Delacroix Marsh, 4-15-2017

Wind: 10 mph early, soon 18-20 mph from the E, SE

Tide: Low was forecast at 1 am and high was at 5 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range about a a foot on the chart, wind pushing in cleaner saltier water.

Water Level: in the grass to start and rising through the day.

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: great (3 feet visibility) everywhere to start, but quickly deteriorated as the wind kicked up, cleaner water around weed beds with 3-4 ft. visibility.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: mostly sunny, and more clouds in the pm

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: waning 2/3 of full

Solunar period: fair period @ 5 p.m.

Time on the water: 7 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles, but did a lot of extra pedaling and paddling due to wind and to hold a position while casting.

Other fishers: solo

Gear: #8 weight fly rod, never used due to wind – should have left it in the truck, and Shimano Sahara 4000 w Teramar rod, 15# Powerpro braided line.

Lures: Started with a Seein’ Spots in line spinnerbait rigged with a Saltwater Assassin plastic (chicken on a chain color) and caught 7 on it, then switched to a Nemire Red Ripper spoon in black (the ol’ black spoon of death, or BSOD) and it got the rest. Both lures are weedless, which helped a little to avoid the filamentous algae in the shallow ponds. The algae fouled the lures if they hit bottom, but it also served to keep the water in the ponds clear. I had crimped down the barbs on both lures so that it was easier to remove the hook.

Strategy/ patterns: I headed to smaller ponds and eastern/leeward shorelines for wind protection and cleaner water. It also made the trip in to the launch easy with help from a hard tailwind. Redfish were hanging out in between small islands positioned where wind was pushing water through the gap. They were also roaming in smaller sized, protected ponds that had clean water. I tried to work the lures as slowly as possible while avoiding the algae on bottom.

Fish caught: 15 redfish, all slots, 10 were 17-20” range caught early, 5 in the 24-27” range caught from about 2-4 pm. Kept 2 of the smaller reds for dinner, healthy releases for the others.

Hopedale Marsh 3-26-2017

17554242_1656026707746322_2217920357240801639_nWind: 10 mph early, quickly rose to about 15-20 mph from the S

Tide: Low was forecast at 11 am and high was at 6:00 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range about a half a foot on the chart, wind pushing in cleaner saltier water.

Water Level: started a bit below the grass line, up in the grass by afternoon.

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: fair, 2 ft. in main canals, clarity declined in windy shallow areas, cleaner water around weed beds with 3-4 ft. visibility.

Water salinity: ~ 5 parts per thousand

Weather/sky: mostly sunny, a few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: almost new moon

Solunar period: good period @ noon to 2 p.m.

Time on the water: 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 9 miles

Other fishers: Jeff W.

 

Gear: #8 weight fly rods, floating lines, probably should have fished conventional tackle due to high winds.

 

Fish caught:

10 bass from 10 up to 14”,

4 speckled trout (10-14”)

1 redfish, 26.75”

 

Lures: bass and trout caught on natural (bucktail and white) and a purple over chartreuse clousers with #4 sized hooks. Redfish came on spoon fly with gold glitter/ chartreuse marabou. Lost another nice redfish that broke off the spoon fly. (note: make more spoon flies).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopedale 3-18-2017

Wind: 3-5 mph early, quickly rose to about 10-15 mph switching from the SSW, W, N, SW

Tide: Low was forecast at 2 :13 am and high was at 6:40 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot on the chart, but it came up more like 1.5-2’. Rising all day.

Water Level: started super low, up to the grass line about 4 pm.

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: very dirty, clarity declined in windy areas, found some cleaner water around weed beds.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: mostly sunny early, by noon a few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waning, almost half moon

Solunar period: good periods @ 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo

I stopped in a Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette to load up with some fast carbs and caffeine and buzzed my way down to Hopedale. The light sugary donuts gave me the energy to literally toss my kayak off the truck. The water level was super low and I had to ease the kayak out on the bare mud for about 20’ to launch. It was supposed to be a day with light winds that would pick up a bit as afternoon came, so I brought only fly rods. I had visions of sight casting flies to redfish in clear water, but that fantasy ended after I made it to the first pond. The weatherman tricked me again. The very low tide coupled with a quickly rising wind made it a difficult day to fly fish, but I stuck it out and caught a few. It was difficult to pole along the bank with increasing wind, and hard to spot fish in the muddy water. I spooked a bunch of redfish that were resting on bottom in the pond. Even though the water was dirty, I could still see big muddy swirls and wakes as fish took off. I tried my old trick of working upwind and then drifting downwind quietly while blind casting or casting to wakes made by fish. I was slinging a gold and chartreuse spoon fly that I had tied. The wind blew me over to a bank and just as I was ready to paddle off the bank I spied a nice redfish coming right toward me down the shoreline with its back out of the water. I picked up my rod and the line tangled, so I scrambled to get ready to cast as the fish came closer. It was a little more than a flyrod’s length from the kayak when I flipped the fly in front of its nose. It immediately ate it and took off and I stuck the fly home with a strip strike. It took about 5 minutes to land the fish and when I measured it went a little under 28”. It was pretty chunky and I guessed it went about 9 lbs. It had a mark on its lower lip from a previous battle with another angler, and I’m glad I got a chance to catch this recycled redfish. I released it for another angler to have a chance at it. I fished the pond hard but could not come up with another fish even though I knew they were there.

I went to another pond and the water was still trashy and coming up fast. I drifted over some weed beds and spooked a few reds before being able to get a shot at them. I went over to a little bayou off the pond that connected to another pond about a half mile away. I spotted a few reds “bank crawling” and got a shot at a nice one but this time I muffed my chance by being a little off target with the fly. I tried a second time and spooked the fish. I got a smaller redfish of about 17” that was hanging around in the same spot. I went down to the pond and saw a number of fish working in the pond – some of the best redfish surface activity that I’ve seen in a while. The problem was that the pond was pretty shallow and the wind made it hard to be stealthy. I would try to move up to a fish to get a cast and it would disappear. I ended up empty handed when I left the pond, but I will be back there for sure when there is a little more water for maneuvering. I went back down the little bayou, switched to a natural colored clouser pattern, and made a few casts where it opened into the second pond. I spooked another nice redfish, and threw another cast and caught a small speckled trout. I would catch and release about 10 there. Unfortunately they were all small, with only about half of them being above the 12” keeper mark. The “big one” was a tad under 14”. I also got a surprise redear sunfish (shellcracker, chinquapin) on the clouser.

I went looking for more redfish but found some marsh bass, landing 4 on the clouser. I missed a few and also missed a few redfish that somehow missed the hook. It was getting late so I headed in and got to the truck about 6 p.m. I don’t like the daylight savings time shift except for the ability to fish later in the day.

 

 

Delacroix marsh, 2-27-2017

Wind: 10-20 mph from the S

Tide: Low was forecast at noon based on Shell Beach station. A large range was forecast at about a foot and a half, but it didn’t happen. It was rising through the day. The hard S winds trapped the tide and did not let it fall.

Water Level: high, a little bit up in the grass

Water Temperature: 70 F

Water Clarity: dirty, about foot and a half of visibility, clarity declined in windy areas, cleaner on leeward shorelines around drains.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: mostly sunny with few clouds

Temperature: ~ 75 F for high

Moon: dark moon

Solunar period: good period @ 1-4 p.m.

Time on the water: 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

I decided to try a trip on Lundi Gras. The wind was forecast to be high (it was) and there was a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm (it did not happen). It looked like most of the rain would stay north of New Orleans, so I gambled and it paid off nicely this time. I left the fly rods at home due to the howling wind. Today I threw a chartreuse spoon on the baitcaster and had a Seein’ Spots in line spinner with a Saltwater Assassin fluke (purple sparkle/chartreuse tail) on my spinning rig.

I combat launched my Hobie Outback kayak off the bank and had been fishing about 10 minutes when I landed a small slot redfish on the chartreuse spoon. I unhooked it, tossed it back into the water, made a long cast downwind, and immediately hooked into another one that was a couple of inches longer. I released that one and fished the area carefully but that was it for the action at that spot. I worked a windward bank with no luck and then went into a little pocket that frequently produces fish. I hooked into a nice 26” redfish on the spoon and got it with the fish grip, keeping it in the water. I recognized the fish from a previous encounter at the same spot. I could tell it by the unique scars on its belly that looked like cuts from braided line. They seem to be healing well. I released it and moved on.

I went through another inactive period while fishing a wind-sheltered bank and then I crossed some wind-whipped open water and made it behind an island that looked promising. The wind was pushing water through some grassy spots there and I casted parallel to the shoreline and picked up a nice 20” fish. I moved through more open water to another island and saw a redfish working after bait with its back out of the water. I made an unlucky cast that immediately snagged in some roots, so after spooking the fish and getting my lure back I worked along the island and got a nice 22” fish about 50 feet on up the bank. I guess it didn’t go far when it spooked. This fish was hard to unhook because the large hook went longway through the fish’s jaw. Another 100 feet or so I caught its twin. I fished around this area and got another 24” redfish that put up some good resistance. I had trouble getting the hook out of this one. The hook had gone through its mouth and then somehow rotated and was hooked a second time. This “second hooking” made it hard to get the hook out. After I finally got the fish released I decided to crimp down the barb on the spinner bait so that it would be easier to remove next time. About 15 minutes later I hooked a nice redfish and got it in on the crimped hook – so far so good. Then I lost 3 reds in a row and was wondering if I shouldn’t have messed with the barb. I tried to pay attention to keeping the line taught and landed a few more nice reds on the crimped hook. They were really whacking the inline spinnerbait and I was glad I could get the hook free pretty easily. Reds have tough mouths and it can be hard to unhook them when they take baits deep in their mouth.

I ended the day with 10 slot redfish (a double limit!) landed and about half a dozen misses. Three were nice ones between 26-27 inches, and all were looking healthy and well fed. I brought one of the 20″ fish home for the grill and released all the others. Glad it worked out that I got to fish and didn’t get stormed on today.

 

 

Hopedale marsh, 2-12-2017

Wind: 0 early, rose to about 10 mph from the SSW

Tide: Low was forecast at 12 :23 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot. Rising a bit in the afternoon

Water Level: started low, went even lower, started rising about 3-4 pm.

Water Temperature: 70 F

Water Clarity: dirty, about foot of visibility, clarity declined in windy areas.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: started overcast, sunny by noon with few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waning, almost full moon

Solunar period: good period @ 2-4 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: Jeff W.

Gnats (midges) and mosquitoes attacked hard at the launch because there was no wind to start. I used some spray and covered up just about everything, but some slipped in under my hat. Water was low so I did a good bit of paddling today with the rudder and fins in the up position. I trolled a chartreuse Nemire spoon as I went down a canal and quickly hooked up on a decent sized trout. I fished the area a bit but did not find any more. I went down a favorite little bayou off a canal and hooked a nice trout in the hole where they meet. The trout shook loose at the kayak. I went about 50 yards and hooked into a nice 29” redfish. I decided to try the fly rod even though the water was very turbid. I got one strike on a spoon fly but I could not get the hook set in time. I went on down the little bayou and spooked a 6’ gator off the bank. It took off and I did not see it again, and it must have spooked the fish as well.

The wind picked up so I gave up on the fly rod for a while. I went over to a large pond and found some large weedy spots in it. I got a small bass as I entered, then picked up another decent speckled trout along a weed line in about 2’ of water. I had several other hits on the spoon. Probably could have caught more specks if I had used a more appropriate lure for them. I paddled across a large weed bed and found some cleaner water on the leeward side of the pond. There was space between the shore and the weed beds and that held cleaner water and fish. I spooked a few redfish and had a nice one bail out on the spoon at the last second, leaving a big wake about 10’ from the kayak. A few casts later I hooked up on what I thought was a redfish, but it turned into a nice bass. This was a chunk of a fish and was probably getting ready to spawn. Naturally it took the spoon under a gill and I worked hard to free it while doing it as little harm as possible. I caught another decent speck and decided that would do me for this trip.

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Winter trips to the bridges on Lake Pontchartrain

With all the pictures of big speckled trout coming off the highway 11 bridge and the train trestle that crosses Lake Pontchartrain, it was time to see for myself. On December, 28 Joe L. and I got out there about 7 a.m., launching from the south shore at the bridge. There had been a warming trend and the water temperature was up to 63 degrees F with a couple of feet of visibility. The wind was very light from the SE and a heavy fog bank covered the lake, with visibility of a few hundred feet. We worked our way around the shoreline to the bridge. I had my fishfinder running and it was picking up clouds of baitfish all around the bridge. I was fishing a chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet on a 3/8 oz jig head due to the hard current from the falling tide. We got on the down tide side of the bridge and I spotted numerous large fish on the screen. They were holding a couple of feet off the bottom, and it wasn’t long until I hooked into a nice 3 lb. speck of about 20”. I fished along the bridge toward the first drawbridge and then turned back. As I approached the spot where I caught the first fish I got another fish of about 15”. It was on! I got Joe to come over and he started catching them too. We would go on to boat good numbers of fish. Joe stayed and fished this area while I went exploring and drifted down to the I-10 bridge and pedaled out to the first concrete pad with the transmission tower. I caught a few in each spot. Joe stayed in the hot area and caught approximately a limit (25) of trout. Three of them were in the 24” / 4 lb. range and all were nice fish. I caught 10, and there was no need to measure any of them. We came in about noon.

I tried a trip on Wednesday morning, the 3rd of January, but the wind was up and from the north at about 10-15. I was trying to beat a cold front that would drop the balmy temperatures we had been having into the freezing zone. The tide was falling out hard, waves were up to 3’, and the water was churned up pretty good. I had to cut it short as it became futile. Bad choice – should have launched on the north side of the lake to get some shelter from the wind.

I had a little time to try a short afternoon trip on Friday the 13th. I launched from the south shore about 3 p.m., knowing I had about two and a half hours until dark. The wind was from the east at about 10 mph, and the tide was falling out pretty hard. The water temperature was 52 degrees, and it was dirty. It took a heavy jig head to get the plastic bait down. And although I tried the fly rod I could quickly tell the 15’ sink tip was not going to get the fly down in the strike zone. So I stuck with the conventional tackle. I fished a chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet and fooled a couple of decent ~17” fish at the bridge, and then I tried a quick run over to the train trestle but did not have any luck there.

jan-13

I got a message from Eric M. and met him out at the south side of the highway 11 bridge at 6 a.m. Once again the fog was thick, and the east wind started slow, but blew up a good chop at 10-12 mph by about 11 a.m. The water clarity was about a foot to a foot and a half, and the temperature of the water was 58. The sky remained overcast and the air warmed to about 70, but it was cool out on the water – glad I had a jacket. I switched fly line to an Orvis Depth Charge, and it helped get the fly down in the water column. I used a black and chartreuse Clouser minnow that I had tied the night before. I got a bite from a 15” speck about 8 a.m. I did not see many bigger fish on the fishfinder, but there was lots of bait around the bridge. I caught 3 more trout in the area, using a troll and strip technique. The fish were clearly not as dense as when Joe and I caught them a couple of weeks ago. I made a number of passes up and down the bridge, went over to I-10 bridge, the train trestle, the rock wall beyond it, and the shoreline, but did not have any luck. I came off the water about 2:30 after covering 8 miles, but pedaling essentially the whole time.

Delacroix, LA 12-11-2016

 

Wind: 15 mph from the northeast

Tide: Low was forecast at 11 based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot and a half. Rising a bit in the afternoon

Water Level: started low, was below grass line all day.

Water Temperature: 55 F

Water Clarity: dirty, about foot of visibility, clarity declined in windy areas.

Water salinity: no salt based on taste test

Weather/sky: sunny, with few clouds

Temperature: ~ 65 F for high

Moon: Waxing, almost full moon

Solunar period: modest period @ 11 a.m.

Time on the water: 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

There had been a good cold snap earlier in the week, and the water was warming on Sunday. I thought it would be a good day to try Delacroix. I waited until later in the morning to launch, giving the water over the shallows time to warm. I was disappointed to see that the water did not clear up as I pedaled out from the launch. I frequently bumped bottom with the fins on my Hobie and had to paddle a bit today due to the low water levels. I tried a couple of closer spots without luck, so I headed on further out in search of the redfish. I was using conventional tackle (baitcasters and spinning reels) because of the wind and dirty water. I picked an inline Seein’ Spots spinnerbait because it can be fished slow and does not tent to hang up on debris in the low water. I also fished a chartreuse Nemire Red Ripper spoon for the same reasons. It is important to be able to fish lures more slowly this time of year, and it is critical to get the lure close to the fish since they will not usually chase it when the water is cold and dirty. I got to a shallow area where the fish like to sit and warm themselves and immediately got a strike and battled the fish for a few seconds before it pulled free. I let the wind quietly push me away so as not to disturb the fish. I circled around and got back above the strike zone, drifted downwind while casting, and hooked up on the same or a similar redfish. It was a nice 27” – perfect tournament fish of about 8 lbs. (released it). I repeated the process and caught another of about 24”. This fish had a nasty gash in its side that looked like something had tried to take a bite out of it. I released it as gently as I could by putting the lip gripper in its mouth and unhooking it without ever bringing it into the kayak (hope it survives). I did not want to pressure this spot any more, so I moved along through a large pond. I trolled a Gulp! shrimp for a while in the pond, hoping to find some speckled trout, but did not connect so I went back to fishing for reds.

I had a lull in the action for a while and then picked up on a pattern. I saw some fish (or rather their muddy trails) take off as I passed through some islands that had wind pushing water through the gaps between them. The redfish were just sitting on the bottom in the gaps, and the water was shallow – maybe a foot and a half deep – so they were warming up there and picking off any bait that passed by.

I caught 5 more keeper redfish of 16, 23, 24, 27, and 29” on both the spoon and the in line spinner (all released in good shape). It did not seem to matter as long as the lure was passed close to the fish so they could see it in the muddy water. All the fish were fat and healthy looking, and the 23” fish looked like a football. The fish had a number of parasites (leeches and lice) on them, indicating they had been hugging bottom during the cold weather.

Paddling and pedaling back in I passed a roseate spoonbill that was grubbing along the shoreline. The sun was setting and I took a photo of the almost full moon rising in the east above the Delacroix marsh.

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