Louisiana Fly Fishing

Grand Isle surf fishing for speckled trout peaks during June and early July. It's also during this time frame that members of various clubs gather for the annual Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend. Here a few attendees relate their experiences after a morning venture. If the water is not dirty, flycasters can have good success for school fish tossing baitfish patterns such as Clouser Minnows. Bigger trout can sometimes be caught on topwater poppers. Look for diving birds in the surf. Or slicks. If no apparent signs, then cast flies near rock jetties and along current lines. In areas without rock breakers, well-defined troughs will exist. Fish the 1st trough at first light, then later, work the 2nd trough.

Fly Of The Month

Clouser Minnow. There are a number of patterns that work well for summer seatrout, but none as good as the Clouser. It's a great imitation of the bay anchovy (aka, silverside minnow) one of the preferred food items for specks. It can be fished successfully in 2 ways. First, cast and strip steadily with a floating fly line, or intermediate sinking fly line, or floating line looped with sink tip connector. Second, when dropped 24-30 inches below a VOSI (flyrodder's popping cork), cast then strip then pause. The former technique works better in the surf and passes, while the latter seems to work best in the marsh and interior lakes. A third option - fishing at night under lights - works best with a "cast and drag" technique. No matter when or where, a chartreuse/white or white/white clouser is a must for summer trout fishing.

Featured Tackle

TFO Mangrove Series fly rods. In the world of saltwater fly fishing, where fast and ultra-fast action fly rods are in vogue, the Mangrove offers a more reasonable moderate-fast approach for the angler whose emphasis is accuracy with a minimum of false casts. Developed for TFO by Flip Pallot, the Mangrove utilizes TFO’s proprietary TiCr blank coating, and TFO’s proprietary Tactical Guides™ that are braid and saltwater safe...plus they can't break or pop out like traditional ceramic guides. The chestnut colored blank features a full wells grip with an instant rod weight burled cork ID system, fighting butts and machined hook keepers on each side of the aluminum up-locking reel seat. Prices range from $240 to $280, and include TFO's legendary lifetime warranty.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
This weekend is the Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday. The annual Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday provides an exemption from state sales tax on the first $2,500 of the purchase price of most individual items of tangible personal property for non-business use. The state sales tax is payable on the portion of the purchase price of any individual item in excess of $2,500. The holiday applies only to the 4 percent state sales tax. Under Louisiana law, the annual sales tax holiday takes place on the first consecutive Friday and Saturday each August. For 2014, the holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 1, and continues through 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, August 2. I'm often asked, "What's the big deal about the tax holiday?", especially considering that it's only 4 percent savings and sometimes better savings can be found in-store sales or on the internet. My response is two words: "price protection". The manufacturers of many fly rods, reels, lines, and kayaks have a strict policy that all retailers must sell their products at MRP (Manufacturer Retail Price). For example, the price of a Hobie Revolution 11 kayak is $1,849. All dealers must sell at that price unless the boat has been used for demos, and only after a period of one year. If the total tax in your locality is 9 percent, the total cost of the Revo 11 would be $2,015. With the sales tax holiday the total cost is $1,941. Saving $74 doesn't seem like much, but it's always better than saving nothing.

Monday, July 28, 2014
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahrs Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Cabelas store in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome, public is invited. Bring your own tools, the club has some to use. Materials are provided. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch at 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club holds their quarterly meeting at Don's Seafood Hut in Hammond. Time is 7:00pm. Steve "Gnatless" Lessard will be guest speaker, along with upcoming club activities. Current and prospective members are welcome. Starting Friday, and continuing thru Sunday, it's the 28th annual Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza at the Trademart in Jackson. Sponsored by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, the event will feature the Magnolia Fly Fishers doing tying demos and casting demos. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Friday is Kid's Day where adults are $7 and ages 12 and under are free. For more info, go to www.mswildlife.org. On Saturday, Pack and Paddle of Lafayette will host a "Highway 1 Marsh Mothership Kayak Fishing Trip". Seats are limited to 4 persons, so reservations are required. Cost is $200 and includes kayak, paddle, PFD, marsh anchor, guide, and mothershipping to the fishing area. For complete details, or to register, go to www.packpaddle.com.

Websites down. Over the weekend, Louisiana Fly Fishing and Warm Fly websites crashed. Both are hosted by different companies on different servers, so it was pure coincidence. Our site was down only for 12 hours, and obviously is back up. WarmFly.com is still experiencing problems as of this writing, but should be up soon. Most - if not all - these problems are related to the time of year when various hosting services do upgrades, either on hardware or software. One little change can disrupt everything.

Mega kudos to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers! Their 2nd annual "Master Series" was held on Saturday out of the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Featured presentor was Dave Whitlock, accompanied by his better half, Emily. The 70 or so attendees got their money's worth and more, as Dave discussed fly fishing for bass. He started with an on-the-water presentation emphasizing casting, fishing techniques, presentation, etc, followed by a slide show. After lunch which was provided, Dave demonstrated leader connections including needle knots for fly line to leader. And that was followed by Dave tying some of his favorite bass patterns. While many of the things Dave demonstrated were not new to me, what captivated me was how easy Dave made them look (I need MORE practice!). But there were a few new things, and like most attendees, I'm anxious to give them a try. Dave Whitlock is one of the great legends of our sport, and this event was a treat for all who attended. Tom Bullock of NLFF told me after the event that they've already set a date for next years Master's Series. Can't wait until next July!

LOWA has announced 2013 Fish of the Year winners. At their annual convention in Houma on August 8th and 9th, the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association will present their prestigious "Fish of the Year" awards for each of the two categories they administer on the state's top 10 fish records. The awards go to the outstanding catches made in the previous year. The Fly Fishing award will go to Victor Tedesco III of Houma for his 1st place, 6.24 pound Gafftopsail Catfish which was caught at the Buoy 13 area off Grand Isle caught in May, 2013. Vic is an outstanding fly fisherman who has several records in the top 10 listings among a wide variety of saltwater and freshwater species. He's also currently in 2nd place in the CCA STAR Fly East Division. While catching a gafftop on fly is fairly easy, catching one of that size on any tackle is really something! Incidently, the Rod and Reel award will go to Able Ceja of Fordoche for his 1st place Gag Grouper of 74.43 pounds. Ceja caught his fish out of Venice in July, 2013.

Monday, July 21, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library on 5416 Provine Place in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. The topic for this meeting will be "What Knot to Wear". Like the TV show of the same sounding name, there will be makeovers. In this case, of leaders using various knots. The public is welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying session at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Friday evening, it's the Captain's meeting for Saturdays annual Highway 1 Slamboree hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will be hosting "A Day With Dave Whitlock". More on that later. Also on Saturday, Tom Jindra will be teaching an intermediate fly casting class in New Orleans. Tom is former head of the Federation of Fly Fishers Casting Board of Governors, and recognized as one of the best instructors in the world. The class will begin with a review of the roll cast and standard overhead cast before proceeding to the double-haul and techniques for coping with wind. Additional techniques will be covered as time permits. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Cost is $50 per person, seats are very limited. Contact Tom asap to see if any seats available and/or to register (email tomjindra@cox.net or call 504-392-7511. Also on Saturday, Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic upstairs in the Conference Room. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. The class is free. Please bring your tying tools, materials are provided. Or come and just watch.

A day with a legend. The North Louisiana Fly Fishers started their "Masters Series" last summer, featuring Davy Wotton. They continue that series this Saturday with Dave Whitlock. The event will be held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Cost is $35, and covers a full day from 9:00am to 5:00pm, plus lunch and refreshments. There are a few limited seats still available, so you need to act fast! If you are relatively new to our sport and don't know who "Whitlock" is, then read on. Dave is considered by many to be the dean of warmwater fly fishing (even though Dave has also been very active and innovative when it comes to coldwater trout also). Thirty-five years ago the Oklahoma native resigned his position as a research chemist and entered the world of painting, illustrating, writing, photography and fly fishing. Soon he was consulting for numerous companies such as Scientific Angler, Simms and Sage, as well as writing for various magazines, appearing in outdoors TV shows, and even directed the LL Bean Fly Fishing Schools for their first 10 years. An innovative fly tier, he also created the Whitlock-Vibert Box System, used for instream salmonid egg incubation. For his countless contributions, in 1987 he was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and presented the FFF's James Henshall Award for contributions to warmwater fishing and conservation. I've had the pleasure to see Dave on numerous occasions, and it's never a dull moment! I'll be there, hope to see you also!

It's Slamboree time! The Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" tournament this Saturday out of Bobby Lynn's Marina in Leeville. Sponsored primarily by Pack and Paddle, the categories include Slam (heaviest 1 each of speck, slot red, and flounder), Leopard Red (most spots), and an optional Speck Calcutta. Entry fee is $35, and registration is open until Saturday at 5:00am. Fishing is anywhere between Golden Meadow and Grand Isle. Participants were dealt a blow last week with the announcement that a large section of marsh south of Highway 1 between Fourchon and Grand Isle is now closed to boats and kayaks. Still, as Casting for Kids this past weekend proved, there's lots of water still available and lots of fish, albeit smaller ones right now. One thing I really like about the Slamboree... you don't need to be a good fisherman to come away with the Grand Prize (Jackson Cuda kayak). You just need to catch the top leopard red (one with the most spots). It's more luck than skill, although it does help to know where to catch reds, what lures to use, and how to land them properly.

ICAST/IFTD 2014 is over and the big winner was... you, the consumer! Once again, combining shows proved fruitful for both IFTD (fly tackle retailers show) and ICAST (general fishing retailers show) as over 11,000 retailers, media, and other industry folks attended, making it the largest show ever. Needless to say, those naysayers who said the marriage wouldn't last... well, there's a 3rd anniversary coming up next July 14-17, 2015. That's when ICAST and IFTD will again join shows, making a return to Orlando. Frankly I was surprised at the number of new fly tackle items given the large rollout of new products last year. Many of the new products are already available thru dealers, such as the Best of Show Fly Reel, the 3-Tand, and the TFO Finesse Fiberglass Series and the TFO Fly Lines. There's a second wave of new product announcements that comes at the end of the year, almost entirely associated with "house brands" of megaretailers Bass Pro, Cabelas, and LL Bean. It'll be interesting to see what they offer for 2015. In the kayak fishing world, Wilderness Systems' new frame seat for the Ride models and the Old Town Predator XL certainly garnered much of the attention - and deservedly so. But I'm willing to bet that the new Feelfree Lure 13.5 will be the surprise kayak of 2015.

NFL training camps begin this week. Yes, the Saints start practice in West Virginia this weekend. Hard to believe, but summer is half over and we're cascading towards Fall. Late summer provides many good fly fishing opportunities, primarily for pelagics off the coast. It's not unusual - in fact, somewhat common - to catch large spanish mackeral and jack crevalle inside the passes. Jacks also invade Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. And then there's the annual invasion of sand (white) trout. Sandies love clousers! Taken on a 6-weight, they can provide loads of fun. Right now, the sandies are averaging 10-12 inches in size, but a few bigger ones are mixed in. By October, most of these fish will be 13 inches. There's no size or creel limit on this species as they live short, grow fast, and continually spawn. The only negative is they have a soft flesh... avoid putting a big red or large bag of ice on top of a mess of sand trout!

The bad and ugly of late summer. The bad is tropical weather: depressions, storms, hurricanes. The peak season of August and September is coming soon. Let's hope the El Nino effect blocks the formation of these storms, and we have a quiet summer. The ugly of late summer is Vibrio. This flesh-eating bacteria claims several victims each year - either resulting in surgery, amputations, or worst, death. According to some statistics I've seen, the worst months for Vibrio on the Gulf Coast are July, August and September - these correspond to when seawater temperatures reach the upper 80s and low 90s for which the bacteria thrives. Although anyone can be infected, the most vulnerable to serious effects are those over age 50 that have some other health issue (high blood pressure, etc.). There are numerous recommendations for avoiding infection; I suggest doing a Google on Vibrio and looking them up. One measure I take - carrying a small bottle of antibacterial spray with my tackle.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
New products abound at IFTD/ICAST. Today is the first day of the world's two largest fishing retailer shows - IFTD for fly tackle, ICAST for all other fishing - being held in conjunction. While we're not in attendance this year, there's more than enough info being released via email, Facebook, blogs, etc. to keep our laptops and ipads crunching away. For puddlers, lots of new offerings in kayaks. To keep LFF readers informed, I've created two posts in our forum, one in the Tackle section (for fly tackle and related) and one in the Puddlers Lounge (for kayak related). The posts will be closed to comments, so readers will have a faster reference. Readers with questions or comments are welcome to create their own post regarding any or all products.

Saltwater license fee to increase on August 1st. LDWF has announced that on August 1st, the saltwater license fee increase that was approved by the state legislature earlier this year, will go into effect. The fee is currently $15.00 and will increase to $22.50 starting then. The increase is expected to generate $2.25 million. Those monies will be used to fund the Louisiana Creel Program, the state's replacement for the former federally-funded Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). The bill for the increase fee also contains a sunset provision, requiring that by 2018 the increase must be renewed or it'll be dropped.

A very brief respite from SweatFest 2014. Temperatures today and tonight will be well below normal as an unusual mid-July cool front has moved thru our state. Skies will be clear and it'll seem more like mid-September than mid-July. Enjoy it while it lasts (for one day). As this front retreats northward, it'll be pulling up a lot of tropical moisture from the very warm (88 degrees) Gulf of Mexico. Chances of heavy thunderstorms will rocket up across the state starting Thursday. On Friday, rain chances are 50 to 90 percent, depending on parish. On the coast, the marine forecast is calling for 15 to 20 knot winds across the coast. It's Mother Nature's way of reminding us that it's not September yet.

Congrats to our friend Kerry St. Pe on his retirement. Kerry has served as Executive Director of Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) since 1997. During his tenure, BTNEP has been instrumental in raising national awareness of the loss of wetlands and marsh in coastal Louisiana. Those efforts have resulted in increased funding for studies and coastal projects. Kerry has also directed hundreds of oil spill removals and remediations. His many list of honors includes: recipient of the first (1996) and eleventh (2006) Annual Coastal Stewardship Award from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana; Interim Administrator of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) from July 2002 to June 2005; winner of the Gulf Guardian Award in 2009 in the Individual Category by the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program; an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Nicholls State University, his alma mater.

Sunday, July 13, 2014
What's happening this week. An All-Star week, activity-wise. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St Paul Lutheran Church Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: the upcoming Highway 1 Slamboree club tournament. Guests are welcome. Wednesday is the start of ICAST / IFTD in Orlando. More on that later. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Tom Bullock will be demonstrating tying the October Caddis. The workshop is open to the public. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 1st of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools, materials are provided. On Saturday, it's the 4th annual Casting for Kids fishing rodeo out of Boudreaux's in Leeville. More on that later.

New 2015 fishing gear to be revealed this week at ICAST / IFTD in Orlando. Last year, the largest annual dealer trade show for fly fishing (IFTD) was held in conjunction with the largest annual dealer trade show for standard fishing (ICAST) for the first time. The event was such a success for IFTD that this year's event sold out all their venue space. The significance of both expos is that, each year, most of the new products for the coming year are unveiled. While a very few 2015 fly fishing products have already arrived at dealers (e.g., TFO's Fiberglass Finesse Series rods and TFO Fly Lines), most new items are just being revealed. These include: new lines from Rio, new rods from Winston, new sunglasses from Smith Optics. One rumor that has been announced: a new cooler tote from Yeti, called The Hopper. For puddlers, there are several new kayaks coming out... again, details lacking. It certainly will make for an interesting event.

Casting for Kids fishing rodeo will be held out of Boudreaux's in Leeville this Saturday. Not only does it have the highest participation of kayakers in any general inshore rodeo, the Kayak Division has beaten out the Boat Division three years running. All for a great cause, too. Proceeds from this event go to the Palliative Care Foundation of Baton Rouge, which helps families with kids with life-limiting illness. There are 4 divisions (boat, kids boat, kayak, kids kayak) with each division awarding places for speck, flounder, and slot red. The registration fee of $40 adults ($20 youth) includes t-shirt, meal and a chance at numerous raffle prizes. For more details, or to register, go to Casting for Kids webpage.

Mississippi stocked 225,000 sunfish last week into Lake Tangipahoa, located in Percy Quin State Park near McComb. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) closed the lake after the levee was damaged by Hurricane Isaac. The lake was subsequently drained and the levee repaired. Plans are to restock Floria-strain largemouth bass later this month, and crappie in the near future. Percy Quin is a popular weekend destination for folks in southeast Louisiana, and the lake has offered good fly fishing in the past. With the draining and restocking, good fishing should return soon.

Last week's meeting in Lake Charles between CCA, LDWF, CPRA, DEQ and other agencies/groups with concerned anglers about the state of the Calcasieu fishery resulted in more questions than answers. Apparently LDWF's preliminary stock analysis indicates no problems with the speckled trout recruitment in the estuary. The limit of 15 fish per person, per day, makes it unlikely that it's being overfished. And yet, there's little explanation for what most veteran anglers say is the worst trout fishing they've seen since the killer freeze of 1989.

Sunday, July 6, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge facility in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Larry Offner, owner of Green Trout Fly Shop and webmaster of WarmFly.com. Visitors are welcome. On Wednesday, CCA Louisiana will hold a "State of Calcasieu Lake" meeting at the Calcasieu Room in Prien Lake Park in Lake Charles. Time is 6:00pm. Hosted by the Lake Charles Chapter, this meeting will give the public a chance to hear the latest studies on the lake from various LDWF biologists, members of the Corps of Engineers and DEQ, and voice their concerns. Admission is free and open to the public. Light snacks and soft drinks will be provided. On Thursday, the Ponchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. For details, contact Colin McCormick at 985-264-3448. On Saturday, Tom Jindra will be conducting an "Introductory Fly Casting" class in New Orleans. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Cost is $50. The class will cover, in succession, the roll cast, off-shoulder cast, standard overhead cast, off-shoulder overhead, as well as the basic mechanics of casting. Registration required, as room limited to 6 students. For more details, or to register, email Tom at tomjindra@cox.net or call 504-392-7511. Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle of Lafayette will host a "Biloxi Marsh Mothership Kayak Fishing Trip" with Captain Gary Taylor. The cost of $189 includes: kayak, paddle, anchor, PFD and semi-guided trip. Seats are limited, so pre-registration is required. For details or to register, contact Pack and Paddle at 337-232-5854, or go to their website at www.packpaddle.com.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The second half of 2014 has begun. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer. By the end of this month, training camp for Saints football begins. And in five weeks, I'll be planting my fall garden. There's still plenty of hot summer days remaining... perhaps time enough for the fish to readjust to "normal" from what was an unusual - and often disappointing - first half. No question that the coldest winter in several decades disturbed typical spawning cycles. But once the cold was gone for good, fishing has remained below par. Let's hope for a second half comeback.

The 2015 Calendar of Events is already filling up. In many years past, fly fishing events were booked and announced within months of their date. More recently, events are booked a year in advance, and sometimes even further. Much has to do with venues - booking one even several months ahead is getting more difficult. There are a few activities left for 2014 which are not yet listed on the LFF Calendar. These include the IFFF Gulf Coast Council Expo which we learned this weekend will be held September 12-13, the annual Rio Grande Rodeo hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers, the North Louisiana Fly Fisher's Annual NLFF Banquet, and Fishing Tackle Unlimited (Houston) Annual Inshore Expo which features fly tying and fly fishing seminars. The 2015 calendar is also missing a few events which are in final staging plans. The most relevant ones are: the Kisatchie Fly Fishers first-ever KFF Fly Tying Expo planned for January, the Acadiana Conclave which we're told will be in March, as it was this past year, the Red River Expo which is the renamed "Natchitoches Fishing Expo", which starting next year will alternate between Shreveport/Bossier (in 2015, 2017) and Natchitoches (in 2016, 2018). There's also discussion of a rainbeaux trout tournament being held the end of December or early January. If you know of any event not listed on our LFF Calendar, and which has a scheduled date, please send us an email and give us dates and any other specifics.

Monday, June 30, 2014
What's happening this week. A light week ahead, with the Independence Day holiday. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahrs Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. On the agenda: a recap of the recent 2-Fly Tournament and discussion of a possible trout tournament this winter. Guests are welcome. Also Monday is the last day for the 2013-2014 fishing license. More on that later. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Friday is the 4th of July - Independence Day. It's also the start of the 76th annual Southwest Louisiana Fishing Club Rodeo which runs thru Sunday, with activities at the SWLA Fishing Clubhouse. There's a Kayak Division with three places for Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder. Tickets are $35, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Children's Miracle Network of Southwest Louisiana. For more info, contact Louis Vallee at 337-485-1540.

A reminder - fishing licenses expire tonight! Tomorrow is July 1, the first day when 2014-2015 Louisiana fishing licenses - both basic and saltwater - are required. LDWF Enforcement agents write more tickets during the first week of July than any other week of the year. And many of them are for license violations. Please remember to buy or renew your licenses before hitting the water.

Welcome to SweatFest 2014. Although this is one festival I prefer NOT to celebrate. For our readers in Siberia, June in Louisiana is hot, but it's not as bad as what we typically get in July and most of August. The heat and humidity over the next 8 weeks combine for heat indices which typically range from 100 to 110. It's also a time when pressure gradients are low, thus little winds. The only relief from the oppressive heat comes from - in ascending order of BAD - afternoon thunderstorms, easterly waves, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes. For flycasters, it's the best of times... the worst of times... heck, all three! Read carefully, my furry friends, and you'll understand. Large freshwater and inshore species do not like hot water as it holds little dissolved oxygen. For this reason, bigger reds leave the shallow ponds, bass move to deeper water, big bream stay deep. Most of these fish feed at night. However, during this same time the major rivers - and their live oxbows - fall and clear. Anglers can experience great fishing on these waters during this time. Another exception is pelagics. July and August are the best months to catch jack crevalle and tripletail inside, spanish mackeral in passes, and king mackeral and bonito close to shore. Rio Grande Perch also are very active during SweatFest, perhaps because they are native to south Texas and central American waters. Whatever species you wish to pursue over the next 8 weeks, prepare accordingly. Fish early, stay hydrated, and wear sun-protective clothing.

Monday, June 23, 2014
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Orvis store in Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome, public is invited. Bring your own tools, the club has some to use. Materials are provided. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. LDWF biologist Kristi Butler will give a presentation on the Booker Fowler Hatchery in Woodworth and the stocking program in general. The public is welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch at 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Friday thru Sunday, it's the annual "Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend". More on that later. Also starting Friday and continuing Saturday, it's the 17th annual Save Our Lake and Coast Fishing Rodeo, hosted by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. This rodeo has a Kayak Division, with three places awarded. Entry fee of $40 includes t-shirt and one year membership in LPBF. For more info, go to www.saveourlake.org. On Saturday, the Camp Fly Fishing School will hold it's third and final workshop of the year at their facility in Breaux Bridge. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly free fly tying clinic in the upstairs Conference Room. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Beginners are welcome, bring your own tools, materials provided.

The Camp Advanced-Instructor Workshop this Saturday is strongly recommended for those intermediate level flyfishers looking to improve their distance, master specialty casts, and learn more about the mechanics of casting. The latter is important if your goal is instruct others, and especially important if you wish to become an IFFF Certified Casting Instructor. The Camp School instructors are all Master Certified, and Keith and Debbie Richard even have a pond to put newly learned skills to the ultimate test. The price of $150 includes full day instruction, lunch, refreshments and handouts. The Camp facility has an air-conditioned classroom. For more info, go to www.campflyfishingschool.com or contact Keith Richard at 337-344-0908.

The Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend this Friday thru Sunday is the biggest saltwater fly fishing event in Louisiana each year. It began when the Red Stick Fly Fishers and Acadiana Fly Rodders decided to combine their separate annual summer weekends to the island into one, combining their club resources. Later, other clubs joined in. Today members of clubs in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and a few other states take part. High points of the weekend are the Friday night shrimp boil and the Saturday evening fish fry. The fish fry features fresh fish contributed by participants who catch fish over the weekend. But the most important aspects of this weekend are (1) the camaradery shared by members of the fly fishing community, and (2) the sharing of knowledge and expertise where everyone has a chance to improve their saltwater fly fishing skills. If you're a member of a recognized fly fishing club, check out this event.

A big change for Southern Conclave. The International Federation of Fly Fishers Southern Council has been holding their Fly Fishing Fair, aka conclave, the first weekend of October each year in Mountain Home, Arkansas, for 33 years. During the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, it was the standard by which all other FFF council events were measured, both in attendance and revenue generation. In fact, it continued to grow to the point that during the early 2000s, the event was moved from the Ramada Inn to the much more spacious Baxter County Fairgrounds. However, over the last five years, attendance has declined greatly, leading to a decline in revenue for the Council (the conclave is their main source of revenue for their many projects and fundings). And as attendance has fallen, so has interest among some exhibitors, who in turn declined to show the last couple of years. The Southern Council has attempted a few new wrinkles to attract more younger folks (they are keenly aware that numbers of fly fishers continue to grow especially in the 18-35 age bracket). One of those new wrinkles was "Fly Fishing X-Games" which later got X-ed out. Now Southern is trying a few new changes for their conclave coming up in October. One is lower costs - lower workshop fees, lower admission fees, and a $15 BBQ dinner for the banquet on Saturday night. But the biggest change is the dates. Traditionally, the Southern Fly Fishing Fair has been held all day on Friday and Saturday, with some workshops on Thursday. This year, the main expo dates will be Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday ending at 2pm. There will be some workshops on Friday. To compensate for those who might have a conflict between Sunday services and the event, there's even at 8am service - at the Fair - led by Harry Boyd of Winnsboro.

The new format might just work IF... There has been much speculation as to why Southern Conclave isn't drawing the attendance it once had. Some suggest that the split-off of clubs from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to the Gulf Coast (and most recently, Texas Council) have had a big impact. Others suggest that in addition, there are now many more competing events (mostly club conclaves) where folks don't have to travel as far to see programs, fly tying demos, etc. Still others suggest that the high cost of gas is a reason why there are reduced numbers of attendees from distances of 8 hours or more from Mountain Home. All those might factor somewhat. But here's one to consider - during it's heyday, the Conclave counted on heavy attendance from the then 800-member Memphis Fly Fishers, the largest club in the council. I've been told the MFF club isn't close to that big anymore. Still, Memphis and St. Louis are within the Council's boundaries and provide it with huge numbers of active flycasters and potential flycasters - even if 90 percent don't belong to a club or the IFFF. Most are white collar workers with busy jobs that can't often take 2-3 days vacation just to attend an event. If going to a Saturday-Sunday format can indeed bring them in, then the conclave will prosper like it never has before (again, pointing out that there are MANY MORE flycasters now than there were 10-15 years ago).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Hooked on Fly Fishing A to Z is the latest book by Louisiana author Beverly Vidrine, with illustrations by Matthew Tabbert. Bev is a member of the Acadiana Fly Rodders, a highly-respected fly tier, and a renown author of childrens books. Her previous titles include "Easter Day Alphabet", "Thanksgiving Day Alphabet", "Halloween Alphabet", "St Patricks Day Alphabet", "A Christmas Dictionary" and "A Mardi Gras Dictionary". Bev - a graduate of University of Louisiana in elementary education - is also a member of the Society of Childrens's Book Writers and the Writers' Guild of Acadiana. Her new book is designed to teach basics of fly fishing to children by simplifying the terminology (it might do well among some adults, too). Published by Pelican Publishing, "Hooked on Fly Fishing A to Z" is now available on Amazon for just $13.99 (list price is $19.99).

White River Trout Unlimited seeks volunteers for what appears to be a very ambitious project on the blue-ribbon trout waters of northern Arkansas. On Saturday, June 28th, the TU Chapter and any volunteers will meet at the gazebo on the Mill Pond area of the Norfork River at 7:00am and begin "egg planting" over the next 2 to 4 hours. Volunteers bring waders, work gloves and small shovels. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. The eggs will be those of the Bonneville cutthroat trout. This cutthroat was chosen for planting because it prefers gravel-bottomed creeks and has shown the ability to survive in harsh habitats. WRTU hopes that the eggs will lead to a natural spawn of cutthroat in the river. A similiar project was just completed on the White River near Rim Shoals. For details, go to www.whiterivertu.com.

Beauty and the Double Haul. Lindsey Vonn is an Olympic gold medalist and four-time World Cup Champion in alpine ski racing. She's one of the most celebrated female athletes in America, and if that's not enough, her good looks have made her highly-sought for commercials and modeling and even landed her on the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. But she still remains competitive, despite a knee injury which has sidelined her career. According to an article in the Denver Post, Vonn found a way to do that while recovering from ACL surgery - she took up fly fishing. And competitive fly casting. Recently she competed in the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado, where she competed in the 2 Fly X-Stream Fishing Event. She apparently did well in the Accuracy Casting portion of the event, using a Redington Vapen Red 5-weight. But not well enough. Still, having a high profile figure like Vonn could help boost the women's segment of our sport. In 2012, only 34 percent of all flyfishers were women. Good, but not great for a sport that was "founded" by a woman (Dame Juliana Berners) and for which women have traditionally adapted to better than men.