Two Hopedale, LA trips, 10-11 and 10-18-2020

A couple of Hopedale trips – 10-11 and 10-18-2020

Wind: both trips were windy, 10-15 mph from W on 10-11, E on 10-18

Tide: rising the first trip on 10-11, falling hard on 10-18

Water Level: High (up in the grass) both trips

Water Temperature: ~75 F

Water Clarity: poor to fair on the first trip, beautiful in the ponds on 10-18

Water salinity: a little salty to the taste, ~ 3-5 ppt

Weather/sky: clear, scattered clouds

Temperature: 73 degrees F at launch, up to ~84 F for high

Moon: half waning and new sliver on the later trip

Launch in and out: put my Hobie Compass in about 7 am, out at 4 p.m. on both days

Water covered: ~ 8 miles each trip

Solo trip   

Gear: #8 and #10 weight fly rods

Lures: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly, Olive/white Clouser Minnow

Strategy/ patterns: sight cast to redfish

On the 11th I fished a large pond and eventually went down a bayou that lead to another pond. I was searching to find some leeward shoreline to get a break from the W wind. The water was pretty clean in the leeward corner of the pond and I started seeing blue crabs. The redfish were in that area and were after the crabs. I caught 10 redfish that day, including 3 that were right about the 27” mark. All were nice slot fish. In addition to throwing the spoon fly, my homemade Clouser Minnow (named after Bob Clouser, it’s the fly fisher’s version of a bucktail jig) worked well too. I was using the Clouser to search for trout, but it only found redfish.

On the 18th I fished the same area but went to some different duck ponds. Water clarity was good to great everywhere today. Later the shrimp trawlers in the main canals muddied it up, but the water in the ponds was flowing out so they didn’t impact conditions there. The water was flying out so fast on the dropping tide that I could not fish the bayous but the open ponds were great. I went up the windward side of the first pond (left the lee side for the trip back out) without seeing much action, hit a second pond and the water was crystal clear. It wasn’t long until I saw my first redfish cruising by – landed a nice 27” fish. I spent most of the morning going around the edge of the pond chasing a school of redfish. There were some larger reds in with the smaller ones, but of course the greedy smaller ones beat out their bigger brothers and sisters to the spoon fly. I caught about 10 redfish here – lost exact count. At one point I got above a deeper cut of about 6 ft that was draining rapidly into the pond. I’d watch redfish and sheepshead come up the cut to feed. I caught three redfish just by letting my spoon fly drift down current and sort of jigging it. A pair of sheepshead came up the cut and I let my fly drift down to them. There was slack in the line from the current and I started to pick up my line to cast and felt a tug. One of the sheepshead had taken the spoon fly without my seeing it and I missed the hook set. It did a little damage to the epoxy spoon fly by gnawing on it for a few seconds before I could realize it had eaten the fly. I picked up 3 more redfish as I went down the leeward bank of the first pond. There were a bunch of smaller 17-18″ fish working the bank and moving upwind. One was a neat looking multi-spotted redfish that has a darker cast to its coloration, so I held it up for a photo.

I moved down to another bayou but the wind was gusting too hard to do well there. I stood up and saw a few reds but was on top of them too quickly to make a cast and they darted away. The high wind killed the ability to sight fish so I hit another series of ponds and threw a Clouser in hopes that I might locate some trout. I caught three, specks but they were only about 6” long. I also got a couple of bass – the ubiquitous St. Bernard Parish specials of 12”.

I was spent ammunition after poling the kayak around in the wind all day and hit the pillows about 9. Slept like a baby after a therapeutic day in the kayak.

Blog: https://camiller3rd.wordpress.com/

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #TFOrods #Waldnerspoonfly #redfish #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub

Hopedale, LA 10-4-2020

Wind: 5-10 mph early, 10-15 later from NE, ENE

Tide: supposed to fall about a foot with low tide at 4 p.m. based on Shell Beach Station. I think the wind may have held up the tide a bit with the easterly component. Water was pouring out of the duck ponds in the morning but then slowed. 

Water Level: 2 ft. above average, redfish were up in the flooded grass

Water Temperature: ~75 F

Water Clarity: fair in main canal, good most places, gin clear at others

Water salinity: a little salty to the taste

Weather/sky: thin clouds created a haze and a reflection on the water that impaired sight fishing

Temperature: 68 degrees F at launch, up to ~80 F for high, but the breeze kept it cool.

Moon: ¾ waning

Solunar period: minor about 10, major about 4 pm  

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 7 am, out at 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 10 miles

Other fishers: solo   

Gear: #8 weight fly rod, #10 weight

Flies: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly or an olive/white clouser on the 8 weight rod, and a black Pole Dancer and a chartreuse clouser dropper 2 ft. below on the 10 weight.

Strategy/ patterns: sight cast to redfish with the spoon fly or clouser, throw the popper-dropper combo or the clouser when trying to pick up other fish in addition to redfish.

I had fun chatting with some bank fishers as I did a combat launch off the highway near Hopedale Marina. They were convinced I was crazy for going out in that little boat and that I’d fall out and the gators would eat me. I told them it was very stable – like standing on a dock – that I stood up and poled around the marsh all day and the gators did not mind one bit. They weren’t catching anything except pinfish at the moment, and I told them a kayak would get them off the bank and over to that black drum hole on the other side of the bayou. I left them pondering the idea as I chugged off to the marsh.

I intended to start elsewhere but the first pond I passed had nice green water coming out and was just too good not to try. The water wasn’t perfect, but 2-2.5 feet of visibility ‘aint bad for LA marsh. I decided to throw the Pole Dancer with the little clouser below it. I went through the pond, down a little bayou and into the next. There was a lot of mullet action, but no strikes until I got to the second pond. The Pole Dancer went down (it doubles as a cork) and a little 12” trout had the chartreuse clouser. I tried again and the process was repeated. Then I got a “big” one of 13”.

I decided to tie a clouser on the 8 weight and it would be easier to cast. I caught a 12” bass and another 12” trout. Since the fish were small I probed around the pond for redfish but only saw gar. I think the redfish were there, but were back in the flooded grass. I decided to move on. On my way out of the pond I found a sort of “half of a pond” of the side of the bayou that was crystal clear. I could read a newspaper 6 feet down it was so clear. I stood and poled around, spotting clam shells and crabs on the bottom – but no fish. As I left I cast the clouser to the junction where the murkier water joined the super clean water. Some bass were hanging out there and I caught 2 more 12” fish and then a “monster” 14” bass hit the olive/white clouser.

I went down to another little bayou that was usually clear and again it was read a newspaper 6’ down clear. I cast into a little pocket and got another 12” bass, but again the water was so clear I think the fish preferred to be in the grass. I started to stake out and watch for a while to see if any fish would come out and move around, but I decided to move to some more duck ponds.

The bayou that leads to these ponds was really pouring out water and I had to kick it up a gear to move forward. I got up to a pond and heard a redfish splash as it came out of the grass. I could see it swimming away from me along the bank, I got a decent first cast off, and landed a nice 22” fish. I went around the pond, saw some activity, and got a twin to the first redfish. I paddled up a little bayou off the pond and spotted a redfish coming down toward me, so I staked out and hoped it would arrive. Something bumped into my kayak and I turned to see a redfish had hit me from behind while chasing a crab. It dashed away when it saw me. I drifted and poled down current back into the first pond and caught two 17” redfish on the spoon fly. I had switched to the spoon fly because the area was too grassy for the clouser.

I made a long run of about a mile and a half to another area. The more open water was choppy and a couple of waves hopped over the bow but drained quickly through the scuppers. I got into a more wind-protected area and caught a couple of undersized redfish. I started to head home but couldn’t resist checking out a little bayou off the leeward side of a duck pond. The water was cleaner here, and I spotted some redfish moving in response to my presence. I held close to the grass along the shoreline so I could stay out of the wind. I saw a big tail come up – it was missing a chunk on the lower section – and I guessed it would be at or a few inches over the 27” slot size. I saw it several times and it moved behind me as I worked out enough line for a cast. I had to cast nearly backward but I got it close several times. It just wasn’t in the cards for this fish and I didn’t see it again. I was leaving and spotted a huge crab and some redfish scooting away. I saw a redfish circling back and got the spoon fly in front of it – another 22” fish. On the way out of the larger pond I was flipping my fly as I pedaled and caught the surprise fish of the day – a redear sunfish (chinquapin, shell craker). This is about the 6th one I’ve caught in the last few years. I think they are thriving, along with the bass, in the fresher waters that are now  present in this area. Hopefully this new hurricane “Delta” will leave us alone and I’ll be able to fish again next weekend. Stay safe and good luck!

Hopedale, LA 9-27-2020

Wind: 0-10 mph, variable directions, with a fortunate tail wind on my way in

Tide: rising with high at 1 p.m. based on Shell Beach Station

Water Level: 2 ft. above average, redfish and sheepshead up in the flooded grass

Water Temperature: ~74 F

Water Clarity: poor to fair in spots, gin clear at others, dirtier water coming in with the tide ruining sight fishing

Water salinity: a little salty to the taste, ~ 3-5 ppt

Weather/sky: clear, scattered clouds

Temperature: 73 degrees F at launch, up to ~84 F for high

Moon: ¾ waxing

Solunar period: 11 to 1   

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 7 am, out at 4 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod

Lures: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: sight cast to redfish

I’ll hit the duck ponds while I can. Come mid-November I’ll have to relinquish them to the duck hunters. The first bayou I went down was ok in water clarity, but when I turned into the pond it was fantastic and I could see little crabs and clam shells on the bottom. I made a blind cast into a little cut and the first fish of the day was a small green trout (a.k.a. bass in most of the rest of the country).

Soon the first redfish of the day came wiggling down the grass line and I got a 25 ft. cast in front of it. It was a textbook eat and catch. The redfish was only 24” but it was thick and fought like Mike Tyson. I released it, reset, and in less than a few minutes another pair of reds cruised by. I froze and somehow didn’t spook them. They moved about 30 ft. past and then I cast to them. I saw a flash of orange, hooked into the fish and fought it for about 20 seconds until the hook came free. I had to dodge the line as it flew past me so I knew it wasn’t slack line that let the fish shake free. I recovered quickly and shot the line back out and hooked either the same fish or its partner (other redfish like to follow a hooked fish). I got it in, released it, and got ready for the next customer. I came upon a little cut that drained a little pond off the pond that I was in, and there was another redfish hanging out there. Another easy cast and eat, except this time the fish gave in pretty easily. I unhooked it and it rolled on its belly instead of swimming off. I tried to get it going and then saw the hook must have cut a gill arch. I would have put it in the cooler except I didn’t bring one, so I left it to feed the crabs. All this took place in about 20 minutes and then treasure turned to trash as the muddy tide poured into the pond. I looked around in those ponds for an hour or so but could no longer see fish.

(Water quality going from great (right) to crap (left) as tide pushes in.)

Based on the wind (at the moment) and the way the tide was coming in, I guessed that another area a couple of miles away might be better, so I eased over to that spot and started poling down a bank into a 5 mph wind. The water wasn’t great, but if a fish wasn’t too deep I figured I might see it. I got to a spot with a small island and saw some bait acting up, and a couple of redfish tails up in the air. I caught one and released it, stood up, and then got the “buck fever” as I saw a school of about 20 redfish closing fast. They didn’t spook as I got a feeble 15 ft. cast to them, and as I twitched the spoon fly one struck and the whole lot of them sort of exploded. The fish ran hard and I fought it for maybe 10 to 15 seconds until the hook came free. The water around me was like chocolate milk, and every few seconds I’d get a glimpse of a fish. Long story short, the fish slipped away and I didn’t get to land one of them.

I pedaled down into a bayou that went into another duck pond. I had a couple of fish pass me but I wasn’t quick enough to get a fly in front of them. I started seeing fish working along the waterline and coming in and out of the grass. I caught one of these fish, and then another school of 15 or so redfish came at me once again. I had a fish strike the fly, it was on for an instant, and I tried to strip set and the hook came out. Again the water was too dirty to do anything with the fish as they regrouped and got away. I’d see another group (maybe the same group?) of about 12 redfish a few hundred yards further down the bank and whiffed again. Maybe I was a little quick and anxious on the hook set as I saw the fish eat the spoon fly. I rarely miss hook ups on easy eats like these.

I checked out the duck pond and the end of the bayou but only saw spotted gar, so I turned and headed back to the truck. There is a little bend where I usually catch a fish, and though I couldn’t see anything I decided to give it a few blind casts. I made a few and worked the spoon fly close and then tried to roll cast it back out. Dang it, the roll cast flubbed because the fly was caught on some grass or something, and then the line started away quickly. Must be a fish cause snags don’t pull line, so I set the hook and had a nice fight with a 26” redfish of about 7 lbs.

I headed back into the larger pond and flipped my spoon fly to the grass as I left. I picked up an undersized redfish, then a 24” red a little farther along the bank, and then missed one as I exited the pond. I was cruising back down a main canal when I saw some shrimp go flying and then heard a fish splash back in a grass bed. I wasn’t expecting much and then suddenly had a fish on. Current and wind were pulling me away from the fish and at first I thought it was a larger fish, but it turned into a 15” redfish when I landed it.

I ended the day with 9 redfish landed and a little bass. I’m not sure what the deal was with those fish that came loose, and hopefully it doesn’t happen again. I am pretty excited about seeing bunches of redfish schooling. Fall is coming on and it’s going to be a fun one if the weather cooperates.

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #TFOrods #Waldnerspoonfly #redfish #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub

Port Sulphur 9-19-2020

It wasn’t going to be hot with the 100% chance of rain all day, so there was no need to rush to get out. I pushed the kayak in about 10 a.m. and took it out about 3 p.m. We had a hurricane warning last weekend, meaning it had been 2 weeks since I had been fishing. The forecast was miserable and the wind was going to be about 20 mph with gusts to 30, but I was done with sitting inside. I put on the rain gear and loaded up the truck and headed to Port Sulphur. I picked this spot because, being on the west side of the MS River, it had not been affected (as much) by the passing hurricane as St. Bernard Parish. With strong east wind, my plan was to fish some bayous that ran north/south that would be well protected. It was a good plan, wind wise, but I did not catch a lot.

The water level was up (in the shoreline grass) and visibility was decent at a foot and a half. It tasted fairly salty (5-8 ppt I’d guess?). The tide was supposed to bring the water up throughout the day, but only about 6” and there was a minor solunar period at 10 a.m., and the moon was new. Since the wind was blowing strong I decided to be unconventional (for me – usually I throw flies) and used conventional spinning and bait casting gear. I started throwing a chartreuse Gulp! Swimming Minnow (curly tails) and natural colored Vudu shrimp with and without a cork. I also tried a spoon and an inline spinner bait without success. I caught some smaller (sub-slot) redfish and a gaff topsail catfish on the jigs, but never got to any larger redfish or the speckled trout. The marsh was loaded with pinfish and needlefish. I’d see them chasing the lures and they kept ripping the curly tails off the Gulp! so I quit feeding them after they destroyed several of them.

I kept getting little strikes all day (trash fish and maybe small specks) when fishing the jigs and was expecting to find some specks (it’s about time for them to move inside) but they were not “findable” on Saturday. I fished deep, shallow, and in between using my fish finder to locate some good holes that are usually productive when the specks are around. The fish finder reported that the water temperature was about 76 F – about the same as the air temperature – so conditions are definitely getting right and “inside” trout fishing should break open any day now.

On the way back I stopped and Ben & Ben Becnel’s roadside stand on Highway 23 and got a hot boudin sausage, a cup of spicy boiled peanuts, and a Dr. Pepper. After a day of fishing in the wind and rain it made a nice lunch. In another month or so the fresh citrus fruits will start to be harvested. The Becnel family has been selling fruit and fruit trees for several generations and they have some good products. I usually grab a bag of satsumas or oranges whenever I am fishing down that way in the fall and winter.

Other stuff to report……I saw a good number of heron, crane, and egret today, along with lots of gull and tern. I saw a few pairs of mottled ducks and one blue wing teal, an adult drake that had nice plumage. I did not hear or see any duck hunters. My rain gear got a grade of D (for damp). I’ve had it for a number of years and I either need to find a way to rejuvenate it or upgrade. I put my kayak on the truck at 9 a.m. and took it off the following day about the same time. After about 24 hours of solid rain the kayak had about a gallon of water in the hull. I gave it a taste test and found it was rainwater (no salt), so it was coming in from the upper surface rather than the hull of the kayak. Good to know in case I ever take the kayak out in conditions when lots of water comes over the bow. I’ll put some silicone grease on the hatch and check and seal the scupper-hull junctions with silicone glue and hope that solves the leakage.

Hopedale, LA 8-29-2020

Hopedale, LA  8-29-2020

Wind: 5-8 mph southerly, but changed direction and gusted due to thunderstorms in the area

Tide: rising to almost 2 feet at 11 a.m. based on Shell Beach Station

Water Level: a foot above average

Water Temperature: ~88 F

Water Clarity: trashy and dirty  

Water salinity: a little salty to the taste, ~ 5 ppt

Weather/sky: clear early, with storms building

Temperature: 78 degrees F, up to ~92 F for high

Moon: approaching full

Solunar period: 10-noon .  

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 6:45 am, out at 2:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod

Lures: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: catch redfish

The weather forecast was shaky and there was a good chance of storms. I was lucky today and the storms popped up but did not get too close for comfort today. (God looks after fools and fishers.) I decided I would keep a few fish today and brought along my soft cooler. I was listening to Don Dubuc’s Outdoors radio show and passed up my usually ice stop, thinking I could pick up some at the Last Chance at Reggio. The Last Chance was closed, so I figured no fish today. Then I remembered Specks as I crossed bridge over Bayou Yscloskey. I checked but the store was closed. A guy was helping some crabbers and he asked if I needed something. He took me into the icehouse and scooped about 50 lbs of ice into my cooler. I thanked him, slipped him some cash, and wondered if the handles would hold as I slung the bag into the truck.

It was an easy high water launch and I headed to the duck ponds in hope that the water would be clean there. I came to an intersection of some canals and there were gulls diving, shrimp popping, and some guys were anchored up and catching fish on shrimp under a cork on just about every cast. They were getting small trout, hardhead cats, ladyfish, and rat reds. I watched for a minute and then got back to my game plan.

I picked up an 18” redfish at the mouth of a duck pond by blind casting. As the sun got higher I tried to sight fish but could only see about a foot down into the water. I saw a ton of mullet and gar at the surface but the redfish were being elusive. I got a few ponds away from the canal and the water was a tad clearer. Another 18” redfish was cruising the bank and it gulped the spoon fly. I moved about 50 yards and saw something tailing. It didn’t seem like a gar but I wasn’t sure what it was. I put a 40’ cast nearby and it didn’t react so I moved the next casts closer. Finally it reacted a bit and swirled around but did not eat. I cast a couple more times and it hit the spoon fly. Turned out it was a sheepshead.

I got a couple more reds (the biggest was 22”) that were creeping along the banks and then decided to head in due to some dark clouds moving in. I stopped for a minute at the intersection of the canals and the gulls, shrimp, and fish were still there. I trolled my spoon fly through the mix and got a big ladyfish. I had to go into a headwind from the storm but made it to the truck pretty quickly. I cleaned my fish at the marina and fed the cats, gulls, pelicans, and some big black drum the scraps.

Blog: https://camiller3rd.wordpress.com/

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #Allenreels #TFOrods #Waldnerspoonfly #redfish #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub

Delacroix, LA 8-22-2020

Wind: 0-10 mph NW, N, NE, then finally E

Tide: flat tide based on Shell Beach Station

Water Level: a little above average

Water Temperature: ~88 F

Water Clarity: trashy and dirty  

Water salinity: N/A

Weather/sky: mostly clear

Temperature: 78 degrees F, up to ~92 F for highMoon: new sliver

Solunar period: 4-6 pm.  

Launch: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 6:00 am, out at 4:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 9 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 and 10 wt fly rods

Lures: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly on the 8 wt, top water popper (Pole Dancer) on the 10 wt.

Strategy/ patterns: catch redfish

Sometimes I encounter dirty water, especially so around boat launches. But I can usually head out to some ponds and get to cleaner water, which is important for fish to see the fly. Today wasn’t one of those days where I could make it to clean water. Everywhere I went the water ranged from poor to terrible quality for sight fishing. I attribute the bad water to the shrimp trawlers working in the canals nearby. The trawling suspends fine particles that take a few days to settle out. Anyway, I put in a few more miles than normal in search of fish today but could never locate water for sighting fish. I tried casting to likely looking cover and cuts between islands and structure that might hold fish and ended up with a couple of good thick 23” redfish along with a little bass.

The wind was negligible early today, but then moved up to 5 and then 10 mph. In the morning I saw a few fish tailing but couldn’t get them to locate the fly. I got the first redfish about 9 am and the little bass soon after. I was casting in between a pair of islands when I caught those fish. Consequently, as the wind picked up the casting got a little less accurate as the day wore on.  I was casting to an old barnacle studded duck blind when I caught the last redfish at about 2 pm. I must have thrown the right in front of the fish because the visibility was < 1 foot.

I stood up, set the rudder, and steered a bit with the paddle in one hand and the fly rod in the other, letting the breeze bring me the last half a mile back to the launch. I had the popper ready and passed three gar as I came in. They were wary of me, gulped some air, and then headed to the bottom as I passed. I got off a few casts but they were only interested in evading me, not in eating.

On the plus side I got a lot of exercise today, and the breeze plus a little lower humidity helped keep my “cooling shirt” cool.

Weird sight for today: Everywhere I went there were little crabs from about 1-3” in diameter swimming along the surface. With so many little crabs out there it was a miracle to catch any redfish.

Blog: https://camiller3rd.wordpress.com/

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #Allenreels #TFOrods #Waldnerspoonfly #redfish #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub

Delacroix, LA August 16, 2020

Wind: mostly 0-8 mph N – NW
Tide: about 1.5 ft. based on Shell Beach Station, high at 12:30
Water Level: normal
Water Temperature: ~88 F
Water Clarity: dirty, a foot or less visibility
Water salinity: fresh
Weather/sky: mostly clear, a few clouds
Temperature: ~95 F for high
Moon: Waning 1/8th moon
Solunar period: major period at 12:30 p.m.
Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in at 2 pm, out at 8:00 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 4 miles
Other fishers: solo
Gear: The Waldner spoon fly was on 8 weight fly rod and a Bishrat’s Pole Dancer was on the 10 weight fly rod.
Strategy/ patterns: Sight cast to redfish.

I’ve always done well on redfish at Delacroix in the afternoons, and with the heat index running about 105 degrees I would put my string of good trips to the test. It was pretty hot when I pushed off the bank and it was work pushing through the aquatic vegetation, but I began to see some redfish. They would come up for a minute, but not for long. I moved to a little island where wind was pushing by and saw a few cruisers that would pop up occasionally and then disappear. I knew they were around so I did some blind casting and got one to blow up on the Pole Dancer. It went about 22 inches and was a chunk of a fish that was released to be caught again.

I got to cast to fish a couple of times during the afternoon but things were pretty quiet except for the billions of mullet that scattered in front of me as I poled the kayak along. Some of them were big and looked like small redfish as they took off, but they were shallow and I could tell see they were mullet. There was a big lull in the action. The wind had dropped to zero, the surface of the water was like glass, and I started back to the landing about 6 p.m. The

And then, about a hundred yards away, I saw a tail. I headed toward it as fast as possible and fired a cast off in the direction of the working fish. It struck the spoon fly and the 20” fish fought all the way to the net. I released it and noticed more fish working within an easy casting distance. I looked around and the pond was suddenly coming alive with feeding redfish in every direction. I caught a couple more on the spoon fly and missed a few more. The sun was going down and I decided to switch to the Pole Dancer since it was a big noisy surface fly that the reds could locate easily. I got another nice fish of about 22” and then saw a big tail go up. I paddled over to it and made a cast. The fish slurped in the fly, and at first the it didn’t do much as it headed toward me. Then it realized it was hooked and took off on some powerful runs. After a couple of minutes I got it into the net and it was about 30” long. I released it and then went looking for another one. It was nearly dark and the bite was fizzling out. I headed to the truck feeling much better with the late evening rally that saved the trip.

Grand Isle, LA, August 8, 2020

Wind: mostly 0-5 mph SSW, but gusted at times from variable directions due to storms in the area

Tide: no tidal range today, slack tide

Water Level: about 6” above normal, allowing fish to move up into the grass

Water Temperature: ~85 F

Water Clarity: dirty, a foot or less visibility

Water salinity: pretty salty – 10 ppt or more

Weather/sky: mostly clear, some thunderstorms moving around the area

Temperature: 78 degrees F, up to ~94 F for high

Moon: Waning ¾ moon

Solunar period: minor period at 11 a.m.   

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 4:30 am, out about 2:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 4 miles

Other fishers: Kevin A.    

Gear: White gurgler with brown epoxy shrimp dropper about 18” below tied on an 8 wt rod. A Bishrat’s pole dancer was on the 10 wt. in case I saw a big redfish or gar.

Strategy/ patterns: try for trout under the lights, then sight cast to redfish after sun up.

I have wanted to try flyfishing under the lights of the fishing camps for some time. In summer the speckled trout move out of the marsh and go to the saltier water to spawn. This means I had to drive further toward the coast to get to the trout. I got up early and headed for Grand Isle. I put my kayak in at the bridge by the turn off to Elmer’s Island and went to the camps along a canal that were nearby. The lights were only on at a few camps, which could be a good thing as it might concentrate the fish.

I got a few half-hearted taps on the gurgler at the first light. After a dozen casts or so I moved about a hundred yards to the next light. Nothing there. I circled around an went up the canal to the third light – this one was at an intersection with another canal. Again, fish made a few swirls at the gurgler on top, but no real takes. I went to the last light at the end of the camps and started to get some action. Fish were hitting on both flies. I hooked a few small trout and croaker that came loose. Finally a 10” trout bit the brown shrimp fly and I got it to the kayak. I had a few more strikes but it seemed the fish were all small. The sun was coming up in the east so I headed back to the truck and went to meet Kevin at a launch a few miles up the road.

I launched again and got on the water about 7. Kevin went one way and I went another. Every now and then we would spot each other across the marsh when one of us stood up to cast and we were nicely spaced throughout the day.

The high, dirty water made for difficult flyfishing. I couldn’t see fish unless I was on top of them, and the fish were being secretive and not showing themselves. Sometimes I can move around and find cleaner water, but I couldn’t find any good water today. I saw 3 redfish all day and did not get to cast to them. I did a bit of blind casting at obvious looking places but did not catch anything.

While the redfish were being difficult I did see about a dozen sheepshead over the course of the day. They were working shallow along the edge of the grasses on the shoreline. I cast to them and got the fly close but got no reaction. When I moved the fly really close they spooked. I even got a really big one to strike at the shrimp fly, but it avoided the hook somehow. Sheepshead are pretty easy if you are using bait such as shrimp or small crabs, but they become schizophrenic when it comes to taking flies. Anyway, it was a frustrating day because of all the grief I got from chasing sheepshead around the ponds. They are heartbreakers.

About noon, Kevin took me over to a flat in a pond that he liked to fish. We spotted a large sheepshead that was feeding in some partially submerged grass. I staked out nearby and tried to cast to it but wasn’t having success. After about 20 casts I felt a tug on the line and I strip set what I thought was the sheepshead, but it turned out to be an 18” redfish instead. This redfish lacked the typical tail spot. Kevin kindly snapped a picture and sent it to me.

We fished around for another couple of hours, I was refused by a few more sheepshead, and then we called it a day. My fishing buddy, Kevin, put up a version of the trip on his blog as well (https://kevinandry.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/the-drumming-sounds-of-the-red-drum-redfish/). Kevin is a good fly tier and he does some wonderful ones with deer hair. Check it out.

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #Allenreels #TFOrods #redfish #speckledtrout #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub

Delacroix, LA 8-1-2020

Wind: 0-5 mph Westerly

Tide: predicted to rise about 1.5’ based on Shell Beach Station

Water Level: very low start, came up about a foot to normal

Water Temperature: ~85 F

Water Clarity: fairly clean (2 ft. visibility)

Water salinity: fresh

Weather/sky: mostly clear

Temperature: 78 degrees F, up to ~92 F for high

Moon: waxing near full

Solunar period: 12:30-2 pm.  

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 6:30 am, out at 2:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 4 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 and10 wt fly rods

Lures: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: sight cast to redfish

I was surprised to find very low water at the launch. It was a struggle to get out across a mucky flat with only an inch or two of water, and I shoveled a good bit of mud in the process. I got into some deeper water and was able to deploy the Mirage Drive. I had not gone far when I saw the first redfish of the morning on top of the water. I cast to it but I don’t think it saw the fly. Suddenly the fish was too close and it spooked away. I repeated the process on the next redfish that came up about 20 yards away. Soon I had redfish surfacing and tailing for crabs all around me. The sun began to climb in the sky and when I felt there was enough angle to spot fish I stood up. I was able to stalk and catch 3 nice fish pretty quickly.

I was playing around with some larger sized spoon flies that Rich Waldner gave me and I tied on a green-gold one (my favorite color). A nice upper to over-sized slot fish was cruising right to me so I plopped the fly in front of it, let it settle to the bottom, and then started to strip it as the fish got close. Instant eat! I strip set the fish and it charged away. I’m not sure what happened next….maybe my line caught on the rod butt or reel handle. For some reason there was no give in the line and somehow the redfish popped the #30 leader at a loop to loop connection to my 20 lb tippet. It got away with the fly and about three feet of tippet, and I was surprised and mad at the same time when I saw the end of my line. I re-rigged and put on another spoon fly and got another nice tournament sized slot redfish to eat. Then things went into a funk about noon. The tide lifted the water level and the fish were not showing themselves. They saw me when I saw them, and immediately began to move away. It was hard to get a cast in front of a fish. I spotted a pair of reds near a mat of weeds and tried to chase them down. I made a cast that was about a yard too short so I stripped some line off the reel and then picked up the line to make a longer cast. As I was picking up the line another fish that I hadn’t seen grabbed the spoon fly, and I landed the “accidental” redfish. The fish were spooky, the action went flat, and I had enough of the heat, so I decided to head in. The water was higher now and getting to the landing was not a problem. Some dark clouds moving my way helped me with the decision to leave. It was a good thing I came in because it turned into a bad storm that brought heavy rain and lightning. I drove through it on my way home. I stopped at the car wash on my way in and pressure washed the “Delacroix chocolate” marsh mud off of my kayak. It is nasty and leaves a stain if allowed to set up. 

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #Allenreels #TFOrods #Waldnerspoonfly #redfish #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub

Port Sulphur, LA 7-18-2020

                                                    

Wind: 0-10 mph from East –low at first and rose to a good breeze by 11 a.m.

Tide: predicted to rise about 2’ based on Empire Jetty Station

Water Level: good to start (in the grass), came up more during the day

Water Temperature: ~85 F

Water Clarity: meh, 1 ft. visibility

Water salinity: trace of salt (3-5 ppt)

Weather/sky: mostly sunny, clouds building later in the day

Temperature: 80 degrees F, up to ~92 F for high

Moon: almost new

Solunar period: major period 11:30 to 1:30  pm, minor 7 am.  

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 6:00 am, out at 2:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 and #10 weight fly rods

Lures: Capt. Rich Waldner’s spoon fly, popper w/ purple over chartreuse Clouser minnow dropper, Clouser minnow alone, brown micro crab

Strategy/ patterns: blind cast and sight cast to redfish and others

The forecast called for a 20% chance of rain and a sunny, hot day. The high water meant the redfish were able to go back into the grass and avoid me. The dirty water meant sight casting was going to be difficult. I could not find any clean water today.

I caught a 3 small redfish early, with 2 on the Clouser minnow and one on large popper. Later I got a ladyfish and a croaker while blind casting. I got into some broken marsh with wind pushing water through from the east. I got a nice redfish by blind casting and a couple more small ones – all on the spoon fly. I cast to a gar and got a strike but no hook up. There were lots of sheepshead feeding in and out of the flooded grass today. I was on top of them before I saw them and most of them spooked. I did get a few casts off to the sheepshead, but they spooked easily. Sheepshead are schizophrenic! A couple of times I had sheepshead go down to take the Clouser only to vanish in a mud cloud without a bite. I switched to a little crab fly on a #6 hook, but never got a chance to present it.

I was pretty worn out from the heat. Although I drank about a half-gallon of water while fishing it was not enough. I need to set an alarm to remind me to drink every 30 minutes

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #Allenreels #TFOrods #Waldnerspoonfly #redfish #sheepshead #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub