Reggio, LA 4/11/2021

Wind: ~10 mph from N

Tide: no range based on Shell Beach station, but N wind had the water pushing out hard

Water Level: above grass line and falling

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: 3/10 to 5/10 depending on spot

Water salinity: did not check – likely no salt

Weather/sky: high thin clouds gave way to sunny day

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: waning, almost new

Solunar period: major 2 p.m.

Launch: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 7:15 a.m., out at 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 8+ miles

Other fishers: Dan R.    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod

Flies/lures: Waldner’s spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: blind and sight cast for redfish

I thought Reggio would be a good place to fish today. I had not been here since last fall. Duck hunters and low water cause me to fish other places until spring comes. Normally the aquatic vegetation (Elodia, coon tail, and widgeon grass) provides for very clear water here. The late season hurricane last fall scoured the bottom, and the vegetation is abnormally thin right now. A mud bottom means the wind and tidal movement will create dirty water, and that makes sight fishing a real chore.

Dan and I covered over 8 miles, most of it was done by poling along shallow broken marsh and shorelines. We saw a few redfish through the dirty water, but mostly we saw scads of annoying spotted gar that were chasing each other around and mating. I cast to and hooked two redfish only to have the hook pull out during mid-battle. I also accidentally caught a small bass and hooked two spotted gar. I got one of the gar to the kayak and dropped the line so that it could self-release. I went into one pond and found it held at least a dozen large alligators. I probably saw another ten or so gators at various places in the marsh throughout the day. They are really active this time of year.

Later in the afternoon the wind began to calm down and the redfish seemed to become more active. One pushed a wake as it came out from under a clump of grass, and I made several casts to where I thought it might be. After several tries the line went tight and I landed a really nice fish of just under 27”. Upper slot redfish have been about all I have caught lately. Of course, I will not be able to find any on the next tournament day. I fished a bit more and it was time to head in. I think I’ll let the marsh here repair and rebuild itself for a while and fish some other areas that fared better after the fall hurricane. My fishing partner brought his drone and took some cool video of me poling and casting to fish. It was interesting to see the “drone’s eye” view of me in the marsh.

On the way in I ran across a couple of small alligators, a larger 8’ gator, and a 6’ gator that acted a bit unusual. Typically, alligators just submerge as I come upon them in the kayak, but the 6’ gator came toward me until it was about a paddle length away. Just as I started to lift my paddle to whack it, it sank down. I sure hope no one is feeding it and encouraging it to associate people with food. This is illegal and a really bad idea that could end up harming the alligator and/or someone.

Another thing I learned was that the Compass paddles pretty well when the Mirage Drive is not in. Today the water shallow and stumpy in most places, so I pulled out the Mirage Drive and put the plug in the drive hole. I paddled when I wasn’t poling and was enjoying it so much that I paddled all the way back to the truck. I think I’ll do this more often.

Private ponds near Poplarville, Mississippi March 27, 2021

I met up with the New Orleans Fly Fishers Club to fish a series of farm ponds on private land in MS. Each year the club gets in a trip or two to these ponds and we catch lots of pretty sunfish and (so far only) small bass. The farm was decked out in pretty spring colors and the azaleas were spectacular. We are lucky to be able to enjoy this property.

There are lots of weed beds that extend out into the water, so I brought my kayak to get off the bank for easier casting to the fish. I used a Lefty’s TFO signature 2 weight rod with an Orvis Battenkill reel and a floating line. I had tied on a black chenille jig fly with bead chain eyes and green legs to a 6X tippet – that was the only fly I’d need this morning. I pushed off the bank at about 7:30 and came in about 11 for lunch with the club. I caught some pretty sunfish and a few small bass while I was out there. The farm was decked out in pretty spring colors and the azaleas were spectacular. We are lucky to be able to enjoy this property.

Delacroix, LA 3-26-2021

Wind: 0-10 mph from E

Tide: 1 ft. range based on Shell Beach station. Low was forecast ~ 11 a.m.  

Water Level: @ grass line

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: 3/10 to 9/10 depending on spot

Water salinity: totally fresh

Weather/sky: foggy and overcast early, cleared a little with occasional sun

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: waxing near full

Solunar period: major 1 p.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod

Flies/lures: Waldner’s spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: blind and sight cast for redfish

I had intended to fish at Shell Beach today, but the foggy conditions caused me to pick Delacroix as the safer alternative to facing potential boat traffic in the MRGO. 

The water was flat early in the morning. I went a couple of miles waiting for redfish to show. I finally ran into them about 9:30 and caught five, four of which I was able to see. They were all slot fish, with a bigger one that went 28.25”. That was a fun battle.

I tried a leeward shoreline in a large pond but only caught a small bass. I moved on to another area and found more reds on a wind protected shoreline. I saw the back of a fish about 50 yards away and I moved in quickly for a cast. I couldn’t see the fish anymore, but after 3 casts the line went taught and the battle ensued. It fought well and finally the ~ 29” redfish came into the net. I put it on the measuring board and took several photos. For some reason the autofocus was malfunctioning and I couldn’t really see the poor quality through my sunglasses. Ended the day with 9 redfish and a couple of small bass. The aquatic vegetation is coming on and the water is only going to get better for spotting fish. All fish were released today.

Hopedale, LA 3-21-2021

Wind: ~15 mph from NE

Tide: 1 ft. range based on Shell Beach station. Low at 7:30 a.m.  

Water Level: at grass line, rising all day.  

Water Temperature: ~60 F

Water Clarity: 5/10

Water salinity: fresh by taste test

Weather/sky: light overcast

Temperature: ~66F

Moon: half, waxing

Solunar period: major period around 7:30 a.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 8 miles

Other fishers: Jeff W.     

Gear: 2 bait casters

Lures: in line spinner, Aqua dream spoon

Strategy/ patterns: blind cast for redfish

The recent cold weather and the wind made for a tough day for fishing, but I have to go when I can. I left the fly rod for the conventional tackle today due to the wind.

The fish were sluggish and scattered. No real bait activity. Didn’t see a tailing fish all day, so I was left blind casting. Slow rolling the spinner bait and covering water was the key. Ended the day with 6 reds and 3 small marsh bass. Late in the day the wind died, and the gnats started to become hungry. I got out of there while the getting was good.

Delacroix, LA 3-13-2021

Wind: 5-10 mph from SE

Tide: 1 ft. range based on Shell Beach station. Low was forecast ~ 11 a.m.  

Water Level: @ grass line

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: 3/10 to 9/10 depending on spot

Water salinity: NA

Weather/sky: foggy, overcast early, cleared after about 10 a.m. to mixed clouds with sun

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: new

Solunar period: minor 7 a.m., major 2 p.m.

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Outback in about 6:30 a.m., out at 4:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod, spinning and baitcasting rigs

Flies/lures: Waldner’s spoon fly, in-line spinner, Aqua dream spoon

Strategy/ patterns: blind and sight cast for redfish

The duck season is over and water levels are finally coming back up, and that means it’s possible to fish the duck ponds and marsh in Reggio and Delacroix. First thing I noticed is that it seems shallower in the marsh. The last hurricane eroded some islands and moved mud around. It seemed like the mud has been spread and has filled in some of the deeper “holes.” The next thing I noticed is the slimy and fibrous algae as well as the coontail and widgeon grasses are growing fast. I cleaned a lot of vegetation off my hooks. The vegetation is good in that it really clears the water. The down side is it makes fishing tougher and redfish like to plow through it when hooked. It’s easier for them to escape and the battle is disrupted when they get tangled in the weeds.

It must have been a tournament day because the tower boats were in my spot. We shared the water without incident. I caught a couple of nice upper slot fish on the fly rod in front of them.  About midday the sun came out and the wind dropped a bit, and I was able to stand and sigh fish. I got 3 nice redfish while poling along the leeward edge of a pond. Unfortunately, the gnats also took advantage of this opportunity to attack but I fended them off with the Amber Romance. I ended the day with a two accidental specks, two accidental bass, and eight reds – all nice sized fish from 22-29” except for one just under the slot size. One of the redfish had no spot on one side of its tail. All fished were released to fight again.

Hopedale, LA 2-28-2021

Wind: ~15 mph from S

Tide: 1.5 ft. range dropping to -0.5 ft based on Shell Beach station. Low was forecast ~ noon

Water Level: at grass line, fell hard, started coming up after 1 pm.  

Water Temperature: ~67 F

Water Clarity: 5/10

Water salinity: maybe 2-3 parts per thousand by taste test

Weather/sky: light overcast

Temperature: ~70s

Moon: full

Solunar period: major period around 2-4 p.m.

Launch: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 7 a.m., out at 5 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 8 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: two #8 weight fly rods

Flies: Waldner’s spoon fly, electric bunny

Strategy/ patterns: blind cast for redfish as ponds drain out

The wind was up all day, so that limited where I could go. I opted for Hopedale since it had some protected ponds and bayous. The tide was an issue too, and Hopedale always has some fishable water and I won’t get stranded. 

I got upwind of my target area and drifted downwind using the stake pole to slow me down. I saw a little activity and then a tail about 30 feet away and I pitched the fly to it. I saw the swirl and struck too soon – forgot to feel the fish first. It turned out there was a couple of fish there and they bolted away. A minute later I caught a small bass on the electric bunny I tied with the NOFFC club last week. Good fly! Then I went up a little bayou into a duck pond and got a nice upper slot redfish while blind casting the old spoon fly. I picked up a second redfish of the same size at a little cut draining from a small pothole. It was reaching low tide and getting dirty so I opted to move to a new spot that turned out to be a bit cleaner

I headed to a leeward bank. It was a little tricky to stand and sight fish – the water and sun weren’t great, but I eventually started to see redfish cruising the bank. I caught 3 in the 20-22” range. I missed a couple of other chances as well when the fish just sort of disappeared on me.

I prospected back down a bayou, but the water was really low and dirty, so I headed back out. I found a little cleaner water on the way out and caught an undersized redfish. When pedaling out along the bayou I like to flip a cast or two into the pockets as I pass. I usually don’t get anything doing this, but today there would be an exception.

There is a drain that has always looked great, but I never have caught fish there. It was starting to refill with water, I cast into it, and it looked like two torpedoes were fired out into the bayou. I eased upwind and came back around slowly and flipped the spoon fly around the area. There was a big swirl, I felt the fish, and struck it hard with a good strip strike. The fish took off for an instant and then made a closing circle around me. I was stripping in line and staying taught. I couldn’t figure out why the fish didn’t make a good run rather than coming back at me. Now the fish is about a rod’s length off the side of my kayak and, about the instant I realized the danger of this situation, it bolted straight under the kayak and took off for Grand Isle. I tried to swing the rod to clear the kayak, but the fish wasn’t playing anymore and yanked the rod down. I bent over much as I could without falling out, but the rod eventually was pinned to the kayak and it snapped in the middle. OK, busted rod but the fish was still on. The line was going out and before I could do much the fish blasted the 15 lb test perfection loop in the leader and swam off with my spoon fly as its trophy. Just like Mohammad Ali, the fish rope-a-doped me and then punched me out.

So, I picked up my new FIVE-piece fly rod and moved on. I went down to another duck pond and caught a small redfish on the electric bunny fly and then headed home. The mosquitoes and gnats were eating at me as I packed up, but losing that fish was eating at me even more!

Hopedale, LA 2-10-2021

Wind: 0-10 mph from SE

Tide: 1.5 ft. range dropping to -0.5 ft based on Shell Beach station. Low was forecast ~ noon

Water Level: below grass line, started coming up after noon.  

Water Temperature: ~63 F to start, up to 65 F

Water Clarity: 5/10

Water salinity: NA

Weather/sky: overcast, light rain

Temperature: ~62 to start, 70 F for high

Moon: almost new

Solunar period: major period around 12-2 p.m.

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Outback in about 11 a.m., out at 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod

Flies: Waldner’s spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: blind cast for redfish as ponds drain out

The weather forecast predicted that a big cold front was moving in over the weekend so I decided to get out early this week. I intended to fish out of Shell Beach but saw a few wind gusts (probably from the morning storms) on the website so I headed to Hopedale instead since it’s more protected from winds. I got a late start to let the morning rains come past. The radar projection indicated the rest of the day would be OK, and it was.

Mosquitoes were big and aggressive today. I had to re-apply repellant several times during the day. In the afternoon the wind dropped to nothing and the biting gnats swarmed hard, so I broke out the Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance to keep them at bay. Unlike in a boat, you aren’t going to outrun these biters in a kayak so it is important to be able to keep them away.  

I got back into some of the duck ponds and eventually found the redfish in the ruts that the duck boats carved out. They were hanging out in the 3 to 5 foot deep ruts while the rest of the ponds were 0-1 foot deep. The fish had leeches on their bellies, indicating they have been hugging the bottom lately. I’ve seen these boat tracks on Google Earth and have learned to look for them, both as fish highways and as a way to traverse a pond that appears to be blown out.

I picked up a nice upper slot redfish as I entered the pond and then slowly followed the track along the north side of the pond, catching a redfish about every 50-60 feet. There were no signs that the fish were there, but they readily hit the spoon fly as I hopped it across the bottom. I ended up with 8 redfish, a rogue speckled trout, and a small bass. The reds were all in the slot and four were 26-27 inch fish. Lucky I was able to get out and scratch my fishing itch before the cold front wrecks the weekend weather.

Hopedale 1/31/2021

Wind: 15-20 mph from SW shifting to N

Tide: 1.5 ft. range dropping to -0.5 ft based on Shell Beach station. Low tide was forecast ~ 1:15 p.m. with wind pushing the water out.

Water Level: at grass line to start, falling fast.

Water Temperature: ~63 F to start, up to 65 F

Water Clarity: 5/10

Water salinity: NA

Weather/sky: clear, sunny

Temperature: ~62 to start, 70 F for high

Moon: About full

Solunar period: minor period at 8 am, major period around 1 p.m.

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Outback in about 10 a.m., out at 3:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 4 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: #8 weight fly rod, spinning outfit

Flies: Waldner’s synthetic clouser, Vudu shrimp on the spinning rod 

Strategy/ patterns: blind cast for redfish as ponds drain out

The wind made it tough to sight fish and tried to push me out of the kayak when I stood up. I had to put the Buff over my hat so it would stay on. I decided not to go too far because of the wind as well as the fact that I left the seat to the kayak at home. I sat in the well below where the seat would have been and put my gear pack behind me for back support. It wasn’t very comfortable but it worked.  

I decided to hang out where a pond drained into a bayou and tried blind casting. It worked pretty well. I got 2 reds on the fly and 4 bass. I cast the Vudu shrimp after my arm got tired and got 2 bass and 2 reds. All the reds were in the slot and the bass were in the 12-14.5” range. It turned out to be a decent day. Glad I got out before the temperature crashes down tonight from the cold front.

#kayakfishing #redfish #bass #neworleansflyfishingclub #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub

Hopedale, LA 1-21-2021

Wind: 5-10 mph from SSE, picked up quickly but was fishable through afternoon

Tide: 1.5 ft. range dropping to -0.5 ft based on Shell Beach station. Low was forecast ~ 10 am but wind held in the water.

Water Level: a half foot below grass line to start rose a bit above average by afternoon.

Water Temperature: ~59 F to start, up to 63 F

Water Clarity: pretty clean in canals and ponds. 7/10

Water salinity: a little salt – 2-3 ppt

Weather/sky: foggy, mostly overcast

Temperature: ~62 to start, 72 F for high

Moon: 3/4 waxing

Solunar period: major period at 8 am, minor period around 2 pm

Launch in and out: slipped the Hobie Outback in about 7 a.m., out at 4:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 9 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: 2 #8 weight fly rods, one spinning outfit

Flies: chartreuse Clouser and white laser minnow, Vudu shrimp on the spinning rod 

Strategy/ patterns: fish deep, trolling for trout, blind cast for redfish  

No sight fishing today with the weather conditions, although the water was warming up and I expected some reds might come up in the shallows where I could spot them.

I trolled the canals with no luck and then started casting the spinning rod once I got into a bayou. I got a couple of bass about a foot long and a blue catfish of about 3 pounds.

No specks here. I cast the Clouser on the way out and blindly put it in front of a nice 27” redfish that was really a chunk.

I headed for some other ponds and found some fish at the mouth of a bayou. Usually there are redfish around, but today I got a couple of trout. I saw some little baitfish being slashed against the bank and pitched the Clouser over to the commotion. Instead of a redfish it was another chunky bass.  I caught another bass up in the bayou.

I got an undersized trout by trolling the Vudu shrimp as moved to another pond. I but didn’t get any fish there, so I headed down a little bayou. Some redfish were tightly packed against the grass line and they spooked as I came by. One of them looked like it was hanging around and it bit the Clouser – another 27” fish.

A couple of casts later I got a hard strike and thought it was a bass. I got it close and saw it was a mid-sized trout. I put it on the ruler, and it went 17.5”. A few minutes later I got another one that was 17”. It was surprising to find the specks in such shallow water today. These were the first decent trout I’ve caught this year.

Water temperature is coming up and it almost felt hot at about 2 pm when the sun peeked out for a minute. Fish are in the shallows, willow trees are starting to get a little green, and the swamp maples are flowering. Spring is coming fast.

#kayakfishing #redfish #speckledtrout #bass #neworleansflyfishingclub #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub

Hopedale, LA 1-5-2021

Wind: 0-10 mph from NNW, high in the morning, dropped to nil in the afternoon

Tide: 1 ft. range dropping to -0.5 ft based on Shell Beach station. Actually much lower. Low was forecast ~ 3 pm.

Water Level: a foot below grass line to start start, fell 2.5 ft. below average.

Water Temperature: ~57 F to start, up to 61 F

Water Clarity: pretty clean in canals, but dirty in the ponds.

Water salinity: did not check, likely very fresh

Weather/sky: sunny, no clouds

Temperature: ~62 F for high

Moon: 1/2 waning

Solunar period: minor period around noon   

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

Water covered: ~ 9 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: 3 #8 weight fly rods

Flys: pink Charlie, Waldner’s spoon fly (LSU colors), and white laser minnow 

Strategy/ patterns: fish deep for trout, sight fish for redfish  

I tried one duck pond and saw fish on the Lowrance at the mouth where it joined a canal. The fish must have been pushed out of the pond due to low water but I could not trigger a bite. Might have just been mullet.

I went about a half mile to another pond and located fish in the bayou that ran to the pond but again no bites. These deep spots in the bends of the bayou tend to hold trout. I have not been able to get them to bite in the morning but they seem to get going in the afternoon when it gets warmer.

I stood up and sight fished cuts off the pond but could not spot anything but gar and large mullet. Naturally, the leeward end of the pond had cleaner water and it became more turbid as I moved downwind. After a hundred yards or so I couldn’t see anything on the bottom and the water was only about 1.5-2 feet deep. It was looking like this trip might be a skunk.

About noon I tried going up a bayou into another pond in the upwind direction in search of cleaner water. I was standing and poling and the water was dirty but somehow I twice spooked redfish that were hanging out along the bank about 50-75 yards out. That’s pretty spooky. So I decided to sit and pedal up the bayou and just see what I could find. I trolled the spoon fly about 20 feet behind and as I saw a little disturbance on the water in front of me the fly rod doubled as a fish struck behind me. I brought in a mid-slot sized redfish and released it.

Just for luck I made a couple of blind casts and hooked and landed another one. Another blind cast produced another fish. The redfish were stacked up in a trough about 3’ deep that the duck hunters cut through the bayou. At normal water level it would be more like 5-6 feet deep. I stopped and made a bad video of the 4th redfish (it took 4 casts), caught a couple more and then decided to let them rest a bit. All this took about 45 minutes. I went down the bayou a couple hundred yards, didn’t catch anything although I spooked some large UFOs that might have been reds, and then started fishing back toward the hotspot. I got one more redfish where I caught the others but they were no longer biting or had dispersed. I worked my way back out of the bayou and picked up two more redfish. They seemed to be spreading out and moving toward the original pond as it warmed up.

I fished my way out of the pond and into the deeper bayou that held the trout. I had a new fast sinking line (Orvis Depth Charge) with the laser minnow attached. I was able to get three smaller sized specks to take the fly and then I broke off the fly on what was likely an old crab trap on the bottom. I took that as a sign that it was time to head home.    

#hobiefishing #hobiecompass #redfish #kayakfishing #bayoucoastkayakfishingclub #neworleansflyfishersclub