Sunday, January 25, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahrs Seafood Restaurant at the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Instructor will be Jeff Denig, one of the club's fly tying co-chairs, who will tie the EP Fiber Floating Injured Minnow and a Mystery Fly. Jeff says, "The Mystery Fly is so secret, it's still a mystery to me!". Bring either white or clear mono thread. Bring your tools, materials provided. If you don't have tools, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. The public is welcome. 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, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will conduct another of it's free "Fly Fishing 101" clinics. This one-day, 2 hour session covers tackle, knots and basic casting. There is no cost, but reservations are required as seats are limited. Later on Saturday, Orvis BR will conduct a "Fly Tying 101" class. This one-day, 2-hour sessions covers the basics of fly tying. Tools and materials are provided. Like FF101, class size is very limited, so registration is required. To register for FF101 or FT101, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286.
A great start to the conclave season. Yesterday's first-ever Cenla Fly Fishing Festival in Pineville proved to be a great success for the Kisatchie Fly Fishers. Attendance was right near the 120 mark, the club picked up a bunch of new members, and raised more than enough money for their conservation and educational wish-list. Most important - everyone had a great time! The event made the local television news and Sunday's newspaper. Even the mayor of Pineville, Clarence Fields - who admits to being an obsessed fisherman - made a showing and was quite impressed. Of course much of the credit goes to the fly tiers, speakers, and exhibitors in attendance, as well as members of the KFF "Conclave Team". The club also had special thanks to Jeff Robinson, an IFFF Casting Certified Instructor from Lake Charles who spent the entire day out on the park knoll, first with a basics of fly fishing seminar and then following with casting coaching the rest of the day. Incidently, there will be a 2nd-annual Cenla Fly Fest in 2016.
Next up: the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival on Saturday, February 7th at Bethany Christian Church at 3223 Westheimer in Houston. Sponsored by the Texas Fly Fishers of Houston, this is the premier fly tying showcase on the northern Gulf Coast, with anywhere from 60 to 100 tiers each year. Most hail from Texas, but also tiers from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and elsewhere. There's also 6 one-hour classroom presentations. Each year, the Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival features one of the top names in our sport. This year's special guest is Drew Chicone, a fly designer and author of the books "Feather Brain", "Snook Flies", "Essential Bonefish Flies", and his latest, "Redfish Flies". The young man has a big following on his blog "Salty Fly Tying". Larry Offner and I always look forward to this event, both as demo tyers and catching up with many friends from the Lone Star state.
Registration opens this Friday for BOW. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries wll open registration January 30 for it's 27th annual "Becoming An Outdoors Woman" workshop. BOW is a national program founded in 1991. The program focuses on teaching women skills to participate in a wide range of outdoors activities. In Louisiana, 2015 Becoming An Outdoors Woman will be held March 27-29 at Camp Grant Walker in Pollock. The workshop is limited to 125 participants, and often that limit is reached within 3 days after registration begins. The cost is $200 and includes the following: lodging (bunk beds), all meals from Friday lunch to Sunday lunch, four hands-on educational sessions 3.5 hours each. Attendees must be 18 years of age or older to attend. Among the long list of courses are fly fishing and kayaking. For more info, go to LDWF BOW Website..
The new Wilderness Systems ATAK kayak will be one of the top prizes for the Kayak Bass Fishing Open 2015 on Kentucky Lake the weekend of March 13-15. This CPR tournament is open to puddlers from everywhere, and so far, there's a small contingent from Louisiana committed to the event. While I like the fact that the new ATAK boat is a prize, it's too bad none of us know what the final version of this kayak will look like. We've seen quite a few "glimmer shots" on the internet, and even been told a few specs of a prototype. But as to what the FINAL layout and specs of the boat will be, no one really knows for sure. It's turning out to be the most hyped pre-release boats since the Jackson Cuda. I'm sure Wildy is hoping it turns out as successful as the Cuda was.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, it's Martin Luther King Day, a holiday for many and a fishing opportunity. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Pauls Lutheran Church on 1620 East Lake Prien Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, meeting begins at 7:00pm. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. On the agenda is their upcoming Festival this Saturday, upcoming club activities and local crappie fishing reports. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their first meeting of 2015 at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook Road in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Guest speaker will be Jesh Smith who will talk about creek fishing from a kayak, including places to go and put in and take out. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the second 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 own tools, materials are provided. Starting Friday and continuing Saturday, it's the "Red River Rendezvous" at Beavers Bend State Park in Broken Bow. Hosted by the Red River Fly Fishers of Sherman, TX, this event is similiar to the Southern Fly Fishers Rendezvous held each November at Toledo Bend. For details, go to www.rrff.org. On Saturday, it's the "Cenla Fly Fishing Festival" in Pineville. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. These one-day, 2-hour clinic cover the basics of tying flies. Tools and materials are provided. Class size is very limited, so registration is required. Call Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying workshop from 9:30am to 12 noon. Bring your own tools, materials provided.
Conclave season kicks off this Saturday with the first-ever Cenla Fly Fishing Festival at Kees Park Community Center in Pineville. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm. Admission is free. Hosted by the Kisatchie Fly Fishers, this event features many of common aspects of conclaves: seminars, fly tying demonstrations, casting demos, basic instruction, exhibitors, raffles and/or silent auction, food and more. A schedule of activities, list of speakers, fly tiers and exhibitors, and other details of the Cenla Fly Fest can be found at the club's website at www.kisatchiefly.org.
After the Cenla Fly Fest conclave season continues with the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival in Houston on February 7th hosted by the Texas Fly Fishers, the Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival in Murfreesboro, AR, on February 13-14, the Acadiana Conclave in Lafayette on February 28 hosted by the Acadiana Fly Rodders, the Red Stick Day fly festival in Baton Rouge on March 7 hosted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers, Fly Fish Texas at the TPWD Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, TX, on March 14, the Sowbug Roundup in Mountain Home, AR, on March 26-28 hosted by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, the Caddo Conclave co-hosted by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers and the East Texas Fly Fishers at Caddo Lake State Park in Karnack, TX on April 10-11.
Allen Fly Fishing has launched their Exterus line of soft packs for 2015. These include two soft backpacks, a sling pack, and a lumbar pack (pictured). The lumbar pack has great versatility: it could be a lumbar pack, hip pack, chest pack, or go-bag for a kayak or boat. The Exterus bags feature nylon webbings, zinger attachment points with integrated magnets. The lumbar pack shown also has adjustable bottle holders. The price of the bags ranges from $79 to $129 (the lumbar pack shown is $89). Of course, signing up for the Allen email list entitles would-be buyers to a 15-percent discount which could applied towards purchase of bags or other Allen products.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Janet Rhoadus of Launch Leeville. Janet will discuss the new public landing in Leeville, history and future, as well as fishing in the Leeville area. The public is invited. On Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at the Westside Baptist Church Hall in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. The public is welcome. Also on Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Come early about 6:00pm if you wish to tie flies (bring your vise). Guest speaker will be Jane and Tom Gallenbach of River Ridge Guide Service on the Sabine River. Jane and Tom will discuss the soon-to-happen white bass run. The public is invited. On Thursday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold their quarterly meeting at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. On the agenda: presentations as well as the club's annual awards for 2014 (Angler of the Year and Fish Pics Tourney). Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the State Fair of Louisiana Boat, Sport, and RV Show at the State Fairgrounds in Shreveport. Admission is $5, with under 12 free. For more info, go to www.statefairoflouisiana.com. On Saturday, it's the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's annual "Minimalist Challenge" at the Leeville public launch. Registration is closed for this event, but with 100 kayakers working the area, the results should provide lots of reports for next week. Also on Saturday, Orvis will be holding another of their "Fly Tying 101" classes. This one-day, 2-hour free hands-on clinic will cover the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so registration is required in advance. For more info, or to register, call Alex Beane at 225-757-7286.
The Red Stick Fly Fishers have postponed their annual "Fly Fishing 101" day-long clinic. Normally held in February, the club is instead working with the local Orvis store which has been holding their own twice-monthly "Fly Fishing 101" clinics. In addition, Orvis is holding "Fly Fishing 201" this winter and spring, and will hold "Fly Tying 101" starting this Saturday, and repeating on Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 21, and Feb. 28. All these sessions are one-day, 2-hours in length. And free of charge! Last year, over 200 participants took part in the Orvis of Baton Rouge classes! The RSFF club is considering holding an alternative to FF101 that would complement the Orvis basic classes. While I was somewhat disappointed to hear about the club's FF101 session, I must say I was ecstatic to learn of their reasons why. Orvis Baton Rouge and it's manager, Alex Beane, is doing a tremendous job of promoting and growing our sport in Louisiana. Introducing that many new folks to the sport is great news!
Speaking of Orvis, this week they released a new line of Safe Passage products. I own several of the older Safe Passage bags and slings and find them of excellent quality. So now they're improved - several like the Orvis Sling Pack have water-resistant material on the bottom or other areas of vulnerability. And a few are new, also. One of those is their new "Carry it All" bag. The top half can carry 4-piece rods, while the bottom half has adjustable dividers and nets to carry reels, lines, fly boxes, sunglasses, tippets, pliers, terminal tackle and more. It includes a shoulder strap and a hand strap. The nylon is coated for water resistance. Price is $179. Extra dividers are also available.
Another new product revealed this week was the Allen Omega fly reel. Allen Fly Fishing - based out of Southlake, Texas - has been a leader in value-priced tackle, offering very good quality and using the internet and user testing to successfully develop and market their products. They're also expanding beyond their internet-direct sales and showing up in a few fly shops. Now Allen has decided to play with the big boys, offering a premium American-made fly reel. The Omega is machined and anodized in Michigan, and assembled in Texas. It features their strongest drag ever - 5 stacked carbon discs inside a totally sealed housing. Allen claims the highest tolerances of any reel in the industry. Some may argue that claim, but there's no arguing the colors of the Omega. They come in several color combinations from blue/red to gold/blue to silver/red and more. The price will range from $575 for the 8-weight to $675 for the 12-weight.
Also new - the Lamson Liquid fly reel. For those who find the Allen Omega way beyond their budget - and don't need all that dragpower - the Lamson Liquid seems like a great bargain at just $99. The cast aluminum reel has a fully-sealed conical drag - something found on more expensive reels. The reel is also made in the USA, a factor which will sway many potential buyers. While it's not suitable for saltwater (not anodized), it should be popular for trout and warmwater anglers. I like the fact that the 3/4-weight and 5/6 models have a narrow spool width (1 inch). Most inexpensive fly reels are small in diameter and wide in width which leads to line tangling. The Lamson Liquid will compete with the Sage 1800 series and the TFO Prism for a freshwater value reel.
Introducing the Wilderness Systems ATAK. Well, sort of. This week Wilderness Systems announced their new "Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak" or ATAK scheduled for release this spring. With it, they gave very few details and only a couple of pics, none of which gave much detail. Was it developed at Area 51 by alien technology? If so, the few glimpses indicate some rather old technology - a possible tri-hull yak. Not unlike the highly-proven Ocean Kayak Caper and Prowler models. Here's what we do know (from what WS tells us) - the deck is low-profile to shed wind. It is very stable, walkable, tracks well for it's length, has excellent speed and manuverability. Sounds exactly like the attributes of a tri-hull design. Of course, as Cormier's 1st Law of Puddling states, "Selecting a kayak for fishing is an exercise in compromise". In the case of the tri-hull, that compromise is hull slap. Which IMO is not a major issue. Nearly a thousand redfish caught from Caper would agree! If this boat can perform as Wilderness says, and comes equipped with their AirPro Max (frame) seat, then it should be a winner. We can't say how much it'll cost because even that's secret.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Is sneaux headed our way? The coldest air of the season has descended upon the Bayou State. Tonight's temps will go down into the teens across Louisiana north of I-10. That cold air will remain in place as a low pressure system over the Gulf moves northeast tomorrow and thru the weekend. Starting Thursday night, a chance of the white stuff over west, central and north Louisiana begins, with greater chances on Friday. Althought the precipitation chances are less than 50 percent, a "wintry mix" is still a possibility in some parishes thru Saturday. Sunday brings the greatest chance of rain, but it will be very cold rain (not the kind you want to fish in). Like I said on Sunday, it's a great time to tie flies!
LDWF to hold Caney Lake status meeting. On Tuesday, January 20, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold a public hearing on Caney Creek Reservoir issues, including an overview of aquatic vegetation issues and the results of recent fish population sampling. Time will be 7:00pm. Location will be Jimmie Davis State Park Conference Center in Chatham. Caney was once the premier bass and redear lakes in the state, prior to being (way) overstocked with grass carp. After which, the numbers of trophy bass and trophy redears greatly declined. According to biologists, larger gamefish need complex structure, which hydrilla and other grasses provide. Now that the carp have begun to die off, and grass is returning, bigger fish of all game species are showing up. In fact, it provided some of my best trips this year for bass, bream and crappie - on fly rod.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
What's happening this week. Welcome to the first full week of 2015! Let's hope it's a great start to a great year for all. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Blvd in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. The public is invited. On Wednesday the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Time is 6:00pm. Thursday thru Sunday, it's the 17th annual Southern Louisiana Boat, Sport, and RV Show at the Houma Terrebonne Civic Center in Houma. For info, go to www.southernlouisianaboatrvshow.com. On Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will conduct a "Fly Fishing 201" course. This free, one-day, 2-hour hands-on clinic is designed to apply casting and rigging skills to on-the-water applications. As well as learn a few more techniques. Pre-registration is required as class size is limited. To register, contact Alex Beane at (225)757-7286.
Now is the time for all good tiers to come to the aid of their clubs. Yes, January is the start of "conclave season", those one-day fly fishing festivals that feature seminars, fly tying demos, casting demos and clinics, exhibitors, and sometimes even kayak demos. Fly tiers are an invaluable resource to these events... it's well established that most seminar attendees spend a great deal of time watching the tiers. Tiers also often provide small donations of flies to help the conclaves raise money such that these events can be held without any cost to the public. If you're a tier, please consider making at least one, if not 2 or 3 of the state or regional events this spring. It's a small sacrifice to help grow our sport and pass it on to the next generation.
Speaking of tying, this will be a good week to tie flies for the season ahead (and putting a few aside for donations). Since that first "polar vortex" in November, we've been lucky to miss out on really cold weather. It's allowed some successful marsh trips for reds and even specks in typical late fall locations - not just the winter holes. That's about to change. The 2nd vortex arrives this Tuesday evening. Highs for Wednesday and Thursday will be in the upper 30s for most of north Louisiana, with 40s elsewhere. Lows statewide will dip into the 20s, perhaps even teens in some areas. Even worse, this cold brings 20 to 25 knot winds. The freeze will moderate a tad by the weekend, but only because more rain is expected. As I said, it's going to be a good week to tie flies.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Merry Christmas! No organizational activities this week as Christmas is on Thursday. We'll also be taking a break from reporting any news, but will continue to post in the forum if warranted. That includes results of any fishing excursions. So... here's wishing a most blessed Christmas for all our friends! Hope everyone finds something under the Christmas tree they can use for their piscatorial pursuits in the coming year. And let's not forget the reason for the season: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.".
A new policy for 2015. Actually starting now, we will no longer accept Facebook pages as a representative site for organizations, outfitters, or other entities. Nothing against Facebook... in fact, we have a FB page and use it quite often. It's great tool for connecting with subscribed readers (via "likes") and pushing information to those readers. However, as "pull communication" it's much worse than a standard site and there's a few security concerns as well.
The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club has announced dates and details for their annual Series tournaments. These are five smaller tournaments (exclusive of Paddlepalooza and Fall-n-Tide) that have low entry fees ($20) and for which BCKFC members can compete for Angler of the Year. The tournaments are open to the public. The Series is sponsored by Pack and Paddle of Lafayette. Each tournament has a different "bag" for weigh-in. For 2015, one of those tournaments will be a Catch-Photo-Release (CPR) event for bass at Chicot Lake near Ville Platte. This marks the first freshwater series tournament in their 11-year history. Here are the events and dates: Minimalist Challenge, Leeville, Jan. 17; Yak-A-Bass, Chicot Lake, Mar. 21; Trout Challenge, Lafayette, June 13; Golden Meadow Smackdown, Sept. 12; Where Y'at Throwdown, Chalmette, Nov. 14. For more details, go to www.bckfc.org.
Boondoggle coming to Louisiana. In other kayak fishing news this week, it was announced that the Kayak Fishing Boondoggle will be coming to Fountainbleu State Park in Mandeville the weekend of October 9-11, 2015. What's Boondoggle? It's the kayak fishing equivalent of a fly fishing conclave mixed in with some camping. There's seminars, kayak rigging workshops, kayak demos, manufacturer reps, kayak races, youth activities and more. Even fly casting and fly tying demos. There's a Friday night meet-and-greet and a Saturday night dinner. Admission is free, but camping, workshops and Saturday night dinner are extra. The entire campground and pavilion at Fountainbleu State Park has been reserved for this event. If you wish to reserve one of the 135 camping areas, tent or RV, you need to register thru the KFB portal at Yakangler.com.
Shrimp season closes tomorrow and according to a couple articles I've read, this year was described as "average". The brown shrimp season (spring-summer) started off very slow possibly due to the record cold winter. Prices were higher than I'd seen since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. By June, prices had come down substantially but never did approach that of 2013, despite lower fuel prices. The white shrimp season kicked off in August, and big numbers were caught in the Terrebonne estuary, but lower than normal in the Barataria estuary. Why is the shrimp harvest important to anglers? First, most of us love to eat the small crusteceans. But there's an old saying on the coast, "As the shrimp go, so do the speckled trout.". And it proved true in 2014. The trout never really showed up in numbers until the fall. And when they did, the Terrebonne waters (Cocodrie, Pointe-aux-Chenes, Golden Meadow, Sulphur Mine, Dularge, Dulac, Leeville west) had the best action.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Orvis in Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. Bring your tools, materials provided. If no tools, the club has a set of tools for use during these sessions. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their Christmas Gathering at Copelands in Alexandria. RSVP is required no later than 10pm today, contact Glen Cormier at 504-793-5855. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Pauls Lutheran Church on 1620 East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. The public is welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual Christmas Party and December meeting at Pack and Paddle. The club will also hand out awards for it's annual tournament series. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their monthly fly tying series at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. 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. The public is invited. For more info, go to their website at www.northlaflyfishers.org.
The December issue of The Angler magazine is available at most fishing stores in south Louisiana. It's a national magazine with national writers and columnists for the most part, but with local content added in by local writers. This month's edition of The Angler features include a gift guide for the fisherman on your Christmas list. In addition, there's several fly and kayak columns, highlighted by Conway Bowman's advise on "Adding Depth to a Sinking Fly", Andy Bowen's "Swinging for Steelhead" and Bruce Butler on sharing a kayak fishing experience with a veteran. For folks in Southeast Louisiana, the Greater Baton Rouge - Houma edition also features a monthly column by Larry Offner of WarmFly.com and Green Trout Fly Shop in Baton Rouge, titled "LA On The Fly". This month, Uncle Larry gives us his now-famous "The Fly Fisher's Twelve Days of Christmas". If I got even a tiny fraction of what's on his list, my days of Christmas would be happy, happy, happy! Pick up a copy and check it out (it's free).
Nucanoe introduces their new Pursuit. When Nucanoe hit the kayak fishing market with their Frontier series, it joined the Diablo Adios, Freedom Hawk, and Hobie Pro Angler as the most stand-up capable, fly fishing friendly, self-bailing (SOT) paddlecraft available. At 41 inches wide and a max weight capacity of 650 pounds, big men could join the puddling craze and not have to spend a fortune doing so (as opposed to the Hobie PA series). What's more, the simple configuration made for allowing 2 persons to fish, and for DIY setups. But as Cormier's 1st Law of Puddling states, "Choosing a paddlecraft for fishing is an exercise in compromise.". In the case of the Frontier, the compromise was speed... at 41 inches wide, it's going to be a somewhat-slow paddle compared to say, a Jackson Cruise at 31 inches wide. Now Nucanoe has responded to those who don't need that much capacity and want a little more speed. Available starting April, 2015, their new Pursuit fills that void. At 13.5 feet long and 35 inches wide, it's more than stable enough for stand-up fishing, yet quite faster (and consequently, longer range). Like the Frontier, it's clean deck is ideal for flycasting. There's also a motor mount for a trolling motor, along with fore and aft crate space, stern hatch and 2 internal rod tubes. The capacity is lower, but not much - 550 pounds. And unlike the PA series, the Pursuit is car-toppable weighing in at 79 pounds. One other note... the seat being shown in photos is NOT the final seat. Apparently NuCanoe is working on a seat that will have high/low settings much like the Jackson, Native, Feelfree and Old Town kayaks now have. The MSRP has not been set, but estimated to be around $1200.
Monday, December 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. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Dave Ellzey, author of "Texas River Bum" will present a program outlining the many fishing opportunities on Texas rivers. The public is welcome. For more info, email Bud. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. Club member Catch Cormier will tie a couple of effective wintertime saltwater patterns. Beginners are welcome. For those wanting to tie along, bring your tools, materials provided. If no tools, CCFC has a few for use during the session. For more info, email Sunny. On Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. For more info, contact Colin at 985-264-3448. On Saturday, Fishing Tackle Unlimited in Houston will host their 8th annual Inshore Fly and Tackle Expo at their store on 8723 Katy Freeway. Time is 10:00am to 5:00pm. The FTU Expo will feature seminars by coastal anglers and captains, as well as casting demos and fly tying demos by the Texas Fly Fishers club. There is no cost.
Congratulations to the New Orleans Fly Fishers who will celebrate 30 years as a club starting next month. Their banquet Saturday night was well attended. Lisa and I were honored to be guest speakers, and we had a great time. The club had a successful fundraiser thanks to many sponsors and individuals who donated kindly, including Uptown Angler, Old Town Fly Shop, Green Trout Fly Shop, TFO, to name a few. The highlight of the evening was when club president Sean Gilthorpe recognized the contributions made by longtime member Joe Bandera. Joe has been instrumental in leading and teaching fly tying sessions, especially getting beginners into the art of the sport. In recognition, Joe was awarded Member Emeritus of NOFF. Truly well deserved!
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Some sad news from two clubs. First, the Red Stick Fly Fishers informed us that longtime member Tony Pounders passed away last Tuesday at the age of 70. Tony, a resident of Baton Rouge, was very active in the club's warmwater activities. Then yesterday evening, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers announced that one of their longtime members, Barry Bauer, had passed after a bout with cancer. Barry was a nationally-recognized bamboo rod maker, one of the best craftsmen to convert reed to rod. He was also an avid trout and small stream angler, and enjoyed fishing Kisatchie Bayou. Barry was also a regular at many events. Both Tony and Barry will be greatly missed.
Marsh fishing is speck-tacular right now. Seems like we waited and waited for the trout to show up this year. Then came that polar vortex in November and it seemed like the season might be over. Since then, the mild weather has seen the trout show up everywhere. The hottest spots have been Bayou Bienveneu, Golden Meadow, Pointe-aux-Chenes, Cocodrie, Dularge and the upper Calcasieu estuary. However, there's also been good catches at Hopedale, Delacroix and Port Sulphur. Topwater poppers early, late and on overcast or foggy days are making for exciting days on the water... and some chunky snaggletooths! However, most fly anglers continue to pursue redfish, despite the trout frenzy. Several folks have told me the bulls are all over, mixed in with slot fish. There's nothing like hooking up with a 20-pound red from a kayak. Sleigh rides this Christmas season come in the "Cajun" variety!
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Orvis special presentation this Thursday. When doing my "What's happening this week" writeup on Sunday, I looked at the LFF Calendar as usual for source. Something was missing, it seemed. Thank you, LFF readers for reminding me! It was on our Calendar alright, but for 2015 instead of 2014. What was it? Well, this Thursday, the Orvis store on Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge will have a special presentation from Jason Edgewater, owner of Eva's Bonefish Lodge in the Bahamas. Time is 7:00pm to 9:00pm. In addition to the presentation, some lucky attendee will win a free trip to the lodge! This trip includes 2 full days of guided fly fishing in one of the best fisheries for bonefish in the Bahamas. Meals and a room at the lodge are also included, a $1,700 value! There'll be other door prizes as well, and refreshments will be served. For more info, contact the Orvis store at 225-757-7286.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
What's happening this week. This Monday is Cyber Monday, when online retailers usually offer their best bargains of the Christmas season. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at 518 Roselawn in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. 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 Saturday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their annual banquet at Don's Seafood on Veterans in Metairie. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speakers will be Glen "Catch" Cormier and Lisa Cormier. For more info, contact Sean at 504-259-2329.
Thanks to everyone who sent in 2015 dates for the LFF Calendar. I had a plethora of dates sent to me in the last week, so please check the Calendar page to make sure I got them right. About the only ones I'm missing are dates for the Bayou Coast club tournaments, but from what I'm told, those won't be decided until after Christmas. As for the others... those which are public events will be sent to the annual publications later this week.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
More sad news in the fly tying community. I received an email from Dirk Burton that one of our good friends, Chris Helm, passed away on Thanksgiving after a year-long bout with cancer. Chris was considered one of the premier deer hair tiers in the world. In 2004, Chris was awarded the Buz Buzsek Award by the Federation of Fly Fishers, an award which recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement in the art of fly tying. Chris got his start in hair tying at the 1985 FFF conclave when he took classes with Jimmy Nix and Billy Munn, two of the great bass bug tiers of all time. His love for the art led him to start a tying supplies business out of his home in Toledo, Ohio - Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies. I did a lot of business with Chris - he was like the "Hair Professor" but knew more about all sorts of materials than anyone else in the business. I first met him at the Somerset Show in 1993 and quickly realized I was in the presence of a master... and one fantastic person. Chris and I kept in contact after that, hooking up at several shows, the most interesting being the ISE Show at San Antonio where Lisa and I spent our non-show time with Chris, Steve Probasco, and Wendy Hanvold. On the final night of our stay, we all got invited to a birthday party for Lefty Kreh, at which we met so many of the greats of our sport. And that translated to having them as headliners for the Red Stick Fly Fishers' annual conclave. So in essence, Chris made that possible. Chris himself gave one of the best presentations the Baton Rouge club has ever had, a day-long deer hair workshop which is still raved about. Unfortunately I only fished with Chris twice, although we shared many fishing companions. One of them being Richard Evans. It was from Rich that I learned of Chris' battle with cancer. In the last month, we've lost two great warmwater tiers in Chris and Jerome Hebert. The silver lining is that they both gave so much of their time to teach and pass on for the next generation.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We have much to be thankful for here in the Redfish Capital of the World and the Speckled Trout Capital of the World. Fly anglers and kayak anglers alike are truly blessed to have some of the best opportunities found in North America. We have a large and wonderful community of like-minded friends who share our passion for these sports. Most important of all, we have our loved ones who put up with our hobbies, and despite their occasional concern for our mental well-being, give us their support and love. After all, life is about God, family, friends, and folks in general - and love. Let's be thankful for them, and for those who came before us that help insured our freedom to celebrate this day. May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving! P.S. - Geaux Tigers!
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Best of 2014 - Yak Angler Awards. Yakangler.com annually does their Kayak Angler's Choice Awards where you, the voters, get to select among hundreds of nominees in 10 categories. The first round featured a slew of Louisiana-based entries, but unfortunately after the 3rd and final round, there are no winners from our great state. However, finishing in the top 3 were the following: Steve Lessard - Kayak Angler of the Year, Pack and Paddle - Retailer of the Year, Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club - Forum of the Year, Grand Isle - Location of the Year.
Best of 2014 - Fly Lines edition. Last December, my Fly Lines column in Louisiana Sportsman was "Best of 2013" subtitled "I Hate Lists So Much, I Made My Own". Afterwards, I swore I'd never do another "best list" column. But thanks to a special group of column fans, that all changed. You'll have to read the December 2014 issue (just out) to find out who they are... and to read my Best of 2014 listing.
The Houma Courier is reporting the Leeville bridge is now collecting sufficient money from tolls to allow state officials to give the go-ahead for the final stretch of elevated highway. Engineers will begin working on the design that will elevate the road beginning just north of the Golden Meadow south levee.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Calendar reminder. Please check our Calendar page and see if your 2015 event is listed or not. If not, please email me at catch at laflyfish dot com with the event name, date, location, a brief description, and contact info. As mentioned previously, this information goes to the annual calendars starting December 1st. Getting your event some early, free publicity is worth the small amount of effort needed to contact me.
Leeville Launch Update. The new public launch is now open, including the designated kayak launch. According to the Launch Leeville Facebook page, the official Launch Ribbon Cutting and Dedication Ceremony will be held on Monday, December 1st at 1:30 pm. For puddlers, the importance of the launch is that it gives a convenient access to the Lake Jesse area and marsh east of Bayou Lafourche (no more having to combat launch south of the bridge).
Greenway for Covington. According to an article on NOLA.COM, the City of Covington is working with the National Park Service to create a community greenway. A greenway is a recreational corridor, usually bordering along a river, stream or other natural feature. In this case, the plan calls for about 10 miles of interconnected sidewalks and shared-use trails for bicycling, walking, jogging, birdwatching, etc. But the main feature will be a paddle trail encompassing 5 miles of the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte rivers. There will be a number of launch and disembark sites.
The 2015 F3T already making waves. The 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour kicks off in January, but it's already getting lots of attention, and not entirely for the action-packed fishing. One of the selected films, "CO2ld Waters", addresses the issue of climate change, and it's potential impact on coldwater fisheries. And other human activities. The problem is a comment in the film's trailer by Yvon Chinourd of fly fishing accessory-maker Patagonia: "If you've got a politician whose running for office who thinks he's smarter than 98 percent of the world's climate scientists, they're crooks or they're dumb asses.". Needless to say, this is not popular with some running for Congress, especially here in the 5th District. To be fair, there's no denying that many politicians turn a blind eye to anything supported by the other party. Still, Mr. Chinourd should be more careful with his words. For example, what about those of us non-politicians who aren't entirely sold on human-induced climate change (HUICC)? Are we dumbasses too? Well, I've been called that before... but as someone who once worked for the Louisiana Office of State Climatology (I went to LSU for masters in Atmospheric Sciences), I probably know a lot more than Mr. Chinourd about this issue. For one, the "97 percent" that is oft used refers to the Zimmerman/Doran survey of 3,146 scientists, of which the views of only 79 respondents were filtered to get the 97 percent. The argument has been made that those 79 represented the most prolific writers on climate change. However, other surveys range the gamut from a woeful 3 percent to a slim majority who believe in HUICC. Like many surveys, if you pose enough of the right questions, you can get the results to meet the desired outcome. I imagine this controversy will not go away... which might not be so bad for the 2015 F3T (more attention, bigger audiences). As always, I look forward to the Fly Fishing Film Tour.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
What's happening this Thanksgiving week. A light one due to the extended holiday. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. The public is welcome. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guest speaker will be LDWF Inland Fisheries biologist Rickey Moses, who will discuss waters in the Cenla area and results of recent fish surveys. The public is invited. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. Time is 7:00pm. Instructor will be Emmitt Simmons, who will be showing how to tie a no-name shrimp pattern, and loop flies. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, materials provided. If you have no tools, the Red Stick club has some for use during these sessions. Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, and Friday is Black Friday. More on that later.
LDWF's Get Out and Fish! Program had a successful launch last Saturday at Girard Park in Lafayette. LDWF hosted the event in partnership with the City of Lafayette to promote their new community fishing location, and attendance far surpassed expectations with 250 registered anglers. The goal of the program is to recruit new anglers - particularly youth and families - to the sport of fishing, and doing so through community waters where angler access is not limited, or a boat is not required. As many LFF readers know by now, a community fishing program is something that myself and others have long advocated to LDWF and the Wildlife Commission. Similiar programs exist in 31 states. It now appears to becoming a reality here in Louisiana thanks to LDWF and the Louisiana Wildife and Fisheries Foundation and many fine sponsors... we are VERY excited about this! LDWF is currently identifying more public water bodies across the state that meet required specifications by their biologists. These waters will be stocked on a regular basis during the year. LDWF will promote the launch of each new site with a Get Out and Fish! event. For the event at Girard Park, 800 pounds of adult channel catfish were stocked beforehand. Now here comes the good part... starting next month, Girard Park will be stocked with adult rainbow trout! This will make Lafayette the third parish (along with East Baton Rouge and Ascension) to have winter stocking of ponds with rainbow trout. When warmer weather returns in March, Girard Park will be stocked with channel cats once again.
This Friday is Black Friday. Historically the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. It gets it's name from the presumption that a lot of small retailers operate at a financial loss for most of the year, but Black Friday is the point at which they "go into the black" and make profit. One thing is for sure... the best shopping deals of the year happen next weekend starting Friday and continuing thru Cyber Monday. Most of the highly-prized sale items are electronics. I've stood in lines two football fields long in the middle of the night, braving cold and sometimes rain, waiting just to buy one (or more) of my kids that special item they wanted - at half price! As for us fly anglers, there's good and bad news. First, the bad news... most fly tackle is price-protected. That means no discounts anytime. The good news is that there's lots of accessory items - from rain jackets to GPS units to tackle tools to waterproof cameras and more - that will be on sale. In addition, store brand fly tackle, such as rods and reels sold under Bass Pro, Cabelas, Gander Mountain, etc. label can often be found on sale. Over the years, I've taken advantage of the store brand sales to purchase complete outfits for my nephews and nieces. Nearly all of these are graphite rods and okay lines. Not the quality of Orvis, TFO, Sage or Redington, But for beginners, it's good enough to get started and build their interest. If you're wanting to get a jump on what bargains there are, go to www.blackfriday.com. This site lists circulars for all the major retailers.
Thankgiving Week is "Take a Kid Saltwater Fishing Week". Maybe not officially, but it should be! Take advantage while kids are out of school and the weather is comfortable for all-day fishing. While the early part of this week will be rough (north winds 15-20), by Wednesday the coast looks to be somewhat calm and Friday could be a banner day with the return of southerly flow. This past week when mild conditions returned, the speckled trout fishing was the best of the year. Lots of limits were caught around Leeville, Golden Meadow, Cocodrie, Bayou Bienveneu and Calcasieu Lake. Even when the trout weren't on, the redfish were ready and willing. The cold snaps we've had have pushed trout to the inside areas like Hopedale Lagoon and Delacroix, Pointe-aux-Chenes near Houma, and Lakes Prien and Charles out west. Not to mention the roadside pits along Highway 1. The best part of this time of year is that you can setup a kid with a shrimp and not worry about dealing with pesky catfish or those bait-stealing pinfish. Often the fish that comes along in the absence of reds and drum are sheepshead. Those are a hoot to catch on any kind of tackle and are good eating as well.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Congratulations to Dr. Vic Tedesco, III. The Houma resident has long been one of Louisiana's premier fly anglers, having put numerous entries for a wide variety of saltwater species in the LOWA State Fly Fish Division records. He's also been one of the state's most active fish taggers. At the annual Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program's Awards Banquet, held November 6th at the Petroleum Club in Lafayette, Vic was awarded "Tagger of the Year". Last year, Vic tagged 1,574 fish overall, of which 77 were recaptured. He put in a total of 446.5 hours tagging fish! Vic had the most number of speckled trout tagged (1,308). Other notable taggers included Donna Dearman (663 reds), Jeff Bavar (657 reds), Andre Thomas (526 reds and 43 red snapper), Larry Shields (521 specks), and Diane and Norman Norton (359 specks). Altogether over 700 volunteers tagged nearly 26,000 fish, more than double the number of the previous year. Another statistic of interest: 24 women and youth anglers were recognized, the most since the program started. The LCMFTP is a joint effort of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of Louisiana.
The IFFF has a new Fly Tying Skills program. In the most recent issue of The Flyfisher, the magazine of the International Federation of Fly Fishers, details were given on a new program called "Fly Tying Skills Award". It's basically a merit badge program for fly tyers. The program was designed for tyers to measure their skills and receive valuable feedback to improve their craft. The first level of three awards, the Bronze Award, is now detailed on their website. The program consists of 5 required patterns and 3 flies of the tyers choosing. For more details on the FTS program, go to FFF Tying Awards webpage.
Speaking of the IFFF, their Southern Council has a new website. If you enter the legacy URL, www.southerncouncilffff.org, it will redirect you to their new URL, www.ifffsoc.org. The site also has a new, improved look. Two items that you might take notice of on their home page, the Council will be holding their annual "Moving Waters" fly fishing schools next Spring. One session in April and another in May.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Louisianians featured in Fall issue of Flyfisher. There are a good number of reasons to belong to the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF). The dues and other monies raised go to further our sport, as well as various conservation projects across the globe, and to assist other groups such as Boy Scouts, Casting for Recovery and more. There are also occasional promotional items that benefit members directly. But one benefit of membership often overlooked is Flyfisher Magazine. As I've stated on numerous occasions, this is one of the three best magazines of our sport, period! Like many of you, I get tired of reading about fishing for exotic Nirubi bass in Malaysia. It's nice to read some articles that speak to most of the fly fishing I do. One other aspect of this magazine is that it sometimes highlights folks I know. Take the Autumn 2014 issue that just arrived. In addition to a number of folks out-of-state that I recognized, there are several Louisianians featured. First, the winners of the IFFF Annual Awards... Kyle Moppert of Baton Rouge received the Council Leadership Award for outstanding contributions at the council level of the IFFF. Kyle worked with Russel Husted to split the Gulf Coast Council into a new Texas Council AND a reorganized Gulf Coast Council. This past September, the Gulf Coast Council held it's 6th Expo which raised monies for striper research on the Gulf Coast. Another award went to Marc Pinsel of Hammond. Marc won the Charles Brook Memorial Life Award for lifetime promotion of the sport thru tying, writing, and service at IFFF functions. Outside of the annual awards, Keith Richard of Breaux Bridge, owner of The Camp Fly Fishing School, was recognized as a winner of the Cutcatch Award. This is an open award that goes to anyone who catches four subspecies of cutthroat trout in a single year. Keith accomplished this on a trip to Wyoming in August. In the Flyfisher columns, Fred Hannie of Lake Charles and Glen Cormier of Cotile had their flies posted in Verne Lehmberg's "The Fly Box". Fred's realistic "Turtle" and my "Coma Cocaho" are recognized. One resident of the Bayou State whose always featured in Flyfisher is Tom Tripi of Folsom. Tom is the casting columnist for the magazine. Tom's column is always informative and often entertaining. There's only one way to get Flyfisher... that's become an IFFF member.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Community Center on 1620 Prien Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying starts at 6:00pm, with the 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 7:00pm. This month's featured fly will be the Cactus Charlie, aka LaFleurs Charlie. Guests welcome. Bring your tools, materials provided. If no tools, the club has sets for use during the session. For more details, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds it's monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On the agenda: recent fishing reports, upcoming Christmas Party, and upcomong Turkey Trout Throwdown on December 6. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Bring your tools, materials provided.
Winter weather has arrived early. Last week here in Alexandria we suffered - yep, that's the word, "suffered" - through 3 days with highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. Then today came "Rainpocalypse", and there's a chance of wintry mix later tonight. Temperatures are expected in the 40s (highs) and 20s (lows) for Monday and Tuesday. If you live south of Alexandria, you won't be spared the rain or the cold, just not as bad. If you live north of Alex, it's worse... lows will be in the teens Monday night! Just how bad is this? The normal low temp for Alexandria on Monday is 46 degrees. If the forecast holds up, come Thursday we'll have had 4 days - almost 5 - where the high temperature was below the average low temperature!
What does this cold mean for fishing. Two weeks ago, my dock looked like Aquarium of the Americas. Lots of fish hanging around in the vegetation down to four feet (maximum visibility). On Friday, I couldn't see but one fish... a small bass that looked like it was lost. Oh, and a bunch of minnows. I took the canoe out with Belle and the fishfinder showed sizable fish hanging in 8-15 feet of water... in 8-15 feet of water. In other words, fish are holding close, or right on, the bottom. The water temperature has plunged from 69 degrees to 53 degrees. It's rainbeaux trout stocking temps - already! Needless to say, for saltwater anglers, this is good for "The Pen" near Chalmette and the one at Lafitte, for pit fishing along Highway 1 near Grand Isle, and in Lake Charles proper. As for freshwater, I'm hoping the sacalait turn on as well. I'll find out this week.
The 2015 Calendar is nearly complete. There are only a few event dates yet to be determined, including Paddlepalooza, and a trio of "Fly Fishing 101" workshops annually held by clubs. Some events such as the Kayak Demo Days are usually not announced but 1 to 5 weeks in advance. Just this week, we learned that the IFFF Gulf Coast Expo will be held September 19th, and that there will be no IFFF Southeastern Council Fly Fair next year. Also, the Cane Country Fly Casters has decided to make their "Natchitoches Fishing Expo" a biennial event. For my Texas Aggie friends, that doesn't mean "somewhere by Ennis"; no it means "every 2 years". A number of fly fishing events are biennial - including the Renzetti Fly Fishing Fair set again for December 2015. The club felt such a huge undertaking is best done on "fresh batteries". We agree! Please check out the LFF Calendar... if you know of something not listed, please send it to us asap. In 14 days, we send our calendar events off for January publication. Also, a reminder of the guidelines: we publish all in-state activities related to fly fishing, kayak fishing, kids fishing events, general fishing seminars, club meetings, non-profit fishing organization meetings or banquets. We also publish any out-of-state fly fishing day-long or multi-day events held within 8 hours of a Louisiana metro area (Shreveport, Monroe, Slidell, Lake Charles).
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Old Man Winter will be making a very early visit to Louisiana tonight and tomorrow. The first polar vortex of the season, aka "Astro", is plunging into the south, and will bring 40s for highs and freezing temperatures for lows for the northern parishes - get this - thru Sunday! For LSU fans making the trip to Arkansas for the game Saturday against the Razorbacks, there's a good chance of snow. The good news for Fall-n-Tide participants is that the bitter cold will remain north of the Highway 190 line... temps are expected to be in the 60s on the coast Saturday. However several days of north winds 10-20 knots could make fishing tough. The long range forecast calls for milder temperatures Thanksgiving week thru early December. Then - if the winter forecast predictions hold - "Coldpocalypse" thru mid-January.
A belated congrats to Marc Pinsel of Hammond who was awarded the International Federation of Fly Fishers Charles E. Brooks Memorial Award at the IFFF National Fly Fishing Fair. I had received notification of his award from Marc himself, but was on vacation at the time and forgot to post it when I got back. The Charles E. Brooks award is given to an individual who demonstrates a deep affection for outdoors, fly fishing, is or was an innovative fly tier, and has been active in speaking and/or tying at numerous events and thereby promoting and teaching others. I've known Marc since the founding days of the Red Stick Fly Fishers, and his dedication to the sport and the IFFF is unmatched. For many years, he served as the "shop pro" at Mayers Clothiers in Baton Rouge, helping folks get started in fly fishing by conducting casting and tying clinics. During my time as president of the IFFF Gulf Coast Council, Marc was invaluable, both as a knowledge base for all things Federation, as well as someone who was always willing to take on the tough tasks. He's also been invaluable to the Red Stick club over the years, teaching and helping club members, and in some cases, organizing coldwater trips. This is a great honor for a fine gentleman, who I'm very proud to call my friend!
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and The Conservation Fund have released an innovative vision for the state's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Refuges. The plan evaluates the 1.6 million acres managed by LDWF and establishes a strategic direction for management, future conservation, and restoration. The plan is open for public comment. To view it, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma.
Still in overtime? At least the conversation is still in overtime, regarding this past weekend's losses by the Tigers to Alabama, and the Saints to the 49ers. Both the Tigers and Saints lost at home in overtime, and both due to mistakes made by the home team. As our pastor said Sunday night, "The sun did rise today, will rise tomorrow, will rise for another billion years." It may take a billion years for some of my fellow Tiger/Saints fans to recover from this weekend.
Monday, November 10, 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. Speaker will be Larry Offner of WarmFly.com and Green Trout Fly Shop. The public is invited. Tuesday is Veterans Day... please thank those who have served our country. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. For the program, Vic has a great fly fishing video he's going to show. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Bill Heugel who will give a presentation on "Fish Senses", and also tie one of his flies. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St Frances Church Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. Bring your tools, materials provided. Also on Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariner's Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. For details, contact Colin McCormick 985-264-3448. Starting Friday evening and continuing Saturday, it's the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's 9th annual "Fall-n-Tide" fishing tournament out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice. Entry fee is $50 and includes Friday night pastalaya, Saturday night fish fry, Captain's bag, t-shirt, entry into the tournament (Saturday) and a chance to win over 200 prizes. Divisions include Slot Red, Speck, Flounder, Cajun Slam (heaviest combo of slot red, speck, flounder), Ladies Slam, Youth Slam. For more details, go to www.bckfc.org.
The sudden and unexpected passing of Jerome Hebert last Friday sent shock waves thru the Louisiana fly fishing community, as well as to all of his friends across the country. Jerome was only 43 years old, and seemingly in good health. He is survived by his wife Dena, also an accomplished fly tier. Together they were the "First Couple" of Louisiana fly tying. Their business, "A Bayou Runs Through It", was an outlet for their flies and Jerome's fly fishing artwork. In addition to being an innovative tier, talented artist, and an avid promoter of warmwater fly fishing, Jerome was an educator. Whether it was tying at countless events - including the IFFF National Conclaves - he also gave tying lessons, wrote a fly tying manual, and taught others how to fly fish. He was also very generous, donating his artwork and flies to many of the IFFF and club events held each year, as well as other charitable causes. While many of his fellow Gen-Xers did blogs and videos, but shyed away from personal interaction, Jerome gave much of his time to help others learn our sport. Someday when the Louisiana Fly Fishing Hall of Fame becomes a reality (and we hope it does), Jerome will certainly be a candidate. The only passion that surpassed that of fly fishing was his love for our Lord. We know that today Jerome is home, probably enjoying what he loved here on Earth.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Today's cold front and another on Sunday will likely slow down what had been speck-tacular fishing on the coast the last week. In addition to great trout fishing - a number of limits under birds - there were good catches of reds and flounder. The colder temps and high pressure will affect the trout, and 15-20 knot winds will make fly fishing tough. But the forecast for Saturday calls for light winds. The lower water levels could concentrate reds in the ponds. Freshwater wise, the colder water temps have improved crappie catches statewide.
One passed, another failed. Tuesday's vote on the amendments to the Louisiana Constitution contained two of interest to sportsmen and conservationists. The first was Amendment #8, which establishes the Artificial Reef Fund in the Constitution and prohibits its money for purposes other than those described in the Amendment. That amendment passed with 57 percent of the vote. The second was Amendment #12 which would have required that at least 2 members of the Commission be from north or central Louisiana. That proposal failed, receiving only 41 percent. A breakdown look at the voting, by parish, reveals why this amendment failed: the more populous southern parishes voted almost 2-to-1, a few cases almost 3-to-1, against Amendment #12. However, passing this amendment wasn't critical to establishing regional representation - the governor can still make this happen by appointment.
The former director of CPRA is in a runoff for the 6th Congressional seat. Garret Graves headed up the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana before stepping down to run for office. During the campaign, Graves made coastal restoration, flood protection, and sportsmans issues a major part of his agenda. The conservative Republican will face off against former governor Edwin Edwards, who served time as a convicted felon then later became the star of his own reality TV series. Edwards won the primary with 30 percent of the vote, while Graves was 2nd with 27 percent. The bad news for Edwards (good for Graves) is that all of the major contenders in this race were Republican, splitting the vote. That vote is expected to unite in the runoff.
A similiar situation in the 5th Congressional race exists. Democrat Jamie Mayo, mayor of Monroe, won the primary with 28 percent of the vote. Unfortunately for him, all of his eight opponents were either Republicans or Libertarians. On December 6, Mayo will face off against Dr. Ralph Abraham, a Republican from Mangham making his first run for office. Abraham and Zach Dasher, nephew of Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty), finished ahead of the incumbent Vance McAllister. McAllister was elected 2 years ago, but shortly after taking office was rocked by a scandalous affair which labeled him as the "kissing Congressman". As a resident of this district, I supported Abraham in the primary because he's an avid outdoorsman and a strong supporter of veterans issues.
The Acadiana Fly Rodders and Red Stick Fly Fishers have set the dates for their annual fly fishing festivals, aka conclaves, for 2015. AFR will hold their event on Saturday, February 28 while RSFF will hold theirs on Saturday, March 7.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Today is Election Day. As is a Louisiana tradition, remember to vote early and vote often! On second thought, only deceased residents of St. Martin Parish have that priviledge. Seriously, please do take the time to vote. Over the last couple of years, I've heard numerous complaints from anglers about how we are managing our fisheries and our natural resources. Here's your opportunity to do something about it. Even seemingly insignificant races can be important, as those officials have a public forum for which to raise awareness of our issues. There are two important amendments to the Louisiana Constitution we do endorse. Please vote YES vote for Proposal #8 which will protect the Artificial Reef Development Fund. Also please vote YES for Proposal #12 which will give geographic fairness to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission membership.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold their quarterly meeting at Brewbachers in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Capt. Danny Wray of Calmwater Charters to talk about Grand Isle fishing. Also on the agenda: next weekend's annual Fall-n-Tide tournament out of Venice. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Beach House Bar and Grill on Girod Street in Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. For more details, go to www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com. Starting Friday and continuing Saturday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual "Fall Catch-n-Eat" marsh outing along Highway 1, culminating with the Saturday night fish and shrimp fry. For details, go to www.rsff.org.
It's November, and that means... perhaps the best month of the year for marsh fishing. And in particular, marsh fly fishing. While redfishing will continue to be very good, speckled trout and flounder are usually at their strongest numbers in both quantity and quality. I've caught many sheepshead and black drum on flies during late fall, so don't overlook these species either. In freshwater, bass fishing will continue to be good in deep water and protected areas. But it's sacalait time... during the last two weeks the "white perch" bite really picked up here in the Cenla lakes and it's just getting started.
IGFA has inducted Jerry McKinnis into it's Hall of Fame. Last Tuesday, the International Game Fish Association honored McKinnis along Hank Parker, Al Pflueger Jr, and Eugenie and Lou Marron. The long time host of "The Fishin Hole" and now the co-owner of Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society (B.A.S.S.) has been a strong influence on many of us baby boomers. His shows were fun to watch... whether fly fishing for trout on his native Arkansas rivers or casting for bass with lures, it all felt the same - quiet and easy. You wanted to be on the water with Jerry! He remains one of the most likeable fishing personalities in the world. A great honor and well-deserved!
Old Town introduces the NEXT. The NEXT falls into the category of kayak/canoe hybrid, a.k.a. "yaknoe" or "canyak"... pick your favorite. As such, it becomes competition for the Native Ultimate, Wilderness Systems Commander, Mad River Serenade and other similiar personal watercraft. The popularity of these boats is attributed to the fact that they offer the paddling efficiency of a sit-inside kayak, combined with the storage capacity and "throw your stuff in and launch" convenience. Available in four colors, the NEXT is built using the trademark OTC 3-layer polyethylene that can withstand abuse. It's got many attributes that paddlers will love: it's lightweight (49 pounds), it's low profile reduces wind resistance, it's got a subtle rocker that enables straight, smooth tracking. Best of all, it utilizes OTC's Element frame seating for all day comfort. The seating rests in an adjustable track that can slide 6" back or forth. It also has adjustable foot braces to give leverage when paddling. The dimensions of the NEXT are 13'0" long, 29" wide, seat width 21", weight 49 pounds, carrying capacity of 450 pounds. The MRP will be $999.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant at the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Roger del Rio will lead the session. Beginners welcome. Bring your tools, materials provided. The club has tools for use during the session, if you have none. On Tuesday, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette will hold a free seminar, "Five Great Saltwater Kayak Fishing Locations" with emphasis on waters within proximity to Lafayette and Lake Charles. Time is 6:00pm. Presenters will include Greg Sonnier, Jeff Robinson, Scott Bienvenu, Lee Trahan and John Williams. Details for each location will include launch spots, best conditions to fish, etc. For more details, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road in Metairie. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Friday is Halloween, a great time each year to trick-or-treat speckled trout in the marsh! Also on Friday, and continuing thru Sunday morning, it's the 26th annual Toledo Bend Rendezvous. More on that later. On Saturday, it's "Hook Kids On Fishing" at Lamar-Dixon in Gonzales. Registration is 8:00am, with event from 9:00am to 12 noon. Each kid goes thru 7 stations covering various aspects of fishing, such as tackle, water safety, hooks and rigging, etc. First 50 kids are eligible for a free rod and reel courtesy of CCA Louisiana. First 150 kids receive a goodie pack. There will also be food, refreshments, spacewalk, vendors and much more. For more info, call Steve McDaniel at 225-243-7074.
This weekend's Southern Fly Fishers Rendezvous, better known as the Toledo Bend Rendezvous, is one of the premier fly fishing events held in Louisiana each year. It's an informal gathering - perhaps "retreat" is a good term - of fly fishers and fly tiers from across several states. The event is held at scenic North Toledo Bend State Park near Zwolle. Folks gather on Friday afternoon after 3:00pm, sleep in the bunkhouses on Friday and Saturday evenings, and depart after breakfast on Sunday morning. There are options for staying one night, or just coming for the day Saturday. At Rendezvous, there are no planned activities, but lots of fly tying, fishing, and food. No pre-registration is required... just show up and pay the appropriate fee ($25 per family per night, $20 per single per night, donation otherwise). What makes Rendezvous so appealing? The tables in the large dining hall become transformed into a fly tying exhibition... attendees can sit across from some of the top tiers in the South and observe. For more info, check out the post in the LFF Events Forum with links to the Rendezvous website.
Another oil spill disaster for Louisiana? Not quite, but the spill from the Mid-Valley pipeline on Tete Bayou near Shreveport sent 4,000 barrels of crude draining towards Caddo Lake. The good news is that spill has been contained, and crews are working to cleanup the mess. Caddo is a popular fly fishing water, and contamination could've been disastrous as bacteria that naturally degrades the oil isn't as active in cooler/cold weather.
It's time for Louisiana's pike. There's one word to describe catching northern pike on fly rod: addictive! Unfortunately, our state doesn't have Esox lucius, or it's larger cousin, the muskellunge. But many lakes in the Cenla and Norla areas offer a smaller relative, the chain pickerel, aka "jackfish". The most active period for this toothy predator is October thru May. The world record is 9 pounds, 6 ounces, taken in Georgia. Nothing even close to that size here... the LOWA Rod and Reel Top 10 listings range from 4.38 pounds to 5.75 pounds. Even a typical jackfish in the 3-pound range can be a blast on a 6-weight rod. The LOWA Fly Rod Division lists only one entry: a 1.27-pounder taken by Ardes Johnson on Hardwater Lake near Jena. Don't let the single entry fool you... jackfish can be taken on fly. In fact, they love flies, particularly poppers and streamers. My favorite fly is a Seaducer. I've used seaducers for northerns, and the chains seem to love them as well. The biggest issue with any type of pike is their dental work - it makes short work of tippets. A bite tippet of fine wire will work, but it can take away from the action of the fly. An alternative is a heavier fluorocarbon (16-20 pounds) tied with a Duncan loop. And still check the condition of the tippet after each fish caught.