Fort Pike, 10-26-17

 

Wind: strong post front N wind 15-20 mph

Tide: water pushing out of the Lake P. due to strong wind, high tide at 7:30 a.m., low 6:30 p.m.

Water Level: a bit below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~68 F

Water Clarity: fair, more churned up by wind as the day went on

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: stormy start, then scattered clouds, then sunny about noon

Temperature: ~ 58-60, 20 degrees cooler than yesterday due to strong cold front

Moon: 1/2 waxing

Solunar period: major period @ 8 a.m., minor @ 2 p.m.

Time on the water: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 4 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: Find clean water in protected marsh, look for specks

Gear: 3 spinning outfits and bait caster.

Lures: Tried in line spinner bait (couple of hits), chartreuse Gulp under cork (couple of hits), natural colored Vudu shrimp under cork caught all fish

Strategy/ patterns: stay out of wind, find speckled trout

I tested out a rod to see how it was working and caught a bass before I even launched the kayak. Nice start. Saw some gulls and terns diving along a tideline about 100 yards out from the launch. I worked my way over and fished around them for 15 minutes without success so I moved on. I went down a long bank to the SW and tried to cast to little pockets in the grass line. The wind made casting accurately a challenge. I managed to get one 13” redfish and after about a mile I turned into some marsh. I’d caught trout here a few weeks ago but the conditions were different (water was cleaner, higher, warmer, wind direction was more easterly). It seemed shallow for trout today. I picked up another bass and a couple of redfish and eventually found fish at hotspot 1. There seemed to be a hole on a point with some current sort of doing a whirlpool motion. I started getting strikes about every other cast. I caught 8-10 rat reds, 1 keeper red about 18” long and 4 bass. I went to the canal that runs along the camps and found a nice drain that was loaded with bass (hotspot 2). Got a half dozen or so, and one was pretty nice for a marsh bass…..about 16”. I caught 4 more rats along the bank of the canal as I went in, along with a couple of bass. The natural colored Vudu shrimp did the heavy lifting today.

No trout today — surprising.

Chilly out there today!

Other notes: no ducks, but lots of terns, pelicans, herons, cranes, hawks, osprey, and an eagle

 

 

 

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Happy Jack (Port Sulphur), LA, 9-23-2017

 

Wind: almost none to start, increased about 9 a.m., soon was 10-12 mph from east

Tide: falling to start, low scheduled about 8 a.m., high 11:24 p.m. at Empire Jetty station, range about 1 ft. The tide at Happy Jack lags about 2 hours behind the Empire Jetty station tide.

Water Level: a bit below the grass line to start, into grass line by afternoon

Water Temperature: ~78 F

Water Clarity: fair initially, and found some crystalline water up a bayou, but wind and incoming tide churned it up

Water salinity: a little salty, maybe 3 ppt

Weather/sky: sunny with scattered clouds

Temperature: ~ 76, going up to ~ 88 F for high

Moon: new crescent

Solunar period: major period @ 4 p.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: Find clean water by getting back into protected marsh, catch reds and sheepshead with the fly rod.

Gear: 2 fly rods, one spinning outfit as back up in case the wind got too strong.

Lures: Spoon fly and a small crab pattern on the fly rods. Aqua Dream spoon in chartreuse on the spinning reel.

Strategy/ patterns: I found one of my favorite patterns as I left a big pond and turned up a small bayou. The water was draining out and the further I went the water got cleaner and the redfish begin to appear everywhere. Most were 10”-16”, but there were some 24”-25” reds in there too.

I threw the spoon fly to them and they ate it up. I caught a fish every few minutes, some by blind casting and others by sight when I could see them. The water was only a foot or two deep so I could cast at wakes when I couldn’t actually see the fish. The angle of the sun was still low, but when the light was right it was like watching redfish TV. I had scads of throwbacks and scratched up six that would make the slot. The biggest was about 20”, but they were all fun on the fly rod.

I got one small speckled trout on the spoon fly off a point that usually hold fish, but the water was dirty there and couldn’t find other fish.

I left this spot and went to look for some better sized fish and went across a windy open pond to more broken marsh. I tried the spinning outfit but had no luck. I got up into some tight marsh where I could cast the fly rod. I had to pull up the fins and rudder on the Hobie Outback and paddle here. I’d seen sheepshead here before but none today. I did see some good upper slot redfish but they were at close range and I couldn’t get a cast to them. I did some blind casting and got four smaller sized reds. The water was getting dirtier so I headed back to the first bayou, but found conditions had changed. The water had come up and was dirty. I did some blind casting and threw the spoon some, but without luck. I think the fish were still there, however the conditions had changed and the bite had turned off. I threw the spoon fly some and got one more little redfish and called it a day.

Other notes: Today was stingray day. I saw half a dozen pretty big ones. I’ve heard that seeing stingrays is correlated with good presence of redfish, and this held true today. I lost track of the number of fish that I caught today, but had a limit + of smaller slot fish. All the fish caught today were released in good shape.

 

 

Hopedale, LA 9-10-2017

 

Wind: 15-20 mph from NNE to NE

Tide: falling, but fighting wind pushing in, high scheduled about 6:20 a.m. at the Shell Beach station

Water Level: very high, about 1 foot above the grass line

Water Temperature: ~76 F

Water Clarity: variable from fair to 5+ feet visibility in spots

Water salinity: a little salty, maybe 2 ppt

Weather/sky: sunny early, clouding up in the afternoon

Temperature: ~ 72, going up to ~ 81 F for high – very comfortable with the wind

Moon: Waning , 2/3 moon

Solunar period: major periods @ 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: Stay out of the wind, fish areas with protected shorelines, find clean water.

Gear: 2 x spinning and 1 x bait casters.

Lures: Aqua Dream spoon in chartreuse, Seein’ Spots in-line spinner with a Saltwater Assassin Die Dapper in Chicken on a Chain color, and a paddle tail plastic with 1/16 oz jig head under a cork.

Strategy/ patterns: Fish were in cleaner water being pushed by wind and current through the flooded grass. It was important to fish as close to the submerged grass along the shoreline as possible. Most strikes came within a few feet from the shoreline. I started with the in line spinner and caught a few, then switched to the jig under cork but got nothing with that. Then I tried the spoon and the fish ate it up. 15 of the 18 redfish caught were on the spoon.

It was difficult fishing due to the wind and was

compounded by the fact that I forgot my stake out pole. So I would let the wind pin me to a windward bank or when on a lee shoreline I tossed my tethered paddle in the grass to hold me when I needed to stop. The canal where I launched the Hobie Outback kayak was a bit muddy with better than usual visibility of about a foot and a half. As I went along I noticed open water across some grass so I thought I’d drag the kayak over. I kept paddling and found there was no need to get out and drag the kayak. Instead I just pushed through the submerged grass that held over a foot of water. I got into a little bayou and the fishing began. There was really clean high water, so I could use my fins (was able to pedal 95% of the time today). I hadn’t gone far when I caught the first 18” redfish on the inline spinner. I let the wind push me down the bank and tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep the lure as tight to the bank as possible. Redfish seemed to be moving in and out of the flooded grass along the bank, and it was not long until I landed another redfish that was a little bigger. I’d get another redfish and a surprise bass from that bayou.

Since that bayou held very clean water I decided to try another one that was situated nearby in a similar orientation. But on the way there I found a jackpot of redfish stacked on a leeward bank that had clean water pushing through it. A redfish nailed the inline spinner and knocked the plastic lure off. Rather than re-rigging I tried the rod with the spoon and caught three more redfish in about 15 minutes. That proved to be the favorite lure of the day. I moved on down the bank and picked up more redfish, then turned up the bayou I was targeting and got four more. One was a nice fish of about 28”. I turned around and went back the way I came and picked up several more redfish, including a fat one of about 26”. As I started back down the canal I decided to troll my spoon and the jig under the cork. Good idea! I picked up two more redfish on the way back to the truck just by trolling. The fish bit all day long – most action was about 12-1 pm.

Other interesting stuff: An otter popped up about 20 feet from me, took a look at me, and then disappeared. I saw one big flock of blue wing teal of about 40. Teal season is opening next Friday, so fishers need to give duck hunters their space for the next few weekends.

This was my personal best day (numbers wise, for redfish) on the water fishing from my kayak. I got 18 redfish (mostly 18-20” fish) and 2 bass into the kayak today. I also let a couple of bass “self release” by letting them shake off. All the fish caught today were released.

Delacroix 9-1-2017

 

Wind: 0-until about noon, then slowly rising to 10 mph from W

Tide: rising about a foot, high scheduled about 11 a.m. at the Shell Beach station

Water Level: low to start, came up to the grass line by afternoon

Water Temperature: ~82 F

Water Clarity: variable, a foot or less, but some spots were relatively clean

Water salinity: no salt detected by taste

Weather/sky: sunny

Temperature: ~ 78, going up to ~ 90 F for high

Moon: waxing , ¾ moon

Solunar period: major period @ 11 a.m.

Time on the water: 7 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: Combat launched to fish some familiar spots.

Gear: 1 x spinning and 2 x bait casters.

Lures: Aqua Dream spoon in chartreuse, Seein’ Spots in-line spinner with a Saltwater Assassin Die Dapper in Chicken on a Chain color, and a Saltwater Assassin in Opening Night/Chartreuse tail on a 1/16 oz keel weighted weedless hook.

Strategy/ patterns: It was very still in the morning. It seemed like the fish did not want anything flashy or moving fast, so I tried the plastic bait on a weighted keel hook. I got three good bites on it but each time the fish came off quickly. The weedless hook was pushed into the plastic bait rather than becoming exposed when the fish bit. Not sure why it was doing this so I switched lures.

It was difficult fishing. Much of Delacroix is very weedy right now and with the low water levels I did a good bit of paddling instead of pedaling in the Hobie Outback today. I was catching on just about every cast, but it was weeds and not fish.

About 11 a.m. I spotted a large redfish feeding and pulled the in-line spinner by it. The fish inhaled it and after a nice tug of war the 28”er came in with a big pile of aquatic vegetation. I moved up into some little islands and caught 3 more reds on the spinner over the next couple of hours, with the last one coming about 1:30 p.m. They were 20, 24 and 27”. I kept the last two fish for the grill.

Saw several gators in various sizes of up to about 8 ft.

I checked out Reggio Marina on the way back up highway 300. There were a couple of trucks with boat trailers by the launch. Heard it has been sold and will remain a marina according the BCKFC forum.

Major roadwork and repairs are still going on along the Bayou Terre aux Boeufs continue, so be careful if you travel this way. The parish has almost completed their pavilion/fishing dock on Bayou Terre aux Boeufs. This will give anglers a shady spot to fish from the bank.

Blackwater River, NH in August, 2017

Every year there is a series of scientific meetings called the Gordon Research Conferences. They once met exclusively in the summers at boarding schools and small colleges in New England. Some of the meetings evolved to occur at different times of the year and are now held in swanky hotels and lodges around the world, but the one I attended is still an “old school” style meeting. I stayed in dorms (no air conditioning) in a small room with a single bed and a common bathroom across the hallway. My meeting was at a boarding school called Proctor Academy in rural Andover, New Hampshire. The idea behind this type of meeting is that everyone stays on the same campus, eats all meals together, and has time to interact and discuss their science. Breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. The conference gets rolling at 8:30 a.m. with speakers and goes until 12:30 p.m. There is a break for lunch and then participants are free until 4 p.m. During the free time people play soccer, tennis, volleyball, golf, swim, take tours, and if you are like me, take the opportunity to fly fish. At 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. the scientific posters are presented. Then comes supper and more scientific talks that end about 10 p.m. After that, the bar opens and people adjourn to drink a bit and discuss. It makes for a long day.

Before coming to the meeting I scoped out the territory on Google Earth. There were several lakes, ponds, streams and rivers in the area. So, I decided to pack my #4 weight fly rod and a fly box in my luggage. I would have a rental car and could make it to nearby fishing spots spots fairly quickly from the academy. I wished to have more time to fish, but usually took the opportunity of my free time from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The afternoon of my arrival I walked down a hill to the Blackwater River (not much more than a stream really, about as wide as a two lane road) and stood on a covered bridge surveying the water. I saw some small fish that looked to be 8”-12” in length below the bridge. Trout? Being from the south, I had never really had an opportunity to trout fish. In fact, I was seeking my first trout. So the next morning I was up at 5 a.m. and headed to the river to fish a bit before breakfast. It was a rough and steep approach to reach the water. I tied on a black foam beetle with a deer hair wing. I figured it might be a good late summer fly, and it would float and not hang up on bottom debris. I had come down to the water in a pretty rough spot with lots of trees and brush, so I was restricted to roll casting. It wasn’t long until I had a strike and briefly fought a fish until the hook came free. Promising result! I kept on roll casting, moving a little this way or that and after a few more minutes I got another solid strike. It wasn’t a big one, only about 10”. I could see it had gold sides and when I got it up the fish was disappointingly not a trout, but a large creek chub instead. I fished a bit more and tried to move down the bank, but it was really thick and difficult to walk.

After lunch I returned and tried to fish the downstream side of the bridge. From the bridge, it looked like the bank was a bit cleaner in that direction. I tried, but it was still very rough with downed trees, brush, roots, and other obstacles that again held me to roll casting. I explored a bit, and after no fish action decided to climb up a hill to the back of a baseball field. I jumped the fence and was free of the thick undergrowth. But I note see that the opposite side of the river would be a better place to try.

On Tuesday afternoon I decided to try Hopkins Pond, about a 10 acre lake that the NH Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries said was stocked with shiner minnows and trout. I went down the bank from the parking spot and found room to cast a fly. But it was shallow there and I figured the trout would be around deeper waters. I walked the banks and once again found very restricted casting room. I was casting the beetle, and the little minnows loved it. It had a #6 hook that they avoided. After about 30 minutes of roll casting the beetle I switched to a #12 beige nymph, thinking the trout might take a deeper fly. I did not get any trout, but I did get about a dozen shiner minnows on the nymph. Maybe the stocked trout were fished out or they were out away from the shore. Anyway, it was a pretty New Hampshire lake that was surrounded by wild blueberries and had a pretty pair of loons in residence.

I took a break from fishing on Wednesday and caught up on my sleep in the afternoon. On Thursday afternoon I tried the Blackwater River again. I went down the steep bank to the better side and was able to get off some full casts. It wasn’t long until I got a couple of chubs on the nymph. Then I made a long cast toward a fallen log in the water and hooked a fish that felt a bit different and fought better. It came into view and became a trout. I was excited and as I lifted it the hook came out of it’s mouth. It was loose and flopped in the rocks and I scooped it up, took a quick photo, and revived and released it. Later I looked up it’s image and saw it was a brook trout. I always wanted to catch one, and now that fish is checked off the list. I got another chub and then noticed a big snapping turtle swimming around by the rocks. It came up to me within an arms reach and seemed to want food from me. Perhaps people had been feeding it, because it was not wary of me at all. It was time for the meeting to resume, so I hustled back to the dorm, got cleaned up and met with more researchers. This meeting was a professional and a piscatorial success. The meeting will return to this school in 2 years. Maybe then I’ll be up for some river wading to get off the bank so I can cast more. I also hope to try for some smallmouth bass on the fly. For now, I’m back to New Orleans and hoping to hook up with a jack crevalle on my #10 weight fly rod. They will be hanging out in Lake Pontchartrain until October.

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Delacroix marsh 8-10-2017

Wind: 0-3 mph from S

Tide: falling, high scheduled about 5 pm at the Shell Beach station

Water Level: a little low, just below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~85 F

Water Clarity: variable, a foot or less, but some spots were relatively clean

Water salinity: N/A

Weather/sky: sunny early, then turned to thunderstorms

Temperature: ~ 78, going up to 90 F for high

Moon: waning , half moon

Solunar period: major period @ 5 p.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: Woke up about 4:30 am, got in the truck and headed down to Delacroix. I stopped at the drive through at Gerald’s in Chalmette for coffee and donuts to charge the battery. Combat launched off the roadside, hit the bayou, and tried some new water that I had never fished before.

Gear: 1 x spinning and 1 x fly rod.

Lures: I tied a small 1/8 oz gold Johnson weedless spoon on since the weed beds were thick and the water was shallow. I had a weedless spoon fly on the long rod.

Strategy/ patterns: Good sight fishing conditions today until the storms kicked up. I spent a good bit of the morning standing, but never got a sure sight of a redfish (did see a few large wakes). I did see a ton of gar (spotted and alligator) and mullet (some big ones) everywhere. I did hear one large redfish grunt and saw its mud trail as I paddled over it. The water was between a foot to two feet with weeds, so I paddled a good bit rather than pedaled. There was no real pattern for today since I did not really get into any fish. This happened last August too; some stretches of Delacroix marsh that previously produced well for me were totally devoid of redfish. Maybe it gets too hot/hypoxic for them and they head for better water. Mullet and gar can take the hypoxic water since they can gulp air.

Saw lots of gators in various sizes of up to about 10 ft.

A little cloud came over about 6:30 and drizzled on me. When I looked back to where it came from out of the SW there was a double rainbow. It went past and grew into a big thunderstorm, but it had moved off and was not a concern at that point. About 9 a.m. the clouds started building and I decided not to go any further. I began to work my way back in and by 9:30 it was clear I needed to haul it back to the truck. The grumbling thunder and growing black clouds got my old butt moving at a good pace.

I checked out Reggio Marina on the way back up highway 300. The little office was padlocked shut and the parking lot was empty. A big for sale sign was near the little bridge over the Reggio Canal.

Major roadwork and repairs to the rock rip-rap along the Bayou Terre aux Boeufs continue, so be careful if you travel this way. It’s easy to get down there early, but there are places that were down to one lane on the way back. There is loose gravel on the roadsides and workers have piled up rocks in some spots. This could make a combat launch difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delacroix, July 25, 2017

Wind: 5 mph picking up to about 10mph, from the W

Tide: very little water moving, starting to rise a bit later in the morning. Range over a foot, high scheduled at 4 pm at the Shell Beach station

Water Level: low, lots of bank showing.

Water Temperature: ~88 F

Water Clarity: poor, a foot or less, but some spots were relatively clean

Water salinity: N/A

Weather/sky: sunny with a haze

Temperature: ~ 78, going up to 93 F for high

Moon: new

Solunar period: minor at 9 am, major period @ 4 pm.

Time on the water: 6 a.m. to 11:30 am

Water covered: ~ 5 miles on the map, but did a lot of extra pedaling and paddling due to wind and to hold a position while casting.

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: I picked Tuesday to fish because it was the first day in a long time without much chance for a thunderstorm. Woke up about 4 am, got in the truck and headed down to Delacroix, stopped for gas in Chalmette and then grabbed some coffee and donuts at Gerald’s so that I would have lots of energy for fishing. As I was flying down the highway I saw a flashing sign that said something about roadwork ahead but I was going so fast I was past it before the message finished. Good thing the message didn’t say “Bridge Out”. As I passed the last stop sign and got on the Delacroix Highway (Highway 300) I started seeing orange cones on both sides of the road and patches of new asphalt. The roadwork continued all the way to Delacroix. When I got the place I wanted to combat launch off the roadside I was stunned. Construction equipment blocked the site and the area was prepped for some paving. There was no way to launch there, so I headed to Lionel Serigne’s Marina and put it in the water. My game plan was shot and I would have to freelance it on this fishing trip. So I just pedaled the Hobie Outback down past Sweetwater Marina, turned right into Bayou Gentilly, made a quick left into the big pond, and went on until I found some fish.

Gear: 2 x spinning and 2 x bait casting outfits.

Lures: I started with a gold spoon and cast it parallel to weed beds. I had a few taps and missed a redfish that bit it and then buried itself into the weeds and came off. Later I put on a purple/chartreuse Gulp rigged on a weedless 1/16 oz weighted 2/0 worm hook and got a couple of small redfish. Then I tried the Seein’ Spots in line spinner bait with a Saltwater Assassin (plastic) in “chicken on a chain” color and it worked pretty well.

Strategy/ patterns: Not much possibility of sight fishing today. Redfish were hanging off the banks in the dirty water, waiting for the tide so they could get back up in the grass. I spotted a few feeding, but all of my fish were caught by blind casting to fishy looking spots. I passed over several redfish that were bedded down on the bottom. They spooked and drummed a bit as they took off in a big cloud of mud.

It was a good day for seeing animals. Lots of ducks and marsh hens were working the mud banks. Later I saw two otters come down the bank and quickly disappear in the water. Then some piglets came out, and a few minutes later some big hogs came out of the grass. I snapped a photo of two of the big hogs and a small 3’ alligator with its head sticking out of the water to the lower right side of the picture. As I was fishing in a shallow area I saw two really big wakes being pushed by a pair of fish swimming together, but they were moving pretty quickly and were out of casting range and going away from me. A few minutes later I see this large mullet leap really high and for an instant I think “That’s strange” and a millisecond later a big jack crevalle breached right behind it, flashing silver and yellow. I was stunned that such a big fish could have been sneaking around in such shallow water. The big wakes I had seen earlier were probably jacks rather than monster reds. I started back because it was getting hot and I had some stuff to do at work in the afternoon. As I worked my way in I cast the weedless Gulp under a cork along the weedbeds as I approached Bayou Gentilly. I was in sight of Sweetwater Marina when I got the last redfish of the day. It had 8 spots.

I ended the day with 5 redfish, 2 of them were undersized, a 20”, 22” and fat 26”er and a bass. All were released. The fish seemed to like the Gulp and the in line spinner the best today.

On the way home I stopped at the Fish Shack in Chalmette and tried the “Top Feeder”. It was great. They cook some good catfish there – highly recommended – but catfish is all that’s on the menu.

 

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