Louisiana Fly Fishing

Ready for the Rios. The Rio Grande cichlid can be found throughout the canals, bayous and ponds in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. This electric blue/black species is native to south Texas and Mexico. The pet trade dumped them in canals, and they propogated elsewhere after flooding from Hurricane Katrina. The rio is highly sought by fly anglers, as they get quite large (up to 2 pounds), fight like bulldogs, are wary of bait but do eat flies. Rios disappear from late fall to spring, come on strong on summer. In early fall, they make a final spawning run. It's at this time each year the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their "Rio Grande Rodeo". Open to all members of organized fly clubs, this free event is for longest single rio caught on fly tackle (3 places awarded). Lunch and refreshments provided. For more details, check out the EVENTS forum.

Fly Of The Month

Popovics Ultra Shrimp. In continuing our summer focus on shrimp flies, the Ultra Shrimp is a realistic pattern that works great under lights at night for speckled trout from late summer thru fall. Created by saltwater tying legend Bob Popovics, it seems intimidating to tie, but it's not. The key materials are ultra hair, krystal flash, or similiar products... and epoxy. The fly uses a good amount of epoxy to form the realistic body. Some of the epoxy solutions include: Devcon 2-ton, West Systems 5/G, or UV-activated resins such as Loon, Bug Bond, Deer Creek, and Solarex. More tiers are using the UV resins for this fly as it allows the fly to be shaped properly (multiple small applications) while not having to wait long periods in between.

Featured Tackle

Teeny Kayak Fly Line. Designed by Capt. Pat Horrigan of Kayak Fishing Classics in Hudson, Florida, the Teeny Kayak Line is a weight-forward line tapered so that casting sitting down results in short loading and accurate deliveries. This floating line comes in an 8wt. and is 90 feet long, quick loading, with Mono-core Saltwater flyline and welded loop at the tip end. The color is Blue and Goldenrod with Teeny's High Performance Coating. It retails for $68 and is available at all Louisiana shops that carry Teeny products.

Thursday, September 3, 2015
Just added to the LFF Calendar this weekend the Orvis store in Baton Rouge, located in Perkins-Rowe, will conduct a "Fall Redfish Flies Tying Demo" on Saturday and Sunday led by store associate Bailey Short. Exact times and details are posted in our Fly Tying Forum. Also, in October, Rob Woodruff will be conducting another of his Entomology 101 workshops at Three Rivers Fly Shop in Broken Bow, with part of the workshop taking place on the Lower Mountain Fork River. Registration is limited and there's a cutoff date of October 16.

We are saddened of the passing of Chet Smith. He was 73. Chet and his wife Pat have been an institution in north Arkansas fly fishing, and heavily involved in both the Sowbug Roundup and the IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair (conclave) over many years. Chet - a Life Member of the IFFF - was also involved with Friends of the Norfork Fish Hatchery. Chet was also an avid tyer and appeared at the tying tables at various events. He also served as president of the North Arkansas Fly Fishers. What I didn't know - in reading an article by his friend John Berry, that Chet had a long and distinguished career as a special agent for the FBI. What I do know - southern fly fishing has lost a great friend.

With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last week there's been much in the news about what the storm did to the lives of people in New Orleans and south Louisiana. Much has also been written, televised, or discussed about the storm's impact on our coast. The devastation of lives, property and wetlands has since led to the closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) and construction of a complex levee/gate system east of New Orleans, and the addition of more levees in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. While this has done much to protect lives and property, the task of rebuilding our marshes remains in limbo. The money is there, the plan is there. But questions about the plan keep arising. Here's what I do know... the Laurier-Palourde system I fish so often was once "Flyfishers Heaven" where 20+ reds per day on fly wasn't uncommon for us, either from boat or kayak. Hundreds of small ponds connected by twisting, narrow waterways has since been replaced by one vast open, very shallow lake. As for lakes Laurier and Palourde, these were 8+ feet deep with oyster bottoms and year-round home to speckled trout. It was almost a given to catch 10-20 trout on a decent tide day. The lakes are now silted in and trout fishing is fair at best. Another favorite spot of ours was Port Sulphur. That area too took a big hit from Katrina and is too a shadow of it's former self. But there is hope - Delacroix is an example of what can be done with river diversion. The numbers of redfish and bass that kayakers have been catching from this area the last couple years is staggering! Anti-diversion folks believe sediment pipelining is the answer. I believe BOTH diversions and pipelines are the answer... LET'S GET STARTED!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
September is here, and that means transition. SweatFest ends this month, and weather persons can finally return from their 3-month vacation (even though they were on call for any Gulf storms). Take here in the Cenla area. The average for today is 92 high, 72 low. For September 30, the averages are 84 high, 62 low. But that's half the story, because the average humidity is lower in September as well. The combination of lower air temps and lower humidity and shorter days/longer nights means greater radiative cooling of waters. As mentioned a week ago, water temps are already on the decline. Okay... I do talk a LOT about cooling water this time of year. But it is VERY significant to fish. Already the crappie and white bass action has picked up, bass are starting to feed on schooling shad. Now there's some reports that speckled trout are beginning to move back into the upper bays and interior marsh. Again, "transition" is a slow development. Don't expect to hit some deadend canal in Chauvin this month and catch a bunch of trout. But at least it's starting.

Events of interest this month. On September 12, it's the annual Rio Grande Rodeo hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers club. Held at City Park Lake, it's a fly fishing only tournament open to all members of organized clubs, with the only eligible species being the Rio Grande cichlid that is ever so popular among warm fly enthusiasts. Details can be found on our LFF Forum. The weekend of September 18-19, it's the annual IFFF Gulf Coast Fly Fair at the Ocean Springs (MS) Civic Center. The largest "conclave" on the northern Gulf Coast is hosted by the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) Gulf Coast Council. The Fair features programs, fly tying demos, casting clinics, exhibitors, a banquet with auction, an IFFF Bronze Skills Tying Program Class, and much more. Best of all, it's FREE! There's also special rates for IFFF members. For complete details, go to www.gulfcoastfff.org. On September 26, it's National Hunting and Fishing Day, the largest outdoors festival held in Louisiana each year. NHF Day is celebrated at four venues: Waddill (Baton Rouge), Bodcau (Minden), Cenla (Woodworth), and Monroe. Each venue is free and open to the public. There's numerous activities, exhibitors and plenty of food and refreshments. Some venues also hold a Kids Fishing Rodeo that morning. The Bodcau, Woodworth and Waddill venues feature fly casting, fly tying, and knots courtesy of local clubs. Woodworth and Waddill also have paddling activities. For more info, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

New for 2016 - Pescador Pro kayak. Previously we wrote about several new kayaks we examined at ICAST, including the "Best Boat" and "Overall Best of Show" winner, the Eddyline C135. There were two other boats that came pretty darn close to the Eddyline for best boat honors, and the Perception Pro 120 was one of them. Pescador is one of several brands of Confluence Sports, which also includes Wilderness Systems, Dagger, and Mad River Canoe. Perception has been around a long time... my first experience kayak fishing was in a Perception Keowee in 1988. More recently, Perception boats have been older molds of a few popular Wilderness boats, e.g., Perception Sport 120 is the old Tarpon 120. In effect, it's been the budget brand of Confluence. But times are a changin'... the new Pescador Pro is an entirely new mold. It's wider and stable, yet with enough speed, and tracks much like a longer boat. The boat has a new seat not found on the Wilderness models - a framed lawn chair type seat that quickly adjusts to a high or low position. The front hatch has been replaced with a mesh-covered tankwell - something those of us who use fish bags find highly useful. There's gear tracks on each side, a built-in tranducer scupper, and a rear skid plate that can be replaced when worn (from dragging the boat on concrete ramps). The color options include Sunset, Sea Spray, Red Tiger Camo and Moss Camo. Although no specifications were given in the press release, at ICAST I was told the length was 12'0" (and thus 120 name), 33 inches wide, and 64 pounds without the seat. Retail price will be under $800. If the PP120 lives up to it's hype - stability, tracking, speed, comfort, functionality, open cockpit, lightweight - at this price it will be a solid winner!

Sunday, August 30, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm, with casting prior to the meeting at 6:00pm. The public is welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on Girod Street in Mandeville. Social gathering at 6:00pm, dinner at 7:00pm. On Thursday, Gray Wolf Fly Shop holds an informal fly tying session at their shop on 5825 Southern Avenue in Shreveport. Time is 6:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools, if any. If not, tools can be provided. Materials are provided. On Saturday, Backpacker of Baton Rouge will hold a free "Paddle Demo Day" at the BREC Wampold Park in Baton Rouge. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boats include models from Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, and YOLO. Folks may want to go early as the campus will be busy with LSU's home opener at 6:00pm against McNeese State. More on that later.

This is the last week for CCA STAR. In the Fly Divisions, currently Rudy Hall leads the East with a 3.72-pound speckled trout, while Ruston Logan leads the West with a 6.11-pounder. In the Kayak Divisions, Chris Weaver leads the East with 2.78 pounds, Doug Menefee the Southeast with 5.40 pounds, Paul Vondenstein the Southwest with 4.14 pounds, and Stephen Outten leads the West with 7.75 pounds. There have been very few bigger trout caught the last couple of weeks - with one notable exception. The Vermillion Bay area (Southwest) is turning on as is typical when the Atchafalaya River drops and higher salinities. In previous STAR tournaments, it's not been unusual for a new leader in the Southwest to emerge in the last two weeks. Regardless of who leads, anyone who entered a trout in the Fly Division - and who doesn't win - gets their name into the Bonus Drawing which will be announced later in September.

College football season kicks off this Thursday with a few games on TV, including Southeastern Louisiana at Northwestern in Natchitoches. On Saturday, LSU takes on McNeese State at home with Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette leading the Fighting Tigers. Louisiana Tech finished strong last year, going 9-4 and beating Illinois in the Heart of Texas bowl. They'll host Southern in Ruston. UL-Lafayette won their 3rd straight New Orleans Bowl last season. They'll travel to SEC school Kentucky which is expected to be improved from last year's 5-7 record. UL-Monroe has a bigger SEC foe and a daunting task - number 9-ranked George in Athens. The Warhawks have pulled big upsets over ranked teams before, so anything's possible! Grambling travels to California to play California.

The September issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out. In this month's Fly Lines column, "Rods of Future Past", I discuss several of the new fly rods featured at ICAST in July, including models from Diamondback, Powell and Thomas and Thomas. I tested 53 models in all, and give my rankings for premium, mid-price, and budget ranges. In his Paddles and Puddles column, Chris Holmes writes about "Boondoggle - Louisiana Style". Yes, Boondoggle is coming to our state the weekend of October 9 thru 12. It's the kayak fishing world's version of a conclave. With camping a large component as well. There are very few non-tournament kayak events. Boondoggle happens to be the one of the country's largest. Like most kayak anglers, I'm really forward to it. Chris gives all the details! In their Seafood Bible column, Jerald and Glenda Horst give recipes for crawfish etoufee, crawfish-stuffed boneless flounder, and instructions (with photos) on how to debone a flounder. Articles of interest to anglers include: fishing for the "persnickety" Mangrove Snappers, night fishing in Delacroix, hotspots in the Barataria area for transition trout during September, and tactics for offshore fishing. Also an article on how Toledo Bend became the state's number one bass fishery.

New in fly tying - Peak Jurassic Vise. One of the few new fly tying gadgets at ICAST was Peak's new Jurassic Vise. It was developed in particular for saltwater flies, deer hair flies, large streamers and other flies that require large hooks. The Jurassic uses a whole new approach to holding hooks, called the "Large Iron Retention System". Unlike most vises which depend on friction to grip the hook, the LIRS locks itself around the hook wire. With a regular vise, a heavy force on the winding thread can displace the hook. Not with this vise. Peak was giving a demonstration at their booth and I got the chance to test it myself - not with thread, but with a pair of pliers. A size 6/0 hook would bend and never displace, no matter how hard I pushed down. Even if you don't require such a titanic grip on your hook, the Jurassic's easy-to-use knob, rotary feature, and lifetime warranty make it worth strong consideration. MSRP is $319.

New for 2016 - Orvis Hydros SL reel. One of several new fly reels at ICAST was the Hydros SL from Orvis. It didn't get nearly as much attention as the new reel from Nautilus, but it should have! The SL stands for "Super Large" arbor. Like the popular Hydros reel, the SL version is fully machined frame and spool, and features a sealed carbon drag system. However, the SL boasts 8.2 inches per retreive, while maintaining high backing capacity. The SL has negligble startup inertia and a maximum drag of 14 pounds. It'll come in four sizes to accomodate lines and backing from 3-weight to 12-weight. One feature that I particularly liked was the narrow spool width. Often spool width is widened considerably in order to accomodate backing on very large arbor reels. As Lefty Kreh often says, The wider the spool, the more troubles that can accumulate, especially if a large fish is hooked. Another feature I really liked was the price - suggested retail will be $198.

Drawdowns begin this week for several lakes. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced sometime back that four lakes - including 3 in the Cenla area - will be drawn down this fall to combat nuisance vegetation. Chicot Lake in Evangeline Parish will be lowered 3 feet below pool. The control structure will be closed no later than January 15. The lake will not be closed to fishing. Most of the vegetation is hydrilla. Iatt Lake in Grant Parish will be lowered 6 feet below pool. The control structure will be closed November 5th. The major issue with Iatt is giant salvania. Cotile Lake in Rapides Parish - my home water - will be lowered 8 feet below pool. Already, it's down about 2 feet, and there's talk the lake could be drawn down to 9 feet upon request of the residents (most of the lake is 15-25 feet deep). At low water level, herbicide sprays will be conducted. While salvania exists on Cotile - mostly in the swamp areas on the south end around Hemphill bayou - it's minor. The open waters force salvania to concentrate in small coves where spraying (twice a year) has been very effective. The big problem on Cotile is hydrilla. Nearly all of the hundreds of bream spawning beds in the "islands" area was covered up last year and this year, and bream fishing has been way below par this year. The last of the four lakes to be drawn down is Bistineau. According to the LDWF report, the drawdown began on August 3rd, and will continue no later than January 15th. LDWF estimates that nearly 1,800 acres of giant salvania cover the 17,000 acre lake. Bistineau will be lowered to 7 feet below pool. At low stage, an estimated 10,000 acres of water will remain and fishing will still be allowed.

Thursday, August 27, 2015
A taste of Fall. A cool front passed thru the state on Monday, giving us a refreshing relief from SweatFest. The last three mornings, temps here in the Cenla area have been in the lower 60s. And even though the high temps have been around 90, the low humidity and nice breeze have finally made it nice to be outdoors without sweating up a small river. As I've said before, it's still too early for any front to have a lasting effect... a couple more weeks and that'll change. This cooler weather has had a big impact on water temperature. Just two weeks ago, Cotile Lake was measuring 90 degrees surface. That dropped to 88 last week due to the start of radiative cooling. This morning it was down to 81 degrees! The fish are definitely feeling it... yesterday afternoon was the best fishing day on the lake since June - almost 40 sacalait on the fluff butt, in fairly shallow water! While most were small (6-7 inches), five were in the 10-inch range. Looks like the bass are also starting to blow up on schools of shad. We have a few more weeks before saltwater gets into the game, but it's coming!

We were saddened to learn that Jimmy Carter has melanoma on the brain. At a press conference last week, the 90-year old former president stated that he'll be undergoing intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment. Regardless of your political affiliation or preference, or opinion of Carter during his term as president, there's no argument about his character, or about his love of fly fishing. No president in the modern era, other than Dwight Eisenhower, has been so dedicated to the sport. Or had as much expertise. He's written articles and even a book "An Outdoor Journal" and just last year took a trip to Mongolia to fly fish for the taimen, a coldwater trout on steroids. We certainly wish the best for President Carter and a quick and full recovery.

New for 2016 - St. Croix Mojo Fly Rods. Fanatical fly rod bassers like myself were disappointed to hear that Ross is discontinuing their FlyStik series (all fly rods in fact). Take solace my furry friends! St. Croix has a new "bass fly rod" based on their very popular - and highly rated - Mojo spinning and casting series. The three rods in the Mojo Fly are 7, 8 and 9 weight, all 7-foot, 11-inches. That length supposedly makes them tournament legal, although we've yet to see any fly rods used in the BassMasters Classic. But the shorter length comes in very handy, thank you! Not just with accuracy, but getting that popper, streamer, or worm imitation under docks and hanging branches. It's also great for kayak anglers as the rod tip is less likely to snag or impact. I didn't get to cast the Mojo much, just a few casts. But it was quite impressive, enough to earn my accolades (see the September issue of Louisiana Sportsman for a complete listing). The moderate-fast action loaded well at all casting ranges, topping out at around 80-90 feet. Best of all, the Mojo is very affordable at $150, and comes with a 5-year warranty.

New for 2016 - Chums Downstream Waist Pack. Frequent readers of Louisiana Fly Fishing recognize my fondness for waist packs. They're certainly more comfortable during hot summer months than traditional vests, and slightly moreso than shoulder packs. While there are several on the market, the Downstream by Chums offers waterproof main pocket, waterproof welded seams, waterproof zipper, and water resistant front pocket. Get the feeling this is a pack that can be used in inclement weather? It's big enough to hold 2-4 fly boxes plus tippets, strike indicators, etc. yet at 10 inches wide not too big. The $45 suggested retail price is just right as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guest speaker will be Chris Patterson, director of Alexandria Parks and Recreation. Guests are welcome. 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. Mike LaFleur will be instructing on tying some of his famous charlies. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold their monthly general meeting, location TBA. Time is 7:00pm. On Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their 6th annual Cajun Castaway tournament at Calcasieu Point Landing in Lake Charles. Fishing time begins at 6:00am, with weigh-in deadline at 3:00pm. Entry fee is $25. Fishing is anywhere in Cameron or Calcasieu parishes, artificial tackle only. Heaviest Cajun Slam (slot red, speck, flounder) places awarded. For more info, or to register, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters will hold a Kayak Demo on Bayou St. John in New Orleans, 1405 Moss Street. No cost. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Models include Hobie, Native, Wilderness Systems, Jackson, Perception, and Bote. Call 800-754-7467 to confirm weather, or to request a certain model.

Changes on the Little Missouri River. One of the most popular year-round coldwater fisheries for Louisiana fly anglers, the Little Mo is located just 2.5 hours north of Shreveport. According to Jeff Guerin's website, www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com, Arkansas Fish and Game has been doing construction work on the banks and trails of the river. The changes are minor, but should be beneficial to the river and to anglers. Rocks have been added to the Riverside park area, and to Hinds Bluff area, to impede bank erosion. One benefit may be to increase river flow near the rocks and create better cover and habitat for trout. But perhaps the biggest modification - as evidenced by the photo shown taken by Jeff - is that the Hinds Bluff access is now paved (both access road and parking area). This will be greatly appreciated by those of us who felt we sometimes needed four-wheel drive to get in during the monsoon season!

Keeping an eye on Danny. As of this writing, the former hurricane is continuing to weaken as a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It's location is just east of the Lesser Antilles, and it continues to move westward at 16 mph. Just a couple days ago, all of the models were projecting Danny to take a northwest and then northern turn as it approached the Dominican Republic, then moving into the Atlantic coast east of Florida. However, as of this writing, half the models now project movement into the Gulf of Mexico. No matter how weak this storm becomes, if it enters Gulf waters, conditions are favorable for rapid redevelopment. We've now entered prime storm season (August 15 to October 15) when on average, every day there's at least one hurricane in the Atlantic basin.

Speaking of weather, yesterday was an annual milestone. In Louisiana, August 22nd is equivalent in solar radiation to April 21st. Yes, the days are getting shorter and nights longer. And even though we're still a full month away from the Fall equinox, any day now radiation cooling will begin in the northern parishes of the state. What does that mean? Last week's area lake surface temperatures were in the low 90s. Over the next four weeks, water temps will drop a few degrees even if air temperatures stay warm. If we get a cool front, the drop will be more significant. What's critical is the nightly low temperature and the humidity. Last year, a cool front the 2nd week in September and here in the Cenla area, we reached 58 and 60 degrees consecutive nights. The water temp on Cotile Lake fell from 86 to 80... and never came back up! When lake temps fall, two things can happen, one good, one bad. The bad - inversion and low oxygen. Sluggish fishing at best, mild fish kills at worst. The good - cooler water holds more oxygen, fish get more active. Even when the "bad" happens, it's often followed by the "good" within a couple weeks.

New for 2016 - Sage Bolt and Pulse fly rods. At ICAST, Sage introduced two new rod series, the Bolt and the Pulse. The Bolt was created to complement their Accel series. Like the Accel, it features Sage's Generation 5 technology. However, as the Accel is a medium-fast rod, the Bolt is being described as "ultra fast" action. At ICAST, we found the Bolt to be a very powerful rod... perhaps too powerful for my moderate tastes. Nevertheless, for salty anglers looking for distance or to cast flies into the teeth of a stiff wind, the Bolt delivers. The blank color is described as "salmonfly"... that's "copper" to most of us. Retail price is $650. The Pulse rod (photo shown) was more my cup of tea. It's built using Sage's Graphite IIIe technology. What does that mean? Supposedly, power and durability with fast action. The Pulse may be fast, but it's not nearly as fast as the Bolt, and loads over shorter distances more easily. It's also more affordable, with single-hand models $450 ($550 switch, $650 Spey). Freshwater models have a rosewood insert, saltwater models with machined aluminum reel seats and fighting butts. Both models are made in the USA and feature lifetime warranties.

New for 2016 - Scientific Anglers Electron Reel. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Scientific Anglers was considered one of the top manufacturers of affordable performance fly reels. Made of diecast, anodized aluminum, the System 2 reels were the choice of many Louisiana marsh flyrodders. Over the years, other companies emerged, and others like Orvis, Redington, Sage, Lamson, Ross, etc., improved their product line while holding down cost. The new norm for value saltwater reels was "large arbor, machined barstock aluminum, centerline disc drag". Well, the new Electron meets that criteria. In addition, the carbon fiber, stainless steel washer drag system is fully sealed - something not found on reels under $200. Yet the Electron will retail in the range of $165 to $185, depending on size. Three sizes will be offered, II (3-5 weight), III (5-7 weight) and IV (8-9 weight). Notice there isn't a size I... we're told that a future 1-3 weight reel is a possibility to fill that gap. In addition to the Electron, the Voltage reel has a more powerful drag and will sell for $205 to $235. A cast aluminum version of the Electron, the Ampere will sell for $89 to $99.

New for 2016 - Fly Fishing for Redfish book. At ICAST, one of the more intriguing entries in the New Product Showcase was a book by Chico Fernandez, "Fly Fishing for Redfish". The "book" was in a binder... according to the publisher the book was in the process of being printed at the time. Regardless, it got my vote for "Best New Book or DVD". It's quite impressive, even if it doesn't cover all the bases. But then again, what book could? Everyone associates Chico with bonefish, perhaps because the Miami resident was one of the pioneers of that species. But make no mistake - Chico knows a LOT about redfish, having fished for them since 1952. He's held several world records, and his geographical range of pursuit has included all along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts (including Louisiana). The book covers tackle, casting techniques, flies - all the stuff you'd expect. In addition, there's science on the species, including habitat and food sources. I did a check on Amazon today and the availability date is September 15th. Hardcover price will be $36.95. No option given for Kindle version, but I would expect that might be available later.

Another favorite at ICAST - Sunsect. At the Outdoor Demo Day of ICAST, one of the tent exhibitors was a company called Sunsect. They make a product that is a combination of insect repellent and sunscreen. The company originally developed this product for the US military, where it was used at home and abroad. Last year, the product went public. Now some readers may be thinking - why not just apply sunscreen, then apply repellent. In other words, what's special about a combination product? According to their literature, repellent and suncreen together deactivate each other by up to 50 percent. Sunsect is a patented combination product that has been proven to repel mosquitos, ticks, no-see-ums, gnats, and other disease-carrying, biting insects. It also has an SPF 15 rating. I was given three tubes of Sunsect and one of them is "undergoing testing" and another one will be tested by myself shortly. I would've like to see a slightly higher SPF rating, but 15 is certainly good enough. Besides, if it really does keep gnats off, then winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Sunday, August 16, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. This month's fly will be the Coma Spoon. Beginners are welcome. Bring tools if any, if not, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials provided. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters holds their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Community Center on East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion begin at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, it's the annual Contraband Fly Fishing Expo at PPG Porter Hall on 2250 Prater Road in Westlake. Time is 8:30am to 4:00pm. Hosted by the Contraband Fly Casters, Tom Nixon Chapter, of Lake Charles, this conclave features seminars, fly tying demos, casting clinics, kayak demos, auctions and raffles, food and refreshments, and more. Admission is free. Also, the club will draw for their year-long kayak raffle. For more info, go to www.contrabandflycasters.net or check the LFF Events Forum. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying session. Time is 9:00am. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, otherwise tools and materials are provided. Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters of Baton Rouge will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at BREC's Wampold Park on University Lake in Baton Rouge. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boat models include Hobie, Native, Wilderness, Jackson, Perception, and BOTE. For specific models or to confirm (due to weather, etc) call 225-246-7100.

Last weekend, the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association held their annual convention and awards banquet at the Holiday Inn in Morgan City. In addition to youth journalism and professional awards, LOWA each year recognizes the top catches submitted to their state fish records. The records maintained by LOWA are in 3 divisions: Rod and Reel, Fly Rod, Private Waters. Each division has the top 10 weights for each species. For 2014, the "Fish of the Year" recognition in the Fly Rod Division was shared between Ben "Fishtaco" Roussel of Baton Rouge and Charles Johnson of Tualatin, Oregon. Ben was recognized for a 4.07 bowfin (choupique) caught at Kellers Lake in Pointe Coupee Parish in April, 2014. That fish took 1st place in the bowfin listings. Johnson landed a 9.25 pound sheepshead in Bay Eloi in January, 2014. In the Rod and Reel Division, the "Fish of the Year" award went to Lawson Boyte of Oak Grove, who landed a new 1st place record blue catfish - 114 pounds - fishing the Mississippi River out of East Carroll Parish. Congratulations to all the winners!

Also, while I was gone... we had a change in weather. For drought-stricken portions of western Louisiana, it wasn't much relief in either precipitation or cooler weather. Although the 100+ degree days are now in the mid-90s. Some relief, right? But it did produce a break in the coastal fishing. Those evil west winds were replaced by easterly and southeasterly winds, and the speckled trout reacted favorably. I heard of many good trout catches around Grand Isle and Elmers Isle from folks fishing prior to Ride The Bull. Also, Calcasieu Lake got a nice bump in trout catches, including a new 1st place in the CCA STAR Fly Rod Division. Ruston Logan, a member of the McNeese State football team, caught a 6.11 pound trout. If it holds up, it'll be the largest speck ever registered in the history in the Fly Rod Division of CCA STAR.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is September 26. Established in 1972, NHF Day recognizes the contributions of America's hunters, anglers, and other outdoors enthusiasts. National honorary chairpersons have come from a diverse group of well-known outdoors persons, such as Arnold Palmer, Jeff Foxworthy, Tom Seaver, Louise Mandrell, Terry Bradshaw, Bert Jones, John Havlichek, T. Boone Pickens, George Bush Sr, Luke Bryan and others. This year's chairpersons are outdoor TV personalities Jim and Eva Shockey. Held on the last Saturday of September each year, Louisiana's National Hunting and Fishing Day Festival is celebrated at four venues - Bodcau, Monroe, Baton Rouge, Woodworth. Admission to each venue is free for all ages. Each venue has a long list of activities and exhibitors, with several thousand attendees. The Bodcau, Baton Rouge and Woodworth venues have fly fishing - represented by exhbits from the North Louisiana Fly Fishers, Red Stick Fly Fishers, and Kisatchie Fly Fishers / Cane Country Fly Casters, respectively. The fly clubs offer hands-on fly tying, fly casting, knots for attendees of all ages. Although under-18 years of age make up most of the attendance. For those clubs that participate, LDWF is currently accepting exhibitor registration. Although clubs can register up to the week of the event, it's strongly advised to register before September 11th in order to insure volunteer t-shirts and/or exhbitor space and space to have casting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Tomorrow night the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will hold their monthly fly tying session at Mariners Plaza Office Park, Suite 200, in Mandeville. Bring your tools, materials provided. The PBFF club holds their tying session the 2nd Tuesday of each month, but check our calendar for any changes. Now is a good time for tying flies as cooler weather and good fishing are soon ahead! For more info, contact Colin McCormick at 985-264-3448.

Sunday, August 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. Guest speaker will be Dr. Vic Tedesco, noted saltwater fly angler who has held or holds several IGFA and Louisiana state fly rod records for offshore and inshore species. Vic is also one of the top speckled trout fly anglers in the state, having won or placed in CCA STAR the last 3 years. 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. Guest speaker will be Jerry Driskell, who will speak on fishing the Current River in Missouri. On Wednesday, it's the start of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) Fly Fishing Fair in Bend, Oregon. The show continues thru Saturday. 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 are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Friday, it's the Captains' meeting for Ride The Bull kayak fishing tournament, with onsite registration beginning at noon (online registration ends today) at Bridgeside Marina. Boiled shrimp will be served from noon to 7:00pm, followed by the meeting and then the annual "Calmwater Film Festival". On Saturday, it's the main event itself for Ride The Bull. Details can be found at www.calmwatercharters.net.

The worst week of SweatFest 2015. Typically mid-August tends to be the hottest time of the year in Louisiana, and this week will be no different. We've already had several days of 100+ degree weather in north and central parishes, with little relief from precipitation. The forecast for the next several days calls for excessive heat warning for the eastern part of the state, and heat advisories for the west. Temperatures in the northern parishes will reach 103 to 105, with heat indices of 110 to 115. Southeast Louisiana will have slightly cooler temperatures - still around 100 degrees - but the added humidity will put the indices also in the 110 to 115. A strong ridge of high pressure over east Texas is responsible for this heat wave... and for keeping tropical systems from forming in the western Gulf. Pick your poisin! With regards to fishing, it means the following: avoid being on the water if possible, if you do, bring lots of water or sports drinks and stay hydrated, keep your fish in a bag or cooler and not on a stringer, wear cool clothing. Paddlers should make short trips. As for the fish, all reports are that the bite is very early and ending around mid-morning.

Sunday, August 2, 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. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on Girod Street in Mandeville. Gathering begins at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Gray Wolf Fly Shop on Southern Avenue in Shreveport will hold their monthly fly tying session led by instructor Jamie Franklin. Time is 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. If no tools, the shop has some for use during these sessions. Beginners are welcome! On Saturday, the Backpacker Baton Rouge store will hold another of their "Demo Days" at Wampold Park on University Lake. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. No cost. Boats for trying out will include Hobie, Dagger, Perception, Mad River, YOLO, and Wilderness Systems including the new Wildy ATAK fishing kayak. Next Sunday is the last day to register online for Ride The Bull 6 taking place August 14-15. After Sunday, folks can register onsite during the event, but for a slightly higher fee, and without guarantee of a t-shirt.

August is here. That means... (1) The last full month of SweatFest. Hold on, folks, the days are getting shorter and fall is only weeks away. Until then, we'll have heat and humidity - and the first good chance for tropical activity. Remember, I'm just the messenger. (2) The start of football. Saints training camp began yesterday. The first preseason game is on August 13 at Baltimore against the Ravens. Most of the state colleges begin fall camp this week, including LSU on Wednesday. The same for most high schools. (3) The world's largest kayak fishing tournament. In two weeks, Grand Isle will host Ride The Bull 6 (August 14-15). Last year, RTB5 broke it's own record for the largest number of participants in a kayak tournament with 732. As of now there are over 460 registered. (4) Contraband Fly Fishing Expo, set for the August 22nd at PPG Porter Hall in Lake Charles. This conclave - hosted by the Contraband Fly Casters - typically has one of the largest contingent of fly tiers. (5) Cajun Castaway. The Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their late summer tournament at Calcasieu Point Landing on August 29th. It's open to the public. That tournament is open to the public. (6) Last full month for CCA STAR. The summer-long tournament ends on Labor Day. Typically, August is a tough month to catch big trout on fly or from kayak, but with conditions around Vermillion Bay and Calcasieu actually improving from heavy freshwater influence this Spring, the Southwest and West Divisions are starting to produce big trout. There's also 8 more prize eligible tagged reds swimming around.

Also this month, the IFFF Fly Fishing Fair. The International Federation of Fly Fishers celebrates their 50th annual conclave August 11th thru the 15th in Bend, Oregon. The actual "show" dates and times are 12th thru 15th, 9:00am to 5:00pm each day. In addition to seminars, dozens of fly tying demos, exhibitors and workshops, there's also special activities for youth and women, as well as awards banquet and other social events. I won't be able to attend this year, but it should be a great time. Congrats to the IFFF on this significant milestone!

The Bug Book is a new complete guide to aquatic entomology for fly fishers, covering all the important insects and their imitations for the United States. Author Paul Weamer is a Fly Fisherman magazine contributing editor who specializes in aquatic insect macro photography and has contributed photos for several publications. In his new book he has included hatch charts, fly recommendations and fishing strategies. An ideal reference for those beginning into coldwater trout fishing. Currently the book is only available on Kindle from Amazon. Price is $9.99. Be aware that this is 152 pages... the 18 megabyte file size may take long to download.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The August issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out. In my Fly Lines column - "The Fly Fishing Answer Man Awakens" - I answer reader questions regarding leaders, knots, species-specific fly lines, American-made flies, and the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7 ("The Force Awakens"). This month's reader-submitted article is from Tommy Granger of Broussard, "Bucket-list fly-fishing trip". Granger tells of fly fishing Christmas Island in the Pacific for golden trevally, bluefin trevally, tuna, and other species. In his Paddles N' Puddles column, Chris Holmes presents the arguments for fishing from a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) with input from YOLO Fishing Team members Jared and Kalley LeRoy from Denham Springs (Kalley won last year's Ride The Bull tournament, she was fishing from a YOLO). In their Seafood Bible column, Jerald and Glenda Horst share frog leg recipes from Rick Barrios of Jarreau. Articles include David Brown on tactics for fishing cypress swamps, Jerald Horst on fishing for redeye bass on the Whiskey Chitto (that's not really how it's spelled, but readers wouldn't pronounce it right so that's okay). Kinny Haddox tells us why Catalpa worms are the weakness of bream on Lake D'Arbonne. Jonathon Oliver shares the story of Anna Olinde, who almost lost her life to leukemia, and now lives to fish and hunt as part of her recovery. There are many other articles as well as regional fishing forecasts, tidal forecasts, and outdoors news.

North Louisiana Fly Fishers member Jamie Franklin will be hosting a new informal fly tying session at Gray Wolf Fly Shop in Shreveport starting in August. The date will be the first Thursday of each month. Time will be 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Jamie is one of the most accomplished tiers in the NLFF club and is wanting to help others improve their tying skills. The sessions have been added to our LFF Calendar page thru December (will extend to 2016 shortly). If you haven't been to Gray Wolf Fly Shop, it's located on 5825 Southern Avenue. For anyone going to these sessions in need of tying materials, owner Howard Malpass carries the largest stock of fly tying materials of any retailer in Louisiana.

You may want to delay any trips to the north Arkansas for now. Earlier today I received a report from Arkansas Game and Fish trout biologist Christy Graham on the status of the Norfork River, including Bull Shoals (White River). Here's the 4-1-1: One of the gates on the Norfork dam was blocked to allow maintenance on the gate and seals. With all the rain in the drainage area this spring, the lake came up too high, and work was postponed. The gate continues to leak. That water comes from near the surface where water temps are much warmer. AGFC measured the water temps in the Norfork yesterday at 60.2 F to 67.5 F. There were no dead signs of trout, but several anglers reported that released fish looked stressed. This is not unusual for warmer temperatures in tailwaters (in moving streams at those temps, trout are still in good shape). The good news is that during generation, river temps drop down to the 40s. The bad news is that there's a limited amount of generation going on the Norfork. That's because there's LOTS of generation taking place on Bull Shoals - Bull Shoals Lake is 90 percent full. It won't go down soon either - the 3 lakes upstream on the White River are at 80 percent full.

Fishing participation in America holding steady according to a report released at ICAST by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). According to the survey, roughly 46 million Americans, or 15.8 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and older, participated in fishing in 2014. While there were declines in certain areas of the country and among certain age groups, those reductions were offset by 2.4 million newcomers mostly among youth, women and Hispanics. Women comprised 47 percent of the newcomers. Another key statistic pointed out the value of youth fishing events - including National Hunting and Fishing Day and Community Fishing Programs. Over 85 percent of adult anglers fished as a child under the age of 13. The survey also inquired of those who have never fished and found that 11 percent of youth would like to try fishing. Another interesting stat: the largest percentage of anglers is in the East North Central (Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois) followed by the South Atlantic and West South Central (Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma).

As for fly fishing, it continues to remain steady. In 2006, there were 6.1 million participants. Over the next 6 years it fell slightly, then increased in 2012 and remained pretty much the same for 2013. Over 14 percent of fly fishing participants in 2013 were new to the sport. It also is the most educated... more than 42 percent of flycasters have a college degree. And while some folks have told me that our sport is getting "gray" and we're in trouble unless we recruit a lot more youth, the RBFF stats tell a different story. While ages 45+ made up 42 percent of our sport, ages 25-44 made up 34 percent. Given that most don't take up our sport until college or post-college, it looks like that age group is important to recruitment and the numbers are good (but could be better... that's always the case!). One other interesting stat: there are now almost as many Hispanic flyfishers as there are African-American flyfishers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We are saddened to hear that J.B. Salter passed away last Thursday. The Erwinville resident was best known as owner of Salter's Jiggin' Pole and Tackle Company, from which he became one of the nation's largest advocates of the use of jigging poles for crappie and bream. He even taught a leisure course thru LSU on using the jigging pole... a class that always booked up. He was a fixture at many outdoors shows from the 1970s to the 2000s, and an annual exhibitor at the LDWF National Hunting and Fishing Day Festival in Baton Rouge. JB made many television appearances, either with his good buddy Bob "The Ol' Beachcomber" Scearce or with Mike Rabalais, host of the popular Cajun Quest TV Show. While Salter was an expert with the jigging pole, he was first and foremost a dedicated and highly knowledgable angler. For that reason, he made presentations to groups as diverse as the Red Stick Fly Fishers. During the 35 years I lived in Baton Rouge, I got to know Mr. Salter, and have a bunch of "JB" stories I love to tell. One of my favorites: Cosmos and I had gone to False River for a late afternoon trip and met up with JB and Bob coming off the water. They had a nice mess of bream, and JB was kind enough to tell us exactly where to catch them. Another time, Mike Causey and I were at Old River - along with 75 other boats - looking for an entrance to the "Ball Park" area where Bob Scearce had written in the Advocate Outdoors section that JB was "tearing them up". We wandered around until about 7:30am, when JB and Bob came by in a boat and went thru the trees... followed by 75 boats! We decided to avoid the crowds and fish elsewhere. It was a great decision as we ended up with a 30-quart box of sacalait! Those who took a trip with him will know that he was like a drill sargeant on the water. But you caught fish! And nice ones too. JB was 86.

License to Win! winners announced. When Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries established it's LA Creel survey, it required more accurate contact information to help manage saltwater fisheries. In particular, email addresses. To get that info, LDWF created "License to Win!" as a means of encouraging anglers to participate when they purchased their annual saltwater licenses. Five winners are drawn on a monthly basis, with an annual winner to take home the Grand Prize - a 22-foot bay boat, trailer, and motor donated by Venice Marina, Mercury Outboards and Mike Gerald's Trailer Depot. Winners drawn on July 1st were Clarence Cobbs, Chad Hartman, James Odom, Stephen Smith, and Martin Randall. Another five winners will be drawn on August 1st. Monthly winners receive YETI coolers, Shimano reels, gift cards to Academy, Texaco and Whole Foods.

My overview of ICAST fly fishing and kayak fishing products continues on my blog at www.nonewtailstotell.blogspot.com. I had to sample thru some 400 photographs and countless notes covering kayaks, kayak accessories, fly rods, reels, accessories, clothing, footwear, eyewear and more. I didn't cover or test everything I wanted to at the trade show - just too much stuff and way too little time. In addition, I've got a limited amount of time to write up, so not everything will be covered. For example, I suspect most folks already know what a Jackson Cuda 14 or TFO Finesse rod is, and can test these products out personally at their local fly shop or kayak store. Rather I'm trying to focus on new products, or seldom-seen products. Keep checking my post in the Tackle Talk section of the forum as new links will be posted as they come.

Got $18 million handy? If so, the Walter family in Houston has a 785-acre fly fishing ranch in western Colorado for sale. Table Rock Ranch is located in McCoy, about 45 minutes from Vail, and features multiple streams in a lush meadow, including Rock Creek. In addition to wildlife and nature, the property contains a 3,400 square foot main lodge and several smaller buildings with bedrooms and kitchens, as well as covered relaxation areas, vehicle storage, and a fly shop! This might be the opportunity for someone looking to start a guided fishing business.

Sunday, July 26, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials are provided. Beginners are welcome, as the club has a few tool sets to use during these sessions. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. Time is 7:00pm. On Saturday, the Association of Louisiana Bass Clubs holds their annual Youth Fishing Tournament at Cotile Lake Recreation Area. Entry fee is $5 per child. Age groups are 3-8 and 9-14. In each age group, there are categories for Bass, Bream, and Crappie. The first 600 entries get free Zebco rods and reels, and all participants get t-shirts, free hamburgers from Burger King, and soft drinks from RC Cola. For more info, call 318-448-4225 or 318-613-6886. Also on Saturday, The Backpacker of Lafayette will hold another of their "Paddle Demo Days" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boats represented will be Hobie, Wilderness Systems (including the new ATAK), KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River and YOLO. Call if weather threatens to confirm 337-406-8754. On Sunday, the IFA Kayak Tour - Louisiana Division holds their 2nd and final series tournament out of Houma. Entry fee is $75. Attendance at the Captains meeting on Saturday 6:00pm is mandatory. Qualifies for the IFA-K National Championship. For more info, go to www.ifakayakfishingtour.com.

Congrats to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers for another outstanding "Master Series" seminar. The event was held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. International fly angler Davy Wotton, who now makes his living guiding on the blue ribbon trout waters of northern Arkansas, did a day-long presentation on midge fishing, with emphasis on application of nymphing techniques including tackle, gear, lines, leaders, knots, flies, presentation, casting and much more. Even some of us old pros learned a few new tricks! For the NLFF club, this was their 3rd annual event of this type, and within the next month, plans will be made for the 4th Master Series next summer.

North Louisiana now has a kayak fishing shop. Our friend Adam Harbuck has opened a kayak fishing store on 1914 East 70th Street in Shreveport. Among the boats that are currently in store are models from Feelfree, Native, Kajun Custom (KC) Kayaks, Wilderness Systems, and others. That includes the new ATAK kayak from Wildy. In addition, Adam is carrying products from Bending Branches, YakAttack, Lews, ConSeal and others. Affiliated with the Hook1 franchise, Harbuck Outdoor Sports is open 9:00am to 6:00pm Tuesday thru Friday, and 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday. It's closed on Sunday and Monday. There's no immediate plans for one of those popular paddle demo days, but Adam has stated that there will be some in the future.

A brief break from the heat and drought. Up until yesterday, most of central and north Louisiana had not seen rain in two weeks, with heat indices of 100 to 108 in some parishes. Last night and today have seen scattered showers over most parishes, with cloud cover over the whole area giving break from the extreme heat. Enjoy it while it lasts! The high pressure over Texas that has been responsible for heat advisories the past week will be reinforced starting Monday and continuing until the weekend, bringing triple digit temperatures across central and north Louisiana. Sorry to say this... we're smack in the middle of SweatFest 2015. At least another four weeks of oppressive heat, with the most likely relief being some sort of tropical system. The National Weather Service suggests the following tips to beat the heat: (1) limit outdoor activities, especially during the hottest part of the day, (2) drink plenty fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, (3) dress in loose, lightweight light-colored clothing, (4) wear sunscreen, (5) do not leave children or pets in an enclosed car as temps inside a vehicle can reach 130 degrees!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Wednesday night, BCKFC will hold a general meeting. Sorry we missed that on our "what's happening" segment on Sunday. But the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club has it's quarterly meeting on Wednesday at 7:00pm at The Backpacker on Jefferson Highway (Bocage) in Baton Rouge. Members and potential members are invited. The agenda will include a guest speaker (name not yet confirmed), as well as upcoming tournaments including next month's Ride The Bull 6 to take place August 15th in Grand Isle.

Speaking of Ride The Bull, registration is already up to 273. Last year, RTB5 set another record for largest kayak fishing tournament ever, with 732 participants. The winner, Kalley LeRoy of Denham Springs, made national media by catching her 26.14 bull redfish off a YOLO stand-up paddleboard (SUP) even though she spent most of the fight on her knees for leverage. Kalley, along with her husband Jared, are members of the YOLO pro staff, and proved that no boat is incapable of being in contention. RTB organizer Danny Wray was hoping that this year's registration would hit the 1,000 mark. While that seems unlikely, another record turnout is a good possibility. Online registration is $75 ($65 under 17) and includes entry, the Captains dinner and Calmwater Film Festival on Friday night, Saturday lunch, captain's bag and t-shirt. Much of what makes this event special is the fact that anglers are confined to a restricted area and it's not uncommon to have several boats clustered up and having conversations between the paddlers.

The Red River Fishing Expo will take place Saturday, March 5, 2016. Formerly known as the Natchitoches Fishing Expo, the event will be held at the Natchitoches Civic Center downtown. Then in 2017, the event will take place in the Alexandria area, returning to Natchitoches in 2018 (even years, Natchitoches, odd years, Alexandria). Here's what's going on... the Cane Country Fly Casters have hosted the expo the last two years, both times very successful. The Kisatchie Fly Fishers held their first-ever Cenla Fly Fishing Festival this past January, and it too was a big success. However holding a general fishing expo was a consideration for the KFF club also. Holding a general fishing event takes a lot more work than the usual fly fishing conclave. For example, 60+ vendors compared to 12 or less. CCFC members brought a proposal to the KFF club to combine resources and rather than hold their separate events each year, hold just one, and alternate locations. At last night's KFF meeting, Burley Johnson and Vic McClane of the Cane Country club made their formal proposal and answered questions. Afterwards, a motion was made by KFF member Dan Fromme to approve. The vote was unanimous in favor. Given that there is no outdoors show in the Cenla area (and has not been for several years), I expect great things for the Red River Fishing Expo.

Monday, July 20, 2015
Going back to Orlando for 2016. American Sportfishing Association President Mike Nussman, whose group is in charge of producing ICAST, their industry trade show, had much to celebrate after last week's show. Including the IFTD (fly fishing trades) there were nearly 2,000 product lines exhibited - a record. Attendance by exhibitors, buyers, and outdoors media was almost 13,000 - also a record. "This was, without a doubt, the biggest show that we have produced.", said Nussman. Part of the exciting aspects of the evolution of the show was the addition of Super Tuesday, which included the first-ever on-the-water demos and outdoor demos at Lake Toho, the first-ever ICAST Cup bass fishing tournament, a golf tournament, and a concert with country music star Easton Corbin. The success of the Orlando venue - two successive years, two records - led ASA and AFFTA officials to vote to return to Orlando again for 2016.

Why has Orlando done so well? In our opinion, it could do just as well in Raleigh, Charleston, or Nashville. As one exhibitor told me, all our growth is taking place in the East and the South. In fact, he lost sales out West for the third year in a row. It's most certainly the drought to blame, but I also believe that anti-angler policies on the "Left Coast" are also having some impact.

Conservation groups in support of Graves-Miller Bill. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced by U.S. Representatives Garret Graves of Louisiana and Jeff Miller of Florida that would remove red snapper from federal authority and place responsibility among the five individual states through a new body called the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA). Under the GSRSMA framework, each Gulf state would be responsible for all monitoring and management of red snapper in their respective state and adjacent federal waters. The framework calls for more precise and timely recreational data collection, more frequent stock assessments and increased collaboration among the states. The issues with red snapper management - which has led to a 10-day season here in Louisiana - have almost nothing to do with stocks. Ask any Louisiana offshore charter captain and they'll tell you that red snapper have almost become a nuisance species. But under federal management guidelines, if one state has very low recruitment, all states suffer the consequences.

Sunday, July 19, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Burley Johnson of the Cane Country Fly Casters will be guest speaker. Also, Catch Cormier will give a brief summary of new products featured at the ICAST show. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. On the agenda is next month's Contraband Fly Fishing Expo (August 22). Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. On the agenda is this coming weekend's Highway 1 Slamboree. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners welcome; bring your tools, materials provided. On Saturday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their 3rd annual Master Series. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" out of Leeville Launch. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs holds their monthly fly tying workshop inside the White River Fly Shop. Time is 9:00am to 12:00 noon. There is no cost. Beginners welcome, bring your tools, materials provided.

The NLFF Master Series is this Saturday. As mentioned prior, special guest speaker will be Davy Wotton, one of the world's leading experts on wet flies. It's a full day agenda, with lunch and refreshments served. Location will be the Red River Refuge headquarters in Bossier City. Cost is $35 and includes lunch and refreshments. Space is limited but there's still a few seats left. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.

The Highway 1 Slamboree this Saturday is one of the five biggest kayak fishing tournaments of the year in Louisiana. Hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club, H1S will be held out of the new Leeville Public Boat Launch. This is a roadrunner tournament - you can launch and fish anywhere along Highway 1. Entry fee is $45. Categories are: SLAM (heaviest slot red, trout, flounder), Leopard Red, and optional Calcutta Trout. Leopard Red winner wins a Native Slayer 14.5 kayak, courtesy of Pack and Paddle! A portion of the entry fee goes to Launch Leeville and Friends of Grand Isle. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

Second tagged STAR red caught by kayak angler. Yesterday while competing in the Casting For Kids fishing tournament, David Torregrossa hooked a red from his kayak off the edge of Southwest Canal in Leeville. When the fish was landed, he noticed a tag sticking from it's back. It was a CCA STAR tagged red, and according to the report, Torregrossa was registered for the STAR. If everything checks out, he becomes the 2nd STAR angler - and 2nd kayak angler - to catch a 2015 STAR tagged redfish. The first fish was caught by fellow Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club member and LFF forum member, Jonathon Craft. Jonathon will receive a Chevy Silverado Crew Cab truck. David will receive a boat, motor, and trailer package. I mentioned on the BCKFC forum that Jonathon and David should give a presentation on how to catch tagged reds. It's something I'd sure like to do!

Registration is now open for Southern Conclave. The International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) Southern Council Fly Fishing Fair (aka, conclave) will be held October 2-3 at Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Early registration continues until September 15th. There are several reasons to register early for this event. First, several of the workshops have limited spots and fill up prior to conclave. Second, everyone who pre-registers will be entered into a drawing for a Loop Opti Stream 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod. Third, it's just a lot easier to pick up your packet than standing in line waiting to register on-site. Although Sowbug Roundup gets credit these days as the largest fly fishing show in the mid-South, Southern Conclave still has two major drawing cards. The weather and fishing are typically much better. Browns, rainbows, and cutthroat trout will be feeding on blue-wing olives and various nymphs. Also, this is the first public show each year following ICAST. Attendees will get a chance to view and even test a few of the new products. For more details, including registration forms, go to the IFFF Southern Council website at www.ifffsoc.org.

Summary of ICAST-IFTD coming soon. Over a billion people are tied to the internet, and at least half of them are looking forward to my annual summary on the ICAST show. LOL. Seriously, a lot of folks are asking me about products - both future and current - and I hope to give them some answers soon. But after going through all the photos, notes, literature and other artifacts from my visit to the world's largest trade show this past week, I came to the conclusion my review is going to take some time. Of the over 1,700 product lines exhibited at ICAST, I concentrated my efforts on nearly 300 of possible interest to fly fishers and kayak anglers. Even with that, there's no way I can report on all those, so I'll try and limit it to the most interesting 100 to 150. I'll have two writeups - one for my blog and one for my Fly Lines column. Unlike some online blogs which covered just a few of the major players at ICAST, we've always prided ourselves in covering all the exhibitors we can and giving in-detail analysis (not just rehashed press releases). As far as I know, I was the only attendee to thoroughly test the "Overall Best of Show" - the Eddyline C135 Kayak. It was well deserved of that honor, but there were a LOT of other outstanding new products.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Season of savings begins now. Orvis just announced savings on their major rod outfits including Helios 2 ($100), Recon ($45), Superfine Glass ($45), Superfine Carbon ($45), and Clearwater ($20). Outfits include rod, reel, fly line and backing, and all rods carry the Orvis 25-year warranty. For those with more budgetary restrictions, Cabelas has their 3-Forks combos on sale for $69. This does not include line and backing, and the 3-Forks rods do not carry a warranty. However, a 2-year replacement option is available. Sometime after IFTD next week and before the end of the year, we will most likely see some closeout specials on fly rods or reels if those particular models are being discontinued, replaced, or upgraded.

Finally a break from the rain? If you've felt that the weather has kept you off the water this year more times than usual, you may be right! The first half of this year has been one of the wettest ever. Lake Charles had the 6th wettest half-year receiving 41.51 inches of rain. The record set in 1991 was 48.32 inches. Here in the Alexandria area, we average 60.9 inches per year, and after this weekend, we're past the 40 inch mark! That's certainly bad enough, but consider that after the first three months of this year we were below average. Looking at some of the statistics, another that stood out was number of rain days. New Iberia was at 85, Lake Charles at 91. Again, consider this is mostly in a four-month span. This is causing lots of problems for anglers. For starters, you can't catch fish if you can't fish. And lightning is not a good situation for fishing. Also, all this rain brings dirty water and runoff. That runoff goes somewhere, and that "somewhere" happens to be the Calcasieu estuary, Vermillion Bay, and Lake Pontchartrain and Biloxi Marsh. Speckled trout catches in all these waters are way down for this time of year. Now for the good news... a strong ridge of high pressure is building over Florida and we should see limited rain over the next couple of weeks. Further, this ridge will end the "Wicked Wind From the West" and give the more favorable southeasterly winds that speckled trout (and other inshore species) prefer this time of year.

Sunday, July 5, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at the Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Casting begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Friday at 2:00pm, and continuing thru Sunday, it's the Southern Sportsmans Festival and Expo at the Alario Center in Westwego. The expo features vendors, demos, seminars, youth activities and much more. Admission is $10 adults, $5 under 16, under age 7 free. On Friday, all 16 and under are free, and on Saturday, CCA members get a discount. For more info, go to www.southernsportsmansfestival.com. On Saturday, Cabelas in Gonzales will hold a "Kayak Fishing 101" workshop. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Class size is limited to 35 participants, so pre-registration is required. A few seats are still available. For details, go to www.bckfc.org and go to their Forum page. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Models include Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Perception, Mad River, YOLO and more. Subject to weather, please call 337-406-8754 to confirm.

The new product announcements for 2015/2016 are coming out with just a week before ICAST-IFTD. Last week, Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) posted press releases on Dan Blanton's forum regarding two new rod series. We'll discuss that later, because another announcement came out that is getting a lot more buzz. And that's from the kayak fishing world. You may recall that at ICAST last year, Wilderness Systems revealed their ATAK fishing kayak. But it didn't make it to dealers until this past month. In the short span that it's been available to the public, the ATAK has made a big impression and sales are hot. So what could Wildy possibly do at ICAST next week to make things more interesting? Well on Friday they revealed a video showing the next phase of the ATAK - a modular component that fits in front of the driver's seat. Or I should say, TWO modular components. The images I snapped off the video may help explain... the first module allows pedal power - much like the Native Watercraft. The 2nd module contains a built-in trolling motor. So... the ATAK can be powered 3 different ways: (a) paddle, (b) pedal, (c) trolling motor power. Wildy may have come late to the party in terms of a frame-based seat and/or alternative power options, but the ATAK will be formidable competition in the kayak fishing market. Now back to those TFO rods I mentioned... the first new rod series is the IMPACT. According to it's press release, the Impact is TFO's best effort of technology to date, combining "maximum efficiency" and "effortless feel" into a slim profile blank. Blanks are matte black, with carbon fiber inserts on heavier weights and rosewood inserts on smaller models. It will sell for $324.95. What's interesting is this line: "Impact rods are available through a limited selection of our best dealers in line weights four through ten". What exactly that means, I dunno. The other "new" rod is the Clouser Series. Yes, there's already a Clouser series, but for 2015, it's been completely revised. For starters, all the models are now 9-foot. They're supposedly lighter and stronger, with faster action. The blanks are midnight blue. Retail price will be $199.95. As with all other TFO rods, the Impact and Clouser series will be covered by their Lifetime No Fault Warranty.

Thursday, July 2, 2015
BP and Gulf States today reached a settlement that will finally end the litigation resulting from the 2005 Horizon Deepwater oil spill. BP has agreed to pay Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida a total of $18.7 billion dollars over 18 years. It's the largest environmental settlement in American history. According to a report from WWL news in New Orleans, $5.5 billion of the $18.7 billion will go towards penalties under the Clean Water Act. Louisiana - which also gets the largest share of the total settlement - will get $787 million under the CWA portion. That's significant as the RESTORE Act passed by Congress directs 80 percent of the CWA fine money to be used for coastal restoration projects and related economic problems caused by the spill.

Top 10 fishing waters in north Louisiana as rated by Jimmy Watson with the Shreveport Times yesterday. At the top of the list was Toledo Bend. No surprise there. On my list of Cenla's Dazzling Dozen - the top 12 fly fishing waters in the Central Louisiana area - I have The Bend at number 2. From an all-tackle perspective, it would certainly make number one. What was interesting from Watson's list was that Lake Bistineau was in 2nd place. I'm not sure that the lake is recovered enough from salvania problems to jump ahead of Caney Lake or Grand Bayou Lake. One of the waters just marginally inside my regional picks - Black Lake Campti - also made the list. There was one water not listed which I would rate solidly in the top 10, and that was Poverty Point. For the complete list with reasons for their ranking, click on this link.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
July is here. Here's what's happening this month for fly and kayak anglers eventwise. On July 11, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club in conjunction with Cabelas will host a "Kayak Fishing Workshop". The class is free and limited to 35 participants. Details on www.bckfc.org. On July 18, it's the 5th annual "Casting for Kids" fishing tournament benefitting the Palliative Care Foundation of Baton Rouge. While it has both boat and kayak divisions, the kayak division has the 4th largest participation of any tournament on the Gulf Coast. On July 25, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their largest tournament of the year, their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" out of Leeville. It's open to the public, entry fee is only $35. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on July 25, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their 3rd annual Masters Series, "A Day With Davy Wotton", at the Red River Refuge headquarters in Bossier City. Cost is $35 and includes lunch and refreshments. Space is limited to 75 participants and there's still some seats left. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.

We've reached the halfway point of 2015. It's been a tough year fishing-wise due to an abnormally cold winter and early spring, and an extremely wet late spring and summer. In a normal year, I've made a few trips already to the Atchafalaya Basin and a couple of the Mississippi River oxbows. But the high river levels have me wondering if maybe those will be fishable by August. Saltwater-wise it's been tough as well. Again due to high water levels and predominant west winds. When a light southeast wind blows, the coast has been very productive for hefty speckled trout. The same conditions which have made fishing so difficult have been good for crawfish and shrimp. The local restaurant was serving boiled crawfish up until last week. The price of shrimp has been very good, even with the early closing of the brown shrimp season. Prices are as low as $4.50 for 10-15 count shrimp.

Events wise, it's been an up year so far. Several of the regional conclaves were well-attended, including the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Fest (Texas Fly Fishers, Houston), the Cenla Fly Fishing Festival (Kisatchie Fly Fishers, Pineville), Red Stick Day (Red Stick Fly Fishers, Baton Rouge) and the Caddo Conclave (North Louisiana Fly Fishers, Shreveport and East Texas Fly Fishers). The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's annual Paddlepalooza had yet another record attendance. It wasn't just the events; a lot of the fishing trips were also quite successful. Most notably the KFF club's trip to Broken Bow, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers' 2-Fly tournament and the Red Stick Fly Fishers Spring outing to Lake Concordia. But the unusual weather did claim victim to the RSFF club's Spring Catch-n-Eat marsh outing, and frustrated many anglers at the recent Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend.

Speaking of events, time to plan for 2016. In fact, if your club or group hasn't started yet, you may be in trouble. Ask the North Arkansas Fly Fishers. They "waited" a year in advance to book the Baxter County Fairgrounds for their annual Sowbug Roundup and it was already booked for their usual period of mid to late March. So for 2016, Sowbug will be in April. The NAFF club has gone ahead and booked Sowbug dates thru 2020. That's the nature of the beast these days. Back when I first got involved in the Red Stick Fly Fishers' "Red Stick Day", setting a date and making arrangements - even with special guest speakers - was no problem 4 or 5 months in advance. Since then, venues have expanded their booking dates into years in advance. And there's a lot more competition for those venues. If you look at our 2016 Calendar, you'll see that many clubs and groups have already set dates and venues for the first half of next year. One event not listed, but soon will be, is the "Red River Fishing Expo", formerly the Natchitoches Fishing Expo. An announcement will be made shortly regarding that event.

Your 2014-2015 fishing license is now expired. It expired as of midnight. If you haven't renewed for 2015-2016, do so today or asap. As we mention each year, the most active period for LDWF enforcement agents is the first week of July. More tickets are written this week than any other time in the summer. Part of that is associated with the Independence Day holiday, powerboats and alcohol consumption. But the majority of tickets are related to safety and license checks. If you fish freshwater, you only need the basic license. For an annual basic license, it's $9.50 for a resident, and $60 for non-resident. If you fish saltwater, you need the basic license plus the saltwater stamp (license). As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the annual saltwater stamp is now $13.00 for a resident, and $30 for a non-resident.

TFO adds Larry Dahlberg to Advisory Staff. Dahlberg is recognized by most anglers as host of "Hunt for Big Fish" television series (currently new episodes on the Outdoors Channel). He's best known among fly anglers as creator of the Dahlberg Diver and Flash Dancer flies, and for his Scientific Anglers video "Panfish and Bass Fly Fishing Basics". His innovations extend to standard fishing as well, as creator of the River2Sea lures such as the Diver Frog, Clacking Crawfish, and Wild Glide. In announcing his appointment, TFO President Rick Pope states, "Larry has done it all. He has experienced and studied the environments and species that most of us can only dream about to the point that Lefty Kreh and many others claim (him as) arguably the most knowledgeable all around angler in the world.". According to TFO VP Jim Shulin, Dahlberg will help in the design of gear, as well as developing educational programs and participate in TFO's general business planning.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The July issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out. In my Fly Lines column, "Hit 'em with your best shot", I give tips for better fly fishing photography. It starts with bringing your camera on your trips (any photo is better than none at all), and proceeds from there. Other columns of interest to readers: In Paddles and Puddles, columnist Chris Holmes writes about the exploits of kayak catfish specialist Robyn Bordelon, aka "Catfish Everdeen", who works the Mississippi River during high water; Jerald Horst's Creature Feature is "The Secret Lives of Red Snappers Revealed"; The Seafood Bible features Lockport's Ronnie Samprey whose recipes include Smothered Crabs and Redfish Sauce Piquant; Happy Trails columnist Bill Garbo answers the question "Panthers, are they real?" (clue: if you hear a knock on the door and it's a panther, don't anther!). In articles, Jerald Horst gives tips on bream fishing during the hot summer months; Andy Crawford shares how to remove a hook on the water; Rusty Tardo gives tips on fishing Lake Borgne area for reds; Kinny Haddox shares some great bank fishing opportunities in north Louisiana. Also, articles on forum member JCraft's CCA STAR 1st-caught tagged redfish, and how Louisiana Tech students are helping Alexandria-based Bill Lewis Lures modernize Rat-L-Trap production.

ICAST, IFTD and Orlando - a winning combination! Last July, the International Convention of Allied Sporting Trades (ICAST) and the International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) held the first-ever joint trade show in Orlando. A few questioned the joint show, and even more questioned the relocating of both shows from western venues to the state of Florida. Critics were quickly silenced when the Orlando show broke all records for exhibitor and visitor numbers. Based on those results, ICAST and IFTD agreed to return to the Sunshine State for 2015. Now it appears that too was a great decision. We're still 3 weeks away from the show and ICAST booth bookings have already reached an all-time high, exceeding 1,700 exhibitors. Combined with IFTD and that number goes over 2,000. There are reasons why the combined event has done so well - it's easier to organize, there are more people resources to work with, a larger audience to sell to, and only one set of expenditures for many media and retailers. There are several reasons why the Florida location has done well - growth of retailers in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, easy flight routes from the Northeast and Europe, and excellent saltwater fishing opportunities just a couple hours east or west from the venue. But yet another reason may be the expansion of start-up enterprises in the last few years. Take the fly fishing industry. We've seen Allen, Taylor, Cheeky, Rise, ARC, Shadow... just to name a few. There are roughly twenty times that number of startups in the standard tackle business. A lot of these sell over the internet, and in the past, couldn't justify the cost of exhibiting at trade shows. But with so much competition - and a large increase in the media attendance at these events - some startups are spending the money to be successful. A lot have learned from the TFO example. Temple Fork Outfitters seldom ever turned down an opportunity to exhibit at any show, no matter how large or small. Combined with a quality product at a value price, it made them into the giant they are today.

Monday, June 29, 2015
What's happening this week. A light one with the fourth of July weekend ahead. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the The Beach House Bar and Grill in Old Mandeville. Gathering begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Thursday and continuing thru Saturday, it's the 62nd Iberia Rod and Gun Club Fishing Rodeo out of the Quintana Canal Pavilion at Cypremont Point. In addition to the Inshore and Offshore Divisions, there's a new Kayak Division for Slot Reds, Speckled Trout and Flounder. Tickets for the Kayak Division are $25 and include free dinner on Friday night and jambalaya on Saturday (starting 11am). Tickets can be purchased from Cajun Guns & Tackle, Dagoís, Hebertís Mini-Mart, Buck Fins & Feathers and Dock Side Marina at the Point, or at a free dinner on Tuesday night at the American Legion Hall in Lydia. Friday is a state and federal holiday with Saturday being Independence Day. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the 77th annual Southwest Louisiana Fishing Club Rodeo out of the SWLA Fishing Clubhouse on I-210 Park in Lake Charles. In addition to Offshore, Inland, and Junior Divisions for multiple species, there's also a Kayak Division with categories for slot red, speckled trout and flounder. Entry fee is $35 for adults, $10 for kids. Tickets can be purchased at Cormies Grocery, Ship to Shore, Cajun Fast Mart, Lake Charles Tackle, West Marine, Cajun Tackle, Calcasieu Point Landing.

Thursday, June 25, 2015
Pelican's new Catch 120 is not named after me. But after looking at a 15-second teaser video, it certainly has my blessing! Just two weeks after the Wilderness ATAK made it to dealers, and just days after the NuCanoe Pursuit did likewise, comes news from Pelican of a new boat for 2015 that could well battle those yaks for "Best New Kayak of 2015". The Catch 120 appears to fit under the same group of post-modern SOTs ideally suited for fly anglers (Jackson Cruise, Native Slayer, Wilderness ATAK, NuCanoe Pursuit, Feelfree Lure) that offer the perfect compromise of speed, stability, and tracking. And oh yes, a frame lawn-chair type seat that offers all-day comfort and good lumbar support. While Pelican has been in the lower tier of quality, the company has made strides in recent years to be more competitive in this area. More on this boat won't be available until a few weeks when it's officially unveiled at ICAST 2015. I hope to see and test this boat at the Open Water Demo and give a review shortly after.

Sage and Rio to sell direct in 2016. Well this is a game-changer... Far Bank Enterprises has announced, that starting next year, their subsidiaries Sage and Rio will also sell it's products online, in addition to dealers. Currently another subsidiary, Redington, sells both thru dealers and online. The problem is that Redington has taken a hit among dealers after it went this route. As long as products are priced-protected, all is fine. Shops know they have the advantage because of "try before you buy". But when online stores do discounts that dealers can't replicate, that's when things go awry. And that's when retailers say, "Time to go elsewhere". We think this is a bad move for FBE, but only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Welcome to SweatFest 2015. FYI, SweatFest is one festival that NO one likes to celebrate. It takes place every summer starting usually the last week of June thru the first week of September, when heat indexes go over 100... a combination of daily temperatures of 90 to 100 degrees and humidity above 60 percent. Occasionally punctuated by a couple of days of thunderstorms or tropical systems. Yesterday a lot of folks were sweating here in the Cenla area - the high reached 97 degrees! A heat advisory is in effect today for most of northeast Louisiana. For anglers - especially puddlers - precautions need to be taken during SWF. First, hydrate early and often. Second, wear sunscreen. The spray bottles are very convenient. Third, wear high UPF clothing that wicks fast - mostly nylon or polyester. Hats, sunglasses, buffs, all offer protection. Fish early as the fish don't like the heat either. The most productive times will be from first light to late morning, and again very late in the afternoon (usually the last 2 hours of the day). Night fishing is a viable option. And for puddlers, get a small ice chest (28 quart) or fish bag to put in your yak, and avoid stringers. In 80 degree water, fish don't live long on a stringer. A stringer of fish also requires more effort to paddle, and besides, during SweatFest sharks are active. For saltwater anglers, there are other nasties besides sharks. Hardheads and gafftops are also at their most active, so a fish gripper and pliers are a must. Also, vibrio is most active in July, August and September. The older you are or if you have immune issues, your risks are much higher. Keep that in mind. Although this is a peak time for offshore fly fishing, inshore and freshwater on the fly is usually not as productive as Spring or Fall. Still it can be well worth the effort if tides and winds are favorable, and all the considerations I've mentioned are taken.

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