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.



 TIPPETS
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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014
Happy Father's Day. Today we honor all those men, alive and deceased, who as fathers or father figures have been instrumental in the lives of their children. My dad was a great outdoorsman, and I owe my love of the outdoors to him. He was also a veteran, and a proud American. But most important, he taught me to put faith and family first, and always do the right thing even when it wasn't popular or financially rewarding. Thank you, Pop, and I miss you! And to all you dads out there, have a great day!

What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold a fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. There's a video of tying basics followed by a hands-on tying of the SR71 Woolybugger. Beginners are welcome, bring your tools, materials will be provided. 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. Along with tackle tips and location feature, the agenda will also include details on the CCA Specks and Spots Kayak Division (June 28) out of Cypremont Point, and next month's Highway 1 Slamboree club tournament. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, CCA Louisiana will hold a free fishing seminar at The Dock in Slidell. Time is 6:00pm. Captains Mike Gallo and Kris Robert will be featured speakers, discussing fishing on lakes Pontchartrain, Borgne, and the Biloxi Marsh. Food and drink will be provided. For more info, call Ron Harris at 985-640-6405. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Mike Hawkins will demonstrate the Deena Fly, great for trout, bass, and bream. The workshop is open to the public. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools, materials are provided. On Saturday, it's the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's 7th annual "Trout Challenge". This year the Challenge has a new format - it's a fish anywhere in Louisiana waters with the weigh-in at Cabelas in Gonzales. Weigh-in time is from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. This tournament is open to the public, entry fee is $20. Heaviest stringer of 5 trout wins. BCKFC members can earn points for Angler of the Year. For more info, go to www.bckfc.org.

Rumors are now fact. Last week, we mentioned that with IFTD/ICAST just a month away, we could expect the rumors for 2015 new products to begin. Within a few short days, the rumors came and before they could spread, the companies made the announcements official. Two are from Sage: they now have a new saltwater rod called the SALT. It uses their proprietary Konnetic Technology to load quickly as well as maintain high line speeds and accuracy. It's available in 12 models from 5-weight to 16-weight and comes in dark sapphire blank and oversized ceramic guides. Retail price is $850, making it one of the most expensive graphite rods on the market. Their new reel for 2015, the Domain, is more reasonably priced. The large-arbor Domain is fully machined from aircraft-grade aluminum and hard anodized, with a sealed carbon drag system. But in addition, it has a full frame design "to ensure no line pinches" (think Teton). The Domain comes in sizes for 5, 8 and 10 weight lines and will sell for $340. Another rumor - this one on the kayaking fishing front - we had heard a possible competitor to Hobie and Native in the "alternative to paddle power" for 2015. Well, there may be two. Old Town acknowledged last week on their Facebook page they will introduce the P3 at ICAST. It was more of a teaser... no specific details were given, other than the P3 will be an offspring of their Predator line. What the alternative power will be is unknown, but speculation ranges from electric (like the Ocean Kayak Torque or Mariner Volt) to another version of the pedal design.

Thursday, June 12, 2014
Louisiana fishing licenses expire June 30th. This month is the last month to use your 2013-2014 freshwater and saltwater licenses. Starting after midnight on July 1st, you will need a 2014-2015 license to fish Louisiana waters. For those who don't currently own a fishing license, and would like to get one, the 2014-2015 licenses are now available, and they are good from the time of purchase.

We're four weeks away from the annual International Fly Tackle Dealers Show (IFTD) to be held in conjunction with the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) in Orlando, Florida. Last year the two entities combined their shows under one roof for the first time and it was a great success. Retailers, manufacturers, and reps lauded the move, as it cut down on travel, and gave attendees an expanded showcase of products. One badge will permit access to both ICAST and IFTD shows. In the past, when IFTD was held in September, the new product rumor mill started in August. The earlier time frame would suggest that late June would be the time for the rumors to start. My gut feeling is that this will be a quiet year for new products. But all it takes is just one item - like when Loop introduced the first large arbor reel in 1984 - to send the industry buzzing and forever change the paradigm!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Baseball no, but kayak fishing YES! LSU fans may be disappointed about our baseball team not making it to Omaha. But this past weekend, our College Kayak Fishing Team repeated as National Champions. LSU Team #6 members Cole Landry, Mickey Quigley, and Kyle Katich won the CKF Saltwater National Championship sponsored by Jackson Kayak. Cole Landry also took 2nd place individual. Defending champs LSU Team #3 members Jacob Cormier, Shane Pantoja, and Ryan Lauve placed 2nd at the event while defending individual champ Shane Pantoja took 3rd place individual. Third place team for the tournament was wrapped up by Lamar University. The event was based out of Everything Kayak in Gulfport, Mississippi, with 8 qualifying teams. An interesting development was that on Friday night, the teams learned that Southern Way Charters had volunteered to mothership the competitors to Cat Island. SWC took all 22 competitors, kayaks, and gear out in two trips on Saturday, and 16 guys out on Saturday. According to Cole, the fishing was tough and the seas a bit rough but everyone had a blast out at the island. Cole also would recommend one of their charters to anyone looking for a little adventure.

Sunday, June 8, 2014
What's happening this week. 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. The program will be "Where, When, and How to Fly Fish Grand Isle" with club experts covering all aspects of fly fishing the island for reds, specks, and other species. This in preparation for the annual Grand Isle Weekend later this month. The public is invited. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be master bamboo rod builder Harry Boyd, who will present on the making of bamboo fly rods. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Casting at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:30pm. Burley Johnson will lead hands-on instruction in tying poppers. Bring your tools if you have them. Beginners are welcome. Starting Thursday with workshops and an evening social, and continuing Friday and Saturday with the main event, it's the first-ever IFFF Texas Council conclave in New Braunfels, Texas. More on that later. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools if you have them, materials are provided. Also on Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. For details contact Colin at 985-264-3448. On Saturday, Cabelas will hold a "Kayak Fishing 101" clinic at their store in Gonzales. Time is 10am to 3pm. The clinic is free, but class size is limited to 35 participants, so pre-registration is required. The classroom session will cover types of kayaks, gear, tackle, accessories, safety. The on-the-water session will cover strokes, tactics and more. For more info, or to register, contact Todd Lewis at teelew33@hotmail.com. Sunday, is Father's Day. What could please Dad more than to take him fishing!

The Texas Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers will hold their first-ever conclave Friday and Saturday, June 13-14, at the Civic Center in New Braunfels, Texas. The title of their event is "Destination Texas Fly Fishing Expo". Admission is $20 for both days. The Civic Center will feature exhibitors, vendors, programs, and fly tying demonstrations by some of the country's top fly tiers. Cypress Bend Park will be the location for Casting Programs, Certifications, and kayak fishing classes. Both locations will have hands-on workshops, which attendees can sign up for a nominal fee, and with limited class sizes. Also Youth and Women's Outreach programs. Other activities include a Thursday night Welcoming Dinner, the Fly Fishing Film Tour on Friday night, and a Saturday night Awards Banquet and Auction. For more info, go to www.txflyfishexpo.com.

The politics of fish. On Friday, Will Drost of Lake Charles, a member of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, tended his resignation from the LWFC. According to news reports, Drost did not attend last Thursday's LWFC monthly meeting. This was after Drost had made a request to LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina for information on the status of speckled trout in Louisiana to be added to the meeting agenda. There is speck-ulation that Drost may have resigned due to heavy criticism for a comment he made. Drost suggested that maybe Louisiana should reduce it's creel limit on trout, in light of Texas reducing their limit from ten to five over most of their coast. Drost was bashed on a number of outdoors forums... critics accused him of putting the cart before the horse.. wanting to take drastic action before any assessment was made public. The critics also attacked CCA, suggesting this was their "hidden agenda". However, on "Speaking of Specks" radio show Saturday morning on 1350 AM in New Orleans, CCA Executive Director David Cresson told show host Todd Masson that the LWF Commission has the authority to request the current status of speckled trout - despite objections from the state's attorneys who believe it may have repercussions on settlements with BP over the Deepwater Horizon spill. And that CCA always wants to know the current status of redfish and speckled trout, after all we fishermen pay for these studies with our license dollars. Cresson added that if the studies do indicate any problems, they should be addressed. Otherwise, CCA sees little reason to change anything... if it's working, don't fix it!

Where Drost went wrong. A few years back, when anglers in southwest Louisiana successfully petitioned the Commission to lower the trout limits from 25 to 15 in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, it was understood that this action was an alternative to the state's management plan. You see, the conservation standard for trout in Louisiana is 18 percent. That is the percent of juvenile trout that must survive to spawning age to maintain a sustainable fishery. However, this is considered "minimum sustainable yield". Calcasieu anglers wanted their fishery based on "optimum sustainable yield", which is a spawning recruitment of 25 to 30 percent. There was hope this lower limit would also increase the numbers of trophy trout (it has, but marginally). What got Drost in trouble was making a suggestion not based on science, but rather what Texas was doing. You get a lot of Cajuns mad anytime you suggest that Louisiana follow Texas. Okay, you make an apology and go on. Instead - and this is where Drost really went wrong - he resigned his seat. In doing so, he left his constiuency without representation. He also weakened the Commission in their battle with the state over the studies. He also made it that much more difficult to enact any creel or size changes IF it does happen that changes need to be made.

Sunday, June 1, 2014
What's happening this week. It's National Fishing and Boating Week, with a ton of youth-related activities taking place this coming weekend. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders will hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall in Lafayette. Casting prior to meeting at 6:00pm, meeting time 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill in Old Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Louisiana Tech University Continuing Education will hold an "Intro to Kayaking" class on the LTU campus in Ruston. Time is 6:00pm to 9:00pm. Instructor will be Stephanie Antley Herrman. Registration fee is $50. Topics will include equipment, safety, manuevering, paddling, and destinations. An on-the-water followup will be discussed. To register, call LTU-CE at 318-257-4433. Also starting Thursday, thru Saturday, it's the 17th annual SwollFest Rodeo out of Sand Dollar Marina in Grand Isle, which benefits American Diabetes Association, Muscular Dystrophy, and other charities. The Kayak Division awards the top 3 in slot red, speck, and flounder categories. Entry fee is $55 and includes entry, t-shirt, and food and beverages for Friday and Saturday nights. For details, go to www.swollfest.com. On Saturday, Orvis in Baton Rouge will hold a "Fly Fishing 201" workshop. This 2 hour, on-the-water clinic applies casting and rigging skills to fishing situations. Pre-registration is required. To register, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7298. Also on Saturday, a number of youth-related events. More on that later.

Saturday and Sunday are Free Fishing Days in Louisiana. No license is required for either freshwater or saltwater. Mississippi will have free fishing for freshwater only. Texas is free fishing on Saturday only. Arkansas is free fishing from noon Saturday to midnight Sunday. Oklahoma is free fishing days on Saturday and Sunday.

Several youth fishing activities scheduled Saturday. We published a list on our May 27th posting. Add to that list: the US Fish & Wildlife Service will hold their annual Kids' Fishing Day event at the Borrow pits on I-59 at Exit 11, the Pearl River Turnaround. Event is from 7:30 to noon. The Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will do fly tying demos, and Old Town Fly Shop will have a booth there as well. For more details on this and the many other youth events, go to the LFF Calendar and click on the particular event.

House Bill 1082 has passed the Louisiana Legislature and now goes to Governor Jindal's desk for signature. HB1082 will raise the saltwater license fees for residents from $5.50 to $13 and create a Saltwater Fish Research and Conservation Fund for the additional monies would be used. It replaces federal funding for a similar program, that according to Randy Pausina, head of fisheries for LDWF, was woefully inadequate and failed to deliver real-time management of species. Not to mention federal mandates placed upon LDWF. The Louisiana Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) supported the bill, although several online surveys indicated opposition from anglers. Mostly on the concerns that the fund might be raided much like the artificial reef program has. Those concerned about misuse of the fund can take some relief that the bill has a sunset clause... after four years, the fee will revert back to $5.50 unless the legislature passes a continuance.

A bit belated, but never too late. We're already into "Solar Max" - a period of 120 days which maximum solar radiation of the year. Many people incorrectly think the worst UV radiation exposure begins at the summer solstice. It actually peaks at the solstice. The same amount of radiation on August 21st - one of the hottest days of the year - is the same as that of April 21st. For anglers, this means using sunscreen, caps, UV block sunglasses (polarized even better), long sleeve SPF shirts and long pants a plus, and facial/neck protection. Also avoiding the middle of the day and early afternoon when fishing is slowest can reduce UV exposure.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Cabelas latest sale includes great deals for beginners. The Cahill Combo includes graphite rod, large arbor reel, fly line and backing for just $39. Reviewers rate this as a very good outfit for the money. The Cabelas Prestige Plus reel is on sale for $29, compared to usual price of $49. It's on a couple of my bream / light bass rods and it's centerline drag can even handle big goo, catfish, or small hybrid stripers. For beginner fly tiers, their Deluxe Tool Kit with case is on sale for $35. The vise is serviceable. The bobbin does tend to cut thin thread. The other tools are decent. If the budget doesn't allow getting a better set of starter tools (we highly recommend the Griffin 2A set with ceramic bobbin for about $65) then go ahead with this one. It will certainly tie most warmwater flies and even some inshore flies.

Louisiana's Free Fishing Weekend is set for June 7-8. All ages can fish for free the first weekend of June without a fishing license on any of the state's public waters, fresh or salt. All other fishing regulations will still apply. Mississippi will also observe license-free days that Saturday and Sunday for freshwater only (their saltwater license-free day is July 4th). Free Fishing Days are observed in many other states as well, all part of National Fishing and Boating Week, a national celebration of fishing and boating, which takes place the first week of June every year. This year it’s June 1-8. It highlights the importance of recreational boating and fishing in enhancing people's' quality of life and preserving our country's natural resources. An emphasis is placed on boating safety as well.

Many activities coming up for Louisiana's free fishing weekend. Saturday, June 7th will be a busy day across the state for events for all ages. Let's go down the list by location... In Port Sulphur, LDWF will host a free Family Fish Fest at Myrtle Grove Marina. The $10 tournament entry fee per angler includes t-shirt and lunch, and the first 50 youth to enter receive a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing, and the first 100 youth get a goodie bag. Additional activities include fish identification, seining, cast netting, knot tying, fish tagging, minnow racing, casting and more. In Farmerville, LDWF will host a free Fishing Derby at Lake D'arbonne State Park. Registration begins at 8am, contest at 9am. Eligible ages are 6 to 14. Bait will be provided by LDWF. Park entrance fee of $2 is required. More info on the Port Sulphur and Farmerville events can be found on the LFF Calendar or at the LDWF website. In Prarieville, the Louisiana Association of Bass Clubs, District 6, will hold their annual Youth Fishing Tournament at Lafreniere Park in Metairie. The hours are 6am to noon. Eligible ages 4 to 15. Registration fee is $10 and all proceeds will go to Children's Hospital. Trophies and T-shirts will be given to all participants who register in advance, and food and drinks will be served. More details can be found on the LFF Calendar. In Slidell, St. Tammany Parish will formally mark the reopening of its public fishing pier over Lake Pontchartrain with a Grand Reopening Celebration and Family Fishing Rodeo. Signup begins at 6am, with final weigh-in at 1:45pm. Registration is $10 for adults and youth 12 and over, and $5 for ages under 12, and tournament entrants receive a t-shirt and lanyard. For observers only, the entry fee is $1, with no charge for under 12. Categories include speck, red, catfish, largest crab and others. On Grand Isle that Saturday will be the final day of the 17th annual SwollFest Rodeo, that kicks off Thursday. Divisions include Kayak and Youth. Entry fee is $55 for adults, $15 for ages 12 and under (Youth Division), with proceeds from this event going to the American Diabetes Association and Muscular Dystrophy. Again, more details can be found on the LFF Calendar.

LDWF is hosting a Kids Fishing Day Camp at Woodworth June 9th thru 12th, for ages 10 to 15. Location will be the LDWF Woodworth Outdoors Education Center on 661 Robinson Road. Starting Monday and ending Thursday, from 8am to 4pm, participants will engage in a variety of fishing-related activities, including how to rig fishing equipment, fish identification, boating safety, cast netting, kayak fishing, how to clean the catch and more. Registration fees are $75 per child and the camp is limited to the first 20 participants registered. Lunch will be provided daily and each child will receive a rod/reel combo and stocked tackle box provided by the Association of Louisiana Bass Clubs (ALBC) and the Woodmen of the World. For more info, or to register contact Angela Capello at (318) 748-6914 or acapello@wlf.la.gov. Registration forms are also available via this link on the LDWF website.

Like the LSU baseball team, the LSU Kayak Fishing Team number 3 has moved up in the national rankings after this past weekend. LSU Team 3 - last year's Salt Series National Champions - completed the "regular season" and now awaits the championship tournament in June. LSUT3 finished first this past weekend in Grand Isle with a dominant performance thanks to Jacob Cormier (1st place with 55.75 inches) and Shane Pantoja (2nd place with 54.75 inches). LSUT3 - which also includes Ryan Lauve, Kit Plughoft and Houston Keppinger - was ranked number 3 nationally, but should move into the number 1 ranking. Teams 1 and 2 have also been impressive and should qualify for the championship. However, like baseball, it's a whole new season once the championship series starts.

Speaking of repeating kayak championships... last week's first event in the 2014 IFA Kayak Tour Louisiana Division was held out of Empire, and last year's IFAKT National Champion, Steve "Gnatless" Lessard of Geismar (left in the photo), started where he left off. His red and speck totaled over 61 inches in the CPR event. Lessard said he started with topwaters for big trout and moved to Gulp! for bull reds in the passes. Richard Webb, of Madison, MS - fishing his first ever IFA tournament - measured a 41.75-inch red and a 17.75-inch trout for 2nd place total of 59.50 inches. Benton Parrott, of Spanish Fort, AL, measured a combined 55 inches of fish, finishing third. This was a "roadrunner" tournament, i.e., participants could launch anywhere in the state of Louisiana. The top 10 finishers caught their top speck and red around Venice, Empire, Hopedale, Port Sulphur, and Grand Isle.

Monday, May 26, 2014
What's happening this week. On Monday, it's Memorial Day. A holiday for many, and a day for all to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome, bring your tying tools, the club has some for those who don't. Materials are provided. On Tuesday, 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 CCA Cenla Chapter will hold it's annual banquet at the Riverfront Center in Alexandria. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm, auction at 8pm. Tickets are $60 per person ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include membership, dinner, open bar. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, it's the 5th annual "Bass on the Fly" Tournament at Lake Fork Marina in Texas. Time is 6:00am to 2:00pm. Entry fee is $55. This CPR event awards highest total length inches of 5 photos (bass). Categories are Club, Boat, and Non-Boat (kayak, canoe, float tube). There's also vendors, casting clinics, programs, more. Net proceeds go to African ministries. For details, got to www.bassonthefly.org. Also on Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold another free Fly Fishing 101. The 2-hour clinic will cover one hour of tackle and rigging and one hour of basic casting. Class size is limited, so pre-registration is required. For details, contact Alex at 225-757-7286.

New fly record sheepshead. Back in January, while on a charter trip with Capt. Rocky Thickstun, Charlie Johnston of Oregon hooked and landed a 9.25-pound sheepshead on fly rod. The fish was submitted to the Louisiana Outdoors Writers Association, keepers of the state fish records including the Fly Fishing Division. If approved, it will displace the current first-place goat, an 8.17-pounder taken in March, 2010, by Bennett deBoisblanc in Lake Athanasio. That fish was awarded the 2010 LOWA Fly Fish of the Year.

Monday, May 19, 2014
What's happening this week. A busy one as we move into the Memorial Day weekend, and the unofficial start of summer in Louisiana. More on that later... On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Church Community Center on East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying starts at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guest tier Kevin 'Musicdoc' Andry will demonstrate a slow sinking spider pattern great for bluegill and even bass. Beginners are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on Pinhook Road in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the CCA Tangi Chapter holds it's annual banquet at Twelve Oaks on the SLU Campus in Hammond. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Tickets are $60 ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include 1-year membership, dinner, open bar, door prizes. For more info, contact Julie Grunewald at julie@ccalouisiana.com. On Thursday, the CCA Pointe Coupee Chapter holds it's annual banquet at Scott Civic Center in New Roads. Time is 5:30pm. Prices are $60/$30/$25 and includes dinner, membership, etc.. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their monthly fly tying sessions at the Whitney Bank branch on Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, it's the start of the 2014 CCA STAR tournament that runs thru Labor Day. More on that later. Also on Saturday, The Camp Fly Fishing School holds an Advanced Casting Workshop. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs holds their monthly fly tying session in the upstairs Conference Room. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Beginners are welcome, bring your own tools, materials are provided.

The 2014 CCA STAR tournament begins Saturday. Of greatest interest to readers of Louisiana Fly Fishing are the Fly and Kayak Divisions. Once again, the Kayak Division will award Hobie Kayaks to winners in each of four regions - East, Southeast, Southwest, West - with a consolation drawing in each region for a TFO Loomis rod. The Fly Division will award $1,500 gift cards to Academy Sports for the winner of two regions - East and West. Also a consolation drawing for a TFO Mangrove fly rod for combined East and West. The consolation drawing is eligible to every fly or kayak angler who weighs in a speckled trout at least 14 inches or longer. Although most of us will be concentrating our efforts on these divisions, there are other opportunities as well. The Tagged Redfish Division is always a possibility wherever you might fish. Each year, two or more anglers miss out on a boat, motor and trailer worth $30,000 because they hadn't entered STAR. Another option for LFF readers is the Youth Division. Get your kid, grandkid, niece, nephew or other young person to enter a 14+ inch trout or flounder, and their name will be placed in a drawing for a boat, motor, trailer. Sheepshead is a division that most fly and kayak anglers ignore, but there's some big goats available in places where yaks and flies can take them.

A STAR strategy. Cormier's Laws of Fly Fishing come into play for the STAR. Especially the first law - "Fish make the rules, humans don't!". History tells us that the best chance to win STAR in the Fly and Kayak Divisions comes in the first 6 weeks of the tournament. Once we get into late July and August, bigger trout become less active, feed less, and become more selective. Veteran speck anglers will confirm that late summer it's live croakers or bust for big trout. The one exception is in the Southwest Division, e.g., Vermillion Bay. Here the negative impact of the Atchafalaya River / Wax Lake Outlet lessen greatly into July and August, at which time big trout move into the Cove and Trash Pile areas. Still, don't put your eggs into the Vermillion basket... get started early in STAR. Fish from first light to just after sunrise using topwaters or poppers to get your best shot at a big trout. Big flies catch big fish, so larger baitfish patterns will improve your chances at a fish larger than 14 inches.

The Camp Fly Fishing School in Breaux Bridge will hold the first of their two "Advanced Workshops" for 2014 this Saturday. Cost is $150 and includes a full day of instruction (9am to 5pm), lunch, refreshments, and handouts. Instructors are all Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructors. Pre-registration is required, as class size is limited so that students get more personalized instruction. The Advanced session focuses on getting better distance thru more efficient casting and specialty casting to match all sorts of various fishing situations. I'm sometimes asked if these workshops are worth the cost. Several of my Fly Fishing 101 students have attended The Camp School and have greatly improved their casting skills. As Cormier's 2nd Law of Fly Fishing states, "Casting success leads to fishing success". Draw your own conclusions! For more info, or to register, contact Keith Richard at 337-344-0908.

Summer unofficially begins this weekend. Although we're 3 weeks away from the solstice, the heat and humidity begin about now and continue until just after Labor Day. During this time, the weatherman can put his forecast on autopilot... highs in the 90s, lows in the 70s, chance of afternoon thunderstorms. The exception is when an occasional easterly wave moves thru and brings a chance of all day storms. Or when a tropical disturbance, storm, or hurricane come calling. As summer progresses, we'll see more reds invading the passes and beaches, until the major spawning rituals of August and September. Also as summer progresses, more pelagics show up - jacks, kings, spanish, cobia, to name a few - and give nearshore fly anglers some exciting diversity to their trips.

Sunday, May 11, 2014
What's happening this week. 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. Jim Wright will give a presentation on the Lower Mountain Fork trout fishery located near Broken Bow, Oklahoma. This is a potential location for a club trip later this fall. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Kyle Moppert, president of the IFFF Gulf Coast Council. Kyle will talk about the IFFF and also talk about saltwater fly fishing. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm, with casting prior to the meeting. On the agenda is a recap of the Natchitoches Fishing Expo and planning for a fishing event on May 31st. On Wednesday, the Natchitoches Chapter of CCA will hold their inaugural banquet at the Natchitoches Events Center. Doors open at 6:00pm, dinner at 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Tickets are $60 ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include 1-year membership, dinner, open bar, door prizes. For more info, contact Katie Laurent at katie@ccalouisiana.com. On Thursday, the CCA Shreveport Chapter holds it's annual banquet at Riverview Hall in Shreveport. Time is 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Ticket prices same as the Natchitoches event. For more info, contact Ryan at ryan@ccalouisiana.com. Also on Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Tom Bullock will demonstrate tips and techniques to improve your fly tying skills. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville (we incorrectly announced this for last week). Time is 7:00pm. For details contact Colin at 985-264-3448. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Starting Friday and continuing on Saturday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual "Spring Catch and Eat" marsh fishing outing along Highway 1. It culiminates with the Saturday night fish and shrimp fly. This event is open to RSFF members and members of other recognized clubs. For details, go to www.rsff.org. On Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Fishing 201" clinics. Time is 8:00am to 10:00am. This on-the-water session applies casting and rigging skills learned in FF101. Pre-registration required. To register, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday afternoon, it's the Captain's meeting for the first event in the 2014 IFA Kayak Tour - Louisiana Division. Activities will take place at Delta Marina in Empire. Registration is $50. Fishing takes place on Sunday, from safe light to weigh-in at 3pm. Participation in this event and in the IFA-LA Division event later this summer in Lafitte is required for qualification for the IFAKT national championship.

Sunday, May 4, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm, with casting prior at 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the CCA Tangi Chapter will hold a free "Spring Fishing Seminar" at Boat City USA in Hammond. Time is 6:00pm. Guest speakers include Capt. Kory Matherne, Capt. Sam Barbera, and others. Food and drinks provided. For more info, contact Zach Chain at 985-510-0196. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the PBFF club will hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your own tools, materials are provided. For more details, contact Colin at 985-264-3448. Also on Thursday, the CCA River Parishes Chapter holds their annual banquet at the Jerusalem Shrine Center in Destrehan. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Tickets are $60 per person ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include 1-year membership, dinner, open bar, more. For details, contact Julie at 225-952-9200. On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Fishing 101" workshops. Time is 8:00am to 10:00am. This 1-day, 2-hour clinic covers the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. Once instruction is completed, attendees will receive in-store savings as well as free electronic membership to the FFF. The clinic is free, but registration is required as class size is limited. For more info, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Sunday is Mother's Day. Don't forget to do something special for the favorite moms in your life!

Ode to Gobbule. The Fly Lines column in this month's issue of Louisiana Sportsman magazine is dedicated to one of our favorite gamefish... sunfish, aka bream, aka gobbules. We challenge the world of art and culture to pay tribute to this fine fish in the same way that they've done with salmonids. And offer our own contribution. Hopefully the Pulitzer Prize Committee is reading. Meanwhile, it's been a slow spring for bream... normally we've reached the peak of bedding activity on the April full moon. With less than 2 weeks to the May full moon, here's hoping that the best is still yet to come.

The 2014 spring inshore shrimp season dates have been set. At the Thursday meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the commission adopted the following dates for brown shrimp: June 2nd for east of the Mississippi River, May 26th for the Barataria-Terrebonne estuary, May 26th for the Vermillion Bay system, and June 2nd for Rockefeller/Calcasieu/Sabine. These are the latest dates I can recall for the spring season. Blame is being put on the colder-than-normal winter and spring we've had. As mentioned previously, as shrimp go, so do speckled trout. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth among speck enthusiasts so far this year. Sounds like we will need to be a bit more patient than we hoped.

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