Louisiana Fly Fishing

Summer reds are here. Late summer brings an influx of bull reds to the passes as the spawning period begins. But juvenile reds in nearshore waters also make a short migration into the lower estuaries, perhaps following crabs and shrimp. The hot days call for different tactics: the best action, especially on poppers, will be from first light to an hour after sunrise. After which, attractor patterns like spoonflies and seaducers will work. Crab patterns are a sure bet on most days. While large reds don't like the shallow ponds due to hot water, smaller slot reds will still be common.


Fly Of The Month

Kwan Fly. Pat Dorsy created the Kwan for the backwaters of South Florida but it's proven to be a universally-effective redfish fly. Even sheepshead will eat it on occasion. The most popular colors are tan/brown and tan/chartreuse. The materials needed are: Tiemco 800S or equivalent hook, beadchain or lead eyes, body of EP Fibers or Aunt Lydia's craft yarn, tail of craft fur or Pseudo Hair, and an egg sack of orange or yellow yarn. Use alternating colors for the yarn/fiber body or a waterproof marking pen to add color bands. For tying instructions, there are a couple Youtube videos of this popular pattern.


Featured Tackle

MTI Helios inflatable PFD. So far this summer, there's been at least 3 news reports of kayakers who've drowned - none wearing a life jacket. It's hot out there and perhaps the reason why some paddlers go without a vest. But that's no excuse. An inflatable PFD is less bulky and much cooler, and can save your life! The MTI Helios 2.0 jacket goes beyond standard IPFD with a comfort V-yoke, 3D mesh lining, reflective trim, and light colors. It even includes a signal whistle. MTI is a small American owned company that specializes in life jackets. This manual-inflatable PFD comes at suggested MSRP of $129, a good price for a vest of this quality.



 TIPPETS

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Getting tropically depressed again. Invest 99-L is currently a strong tropical wave just east of the Antilles Islands, but worth keeping a watchful eye on. Unlike most of the Atlantic storms over the last year and a half - which have been steered to a more northerly course by strong steering currents - it appears that high pressure parked over the Mid-Atlantic states will force I99-L to maintain a more westerly course. In fact, most of the models now show it entering the Gulf of Mexico. There's some predictions that drier air at the upper atmosphere may prevent strengthing into a hurricane. But as I've stated on numerous occasions over many years on this website, if a storm enters the Gulf in August or early September, all bets are off! The very warm temperature of Gulf surface water is a powerful energy source for storms. At the least, this storm could be a major rainmaker. That's possibly the worst news anyone wants to hear, with nearly 100,000 Louisiana residents affected by the flooding of a week ago. I99-L is roughly 6 to 7 days from entering the Gulf, so let's see what happens. And pray that the one model showing it taking a right turn to the Atlantic proves out to be the correct forecast.

LDWF has scheduled a drawdown for Indian Creek Lake. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Rapides Parish Police Jury have announced that the popular lake near Woodworth will be drawn down beginning September 6th, at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per day, until the lake is 6 feet below pool stage. There's a chance that the lake could be lowered an additional 2 feet. The gates will close on December 15th for the lake to refill. Indian Creek will remain open during the drawdown. Approximately 1,500 acres of water will remain at low stage. Indian Creek joins Vernon Lake, False River, Cheniere Lake, Smithport Lake, and Bistineau scheduled for Fall drawdown. In recent years, LDWF has aggressively pursued drawdowns as a management tool for lakes to mimic the beneficial effects seen on overflow lake systems. In those systems, low water levels exposes shorelines to sun and air. This kills aquatic vegetation, decomposes organic materials, and compacts sediments. In many of the lakes of central and north Louisiana, where shoreline bottoms are mostly sand and gravel, drawdowns can have tremendous impact in regenerating spawning beds for bass and bream. The maximum benefits usually come in the second and third years, when the offspring of the "drawdown spawn" reach mature sizes.

The never-ending debate continues. Midcurrent.com website recently asked a group of experts "Which is better, blood knot or surgeons knot?". You can check out the responses by clicking on this link. I'll give a spoiler and say that most of the respondents preferred the blood knot, mostly for it's symmetry and smoothness. Missing from the debate was the Improved Blood Knot and the Double Uni-Knot, both of which I'd argue are better than either the Blood Knot or the Surgeons. But that's my opinion, and as I've said on many occasions, ask twenty fly anglers what their favorite knot is, and you'll get twenty different responses! As long as what you use works, does it really matter?

Sunday, August 21, 2016
What's happening this week. A few activities have been cancelled due to the continuing issues from the Great Flood of 2016. Those include the Red Stick Fly Fishers monthly fly tying session (Monday) and the Bass Pro Denham Springs monthly tying clinic (Tuesday). Please check for any further notifications in our forum. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel at 7840 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans (across the parking lot from Blue Crab Restaurant). Time is 7:00pm. On Friday evening, it's the prelude to Ride The Bull 7 Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament at Bridgeside Marina on Grand Isle, with the Shrimp Boil, Captains Meeting, Calmwater Film Festival and live music. Activities start at 4:00pm. On Saturday, it's the main event for Ride The Bull 7, with shotgun start at 7:00pm. Last date to register online is this Wednesday, after which registration must be onsite. For more info, go to www.ccalouisiana.com.

Congratulations to the Contraband Flycasters on the success of their Fly Fishing Expo (aka, conclave) held yesterday in Moss Bluff. Turnout was good considering everything weather-related. The Lake Charles area may have been spared the worst from The Great Flood of 2016, but daily severe thunderstorms continue to plague southwest Louisiana, and that seems to have had a negative impact on everything. Still, the club did well in it's fundraising efforts thanks to their many generous sponsors and donors. It was great to meet many fly fishing friends again, and hope to see them again - and many more - at the IFFF conclaves coming up in September and October.

No major fish mortality so far. Everyone associates late summer storms with freshwater fish kills. And it's probable that there'll be some associated with The Great Flood of 2016. Fish kills can occur in several ways. For one, heavy rains can push high organic load into rivers. During late summer, when dissolved oxygen is low, this is fairly common. In lakes, cool rain water (~72 degrees) and persistent cloud cover can cause turnover of the hot (~90 degrees) surface water that is low in oxygen. This type of effect usually results in shad and other low-tolerant species dying. But by far, the largest fish kills are caused when high winds strip leaves from trees, and deposit them into water bodies. Compared to the organic load from runoff, this effect on dissolved oxygen is many times higher. The massive kills of Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita, and Gustav were associated with wind-blown organics. If there's a silver lining about TGF16, it's that it didn't have a wind effect.

Meanwhile, Montana has a major fish kill. One of the news wires reported that on Friday, the Yellowstone River - from Yellowstone Park to Laurel - was closed to all recreation, including fishing, floating and boating. This is to prevent the spread of a disease that has killed tens of thousands of trout and whitefish. Test samples sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Health Center in Bozeman revealed the disease to be Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD). PKD is spread by a microscopic parasite. Mortality from PKD is usually low, about 20 percent, but under stressful factors - such as abnormally high water temperatures in the river - the mortality rate can reach 80 to 100 percent. The report went on to state that PKD has only been documented in Montana twice in the last 20 years, but that there's been recent outbreaks not only in Montana, but in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. While PKD is not a threat to humans, the parasite can be easily transmitted by human activity.

Thursday, August 18, 2016
Mississippi DMR considering speck reg changes. A recent stock assessment of speckled trout conducted by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is raising concerns about the future of that fishery. To understand why, a brief understanding of fisheries management and some terminology is required. The Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) is a measure of the sustainability of a fisheries, being the percentage of spawning-age fish that exist compared to the numbers that would exist if there were no fishing. Next is yield... the percentage of those uncaught mature fish necessary for sustainable recruitment. Most states manage either Maximum Sustained Yield (MSY) or Optimum Sustained Yield (OSY). For example, if MSY for a particular species is 35, that means that in order to maintain viable populations at least 35 percent of each year class must reach sexual maturity. OSY is always higher... the goal of OSY is -not- just to sustain a species, but to make it abundant. Such that the success rate of anglers is optimized. Unfortunately, when it comes to management of speckled trout, most states manage under MSY - and even then, don't do a good job. Mississippi has determined that their current SPR for trout is only 10 percent, while their management goal - based on MSY - is 20 percent. Currently, regulations are 15 trout per day, with a minimum size of 13 inches. To get the SPR up to the minimum goal means either reducing the daily limit or increasing the minimum size, or some combination of both. For example, one proposal DMR is considering is a 12-fish, 13-inch limit. Another is a 14-fish, 14-inch limit.

Why Mississippi's dilemna may be our own. The most recent stock assessment done by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on speckled trout in our waters found an SPR of only 10 percent. While LDWF has a lower management goal (also based on MSY) than Mississippi, the current SPR is still way below the threshold. Back in July, Todd Masson wrote this article in NOLA.COM titled "Is it Time For Louisiana to Lower Speck Limits?". Click on the link and check it out... very disturbing. The problem with limits is that, they work until something changes. In most cases, that "change" is increased fishing pressure. There's no question that the number of people fishing our coastal marshes has increased greatly in the last 20+ years since the current regs were put in place (a lot of that increase has come from kayak fishing). Like most fly and kayak anglers, I think a 15-fish daily limit is a very reasonable solution. It's been the limit in southwest Louisiana (Calcasieu and Sabine) for several years. What concerns me is that LDWF often seems unwilling to take the lead in conservation, sometimes even getting in it's way. Back when CCA supported reduced creel limits for Calcasieu, the opposition was quick to quote "the biologists say no changes are necessary". Perhaps not, but as mentioned earlier there are TWO management schemes and CCA wanted to go with OSY instead of MSY. This was never acknowledged by LDWF. Now that surveys indicate an issue exists in southeast Louisiana, there seems to be a "wait and see" attitude, rather than a sense of urgency. In species management, like with business, the sooner an issue is corrected, the less harsh the measures required to correct it. To borrow from one of our presidential candidates, it's time to "Make Speck Fishing Great Again".

South Louisiana continues the recovery from the Great Flood of 2016. It's very saddening to see so many of my friends, family and extended family post photos on Facebook of the devastation to their homes by floodwaters. One particular friend had just completed a remodel of her house, with upgraded flooring and appliances - all that gone to waste! I recall how efficient and rapid the government and insurance companies were to aid and assist victims of Katrina (that's sarcasm, folks). So I'm not expecting any miracles this time either. It's definitely impacting the fishing, too. Many of the marinas in south Louisiana are reporting very low traffic for this time of year. At least two events scheduled for this week have been cancelled or postponed, and some of the LDWF public meetings scheduled for next week have been postponed. I expect we'll see a few more repercussions from this disaster until some sense of normalcy returns.

Sunday, August 14, 2016
I haven't felt this tropically-depressed since Katrina. Katrina was a category 3 hurricane, but this tropical depression that moved from the northeast Gulf waters westward into south Louisiana since Friday may have inflicted greater property damage, even if the human casualties have been minor in comparison. At least there's something to be thankful for! Otherwise, it's been very painful to see news reports and Facebook postings of the widespread flooding and evacuations. How bad is the "Flood of August 2016"? Notice I had to put "August" in there... because this past spring we had an equivalent flood event in north Louisiana, but not as devastating - I'll explain why later. But here's a reference. During the 31 years our family lived in Wedgewood subdivision in Baton Rouge, we experienced two 100-year flood events. Neither came even close to flooding our neighborhood which sat on a ridge a mile from the Amite River. I recall when I was president of the neighborhood association and the first flood event occured, being told that if we did flood, "better build an Ark, it's the end of times!". This morning I got word that most of Wedgewood was under water. That infers that almost all, if not all, of Livingston Parish south of I-12 is under water, and that most of southeast Baton Rouge is also. From Facebook postings, it appears that most of Ascension Parish is flooded as well. Then I heard on The Weather Channel that this is a 500-year flood event. If you go to Facebook, you'll find photos of areas I never dreamed would be under water - including all of Range Avenue in Denham Springs. I'm talking about Baton Rouge, but my family and cousins and friends in the Lafayette area are also posting photos of widespread flooding, vehicles under water everywhere. Here in the Alexandria area, we've been on the northern outskirts of this system until last night. Since then, there's been constant rain - some heavy rain - and as of noon the lake was up 3 feet and rising. I don't know when the rain will end, as this system is moving slowly. Forecasts call for greater than 50 percent chance of rain for most of south and central Louisiana until Thursday.

Nothing could've prevented the flooding but it could've been a lot less devastating for Baton Rouge, Livingston, and Ascension parishes had there been a dam on the Amite River. For decades, this was a hotly debated topic in the Greater Baton Rouge area. A lot of preservationists opposed it... they relished the fact that the Amite is a free-flowing river and designated scenic stream. The dam proponents even acknowledged that their project would not totally stop flooding, only diminish the frequency and in a worst-case scenario, the scope. That probably didn't help their cause. Making it worse was the fact that some dam proponents were in favor of a "wet reservoir" instead of a "dry reservoir", complete with lake development. As we witnessed with Toledo Bend this past spring, once a wet reservoir is developed, the interests of lake homeowners somehow becomes more important than the folks who live below the dam. That's a "no solution" solution. Of course, there were other more moderate proposals offered that would've preserved the free flow of the river, but allowed for holding water back during heavy rains. But such ideas are seldom given consideration. As we often see with politics, it's always a battle of "all or nothing" and seldom a common-ground solution.

How will this affect the fishing? It's crossed my mind, but it's probably the least of my concerns right now. I will say that if this had been a hurricane, the devastation to our fisheries would've been significant. That's because the high winds strip leaves from trees, deposit them into waterways, and as the leaves begin to rot, consumes what little oxygen there is in our hot August waters. This system might actually benefit some areas, adding cooler water and oxygen - minus the wind/leaves effect. But that water will be muddy and that's never good for fishing. In addition, some of the inland coastal areas will be turned off, particularly Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne in the east and Calcasieu in the west. School-sized specks were biting really good in Lake Prien and that's probably over until September at least. But those who think the lower marshes will be okay might rethink. Late August to late September brings the highest tides of the year in south Louisiana. A lot of this rainfall will flow down into the marshes and only aggravate the situation. Those who enjoy sightcasting to reds on low tides may find that "low tides" are what "high tides" were back in June.

What's happening this week. As I'm posting this, there's changes and cancellations being considered, so PLEASE go to their respective websites and check. Or go to Facebook and search for the club and see what they've posted. I'll try and post to the LFF Forum and our LFF Facebook Page any news I pick up. On Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold their weekly "One Beer Fly Casting" clinic at 6:00pm. Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook Road in Lafayette. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: this weekend's "Cajun Castaway" kayak fishing tournament out of Lake Charles. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Church Center on 1620 East Prien Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. On the agenda: this Saturday's club fly fishing expo. For more info, go to www.contrabandflycasters.net. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. This month Steve Oliver will be tying an articulated frog topwater fly. The public is invited. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the second of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their 12th conclave, the "Contraband Fly Fishing Expo" at Moss Bluff United Methodist Church in Moss Bluff. More about that on Monday. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Baton Rouge will hold another of their free "Kayak Demo Day" at BREC Wampold Park on University Lake in Baton Rouge. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands to test will include Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, Yolo and others. As always, subject to weather so check their Facebook page or call 225-406-8754. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual "Cajun Castaway" tournament. Entry fee is $25, and it's open to the public. This is a roadrunner tournament, with boundaries in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes, with weigh-in at Calcasieu Point Landing. Categories include Cajun Slam (slot red, trout, flounder 12" or longer) and Leopard Red. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

Sunday, August 7, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Monday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at the Westside Baptist Church Community Center on the Highway 1 bypass in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. This month, Catch Cormier will give a program on his hiking/fishing trip to Maine. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.canecountry.blogspot.com. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "One Beer Fly Casting" sessions. Time is 6:00pm. There is no cost. This is an informal session with a group of folks practice their casting. PnP will supply the beer. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge on Sunflower Road in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. This month, Richard Ramsey, guide on the White and Norfork rivers in Arkansas, and micro fly tier, will speak on trout fishing on those rivers. He'll also have some of his small flies for sale for just $1. The public is invited. On Thursday, the Bayou Pirates kayak fishing club will hold their monthly meeting at Harbuck Outdoors on 1914 East 70th Street in Shreveport. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Cenla Kayak Anglers will hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:00pm. Catch Cormier will highlight many of the new fishing kayaks and kayak accessories for 2017. Also on the agenda: upcoming tournaments. For more info, go to www.cenlakayakanglers.com. Also on Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Olde Towne Fly Shop on Pontchartrain Drive in Slidell. Time is 6:30pm. Bring your tools, if none a few sets are available for use during the session. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold the last of their "Summer Fly Tying Workshops". Go to www.kisatchiefly.org for details.

LDWF is proposing two new artificial reefs. One would be in western Lake Pontchartrain approximately 1.3 miles from Frenier Landing. The other would be in the southern portion of Calcasieu Lake. Prior to these projects moving forward, LDWF needs to hold public meetings and collect feedback. The first meeting will be for the Pontchartrain reef. It'll be held Tuesday, August 16 at 6:00pm at the East Bank Regional Library on Napoleon Avenue in Metairie. The 2nd meeting will be for the Calcasieu reef. It'll be held Wednesday, August 17, at 6:00pm at the Calcasieu Parish LSU AgCenter Office on Gulf Highway in Lake Charles. Both of these meetings are open to the public.

As you may have noticed, our "New Fly Rods" posting in the LFF Forum continues to be updated. Despite the number of postings already, we're not even halfway finished! Hopefully, we'll get to fly reels and other accessories this month, as well as a "New Kayaks" posting in the Puddlers Lounge - and that too will be quite lengthy! Seems several kayak companies skipped out on ICAST and introduced fishing boats at Outdoor Retailer this past week. Also, Jackson didn't mention or display a pedal yak at ICAST, but surprise! They introduced the first of two at OR. Another pedal yak that came out at OR was by Santa Cruz. They'll be using a fin system similiar to the Hobie. For those keeping count, that brings the number of brands of pedal yaks for 2017 up to nine, with rumors about a 10th brand joining the party.

LDWF has announced a drawdown for Cheniere Lake. Cheniere is one jewel of a lake near West Monroe, shrouded for the most part in Cypress and Tupelo trees that belie the lake's large size (3600 acres). The few times I've fished it, it's been tough, in large part due to the tight spaces in which to cast. But those tight spots hold some chunky bream and even "white perch" during the early parts of the year. LDWF is drawing the shallow lake down 6 feet below pool so that repair work can be done on Highway 3033 which forms part of the dam. The highway and bridge were damaged by flooding earlier this year. Since repair work will take 12 to 18 months to complete, the lake could be down that long. The last time Cheniere was drawn down for close to a year - back in 1971 - the following years the fish population doubled! As we've seen with Toledo Bend, there seems to be greater benefit in having low water over an extended period (a year or more) than with frequent drawdowns of 3 months or less.

Where's the college fly fishing leisure classes? Last week I was asked if I still teach fly fishing at LSU, which I haven't done for several years. For about a decade, Jody Titone and myself taught a leisure course at LSU on fly fishing, and for a few years during that time, another one on fly tying. In fact, at one time there were as many as five colleges across the state that had fly fishing leisure courses. These helped recruit a large number of new people to our sport. For example, our LSU class greatly attributed to the boom in the Red Stick Fly Fishers club membership that peaked around 130-140 during that time. Sadly, to my knowledge there are no fly fishing leisure classes offered for Fall 2016. These classes were quite popular, so what happened? I can only speculate as to reasons. 1) Time. It takes time to prepare for these classes, and no one seems to have much of that anymore. 2) Money. Although instructors get a percentage of the fee charged, it's fairly small. Some semesters for Jody and I it was a break-even proposition. 3) Competition with clubs, shops, and other educational sources. Most colleges don't allow weekend leisure classes, but that's when the vast majority of potential students are available. Shops like Orvis in Baton Rouge have done exceptionally well with their Saturday fly fishing clinics. Likewise, with several clubs across the state with their "Fly Fishing 101" programs. And then there's "The Camp Fly Fishing School" in Breaux Bridge managed by Keith Richard. Although it charges a fee ($150), the scope of learning - particularly casting - is much more than a leisure course could cover. For what you get, the leisure course can be pricey. Most colleges won't let an instructor charge less than $50 to $75 for a class. So does that mean college-based fly fishing classes are a thing of the past? Probably not. But it's going to take committed individuals to make it happen.

Monday, August 1, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "One Beer Fly Casting" sessions. Time is 6:00pm. There is no cost. This is an informal session with a group of folks practice their casting. PnP will supply the beer. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on 415 Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Casting at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at the Ward 3 Recreation Center on 7903 Lake Street in Lake Charles. Time is 6:30pm. Fellow kayakers welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Abita Brew Pub on 72011 Holly Street in Abita Springs. Time is 6:30pm. On Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will hold another of their free "Kayak Demo Day" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands to test will include Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, Yolo and others. As always, subject to weather so check their Facebook page or call 337-406-8754.

Also this week is the National Fly Fishing Fair in Livingston, Montana. This is the annual conclave held by the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) parent organization. Each year, a few Louisianians attend this event. In addition to drawing anglers and tiers from across the nation and even the world, the location is an attraction because it's prime hopper season on many area rivers. Although I've not been in several years, I do keep tabs on one of the highlights of this event, and that's the annual IFFF Awards. Every so often a person or club from Louisiana gets honored, or someone that Louisiana fly anglers are familiar with.

August, and that means... The last full month of SweatFest 2016, the one festival no one likes to celebrate. I did some checking and the second and third weeks are often the peak weeks of summer for the heat index. We had several days last August with heat index over 110. So stay hydrated and limit your time outdoors if possible. August is also the start of the peak of hurricane season. I know you all love to hear that! We've been spared the last two years, but forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predict this will be the most active season in five years. Enough bad news, let's go good. Later this week, college teams start fall football practice. Yes, football season is here. The Saints have already started training camp and on August 11 will hold their first pre-season game against the New England Patriots. The first college game takes place on August 25th, between California and Hawaii, with the game played in Australia. Most of the Louisiana teams kick off on September 3rd, with the biggest game being LSU versus Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

As far as events go, August brings quality over quantity. There's only three notable events, one fly fishing and two kayak fishing. The fly fishing event is the Contraband Conclave on Saturday, August 20, at the Moss Bluff United Methodist Church in Moss Bluff. This is the 12th time that the Contraband Fly Casters club have put on this expo, and it's always a fun event. Admission is free, and lunch is provided for a nominal cost. As with most conclaves, there's seminars, fly tying demos, casting instruction, exhibits, auctions and raffles, and more. Also that same day, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual Cajun Castaway kayak fishing tournament out of Calcasieu Point Landing in Lake Charles. It's a roadrunner tournament, with boundaries in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes. Categories are Cajun Slam, with optional calcutta for Flounder. But when it comes to kayak tournaments, none hold a candle to Ride the Bull on Saturday, August 27, out of Bridgeside Marina on Grand Isle. RTB is the world's largest kayak tournament, last year breaking another record with 733 participants. With the passing of Kristen Wray earlier this year, the torch has been passed to CCA. The $75 entry fee not only includes the usual meals, t-shirt, and film festival, but now also includes a year's membership in CCA. Registration has already started at www.ccalouisiana.com

Alligator Gar vs. Asian Carp. Sounds like the title for another of those SyFy network movies that pit one monstrous creature against another. But no, this is a plan that researchers at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux have to control the invasive Silver Carp, an Asian species that has become a nuisance in many rivers and waterways and which poses a threat to boaters. Silver carp have few predators because they get so big - up to 4 feet. But alligator gar get much bigger, up to 8 feet and over 300 pounds. And they have a taste for silver carp. While it's unlikely the huge gar can eradicate the carp population, if stocked in sufficient numbers they can put a huge dent in it. And that should be enough to make boating safer as well as recover some native fish populations. And what are the chances that SyFy Network might just make a movie titled "Alligator Gar vs. Asian Carp"? I'm sure if they read this, they'll be giving it serious thought.

Please LIKE us on Facebook if you haven't already. Many of you acknowledge that our news blog and forum have been good sources for what's happening with fly fishing and kayak fishing across Louisiana. And we appreciate that! However, Facebook is becoming a very valuable tool for communications. It provides better news links. And shared pages are very effective to getting readers on interesting stories, timely information, or even fishing reports. And with all the travel we do, it's a lot easier to share updates via the smartphone Facebook app than posting to a blog or forum. To "Like" our Facebook page, go to this link.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
The August issue of Louisiana Sportsman is now available at sporting goods and convenience stores. In my "Fly Lines" column, we talk about apps for smartphones and how they're helping fly anglers in many different ways, from locating fishing spots to keeping fishing journals, to teaching various aspects of our sport, even to helping beginners to learn to fly cast. There's also my Fishing Forecast and Calendar of Events for the month. In his "Marine Electronics" column, Allan Tarvid tells about the latest in electric propulsion, from small electric motors for kayaks up to larger electric outboards for small boats. In his "Paddles and Puddles" column, Chris Holmes gives the various options for transporting your kayak, including how to properly secure your kayak for road hauling. In his "Creature Feature" column, Jerald Horst tells us what those gelatinous blobs are we see underwater in freshwater lakes, and why they play an important role in the ecosystem. In feature articles, David A. Brown tells why anglers looking for bull reds in shallow water (and deep water) should head to lower Plaquemines Parish this month. Terry Jones writes about a new technique that is proving highly productive for summer crappie, that is, trolling using small crankbaits. Humberto Fontova tells why a short haul to Shell Beach can be productive for a wide variety of marsh species all during the year. Jerald Horst writes about one of Louisiana's best, but least publicized, spots for trophy speckled trout - Sabine Lake. David Brown shares secrets from Louisiana's top surf anglers on how to catch speckled trout this month. In "Pole Kat", the son of J.B. Salter shares with writer Jerald Horst his father's expertise on the Salter Jigging Pole. Also: solunar table, tide charts, fishing forecasts, news breakers and much more.

LDWF has delayed the drawdown for Lake Bistineau. The drawdown was scheduled to begin on Monday, but will be delayed until August 15th to allow for more time for lake residents to move watercraft. Once the drawdown begins, the lake will be lowered at a rate of 4 to 6 inches per day until the maximum drawdown of 8 feet below pool is reached. During the drawdown, an estimated 10,000 acres of water will remain in the lake and boaters will still have use of the lake. The drawdown is designed to control vegetation, particularly giant salvania.

Looks like annual drawdowns are here to stay for Lake Bistineau. I fished the lake a few times back prior to the invasion of salvania, and the bream fishing was some of the best in Louisiana. Lots of big chunky bream like the ones I grew up fishing in Henderson. The thick groves of cypress and tupelo trees sheltered all species, including some nice crappie. Unfortunately those "thick groves" are also the problem when it comes to salvania. Most of the freshwater lakes in our state have salvania, but only a few have critical problems. In south Louisiana, the winters are mild enough to allow the salvania weevil to control the invasive weed. In central Louisiana, some weevil control works, but most lakes are reservoirs with open water. In open lakes, salvania is washed up along shorelines where spraying twice a year is an easy, affordable task and very effective. Where salvania control has been very difficult is in north Louisiana lakes where natural (weevil) control is hindered by occasional strong freezes (below 20 degrees) in winter, and thick stands of aquatic timber (usually cypress and tupelo). One idea that has worked very effectively is to cut large swaths of timber shoreline-to-shoreline, and along banks, to allow prevailing winds to push the weeds up against banks where spraying is most effective. Semi-clearing of lakes also offers many other benefits to the fisheries and even to the wildlife. But this proposal gets severe pushback from preservationists who believe that "every tree matters". The squeeky wheel gets heard, so don't expect any solution - other than frequent drawdowns - to the salvania problem anytime soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. This month, Catch Cormier will give a presentation on the recent ICAST trade show covering new and continuing fly fishing tackle and accessories available in the months ahead. Also on the agenda: more of Roger Breedlove's custom rods for sale, the August 13th Summer Tying Workshop with Jeff Guerin, and other upcoming activities. The public is welcome. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. Also on Monday, Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tying tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome! For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "One Beer Fly Casting" sessions. Time is 6:00pm. There is no cost. This is an informal session with a group of folks practice their casting, but some help is available for newbies or those that would like assistance. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly "4th Tuesday Fly Tying Clinic" in the White River Fly Shop area. Time is 6:00pm. Bring your tying tools. If none, a few sets available for use. Materials are provided. Also on Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold a meeting on Lake Bistineau at the LDWF Region 1 office in Minden. Time is 6:30pm. The meeting will include an update on the current status of the lake along with a presentation on some of the issues facing the lake. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel, 7840 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans (across the parking lot from the Blue Crab Restaurant). Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold it's annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" kayak fishing tournament out of Leeville Public Launch. Entry fee is $35 (plus $1.25 for paypal). Categories include Cajun Slam (slot red, speck, flounder 12" or longer), and Leopard Red. Artificial tackle only. It's a roadrunner tournament with fishing anywhere from Golden Meadow south to Grand Isle. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold a "Cold Water Trout Rigging" seminar at their store in Perkins-Rowe. Time is 12 noon to 2:00pm. There is no cost, but registration is requested. For more info, contact 225-757-7286. To register, go to their store website and click on the Events link. Also on Saturday, the Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville will host their annual "Bait-n-Wait Kids Fishing Derby". Time is 8:00am to 12 noon. Ages are 15 and younger. Other activities will be going on as well. Pre-registration is required. To register, call Louisiana State Parks at 985-792-4652.

A great day with Bob Clouser. Yesterday the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hosted their 4th annual "Master Series" at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. The event was limited to 80 persons, and just that many showed up, from across five states, to learn about "Bass Fishing - Top to Bottom" from one of the legends of our sport. In addition to demonstrating casting for heavily-weighted flies, Clouser also gave a powerpoint presentation and in the afternoon, tied several variations of his popular Clouser Minnow as well as shared experiences from 50+ years of guiding and fishing with friends such as Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot and others. Kudos go out to Tom Bullock, Scott Irwin and everyone else in NLFF who put this together. According to Tom, planning for next year's Masters Series will begin shortly and sponsor requests will go out in October. This year's sponsors included Gray Wolf Fly Shop, and the following clubs that purchased block of 10 tickets: Magnolia Fly Fishers, East Texas Fly Fishers, Kisatchie Fly Fishers, and Contraband Fly Casters.

The next big fly fishing event coming up is the "Contraband Conclave" on Saturday, August 20th. Or as it's official title, the Contraband Fly Casters Fly Fishing Expo. This year it returns to the Moss Bluff United Methodist Church on 735 Sam Houston Jones Parkway. As usual, there's seminars, free fly casting instruction, fly tying demos, lure and equipment exhibits, auctions and raffles, and food and refreshments. The event is free to the public. Three weeks later, it's the Texas Fly Fishing Expo hosted by the Texas Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) in Grapevine, Texas. Registration and schedules are already available online at www.txflyfish.com. The "Texas Conclave" kicks off a busy September and October schedule of regional fly fishing events that include the IFFF Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Fair (Ocean Springs, MS - Sept. 16-18), Louisiana National Hunting and Fishing Day where each of the four venues features fly fishing activities (Sept. 24), the Rio Grande Fly Fishing Rodeo (Oct. 1) hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers, and the IFFF Southern Council Fly Fishing Fair (Mountain Home, AR - Oct. 7-8). I'm looking forward to each of these events.

Here's a vehicle for die-hard fly anglers. And, who happen to have quite a bit of money to spend. Bentley has been making luxury automobiles since 1919, with sales across the globe. Earlier this year, the British carmaker introduced their first SUV model, the Bentayga. Of course, being late to the game means having to find a niche that will make you stand out (guess being luxury isn't enough these days). So, they've introduced a special edition of the Bentayga designed by their Mulliner customization division, the "Bentayga Fly Fishing by Mulliner". The vehicle has special storage areas for fly rods, landing nets, waders and boots, a master tackle station, and more. In addition, there's a beverage unit that includes metal flasks, fine-china tableware, and insulated storage for food. And you can a Bentley name and quality with these great fishing accessories for a mere $232,000. I'm pretty sure I've got all this covered in my Toyota Highlander - which cost a LOT less - so I'll pass. However, when it comes to performance my Highlander is no match for the Bentayga. The luxury SUV has a 6.0 liter, twin-turbocharged, 12-cylinder engine that cranks out 600 horses and 664 pounds of torque!! It can go from zero to 60mph in just 4.0 seconds. WOW! Top speed is 187 mph. So maybe if I need to get to my favorite fly fishing spots REALLY FAST I might reconsider... provided I win the lottery!

Sunday, July 17, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold their weekly "One Beer Fly Casting" informal casting session. Meet at their store on 601 E. Pinhook Road in Lafayette. No cost, the public is invited. No formal instruction, just a chance to cast at targets and have fun. Of course, if casting help is requested, folks on hand can help. BYOG - bring your own gear, PnP will supply the beer! On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Community Center on 1620 East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, with general meeting at 7:00pm. 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 is this month's "Highway 1 Slamboree" tournament on July 30th. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Church Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tying tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. This month Steve Oliver will be tying a popper pattern. The public is invited. On Saturday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their annual "Master Series" at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. This year's special guest is legendary fly angler Bob Clouser, with the theme "Bass Fishing Top to Bottom". Only a few tickets remain... price is $40 and includes admission, coffee, drinks, lunch. Check with Tom Bullock at 318-393-7729 for more info or for ticket availability.

ICAST 2016 lived up to it's reputation as the world's largest sportfishing industry trade show as a record attendance of more than 15,000 exhibitors, retailers, buyers and media attended last week's event in Orlando, Florida. This was the fourth consecutive year that ICAST, sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) was held cooperatively with IFTD, the International Fly Tackle Dealers Show, sponsored by the American Fly Fishing Trade Assocation (AFFTA). Exhibitors of both shared the massive 650,000 square foot Orange County Convention Center. Officially the exhibitor count was listed as 552, but that's deceiving because in a few dozen cases, a listed "exhibitor" was several different brands that happen to be under one parent company. For example, Pure Fishing represents over a dozen different brands such as Berkeley, Abu Garcia, Penn, Owner, Fenwick, SpiderWire and so on, and each of those brands had their own separate space. So the actual number was probably closer to 800. One of the things that ICAST / IFTD has done in the last couple years to help companies get more exposure to buyers and media is the addition of the "Demo Day". This event is held on Tuesday prior to the actual show which begins on Wednesday. This year, ICAST and IFTD did separate Demo Days. The IFTD event was held at Grande Lakes Golf Club, with various fly tackle companies and kayak or drift boat companies stationed at ponds along the course. Participants rode golf carts to each station and got a chance to do actual fishing with various rods. It's a good thing that the demo day was held, because I needed every extra hour available to test out or examine products, or talk to companies because like I said, there are more companies each year and more products. ICAST has set three straight records in three straight years at Orlando. So it's no surprise that for 2017, the show is going back there again.

After a banner year for new fly tackle products at the 2015 show, I fully expected that this would be a quiet year for new products - especially new rods. WRONG! The IFTD New Product Showcase was chock full of new rods, as well as reels. Incidently, somebody sent me an email asking about the St. Croix SOLE rod being named "Best of Show - Fly Rod". An explanation is in order... there are two new product showcases at this trade show, one for IFTD and one for ICAST. The ICAST section for fly rods only had a small number of new rods. The St. Croix SOLE won the ICAST "Best of Show" fly rod award, while the Sage X won the IFTD "Best of Show" fly rod award. So if you read any articles and find it confusing, that's the explanation. The problem with those awards is that most of the voting takes place prior to the show and no real testing is done. On the other hand, your humble correspondent tested out 43 rods as well as examined many of the new products and visited with their representatives. I try to cover many products or companies that most media ignore. In the September issue of Louisiana Sportsman, I'll share my reviews of some new and existing rods and give my personal "best of show" awards. I'll also be doing more in-depth reporting of new products on my blog next week. As readers will learn, nearly all fly rods these days with price points over $300 are very, very good rods. And even several under $200. The competition is so fierce these days that bad, or even average, rods quickly go extinct. Among premium rods, the differences among rods of the same class are very close in quality and performance. Keep in mind that my analysis of rods is based on my own casting style. I would expect readers to keep an open mind and check out other media reporting as well. Just beware of what some may say. When you read a blog that states that (unnamed) rod "stole the show" at ICAST, then it's a good bet that person is either a pro staff "jihadist" or is smoking those funny cigarettes!

As for kayak fishing at ICAST... let's just say my mind exploded on the first day! The number of new products - including kayak accessories - was overwhelming. It looks like 2017 will be "Year of the Pedal" as at least five companies will be joining Hobie and Native in the pedal-powered kayak sales. The three that got the most attention were Old Town with their PDL Drive, and Wilderness Systems and Perception which will share the new Helix PD drive. In each case, new boat models were introduced that use those drives, for example, Wildy with their Radar 115 and Radar 135 which also combine design elements from the award-winning Ride and ATAK models. Wilderness also introduced the ATAK 120, a shorter, lighter and more manuverable version of their ATAK 140 paddlecraft. Jackson Kayak introduced the Mayfly kayak designed specifically for fly fishing. And while companies were throwing their hats into the pedal-power race, Hobie and Native were standing idle. The one big knock that reviewers of Hobie kayaks have listed for years is "lack of reverse". Well, no more! Hobie introduced their new Mirage 180 drive which features reverse. It'll be standard on all their Mirage drive kayaks starting this fall. Native showed off their new Ultimate FX13, a pedal power version of their Ultimate FX kayak. The folks at the Native booth also showed me an updated version of the Manta Ray kayak due for next Spring. Except this boat looks nothing like the old Manta Ray and in fact, looks to be a whole new boat with a layout that many flyfishers will find accomodating. Of course, I spent time at nearly all the kayak company spaces (except the ones that make those round kayaks). For those who prefer to paddle, there's a plethora of choices on the market for 2017 featuring kayaks with framed seats. Just about every company that had a framed seat yak had a lot of folks at their space. The few companies that don't offer a framed seat yak pretty much were idle. I think based on that observation, if your kayak company doesn't offer a framed seat in 2017, your sales aren't going to be good. It's my opinion that comfort has become the number one preference for kayak anglers. Like with fly fishing products, I'll have much more details and analysis on my blog in a couple weeks. Also, I'll be posting some of the press releases and specifications in the Puddlers Forum. Also look out as I spent a lot of time checking out kayak fishing related products and accessories and will be posting something on those.

Sunday, July 10, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at the Westside Baptist Church off Highway 1 bypass in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. Burley Johnson will tie a new fly as well as demonstrate airbrushing and stippling a popper. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold their weekly "One Beer Casting" casual fly casting session. Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette at 6;00pm. PnP will provide the beer. This is a free event. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. This month, Arkansas guide Benjamin Woodard will speak on best places to fish smallmouth bass in southern Arkansas. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Bayou Pirates club will hold their monthly meeting at Harbuck Outdoors on 1914 70th Street in Shreveport. Time is 6:30pm. Anyone interested in kayak fishing in north Louisiana is welcome. Also on Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Olde Towne Fly Shop on Pontchartrain Drive in Slidell. Time is 6:30pm. Bring your tools, if none a few sets are available for use during the session. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome.

Sunday, July 3, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, it's Independence Day. Hope everyone has a great holiday! On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on 415 Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Casting at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Cenla Kayak Anglers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:00pm. Everyone is welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at the Ward 3 Recreation Center on 7903 Lake Street in Lake Charles. Time is 6:30pm. Fellow kayakers welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Abita Brew Pub on 72011 Holly Street in Abita Springs. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Wednesday, Pack and Paddle holds their weekly "One Beer Fly Casting Clinic" casual fly casting session. Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette at 6:00pm. This free session is not formal instruction, just to get together and cast and enjoy a beer. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold a fly tying workshop on poppers featuring Stephen Robert. Time is 8:30am to 1:00pm. Pre-registration required. Bring your tying tools, materials provided. Go to www.kisatchiefly.org or call Glen Cormier at 318-793-5855 for details.

The latest issues of Louisiana Sportsman and Tide magazines came in the mailbox on Friday. The July issue of LAS is available at many convenience stores and sporting goods stores across the state, while Tide magazine is a benefit of membership in the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). In this month's LAS, my Fly Lines column talks about the "amazing spider flies". During the hot days of summer, it pays for bream anglers to go arachno! Among the patterns we cover are the Cap Spider, Slow Sinking Spider, Foam Spider, and Electro Spider (that last one inspired by the Spiderman II movie). In his Paddles N' Puddles column, Chris Holmes talks about mothership kayaking out of the new PAC Kayak Rentals at Pointe-aux-Chenes. In his Creature Feature column, Jerald Horst talks about Yellow Grouper. Feature articles include "Black Bay Bonanza" on trout fishing the productive southeast bay, by Rusty Tardo; "Fishing Small" on kayak fishing north Louisiana by Kinny Haddox; "Pulling the Trigger" on fishing triggerfish, spanish, and bluefish just off the coast by Humberto Fontova. Of special interest is "Blue Crab Special" by John Flores on public places to go crabbing. In this issue of Tide Magazine, "Decisions, Decisions, Decisions" by Captain Dave Lear expounds on the tough choices that kayakers have to make in choosing a puddlecraft. The article features Ben "Fishtaco" Roussel and Chris "Where Yak" Holmes from the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club. Chris does a sidebar on the "Ride the Bull" kayak fishing tournament out of Grand Isle, it's history and it's future now under the management of CCA Louisiana. Also of recommended reading is "Fixing the Magnuson-Stevens Act" by Matt Paxton.

With ICAST/IFTD just over a week away there's been a flood of teasers of new products in the last few days. Getting all the buzz are several new kayaks, and sneak peaks of at least two boats -not- named Hobie or Native that will be pedal-powered. In addition, several companies are adding frame seats to a few of their boats. In the last three years, the frame seat has become a must-have for buyers in the kayak fishing market. As for fly fishing, last year was a banner one for the number of new fly rods and typically that means "lean" for the following year. But 2017 is shaping up to be another banner year as far as new rods go. There's also several new reels and as always, lots of new accessories. A very competitive market in all aspects of fly fishing and light tackle fishing has brought constant innovation and better choices for the consumer.

Friday, July 1, 2016
The second half of 2016 starts today. I know it's hard to fathom as we begin "SweatFest 2016" - the festival no one likes to celebrate - but Fall is not far away. Already the days are getting shorter and nights getting longer. In just four weeks football returns with the opening of Saints practice. Soon after college teams start practice and it goes from there. There's football season, hunting season, and "fall fishing season". According to biologists, marsh fishing this fall could be the best in years! As for freshwater, I'm also looking forward to the return of good crappie, bass and "grass pike" action, stream fishing, and fall fishing on my favorite coldwater (mountain trout) waters. It's not all good, though... we're also entering the peak of hurricane season. Let's hope this year is a repeat of last year and no serious storms come our way. As far as fly fishing activities, the list keeps growing with the move of the IFFF Texas Fly Fishing Expo from June to September. Other 2nd half events include the Contraband Conclave, Rio Grande Rodeo, North Louisiana Fly Fishers Masters Series, the IFFF Gulf Coast Fly Fair, IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair, Louisiana National Hunting and Fishing Day, and Toledo Bend Rendezvous. There's also several club fishing activities. The best part of fall fishing is that the crowds of summer are gone... well, at least until they start catching limits of trout on the inside waters!

Monday, June 27, 2016
A correction to our Sunday posting. We mentioned that the "Fishing for Memories Rodeo" was this weekend. It was actually held this past weekend. On Saturday morning, on the "Outdoors with Don Dubuc" radio show, my cohort (fellow field reporter) Brendan Bayard mentioned that this coming Saturday is the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club's "Highway 1 Slamboree". It's actually on July 30th. However, registration has begun and if interested in a t-shirt, then folks need to register by July 7th. The confusion on tournament dates can be attributed to some old dates that were given at the beginning of the year, and subsequently changed. Yes, sometimes we get lazy and don't follow up. But it's more like VERY BUSY and not having enough time to follow up. I do thank LFF readers for keeping me on my toes!

Sunday, June 26, 2016
What's happening this week. A lot of tournaments for kayakers to choose from as we head into the 4th of July weekend. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. Location TBA as this will likely be an on-the-water session. For more info, check their Facebook page or go to www.finaddictflyfishers.blogspot.com. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library on 5416 Provine in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guest speaker will be Rick McGuffie, LDWF district biologist who will speak on the status of fisheries in central Louisiana. The public is invited. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Orvis store in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold their weekly "One Beer Casting" casual fly casting session. Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette at 6;00pm. PnP will provide the beer. This is a free event. On Tuesday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying workshop. Time is 6:00pm. Please bring your tying tools. If none, a few sets available. Materials provided. For more info, call Ron at 225-271-3100. On Wednesday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold a quarterly meeting at Frenier's Landing Restaurant on the end of Peavine Road in LaPlace. Time is 7:00pm. For more info, go to www.bckfc.org. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold a special event in lieu of their monthly meeting. NOFF will have an "Open House" for their monthly general membership meeting. Time is 5:00pm. It's an opportunity for anyone who wants learn about the club or fly fishing in general to come out for a great time. It will take place in the open meadow between Big Lake and Bayou Metairie (to the left of the museum). The club will have a canopy set up with water and drinks. It's also an opportunity to cast a number of different fly rods as well as a casting contest. Capt. Tristan Daire from Olde Towne Fly Shoppe and Outfitters with be there with some of the latest gear. On Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold an "Advanced Casting Clinic" from 12 noon to 2:00pm. Pre-registration is requested, and a link has been provided in the LFF Events Forum for this session. The clinic will concentrate on increasing distance and improving accuracy. Bring your own equipment or use the store supplied setups. To get more info, call 225-757-7286.

As mentioned, the July 4th weekend is "Rodeo Weekend" on the coast. And three of them offer a kayak division. The Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo is one of the state's oldest events, having started in 1948. Three years ago, GMFTR added a Kayak Division. Categories include Slot Red, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Cajun Slam and Leopard Red (most spots). With the exception of Leopard Red, 1st thru 3rd will be awarded, however, each fish may only be entered into one category. Entry fee is $35 and includes entry, boiled shrimp dinner on Saturday night, and other festivities under an air-conditioned tent. GMFTR kicks off on Thursday safe light and weigh-in ends on Saturday at 5:00pm. Another rodeo option this weekend is the 63rd annual Iberia Rod and Gun Club Rodeo held out of Quintana Landing at Cypremont Point. Kayakers can fish from 12:01am on Friday with the final weigh-in at 1:00pm on Sunday. Eligible species are redfish, speckled trout, flounder. Entry fee is $25. This is a roadrunner event with launching confined to Louisiana public waters. For more info, go to www.iberiarodandgunclub.com.

A reminder that 2015-2016 Louisiana fishing licenses expire this week at 12:01am Friday. If you haven't renewed yet, do so asap. Remember that the 2016-2017 licenses are valid from the time of purchase, so the minute you buy your new license it's good to go!

A few reveals ahead of ICAST/IFTD. We said that the first week of July should bring some leaks about new products coming out for 2017, that will be fully revealed at ICAST in mid-July. Well some companies are getting an early start. For example, Sage came all out with a promotional blitz for it's new "X" series fly rods. In a press release last week, Sage announced that the X Rod will feature KonneticHD Technology, creating tighter loops with better accuracy and efficiency than ever seen. The release goes on to say that "The new taper delivers greater black recovery and a crisper tip-top, allowing anglers to dig deeper into the rod and access more of the lower sections of the blank, shifting power closer to the angler.". Now let me translate what I think this means... it basically means that the X-Rod will be a slightly more moderate rod than their ONE Series, yet still retain the ability to make long, accurate casts. For $895, it better be the best casting rod on the market! And it probably will be. After all, each year one or two rod companies come out with a stellar new rod that one-ups the competition. Last year it was the Scott Meridian. After recently fishing all day with the Meridian, I can say it was clearly deserving of all the recognition it garnered the past year. Well now Sage has to answer and if early reports are any indication, the X rod will do so. It's not just rods that are in fierce market competition, so are reels. Allen has made it's mark by offering quality fly reels - both overseas and in the USA - giving customers a wide range of choices to fit any budget. But their premium offerings continue to grow with their new Atlas. The Atlas features the same drag technology used in their Omega and XLA series reels, in a sealed housing. The machined, anodized, large arbor reel comes in sizes for 5, 8, and 10-weights. What clearly defines the Atlas is it's narrow spool width, pretty rare for a large arbor reel with large backing capacity. For some anglers, this is preferred over wide spool reels - but often it comes at a premium cost. Not with the Atlas, it's MSRP is $329 to $349 and that comes before any discounts that the company usually gives on occasion to their email followers. The Atlas will be available shortly after ICAST in mid-July.

Sunday, June 19, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library on Provine Place in Alexandria. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Pauls Lutheran Community Center on 1620 East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion starts at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Visitors are welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier on 444 Metairie Road in Metairie. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during this session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold an informational meeting on Lake Bistineau at the LDWF Region 1 Office at 9961 Highway 80 in Minden. Time is 6:30pm. Discussion will include current status of the lake, and management of giant salvania. Everyone is encouraged to attend. Starting Friday and continuing to Sunday, it's the annual Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend where members of organized clubs from Louisiana, Mississippi, and elsewhere gather for food, fishing and fun. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Friday, it's the start of the annual Louisiana Peach Festival in Ruston, and the annual Lincoln Parish Park Kids Fishing Tournament. The tournament starts at 8:00am. No entry fee or registration, just show up and bring your own fishing pole. Bait provided. Participants must be accompanied by parent or other adult. For more info, go to www.louisianapeachfestival.org. On Saturday, the Camp Fly Fishing School will hold an "Advanced/Instructor's Prep" workshop at their facility in Breaux Bridge. Time is 9:00am to 5:00pm. Cost of $150 includes instruction, handouts, lunch, refreshments. This session will deal with advanced techniques for more distance, handling the wind, and specialized casting, as well as principles of casting needed for the IFFF Certification exam. For details, go to www.thecampflyfishingschool.com. Also on Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another "Fly Fishing 101" class at their store on 7601 Bluebonnet. Time is 8:00am. FF101 is a 1-day, 2-hour clinic covering the basics of fly fishing including rigging and basic casting. For more info, call 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle will hold a "Kayaking 101" workshop at Lake Martin. Time is 5:00pm. Cost is $45 and includes instruction, use of kayak, paddle and PFD. To register or more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.

A few special summer activities recently announced. On Thursday, June 30, the New Orleans Fly Fishers Club will have an "Open House" for their monthly general membership meeting. Time is 5:00pm. It's an opportunity for anyone who wants learn about the club or fly fishing in general to come out for a great time. It will take place in the open meadow between Big Lake and Bayou Metairie (to the left of the museum). The club will have a canopy set up with water and drinks. It's also an opportunity to cast a number of different fly rods as well as a casting contest. Capt. Tristan Daire from Olde Towne Fly Shoppe and Outfitters with be there with some of the latest gear. On Saturday, July 2nd the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will host an Advanced Fly Casting Clinic at their store in Perkins Rowe. Time is 12:00 noon to 2:00pm. For more info, call 225-757-7286. On Saturday, July 9 and Saturday, August 9 the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold "Too Hot to Fish Fly Tying Clinics" at the LDWF Outdoors Education Center in Woodworth. Featured instructors will be Stephen Robert on July 9th and Jeff Guerin on August 13th. More details forthcoming, check their website at www.kisatchiefly.org.

Time to renew your Louisiana fishing license. The 2015-2016 licenses expire on midnight July 1st, after which you'll need a 2016-2017 license to fish Louisiana waters. The new licenses became available on June 1st, and are good from the time of purchase thru June 30 of 2017. Good news is that there is no increase in license fees - for most folks, it remains $9.50 for basic (covers freshwater) and extra $13.00 for saltwater. Persons 60 years of age or older qualify for the special "Senior Fish/Hunt" license that covers all fishing, basic hunting, big game, and WMA use. Members of the military also get discounts on saltwater license, combined fish/hunt license. A retired military annual fish/hunt license is also available for just $5.00. As for non-residents... the basic stamp is $5.00 per day, with saltwater stamp $17.50 per day (total $22.50 per day). For frequent visitors to our state, the annual license might be a cheaper option - though NOT cheap! The NR season basic stamp is $60.00 and saltwater $30.00 for total of $90.00. Licenses can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, or online via the LDWF E-License option. With the E-License option, you print the license or save it as a PDF to take with you (an extra service fee is charged for this convenience).

We're less than four weeks away from the annual International Fly Tackle Dealers Show (IFTD) held in conjunction with the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The world's largest fishing retail trade show is significant in that, for the vast majority of companies, their new products for the coming year are introduced. Some years the number of new products are few; other years are many. Last year's show was a "boom year"... it took me a good 3 hours to go through the New Product Showcase! So I expect next year's offerings to be lean. So far, the rumor mill has been quiet, but a few companies have leaked out info. TFO and Sage will be offering a new rod series, and Taylor Fly Fishing, which has made reels only, will be offering their first rod series. Simms is also expected to offer new waders. As usual, we'll be reporting live from the event, and summarizing our findings in the September issue of Louisiana Sportsman.

The Perfect Cast DVD from Gary Borger. Whether you're a friend or longtime LFF reader - hopefully both - you know that I consider Gary Borger to be one of the best fly fishing instructors in my lifetime. Having seen him in person on several occasions, taken a couple classes with him at FFF events, and read (owned) several of his books and VHS tapes, I'm continually fascinated with the extent to which he researches and analyzes every aspect of our sport and presents it with such clarity to his audience. That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, after all he is a retired plant sciences professor (University of Wisconsin-Wausau). Borger has been writing articles, books, making videos, and giving seminars on fly fishing, casting, fly tying, and trout since 1972, and was named one of the top seven most influential fly fishers of the last 50 years by Fly Fusion magazine. As mentioned, I have an old VHS tapes produced by 3M Scientific Anglers featuring Gary on fly casting, but last year Borger released an updated high-definition DVD on fly casting under the Tomorrow Press label. The Perfect Cast I is 72 minutes long, and covers the three basic casting methods (Wrist, Forearm, Whole Arm) as well as more specialized casts such as Bow and Arrow, Elliptical, Roll, Reach, Hook, Curve Mend, Puddle Mend, Switch Cast, Forward Spey. Other subjects include false casting, tailing loops, casting in the wind and more. Unique shots from above illustrate discussions of the casts and mends. This DVD is available from www.garyborger.com for $16.50 postage paid.

> > > > >

  QUICK LINKS

LAFlyFish.com