Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The August issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out. In my Fly Lines column - "The Fly Fishing Answer Man Awakens" - I answer reader questions regarding leaders, knots, species-specific fly lines, American-made flies, and the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7 ("The Force Awakens"). This month's reader-submitted article is from Tommy Granger of Broussard, "Bucket-list fly-fishing trip". Granger tells of fly fishing Christmas Island in the Pacific for golden trevally, bluefin trevally, tuna, and other species. In his Paddles N' Puddles column, Chris Holmes presents the arguments for fishing from a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) with input from YOLO Fishing Team members Jared and Kalley LeRoy from Denham Springs (Kalley won last year's Ride The Bull tournament, she was fishing from a YOLO). In their Seafood Bible column, Jerald and Glenda Horst share frog leg recipes from Rick Barrios of Jarreau. Articles include David Brown on tactics for fishing cypress swamps, Jerald Horst on fishing for redeye bass on the Whiskey Chitto (that's not really how it's spelled, but readers wouldn't pronounce it right so that's okay). Kinny Haddox tells us why Catalpa worms are the weakness of bream on Lake D'Arbonne. Jonathon Oliver shares the story of Anna Olinde, who almost lost her life to leukemia, and now lives to fish and hunt as part of her recovery. There are many other articles as well as regional fishing forecasts, tidal forecasts, and outdoors news.
North Louisiana Fly Fishers member Jamie Franklin will be hosting a new informal fly tying session at Gray Wolf Fly Shop in Shreveport starting in August. The date will be the first Thursday of each month. Time will be 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Jamie is one of the most accomplished tiers in the NLFF club and is wanting to help others improve their tying skills. The sessions have been added to our LFF Calendar page thru December (will extend to 2016 shortly). If you haven't been to Gray Wolf Fly Shop, it's located on 5825 Southern Avenue. For anyone going to these sessions in need of tying materials, owner Howard Malpass carries the largest stock of fly tying materials of any retailer in Louisiana.
You may want to delay any trips to the north Arkansas for now. Earlier today I received a report from Arkansas Game and Fish trout biologist Christy Graham on the status of the Norfork River, including Bull Shoals (White River). Here's the 4-1-1: One of the gates on the Norfork dam was blocked to allow maintenance on the gate and seals. With all the rain in the drainage area this spring, the lake came up too high, and work was postponed. The gate continues to leak. That water comes from near the surface where water temps are much warmer. AGFC measured the water temps in the Norfork yesterday at 60.2 F to 67.5 F. There were no dead signs of trout, but several anglers reported that released fish looked stressed. This is not unusual for warmer temperatures in tailwaters (in moving streams at those temps, trout are still in good shape). The good news is that during generation, river temps drop down to the 40s. The bad news is that there's a limited amount of generation going on the Norfork. That's because there's LOTS of generation taking place on Bull Shoals - Bull Shoals Lake is 90 percent full. It won't go down soon either - the 3 lakes upstream on the White River are at 80 percent full.
Fishing participation in America holding steady according to a report released at ICAST by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). According to the survey, roughly 46 million Americans, or 15.8 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and older, participated in fishing in 2014. While there were declines in certain areas of the country and among certain age groups, those reductions were offset by 2.4 million newcomers mostly among youth, women and Hispanics. Women comprised 47 percent of the newcomers. Another key statistic pointed out the value of youth fishing events - including National Hunting and Fishing Day and Community Fishing Programs. Over 85 percent of adult anglers fished as a child under the age of 13. The survey also inquired of those who have never fished and found that 11 percent of youth would like to try fishing. Another interesting stat: the largest percentage of anglers is in the East North Central (Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois) followed by the South Atlantic and West South Central (Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma).
As for fly fishing, it continues to remain steady. In 2006, there were 6.1 million participants. Over the next 6 years it fell slightly, then increased in 2012 and remained pretty much the same for 2013. Over 14 percent of fly fishing participants in 2013 were new to the sport. It also is the most educated... more than 42 percent of flycasters have a college degree. And while some folks have told me that our sport is getting "gray" and we're in trouble unless we recruit a lot more youth, the RBFF stats tell a different story. While ages 45+ made up 42 percent of our sport, ages 25-44 made up 34 percent. Given that most don't take up our sport until college or post-college, it looks like that age group is important to recruitment and the numbers are good (but could be better... that's always the case!). One other interesting stat: there are now almost as many Hispanic flyfishers as there are African-American flyfishers.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We are saddened to hear that J.B. Salter passed away last Thursday. The Erwinville resident was best known as owner of Salter's Jiggin' Pole and Tackle Company, from which he became one of the nation's largest advocates of the use of jigging poles for crappie and bream. He even taught a leisure course thru LSU on using the jigging pole... a class that always booked up. He was a fixture at many outdoors shows from the 1970s to the 2000s, and an annual exhibitor at the LDWF National Hunting and Fishing Day Festival in Baton Rouge. JB made many television appearances, either with his good buddy Bob "The Ol' Beachcomber" Scearce or with Mike Rabalais, host of the popular Cajun Quest TV Show. While Salter was an expert with the jigging pole, he was first and foremost a dedicated and highly knowledgable angler. For that reason, he made presentations to groups as diverse as the Red Stick Fly Fishers. During the 35 years I lived in Baton Rouge, I got to know Mr. Salter, and have a bunch of "JB" stories I love to tell. One of my favorites: Cosmos and I had gone to False River for a late afternoon trip and met up with JB and Bob coming off the water. They had a nice mess of bream, and JB was kind enough to tell us exactly where to catch them. Another time, Mike Causey and I were at Old River - along with 75 other boats - looking for an entrance to the "Ball Park" area where Bob Scearce had written in the Advocate Outdoors section that JB was "tearing them up". We wandered around until about 7:30am, when JB and Bob came by in a boat and went thru the trees... followed by 75 boats! We decided to avoid the crowds and fish elsewhere. It was a great decision as we ended up with a 30-quart box of sacalait! Those who took a trip with him will know that he was like a drill sargeant on the water. But you caught fish! And nice ones too. JB was 86.
License to Win! winners announced. When Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries established it's LA Creel survey, it required more accurate contact information to help manage saltwater fisheries. In particular, email addresses. To get that info, LDWF created "License to Win!" as a means of encouraging anglers to participate when they purchased their annual saltwater licenses. Five winners are drawn on a monthly basis, with an annual winner to take home the Grand Prize - a 22-foot bay boat, trailer, and motor donated by Venice Marina, Mercury Outboards and Mike Gerald's Trailer Depot. Winners drawn on July 1st were Clarence Cobbs, Chad Hartman, James Odom, Stephen Smith, and Martin Randall. Another five winners will be drawn on August 1st. Monthly winners receive YETI coolers, Shimano reels, gift cards to Academy, Texaco and Whole Foods.
My overview of ICAST fly fishing and kayak fishing products continues on my blog at www.nonewtailstotell.blogspot.com. I had to sample thru some 400 photographs and countless notes covering kayaks, kayak accessories, fly rods, reels, accessories, clothing, footwear, eyewear and more. I didn't cover or test everything I wanted to at the trade show - just too much stuff and way too little time. In addition, I've got a limited amount of time to write up, so not everything will be covered. For example, I suspect most folks already know what a Jackson Cuda 14 or TFO Finesse rod is, and can test these products out personally at their local fly shop or kayak store. Rather I'm trying to focus on new products, or seldom-seen products. Keep checking my post in the Tackle Talk section of the forum as new links will be posted as they come.
Got $18 million handy? If so, the Walter family in Houston has a 785-acre fly fishing ranch in western Colorado for sale. Table Rock Ranch is located in McCoy, about 45 minutes from Vail, and features multiple streams in a lush meadow, including Rock Creek. In addition to wildlife and nature, the property contains a 3,400 square foot main lodge and several smaller buildings with bedrooms and kitchens, as well as covered relaxation areas, vehicle storage, and a fly shop! This might be the opportunity for someone looking to start a guided fishing business.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
What's happening this week. 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. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials are provided. Beginners are welcome, as the club has a few tool sets to use during these sessions. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. Time is 7:00pm. On Saturday, the Association of Louisiana Bass Clubs holds their annual Youth Fishing Tournament at Cotile Lake Recreation Area. Entry fee is $5 per child. Age groups are 3-8 and 9-14. In each age group, there are categories for Bass, Bream, and Crappie. The first 600 entries get free Zebco rods and reels, and all participants get t-shirts, free hamburgers from Burger King, and soft drinks from RC Cola. For more info, call 318-448-4225 or 318-613-6886. Also on Saturday, The Backpacker of Lafayette will hold another of their "Paddle Demo Days" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boats represented will be Hobie, Wilderness Systems (including the new ATAK), KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River and YOLO. Call if weather threatens to confirm 337-406-8754. On Sunday, the IFA Kayak Tour - Louisiana Division holds their 2nd and final series tournament out of Houma. Entry fee is $75. Attendance at the Captains meeting on Saturday 6:00pm is mandatory. Qualifies for the IFA-K National Championship. For more info, go to www.ifakayakfishingtour.com.
Congrats to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers for another outstanding "Master Series" seminar. The event was held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. International fly angler Davy Wotton, who now makes his living guiding on the blue ribbon trout waters of northern Arkansas, did a day-long presentation on midge fishing, with emphasis on application of nymphing techniques including tackle, gear, lines, leaders, knots, flies, presentation, casting and much more. Even some of us old pros learned a few new tricks! For the NLFF club, this was their 3rd annual event of this type, and within the next month, plans will be made for the 4th Master Series next summer.
North Louisiana now has a kayak fishing shop. Our friend Adam Harbuck has opened a kayak fishing store on 1914 East 70th Street in Shreveport. Among the boats that are currently in store are models from Feelfree, Native, Kajun Custom (KC) Kayaks, Wilderness Systems, and others. That includes the new ATAK kayak from Wildy. In addition, Adam is carrying products from Bending Branches, YakAttack, Lews, ConSeal and others. Affiliated with the Hook1 franchise, Harbuck Outdoor Sports is open 9:00am to 6:00pm Tuesday thru Friday, and 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday. It's closed on Sunday and Monday. There's no immediate plans for one of those popular paddle demo days, but Adam has stated that there will be some in the future.
A brief break from the heat and drought. Up until yesterday, most of central and north Louisiana had not seen rain in two weeks, with heat indices of 100 to 108 in some parishes. Last night and today have seen scattered showers over most parishes, with cloud cover over the whole area giving break from the extreme heat. Enjoy it while it lasts! The high pressure over Texas that has been responsible for heat advisories the past week will be reinforced starting Monday and continuing until the weekend, bringing triple digit temperatures across central and north Louisiana. Sorry to say this... we're smack in the middle of SweatFest 2015. At least another four weeks of oppressive heat, with the most likely relief being some sort of tropical system. The National Weather Service suggests the following tips to beat the heat: (1) limit outdoor activities, especially during the hottest part of the day, (2) drink plenty fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, (3) dress in loose, lightweight light-colored clothing, (4) wear sunscreen, (5) do not leave children or pets in an enclosed car as temps inside a vehicle can reach 130 degrees!
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Wednesday night, BCKFC will hold a general meeting. Sorry we missed that on our "what's happening" segment on Sunday. But the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club has it's quarterly meeting on Wednesday at 7:00pm at The Backpacker on Jefferson Highway (Bocage) in Baton Rouge. Members and potential members are invited. The agenda will include a guest speaker (name not yet confirmed), as well as upcoming tournaments including next month's Ride The Bull 6 to take place August 15th in Grand Isle.
Speaking of Ride The Bull, registration is already up to 273. Last year, RTB5 set another record for largest kayak fishing tournament ever, with 732 participants. The winner, Kalley LeRoy of Denham Springs, made national media by catching her 26.14 bull redfish off a YOLO stand-up paddleboard (SUP) even though she spent most of the fight on her knees for leverage. Kalley, along with her husband Jared, are members of the YOLO pro staff, and proved that no boat is incapable of being in contention. RTB organizer Danny Wray was hoping that this year's registration would hit the 1,000 mark. While that seems unlikely, another record turnout is a good possibility. Online registration is $75 ($65 under 17) and includes entry, the Captains dinner and Calmwater Film Festival on Friday night, Saturday lunch, captain's bag and t-shirt. Much of what makes this event special is the fact that anglers are confined to a restricted area and it's not uncommon to have several boats clustered up and having conversations between the paddlers.
The Red River Fishing Expo will take place Saturday, March 5, 2016. Formerly known as the Natchitoches Fishing Expo, the event will be held at the Natchitoches Civic Center downtown. Then in 2017, the event will take place in the Alexandria area, returning to Natchitoches in 2018 (even years, Natchitoches, odd years, Alexandria). Here's what's going on... the Cane Country Fly Casters have hosted the expo the last two years, both times very successful. The Kisatchie Fly Fishers held their first-ever Cenla Fly Fishing Festival this past January, and it too was a big success. However holding a general fishing expo was a consideration for the KFF club also. Holding a general fishing event takes a lot more work than the usual fly fishing conclave. For example, 60+ vendors compared to 12 or less. CCFC members brought a proposal to the KFF club to combine resources and rather than hold their separate events each year, hold just one, and alternate locations. At last night's KFF meeting, Burley Johnson and Vic McClane of the Cane Country club made their formal proposal and answered questions. Afterwards, a motion was made by KFF member Dan Fromme to approve. The vote was unanimous in favor. Given that there is no outdoors show in the Cenla area (and has not been for several years), I expect great things for the Red River Fishing Expo.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Going back to Orlando for 2016. American Sportfishing Association President Mike Nussman, whose group is in charge of producing ICAST, their industry trade show, had much to celebrate after last week's show. Including the IFTD (fly fishing trades) there were nearly 2,000 product lines exhibited - a record. Attendance by exhibitors, buyers, and outdoors media was almost 13,000 - also a record. "This was, without a doubt, the biggest show that we have produced.", said Nussman. Part of the exciting aspects of the evolution of the show was the addition of Super Tuesday, which included the first-ever on-the-water demos and outdoor demos at Lake Toho, the first-ever ICAST Cup bass fishing tournament, a golf tournament, and a concert with country music star Easton Corbin. The success of the Orlando venue - two successive years, two records - led ASA and AFFTA officials to vote to return to Orlando again for 2016.
Why has Orlando done so well? In our opinion, it could do just as well in Raleigh, Charleston, or Nashville. As one exhibitor told me, all our growth is taking place in the East and the South. In fact, he lost sales out West for the third year in a row. It's most certainly the drought to blame, but I also believe that anti-angler policies on the "Left Coast" are also having some impact.
Conservation groups in support of Graves-Miller Bill. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced by U.S. Representatives Garret Graves of Louisiana and Jeff Miller of Florida that would remove red snapper from federal authority and place responsibility among the five individual states through a new body called the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA). Under the GSRSMA framework, each Gulf state would be responsible for all monitoring and management of red snapper in their respective state and adjacent federal waters. The framework calls for more precise and timely recreational data collection, more frequent stock assessments and increased collaboration among the states. The issues with red snapper management - which has led to a 10-day season here in Louisiana - have almost nothing to do with stocks. Ask any Louisiana offshore charter captain and they'll tell you that red snapper have almost become a nuisance species. But under federal management guidelines, if one state has very low recruitment, all states suffer the consequences.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Burley Johnson of the Cane Country Fly Casters will be guest speaker. Also, Catch Cormier will give a brief summary of new products featured at the ICAST show. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. On the agenda is next month's Contraband Fly Fishing Expo (August 22). Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. On the agenda is this coming weekend's Highway 1 Slamboree. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners welcome; bring your tools, materials provided. On Saturday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their 3rd annual Master Series. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" out of Leeville Launch. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs holds their monthly fly tying workshop inside the White River Fly Shop. Time is 9:00am to 12:00 noon. There is no cost. Beginners welcome, bring your tools, materials provided.
The NLFF Master Series is this Saturday. As mentioned prior, special guest speaker will be Davy Wotton, one of the world's leading experts on wet flies. It's a full day agenda, with lunch and refreshments served. Location will be the Red River Refuge headquarters in Bossier City. Cost is $35 and includes lunch and refreshments. Space is limited but there's still a few seats left. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.
The Highway 1 Slamboree this Saturday is one of the five biggest kayak fishing tournaments of the year in Louisiana. Hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club, H1S will be held out of the new Leeville Public Boat Launch. This is a roadrunner tournament - you can launch and fish anywhere along Highway 1. Entry fee is $45. Categories are: SLAM (heaviest slot red, trout, flounder), Leopard Red, and optional Calcutta Trout. Leopard Red winner wins a Native Slayer 14.5 kayak, courtesy of Pack and Paddle! A portion of the entry fee goes to Launch Leeville and Friends of Grand Isle. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.
Second tagged STAR red caught by kayak angler. Yesterday while competing in the Casting For Kids fishing tournament, David Torregrossa hooked a red from his kayak off the edge of Southwest Canal in Leeville. When the fish was landed, he noticed a tag sticking from it's back. It was a CCA STAR tagged red, and according to the report, Torregrossa was registered for the STAR. If everything checks out, he becomes the 2nd STAR angler - and 2nd kayak angler - to catch a 2015 STAR tagged redfish. The first fish was caught by fellow Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club member and LFF forum member, Jonathon Craft. Jonathon will receive a Chevy Silverado Crew Cab truck. David will receive a boat, motor, and trailer package. I mentioned on the BCKFC forum that Jonathon and David should give a presentation on how to catch tagged reds. It's something I'd sure like to do!
Registration is now open for Southern Conclave. The International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) Southern Council Fly Fishing Fair (aka, conclave) will be held October 2-3 at Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Early registration continues until September 15th. There are several reasons to register early for this event. First, several of the workshops have limited spots and fill up prior to conclave. Second, everyone who pre-registers will be entered into a drawing for a Loop Opti Stream 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod. Third, it's just a lot easier to pick up your packet than standing in line waiting to register on-site. Although Sowbug Roundup gets credit these days as the largest fly fishing show in the mid-South, Southern Conclave still has two major drawing cards. The weather and fishing are typically much better. Browns, rainbows, and cutthroat trout will be feeding on blue-wing olives and various nymphs. Also, this is the first public show each year following ICAST. Attendees will get a chance to view and even test a few of the new products. For more details, including registration forms, go to the IFFF Southern Council website at www.ifffsoc.org.
Summary of ICAST-IFTD coming soon. Over a billion people are tied to the internet, and at least half of them are looking forward to my annual summary on the ICAST show. LOL. Seriously, a lot of folks are asking me about products - both future and current - and I hope to give them some answers soon. But after going through all the photos, notes, literature and other artifacts from my visit to the world's largest trade show this past week, I came to the conclusion my review is going to take some time. Of the over 1,700 product lines exhibited at ICAST, I concentrated my efforts on nearly 300 of possible interest to fly fishers and kayak anglers. Even with that, there's no way I can report on all those, so I'll try and limit it to the most interesting 100 to 150. I'll have two writeups - one for my blog and one for my Fly Lines column. Unlike some online blogs which covered just a few of the major players at ICAST, we've always prided ourselves in covering all the exhibitors we can and giving in-detail analysis (not just rehashed press releases). As far as I know, I was the only attendee to thoroughly test the "Overall Best of Show" - the Eddyline C135 Kayak. It was well deserved of that honor, but there were a LOT of other outstanding new products.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Season of savings begins now. Orvis just announced savings on their major rod outfits including Helios 2 ($100), Recon ($45), Superfine Glass ($45), Superfine Carbon ($45), and Clearwater ($20). Outfits include rod, reel, fly line and backing, and all rods carry the Orvis 25-year warranty. For those with more budgetary restrictions, Cabelas has their 3-Forks combos on sale for $69. This does not include line and backing, and the 3-Forks rods do not carry a warranty. However, a 2-year replacement option is available. Sometime after IFTD next week and before the end of the year, we will most likely see some closeout specials on fly rods or reels if those particular models are being discontinued, replaced, or upgraded.
Finally a break from the rain? If you've felt that the weather has kept you off the water this year more times than usual, you may be right! The first half of this year has been one of the wettest ever. Lake Charles had the 6th wettest half-year receiving 41.51 inches of rain. The record set in 1991 was 48.32 inches. Here in the Alexandria area, we average 60.9 inches per year, and after this weekend, we're past the 40 inch mark! That's certainly bad enough, but consider that after the first three months of this year we were below average. Looking at some of the statistics, another that stood out was number of rain days. New Iberia was at 85, Lake Charles at 91. Again, consider this is mostly in a four-month span. This is causing lots of problems for anglers. For starters, you can't catch fish if you can't fish. And lightning is not a good situation for fishing. Also, all this rain brings dirty water and runoff. That runoff goes somewhere, and that "somewhere" happens to be the Calcasieu estuary, Vermillion Bay, and Lake Pontchartrain and Biloxi Marsh. Speckled trout catches in all these waters are way down for this time of year. Now for the good news... a strong ridge of high pressure is building over Florida and we should see limited rain over the next couple of weeks. Further, this ridge will end the "Wicked Wind From the West" and give the more favorable southeasterly winds that speckled trout (and other inshore species) prefer this time of year.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at the Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Casting begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Friday at 2:00pm, and continuing thru Sunday, it's the Southern Sportsmans Festival and Expo at the Alario Center in Westwego. The expo features vendors, demos, seminars, youth activities and much more. Admission is $10 adults, $5 under 16, under age 7 free. On Friday, all 16 and under are free, and on Saturday, CCA members get a discount. For more info, go to www.southernsportsmansfestival.com. On Saturday, Cabelas in Gonzales will hold a "Kayak Fishing 101" workshop. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Class size is limited to 35 participants, so pre-registration is required. A few seats are still available. For details, go to www.bckfc.org and go to their Forum page. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Models include Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Perception, Mad River, YOLO and more. Subject to weather, please call 337-406-8754 to confirm.
The new product announcements for 2015/2016 are coming out with just a week before ICAST-IFTD. Last week, Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) posted press releases on Dan Blanton's forum regarding two new rod series. We'll discuss that later, because another announcement came out that is getting a lot more buzz. And that's from the kayak fishing world. You may recall that at ICAST last year, Wilderness Systems revealed their ATAK fishing kayak. But it didn't make it to dealers until this past month. In the short span that it's been available to the public, the ATAK has made a big impression and sales are hot. So what could Wildy possibly do at ICAST next week to make things more interesting? Well on Friday they revealed a video showing the next phase of the ATAK - a modular component that fits in front of the driver's seat. Or I should say, TWO modular components. The images I snapped off the video may help explain... the first module allows pedal power - much like the Native Watercraft. The 2nd module contains a built-in trolling motor. So... the ATAK can be powered 3 different ways: (a) paddle, (b) pedal, (c) trolling motor power. Wildy may have come late to the party in terms of a frame-based seat and/or alternative power options, but the ATAK will be formidable competition in the kayak fishing market. Now back to those TFO rods I mentioned... the first new rod series is the IMPACT. According to it's press release, the Impact is TFO's best effort of technology to date, combining "maximum efficiency" and "effortless feel" into a slim profile blank. Blanks are matte black, with carbon fiber inserts on heavier weights and rosewood inserts on smaller models. It will sell for $324.95. What's interesting is this line: "Impact rods are available through a limited selection of our best dealers in line weights four through ten". What exactly that means, I dunno. The other "new" rod is the Clouser Series. Yes, there's already a Clouser series, but for 2015, it's been completely revised. For starters, all the models are now 9-foot. They're supposedly lighter and stronger, with faster action. The blanks are midnight blue. Retail price will be $199.95. As with all other TFO rods, the Impact and Clouser series will be covered by their Lifetime No Fault Warranty.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
BP and Gulf States today reached a settlement that will finally end the litigation resulting from the 2005 Horizon Deepwater oil spill. BP has agreed to pay Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida a total of $18.7 billion dollars over 18 years. It's the largest environmental settlement in American history. According to a report from WWL news in New Orleans, $5.5 billion of the $18.7 billion will go towards penalties under the Clean Water Act. Louisiana - which also gets the largest share of the total settlement - will get $787 million under the CWA portion. That's significant as the RESTORE Act passed by Congress directs 80 percent of the CWA fine money to be used for coastal restoration projects and related economic problems caused by the spill.
Top 10 fishing waters in north Louisiana as rated by Jimmy Watson with the Shreveport Times yesterday. At the top of the list was Toledo Bend. No surprise there. On my list of Cenla's Dazzling Dozen - the top 12 fly fishing waters in the Central Louisiana area - I have The Bend at number 2. From an all-tackle perspective, it would certainly make number one. What was interesting from Watson's list was that Lake Bistineau was in 2nd place. I'm not sure that the lake is recovered enough from salvania problems to jump ahead of Caney Lake or Grand Bayou Lake. One of the waters just marginally inside my regional picks - Black Lake Campti - also made the list. There was one water not listed which I would rate solidly in the top 10, and that was Poverty Point. For the complete list with reasons for their ranking, click on this link.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
July is here. Here's what's happening this month for fly and kayak anglers eventwise. On July 11, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club in conjunction with Cabelas will host a "Kayak Fishing Workshop". The class is free and limited to 35 participants. Details on www.bckfc.org. On July 18, it's the 5th annual "Casting for Kids" fishing tournament benefitting the Palliative Care Foundation of Baton Rouge. While it has both boat and kayak divisions, the kayak division has the 4th largest participation of any tournament on the Gulf Coast. On July 25, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their largest tournament of the year, their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" out of Leeville. It's open to the public, entry fee is only $35. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on July 25, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their 3rd annual Masters Series, "A Day With Davy Wotton", at the Red River Refuge headquarters in Bossier City. Cost is $35 and includes lunch and refreshments. Space is limited to 75 participants and there's still some seats left. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.
We've reached the halfway point of 2015. It's been a tough year fishing-wise due to an abnormally cold winter and early spring, and an extremely wet late spring and summer. In a normal year, I've made a few trips already to the Atchafalaya Basin and a couple of the Mississippi River oxbows. But the high river levels have me wondering if maybe those will be fishable by August. Saltwater-wise it's been tough as well. Again due to high water levels and predominant west winds. When a light southeast wind blows, the coast has been very productive for hefty speckled trout. The same conditions which have made fishing so difficult have been good for crawfish and shrimp. The local restaurant was serving boiled crawfish up until last week. The price of shrimp has been very good, even with the early closing of the brown shrimp season. Prices are as low as $4.50 for 10-15 count shrimp.
Events wise, it's been an up year so far. Several of the regional conclaves were well-attended, including the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Fest (Texas Fly Fishers, Houston), the Cenla Fly Fishing Festival (Kisatchie Fly Fishers, Pineville), Red Stick Day (Red Stick Fly Fishers, Baton Rouge) and the Caddo Conclave (North Louisiana Fly Fishers, Shreveport and East Texas Fly Fishers). The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's annual Paddlepalooza had yet another record attendance. It wasn't just the events; a lot of the fishing trips were also quite successful. Most notably the KFF club's trip to Broken Bow, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers' 2-Fly tournament and the Red Stick Fly Fishers Spring outing to Lake Concordia. But the unusual weather did claim victim to the RSFF club's Spring Catch-n-Eat marsh outing, and frustrated many anglers at the recent Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend.
Speaking of events, time to plan for 2016. In fact, if your club or group hasn't started yet, you may be in trouble. Ask the North Arkansas Fly Fishers. They "waited" a year in advance to book the Baxter County Fairgrounds for their annual Sowbug Roundup and it was already booked for their usual period of mid to late March. So for 2016, Sowbug will be in April. The NAFF club has gone ahead and booked Sowbug dates thru 2020. That's the nature of the beast these days. Back when I first got involved in the Red Stick Fly Fishers' "Red Stick Day", setting a date and making arrangements - even with special guest speakers - was no problem 4 or 5 months in advance. Since then, venues have expanded their booking dates into years in advance. And there's a lot more competition for those venues. If you look at our 2016 Calendar, you'll see that many clubs and groups have already set dates and venues for the first half of next year. One event not listed, but soon will be, is the "Red River Fishing Expo", formerly the Natchitoches Fishing Expo. An announcement will be made shortly regarding that event.
Your 2014-2015 fishing license is now expired. It expired as of midnight. If you haven't renewed for 2015-2016, do so today or asap. As we mention each year, the most active period for LDWF enforcement agents is the first week of July. More tickets are written this week than any other time in the summer. Part of that is associated with the Independence Day holiday, powerboats and alcohol consumption. But the majority of tickets are related to safety and license checks. If you fish freshwater, you only need the basic license. For an annual basic license, it's $9.50 for a resident, and $60 for non-resident. If you fish saltwater, you need the basic license plus the saltwater stamp (license). As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the annual saltwater stamp is now $13.00 for a resident, and $30 for a non-resident.
TFO adds Larry Dahlberg to Advisory Staff. Dahlberg is recognized by most anglers as host of "Hunt for Big Fish" television series (currently new episodes on the Outdoors Channel). He's best known among fly anglers as creator of the Dahlberg Diver and Flash Dancer flies, and for his Scientific Anglers video "Panfish and Bass Fly Fishing Basics". His innovations extend to standard fishing as well, as creator of the River2Sea lures such as the Diver Frog, Clacking Crawfish, and Wild Glide. In announcing his appointment, TFO President Rick Pope states, "Larry has done it all. He has experienced and studied the environments and species that most of us can only dream about to the point that Lefty Kreh and many others claim (him as) arguably the most knowledgeable all around angler in the world.". According to TFO VP Jim Shulin, Dahlberg will help in the design of gear, as well as developing educational programs and participate in TFO's general business planning.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The July issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out. In my Fly Lines column, "Hit 'em with your best shot", I give tips for better fly fishing photography. It starts with bringing your camera on your trips (any photo is better than none at all), and proceeds from there. Other columns of interest to readers: In Paddles and Puddles, columnist Chris Holmes writes about the exploits of kayak catfish specialist Robyn Bordelon, aka "Catfish Everdeen", who works the Mississippi River during high water; Jerald Horst's Creature Feature is "The Secret Lives of Red Snappers Revealed"; The Seafood Bible features Lockport's Ronnie Samprey whose recipes include Smothered Crabs and Redfish Sauce Piquant; Happy Trails columnist Bill Garbo answers the question "Panthers, are they real?" (clue: if you hear a knock on the door and it's a panther, don't anther!). In articles, Jerald Horst gives tips on bream fishing during the hot summer months; Andy Crawford shares how to remove a hook on the water; Rusty Tardo gives tips on fishing Lake Borgne area for reds; Kinny Haddox shares some great bank fishing opportunities in north Louisiana. Also, articles on forum member JCraft's CCA STAR 1st-caught tagged redfish, and how Louisiana Tech students are helping Alexandria-based Bill Lewis Lures modernize Rat-L-Trap production.
ICAST, IFTD and Orlando - a winning combination! Last July, the International Convention of Allied Sporting Trades (ICAST) and the International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) held the first-ever joint trade show in Orlando. A few questioned the joint show, and even more questioned the relocating of both shows from western venues to the state of Florida. Critics were quickly silenced when the Orlando show broke all records for exhibitor and visitor numbers. Based on those results, ICAST and IFTD agreed to return to the Sunshine State for 2015. Now it appears that too was a great decision. We're still 3 weeks away from the show and ICAST booth bookings have already reached an all-time high, exceeding 1,700 exhibitors. Combined with IFTD and that number goes over 2,000. There are reasons why the combined event has done so well - it's easier to organize, there are more people resources to work with, a larger audience to sell to, and only one set of expenditures for many media and retailers. There are several reasons why the Florida location has done well - growth of retailers in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, easy flight routes from the Northeast and Europe, and excellent saltwater fishing opportunities just a couple hours east or west from the venue. But yet another reason may be the expansion of start-up enterprises in the last few years. Take the fly fishing industry. We've seen Allen, Taylor, Cheeky, Rise, ARC, Shadow... just to name a few. There are roughly twenty times that number of startups in the standard tackle business. A lot of these sell over the internet, and in the past, couldn't justify the cost of exhibiting at trade shows. But with so much competition - and a large increase in the media attendance at these events - some startups are spending the money to be successful. A lot have learned from the TFO example. Temple Fork Outfitters seldom ever turned down an opportunity to exhibit at any show, no matter how large or small. Combined with a quality product at a value price, it made them into the giant they are today.
Monday, June 29, 2015
What's happening this week. A light one with the fourth of July weekend ahead. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the The Beach House Bar and Grill in Old Mandeville. Gathering begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Thursday and continuing thru Saturday, it's the 62nd Iberia Rod and Gun Club Fishing Rodeo out of the Quintana Canal Pavilion at Cypremont Point. In addition to the Inshore and Offshore Divisions, there's a new Kayak Division for Slot Reds, Speckled Trout and Flounder. Tickets for the Kayak Division are $25 and include free dinner on Friday night and jambalaya on Saturday (starting 11am). Tickets can be purchased from Cajun Guns & Tackle, Dagoís, Hebertís Mini-Mart, Buck Fins & Feathers and Dock Side Marina at the Point, or at a free dinner on Tuesday night at the American Legion Hall in Lydia. Friday is a state and federal holiday with Saturday being Independence Day. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the 77th annual Southwest Louisiana Fishing Club Rodeo out of the SWLA Fishing Clubhouse on I-210 Park in Lake Charles. In addition to Offshore, Inland, and Junior Divisions for multiple species, there's also a Kayak Division with categories for slot red, speckled trout and flounder. Entry fee is $35 for adults, $10 for kids. Tickets can be purchased at Cormies Grocery, Ship to Shore, Cajun Fast Mart, Lake Charles Tackle, West Marine, Cajun Tackle, Calcasieu Point Landing.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Pelican's new Catch 120 is not named after me. But after looking at a 15-second teaser video, it certainly has my blessing! Just two weeks after the Wilderness ATAK made it to dealers, and just days after the NuCanoe Pursuit did likewise, comes news from Pelican of a new boat for 2015 that could well battle those yaks for "Best New Kayak of 2015". The Catch 120 appears to fit under the same group of post-modern SOTs ideally suited for fly anglers (Jackson Cruise, Native Slayer, Wilderness ATAK, NuCanoe Pursuit, Feelfree Lure) that offer the perfect compromise of speed, stability, and tracking. And oh yes, a frame lawn-chair type seat that offers all-day comfort and good lumbar support. While Pelican has been in the lower tier of quality, the company has made strides in recent years to be more competitive in this area. More on this boat won't be available until a few weeks when it's officially unveiled at ICAST 2015. I hope to see and test this boat at the Open Water Demo and give a review shortly after.
Sage and Rio to sell direct in 2016. Well this is a game-changer... Far Bank Enterprises has announced, that starting next year, their subsidiaries Sage and Rio will also sell it's products online, in addition to dealers. Currently another subsidiary, Redington, sells both thru dealers and online. The problem is that Redington has taken a hit among dealers after it went this route. As long as products are priced-protected, all is fine. Shops know they have the advantage because of "try before you buy". But when online stores do discounts that dealers can't replicate, that's when things go awry. And that's when retailers say, "Time to go elsewhere". We think this is a bad move for FBE, but only time will tell.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Welcome to SweatFest 2015. FYI, SweatFest is one festival that NO one likes to celebrate. It takes place every summer starting usually the last week of June thru the first week of September, when heat indexes go over 100... a combination of daily temperatures of 90 to 100 degrees and humidity above 60 percent. Occasionally punctuated by a couple of days of thunderstorms or tropical systems. Yesterday a lot of folks were sweating here in the Cenla area - the high reached 97 degrees! A heat advisory is in effect today for most of northeast Louisiana. For anglers - especially puddlers - precautions need to be taken during SWF. First, hydrate early and often. Second, wear sunscreen. The spray bottles are very convenient. Third, wear high UPF clothing that wicks fast - mostly nylon or polyester. Hats, sunglasses, buffs, all offer protection. Fish early as the fish don't like the heat either. The most productive times will be from first light to late morning, and again very late in the afternoon (usually the last 2 hours of the day). Night fishing is a viable option. And for puddlers, get a small ice chest (28 quart) or fish bag to put in your yak, and avoid stringers. In 80 degree water, fish don't live long on a stringer. A stringer of fish also requires more effort to paddle, and besides, during SweatFest sharks are active. For saltwater anglers, there are other nasties besides sharks. Hardheads and gafftops are also at their most active, so a fish gripper and pliers are a must. Also, vibrio is most active in July, August and September. The older you are or if you have immune issues, your risks are much higher. Keep that in mind. Although this is a peak time for offshore fly fishing, inshore and freshwater on the fly is usually not as productive as Spring or Fall. Still it can be well worth the effort if tides and winds are favorable, and all the considerations I've mentioned are taken.
Monday, June 22, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. On the agenda: a video on flycasting tips and techniques by Lefty Kreh, club logo hats and shirts, fishing reports. The public is welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at the Orvis store in Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Pete Bongiovanni will demonstrate a couple of his favorite saltwater patterns. Bring your tools if any, otherwise the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting. Time is 7:00pm. Location to be announced. Starting Friday and continuing Sunday, it's the annual Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend, hosted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers. Members of other recognized fly fishing clubs are eligible to participate. See their website at www.rsff.org. On Saturday, it's the Camp Fly Fishing School's annual Advanced Casting / Instructors Prep workshop. Cost is $150 and also includes lunch, refreshments, handouts. The full-day workshop covers a wide array of casting topics such as handling the wind, getting more distance, etc., plus explanation of the casting methodology as needed for instruction. Seats are limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info, go to www.thecampflyfishingschool.com.
Toledo Bend is number one. The sprawling 185,000 acre reservoir shared by Texas and Louisiana has been deemed the number one in Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society (BASS) 2015 rankings of the top 100 bass waters in America. Between May 2014 and April 2015, Toledo Bend had 79 bass over 10 pounds landed and certified! In addition, the average winning tournament weight (one-day tournaments) was over 25 pounds (per 5 fish). Why is The Bend so productive? Biologists credit a hard drought that lowered the lake over 10 feet below pool for a period of two years. Effectively, a long drawdown. Drawdowns have proven to be very effective in increasing fish production. As for the rest of the list... number 2 was Lake Michigan's Sturgeon Bay, 3rd was Michigan's Lake St. Clair, 4th was the California Delta, and 5th was Texas' Sam Rayburn. Among the waters making their debut on the Top 100 list was Lake Bistineau. It ranked 27th. Again, the beneficiary of a drawdown which resulted in tournament weights such as a 34.09 five-fish limit taken this spring. Texas lead states with the most rankings with nine. Louisiana had three. The entire list, with more details, is in the July/August issue of BassMaster magazine.
Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out! That's not quite the new strategy for the Army Corps of Engineers in handling the vulture problem on Bull Shoals and Norfork dams. But close. These two dams are the source for Arkansas' blue-ribbon trout fisheries, both extremely popular among Louisiana trout anglers. In 2013, the Corps requested and received a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use lethal method to discourage vultures from roosting and damaging the dams and powerhouses. The permits were renewed again in 2014 and 2015. Prior attempts to use non-lethal methods - such as propane cannons, horns, and dead plastic vulture effigies - have had marginal success. In addition, the ugly birds have taken to attacking vehicles in parking lots by pecking and stripping wiper blades and door insulation. While only a small number of birds will be taken out, our advise is to follow the wise words of Arnaud Amalric, popularized by bumper stickers and adopted by the U.S. Marines. God knows who the good vultures are. But we doubt there are any.
Monday, June 15, 2015
An update on T91L. T91L is moving northward quickly thru the Gulf towards the upper Texas coast, and might even make landfall tonight! There continues to be a better-than-even chance that the tropical depression will develop into a tropical storm, but not anything more. And a minimal storm at that. The threat to southwest Louisiana - and all of western Louisiana - will be rainfall. As much as 8 to 10 inches is still possible from Lake Charles north to Natchitoches.
Some club notes to pass on. As is their tradition, the Cane Country Fly Casters of Natchitoches do not meet during the summer months. I was asked why their June meeting wasn't publicized. Their next meeting will be in September. However, there is a chance they'll hold a fly tying workshop this summer; we'll pass that on if it happens. The New Orleans Fly Fishers are no longer meeting at the Whitney Bank branch on Metairie Road. Both of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions will be held at St. Francis Church Hall. According to Bill de Castro, the club is looking for a new location for their club meetings (the St. Francis Hall is a bit small for their general meetings). If anyone knows of a suitable location, please pass it on.
Some website updates to report. We've added a couple of guides to our Guides page, one of them Brandon Keck. Brandon is a longtime member of the LFF Forum, and a really enthusiastic flyfisher. Check out his website at www.southernflyexpeditions.com - pretty cool. Also, Mike LaFleur sent us a revision to his "LaFleurs Charlie" on the Fly Patterns page. If you go to the main page, you'll see the small "updated" logo next to that fly.
Cortland revamping it's business model. Cortland began making fly lines nearly 100 years ago. And for the most part, stayed with that model while offering a small lineup of other products. In the 90s, they purchased STH, an Argentian company that made premium machined reels. Later, they purchased Diamondback Rods. In both instances, the existing company products were eventually absorbed into Cortland and the entities of STH and Diamondback became extinct. In 2012, a group of private investors - not with an investment firm but rather a group of fly anglers looking for a business - purchased Cortland and infused capital. However, sales of rods, reels, and other non-legacy products continued to fare poorly. Last month, it was announced that Cortland will shed itself of those products and return to a niche business of making and innovating premium fly lines. IMO, this is a very good move... there is no reason why Cortland should be a minor player in a market they once dominated. Perhaps getting back to basics is the answer.
Sunday, June 14, 2015 revised 1:00pm
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Carlton Townsend will instruct the Wotton Whitetail Midge. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, materials provided. If no tools, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle at 601 E. Pinhook. Time is 6:00pm. Glen 'Catch' Cormier will talk about fly fishing from a kayak. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the CCA Cenla Chapter will hold their annual banquet at the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include admission, 1-year membership, dinner, open bar. Also raffles, silent and live auction. For more info, contact Katie Laurent at email@example.com. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying session at St. Francis Church Hall at 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, materials provided. On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold a rod building clinic at the LDWF Woodworth Outdoors Center. For more info, go to the www.kisatchiefly.org. Next Sunday is Father's Day. Please remember to show Dad some love by taking him fishing!
Time to feel tropically depressed. Hurricane season officially began on June 1st, but it's rare to see Gulf storms until mid to late July. Unfortunately we have Depression 91L (potential Tropical Storm Bill) to contend with as early as Tuesday or Wednesday. As of midnight last night, T91L was centered over the Yucatan with sustained winds of 35mph. All the models show a 50 to 60 percent chance of development into a high tropical storm. Conditions are favorable to reach category 1 hurricane status, but the storm may move too quickly for much development to occur. The forecast models also show potential rainfall for southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana to be in the 10-14 inch range. These areas don't need more rain... certainly the Calcasieu Basin doesn't need more freshwater. Southeast Louisiana is also expected to get a lot of rain from T91L/Bill, as are areas of the Ark-La-Tex. As for the 2015 Hurricane Season in general, the National Hurricane Center the hurricane consortium at Colorado State University has predicted 7 named storms, 3 of them hurricanes, at least 1 in the category 3 range. Cooler than normal waters in the tropical Atlantic, combined with a strong El Nino led the CSU team to believe this will be one of the least active seasons in 20 years. Of course, last year was supposed to be a very active year and it wasn't.
Monday, June 8, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the LDWF building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Cssting practice at 6:30pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Matthew Herron, Conservation Specialist for BR Parks and Recreation (BREC). The public is invited. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge visitors center in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speakers will be Eddie and Roberta Brister, owners of Beavers Bend Fly Shop near Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The Bristers will talk about the status of the Lower Mountain Fork and trout fishing on the river. The public is welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, materials are provided. On Friday at noon, and continuing thru midnight on Sunday, it's "Free Fishing Days" in Arkansas. Anyone can fish without a basic fishing license. A trout stamp my still need to be purchased. On Saturday, the Backpacker of Baton Rouge will hold a free "Paddle Demo Day" at BREC's Wampold Park near LSU. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands include Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Yolo, and others. Call 225-925-2667 to check if weather threatens. Also on Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold it's annual Trout Challenge series tournament. Entry fee is $20 and it's open to the public. Launch and fish anywhere west of the Mississippi River starting at 5:00am, then weigh-in at Pack and Paddle in Lafayette no later than 4:00pm. Heaviest stringer of 5 trout wins. For details or to register, go to www.bckfc.org.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Not fishing related, but... Congrats to the LSU Tigers and University of Louisiana Ragin Cajuns baseball teams for winning in regional action this past weekend. Now the two schools will face off this coming weekend in Baton Rouge for the super regional, the winner goes to the College World Series in Omaha. Over the years I've been to several LSU-UL baseball games and I can attest that when these two get together, anything can happen and usually does! As a "house divided" when it comes to allegiances to LSU and UL, I won't make any predictions that will get me into trouble (yet).
June is here. What's happening this month. A relatively quiet one with one major exception. That's the Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend on June 26-28. It's the largest event of it's kind in Louisiana, with typically 100 or so participants. It's not quite a tournament, but a group fishing excursion. Members of Louisiana and Mississippi fly clubs (and elsewhere) gather to fish the surf, bank, kayak, or boat. The rendezvous spot is the Blue Dolphin Inn where everyone shares their tales and takes in the meals - Friday night shrimp boil and Saturday night fish fry. Details of the GIFFW can be found on the Red Stick Fly Fishers forum on warmfly.com. Another activity happening this month is The Camp Fly Fishing School on June 27 in Breaux Bridge. This day-long session is for Advanced Casting / Instructors Prep. I strongly encourage anyone considering the IFFF Casting Instructor certification to take this class. The CCI test is challenging. Keith Richard is an excellent instructor and covers the theory as well as the technique. Previously we mentioned the Free Fishing Days taking place this weekend, June 6-7. Then there's Fathers Day on June 21, let's not forget about Dad!
Allen Fly Fishing has introduced new rods. Allen, which specializes in value-priced tackle sold directly - and thru a few dealers - last week doubled the number of their rod series offerings with 3 new series. The first is the Prelude. At $79, it's being marketed as a beginner's rod with 2 models - a 9-foot, 5-weight and a 9-foot, 8-weight. The blanks are medium fast with a navy blue color. The rod comes with a case and a limited 1-year warranty (as compared to the $99 Compass rods which have a lifetime warranty. The new Alluvion Series features a moss green blank, premium cork handles, titanium chromium plated stripping guides. It sells for $209 and includes case and lifetime warranty. AFF describes the Alluvion as a high-performance, fast action rod without the high price tag. The third new offering from AFF is the Azimuth, featuring an extra-fast action blank. It features a burnt orange blank, premium cork handles, TiCR plated stripping guides, and comes with case and lifetime warranty. The Azimuth sells from $309 to $329, with 7 models ranging from 4-weight to 10-weight. For more info on these new rods, go to www.allenflyfishing.com.
The IFFF Southern Council has wasted no time following this past weekend's successful IFFF Texas Council conclave - "Destination Texas" - to begin promoting their own event the first weekend of October. And in doing so, they've made a few major announcements about the event based on feedback from council members and past conclave attendees. First, they're going back to a Friday-Saturday event (no show on Sunday). This was a major complaint as many attendees used Sunday as a travel date. Second, the evening events will return to the Ramada Inn, with a welcome gathering and burgers on Friday night, and the awards and auction at the Saturday night dinner banquet. The announcement also included featured tiers and the featured presenter, author and outdoors writer Dr. Jason Randall. Registration for the IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair will be up in a few weeks. For more info, check their website at www.ifffsoc.org.
Speaking of conclaves, the Summer issue of Flyfisher Magazine is out. Flyfisher is the official publication of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) and available only to IFFF members. This issue celebrates the organization's 50th anniversary, with a featured article on the history of the IFFF. Other articles include obituaries of noted fly anglers including two friends - Chris Helms and Walt Holman, "The Fantastic Fish Factory" by Bob Cunningham and Dave Whitlock, a bio on the legendary Lee Wulff ("Born to Fish"), "Fly Fishing Basics for the Surf" by Nick Curcione, and columns "Biology on the Fly", "Fly Box", and an historical review of the IFFF Casting Instructor Certification Program. Also in this issue is an insert of the official 2015 International Fly Fishing Fair guide. The IFFF's conclave will be held August 13-15 in Bend, Oregon. Speaking of "conclave", many readers ask me for the origin of this term. It's come to represent a fly fishing festival, one with programs, fly tying demos, casting demos and/or instruction, exhibitors and more. Usually 1-3 days in duration. But just where does this come from? On the cover of this issue is the answer. At the bottom are the following words in script, "We, in conclave assembled, out of a firm and abiding conviction that fly fishing as a way of angling gives to it's followers the finest form of outdoor recreation and natural understanding.". That is the preamble to the IFFF bylaws, written by founding member Lee Wulff, and unchanged these 50 years later!
Sunday, May 31, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall in Lafayette. Casting at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:30pm. The public is 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. On Saturday, it's the start of National Fishing and Boating Week, and that means "free fishing days", as well as other activities. Saturday and Sunday are free fishing days in Louisiana and Mississippi. That means anyone can recreationally fish - fresh or salt - without needing a recreational fishing license. Other restrictions may apply, check the wildlife websites of both states for details. Also on Saturday and in conjunction with NFBW, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a Kids Fishing Rodeo at the Honey Island National Wildlife Refuge at Exit 11 off I-59 at the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. As part of the activities, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will conduct fly tying demos. Also on Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another free "Fly Fishing 101" at their store in Perkins-Rowe. This one-day, 2-hour clinic covers the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. Class size is limited, so pre-registration is required. Contact Alex at 225-757-7286 for details. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will hold another of their free "Kayak Demo Days" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands include Hobie, Wilderness, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, YOLO and more. For more info, call 337-406-8754. On Sunday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in conjunction with Friends of Grand Isle will conduct a Beach Sweep of Elmers Island. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Volunteers will be provided with shade breaks, water, lunch, gloves, biodegradable garbage bags and trash pickers. For more info, contact Christine Duggar at 504-214-7080.
Monday is the first day of June - and new license sales. If you hold a Louisiana fishing license, it expires June 30 at midnight. The 2015-2016 licenses should go on sale June 1st, barring any complications. If you don't currently hold a license, the new license is good from moment of purchase (in other words, you don't need to buy a 2014-15 license just to cover the month of June). There has been no increase in license fees since last year, so a basic license remains $9.50 with an additional $13.00 for a saltwater license. For non-residents, an annual basic license is $60.00 with an additional $30.00 for saltwater. Most visitors to our state may opt instead for the 1-day basic of $5.00 and 1-day saltwater trip license of $17.50.
LDWF has a new promotion for saltwater license purchases. It's called "License to Win!". In partnership with sponsors, Louisiana anglers who purchase a saltwater fishing license will have their names placed in a monthly drawing for prizes such as Yeti coolers, Shimano tackle, and gift cards from Whole Foods, Academy Sports, and Texaco. One lucky angler will take home the grand prize - a 22-foot bay boat, trailer and motor donated by Venice Marina, Mercury Outboards and Mike Gerald's Trailer Depot. To qualify for the drawing, residents need to do the following (1) buy a saltwater fishing license, (2) provide an accurate email address or phone number at purchase, (3) respond to the LDWF verification email or phone call. The purpose of this contest is to assist the Louisiana Creel program which provides database info for managing the state's saltwater fisheries.
Tips for those flyfishing the STAR is the subject of the "Fly Lines" column in the June issue of Louisiana Sportsman magazine, now available at retail markets and sporting goods stores. The column discusses the rules of the division, and interviews past leaders in the CCA STAR Fly Division and gets their recommendations for getting a big speckled trout on the leaderboard. Or at the least, getting one 14 inches or longer for the Bonus Drawing. Also in this month's Sportsman... In his "Paddles n Puddles" column, Chris Holmes presents the benefits of mothershipping kayaks. Jerald Horst discusses bullfrogs in his "Creature Feature" column. Allan Tarvid gives a lesson on basics of marine battery chargers and charging in "Marine Electronics". Articles of interest to anglers include "Wading Them Out" by Patrick Bonin on fishing the Elmers Island surf; "Last Stop" on waters inside the barrier islands off Cocodrie that produce big trout; "Running In Circles" on best spots in the Galliano and Golden Meadow area for summer specks. Among the news feature stories is a writeup on the would-be state record red that was caught (and released) in Venice and estimated to have weighed 65 pounds. Also a feature on catching big bedding bream in deep water.
TFO to reveal new Atoll Series reels. Recently we mentioned that, with the annual IFTD / ICAST retailers show just a few weeks away, folks should expect to begin hearing of new products coming out for Fall 2015 / Spring 2016. These products will likely be showcased at IFTD in Orlando July 15-18. We've heard a couple vague rumors so far. Somebody's brother who knows somebody who talked to somebody. In other words, nothing that's even worth mention. Until now. Jim Shulin, VP of Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) posted a photo Thursday of their forthcoming Atoll Series high performance, big game reels. All we know so far is that there are four models, the smallest one (pictured) is for 6-8 weight lines, and that it'll feature a concave spool (concave spools allow for maximum strength at a minimized weight). Currently TFO has no big game reel series, unless you consider their LA (Large Arbor) lineup which is limited to the 375 (8-weight, 250 yards backing) and 425 (10-weight, 275 yards backing).
Tuesday May 26, 2015
A very bad weekend for the Lower Mountain Fork River in Oklahoma. The Fork and the Little Missouri River in Arkansas are two year-round rainbow (and brown) trout waters very popular with Louisiana fly anglers, mostly because of their close proximity (2.5 hours north of Shreveport) and excellent fishing. Both streams emanate in the Ouachita Mountains, and flow south into large reservoirs on the southern edge of the range. The rivers below the dams are fed cold water from the bottom of the lake, creating several miles of trout water. With the persistent storms and monsoon-like rainfall in Oklahoma and Arkansas, the lakes - Broken Bow (Mt. Fork) and Greeson (Little Mo) have seen near-record high levels. There is concern for the structure of the dam should lake water pour over the dams. With the Little Mo, all the generators and even the bunger valves have been running, and there's been a little relief. The Mountain Fork is a different story... unlike any of the Arkansas dams, generation takes place downriver at a powerhouse. The water that leaves the spillway and enters Spillway Creek is mostly for fishing purposes. Normally 100-120 cfs, this water provides anglers with 3 miles of trout fishing regardless of generation. Sunday the amount of water that went through the spillway was 27,000 cfs! It wiped out Cold Hole bridge and Beavers Bend Fly Shop inside Beavers Bend State Park. It may have wiped out Lost Creek as well. Why so much water in so little time? Apparently there was repair work on the powerhouse and none of the lake water could be routed thru the generators. That left the Spillway - and Spillway Creek - to be the relief valve for Broken Bow lake. Apparently with all the rain that fell yesterday and expected to fall today (possibly 4-5 inches), this is only going to get worse before it gets better. There's much concern that most of the trout in the upper river will be gone. That's a small negative, trout can be replaced easily. There's a bigger positive - the heavy currents may have scoured out much of the silt that had built in the lower end of Spillway Creek. It might actually be a much better river for holding trout when things settle out.
A bad weekend for Cross Lake as well. The Shreveport lake had to be shutdown to boating activity due to high water (with more on the way). The spillway for the lake was opened all the way, but according to news sources, there isn't much place for the water to go as 12 Mile Bayou is backflooded from the Red River. Just about every other lake in northwest Louisiana - and even a few in central Louisiana such as Toledo Bend - are on the rise and some concerns about flooding homes and businesses has become a major concern.
Two new fishing kayaks hitting dealers this summer. The first is the much-anticipated Wilderness Systems ATAK (stands for Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak - pictured at the top. The ATAK prototype was introduced at last summer's Outdoor Retailer Show, but went thru a heavy redevelopment cycle. Not sure why, but the ATAK is here at last. In keeping with industry trends, it'll have molded-in side handles, rigid front/rear carry handles, accessory tracks and console, traction pads, and a frame seat that adjusts. That seat - the Airmax Pro - now extends along much of the length of the cockpit as well. Length is 14.1 feet, 34 inches, weight capacity 550 pounds, and boat weight 86 pounds. It's said to be fast. But one aspect that Wilderness worked hard on was to give it as little wind-resistance as possible. One field tester told me that crosswinds up to 20 mph are no problem for this boat. If that's true, then Wilderness may have something really special. The same could be said for Nucanoe's new boat - the Pursuit (bottom of photo). Their Frontier model has been extremely popular for large anglers and fly fishers due to it's extreme stability and nimble handling. It also has a boat-like seat that swiveled 360 degrees, and it is rated for up to a 2-hp motor! But as Cormier's 1st Law of Puddling states, "Choosing a paddlecraft for fishing is an exercise in compromise". The big compromise with the Frontier is speed. At only 12 feet long but a whopping 40 inches wide, and with a high seating position that creates drag, it's quite slow, with a cruising speed of only 2 mph and top end speed of 3 mph. Most owners add trolling motors to get to and from the fishing areas. NuCanoe decided to address those anglers who want more paddle speed. Thus the Pursuit. It's longer - 13.5 feet but narrower - 35 inches. Still more than wide enough for very good standup stability. It maintains the high capacity of 500 pounds, and a decent hull weight for a big boat (81 pounds). But the real story with the Pursuit is the new seat. It's a frame seat that adjusts up to 5 inches from low to high. When paddling into a wind, keep the seat low. When you enter a redfish area, raise the seat up. The seat isn't shown in the picture because it was a late development. And in fact, is the reason this yak has been delayed coming to market. I read somewhere of a cruising speed in the 3 mph range (a 33% improvement over the Frontier). In case you need even more speed, the Pursuit has the square stern (like it's older brother) for mounting a trolling motor or small outboard up to 2.5 hp. Both the Wilderness ATAK and Nucanoe Frontier will be priced in the $1600-$1800 range.
Sunday May 24, 2015
What's happening this week. Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Let's remember those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. With the holiday, a few changes also from the usual club schedules. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. The program will feature the video "Midge Magic Fishing" by Davy Wotton, who is the featured guest for the NLFF club's Masters Series coming in July. Also on the agenda: the upcoming rod building session, fishing reports, and upcoming events. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the CCA Delta Chapter will hold it's annual banquet at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 8:00pm. Tickets are $100 per person ($50 spouse, $25 youth) and includes 1-year membership, dinner, open bar, raffles, auction. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank building on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the 2nd annual "Destination Texas" fly fishing expo hosted by the Texas Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers. More on that later. On Saturday evening it's the mandatory Captain's meeting for the first of the two IFA Kayak Tour - Louisiana Division events for 2015. The tournament itself will be held on Sunday. Both the meeting and weigh-in will be at Team Lafitte Marina in Lafitte. This tournament is open to the public, entry fee is just $50. Moreover, entry into any 2 IFAKT events qualifies that puddler for the National Championship to be held at Chalmette in October - regardless of how they place. The IFA Kayak Tour is a CPR, artificial-only, roadrunner event, longest combination of redfish and speckled trout wins. For more info, go to www.ifatours.com/kayak-tour/.
This weekend's Destination Texas fly fishing expo is the largest fly fishing event in the Gulf region. Hosted by the Texas Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF), it'll again be held at the Civic Center in scenic New Braunfels. Although online registration ends today, folks can register onsite. This year's special guests are Molly Semenick and Hank Patterson. Activities kick off Friday afternoon at 1:00pm. Later at 6:00pm, it's the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (different than the Fly Fishing Film Tour). On Saturday, things kick off with a womens breakfast and a youth breakfast, followed by the usual variety of exhibitors, programs, fly tying demos, casting clinics, and workshops. The annual Texas Council banquet is Saturday evening at 5:30pm. On Sunday, there's religious services at 8:00am for attendees, with the Expo starting at 10:00am and running until 3:00pm. Among the highlights for folks from Louisiana making the trip over - the Fly Tying Theatre will feature a tier demonstrating their unique creations. Our own Fred Hannie will be featured at 1:00pm on Saturday. There's also an IFFF Certified Casting Instructor Prep Course being offered for would-be IFFF instructors. For more info on this great event, go to www.txflyfishexpo.com.
Summer has begun - climatologically speaking. The summer soltice may not be until June 22nd, but seasons in Louisiana are always a few weeks early. From now until the 2nd week of September, it's usually highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s. Except when a tropical system comes around, or in this year, El Nino. Due to El Nino, forecasters are predicting a cooler-than-normal June, with higher-than-normal precipitation. Like we really need more rain? Someday... someday... I promise the Calcasieu estuary will get salty again. The monsoons have severely impacted speck fishing in the estuary. They've also hurt freshwater fishing across the state. This time of year clear skies bring hot weather, but if that's what it takes to get fishing up to normal, so be it.
The summer season brings increased emphasis on safety. With school out, Louisiana waters get crazy with boaters, especially on weekends. Most of the boating fatalities coccur during the summer months. The good news in that regard is that - thanks in large part to the LDWF's Boater Safety Program - the number of fatalities has declined significantly in the last three decades. Louisiana averaged 52 per year from 1980-1989, 32 a year from 1990-1999, and down to under 25 since 2010. In 2013, there were 13 deaths, and last year, only 9. That's still nine too many. In most cases, these were alcohol-related and/or not wearing a personal floatation device (PFD). I know it's hot, but wear that PFD all the time if possible. It costs a bit more, but an inflatable PFD will save your life and keep you cooler.
Speaking of cooler, weather is also a safety issue in summer. Heat stroke can kill. Bring an ice chest or cooler tote bag with water and/or sports drinks to stay hydrated. The sun does it's damage over time - skin exposed to the high UV radiation during summer months can lead to cancer. Protect your skin by putting on a high-SPF waterproof sunscreen (30 or higher) BEFORE you get on the water. Wear long sleeve breathable shirts, a rim cap, or a bill cap in conjunction with a buff. Wear some type of cover for your feet. Also be aware of the daily thunderstoms that can pop up very quickly. At the first sign of dark clouds in the horizon, start making your way back to launch (especially in a kayak).
While in North Carolina I read an article in North Carolina Sportsman about the grand opening of the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Applachians. Located in Cherokee, North Carolina, the museum will feature exhibits and narratives about fly fishing in the region of states including Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia. In addition, the museum will serve to host various small events. One of those will be on June 6, the day of the grand opening. Several fly tyers and casting instructors will be on hand, with a casting clinic that afternoon. Up to now, the only museums dedicated to our sport were located in Vermont and Montana. To have a southern museum recognizes the continued growth and influence of fly fishing in this region.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
National Fishing and Boating Week is June 6 thru 14. NFBW was established the first full week of June each year to highlight the importance of recreational boating and fishing in enhancing the quality of life, and preserving our nation's natural resources. But for many, it's the "free fishing days" and youth fishing activities that are of interest. The free fishing days mean no license is required to fish either freshwater or saltwater, or both, for public waters in that state. In Louisiana, free fishing days are June 6-7. For popular destinations for Louisiana anglers... Arkansas free fishing days begin on Friday noon, June 12, and continue until Sunday midnight, June 14. A separate trout stamp may still be required. Mississippi days are June 6-7 (fresh and salt). Florida days are June 6-7 (saltwater) and June 13-14 (freshwater). Texas free fishing day is June 6. Oklahoma free fishing days are June 6-7. As for youth fishing activities... The Friends of Southeast Louisiana Refuges will hold a Youth Fishing Event on Saturday, June 6th, at the Bogue Chitto Refuge at the Pearl River Turn Around on I-59. The Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will be part of the multiple activities at this event, where members will demo fly tying. Near Winnfield, the Kisatchie National Forest, Winn Ranger District will hold their 13th annual Youth Fishing Derby also on Saturday, June 6th. It's free and open to ages 2-12. Location is the Bombing Range Pond. Pre-registration is required. Deadline is May 29th to enter. More info on these tournaments can be found by going to the LFF Calendar and clicking on any of these events.
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