy however, all I could do was to encourage her, and point out
all that she was doing right. Lucy went on to tell me that when
she was young, she would go fishing with her dad and her job was to
paddle the boat and clean the fish. She said those are still 2 of
her favorite things to do, I asked if she contracted out.
would be thrilled to find out that any of the students I taught
Consensus On Rods?
at the Saltwater Fly Fishers Picnic last weekend, I got to cast a number
of the latest offerings from several different rod companies, and
through side by side comparison, I had drawn my own conclusions as to
which I thought were the best performing rods. I hadn't yet stated
my preferences here because they were just that, my preferences, a
subjective opinion of one angler.
returning from the picnic however I have had the opportunity to talk to
several other people in attendance who are accomplished fishermen and
casters, and are recognized as such by lots of folks in the fly fishing
community. Amongst out little group of 4, there arose a consensus
that one of the new rod offerings stood head and shoulders above the
rest, based on the fairly generous amount of time we spent casting this
a little about the conditions. We were casting in well mowed
grass, on casting lanes oriented East to West. The wind was
screaming out of the East South East in excess of 20knots the entire
time, often gusting higher. When we first approached the casting
field, everyone on the field was casting with the wind, and seemed
pleased with themselves over the amount of line they were able to shoot
with the wind. Our little group decided to see how the rods would
perform in more real world conditions, and spent more time casting into
the wind, than with it. We also worked on cast with the wind
coming across our casting arm.
Sage "Z Axis", in 5wt and 8wt - fast action rods with a
relatively light tip, meant to offer more feel and ease of casting close
Orvis "Zero Gravity"- In 8wt tip flex, 6wt tip flex, and 7wt
mid flex. The lightest rods Orvis has ever produced. Very fast in
the tip flex models, more moderate action in the mid flex.
- 8wt (I Believe it was the X2s but I could be wrong on the designation)
- Fast action with a sensitive tip.
- Jim Teeny Series 8wt - A moderate action rod, in an attractive dark
green finish. Cosmetically much nicer than some of T.F.O's earlier
observations - First, all of the casters in this informal product review
felt that all of the above were good serviceable rods. The T.F.O.
Jim Teeny is a very smooth feeling rod, I found it loaded easily
and was good for close to moderate range. If I started trying to
carry too much line it did seem to get a little mushy, but for under
$200 it's certainly a bargain.
Sage "Z Axis" did deliver on it's promise of having good feel
and being able to deliver those close cast, and is very light in
hand. It's a very accurate rod. To classify something as the
ultimate rod however, I like something with a little more punch
(remember the wind we were dealing with).
Scott rod was again a very smooth feeling rod, but was however able to
handle the long haul. It's a good performer, although I thought it
was a little heavy in hand, and while it did an admirable job of
casting, I found that I had to put a bit into it to punch into the wind,
that can be tiring over a long day.
leaves us with the winner - All of our group found the Orvis Zero
Gravity to be our favorite of the bunch. I was particularly
enamored with the tip flex 6 and 8wt offerings, while some in our group
loved the 7 wt mid flex, all of us however were able to cast well with
all of the Zero Gravity Rods, although it did take me a little while to
get down the timing of the mid flex, (remember I'm a tip flex kind of
guy). These rods are incredibly light, and incredibly
powerful. They were eating up long cast directly into the incessant
wind, and like many of this years offerings, still had enough
sensitivity to present to those fish that pop up 20 feet away. I
also am very fond of the reel seat on these rods, which is basically the
same reel seat as was featured on the Orvis T3, just with a
different, and lighter insert.
Zero Gravity 8wt tip flex will hopefully be my next rod purchase, and
hopefully will soon be followed by the 6wt tip flex.
A Great Weekend.
Palomino and I just returned from Uptown Anglers Inaugural Saltwater Fly
Fishers Picnic at Woodland Plantation south of Myrtle Grove. It was an
incredible event that I hope is repeated annually.
I report on the event itself, I want to take the opportunity to
thank Alec Griffin and the Uptown Angler in New Orleans for hosting the
event. This event wasn't held as a money maker for Uptown Angler,
but rather as an event to promote and grow the sport of fly fishing, and
to help raise money for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
Alec has worked tirelessly to promote the sport of fly fishing and to
bring fly fishers together in spite of having faced great adversity in
having the Uptown Angler gutted by looters after hurricane
Katrina. Alec has also offered the finest example of customer
service that I've experienced from any retail operation anywhere.
If you find yourself in need of any fly fishing related items from rods
and reels and tying supplies, to waders, boots and fishing shirts, you
would be doing all flyfishermen of Louisiana a favor by doing business
with Uptown Angler and supporting the store.
on to the events at the Saltwater Fly Fishers Picnic.
of all of the great things about the Saltwater Fly Fishers Picnic, the
best thing about it was the people. From the "Celebrity"
fly fishermen like Flip Pallot and Chico Fernandez, to the attendees,
exhibitors, and the many guides present, I had a great time visiting
with, and learning about and from all in attendance. Friday
evening it was my good fortune to share a dinner table with Flip Pallot,
and Tom Gordon and Mark Fisher of Gordon Boatworks. Later in the
evening I sat on the porch of the plantation enjoying a cigar with
Enriquo Puglisi as he told me about the striper blitz at Montauk.
Saturday I met and visited with many guides and fly fishing
professionals, perhaps the most memorable being Captain Rich Waldner.
Rich is the first person I've ever met who gets as excited while talking
about redfishing as I do. Rich was also very gracious and
generous, offering Devin and I very specific information about where we
should fish on Sunday, and providing me with a couple of his famous
flies to try to catch them on.
got to see a lot of new fly fishing products while at the picnic, many
of them quite impressive. I had my first opportunity to really
extensively cast the Orvis Zero Gravity line of rods. These rods
are light and powerful, and have good feel. I absolutely fell in
love with the Zero Gravity 8wt tip flex 9.5 and 6wt tip flex 10.5.
The wind was blowing in excess of 20 mph, but with both of these rods I
had no trouble casting the line into the wind, THE WHOLE LINE. I
was also VERY impressed with the new Battenkill Large Arbor reel that is
about to be released. It is a smooth, nicely machined reel with a
large and wide arbor that is heavily ported, and that will now feature
the center style drag that is on the Battenkill Mid Arbor instead of the
offset drag the former incarnation of the B.L.A. had. I think the
price point will be in the $229 range.
of the other rods that I got to spend a fair amount of time casting was
the Temple Fork outfitters Jim Teeny rod in an 8wt. This is a rod
that is very smooth and forgiving without feeling slow, it was very
comfortable to cast, and the cosmetics on this rod as well as the other
T.F.O. rods I saw seem to have been considerable improved over some of
T.F.O.'s earlier offerings. I also finally got to get a good look
at a TFO Terry Hayden Reel. This is a serious reel for serious
fish, with a huge cork disk drag, with double pawls that are offset
timed so that there is never any play before the drag engages,
large arbor, and the most durable anodized finish I've ever seen.
Rick Pope demonstrated the toughness of the finish by taking the edge of
a quarter and rubbing it as hard as he could against the back of the
reel, it didn't leave a scratch on the reel, but it did wear down the
also got to cast the new Sage "Z Axis" rods which are still
quick and powerful as you would expect a Sage to be, but with a little
finer feel and great accuracy. Cary Martin of Sage did a fine job
of demonstrating this rod at the "3am inebriated casting
number of beautiful poling skiffs that are perfect for fly fishing were
on sight at the picnic. Some brought by the boat manufacturers,
some by attendees.
roommate's for the event were Tom Gordon and Mark Fisher of Gordon
Boatworks. Gordon is producing the former Hells Bay Waterman in 16
and 18 foot models. Other than the logo's, these boats would be
hard to distinguish from their sister boats that were originally
manufactured by Hells Bay. They offer the same great quality,
attention to detail, and beautiful fit and finish that had always been
expected of them. And of course that only makes sense since Tom
was one of the chief boat builders at Hells Bay before forming Gordons
Boatworks. Both Gordon skiffs are built to easily pole extremely
shallow (4-5 inches) and quietly, provide a great fishing platform, and
run relatively dry and comfortably when there is a little chop.
Gordon Boatworks also has a new product in the works dubbed
"Project S", which despite my prying an listening to see if he
would talk in his sleep, Tom revealed no details about. The Gordon
Boatworks web site is www.gordonboats.com
site were Kevin Fenn and Adam of East Cape Canoe Company, and they were
proudly showing off their Gladesman and Lostmen models. The
Gladesman was E.C.C.'s first model and is a 2 man extreme poling
skiff. The Gladesman is 17'6" long with a maximum beam of
48". It is rated for up to a 15 hp, which I was surprised to
experience moving the boat along at about 23mph with 2 anglers.
The Gladesman will pole in 3-4 inches of water with anglers
aboard. The Gladesman is made for those super shallow flats that
don't require long runs across open water, it poles easily and offers a
small poling platform, and ample deck space for fishing. You do
need to be somewhat sure footed to be comfortable in it however.
also had on hand one of their new Lostmen skiffs, which is a full sized
technical poling skiff at 18' 1" long and has a 72 inch beam.
The Lostmen is a good looking boat with a very good fit and
finish. The Lostmen has more storage than I have ever seen on a
technical poling skiff, and heavy duty cored hatches. Kevin says
the Lostmen was designed with stability in mind and that it drafts about
5 inches of water for fishing. Kevin stressed that all E.C.C.
boats are built to order and can be outfitted and customized to suite
the customer. I look forward to when I may have the opportunity to
wet test one. The E.C.C. website is www.eastcapecanoes.com.
I am often asked what
constitutes a favorable tide for sight fishing redfish. An honest
answer to this question would be that if varies wildly based on where
you are fishing, the type of habitat and flats you are fishing, time of
year, type of bait present and many other factors. I can however present
you with a bit of a generalization that seems to be consistent on many
of the flats in the Calcasieu Estuary, and that I'm sure would apply on
flats that are similarly featured in other area's. Many of the
flats in the Calcasieu estuary, particularly those in it's northern
reaches do not have a lot of aquatic grass, and tend to have water that
is less than clear. These flats tend to be soft bottomed mud flats
that are adjacent to, or not far from the deeper water of the ship
channel. On these flats, experience has taught me that low water
levels with moving water are most productive.
The benefits of a low
water level on flats matching this description are two fold. Lower
water tends to concentrate the fish, and low water allows you to spot
fish even in the murkiest of water. When the water gets low
redfish, sheepshead and black drum will often offer a visual display of
their back and tail above the waters surface. Even when the fish
don't breach the surface, they will still push wakes and make other tell
tell signs of their presence allowing an angler to stalk and present a
fly to them.
To track what the tide
will be doing, get acquainted with tide tables on line like the one at Saltwater
Tides.. If you pull up a tide chart for Calcasieu Pass it will
list the predicted times for high and low tides within your selected
date range, as well as the predicted water level expressed in relation
to average mean low tide.
Since the times listed
are for the predicted high and low tide at Calcasieu Pass, you
will have to make adjustments to the time listed to allow for the tide
differential, which is the difference in time between the highs and lows
at the pass, and the highs and lows in the specific area you will be
fishing. In much of the area I like to fish, the difference runs
in the neighborhood of 2 to 3 hours, and I can normally look for a
predicted high or low for the pass and figure that at the time the tide
is at its highest at the pass, it will just be moving in with really
good force on the flats near Prien lake, and when the predicted tide is
at it's lowest at the pass is when I will be beginning to see good
As to tide levels, here
in the Calcasieu Estuary we do not have particularly large tide
swings. Normally a 2 foot swing from the low to the high is
considered a relatively strong tide. This week we have a swing of
just over 3 feet which is enormous, and the largest predicted swing I
have ever seen listed on the tide charts for our estuary, with predicted
highs of 3.0 feet above the mean low, and predicted low tides of -.01
feet below mean low. That much movement of the water will tend to
cloud the water, however the low tide levels are low enough that any
fish moving on the flats ought to be visible. With this big of a
swing, the water level will change fast, so be careful not to get
stranded by the tide on a flat. The levels I find most fishable
for much of our estuary in generally between -0.2 and +0.6, depending on
the wind. Since our tides are relatively week, a strong wind can
almost neutralize the movement of the tide, or compound it if blowing in
the same direction as the water flow.
The main caveat to my assessments
of preferable tide levels above is for those area's of marsh that either
experience much less tide flow because they are very far removed from
the ship channel and other major tidal bodies, or because they are
practically impounded, and also those area's that have a lot of aquatic
vegetation which make the water very clear and enables you to spot fish
regardless of water level. A prime example that encompasses both
of these scenarios is the area of Cameron Prairie Refuge behind the
Grand Bayou Weirs. In those area's worry less about the tide and
more about wind direction and speed. The wrong wind can make
that long ride across the lake to access the weirs long, bumpy and wet.
Anytime you are heading
to the flats to fish, look at the tide tables before hand. Even if
it's not going to dictate when or where you fish, by knowing what the
tide is supposed to be doing, and observing what is occurring on the
water while you fish, you will soon build your own knowledge base of
what tides create the conditions that are best for your fishing.
District Judge Strikes Blow Against Fishermen's Access to Navigable
Sportsman Magazine is reporting on their web site that in a ruling
against fishermen who were arrested for trespassing while fishing within
the high water mark of the Mississippi River in Northeast
Louisiana U.S. District Judge Robert G. James said "the
public has no right to hunt or fish on the Mississippi River".
is feared that this ruling could have nationwide ramifications on the
rights of anglers and hunters to access area's of waterways that meet
federal and state definitions of "Navigable". See the
complete story at http://www.louisianasportsman.com/details.php?id=213.
you are interested in helping to ensure that the public retains access
to navigable waters, contact "Restore Our Waterway Access
Inc". at P.O. 1199, Boutte, LA 70039.
For Sale On The Forum.
now there is a nice selection of saltwater tackle including rods and
reels for sale on the Reports and
Scuttlebutt Forum. It may be worth a look if you need (or
want) a few new toys.
Yet Another Mid Priced Reel Going By The Wayside.
In addition the the Albright Tempest, and Old Florida reels being discontinued as mentioned below,
the Redington Breakwater reel is also being discontinued, to be replaced by a new, slightly lower priced "CDL" series.
Redington has said that they will still stand behind their product, honoring all warranties on Breakwater reels,
and that they have a more than ample supply of spools and replacement parts for breakwater reels.
On a related note, I have recieved an Albright Tempest IV reel that I ordered at a close out price, and man is this reel nice.
The Tempest is a true large arbor reel, nicely machined of 6061 aircraft aluminum, with a heavily ported spool. The rear housing of
the reel is not ported, offering protection from sand and salt intrusion. The Tempest has a very smooth draw bar style cork disk
drag, and the easiest and coolest quick change spool release mechanism I've seen. While I love the closeout deal I got on this reel,
I will hate to see it go away. I think this reel was a great value, even at full retail.
Mid Priced Reels Becoming Extinct?
news has broke that 2 very good mid priced reels are being
discontinued. The Old Florida line of reels from the Nautilis/Old
Florida company, and the Tempest series of reels from Albright Tackle.
Both of these reels are well made,
machined aluminum reels with draw bar style cork disc drags.
the Albright Tempest, and the Old Florida reels occupied price
points between $250 and $350. The Old Florida Reels were built in
Florida, the Albrights are an import. Both reels had exceptional
reputations for quality and value.
or any fishing products that occupy the upper middle price points have
lost their relevancy in the specialty fly market. This can be attributed
to the availability of the high end products at remarkable and quite
regular discounts on EBAY and other trading venues.....Right now the
strongest opportunity in the specialty market place is at the very top,
not withstanding the auction cited below, and the lowest price category.
We have seen Ross Reels embrace this opportunity. Dave Heller, the GM at
Ross is one of the best marketeers in the biz and he has saved Ross with
his quick move to the value price points and wider distribution of a
At Albright, we will be introducing our new OASIS series of cork disc
drag machined bar stock reels with retail prices hovering near $100 at
the Fly Tackle Retailer Show in Denver later this month..."
Albright will be introducing a new line of lower priced reels to help
fill the void being left by the Tempest, it is my understanding that
Nautilis/Old Florida will simply concentrate on their premium Nautilis
line of reels. I hate to see the end of both of these reels, but
the upshot is that there are some exceptional "closeout" deals
to be had right now. I have seen the Albright Tempest greatly
reduced at a number of web sited including Bass Pro, with the best deal
I've seen (and taken advantage of) at Sealevel
Fly Shop where the Albright Tempest are being offered at a full 50%
off retail, with free shipping.
Murphy of Albright says that all warranties on Albright Reels will be
honored, but that in the 3 years of it's production, he has never had a
Tempest returned for warranty issues, and has lots of parts on hands to
affect any repairs that do come up.
Coast Council Begins.
Saturday August 5th, an organizational meeting of the proposed new Gulf
Coast Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers was held in Lake Charles.
The reasons behind the move to start a new council, was to have a
council that is more geocentric to those clubs located along the Gulf
Coast, and to be able to better meet the needs of and address the
interest specific to clubs and anglers along the Gulf Coast, and the
respective fisheries they enjoy, furthering the FFF's motto of "All
Fish All Waters".
Those present voted to incorporate and file for 501c status a new
council of the Federation Of Fly Fishers that would represent an area
along the Gulf Coast from Mobile, west toward San Antonio.
Officers were elected, and approval was given to begin planning a
conclave for 2007 to be held in Lake Charles, because of it's central
location within the new council, availability of hotels, restaurants,
and of course great fishing. By laws were also discussed and will
be amended where necessary and ratified at the second and final council
organizational meeting. Representatives who were present
will be returning to their respective clubs with the information so the
clubs can then consider whether or not to become affiliated with the
Gulf Coast Council of the Federation Of Fly Fishers. The majority
of the clubs within the area of the Gulf Coast Council are currently in
the Southern Council, with some in the Southeastern Council, and a few
Contraband Fly Casters Tom Nixon Chapter were well represented at the
meeting, and are now well represented in the council. Danny
Williams was elected treasurer of the Gulf Coast Council, Ron Allan
Thomas will serve as Education Chairperson, Mark Delaney as
Communications Chairperson, and Ron Begnaud will serve as chairman of
the 2007 conclave under the 2 Events chairpersons.
It was apparent that all of the 25 or so individuals present at the
meeting are passionate about the sport of fly fishing, and dedicated to
growing the sport, and assisting all who are interested in learning it.
It also became very apparent that those in attendance were not just
paying lip service, as by the end of the meeting about $4,000 had been
donated to the new council out of the pockets of those present.
This was not asked for, rather one person in attendance offered a
donation and challenged others to follow. This is a terrific start
to the new council, and actually puts us ahead of the game.
The next organizational meeting will be held on Saturday November 4th
during "Fall Rendezvous" at Toledo Bend State Park.
Asked for it
had a number of request for the full sized version of the picture of my
tarpon doing the head shake, and for any other photo's of the trip
described to the left. As tarpon move fast and are hard to shoot
pictures of, there is only one other that came out well. I want to
thank Danny for grabbing my camera and shooting these while I fought the
To Become An F.F.F. Affiliate Club.
the July meeting of the Contraband Fly Casters, the motion was made and
carried that the club become an affiliate club of the Federation Of Fly
Fishers. This will be effective as soon as the paperwork can be
filled out and submmited to the F.F.F.
New Council On The Way?
a little over a year now, there has been much discussion concerning the
formation of a Gulf Coast Council of the Federation of Fly
Fishers. This move has been spearheaded in large by Catch Cormier
of Baton Rouge, proprietor and web master of www.laflyfish.com
reasons behind the formation of the new council would be to create a
council more closely reflective of the unique needs and interest of the
individual clubs and anglers along the Gulf Coast. Including, but
not limited to recognition of and attention to interest and issues with
regard to saltwater and warmwater angling.
August 5th, 2006 an organizational meeting for the will be held in Lake
Charles from 9am to 3pm. It is looking like the location will be
the Southwest Louisiana Fishing Club at the I 210 park. This
should be confirmed by tomorrow. Catch has gotten commitments from
50 or 60 members of fly fishing clubs across the Gulf Coast to
attend. Members of all Louisiana clubs and Contraband Fly Casters
are encouraged to attend, as we may well play a role in the planning of
future Gulf Coast Council conclaves. Contraband Fly Casters will
co sponsor the meeting by absorbing the cost of the facility, and by
providing food for attendee's.
to editorialize for a moment. Last July I mentioned in this space,
that with the Federation of Fly Fishers move toward a policy of
"All waters, All species", the proposal of the Gulf Coast
Council, and several meaningful demonstrations on the part of the F.F.F.
that they are indeed willing to address issues relating to our fisheries
we in Southwest Louisiana have been given the answer to our long
standing question of "what does the F.F.F. have to offer us?".
F.F.F. has been active in addressing the L.N.G. open loop issue with
words, actions and money. The F.F.F. has worked to aid in the recovery
of the fishery, and of the fishermen in the wake of hurricane Katrina,
and now there is a very real possibility of a major council conclave
being held in our back yard.
these facts, I think it is time that the Contraband Fly Casters
seriously consider becoming an F.F.F. affiliated club. I will be
embarrassed to walk into the Council Organizational meeting on August
5th IN LAKE CHARLES if the C.F.C. membership still isn't willing to
consider becoming an F.F.F. affiliated club. It will
be hard to pitch Lake Charles as a good location for a conclave if we
don't even have an F.F.F. presence here. If for no other reason,
it would be worth it for the club to become affiliated with the F.F.F.
just to have the opportunity to have the conference here.
off of my soap box.
Some Time To Look Around
site statistics lately, it's obvious that there are a lot of new
visitors to Redchaser.com. I'd like to invite you to take a look
around, and encourage you to take a few minutes to tour the site using
the navigation bar above. There are over 70 pages of articles,
tips, techniques, fly
patterns, illustrated knot
and rigging instructions and pictures here, as well as a bulletin
board and forum.
a spell, there is much information to be shared here at Redchaser.com
June 5th, 2006
Funds for Coastal
Restoration On The Way?
Congressman Bobby Jindal stopped by our office to talk about the Secure
Energy Reinvestment Fund which he introduced to congress.
The purpose of the fund is to provide for more equitable revenue sharing
of offshore oil and gas royalties purportedly to be used in Louisiana
for coastal restoration. . If this bill is enacted, the federal
government would have to return a larger percentage of the royalties
derived from offshore oil and gas production to offshore
energy-producing states, such as
Louisiana. The revenue generated for the state would be in the
billions of dollars.
said that he currently has commitments of support from around 130
congressmen and is confident that if the bill makes it out of committee,
it will be passed on the house floor. Jindal says that he thinks
if all goes well, the bill should be voted on by the house within about
June 4th, 2006
New Speck Limits.
The following is the
description of the geographic boundaries of the area effected by the new
reduced speck limits which WILL become effective on June 20th.
Within those areas
of the state, including coastal territorial waters (the three-mile
south of Interstate
10 from its junction at the Texas-Louisiana boundary eastward to its
junction with Louisiana Highway 171, south of (Louisiana) Highway 14,
and then south to Holmwood,
and then south of
(Louisiana) Highway 27 through Gibbstown south to Louisiana Highway 82
at Creole and south of (Louisiana) Highway 82 to Oak Grove,
and then due south
to the western shore of the Mermentau River, following this shoreline
south to the junction with the Gulf of Mexico, and then due south to the
limit of the state territorial sea
Don't Fix That
This weekend I spent
a good amount of time, fishing, talking fishing, and eating with Jud
Moore of Monroe. Jud used to own a metal shop that did a lot of
repair work on aluminum boats, and he shared some interesting
information with me that I was not aware of.
If you have an
aluminum boat, and you get a small leak, Jud strongly advises against
trying to fix the leak temporarily by applying silicone, JB weld,
roofing tar or anything else. Jud said that aluminum is very
porous, and as such will leach any substance you apply to it, from the
spot you applied it, well into the surrounding metal. Depending on
what you applied, this can create problems trying to weld the
By way of example,
Jud told me of one boat that was brought in to have a very small leak
welded. The leak was a hole about 3/16 of an inch in diameter,
which normally could be quickly and cheaply fixed with just the touch of
a welding rod. Unfortunately the boat owner had applied a small
drop of silicone caulk to the hole as a temporary fix. The
silicone had leached so far around the hole, that to get a good weld and
affect an repair, Jud had to weld on an aluminum patch about 8 inches
square. Jud also told me a nightmare story about a boat that had a
very small hairline crack in the transom. Again this was something that
could have been quickly and easily fixed, but the owner had applied a
substance like JB weld. The repair ended up requiring a whole days
If you have an
aluminum boat and get a leak, get it to a welder and have it
fixed. Most small leaks can be repaired quickly and cheaply.
Don't cause yourself and your welder headaches by applying any substance
to try and patch it.
New Daily Speck Limits For S.W.L.A.
At this mornings
monthly meeting, the Louisiana Department Of Wildlife and Fisheries
Commission approved new daily speckled trout limits for the Sabine and
Calcasieu estuaries in South West Louisiana. The daily bag limit
for specks will be reduced to 15 fish from the current limit of 25 fish
This move was
overwhelmingly supported by anglers and guides in Southwest Louisiana,
with the bulk of the opposition coming from anglers in other parts of
the state that are concerned that similar regs. will eventually be
brought to bear statewide.
As soon as I have
specifics as to exact geographic bounderies the new limits will apply
to, and the effective dates, I will post them here.
This is definitely a
new chapter in Louisiana conservation. I can't think of another
time that an angler driven restriction on limits occurred prior to a
resource being in serious trouble.
Reports are coming
in from anglers fishing Calcasieu Lake of great catches of solid
specks. While I haven't heard many reports of people catching true
trophy specks, I'm hearing about lots of people getting into great
numbers of specks of very respectable size. Apparently Big Lake is
packed with shrimp right now. So much so that anglers often reel
in a jig to find a shrimp impaled on their hook. Schools of specks
are working under birds feeding on these shrimp. Usually an
individual school will consist of fish that are pretty much clones of
each other. From what I'm hearing, you may work one school made up
of two pounders, move a short distance to work a different set of birds
and get on a school of specks made up of 4 pounders.
The redfish action
in the marsh was off to a bit of a slow start this spring. I
wonder if perhaps it may be due to the fact that with such an abundance
of shrimp available in the lake, the fish didn't need to risk the
shallows to find food. In any case the redfish are now present on
the flats in much of the estuary. Catch the right tide and
conditions and they should be more than willing to eat your fly.
The large black drum have also moved onto the flats in the northern part
of the estuary already. In fact the big drum have been in for over
a month, which is unusually early for them. Remember, with big
black drum it's all about presentation. Get the fly on the bottom
in front of their mouth.
I plan on getting on
the water at least one day this weekend, it's time I start catching up
on my much neglected fishing.
What Kind of
Wimps are We Turning Into?
I was recently
visiting the bulletin board of Flyfisherman.com, and saw a couple of
threads that made me shake my head and wonder about what a bunch of
sissy-fied Nancy boys some fly fishers seem to be becoming. Based
on some trends I've seen, it won't be long until fly fishers are
considered nothing but a bunch of effete long stick wavers that would
provide the perfect story line for a movie starring Heath Ledger and
First someone posted
a topic regarding a recent world record hammerhead shark that was caught
in Florida. Predictably, the thread quickly went the way of people
engaging in histrionics over this guy killing the fish. The
anglers motives and ethics were questioned, he was declared to not be a
true sportsman, ego driven, greedy and the list goes on. Now don't
get me wrong, I think catch and release is a great practice, and
conservation tool. I release 95% of the fish I catch. But I
also don't loose sight of the fact that fishing is, and always will be a
blood sport. Even the most cautious angler with the best catch and
release practices will cause mortality. For me though, catch and
release will always remain just that, a good practice and a tool, not a
religion. The problem I have isn't even when an individual
decides to practice catch and release as a religion. It is when
they become so evangelical about the "religion" of catch and
release that they would deny other anglers the opportunity to pursue the
sport as they enjoy it, even if it's within the law.
Record hunting isn't
my bag. I have too much fun casting at whatever comes my way to be
focused on so few fish, but if that's the way a guy enjoys the sport
have at it. Most true record hunters kill very few fish.
They are focused on rare individual fish and either pass up shots at, or
release smaller fish (even those that would be considered trophy's by
most of us). Record hunters also often pave the way in terms of
perfecting tackle and techniques that we can all benefit from. The
I.G.F.A., which is the organization that recognizes and keeps angling
records has and continues to do important fisheries research. In
addition, record hunters as such have a very small impact on fisheries
in terms of the fish they take, but tend to contribute
disproportionately in terms of the dollars they spend on gear. If
you're going for records, you will likely be fishing with high end
gear. That means higher dollar amounts in federal excise taxes
that go directly toward conservation.
The second thread
that left me wondering about the collective manhood of fly fishers was a
hypothetical question that a poster posed. The question brought up
a scenario where you are fly fishing a stream to two working trout, you
catch and release both trout, then get your fly hung up in a branch
across the stream. Would you wade across the stream to retrieve
A couple of posters
answered in the affirmative that they would retrieve the fly, but then
post started trickling in about having to consider whether or not wading
would disturb the bottom of the stream, and even as to whether or not
you would actually have to break a branch off of a living tree to
retrieve the fly. Of course it was then pointed out by more
seasoned (read older) anglers that if you didn't wade the stream and
break the branch to get your fly, some stupid bird would probably try to
eat it and get caught.
I'm not sure where
I'm going with all of this, but I think this weekend all fly fishermen
should dedicate themselves to eating fish, spending hours watching Clint
Eastwood movies, and perhaps some chainsaw juggling.
October 6th, 2005
This morning I spoke with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent, who is working at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, and the news is not good. The agent reported to me, that in addition to a massive
fish kill, there are other serious problems with the refuge as a result of hurricane Rita.
A loss of much vegetation is to be expected from being submerged in salt water, and the refuge is now littered with many refrigerators, fuel tanks, barrels and other debris that floated up from Holly Beach. This debris is making navigation difficult and dangerous, and it is his opinion that there will be many E.P.A. issues within the refuge.
This news breaks my heart. Sabine National Wildlife Refuge offered vast area's of some of the most pristine, untouched marsh along the Louisiana Coast. The western portions of the refuge offer miles upon miles of uninterrupted marsh that is not cut up by oilfield canals, and that under normal conditions offers phenomenal sight fishing for redfish, birding, and alligator watching opportunities.
As soon as boat traffic is allowed on local waterways, and within the refuge, I will be out there to get a first hand look, but I am afraid of what I will find. Sabine refuge is a place I go to see the beauty of the hand of God at work.
I suspect that the situation will be similar, if not worse, in Cameron Prairie refuge, behind the Grand Bayou weirs, because Cameron Prairie lies due north of downtown Cameron, where many buildings and structures have washed away.
August 24th, 2005
The Baghdad Fly
Recently on the Fly
Fisherman Magazine Bulletin Board, Lt. Joel Stewart, USN has posted
reports from his station in Baghdad. Lt. Stewart has been
successfully fly fishing the Tigris River in Baghdad. Other
servicemen stationed with Lt. Stewart have expressed an interest in Fly
Fishing, and Lt. Stewart is trying to organize a class on fly fishing.
Contributors to the
Fly Fisherman Magazine bulletin board have begun an effort to collect 8
serviceable fly rods and reels along with line, backing, leaders, vises
and tying materials to send to Lt. Stewart so that he can be equipped to
begin instructing other servicemen in the "Quiet Sport".
If you have a rod, reel, line backing, vise or materials you would
like to contribute, or if you would just like to follow the progress of
the effort, you can do so at the
Fly Fisherman Magazine Forum.
Have The Whole
World In Your Hands
On-line mapping and
aerial photo maps can be a great asset to an angler. Whether
looking for hidden tributaries or new area's of marsh to explore, or
trying to find the closest boat launch to where you want to fish, there
are topographical maps and aerial photo's available on line that are
equal to or even surpassing the quality of what you may find on the
shelf of your local tackle shop or specialty store.
Most paper maps
found in stores are either U.S.G.S. 7 minute topo maps, or
"top spot" type fishing maps that may or may not have specific
features marked with GPS co-ordinates. There are printed versions
of some aerial photo maps also available, but they tend to be a little
The U.S.G.S. 7
minute topo map imagery is available on line through Terra
Server. Aerial photo maps of much of the U.S. are also
available through Terra
Server, and aerial photo's of the Louisiana Coast are available
COAST.GOV and the LSU
ATLAS web sites. The latter two offering color photo's with
higher resolution than Terra Server.
While aerial photo
maps have always been great for getting a birds eye view of an area you
want to fish, they have traditionally lacked information such as
municipal boundaries, locations of services, street and highway
names....etc. There are now a couple of new online mapping
resources that will allow you to overlay all of the above information
and more onto aerial photo maps.
One of the newly
available resources is Google
Earth. Google Earth is a program available as a free download
at this link.
Once downloaded to your computer, you can open Google
Earth and navigate to anyplace on the globe. Google Earth uses
the highest resolution imagery available for urban area's, and imagery
of a little lower resolution for unpopulated area's, including water
way's, reservoirs and marshes.
Here is an example
of the Google Earth imagery of where I live, you can see my boat parked
next to my house.
Earth's imagery of unpopulated area's is of a lower resolution, in fact,
for most viewing of lakes, reservoirs and marshes, both the LA
COAST.GOV and LSU
ATLAS sights offer sharper, higher resolution imagery. The
advantage of the Google Earth image however is that you can get the
program to superimpose other map features over the photo image by using
menu bars that appear on the left of the screen. The image below
shows a section of marsh at the boundary of Sabine National Wildlife
refuge. The green line represents the refuge boundary. I got
Google Earth to display this boundary by checking off "parks and
rec. area's" on the "Layers" tool bar.
Earth also has a search feature. You can for example type in
"marina" and it will show you locations of marina's within the
local area you are viewing. In addition, you can type in a
business name or a street address and it will pinpoint the location for
you on the map image. Google Earth also allows you the convenience
of panning seamlessly from any point to any point on the globe, and
offers a function where you can measure distance between two points, or
measure the distance of a non strait line trip through way points.
download that seems to offer similar features is USA Photomaps available
. I have not explored USA Photomaps to the degree I have Google
Earth, but I do know that it offers a choice of topo or aerial photo
images. USA Photomaps and Google Earth, both also display the
Latitude and Longitude coordinates of any location you place your curser
on. You can then readily transfer these coordinates to your GPS
advantage of these great tools for exploring your world. Online
mapping has been an invaluable resource to me for finding productive
area's to fish.
July 22nd, 2005
We've got big black
drum moving back onto the flats in the Northern part of the
estuary. Last Monday, Danny Williams and I got on them pretty
good. We found a hard bottomed flat that is just loaded with big
tailing drum. The flat is anywhere from 14 inches to two feet deep
and has a hard bottom. The drum tail singly and in schools.
Danny and I had around 9 of them eat, but only landed 3. A couple
were break-offs, a few hooks pulled, and we just didn't get good hookups
on several more. Fairly wide hook gaps are necessary. We
also foul hooked a bunch more, this is very common when sight casting to
large drum, because their high arched back tends to catch the leader as
they swim under it.
These drum can
probably be caught on any fly that is weighted fairly heavily, but I've
had good luck lately on a Kwan. Get the fly on the bottom, right
in front of their mouth and give it a small, slow twitch. You can
usually tell when the drum eat by their body language.
On a cool Saturday
morning, my friend Dave Falk was poling me into a shallow marsh.
The sun hadn't cleared the tree line yet so spotting a fish in the
waters was a very remote possibility at best. As Dave poled me
along about 20 feet off of the grass line a school of mullet began to
move quartering the starboard bow. In the middle of the many wakes
being caused by the schooling mullet was a wake that looked a little
different. It wasn't any bigger than the surrounding wakes, it
just had a more rounded front, and it moved differently. While
most of the wakes caused by mullet in the school were moving in a
skittish, erratic fashion, darting side to side, this little wake moved
in a very deliberate manner, making broad sweeping turns. That's a
redfish I muttered to myself as I lay my fly in front of and past
it. I stripped once and wham, my line came tight to a 7.5 pound
Don't Forget These Fishing Tips
Occasionally I look at web statistics for Redchaser.com to see what pages people are visiting within the site. Many people don't realize that between articles, tips, techniques, fly patterns and other materials, there are more than 70 pages that make up Redchaser.com.
Below is a listing of some of the articles from Redchaser.com that visitors have told me that were very useful to them, as well as others that I think you may be interested in visiting, or re-visiting. All of these articles can also be accessed by clicking on the "Tips and Techniques" menu button above.
Knots And RiggingAn overview of uses and tying instructions for a wide assortment of knots..
These are a few of the more popular pages on this site. In addition there are fly patterns, links and other articles as well. Explore them by rolling over and clicking the menu buttons above.
Redchaser.com in a non
commercial online community dedicated to sharing ideas and information
relating to fly fishing. While information is welcome, and will be
shared on all aspects of fly fishing, the primary focus of redchaser.com
is on Louisiana Fly fishing.
As may be expected of a
sited dedicated to Fly Fishing in Louisiana, there is a lot of information
on Fly Fishing for Redfish, fly fishing for speckled trout, fly fishing for
black drum, fly fishing for sheepshead,
largemouth bass, bream offshore species and more. To make our
visitors from northern environs feel more at home, Redchaser.com even
has a few articles relating to fishing for salmonoids.
Take some time to look
around. There are more than 70 pages of material here. Visit
the many articles under "Tips and Techniques". Learn how
to tie some effective fly patterns for where ever you fish. Check
out illustrated knot tying and rigging instructions, or if your a
beginner, visit the fly fishing 101 page.
In addition to this
information, you can get and post fishing reports, tips, advice, news,
and other items of interest on the "Reports and Scuttlebutt"
continually to strive to chronicle Fly Fishing in Louisiana, Fly
Fishing for Redfish, and all other species that inhabit the Sportsman's