Louisiana Fly Fishing

Gobbules Rule! It's been a slow start for bream fishing across most of Louisiana, but that's about to change big time. The recent Red Stick Fly Fishers trip to Lake Concordia resulted in several nice stringers of the tasty sunfish. Another trip by a couple members of Kisatchie Fly Fishers to Tew Lake also proved productive (as shown in the photo). On both lakes, the Jitterbee under a small strike indicator fished over beds proved productive. Meanwhile, Cane River Lake and several of the north and central Louisiana reservoirs are producing on popping bugs, various nymphs (Beadhead Hares Ear) and fluff butts. Other hotspots lately have been Highway 51 canals, Bayou Black marsh, Jennings Oil Park, and Laccasine Refuge.


Fly Of The Month

Jitterbee. Texas and Louisiana fly tiers have created many great flies for sunfish over the past 30 years. One of the most effective submergents - especially in oxbows, bayous, marsh waters, and high nutrient lakes - is Randy Leonpacher's Jitterbee. It's also simple to tie. The hook is an Eagle Claw 080 size 8 or 10 (similiar EC baitholder hooks can be used). The tail is black silicon legs. The body is chenille or ultra chenille in two colors wrapped to the front. A 4mm gold bead is what Randy prefers. Best colors are orange/black in stained waters, chartreuse or yellow with black in green waters. For best results, use a light leader section from the strike indicator to the fly (2x, 3x, 4x material).


Featured Tackle

Redhead Finley River Waders. For beginner coldwater anglers on a tight budget, there's no better value in stocking foot waders than Bass Pro Shop's Redhead Finley River chest waders. At $69, it features 420 denier nylon construction with seams taped and factory tested, gravel guards, D-rings, nylon webbing belt, 3.5mm neoprene booties, and adjustable elastic suspenders. It's received 4.3 ratings (out of a maximum 5.0) from 33 reviewers. While our recommendation would be to spend the extra dollars for a lightweight, breathable waders, resale value of used waders is poor. So if you're beginner, this wader can be your starting outfit. You can then upgrade later, and keep these as a backup pair.



 TIPPETS
Sunday, May 3, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Casting practice starts at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:30pm. The public is welcome. On Wednesday, the Ponchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on Girod Street in Mandeville. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Wednesday, the CCA Vermillion Chapter holds their annual banquet at the VN Hall on Lafitte Road in Abbeville. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm. Tickets are $65 each ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include CCA membership, admission, dinner, open bar, auction, raffles. For more info, contact Rad at rad@ccalouisiana.com. On Thursday, the CCA Lake Charles Chapter holds their annual banquet at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm. Tickets are $65 each ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and includes admission, CCA membership, dinner, open bar, auction, raffles. For more info, contact Julie at julie@ccalouisiana.com. On Saturday, it's the 2nd annual "2-Fly Bluegill Buster Tourney" hosted by the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers club. Fishing times are 8:30am to 12:30pm. Location is Lamar-Dixon pond in Gonzales. The tournament is open to members of all recognized Louisiana fly fishing clubs. Tournament details can be found in the EVENTS forum. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will host a free "Kayak Demo Day" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands include Hobie, Wilderness, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, Dagger, Yolo. Please call 337-406-8754 to confirm if weather becomes an issue. On Sunday, it's Mother's Day. Please remember to tell Mom you love her! Also on Sunday, the Backpacker in Baton Rouge will hold a free "Kayak Demo Day" at BREC's Wampold Park off Stanford Avenue. Time is 12 noon to 4:00pm. Same brands as the Lafayette store demo. Call 225-925-2667 to confirm if weather is an issue.

Allen now offers an entry level combo. Allen Fly Fishing started as an online business selling good quality fly reels at value prices. They've since expanded to a few dealers, and slowly built up a complete product line of rods, reels, lines, flies, tying materials, accessories, and even packs and apparel (more on that later this week). But the most intriguing new entry is their Prelude Combo. It includes a 4-piece Prelude graphite fly rod (9-foot,5-weight or 9-foot, 8-weight), a matching ATS machined fly reel, weight-forward ly line, 9-foot tapered leader, rod/reel case. The rod carries a one-year limited warranty. Both outfits are priced at $149. More details can be found at www.allenflyfishing.com.

Drawdowns scheduled for lakes Iatt and Cotile. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Grant Parish Police Jury will conduct a drawdown on Iatt Lake starting May 14th, and ending no later than October 15th. The water level will be lowered to 6 feet to evaluate the lake bottom. If necessary, the lake will be drained another 2 feet. Additional control recommendations may be needed, such as herbicide treatment and/or stocking of grass carp. Earlier this year, the Rapides Parish Police Jury approved a drawdown for Cotile Lake. That drawdown will begin September 1st and end January 1st. Cotile will be drawn down 8 feet maximum. Iatt and Cotile are quite different lakes... Iatt is fairly shallow while much of Cotile is 15 to 25 feet deep. While drawdowns on Iatt have had short term effects, those on Cotile have been beneficial for several years after. Fishing on Cotile was nothing short of excellent following the last drawdown and was pretty good two years ago. Last year, most of the famous "Island Beds" noted for superb bream fishing were covered thick. Regardless of nuisance vegetation or not, drawdowns are an excellent tool for revitalizing productivity of waters, and LDWF is making every effort to bring awareness to this.

Sunday, April 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. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Speaker will be club member Morris Houck, who will talk about the upcoming CCA STAR tournament, kayak fishing in Cenla and southwest Louisiana, and CPR tournaments. 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. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, materials are provided. The club has a few tool sets for use during the session. On Wednesday, the CCA Acadiana Chapter holds their annual banquet at the Boustany Center in Lafayette. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include CCA membership, dinner, open bar, raffles, auction. For more info, contact Ryan Reaux at 337-298-4741. On Thursday, the CCA Baton Rouge Chapter holds their annual banquet at the Baton Rouge River Center. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include CCA membership, dinner, open bar, raffles, auction. For more info, contact Rad Thrascher at 225-952-9200. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch at 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Friday afternoon with Captains meeting, and Saturday with the main event, it's the 6th annual "Bass on the Fly" tournament on Lake Fork, Texas. More on that later. Also starting Friday evening with the Captains meeting, and the main event on Saturday, it's the Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Association's 10th annual Spring Fling kayak fishing tournament. Location is Gulf Breeze, Florida. Entry fee is $60. Divisions include Inshore (slot red, speck, flounder) and Offshore (king mackeral, spanish mackeral, pelagic). For more info, go to www.gckfa.org. On Saturday, it's the second of "Orvis Days" at the Baton Rouge store in Perkins-Rowe. At 12 noon, ther will be a demonstration on "Getting More Distance in Your Cast", covering tips and tricks for better distance, including line management skills. Attendees are encouraged to bring their rods and cast. For more info, contact Store Manager Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle will hold a free "Kayak Demo Day" at Vermilionville Pond on 300 Fisher Road in Lafayette. Time is 9:00am to 2:00pm. Folks can try models from Jackson, Hobie, Wilderness, Native, NuCanoe, Diablo, Hurricane, Bote and others. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.

This Saturday is the 6th annual Bass On The Fly. Held at Lake Fork Marina in Lake Fork, Texas, this CPR (catch-photo-release) tournament has categories for boat, kayak/canoe and bank. Rods, reels and flies must be exclusively for fly fishing. Largest 5-fish photos wins and there's a club trophy as well (recognized fly fishing clubs only). Entry fee is $60, with a $5 big bass pot and a $5 big sunfish pot. Activities kick off Friday at 10:00am with free casting clinics, product booths and kayak demos. On Friday afternoon there's a Sunfish tournament from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, followed by the Captain's meeting at 6:00pm featuring local guide reports. Fishing kicks off on Saturday morning at 6:00am with "weigh in" at 2:00pm. This event is endorsed by the IFFF Texas Council and to my knowledge, is the largest fly fishing tournament for bass in the South. Members of the North Louisiana Fly Fishers have done well at BOTF, but the Club Award has gone to Dallas Fly Fishers the last 3 years. Hopefully a Louisiana club can pull the upset this time.

The May issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out and one of the major articles is on offshore fly fishing. Writer Jerald Horst tells of a day on the water with renown Baton Rouge fly angler Roger del Rio and guide Captain Chad Billiot of Marsh Rat Guide Service. Roger, a founding member of the Red Stick Fly Fishers, an IFFF certified fly casting instructor, and holder of several state fly rod records, shares some of favorite nearshore flies as well as tips for various nearshore species. Chad also describes his fly fishing charters, as well as the species he pursues and various techniques for each. Another article that caught my interest - among several - was also by Jerald Horst, on fishing the marsh from SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard). In the article, Jerald accompanies Pack and Paddle owner John Williams on a kayak mothership trip with Justin Head. Justin is a minister and a Terrebonne kayak fishing guide, owner of Heads-to-Tails Charters. My Fly Lines column, "Memorial Day Memories", recounts a couple of marsh trips with friends and family. In his "Puddles and Paddles" column, kayak fishing columnist Chris Holmes discusses GPS options for kayakers, and how and why they should use GPS. Jerald and Glenda Horst share recipes from Jessica and Justin Head.

CCA has filed suit to halt sector separation. The Coastal Conservation Association filed the motion in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern Division of Louisiana to halt Gulf Reef Amendment 40. Submitted by the Gulf Council, and approved by NOAA, GRA-40 would reallocate 42 percent of the recreational red snapper catch in federal waters to charter and headboat vessels. CCA states that the ruling constitutes "agency action that is arbitrary and capricious... and not in accordance with law". Indeed, in today's Advocate newspaper, Outdoors editor Joe Macaluso pointed out that the Magnuson-Stevens act does not discern between recreational entities. Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, Congress needs to take action and end the stupidity of federal management of red snapper. Although red snapper swim in federal waters, they're not a migratory species. As such, western Gulf waters have recovered to the point where the species is almost a nuisance, while eastern Gulf waters they continue to be in jeopardy. In other words, Louisiana and Texas are having to share the pain for Florida's long history of abuse.

Sunday, April 19, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. This month's pattern will be the Beadhead Hares Ear, in a style popularized by the late Polly Rosborough. It's proven to be a killer fly for area bream, especially redears (chiquapin). Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools if you have some. If not, the club has sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Guest speaker will be Rad Trascher from CCA. Rad will cover current topics concerning CCA as well as the upcoming STAR tournament. Also on the agenda: fishing reports, tackle tips, and upcoming events. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the East Jefferson CCA Chapter will hold their annual banquet at the Landmark Hotel in Metairie. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm. Tickets are $75 per person ($40 spouse, $25 youth) and include 1-year membership, dinner, open bar, door prizes, raffles, auction. For more info, contact Nolan Reynerson or Leigh Isaacson at 225-952-9200. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tyings sessions at the Whitney Bank branch at 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your own tools, materials provided. Also on Thursday, the Bayou Chapter of CCA will hold their annual banquet at the Houma Civic Center. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include 1-year membership, dinner, open bar, raffles, auction. For more info, contact Tony Berrigan at 225-952-9200. On Saturday, it's "Orvis Days" at the Orvis store in Baton Rouge. More on that later. Also on Saturday, The Camp Fly Fishing School will hold the first of their 3 annual schools. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly "Fourth Saturday Tying Clinic" in the White River Fly Shop. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Please bring your tying tools, materials provided. Beginners welcome. Instructor TBA. Also on Saturday, it's the "Delta Woods and Waters Expo" at the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center in Spanish Fort, Alabama. For our readers in coastal Mississippi and Alabama - and those in southeast Louisiana willing to make the short trip - this expo highlights the many recreational opportunities in the Delta area (including fly fishing). Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm. Admission is free. Food and drinks will be available at family-friendly prices. For more info, go to www.deltawoodsandwatersexpo.com. On Sunday, Pack and Paddle will offer another "Louisiana Hooked" guided kayak fishing experience, location TBD. Pre-registration is required as seats are limited. The $99 per person price includes use of Hobie or Native kayak, paddle, PFD, guide, instruction and lunch. The Louisiana Hooked program offers participants a chance to learn kayak fishing and related skills and put them to use in pursuit of reds, specks and other marsh species. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.

This Saturday is the first of Orvis Days at the Baton Rouge store in Perkins-Rowe. The "days" will conclude with another event on May 2nd. For the April 25th event, there'll be a "Fly Fishing 101" session from 8:00am to 10:00am. Pre-registration is required for FF101, as seats are limited. The clinic covers the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. Later at 12 noon, there's a seminar featuring Captain Lucas Bissett and store manager Alex Beane on how to effectively fish with a guide, including from a flats boat. The seminar will cover topics such as selecting a guide, questions to ask, working in unison with the guide, and more. The seminar is free and registration is not required. Also Capt. Bissett will be showcasing his new Beavertail BT3 skiff, along with Store Associate Bailey Short showcasing his new model.

This Saturday, School is in session. The Camp Fly Fishing School, that is. Keith Richard, owner and operator of the TCFFS in Breaux Bridge, annually offers 3 day-long workshops (Beginners, Advanced, Advanced / Instructors Training). The Beginners session will be this Saturday, and covers the basics of the sport with emphasis on casting. Time is 8:00am to 5:00pm. Cost is $150 and includes lunch, handouts, and instruction. I'm sometimes asked "Why should I pay $xxx to learn fly fishing when club (or store) offers it for free?". The answer is "Casting". I often encourage newbies to enroll in as many beginner clinics as possible. But The Camp clinics are special... Keith is a nationally renown casting instructor; he and his other instructors are IFFF Master Certified. The class is heavy on casting, and I've seen great improvement in the casting of friends who've attended the School. Pre-registration is required, as seats are limited. So please call Keith Richard at 337-344-0908 for details and availability. Or go to his website at www.thecampflyfishingschool.com.

Elmers Island to be partially closed starting Monday, according to a press release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. According to the release, the west end of the island will be closed, but the east end and access road will remain open. This is action prior to the May 1st start of the Caminada Headland and Dunes Restoration Project. The project will restore 489 acres of eroded beach and dunes between Elmers and Fourchon Beach.

Bistineau still producing big fish. The northwest Louisiana lake isn't nearly as productive as it used to be, in part to invasive aquatics. Most notably giant salvania. But the war on salvania - drawdowns, spraying, beetles - may be revigorating the lake. The crappie fishing has improved, according to all reports. In February, Stacey Malham landed a 3.44 white crappie on conventional tackle and took steps to register it for the Top 10 record listing. The Louisiana Outdoors Writers Association (LOWA), which maintains the top 10 listing of each species for both conventional and fly tackle, recently approved the entry. It's now listed in 2nd place, behind Tim Ricca's 3.80-pounder (caught on Lake Verret). Prior to a reorganization of the crappie records, both species - black and white - were maintained under one listing. Some of those included catches made on private waters. It should be noted that three of those old listings were caught in our old neighborhood lake, and ranged from just over 3 1/2 pounds to just over 4 pounds! Also, perhaps the largest crappie ever caught in Louisiana - a 6.0 pound fish taken by Lettie Robertson in 1969 out of a Westwego canal - is not recognized by LOWA but is recognized by the Freshwater Hall of Fame and Museum.

Waders that measure water temperature? According to a news report in the Daily Mail, Dutch scientists are working on developing waders that can collect hydrological info from streams. The idea is that there are a lot of anglers wading streams, and if many of them were wearing "smart waders" the scientists could collect tons of information in a very short time. At least compared to conventional methods. One benefit to anglers themselves would be a set of wading boots (or waders) that measure water temperature. Temperature sticks are popular among trout fishermen. Knowing what the temperature is can determine what species of fish are in a stretch of river, how active those fish might be, what hatches might be taking place, etc. We may not see the result of smart waders at this summer's International Fly Tackle Dealer show, but expect it perhaps as early as the 2016 show.

Thursday, April 16, 2015
Potential new state record hybrid stripers. The Red Stick Fly Fishers held their annual Spring outing to beautiful Lake Concordia near Ferriday this past weekend. Despite a gloomy forecast, the weatherman proved to be wrong (again!) and the Redstickers enjoyed fantastic weather. And as usual, fantastic fishing. Those who attended my presentation at Caddo Conclave on fishing Cenla waters saw some pretty impressive catches made from this lake (I rank it #4 among Cenla waters). According to RSFF ambassador Dugan Sabins, I may have to up my ranking... just about everyone caught big bream and the usual suspects caught some nice stringers of 8-9 inch fish! But in addition, a few members went hunting for hybrid stripers and had great success! In fact, Gary Peterson, Darin Lee and Mark Hester all weighed and submitted their catches for the LOWA Fly Rod Records list. FYI, the Louisiana Outdoors Writers Association (LOWA) maintains the top 10 of each species in three different categories: Rod-Reel, Fly Rod, and Private Waters. Currently, the Hybrid Striped Bass / Fly Rod category has two entries: Robert Wells at 5.13 pounds and Randy Lewis at 4.31 pounds. If approved, Gary's fish (shown in photo) will take 1st spot at 6.71 pounds. Darin's striper will be in 2nd place at 6.57 pounds, and Mark's entry will be 3rd at 5.97 pounds. For anyone who has ever fished for hybrids (or full stripers) on fly rod, knows these were epic battles, indeed! Dugan didn't mention what flies were used, but it appears from photo evidence either seaducers or decievers or some variation of baitfish pattern. In addition to Concordia and nearby Lake St. John, hybrid striped bass can be found at False River, Cane River Lake, Toledo Bend and Lake Claiborne. Claiborne is the most promising of the bunch for a double-digit fish on fly - the lake record is 12.87 pounds!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Low gas prices could continue thru summer. A new report released by the U.S. Energy Department is forecasting for gasoline prices to remain at their lowest level in six years, with projected national average of $2.45 per gallon between April and September. If this projection holds, it's great news for anglers! So far in 2015, the average price has been around 30 percent lower than in 2014. While cold and rain (and constant generation on tailwaters) has cancelled many fishing trips for Louisiana flycasters this Winter and Spring, low gas prices has been a boon to events. The Cenla Fly Fest, Rizzolo Fly Tying Fest, Red Stick Day, Sowbug Roundup, Guadalupe Trout Unlimited TroutFest and Caddo Conclave all had good attendance. If gas prices continue under $2.50 a gallon - or even drop - expect many fly anglers to make road trips this summer. It's in our nature!

Orvis Fly Fishing 101 - a great success story! A couple years ago, Orvis began a program to offer free introductory fly fishing instruction through it's stores nationwide. Not all stores do it on a regular basis, but the Baton Rouge store does. And it's been a huge success! Consider that prior to the Orvis program, the local Red Stick Fly Fishers did an annual "Fly Fishing 101" where attendance was very good - usually 20 to 30 folks. The Baton Rouge Orvis FF101 programs get 5 times that many each year! The program was featured in DIG magazine and has been recognized in my "Fly Lines" column in Louisiana Sportsman. FF101 is a 2-hour, one-day program that covers the basics of our sport - one hour covers tackle selection and knot tying, and one hour covers casting instruction. There's also a followup program for FF101 graduates... "Fly Fishing 201" puts the skills anglers learned to test on use on the water. Students tie knots, apply their casting skills, make fly selection, and learn to cast, retrieve, hook and fight fish. Even if the species is bluegill, it's a epiphany to many students.

For those interested in Fly Fishing 101 the Orvis store has 3 more sessions available before a summer break. Those dates are April 25, May 16, and June 6. Classes are typically from 8:00am to 10:00am. Pre-registration is required, as seats are limited. To check availability - and to register online - the store now has this online registration page. Also, registration can be done by calling 225-757-7286. Another set of events brought to my attention by store manager Alex Beane was Orvis Days. These are going to be Saturday, April 25 and Saturday, May 2. On April 25th, Captain Lucas Bissett and Alex will do a presentation on fly fishing with a guide - maximizing your time spent on the water for success. This free clinic is from 12 noon to 2:00pm. It includes topics such as questions to ask when booking a guide, understanding guide interaction and more. On May 2nd, the clinic will be on getting more distance in your casting. Time will be from 12 noon to 1:00pm, and will cover topics such as doing a double haul, line management, and more. Attendees are requested to bring their rods (or use one of Orvis rods) and cast. For more on all these events, check the Orvis Baton Rouge Facebook page.

Sunday, April 12, 2015
What's happening this week. A very important day, plus a very big event. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Casting outside beginning at 6:30pm, weather permitting. On the agenda: a recap of this past weekend's freshwater trip to Lake Concordia. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting on the banks of the Cane River downtown, weather permitting. The program will be on "Fly Fishing from Kayak and Canoe" with live demonstration. The group will head to Mama's afterwards for dinner. Guests are welcome! Also on Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge, 150 Eagle Bend Point, in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. For the program, Erik Dilts and Frank Harmon will share their experiences from a recent flats fishing adventure to El Pescador Lodge in Belize. 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 on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, materials are provided. Also on Thursday, the CCA Monroe Chapter will hold it's annual banquet at the Civic Center Conference Hall. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse/date, $25 youth) and includes one-year CCA membership, admission, dinner and open bar. For more info, contact Julie Grunewald at julie@ccalouisiana.com. Starting Friday evening, and on Saturday, it's the 12th annual Paddlepalooza kayak fishing tournament. More on that later. On Sunday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "Kayaking 101" clinics at Lake Martin. Cost is $40 per person, and includes instruction, use of kayak, paddle, and PFD. This on-the-water workshop covers the basics of flatwater kayaking and kayak safety. Pre-registration is required, as seats are limited. To register, go to www.packpaddle.com.

There's never a loser at Paddlepalooza! This Friday evening kicks off the Granddaddy of Louisiana kayak fishing tournaments - the 12th annual Paddlepalooza. Once again, location will be Topwater Marina (formerly Bobby Lynn's Marina) down in Leeville. Hosted by the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club, Paddlepalooza is one of the "majors" - one of the very special kayak fishing tournaments in the country. Last year's attendance of 262 could be in jeopardy - currently 223 are registered, and the Saturday forecast shows favorable weather and winds. The event kicks off Friday at 7:00pm with the Captain's meeting and pastalaya dinner. Saturday at 5:00am fishing begins, with weigh-in no later than 4:00pm. Entrants can launch and fish anywhere along Highway 1 from the Highway 3163 intersection south to the end of Grand Isle. Registration is only $51, and that includes tournament entry, Friday and Saturday meals, Captain's bag, t-shirt, a chance at numerous raffle items, and more. The tourney is setup so the maximum number of individuals come away with prizes, with several spots in each category awarded. And there's a ton of categories - Cajun Slam (heaviest combination slot red, speckled trout, flounder), individual species, Ladies Slam, Youth Division, and Leopard Red (most spots). There's cash and prizes awarded, including Hobie kayaks for the top two Cajun Slams and a KC Kayak for the Leopard Red winner. Yet another reason for the popularity of Paddlepalooza - early Spring can be excellent fishing for marsh reds and specks - and fly fishing, too! I've weighed in a fly-caught red and speck the last five Paloozas I've fished. Even though that elusive flounder has kept me from the prizes, I've still come away with goodies. That's because of the giant raffle containing dozens of prizes donated by the event's many terrific sponsors. The raffle income is used in part to support the club's charities. Finally, there's the food - it's the reason why unexplicably some puddlers gain a pound or two even with all the paddling or peddling. Whatever reason puddlers find appealing, they'll have no trouble registering this final week. Online registration will remain open thru Thursday at BCKFC.ORG, and there'll be onsite registration at the Captains meeting on Friday night.

Rain, rain go away! At Saturday's Caddo Conclave, fellow attendees were frustrated with the consequences of much-higher-than-normal rainfall this Spring. It's negatively impacted many freshwater spots, but also saltwater (the Calcasieu system in particular) and even popular trout destinations like the Lower Mountain Fork and the Little Missouri. In the latter case, there's no fishing tailwaters when they're generating most - if not all - of the time. Freshwater and saltwater may be "fishable" but "catching" isn't good. Cormier's 2nd Law of Fly Fishing states, "Clear water favors the fly angler", but dirty water favors no one! Well, maybe stink bait fishing for catfish. LFF readers will not like the forecast for the week ahead - most of the state is forecast for 50 to 80 percent chance of rain Sunday thru Friday, with flash flood warnings across most of south Louisiana. Not the forecast we're wanting to see at a time that bream activity is really picking up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Redfish harvest in federal waters to resume? It's possible if a proposal by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources gets approval by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to several news sources, the plan would allow each angler fishing in federal waters with a licensed charter captain a maximum of 1 redfish per day. The minimum size limit would be 18 inches, with no maximum size limit. Harvesting of redfish beyond state waters - by either recreational or commercial - has been closed for nearly three decades. According to CCA Louisiana, the proposal would "open up a Pandora's box". We agree... one of the reasons for the great red drum fishery we have is because the spawners - all of them - are protected. It's nature's restocking program. One argument that proponents of the Mississippi proposal are making is that there would be a maximum quota of 30,000 pounds such that the spawning stock would not be adversely affected. Among the many things the snapper issue has taught us, it's that quotas were meant to be exceeded. NOAA will accept public comment through April 23. Those looking to express their opinions may email 0648.XD816.Red.Drum.EFP@noaa.gov.

Registration is now open for Destination Texas Expo. Destination Texas is the name of the IFFF Texas Council's annual fly fishing show (conclave). The show will be held at the New Braunfels Civic Center Friday, May 29 thru Sunday, May 31. Admission is $20 for IFFF members ($25 non-members) for all 3 days, or $10 for one-day. Among the highlights of the event are the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) on Friday night, the Expo banquet on Saturday night, the Fly Tying Theatre featuring scheduled tyers, IFFF Certified Casting workshops and more. There are free presentations, fly tying demonstrations, and fee workshops. One of the striking aspects of the registration form - ALL the workshops involve casting (no tying or rigging workshops of any kind). Strange. Anywho, this promises to be a great event, check it out at www.txflyfishexpo.com.

LDWF hosting Kids Fishing Day Camp in July. Once again, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold a Kids Fishing Day Camp for ages 10 to 15 years at the Woodworth Outdoor Education Center. The camp will run from Monday, July 6 thru Thursday, July 9. Time each day is 9:00am to 4:00pm. Campers will be supervised by LDWF education staff and volunteers doing activities that focus on all aspects of fish and fishing. Registration is $75 per child. Deadline is June 30. Camp is limited to the first 20 participants. Lunch will be provided daily and each child will receive a rod/reel combo and stocked tackle bass courtesy of the Association of Louisiana Bass Clubs (ALBC) and Woodmen of the World. For more info, go to the LDWF website or contact Todd Buffington at 318-773-2402.

Sunday, April 5, 2015
Happy Easter! It's a shame the rain has spoiled the egg hunts over most of the state today. Even so, it's wonderful to spend time with family and enjoy the long weekend. The kids are celebrating the passage of the Easter bunny... there's going to be LOTS of chocolate consumed the next couple of weeks. The adults in our extended family celebrate the true reason for this day - the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion to redeem the world. No better way to celebrate that than with a cold beer! (now you know what I gave up for Lent, ha!). Here's wishing all - kids and adults - a great day!

What's happening this week. A busy one, as we begin that annual Spring stretch of activities laden with kayak demos and tournaments and CCA banquets. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presybterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, The Backpacker of Baton Rouge will host a "Paddlepalooza Fishing Seminar" at their store on Jefferson Highway. Time is 6:30pm. Hobie Team members Tommy Eubanks, Casey Bruning, Clayton Shilling, Todd Lewis, and Brendan Bayard will talk about kayak fishing rigging, fishing patterns, safety, strategy and fishing locations along Highway 1. There is not cost. On Thursday, Pack and Paddle will host a free "Fly Fishing 101" seminar at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Keith Richard, an FFF Master Certified Casting Instructor, will cover topics from tackle selection and fly selection for various species, as well as nearby fishing spots. No reservation is necessary. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. Also on Thursday, the Northshore Chapter of CCA will hold their annual banquet at the Castine Center in Mandeville. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include dinner, one-year membership, open bar, live auction, raffles, more. For more info, contact Ryan Guerin at ryan@ccalouisiana.com. Starting Friday thru Sunday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual Spring outing to Lake Concordia. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also starting Friday evening and continuing Saturday, it's the 6th annual Caddo Conclave. More on that later. Also on Friday evening, and continuing Saturday, Pack and Paddle will hold a "Venice Kayak Fishing Trip". As of this writing, a few spots were still available. Cost is $185 per person and includes Friday night accomodations, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and guided kayak trip on Saturday (kayak, paddle, PFD provided). For more info or to register, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will host another of their "Fly Fishing 101" classes at their store on Perkins-Rowe. This free, one-day, 2-hour session covers the basics of the sport, including hands-on casting instruction. Reservations are required, as classes do fill up. To register, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, the Ascension Parish Library in Gonzales will hold a free Fly Tying Class at their South Irma branch. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Basics of tying fresh and saltwater flies. For more info, call instructor Darrell Crawford at 225-644-7989. Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters of New Orleans will host a "Kayak Demo Day" on Bayou St. John at 1400 Moss Street in New Orleans. Time is 11:00am to 3:00pm. There is no cost. Boats include Hobie, Perception, Dagger, Native, Jackson, Wilderness, Feelfree, Bote. For more info, call 800-754-7467. 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. There is no cost. Boats include Hobie, Wilderness, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, YOLO, and Dagger. On Sunday, Backpacker of Baton Rouge will host a free "Kayak Demo Day" at BREC Wampold Park on University Lake. Time is 12 noon to 4:00pm. Brands will be the same as those for the Lafayette store demo on Saturday. Again, if weather becomes an issue, check with the store at 225-925-2667 to confirm.

This weekend's 6th annual Caddo Conclave will again be held at beautiful Caddo State Park in Karnack, Texas, just 35 miles northwest of Shreveport. The scenic lake that the park straddles is boundary water between Texas and Louisiana and is fishable with either state's basic fishing license. Co-hosted by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers and East Texas Fly Fishers, the Caddo event marks the last regional club conclave until the Contraband club of Lake Charles does theirs in August (note that the IFFF Texas Council will hold their event in New Braunfels the last weekend of May). For those who still don't know what a "conclave" is, it's a celebration of fly fishing featuring seminars, fly tying demos by a variety of tiers, casting seminars and/or instruction, raffles, food, and plain ol' comradery. The Caddo event is no different... it kicks off Friday evening at 5:00pm with a pot luck dinner and evening fly tying. Saturday kicks off with a breakfast by the NLFF club, followed by fly tying demos, seminars, raffles, casting and more. Lunch will be provided by the East Texas Fly Fishers. Cost for the event is only $10. For more info, check the Caddo Conclave posts in our forum, or contact Mike Hawkins at 903-736-1887 or Scott Irwin at 318-469-0854.

Allen now selling rod blanks. The folks at Allen Fly Fishing began with a simple construct: to sell good quality fly reels at an affordable price, directly to customers. Their success was amazing, and it allowed the co-owners to expand into rods, flies, fly lines, packs, hooks, accessories and more. Now they've ventured into an area that had been on the decline for over a decade but is showing signs of resurgence. That's rod building. Last week, I received an email unveiling their new MC2 blanks. Here's what it said: "MC2 Series blanks are a result of our ongoing RD in our newest generations of fly rods. Featuring a medium action with plenty of power, light swing weight and quality construction.". Four-piece models run from an 8'6" 4-weight to a 9-foot, 8-weight and are priced at $125.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
No April Fools Joke - it's a record redear! That's what I thought this morning when I read this story on the Outdoor News (photo courtesy of OutdoorNews.com). But it's fact... a few weeks back, Hector Brito was fishing Arizona's Lake Havasu, site of several gargantuan shellcracker catches in the last few years. Brito was fishing a drop-shot rig using a nightcrawler when his rod nearly doubled over. Thinking it was a catfish during the fight, imagine his surprise when a redear surfaced. It weighed in at 5.78 pounds, and if approved by the International Game Fish Association will eclipse the previous record of 5.55 pounds caught by Bob Lawler in 2011. So what makes Havasu special for redear? It appears the lake is infested with an invasive quagga mussel. Similiar situation to Merritt's Mill Pond in Florida (one of our family's favorite fishing spots). Waters teeming with mussels and snails. According to a Florida Wildlife biologist I spoke to, once redears get a certain size, they go to work on these crustaceans... an all-you-can-eat buffet! Their growth explodes after that point. Incidently, the best spot to catch big redears in Louisiana? Caney Lake near Chatham - it has 9 of the top 10 record fish, ranging from 1.62 pounds to 2.87 pounds.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
CCA will be holding a fishing seminar this Thursday at Bent's Marine in Metairie. Hosted by the New Orleans Metro Chapters of CCA, the event will feature guest speakers Sam Barbera, Billy Nungesser, Captains Mike Gallo, Ron "Ahab" Broadus, C.T. Williams, Dudley Vandenborre, Greg Schlumbrecht, and Peace Marvel (weather permitting). Doors open at 5:30pm, speakers start at 6:00pm. Admission is $5, with ladies and kids free. And kids receive a free gift! In addition to a jambalaya dinner donated by Group Insurance Associates, there's adult beverages provided by Southern Eagle Budweiser. Enough of the particulars... the reason I'd be interested in attending this event should be pretty clear. We've had a rough winter and early spring, but the reports as of late have been quite optimistic. Nobody knows the fish more than the folks who do this for a living. The question on everyone's minds is will this Spring and Summer be a repeat of 2014 (good for reds, poor for specks). Hopefully they have some insight.

The History of Fly Fishing in Fifty Flies. That's the title of a new book by Ian Whitelaw. Normally I don't get excited about new fly fishing books unless they're either very good, entertaining, pertain to our regional fishing, or cover a different and/or unique topic. This one certainly falls in the unique category according to the press release... it tells the history of our sport beginning some 2,000 years ago to today through the "eyes" of flies, in the process covering fishing techniques of those flies and their use around the world. Based on the page samples I've seen, this looks to be the type of book I'd like very much to have in my library. The hardcopy is $16.42 on Amazon, but with the Kindle price of $9.99 it's worth a check.

Monday, March 30, 2015
What's happening this week. A light week with Good Friday and Easter. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers meet at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club holds their quarterly meeting at Frenier Landing restaurant off Dottie Lane (Highway 51 north of Laplace). Time is 7:00pm. On the agenda: Heroes on the Water, upcoming Paddlepalooza XII. Prospective members are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Gathering begins at 6:00pm, with meeting starting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix will play host to the Adventure Fishing World Championship. This CPR kayak tournament is one-of-a-kind, combining fishing, paddling, navigation and endurance. Teams of 2 anglers paddle a 15-mile course, fishing at several "checkpoints", and return to the finish area by 5:00pm. The team that catches the longest combination of redfish, speckled trout, bass, drum AND finishes the course in time wins.

It's time for panfish! That's the theme for the April edition of Louisiana Sportsman magazine. The feature article by David Brown - "Cracking the Code" features two of the state's most notable redear experts, Bill McCarty and Glen "Catch" Cormier. Yep, that's me! And although there's references to flies and fly fishing tactics for the chiquapin, reader beware! I also give tips for using live bait! John Flores also writes about bream fishing in the lower Atchafalaya Basin this month. Chris Berzas writes about Sabine Reds. In my Fly Lines column, I tell the "Tale of Two Lakes", about bank fishing opportunities for big bream at Jennings Park Pond and Lake D'arbonne near Farmerville. Chris Holmes' column, Paddles and Puddles, discusses the several opportunities for marsh bass fishing in the southeast parishes. Jerald Horst tells us all about stingrays in his "Creature Feature" column, and with wife Glenda offers up recipes for Tripletail, and Atchafalaya Stuffed Catfish in their "Creature Feature" column.

In his First Cast column, Louisiana Sportsman editor Andy Crawford writes in support of U.S. Senate Bill 577, The Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015. This bipartisan legislation would end the mandate for using ethanol in gasoline mixtures. Andy cites the many reasons why ethanol-enriched gas is bad for consumers and motor engines (particularly boat motors). While it's unlikely that we'd see total elimination of E10 gasoline if the bill passes, the true impact of bill passage would be to snuff any proposals for even higher ethanol blend E15.

March Madness continues! Yes, college basketball madness, but also the craziness over monster bass. March is the time of year when big spawners take to the beds. The ritual was delayed this year - especially in north and central Louisiana - because of unusually cold temperatures early in the month. But it's made up with a vengence the last couple of weeks... Toledo Bend alone has produced 11 bass over 10 pounds! Indian Creek and Caney Lake have given up a couple of 10-plus bass, with the Caney fish weighing over 13 pounds! While other lakes aren't producing fish of that size, there are many, many reports of bass over 6 pounds coming from just about every water north of Opelousas, as well as Lacassine Refuge near Lake Arthur. Most of these reports are "commie tackle"... in my opinion - and from experience - big spawners are extremely tough to catch on any tackle. The fact there are 100 times more folks fishing the hawgs with commie tackle than fly tackle is reason why there are so very, very few big bass reports on fly tackle. Of course, all it takes is one fly cast to the right spot to a big, angry bass and we could see a new fly rod bass record.

Help the IFFF Southern Council and win a fly rod. The Southern Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers holds it's annual fly fishing show (conclave) in Mountain Home, Arkansas the first weekend of October. Historically it was one of the largest non-commercial fly fishing shows in the country, with attendance in the 800 to 1,000 range. In recent years, it's dropped to well under half that. The Council is now reaching out to attendees and prospective attendees to learn what would entice them to attend Southern Conclave. To encourage responses, all those answering the survey will have their names placed into a drawing for a TFO 8'6", 5-weight, Lefty Kreh Pro Series fly rod. The survey can be found here. You can email your response.. AND you do NOT have to be an IFFF member to participate.

So why is Southern conclave attendance down? I've been going to Southern since 1991. Having seen the decline, and a number of changes, I say a number of factors. The split off of the Gulf Coast (and now Texas) Councils has certainly had some impact - though not great. A bigger impact has been the decline in attendance from the Memphis club which once had over 800 members (now a fraction of that). I also think there's more competition from club conclaves, with the Sowbug Roundup - also held in Mountain Home - somewhat of a factor. But in my opinion, the biggest factor has been the lack and depth of programs and workshops for intermediate and advanced fly anglers. While having mostly beginner-oriented activities sounds good, the Southern Council (and all other IFFF councils) need to realize that there's a plethora of beginner events taking place everywhere (Orvis, clubs, etc.) not to mention endless internet and video instruction. The councils need to also realize that the folks most likely to spend money on travel are those looking for the rare opportunity to learn something different and new. And that includes learning from one of the big names in our sport.

Monday, March 23, 2015
We are saddened to learn that Walt Holman passed away yesterday morning. Although he lived in Madison, Alabama, Walt was born in Louisiana, and frequently came "home" with his lovely wife Gennie to enjoy the good food and great redfishing, as well as participate as a guest tier at events such as the Red Stick Fly Fishers conclaves where he was an annual fixture. Walt served in the U.S. Navy, later attended Auburn University where he was a member of the Auburn football team, and earned a degree in engineering. He took up tying after coming to the conclusion that he could make baits for a lot cheaper than what he bought at the store, just by using cork, wood and feathers and a few basic carpentry tools in his shop. Walt would go on to share his innovation... he was highly influential to many fly tiers across the country, including several Louisiana tiers who have since emulated his mastery of balsa flies. It's from Walt that several of us learned how to tie his foil covered poppers which have been so effective for bass and speckled trout (pictured is one of Walt's famous foil poppers). In addition to the events here in Louisiana, Walt and his wife Gennie were annual participants at Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) Southern and Southeastern conclaves. His craftmanship was as much art as it was design and execution. His donations of flies for various events have raised thousands of dollars over the course of three decades for clubs and councils. For his contributions to the art of the sport, Walt was recognized three times as FFF Southeastern Council "Fly Tier of the Year" as well as the 2013 FFF Buzz Buszek Award winner (lifetime recognition in fly tying achievement). His legacy of tying was only equaled by his legacy for teaching others. Walt was 84 years young, and will be greatly missed.

Sunday, March 22, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Orvis store on Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Ron Braud will tie two of the late Mike Verduin's most popular bream flies - the Cap Spider and the Woven Catalpa Worm. Both were used by Mike himself on his trips to Lake Concordia with the club - with great success! Bring your tools if you have some, if not, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials will be provided. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. This month is their annual Spring "On the Water meeting". Instead of the library, the club will gather at Cotile Recreational Area beginning at 5:00pm, fishing off the bank or from boat/kayak. The club will meet for business at 7:30pm in the parking lot. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, it's the New Orleans Fly Fishers monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also starting Thursday, and continuing thru Saturday, it's the 9th annual Sowbug Roundup in Mountain Home, Arkansas. More on that later. On Saturday, it's the 68th annual New Orleans City Park Big Bass Fishing Rodeo and Fishtival. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Please bring your tying tools, materials are provided. Also on Saturday, Ship-to-Shore in Lake Charles will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at Lake Prien. More on that later.

The New Orleans City Park Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival is the oldest fishing tournament in the United States, marking it's 68th anniversary this Saturday. As mentioned last week, the event has undergone a few changes in the last few years, and there are changes again for 2015. One of those changes was the addition of "Boats on the Bayou", a kayak fishing event on Bayou St. John. It's celebrating it's 2nd year, and interest continues to build. BOTB runs from 7:00am to 10:30am. Entry is $15 per person, online registration only. Registration ends this Friday. Another change is the expansion of the fly rod division - for 2015, it's no longer "Fly Rod Bass", it's "Fly Fishing" with either bass or rio grande perch as eligible species. Entry for the Fly Fishing division is $10 adults, $5 kids 12 and under. Registration can be done online thru Friday, or onsite from 6:00am to 8:00am. Fishing is from 6:30am to 11:00am. Weigh-in at 11:00am. In addition to the fishing, there are exhibitors for the "Fishtival". Those will include the New Orleans Fly Fishers, who will also be demonstrating fly tying. For complete rules, registration, and more, go to www.neworleanscitypark.com.

This week's Sowbug Roundup has long been the largest club conclave (fly fishing festival) in the country, hosted by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers of Mountain Home, Arkansas. The event runs Thursday thru Saturday and features over 100 fly tiers from across the country, along with seminars, vendors, exhibitors, casting clinics and much more. For those who have been to an IFFF conclave, Sowbug is bigger than most, on par with the IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair held each fall, also in Mountain Home. Location is Baxter County Fairgrounds. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm each day. Entry fee is only $5 for all 3 days with kids 12 and under free. For more info, go to www.northarkansasflyfishers.org.

Orvis of Baton Rouge offering more Fly Fishing 101 classes this Spring. The dates are April 11, April 25, May 16, and June 6. Each class is a one-day, 2-hour workshop that covers the basics of the sport along with an hour of basic casting instruction. The events are held at the store's location in Perkins-Rowe. Best of all, the classes are free! Registration is required, as class size is limited... most of these classes do fill up! Now there are two ways to signup - first, by contacting the store at 225-757-7286. Second, by going to their new Event Calendar Page and clicking on the event.

Speaking of Orvis... Orvis Days are coming soon. On Saturday, April 25, the Orvis Baton Rouge store will host Captain Lucas Bissett for a presentation from 12 noon to 1:00pm. Titled "Great Expectations: Finding Common Ground", the seminar will help anyone considering booking a guide anywhere on how to maximize their day on the water - and their fishing vacation in general. Also covered will be the questions to ask when booking a guide, and how to interact with the guide while on the water. On Saturday, May 2, another presentation will be offered, "Do You Want More Distance in Your Casting". Emphasis will be on the double haul, along with tips and tricks for better line management when distance casting.

It's time for Kayak Demo Days. We've had a few already, but with Spring here and warmer weather, all of the locally-owned dealerships are filling up their schedules. "Try before you buy" is Cormier's 2nd Law of Puddling. These free events give prospective owners - or those upgrading their boats - a chance to try various models on the water. Pack and Paddle of Lafayette will be holding one Saturday, May 2, at Vermillionville Park. Among the boats will be Hobie, Native, NuCanoe, Jackson, Feelfree, Mad River and more. Contact the store at 337-232-5854 to reserve. Ship to Shore in Lake Charles will be doing a Kayak Demo Day this coming Saturday, March 28, at Prien Lake Park. Hobie Fishing Team member A.J. McWhorter will be on hand to answer questions, as well as the guys from KC Kayaks. For more info, contact their store at 337-474-0730. Backpacker will hold their next demo days on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12. The April 11 demo will be at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville, from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Hosted by their Lafayette store, more info is available by calling 337-406-8754. The April 12 demo will be at BREC's Wampold Park on Stanford Avenue in Baton Rouge, from 12 noon to 4:00pm. Among the boats on demo will be Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Dagger and more. Masseys Outfitters, New Orleans store, will hold a Kayak Demo Day on Saturday, April 11, on Bayou St. John at 1405 Moss Street. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Models include Hobie, Native, Jackson, Wilderness, Dagger, BOTE, Feelfree, and more. In addition to these specific dates, most stores do on-request demos. Contact the specific store to inquire for details.

Sunday, March 15, 2015
What's happening this week. You know Spring is almost here with 2 big kayak tournaments this weekend. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Beginners are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Church Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, with general meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 E. Pinhook Road in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: this weekend's club "Marsh Madness" event, tackle tips, fishing reports. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Bud Bethea will be demonstrating tying the "Tussel Bug", an effective bream fly created by Dirk Burton that uses woven technique. The public is invited. On Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold their first-ever freshwater tournament, "Yak-A-Bass", at Chicot Lake State Park near Ville Platte. Entry fee is $20 for this CPR (catch-photo-release) tournament and registration is online until 11:00pm this Wednesday. For more info, or to register, go to www.bckfc.org. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual "Marsh Madness" kayak fishing tournament out of Coco Marina in Cocodrie. Entry fee is $25 members, $30 nonmembers. This is a tackle exchange tournament where participants randomly draw a bag starting at 5:30am. Shotgun launch starts at 6:15am out of the marina (no roadrunning). For LKFC members, this is the 1st of the Series tournaments for 2015 AOY points. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Saturday, it's Kisatchie National Forest Day with activities at the Recreational Area on Kincaid Lake near Gardner. Numerous outdoor groups will be on hand for this free event. The Kisatchie Fly Fishers will be presenting fly casting seminars at 10:00am, 11:00am, and 1:00pm. For more info, click on Kisatchie NF Events page..

The 68th annual New Orleans City Park Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival is coming up in 2 weeks on Saturday, March 28. For flyfishers and kayak anglers interested in this event, NOCP is now taking registration online until the Friday before. For "Boats on the Bayou" - the kayak fishing portion of the rodeo - registration is online only. Entry fee is only $15. The BOTB Division allows canoes and kayaks only, with four categories for largest bass, redfish, trout, and trashbash (any other species) each. In addition, there's a "Red Tag Special" offering prizes for up to 3 anglers who bring in the heaviest cumulative weight of tagged reds (limit 5 per person). If no tagged reds are caught, the prizes will be drawn from all BOTB registrants. Last year, 89 puddlers participated in the first-ever BOTB.

For fly anglers, a big change in the NOCP-BB rodeo. For many years, there's been a "Big Bass - Fly Rod" Division in the tournament. This year, the division has changed to "Fly Fishing" with either bass or rio grande perch as the entry. Organizers think this may help fly anglers having to compete against a barrage of bass competitors. Although history has proven that fly anglers can hold their own. For example, in 2008, Ralph Litolff won with a 3.25 pound fish that was the same weight as the Casting Division winner that year. However, in 2012, the winning Fly Bass weighed only 0.36 pounds... I doubt there are any rios that small in the lagoons. At least fly anglers won't be competing against teams trying to catch (and kill) as many rios as possible - the Rio Team Division has been eliminated. As for any guess as to what the winning weight for this year's Fly Fishing Division might be, who knows. The lagoons hold some mighty bass - in 2013, two fish over 9 pounds were caught including the park record of 9.05 pounds by Tim Zissis.

The end of Coldpocalypse! It finally feels like Spring here in central Louisiana, even though only willow trees and swamp maples have sprung leaves. We're still running about 2 weeks later than normal on vegetation, and the water temperatures are still about 8-10 degrees below last year this time. But the fish are reacting... and so are the humans. The boat launch by my house was packed yesterday after reports of two bass over 8 pounds caught! The water is still chocolate milk from all the rain, so most came back skunked. Nearby Kincaid Lake was a different story. I spoke to one angler and his son who caught 10 bass yesterday morning. The water there is clear across most of the lake. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Valentine Lake and did some bank fishing. The water was milky here - again from last week's torrential rains - but I caught probably 50 redears between 5 and 7 inches on a Beadhead Hares Ear Rosborough Style. Meanwhile, there were a half dozen kayaks (it's a no-motor lake) working the western flats. Only one I spoke to caught a bass. Later this week I plan to scout either Grande Bayou or Hodges Gardens for a lunker. Yes, it's that time of year when the big gals head to the banks. To all my fellow flybassers, best of luck!

Sunday, March 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. Time is 7:00pm. The public is welcome. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. This will be their annual "Chili and Flies" meeting, featuring a chili cookoff and a fly tying contest using a "secret" set of materials. Things kickoff at 6:00pm. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church Life Center in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. Special guest speaker will be Larry Offner, owner of Green Trout Fly Shop and the WarmFly.com website. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the CCA Northshore Chapter will host a Spring Fishing Seminar at the Tchefuncta Country Club in Covington. Time is 6:00pm. CCA members admission is $5, non-members $10, ladies and kids are free. Jambalaya and two beverages provided, cash bar also available. Guest speakers include Captains Sean O'Connell, Mike Gallo, Charlie Thomason, and Bubby Lamy. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "Kayaking 101 - Basic Skills for Flatwater Kayaking" on-the-water workshop. Currently this session is filled, but there are cancellations, so if interested, email info@packpaddle.com to get on the waiting list. At worst, you'll be contacted about the next upcoming workshop. Also starting Thursday and running thru Sunday, it's the 36th annual Louisiana Sportsmen's Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Hours for the Granddaddy of Louisiana outdoor shows is Thursday and Friday from 2:00pm to 9:00pm, Saturday 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm. There are countless exhibitors and numerous retailers, so make sure you have a good 3 hours to take everything in. More info on activities and exhibitors can be found at www.louisianasportsmansshow.com. On Friday thru Sunday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their annual "March Brown" trip to the Little Missouri River. On Saturday, the Ascension Parish Library will hold a fly tying class at the South Irma Boulevard branch. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. There is no fee. Covered are the basics of tying fresh and saltwater flies. Bring your tools, materials provided. For more info, call instructor Darrell Crawford at 225-644-7989. Also on Saturday, it's the annual "Fly Fish Texas" at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm. All activities are free with regular paid admission to the Center. There are seminars, fly tying demonstrations, casting clinics, and more. For a schedule of activities, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc and click on the "Fly Fish Texas" link.

More on that monster brown trout caught up on the White River in northern Arkansas a couple weeks ago. It's now been confirmed that at 38 lbs, 7 oz, it is the third largest brown trout ever caught in Arkansas, and the largest ever recorded from the White River. The fish was taken by Calvin Johnston of Olathe, Kansas. Johnston, who grew up in Little Rock, had joined his brother and friends for a retreat at Rainbow Drive Resort. Being primarily a bass angler, he was using the same spinning tackle and drop-shot rigging he uses for bass, for trout. He had decided to wade out a little just before sunset to get some fishing in before dinner when he hung into the trout of a lifetime. After he stuck the fish, he knew it was a brute - it took most of the line off his reel before settling in to a tug-of-war for about 20 minutes. Finally, with the help of another man fishing nearby, he was able to get the trout's head into the net. Johnston wasn't the only one gleed by the monster brown: for Arkansas Game and Fish biologists it confirms that the White River is still a world-class water capable of producing trophy fish. Photo courtesy of The Fishing Wire

But fishing for those trophy trout will cost a little more if you're a Louisiana angler - or from any state outside of Arkansas. That's because at their January meeting, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved an increase in several non-resident fishing licenses. An annual NR fishing license will be $50, up from $40. The NR 3-day trip license will increase from $11 to $16, and the NR 7-day trip license will increase from $17 to $25. Hunting license fees for non-residents also increased as well. Resident license fees were not impacted.

Are we there yet? One of the few displeasures of taking family vacations was that annoying question from the kids - "Are we there yet?". Lately anglers - both fly and conventional - have been asking the same regarding the start of freshwater fishing. At the Red Stick Fly Fishers conclave in Baton Rouge yesterday, I had a chance to gauge the relative state of fishing compared to past years, since the event is always held the first Saturday in March. The ponds at the LDWF Waddill Outdoors Center are fairly homogenous, so whatever activity is happening is almost entirely related to water temperature. To no surprise, I measured the water temp about 10 degrees below what it was this time last year. Observations confirmed that... normally we see the bass either on beds or searching for beds, but yesterday they were deep early in the day, and by afternoon sunning in the surface. A characteristic more common of mid to late February. Early in the day I hooked into a big bass deep on a fluff butt using my 3-weight and fought for about a minute in front of several witnesses. I called it a 4-pounder, Pete Cooper says a solid 3, but however big, it seemed to indicate they might be active. A couple more bass were caught that morning, including a nice one by Ron Ratliff's wife Cynthia. But once they moved up to the surface, they became very spooky and reluctant to bite anything. Later yesterday afternoon, I spent an hour fishing BREC's Forest Park pond. The craneflies were everywhere on the water, and the gobbules were tearing up on a size 12 black popper. I also spotted a few bass looking to spawn. Being a shallower pond (average depth 4 feet compared to 10 feet at Waddill) was likely the reason water temperature was 6 degrees warmer - and the bug life and the fish were much more active. The week ahead calls for seasonal temperatures - first time above freezing lows statewide area since mid-November!! That's the good news. The bad news - it's going to be wet. Very wet. All parts of the state have a chance of rain thru next weekend, but the southeastern part will hover in the 70-90 percent range! One can always look at the silver lining - at least there'll be a lot more water to fish.

Sunday, March 1, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. The public is welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold a rescheduled meeting from February 23rd. That meeting was cancelled due to icy conditions. Location will be the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Club member Roger Breedlove will do a presentation on "Custom Rod Building". The public is invited. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on 124 Girod Street in Mandeville. Gathering starts at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. The public is welcome. Starting Friday evening, and continuing Saturday, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette kicks off their annual Spring Demo weekend. More on that later. On Saturday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual conclave, "Red Stick Day", in Baton Rouge. More on that later. On Sunday, it's the start of Daylight Savings Time. Don't forget to set your clocks one hour later.

This Saturday is Red Stick Day in Baton Rouge. The Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their 23rd annual fly fishing festival at the LDWF Waddill Outdoors Center on 4141 North Flannery Road. Admission is free, and there's free refreshments. A jambalaya lunch is also available for $7. There are several reasons why Red Stick Day is a very popular event. One is a greater emphasis towards saltwater programs. That's true again this year with presentations by Chuck Fisk of Fairhope, Alabama ("Wade Fishing the Northern Gulf Coast for Pompano, Specks and Reds") and Captain Ron Ratliff of Houma ("Springtime Redfishing"). For those interested in coldwater and warmwater, there's programs by Larry Offner ("Rios Revisited") and Jim Wright ("Coldwater Fishing the Lower Mountain Fork"). A second reason for strong attendance is the presence of fly tiers not seen at other state conclaves - from Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. A third reason? Kayak demos on the premises. Backpacker will be there from 11:00am to 2:00pm with the most popular boats from Hobie, Wilderness Systems and others. A fourth reason - fishing on the premises. It's not unusual for attendees to catch a bass or bull bream. And if that's not enough reasons, there's the raffle. It's big, often over 80 items! For those new to the sport, Roger del Rio, an IFFF certified casting instructor, will be doing "Casting Basics" in the morning and "Advanced Casting" in the afternoon. For a complete schedule of all activities, along with list of fly tiers and speakers, go to www.rsff.org and click on "Red Stick Fly Fest".

Pack and Paddle's annual Spring Demo weekend kicks off this Friday evening with "Beer and Gear Social Night" at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Festivities begin at 5:00pm and continue to 8:00pm. Local brews provided by paddlesports reps, with reps talking about their products. At 7:00pm, PnP will draw among attendees (ages 21 or older) for a Jackson Coosa HD kayak to be given away. On Saturday, the big on-the-water demo takes place at Vermillionville Pond off Surrey Street. Time is 9:00am to 2:00pm. There's no cost. Folks can try new models from Jackson, Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Native Watercraft, NuCanoe, Diablo, Hurricane, BOTE and more. Finally, on Saturday evening at 6:00pm, Pack and Paddle will host the annual "Reel Paddling Film Festival". Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Price includes entrance to festival, snacks, drinks, and free subscription to Rapid Media magazines. The festival showcases some of the world's best paddling films, exploring rivers, lakes and oceans. For more info about any of these activities, go to www.packpaddle.com.

It's March. Prime fishing begins this month. It may start a bit later than usual, though. Water temperatures are still way below normal. And while we're in for a few days of mild weather - high temps in the 60s - yet ANOTHER polar vortex moves in on Wednesday. Here in the Alexandria area, there's a forecast for sleet and freezing rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I keep saying that every week it seems, but as long as "global cooling" continues, we're in for bad times. Someday it will get warmer. I promise. And when it does - hopefully this month - we'll see the opportunities for the biggest bass of the year, some sacalait spawning in lakes and reservoirs, the start of redear activity, and more consistency on redfish as bait moves back into the ponds.

Sunday, February 22, 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. This meeting will be a fly tying tutorial session, with the fly du jour being the Panther Branch Hopper. Bring your vise, materials if you have some (some will be provided). Beginners are welcome. For more details, go to www.finaddictflyfishers.blogspot.com. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria - weather permitting. Time is 6:30pm. For the program, Roger Breedlove will discuss the many aspects of custom rod building and show off some of his creations. The public is invited. For more info, go to www.KisatchieFly.org. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. For those without tools, the club has a few tool sets for use during these sessions. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. On Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 E. Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. For this meeting, Brendan "Choupique" Bayard and Steve "Gnatless" Lessard will be giving "Secrets of a Tournament Kayak Fisherman" program. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at location TBA (due to construction work at the Whitney bank branch). Time is 7:00pm. Check the forum for details. On Friday, the Fly Fishing Film Tour comes to Louisiana. More on that later. On Saturday, it's the 29th annual Acadiana Conclave. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly "Fly Tying" clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. There is no cost. Please bring your fly tying tools, materials provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Saturday, Orvis in Baton Rouge will hold another of their free "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This one-day, 2-hour workshop covers the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info, or to register, call Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Baton Rouge in conjunction with Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation (BREC) will hold an "Intro to Kayak Fishing" clinic at Wampold Park. Time is 8:30am to 2:00pm. Cost is $10. Members of Team Hobie will instruct on kayak fishing techniques, rigging, safety, and more. Also, an on-the-water session for students. Registration is required. For more info, or to register, call 225-272-9200 ext. 435 or email outdooradventure@brec.org.

This Friday the F3T comes to Baton Rouge. The Fly Fishing Film Tour is a collection of independent short films highlighting the adventure and conservation aspects of our sport. It will be shown at the Orvis store in Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Doors open at 6:30pm, movies start at 7:00pm. A limit of 150 are being sold, and last year the event sold out. As of this writing, there were still some tickets left - so don't procrastinate! In addition to a very affordable cash bar, there are some great door prizes as well. The films are enjoyable, but in the past couple years this event has become a great social gathering for south Louisiana fly anglers. For more info, or tickets, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286.

The Granddaddy of Louisiana fly fishing events takes place this Saturday with the 29th annual Acadiana Conclave in Lafayette. Hosted by the Acadiana Fly Rodders, this celebration of fly fishing features seminars, fly tying demos, casting instruction, exhibitors, raffles, silent auction, and more. Location is Grace Presbyterian Church Hall at 518 Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Doors open at 8:30am and the event continues until 3:00pm. A schedule of programs, and list of speakers and presentors can be found in our Events Forum or at the AFR website. The Acadiana Conclave was the first of it's kind in Louisiana, and it's success spawned similiar events now held by clubs in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Natchitoches and Alexandria. However, the AFR event still stands out, due in large part to it's casting programs. No other club has as many IFFF Master Certified Casting Instructors as does the Lafayette club. For more details, go to www.acadianaflyrodders.com.

No rest for the weary! Weary of winter weather, that is. Yes... here we go again... another polar vortex. There's a winter storm watch for most of north and central Louisiana beginning tonight, and continuing thru Tuesday. Freezing rain and sleet seem most likely, with a slight chance of sneaux. Areas west of Natchitoches could see some accumulation of the white stuff. Regardless of what parish you live in, it's going to be a cold week. And windy on the coast. Just as water temps were starting to climb into the mid to upper 50s, this front will likely knock them back down again. Normally the last week of February I'm preparing the garden for summer veggies, fishing for early spawn bass or chiquapin. Then again, the water temperature is usually 60 degrees. May be a few more weeks before "normal" makes it's return.

The Super Bowl of Bass Fishing was held this weekend with the BassMasters Classic at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. Record low temperatures marred what should've been great fishing at one of the nation's top-rated bass waters. As of this writing, the final day competition among the top 25 finishers of the 2nd day was taking place with Yakahiro Omori holding on to first place. Louisiana had 3 representatives in the Classic: Greg Hackney of Gonzales, the reigning B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, Cliff "Cajun Baby" Crochet of Pierre Part, and Brett Pruett of Monroe. Hackney came the closest of the three to making the final day cut, missing out by 5 ounces. I didn't expect our guys to do well in sub-freezing weather. As you might guess, this is -NOT- the typical late February weather for Lake Hartwell. Regardless, this weather may help propel BassMaster directors towards bringing back the Classic to northwest Louisiana for 2017.

Drawdown for Cotile Lake approved. Last week, the Rapides Parish Police Jury approved a proposal by LDWF for a drawdown of Cotile Lake west of Alexandria starting in September and ending on January 1st. The lake would be drawned down a total of 8 feet in an effort to control hydrilla and other nuisance aquatic vegetation. At a meeting on Thursday night at the Cotile Volunteer Fire Department, about 50 residents and concerned anglers gathered to hear Rickey Moses, LDWF Inland Biologist, detail the proposal and give reasons why the drawdown was necessary. There was near unanimity in support of the drawdown, and even strong support for doing this every 3-4 years. As a resident of the lake, I testified how last year's bream fishing was the worst I'd ever seen... almost all the beds on the south end of the lake - and even around the "islands" famous for big redears - were all covered with hydrilla. Somewhat of a surprise, many of the attending anglers said the exact same thing. I've heard drawdowns - despite the many great things they do for weed control and to rejuvenate fisheries - are often contentious. It was great to see such overwhelming support for this one!

Monday, February 15, 2015
What's happening this week. A double holiday week. On Monday, it's President's Day. Tuesday is Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, chic-a-la-pas, run away, ha-ha-ha! Last chance to enjoy king cake this year (if you haven't had enough already). Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Dan Fromme will demonstrate the Christmas Tree, a popular fly for trout on the Little Missouri. Bring your tools, materials provided. For those without tools, the club has some for use during the session. Also on Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at the St Paul Lutheran Community Center on 1620 East Prien Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion begin at 6:00pm, general meeting at 7:00pm. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions. Location to be announced. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will be holding their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Tom Bullock will be demonstrating woolybuggers for larger species. The public is welcome. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited's annual "TroutFest" at Rio Raft Resort near New Braunfels, Texas. The banquet and auction are Friday night, with the Expo on Saturday and Sunday. Headliners this year are Frank Smethurst, Wanda Taylor, Kelly Galloup and Pat Dorsey. Tickets for the Expo are $15 adult, $12 children. For more details, go to www.grtutroutfest.org. On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their annual "Fly Fishing 101" clinic at Booker-Fowler Hatchery in Forest Hill. Time is 8:30am to 12:30pm. There is no cost, but class size is limited, so registration is required. The workshop topics include equipment, knots, flies, and hands-on casting. For more info, go to www.KisatchieFly.org. Also on Saturday, Orvis in Baton Rouge will conduct another of their "Fly Fishing 201" clinics. This free, one-day, 2-hour session applies casting and rigging skills to on-the-water situations. Also a few more casting techniques are taught (beyond FF101). Pre-registration is required as spots are limited. To register, call Alex at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, the Orvis in Baton Rouge will conduct another of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This free, one-day, 2-hour session covers the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info or to register, call Alex at 225-757-7286.

It's not over 'til the fat mammal says so. Whether you follow Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog, or locally, Naquin the Nutria, you know that on February 2nd both forecasted 6 more weeks of winter. This spring-like weather of the past week may have dazed us into believing those fat mammals were wrong. But here comes Ol' Man Winter with a vengeance! A Siberian front will move through the state on Monday, bringing strong north winds, and dropping temperatures back to below or near freezing over most parishes. Now here's where it gets interesting... the jetstream is dipping further to the east than usual. That means areas west and south of Alexandria may have low temperatures in the upper 30s and 40s thru Thursday. However, Monroe and Vidalia are forecast for sleet and snow on Monday night and Tuesday. Further northeast, the coldest weather of the year is forecast for Tennessee and North Carolina. If the jetstream dips further south and west - as one forecaster predicts - most of Louisiana could experience a winter wonderland this week! Regardless of whether we get "sneaux" or not, it's going to be a miserable week for fishing.

Orvis Recon Series expanding. For 2015, Orvis replaced it's very popular Access series rods with a new series, the Recon. This mid-priced rod has received numerous accolades and very positive reviews since first making the rounds at the IFTD Show last summer. The Recon is different than it's predecessor in that it comes in only "action", as opposed to "mid flex" or "tip flex" of the Access. The Recon uses similiar tapers to their premium Helios 2 rod, but with different materials and components to keep it in the mid-priced range of rods ($420 freshwater, $450 saltwater). While not quite as light as the Helios 2, it's certainly lighter than most fly rods on the market. It also has one improvement over the Access - it's much easier to load in close. Yet it has enough reserve power to boom a long cast if needed. Now Orvis has pulled somewhat of a surprise - they're already expanding the Recon lineup. In May they will add 9 new models. And if you love fly rodding for bass and/or kayak fishing - like I do - then the good news is among those new models are three 7-foot, 11-inch "brush rods" in weights 8, 9 and 10. These rods give bass anglers - as well as backcountry saltwater anglers - the leverage they need to pull bass, snook, baby tarpon out of cover. I also love these lengths for kayak fishing because there's less exposure to tips when the rod is seated alongside the yak.

Tuesday, February 12, 2015
Sacalait spawning. But it depends on where. Several of the fish I caught this past week here on the bayou had eggs. But at Toledo Bend, Sibley Lake, Caney Lake, and a few other waters in the Cenla area, there's been no movement to the shallows yet. On the other hand, waters just south of here - Chicot and Millers Lake - are starting to turn on. The best crappie reports are coming from the Houma-Thibodaux area, mostly around Bayou Black and in the Bayou Sherman and Crackerhead area. As for bass, the pre-spawn activity is still on hold in most places. Looking at the extended forecast - there's a chance of snow next Tuesday night here in Alexandria - it's doubtful that will change a lot over the next week. Still, all it takes is that one big bass to think Spring is here - and for the right fly to land in it's vicinity - to make for a great beginning to the 2015 season!

The American Casting Association has announced that it's 107th annual National Casting Championships will be hosted by the Long Beach Casting Club this July 28th thru August 1st. This also marks the 90th anniversary of the LBCC. The ACA Nationals is the premier event for both fly casting and spincasting competition in the United States. Among the categories are Fly Distance, Dry Fly Accuracy, Trout Fly Accuracy, Bass Bug Accuracy, Plug Distance and Plug Accuracy. There are divisions for men, women and youth. Steve Rajeff has long dominated both fly and spin categories, but last year's competition saw longtime competitor Henry Mittel score a double upset. Mittel edged Rajeff in the 1-Hand Fly Distance with 185 feet to 180 feet for Rajeff. Mittel also won a castoff with Rajeff in the 2-Hand Fly Distance after both tied with 247 feet. The other big story from last year's event was Junior competitor Maxine McCormick, who won the Angler's Fly Distance with 94 feet! For more info, go to www.americancastingassoc.org.

Jimmy Kimmel, Jim Belushi, Huey Lewis join the cast for Season 5 of "Buccaneers and Bones", popular fly fishing TV series. Veteran cast members include newsman Tom Brokaw (narrator), fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh, award-winning author Tom McGuane, and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust board member Bill Klyn. Buccaneer and Bones is featured on the Outdoor Channel as part of their winter/spring programming lineup. The season premiere is Saturday, February 21 at 4:00pm CST. The show is an unscripted travelogue about the fly fishing pursuits of it's cast as they fish some specific destination. For the 2015 season, the cast will head to South Andros Island in the Bahamas to explore the area's famed saltwater flats. The diverse group of cast members lends itself to highly entertaining and often insightful aspects of our sport, and to a mutual concern for conservation of marine resources.

Garmin introduces a new kayak mount for it's fishfinder and sonar transducers. With the In-Hull Kayak Mount, puddlers can mount a transducer for inside the hull of a kayak. This as opposed to traditional kayak mounts which expose the transducer to scrapping against obstructions in shallow water. Or as opposed to DIY in-hull installations where selection of the wrong epoxy can result in a complete mess. The installation of the In-Hull Kayak Mount is quick and easy and doesn't require tools. Simply attach the adhesive backing to the hull, fill the pocket created between the pad and the hull with water, and place the transducer in the pocket to remove the air. Once installed, the mount has the ability to withstand continuous water submersion without releasing. The In-Hull Kayak Mount will be available in April, 2015 for an MSRP of $19.99.

Monday, February 9, 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. Time is 7:00pm. Michelle Maloney, Coastal Outreach Coordinator for the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, will talk about the current status of the BP settlement and coastal restoration plans. Also, an Orvis representative will be present to discuss, and sell tickets for, the F3T Film Tour set for February 27th at the Orvis store. The public is invited. 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. This month's speaker will be Phil Rispin, owner of Dutch Creek Fly Fishing, who will talk about fishing Alberta, Canada. Also, details on the NLFF club's upcoming "Dinner and A Movie" set for February 28. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church Life Center in Natchitoches. Casting practice begins at 5:30pm, followed by pot luck dinner at 6:30, meeting at 7:00pm. For the program, the club will tie a couple of Little Mo favorites, the Christmas Tree and the Pink Weenie. Also on the agenda, next month's CPPR tournament with the Kisatchie Fly Fishers club on Cane River. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your own tools, materials are provided. Friday afternoon kicks off the annual Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival, which runs thru Sunday. More on that later. On Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This one-day, 2-hour workshop covers the basics of tying. Tools and materials are provided. Class size is very limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info, or to register, call Alex Beane at (225)757-7286.

The 13th-ever Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival is this weekend at the Community Center in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. This annual event celebrates fly fishing in general, with emphasis on the Little Missouri River, the premier tailwater trout fisheries in southern Arkansas. Organizer Jeff Guerin, owner of the Little Missouri Fly Fishing website, does an outstanding job with this event. Doors open Friday afternoon with fly tying on the agenda. Saturday is the main event... doors open at 8:00am, with fly tying and several programs. The highlight of the event is always the biologists' "State of the River" presentation, which this year will be at 1:00pm. A recent tradition to the Little Mo Fest - and one that has become extremely popular - is the "Little Mo Fantasy Fly Draft". Admission is just $5 per person or $10 per family, and that includes lunch. For complete details, go to Jeff's website at www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com.

How soon is now? That's the title of a popular song by the 80s group, The Smiths. It's also the question many Louisiana anglers are asking in regards to fishing. Seems like a little warmth and lots of sunshine have anglers anxious to wet a line. So how soon will the fish start biting? Maybe "now" is correct. It's been a persistently cold winter as evidenced by water temperatures last week in the 40s and 50s (depending on which part of the state). That's way below what the ideal temps are for crappie and spawning bass. But often it's not the actual temp that counts, but the temperature trend. As the water has warmed just a few degrees over the last week, there's been increasing reports of crappie and BIG bass catches. The next 7 days will see low temperatures in the 30s and 40s, but will be moderated by high temps in the 60s and lots of sunshine. Every reason to believe that now is the time to tie up those bass and crappie flies, have them ready for the Mardi Gras weekend coming up!

Monday, February 2, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church on 415 Roselawn in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. On Saturday, it's the 23rd annual Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival in Houston. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Fishing 101" sessions. This free, one-day, 2 hour clinic covers the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. Limited seats, so reservations are required. To register, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, Orvis will do one of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This free, one-day, 2 hour session covers the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so registration is required. For more info or to register, call 225-757-7286.

The Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival this Saturday typically features the largest group of tiers of any event on the Gulf Coast. This event, hosted by the Texas Fly Fishers club, is held at Bethany Christian Church on Westheimer in Houston. There's always a well-known guest, and this year's headliner is author and fly creator Drew Chicone. Like most club "conclaves", this event also features vendors, company reps, food and raffles. More details on the Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival can be found in our Events forum.

February means festivals, films, spawning crappie, pre-spawn bass. In addition to this Saturday's tying fest, there's also the 10th annual Little Mo Fly Fishing Fest in Murfreesboro, Arkansas (February 13-15), and the Acadiana Conclave in Lafayette hosted by the Acadiana Fly Rodders (February 28). Also, the Fly Fishing Film Tour comes to Louisiana on February 27, at the Orvis store in Baton Rouge. Tickets are available thru the store, but there are a limited number available and they're going fast. As for fishing this month... In many waters, the crappie have already moved into the shallows for spawning. The last week has produced good reports from Chicot Lake, Lake Martin near Breaux Bridge, and the Bayou Black marshes. Shortly we'll see the white perch doing likewise here in the "hill country". Within the next couple of weeks, bass will start looking for spawning areas. Like the crappie, much depends on location (southeast=warmer, northwest=cooler), depth of water (shallow=warmer) and whether there is heavy runoff (less runoff=warmer).

How to Sea-duce a Predator. That's the title of the Fly Lines column in the February issue of Louisiana Sportsman. The chain pickerel, aka jackfish, aka grass pike, doesn't get much respect, but it should. What a great fly rod species! I also mention how one of my favorite classic flies has played a huge part in my success with "Louisiana's pike". Also in this issue - kayak fishing columnist Chris Holmes explains why February is for fishing (when weather's good) and rigging (when it's not), and offers some yak rigging tips. Seafood Bible authors Jerald and Glenda Horst give recipes for crawfish fettuccini and crawfish corn soup. Jerald also writes on barracuda in the Creature Feature column. Humberto Fontova tells us where to find easy limits of sheepshead. And the monthly Fishing Forecast. One of the featured waters of the month is Saline Lake east of Alexandria, part of the Saline-Larto complex... and rated one of the best crappie fisheries in the country. LAS is available at most fishing retailers and convenience stores.

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