Monday, June 17, 2013
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul 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 Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: next month's Highway 1 Slamboree, plus fishing tips and more. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Bayou Lafourche Chapter of CCA holds their annual banquet at the Thibodaux Civic Center. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm. Tickets are $60 per person ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include membership, dinner, open bar. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Also on Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shop in Bossier City. Time is 6:30pm. This month Frank Harmon will be teaching the Patassas Fly. Patassas is an Indian word for sunfish. Developed and used by Rob Woodruff fly fishing guide on Lake Fork. The public is invited. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying workshops at the Whitney Bank branch on Metairie Road. Beginners are welcome. Also on Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold it's annual Trout Challenge kayak tournament out of Lake Prien Launch. Entry fee is $20. It's open to the public, registration is online, and waiver must be completed (1 time per year). Fishing time is 3am to 1pm. This is a "roadrunner" tournament - you can launch anywhere in Calcasieu or Cameron (except Sabine Lake). For details, go to www.bckfc.org. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly "Fourth Saturday Fly Tying" in the upstairs Conference Room. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Beginners are welcome.
News on new tackle. Recently we mentioned that the joint ICAST-IFTD Show is coming up in a few weeks in Las Vegas. For the casting, fly, and kayak fishing industries, there was expected announcements preceeding the event for new products for 2013-2014. The first ones came out last week. Sage is introducing a new premium rod - the Method - that will be ultra-fast and ultra-light. It's not expected to compete directly against their Sage One rod, but the price tag suggests otherwise... somewhere in $750 to $1000 range! At the more reasonable end of the spectrum, Redington will introduce their new premium series, the Vapen. It comes in two models, the Vapen and the Vapen Red. The Vapen Red will stand out like a sore thumb... it's "PowerGrip" handle is red. The handle was developed in conjunction with Winn Grips, maker of golf club grips. It's advanced polymer won't slip when wet and doesn't chip. The rod itself will use their new X-Wrap blank construction that supposedly gives the rod additional power. I can't imagine a rod with more power than their Predator or Link series, but it's all good. The Vapen will sell for $299, the Vapen Red for $349. Redington also has a fiberglass series coming out, the Butter Stick, in weights from 2 to 5, at a price of $249. The "new" fiberglass rods have not always been accepted by the traditionalist community, in part because most of the models fail to live to expectations. We'll see how the Butter Stick fares.
News on new boats. Also announced in advanced of ICAST was the new Old Town Predator MX kayak. Old Town has been a leader in canoes and sit-inside kayaks, but has trailed the pack on sit-on-tops (SOTs), especially those geared towards fishing. The Predator MX looks to change that. This new boat is 12-feet, 34-inches wide and features seating similiar to that of the Jackson, Native, and Ascend type boats. The deck has non-slip material and is clear for standing and fly casting. Old Town definitely has standup fishing in mind with the Predator. A 13-foot version will also be available for 2013-2014.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Luke McCoy has a great new website. It's OnTheVise.com, and in my opinion, one of the better organized fly database websites on the web. Realize that contributors are coming along, and the database will continue to grow. There's even a forum. I'm very excited about this new site, given that many of the legacy sites have fallen to demise. And several other sites, like that of our late friend, Mark Delaney, continue to exist until the current domain expires. It's very encouraging to see younger folks like Luke continue the tradition and bring new life to the art of the sport.
SweatFest 2013 is here. Temperatures thru the weekend - and possibly until September - will be highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s. And humidity that only moss could love! Fishing patterns have definitely changed in the past couple weeks. It now appears the bigger specks and bass are in open, deeper water. A combination of wind-generated currents or tidal currents and slightly cooler water temperatures hold more oxygen and the bigger fish feel more energetic and in a feeding mood. The falling Mississippi River means freshwater anglers should be on the lookout for "live oxbows" such as Morganza, Deer Creek, Yucatan, etc. to turn on for sacalait and bluegill in the next week. For anglers looking to hit the coast, a good strategy is first light to around noon. Fish are much more active, it's not as hot, and not as much chance of thunderstorms as afternoon. And absolutely, positively, don't forget sunscreen! We're a week away from the summer solstice, the worst solar radiation period of the year.
A new energy future for boaters? Five years ago, I wrote this article in the Fly Lines of Louisiana Sportsman magazine, "Flyfishers await a new energy future". Part of the discussion of potential new energy sources included biobutanol for use as a liquid fuel for automobiles and boat motors. Since then, research on alternative fuels has been slow due to gas prices being in check. In part due to the discovery of new geological sources for crude, and in part to a continued sluggish global economy. But the National Marine Manufacturers Association hasn't remained idle in it's search for new fuels. Their testing has proven that ethanol-laden gas has damaging effects on boat motors. The EPA approval for expanding from E10 to E15 gasoline will make matters worse. NMMA is currently experimenting with isobutanol, which they found in 2011 and 2012 experiments to show none of the negative effects of ethanol, while delivering 30 percent more energy than ethanol. In addition, isobutanol could be a "drop in fuel" entirely replacing gasoline.
Tarpon and bonefish are now catch-and-release fisheries in the state of Florida. The one exception is tarpon for the purpose of an IGFA record, where a special tarpon tag would be allowed. For photographing or measuring tarpon, fish over 40 inches would have to be kept in the water. For bonefish, this means that all tournaments would have to be catch-and-release (currently a harvest exemption is allowed). In addition, the Florida Wildlife Commission passed significant measures to eliminate snagging of tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, the subject of outrage among south Florida fly anglers.
We rarely talk about tournament bass fishing but this story couldn't ignore being mentioned. Last week Jason Christie of Tallequah, Oklahoma, became only the fourth angler ever to win four major bass tournaments in one year. You might've heard of the other three: Kevin Van Dam, Roland Martin and Bill Dance. Obviously, that means a television show in his future, right? Several things TV producers might consider: he's young, has a family, was a former college basketball star and high school coach. If he would get a show, he'd also be the first Native-American since Tom Mann to host a fishing show.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The 2013 IFFF Gulf Coast Council Fly Festival is in the works, according to GCC President Kyle Moppert. The tentative date is October 19 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This will be the first GCC event since Texas clubs spun off from the Southern and Gulf Coast councils to form their own Federation of Fly Fishers council. The remaining clubs in the GCC are located in Louisiana, Mississippi, and south Alabama. The location of a GCC event on the Mississippi coast is also likely to draw from a strong contingent of fly anglers in the Florida panhandle. More details will be coming soon in the Summer issue of The Gulf Streamer, the GCC newsletter.
The June issue of Louisiana Sportsman is out. My Fly Lines column is a "Tribute to Pop", a Fathers' Day salute to my dad who passed away on Easter Sunday. There were many great hunting and fishing stories about Pop, but I selected a few fishing ones that readers should enjoy. Also in this issue, Jerald Horst tells about a Grand Isle guiding couple, with tips for catching Cajun Bahamas speckled trout. Might be of interest to those attending the Grand Isle Weekend later this month. Rusty Tardo talks about big bait for big bass, specks, reds (a 6+ inch Deceiver for big specks? Absolutely) Chris Ginn writes about bass fishing the Red River. John Flores describes paddle fishing the lower Bayou Teche wildlife refuge. And columns from Jerald Horst "Creature Feature", Chris Holmes "Paddles n Puddles" and many more.
The 2013 Ultimate Fishing Towns have been named by the World Fishing Network. WFN, a cable/satellite entertainment network and online resource, annually conducts the Ultimate Fishing Town contest. Nominations are received by viewers and website visitors, and then the list is filtered down to the finalists. In the "final round", a new round of voting takes place. The winners receive a $25,000 community grant, plus ceremonies on WFN, and videos presented through the year on the community. This year's winners were Port Colborne, Ontario and Point Breeze, New York. The only Louisiana town in the finalists was Cocodrie, but it finished as a regional winner, earning a $3,500 community donation.
Natchitoches may not have won Ultimate Town but it would certainly be top contender for ultimate bass fishing town. Toledo Bend Lake and Red River were recently listed on Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society (BASS) list of top 100 bass fishing waters. Narrowly missing the list was Grand Bayou Lake. Add in-town Cane River Lake, nearby Saline and Black Lakes and that's impressive credentials. There's always next year..
We recently updated our Quick Links section. The usual maintenance stuff - repair broken links, remove abandoned site, and add new ones. We added a couple new "Favorite Blogs" but somehow missed a couple others, so those will be added later this week (apologies to Stephen O and Joe Barbier). I've been asked several times about including links to tackle, fly tying, and destination sites. In my world view, the QL list will always be dedicated to dynamic content of interest to Louisiana fly anglers or paddlers. Or with rare exception, to those static sites with information critical to anyone fishing Louisiana waters, eg., list of boat launches. Adding tackle sites to the list would make it way too long. And besides, anyone looking to get information about certain tackle, eg, Orvis or Sage, only has to google "Orvis" or "Sage". However, there are many instances where folks don't know even what brands to lookup. For example, can you name a supplier of reel seats for rod building? Fortunately, there's one place to get a listing of many things fly fishing - Black's Fly Fishing Directory. It's now published online as well as hard copy. It has everything - even a list of Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Instructors by state. We will shortly add Blacks to our list of links. As for others... any suggestions are certainly welcome. Just be aware that very few do make the list.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the LRCE Building on Florida Blvd in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Ted Jack, BREC's Director of Conservation, who will talk about fishing and paddling opportunities in the park system. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at 7:00pm at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. On the agenda, Dr. Frank Harmon will talk about his recent fishing adventures. Guests are welcome. 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. Also on Thursday, the Westside Chapter of CCA holds their annual banquet at the Carl Grant Civic Center in Plaquemine. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Tickets are $60 ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include membership, dinner, open bar, door prizes. On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge holds the last of their Fly Fishing 201 sessions. This free, one day, 2 hour hands-on clinic applies basic casting and rigging skills to practical applications. To sign up, contact Alex Beane (225)757-7286. Next Sunday is Father's Day... take a dad (fly) fishing!
We're headed to Omaha! The LSU baseball team punched their ticket to the College World Series by sweeping Oklahoma in two games with outstanding performances by a whole host of Tiger players, including Jacoby Jones, Aaron Nola, and Ryan Eades. Yesterday's 11-1 superregional victory witnessed the largest college baseball game in history, over 12,000 in attendance. Geaux Tigers!
The 14-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass in the Atchafalaya Basin, and it's adjacent drainages East (Lake Verret, Lake Palourde) and West (Lake Dauterive) will be removed as of Thursday, June 20, 2013. At their Thursday meeting, the LDWF Commission voted to eliminate the size limit based on recommendations from biologists after a three-year study showed that tropical storms have a much greater impact on bass populations and size than angler harvest. As a concession to advocates of the minimum size, a reduction in the daily creel limit from 10 to 7 bass will also go into effect.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Louisiana fishing licenses expire June 30th. This month is the last month to use your 2012-2013 freshwater and saltwater licenses. Starting after midnight, July 1st, you will need a 2013-2014 license to fish Louisiana waters. For those who don't currently own a fishing license, and would like to get one, good news... you won't have to pay $9.50 (+ extra $5.50 saltwater) just to fish in June. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries posted on their Facebook page earlier today that they now have 2013-2014 licenses available. The 2013-2014 licenses are good from time of purchase thru June 30 of 2014. Better to get new ones early than forget.
We're exactly five weeks away from the annual International Fly Tackle Dealers Show (IFTD) to be held in Las Vegas... and from the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) also to be held in Las Vegas. That's no coincidence. For the first time, the world's largest general fishing tackle show (ICAST) and the world's largest fly tackle show (IFTD) will be held under one roof (Las Vegas Convention Center) on same days, with same show hours, and sharing many of the activities, such as keynote featuring baseball legend Johnny Bench. This "all under one roof" is being lauded by retailers, as it cuts down on the travel, and gives attendees an expanded showcase of products. One badge will permit access to both ICAST and IFTD shows. For IFTD, this is far earlier than the August-September dates of the past. What effect will this have on new products? Typically, July is when rumors circulate of new products to be showcased at IFTD. The earlier time frame would suggest that June would be the time this year. I haven't read or been told anything yet, but it's still early in the month. My gut feeling is that, after two years of above-average new products, that this will be a quiet one. But all it takes is just one item - like when Loop introduced the first large arbor reel in 1984 - to send the industry buzzing and forever change the paradigm!
Sunday, June 2, 2013
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall in Lafayette. Casting practice begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Cajun Chapter of CCA holds their annual banquet at the KC Hall in South Crowley. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Tickets are $60 person ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include membership, dinner, open bar, raffles. For info, go to www.ccalouisiana.com. Also starting Thursday, and continuing thru Saturday, it's the 16th annual SwollFest Rodeo at Sand Dollar Marina on Grand Isle. The Kayak Division has categories for speckled trout, slot red, flounder - top 3 in each. Entry fee is $55 also includes t-shirt and food Friday and Saturday night. Benefits MDA and American Diabetes Association. For details, go to www.swollfest.com. Saturday and Sunday is FREE FISHING DAYS in Louisiana. Everyone can fish fresh or salt without a license on these days only. Saturday is also National Get Outdoors Day. In conjunction with this day, the US National Forest Service is offering free access to USFS recreation areas nationwide, many of which - like Valentine Lake, Corney Lake, Stuart Lake - offer very good fishing. Also in conjunction, LDWF will hold several youth fishing events across the state. For a list of those, check the LFF Events Forum. Also on Saturday, Jeff Guerin will hold a Fly Tying Workshop in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Time is 12 noon to 4pm. Cost is $20. Many of Jeff's great patterns and secrets to using them, will be revealed. For details, go to www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com. Also on Saturday, the Orvis in Baton Rouge will hold the last Fly Fishing 101 session of the summer. If you wanted to learn to fly fish, don't pass up this chance... this FREE, 2 hour clinic covers basics such as tackle, rigging, flies, and casting. It also includes free 1-year membership to the Federation of Fly Fishers. To register, contact Alex Beane at (225)757-7286. Also on Saturday, it's the annual Louisiana Saltwater Series Youth Tournament at Grand Isle State Park. Entry fee is only $5 and includes lunch, t-shirt and door prizes. Plus, the first 50 registrants (under 16) will get a free rod and reel, courtesy of CCA Louisiana. For details, contact Danica Williams at (504)628-7282.
June is here. Now thru August, the daily forecast is pretty much the same: hot, humid, chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Except June 1 is also the start of Hurricane Season. An average year sees 12 named storms in the Atlantic Basin. This year NOAA is predicting an above-average year with 13 to 20 named storms. Usually tropical activity is rare until July, but last year a tropical storm impacted the Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend. Speaking of which... June is also the month of the Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend, the largest saltwater fly fishing event in the state. Members of clubs from Louisiana, Mississippi and elsewhere participate. Other than that, it's a slow month for fly fishing events. For puddlers, there's a couple tournaments, such as SwollFest and Trout Challenge. Also in June, it's the College World Series, and hopefully LSU will take home another National Championship. Most important, June 16 is Father's Day... take a dad fishing this month!
Chevy Silverado caught-and-released. On the opening weekend of CCA STAR, Kenneth Guidry was fishing Belle Pass rock jetties, when he caught a redfish with a tag sticking out the back. A longtime CCA member, Guidry had an idea what that meant. He registered the fish at Gail's Bait Shop in Leeville, and it was confirmed - he had caught the first of the 2013 CCA STAR tagged redfish. Which also meant he was winner of a brand new Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Believe it or not, Guidry turned it down. Rules state that folks can only win in one division, including tagged redfish. A trophy trout specialist, Guidry wants to win the Southeast Division Trout (he placed 3rd last year). So whoever catches the next tagged red, will win a Chevy Silverado.
Just announced - Renzetti Fly Fishing Fair. Renzetti will host their 4th Fly Fishing and Rod Building Fair in Titusville, Florida, on Saturday, December 7, 2013. Since it's inception, the Renzetti Fair has been the largest fly event in the South, in part due to the many celebrities that take part. 2013 will be no exception, with Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, Jon Cave, Nick Curcione, Bob Popovics, Flip Pallot, Pat Ehler and others scheduled to appear and give presentations. Also, a large number of fly tiers and rod builders will be on hand. The cost is only $10. In addition, there's a dinner reception on Friday night ($50 per person) with speaker. All funds raised go to benefit Casting For Recovery Florida and Project Healing Waters.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Free fishing in Texas and Oklahoma. In Sunday's post, we discussed free fishing days for Alabama and Mississippi, and totally forgot about our neighbors to the north and west. Well, this Saturday, June 1, Texas will offer their "Free Fishing Day", where you can fish Texas waters without a license. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will have their "Free Fishing Weekend" this Saturday and Sunday, where a license is not required to go fishing in Oklahoma. Be aware that if you fish Lake Texoma this weekend, you can fish the entire lake free on Saturday, but on Sunday only the Oklahoma section of the lake is free. Texoma is not like Toledo Bend, Caddo, and Sabine Lake where Louisiana and Texas have agreements that allow lakewide fishing with either license, or with waterway-specific limits.
Free fishing in Florida. Of all our regional states, Arkansas and Florida get the most fishing from Louisiana residents. For Florida, it's the close proximity to Pensacola and Destin, their white-sand beaches and wide variety of things to do for the entire family, that often drags anglers along. What they often find is that, what northwest Florida lacks in redfish and speckled trout, it makes up for in line-ripping, hard-fighting pelagics such as spanish, kings, cobia, jacks, barracuda, snapper, bonita, and even tarpon and dolphin, within a short paddle from shore - and in some cases, even inshore. Florida has two "Free Fishing Days" in 2013. For saltwater, it's this Saturday, June 1. For freshwater, it's next Saturday, June 8.
Free fishing in Arkansas. There's no question that our neighbor to the north is the most visited by Louisiana fly anglers, because of it's blue-ribbon trout waters in the northern part of the state - White, Norfork, Little Red - and it's close proximity of the Little Missouri River in the southern part. Not to mention four other outstanding trout waters, and many great smallmouth streams. Like Florida, it's a popular family destination - "The Natural State" has much to offer those who enjoy the outdoors. "Free Fishing Weekend" will take place starting Friday noon, June 7, until midnight Sunday, June 9. Residents and non-residents can fish that weekend without fishing licenses or trout permits. All daily limits, slot limits, length limits sill apply.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. Time is 7:00pm. Featured tier will be Jeff Denig, who will demonstrate the Fat Head Minnow. The FHM is a fly version of the Corky or Spook lures, and Jeff will in the process demo the use of Flexament/UV Cure. Open to the public. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch, 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, the CCA Cenla Chapter holds their annual banquet at the Riverfront Center in Alexandria. Doors open at 5:30pm, with dinner at 7:00pm, auction at 8:00pm. Tickets are $60 adult ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and includes one-year membership, dinner, open bar, raffles. Contact Ryan Guerin at email@example.com. Friday kicks off the 16th annual Save Our Lake & Coast Fishing Rodeo sponsored by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. It runs thru Saturday. This event will again have a kayak division, with combination of 8 species for the Kayak Kahuna. Entry fee is $40, includes t-shirt and 2 tickets to the Back to the Beach Festival (live bands, food, etc). For details, go to www.saveourlake.org. On Saturday, and continuing Sunday, it's Free Fishing Days in Mississippi. More on that later. Also on Saturday, it's the 20th annual Youth Fishing Event at the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge. Sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges. Ages 4-12, accompanied by an adult, pre-registered required. Various groups will be on hand, including the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers who will demo fly tying. For details, go to www.fws.gov/southeastlouisiana. Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters in New Orleans will hold a Kayak Demo Day, from 10:00am to 2:00pm at 1400 Moss St on Bayou St. John. This free demo will include a wide range of kayaks, canoes, paddleboards. For more info, call 800-754-7467.
Free fishing days ahead. As mentioned, this coming weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Mississippi. With so much borderline to the Magnolia State, most Louisiana residents are within a couple hours drive to several of their "State Lakes", small, highly-managed lakes ideal for kayaks and small boats with lots of big fish. Not to mention, Okhissa, Calling Panther, Bill Walthall and Eagle Lake. Or the many streams ideal for wading or paddling for spotted bass. It's no secret I love fishing Mississippi, and it's no secret Mississippi fly anglers love fishing Louisiana for speckled trout and redfish. They'll get their shot at "free fishing" our waters on June 8-9. For those interested in trying out Alabama waters, their "Free Fishing Day" is June 8. For a list of all free fishing days across the USA, go to www.takemefishing.org.
LDWF offering events for June 8. In conjunction with our FREE Fishing Weekend, LDWF is working with sponsors to hold several events, including four for Youth. (1) Bass Pro Shops Kids Fishing Rodeo at Waddill, 7:30 to 11:00am ages 13-15 and 12 & under. (2) Lake D'Arbonne Fishing Derby at Lake Darbonne State Park. Registration at 8am, fishing at 9am to noon. Casting contest 10am. Ages 10-14 and 6-9. First 100 kids will receive a free extendable fiberglass pole rigged and ready to fish. Bait will be provided by LDWF. (3) Youth Fishing Derby at Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville. Fishing from 8am to noon, ages 15 & under. Participants bring their own tackle. (4) LASS Youth Fishing Event at Grand Isle State Park. Time 7:30am to 1pm, $5 registration includes activities and prizes. For more info on any of these youth events, contact Danica Williams at 504-628-7282.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Registration has begun for Ride the Bull 4. Promoted as Louisiana's extreme kayak fishing tournament, Ride the Bull was launched in 2009 by Danny and Kirsten Wray of Calmwater Charters in Grand Isle, in conjunction with Bridgeside Marina, CCA Louisiana, Friends of Grand Isle, Backpacker and other sponsors. It was a smashing success, and after put on hiatus in 2010 due to the BP Oil Spill, it re-emerged in 2011 to an even larger crowd. Last year, the attendance set a record at 261, making it the 3rd largest kayak tournament in the country, just behind Jamaica Bay (330) and the Jacksonville Classic (402). What makes RTB so popular? It's unique in several ways. First, it's strictly for bull redfish. Second, participants are limited to a restricted fishing area... which happens to hold a LOT of bull reds that time of year. So many folks actually see what others are doing and catching. It's common for folks to anchor and converse and just enjoy a day on the water while they wait for the Spottail Elvis to tug their rod. When a redfish is caught, the process is catch-flag-release: chase boats are located amongst the fleet of kayakers and when a red is caught, a boat will approach and weigh and tag the redfish. Last year, more than 60 bull reds were caught. There's also a Fly Division, although no one is yet to catch one during the tournament (a few have been caught the Friday before or the Sunday after). The dates this year are Friday-Saturday, August 16-17. Festivities kick off on Friday evening with dinner and rules discussion (7:00pm) followed by the "Calmwater Film Festival". Saturday is the fishing day... 7:00am shotgun start. A lunch is provided at noon for those who wish to paddle back into Bridgeside Marina. At 3:00pm, all fishing closes. Because the fish are weighed at the time of capture, the "weigh in" takes almost no time. By 3:15pm, the winners are announced. For 2013, Danny Wray is hoping for 400 participants. Based on the amount of enthusiasm this event has generated, it's certainly possible! For more details, and a link to RTB registration, check the Puddlers Lounge in the LFF Forum.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Coastal restoration projects unveiled. At last Wednesday's meeting of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), a list of nearly 40 projects was revealed that would be partially or fully funded by the monies received from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP had agreed to pay $340 million for coastal restoration, oyster recovery, and fisheries science facilities. In addition, a settlement on criminal charges with the Justice Department yielded another $1.2 billion from BP and $75 million from Transocean directed to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which in turn will be used for coastal projects. The list put together includes 10 diversion projects, several shoreline or ridge enhancements, and at least 3 marsh restorations using pipeline sedimentation. Of significance are the diversions that would move Mississippi River water and sediment into the central and lower Maurepas Basin. Such diversions would greatly enhance the freshwater fishing there, and the saltwater fishing in the central and eastern parts of Lake Pontchartrain. There could be additional projects depending on the final judgement... under the Restore Act, Louisiana could receive 80 percent of fines for violation of the Clean Water Act, which could range from $4.5 billion to $17 billion. There could be fewer projects as well... a group led by Mike Lane of RodnReel.com is opposing some of the diversion projects, pointing out that Caernavon has destroyed more wetlands than it has created, and that year-round diversion of river water would hurt inside shrimping and saltwater fishing. It is likely that if the group could consolidate it's efforts to one or two specific projects, those could be delayed or dropped.
Safe Boating Week - tragic lesson. We mentioned yesterday that this week is National Safe Boating Week, and that the number one cause of boating deaths is drowning, often a consequence of not wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD). Tragically, on Saturday afternoon on Caddo Lake near Karnack, Texas - just as the Caddo Conclave was taking place - a canoe with two men from Marshall tipped over. One was able to swim to shore, but the other went missing. A search by game wardens eventually led to finding the missing man's body. According to officials, neither man was wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. Safe paddling lesson #1 - ALWAYS wear a PFD!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
What's happening this week. A busy one, as we head into Memorial Day weekend. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul 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 Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: this Saturday's Speck-n-Redfish Cup tournament. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Tangi Chapter of CCA will hold their annual banquet at Twelve Oaks in Hammond. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner at 7:00pm. Tickets are $60 per person ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include membership, dinner, open bar. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shop in Bossier City. Time is 6:30pm. This month Bud Bethea and other NLFF members will be conducting a "Fly Fishing 101" session. This is a free session on how to setup tackle, and learning to fly fish. The public is invited. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at Whitney Bank, 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Pointe Coupee Chapter of CCA will hold their annual banquet at the Scott Civic Center in New Roads. Tickets are $60 per person ($30 spouse, $25 youth) and include membership, dinner, open bar. For more info, contact email@example.com. On Saturday, it's the kickoff of the annual CCA-STAR Louisiana. More on that later. Also on Saturday, it's The Camp Fly Fishing School Advanced Workshop. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual "Speck-n-Redfish Cup". More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs holds their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12noon. No registration required, please bring your own tools, materials are provided. Also on Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold another of their free "Fly Fishing 101" sessions. This one-day, 2-hour workshop features one hour on tackle and rigging, and one hour on basic casting. In addition, students get in-store discounts on Orvis products, as well as free one-year membership in the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF). Registration is required as seats are limited. Contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286.
Summer is officially here... by Louisiana standards. We're still a month away from the solstice, but from a climate perspective, summer begins the last full week of May and ends around the second week of September. With the exception of tropical activity, the weatherman can take a vacation. The forecast is highs in the upper 80s and 90s, and lows in the 70s, with high humidity. The fronts that brought us near-freezing temperatures just a couple weeks ago are gone until September. Despite the heat and humidity, there are many things to like about summer - great surf fishing, snowballs, shrimp and crabs, bream fishing, going to the beach, action movies, and saltwater fishing tournaments. Of tournaments, the list is overwhelming... several dozen to be exact. Which is why we concentrate only on the ones that feature fly fishing or kayak fishing or youth. One tournament that has them all kicks off this weekend, and that's STAR.
You have to be stupid not to fish the STAR! The CCA Louisiana Statewide Tournament and Angler's Rodeo (STAR) begins its 19th year of competition on Saturday, May 25. One of the largest, and richest saltwater fishing tournaments in the country, offering over $500,000 in prizes, STAR spans the entire Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast and is open to anglers of every age. It lasts for 101 days as the tournament runs through Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013. There are numerous divisions, including Fly Fish and Kayak. The Fly Fish has an East and West Regions, for largest speckled trout, the winner of each gets a $1,500 gift card to Academy courtesy of Costa del Mar. The Kayak Division has East, Southeast, Southwest and West Regions, for largest speckled trout, the 1st place in each will win a Hobie Outback kayak courtesy of Hobie. The minimum size for Fly Fish and Kayak entries is 14 inches. Folks in these divisions should register ANY speck over 14 inches they catch, as the Consolation Drawing (4 TFO Loomis rods for Kayak, 1 TFO fly rod for Fly) is in effect again this year. Folks who fly fish and/or kayak fish also have a shot at other divisions, including tagged redfish. The first tagged redfish wins a Chevy Silverado and the next 9 anglers to catch one win motorboat rigs. There's also a Youth Division for CCA members 17 and under. Youth entrants can compete for FREE (must fill a STAR entry form) and can also compete in all categories. For youth, it's as easy as catching a 14" speck or flounder and taking a picture with the youth holding the fish on a ruler and emailing it to the tournament director. As you can see, STAR is one tournament where everyone has a chance to win and win big. But you must be a CCA member and also registered in STAR.
The CAMP Fly Fishing School Advanced Session is this Saturday. Another advanced session will be held in September. They are held at their facility in Breaux Bridge. Time is 8:00am to 5:00pm. Cost is $135 per person and includes instruction, lunch, handouts and more. Registration is required, as seats are limited. There's even a pond to practice to your test your newly acquired skills on and hopefully fool a few bass and behemoth bream. In our opinion, these advanced sessions are the two best investments of your time and money for improving your fly fishing skills. As Cormier's 2nd Law of Fly Fishing states, "Good casting leads to fly fishing success". When you can proficiently shoot line, execute a double-haul, a reach mend, a curve cast, a roll cast, a Belgian cast, and other techniques of casting, then you greatly improve the odds of catching fish in most situations. The second biggest investment beyond tackle should be your time to learn to use it!
Safe Boating Week is May 18-24. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this summer. Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition. For kayakers, it's important to wear a PFD at all times, even though it may not be required while anchored. A number of sporting goods stores are offering discounts on PFDs this week, including inflatables that allow yakkers to retain freedom of movement and stay cool. If you have an old iPFD, check that the CO cartridge is full. Also make sure your PFD has been tested and sanctioned by a USCG recognized laboratory. A USCG-approved PFD will have an approval number on the label inside the jacket.
Louisiana Free Fishing Weekend will be June 8-9. These dates are provided for novices and non-anglers as an opportunity to experience sport fishing in fresh or salt water without the purchase of a recreational fishing license. In addition, LDWF and supporting sponsors will be holding various events on June 8: a kids tournament in Baton Rouge, a fishing derby at Lake D'arbonne, a youth fishing derby at Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville, and a Louisiana Saltwater Series Youth Fishing Event at Grand Isle State Park. For details, check the post in the LFF Forum.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Caddo Conclave is this Saturday The 4th annual fly fishing festival co-hosted by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers and East Texas Fly Fishers clubs will again be held at beautiful Caddo State Park in Karnack, Texas. The park is adjacent to the lake and Louisiana anglers can fish upriver to the bridge without having to purchase a Texas license. In it's few short years, this has become one of my favorite events... the lodge provides the perfect setting, and there's great cabins, camp sites, or nearby lodging. The programs, tiers, casting and kayak demos, and the pot luck Friday supper and Saturday lunch barbecue are well worth the $10 fee ($20 entire family). The fishing can be great at times, but my suggestion is to fish early... that's usually when I've caught some nice bass on poppers. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org or contact Scott Irwin at 318-742-1887.
The new IFFF Texas Council has a website. It's a work in progress, but so far looking real good. Check it out at www.texascouncilifff.com. One thing that the website will provide is a calendar of activities taking place in Texas (at least, those affiliated with the council or it's member clubs). Many Louisiana fly anglers attend Texas events, such as Fly Fish Texas, Red River Rendezvous, Ed Rizzolo Tying Festival, and Caddo Conclave, to name a few. One held this past weekend, the annual "Bass On The Fly Tournament" at Lake Fork, next year will be sponsored by the IFFF Texas Council. At this year's tourney, over 40 anglers participated, and over 40 bass were caught. And some big ones, too... the boat winner, Carey Thorne of Dallas, had a five bass limit with total length over 100 inches!
Jackson Kilroy - Evolution of the Fishing Kayak. Last week, Jackson Kayaks began shipping their latest product to dealers. The Kilroy is a sit-inside yak specifically designed for fishing and hunting. Yes, you read correctly - "sit inside" - aka SINK kayak. From the time of their invention by the Inuit eskimos some 4,000 years ago up until Tim Niemer created the sit-on-top (SOT) in 1988, all kayaks were SINK. In fact, at the time of my first kayak fishing experience, there were no SOTs. SOTs revolutionized kayak fishing, and are credited with it's explosion into the fastest growing segment of the outdoors industry. SINKs mostly have faded away as fishing vessels - with one very notable exception, the Native Ultimate. In fact, the Ultimate continues to rank in top 5 sales out of the 200+ boats on the market. SINKs do have a couple of advantages over SOTs, one being speed. For any given length, width, a SINK will always be faster than a SOT. However, that advantage does little good if the boat is not designed for fishing... which few SINKs are. The Kilroy is different. According to Jackson Product Manager Damon Bungard, the Kilroy brings together all of Jackon's great fishing innovations, such as hi-lo seating, rod and tackle storage and unique floor system. In addition, the hull has been designed for stability, and the large, open cockpit designed such that fly fisherman can stand, and have no obstructions to hang fly line on. The Kilroy specs: length 12'4", width 31", height 12.5", weight 69 lbs (64 without seat), capacity 375 lbs. MSRP is $1149.