Shell Beach, LA 7-15-2018

Wind: 0 – 5mph from W early, 7+ mph after noon from N, then NE

Tide: rising, the low was at 2:30 a.m. Shell Beach station, high at 4:20 p.m., range 2’

Water Level: SUPER LOW! 2 ft. below average, at grass line (normal) later in the day.

Water Temperature: ~ 85-88 F

Water Clarity: fair, 2 ft. visibility in the marsh, less in MRGO

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: overcast most of the day, when the sun came out it got hot quickly

Temperature: ~ 80 F, going up to about 92 F

Moon: sliver of a new moon

Solunar period: minor period @ 8 a.m., major at 4 p.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 7 a.m., driving home at 3:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find bass, reds, and maybe a jack crevalle

Gear: one #8 fly rod, 6’ of #20 leader/tippet, #10 fly rod, 6’ of #30 leader/tippet (for jacks)

Lure: tried a gurgler with a woolybugger 1’ down on a dropper for a few hours (for bass), Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse/gold, had a large clouser on the #10 rod.

Slow day, with a few bass caught to keep the skunk away. There were so many mullet around that it made fishing difficult.  I launched at Campo’s Marina in Shell Beach, went across the MRGO, and fished the marsh behind the rocks. I spooked a few redfish (could hear them drum) as I went through the marsh near Ft. Proctor. It was slow going….had to paddle a good bit due to the shallow water. The redfish were there but uncooperative. Every now and then I saw a tail in the distance but never got a shot at a red. They seemed to be sluggish and most were just resting on the bottom. I did a good bit of blind casting today without much success. I worked my way back toward the MRGO and went down the rocks on the marsh side. It was pretty weedy, but I managed to catch seven small marsh bass on the spoon fly. The smallest was 10”, the biggest was 13”. I got a good shot at a large black drum that was feeding in the rocks, but it either did not see the spoon fly or did not care for it. I could see some clouds forming in the distance so I headed in. No jacks sighted today. I slipped Mr. Campo $5 for the kayak launch even though he does not charge for it.

 

 

 

Pushepatapa Creek / Father’s Day 2018

Father’s Day Weekend Report June 16 and 17, 2018

Pushepatapa Creek

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On Saturday the 16th I went with the New Orleans Fly Fishing Club to Pushepatapa Creek in Washington Parish, LA. We met up at a restaurant and then caravanned over to the creek. The Pushepatapa is a cool (literally and figuratively) creek that’s relatively clean, shallow, and easily wade-fished when at normal water levels. The day we fished the water was up and a bit on the swift and dirty side. Local rains can swell and muddy the creek pretty quickly. A few of the guys surveyed the creek at the highway 21 bridge and decided it was better to try upstream. We drove over to Parish Rd. 6 (Military Rd.) and about a dozen of us started fishing. It seemed that we all favored the downstream route. I had trouble finding spots that did not have heavy current. I was looking for a deeper hole or a shoal that might hold fish but didn’t seem to find any. After about 30 minutes and wading about a quarter of a mile I decided that maybe upstream of the bridge might be a better choice. The terrain upstream of the bridge was steep and rough, making it hard to get to the creek. I found a way down to the creek and started wading upstream. There were some nice sandy shoals, some tree falls, and other obstructions that might hold fish there. I was throwing my “nothing special” bead head peacock herl nymph on my #4 weight rod with a #4 lb fluorocarbon tippet. I got a little bream of some sort on for a second or two but it shook loose. I got a few more bites and then the action stopped and I moved upstream. I found a sand bar that split the water and also got a few bites there but no hook ups. I had gone about half a mile upstream, checked the clock and saw I needed to start back. We were to meet up at 10:30 and go to lunch. I fished downstream and caught a small spotted (Kentucky) bass by putting the nymph close to a downed log. I took a photo and released the little guy. I made a few more casts to the spot and got a pretty long ear sunfish. The colors on this guy were superb. I fished down to where I had some strikes earlier and missed several more. The fish were coming off my barbless hook. Maybe I was having trouble keeping the line taught in the current. It was frustrating that I missed several fish. I climbed back up out of the creek and headed to lunch with the gang. Lunch was at Urbain Broad’s place, and he provided a nice lunch and good hospitality. He and his wife have a nice home with a large park-like yard on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain.

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On Sunday (Father’s day) I met up with my younger daughter and we went to City Park for some fly fishing. Jenna had fished with me before, but never with a fly rod. So I gave her some quick lessons and she was off. We tried one area where I had caught several bass a few weeks ago, but they weren’t home today. So we went to another spot and after a cast or two she shouted that she had a fish. It was a Rio Grande perch (cichlid). The Rio is an invasive species here in LA, but they are a prized catch and are really beautifully marked and colored. I was pleased that she got her first fish on the fly on Father’s Day. It’s something we both will remember. She also caught a bluegill later that morning. She’s got a bit more to learn about fly fishing but it was a great start.

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Hot at Hopedale 7-1-2018

Wind: 0 – 5mph from west early, 7+ mph after noon from north
Tide: rising, the low was at 2 a.m. Shell Beach station, high at 4:30 p.m., range 1.5’
Water Level: SUPER LOW! 2 ft. below average, at grass line (normal) later in the day.
Water Temperature: ~ 90 F
Water Clarity: good, 2-3 ft. visibility, deteriorated as the tide came in
Water salinity: no salt detected on the taste test
Weather/sky: sunny, with one merciful cloud that shaded me for 10 minutes.
Temperature: ~ 80 F, going up to about 95 F
Moon: Waning, 80% of full
Solunar period: minor period @ 8 a.m., major at 4 p.m.
Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 5:45 a.m., driving home at 4:00 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 7 miles
Other fishers: solo trip
Game Plan: find redfish
Gear: one #8 fly rod, 6’ of #20 leader/tippet
Lure: Waldner’s spoon fly in purple/gold on the fly rod

I stopped in at the drive through window at Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette and headed on down to Hopedale. It was gonna be a hot one; high humidity with a heat index of about 105 F. I knew of some duck ponds that are connected by little bayous with good depth (4-6 ft) and thought the redfish might be hanging out there. The duck ponds are pretty shallow and can be hard to fish even when there is more water. It was a good distance to this spot and by the time I arrived after about 40 minutes of pedaling my shirt was soaked with sweat even though I was not pushing too hard.

The bayou opens off a canal and there is a scour at its mouth that’s about 8 ft deep. I figured there would be fish there and I got a 17” redfish after a few casts. I let the incoming water push me up the bayou toward the duck ponds and blind casted to spots as I went along. My timing was unlucky because I spooked several fish in between casts, hearing them drum and seeing clouds of muddy water as they took off. I saw a redfish in the first pond but it disappeared and did not take the spoon fly that I sent in its general direction. I went up the second bayou and spooked more fish and missed a bite. I spooked several reds at the mouth of the second pond, saw several wakes as I paddled (very shallow here) across and then caught a 19” redfish at the exit into the third bayou.

The third bayou was about 3 feet deep (enough to pedal instead of paddle) and was full of fish. I rounded a little turn, saw something swirl, and made a cast that connected with a 18” redfish, then a 15”er, and then a 24” fish. I could have stayed here and tried for more, but decided to see what else was down the bayou. I moved about 50 yards and caught another 20” fish and then went into the third pond. There were fish here too, but it was shallow and I could not sneak up on them. I tried standing and saw several fish but they saw me too.

It was getting hot and I started back the way I came. I didn’t get any fish when I passed through the bayou, but a look across the second pond suggested they had moved out to this area. The water level was coming up and the light breeze had shifted to the north, pushing water across the pond. I could see several nice redfish actively feeding in about a foot of water. It was too shallow to pedal, so I paddled up to casting distance of one and “took the shot”. It didn’t care or didn’t see the spoon fly and the wind quickly pushed me out of range. I moved up again and this time the fish took the fly and charged off. After a tussle I got the 26” red to the kayak and released it. I had to resuscitate it to allow for recovery in the hot water. I swung the kayak around and went after another fish. I was working pretty hard to catch up with a fish that was moving upwind when I got a little dizzy and lightheaded. It was about noon and the breeze blowing across the hot water was not doing anything to cool me down. I stopped, drank some cold water, and came back to normal. I thought about heading in and started to paddle out of the pond…..but there were two large redfish in my way.

Rather than chase the redfish, I just slowly paddled around and upwind and positioned myself in their path. I just watched for about 10 minutes as one of the fish worked toward me. Every now and then it would feed and lift its big tail as it tilted its head down to eat something. When it was about 40 feet away I cast to it….maybe a little behind it. The next cast was a little too far in front. I thought the third cast might be a little too far in front as well until the fish’s body arced and the line went taught. I’m not sure how long it took after that. I got the fish close but couldn’t get it to the boga grip. It was a standoff – the 8 weight rod would flex as I lifted and the fish countered in the other direction. I finally got the boga grip on it and it weighed almost 14 lbs. It was close to the size of another redfish that I had entered in a CPR contest, so I needed to measure it. It went 31” even and my previous fish was 30.8”…..not enough difference to harass the fish any more than I already had, so I put it back in the water as quickly as possible. I had to resuscitate the fish and it took it a bit to recover. Everybody was overheating today.

I went back though the first pond. It was still very shallow but I noted a path through it that held a little deeper water and went that way. A fin broke the surface about 30 feet away. I thought it was a red, wasn’t sure, but I whipped a cast to it and whatever it was ate the spoon fly. The fish dove through a big grass mat and ripped the line out nearly to the backing. Suddenly a big 4’ gar leapt up and did a somersault. I was left pulling pounds of weeds off my fly line and trying to keep the line taught. After a bushel or so of weeds were removed I got the line taught and the fish was still on. But it wasn’t the gar – it was a 28” redfish. The gar was just spooked by the charging redfish. I got it in and nursed it back to health.

I got 3 more small 15-17” redfish around the deep scour at the mouth of the bayou. It was about 3 o’clock and I was ready to head in. I took it slow and drank more cool water and a Gatorade. The north wind was in my face all the way in. Sometimes it felt cool but most of the time it picked up the heat from the water. I paced myself so as not to overheat and was back at the truck in about an hour.

I had to be pleased with the results given the hot day. It was unexpected that the best fish were most active at midday. I probably would have gone in sooner if I hadn’t kept seeing and catching fish. The biting flies were out in full force today. I was covered from head to toe and used OFF repellant, but they nipped me where the bare ends of the fingers stuck out of my fishing gloves. I stopped in at Hopedale Marina, got an iced tea, and put some extra ice on two of the smaller redfish that I kept for dinner. I sautéed them in olive oil with a little garlic, thyme, and black pepper. Pretty good! But now I have no fish and need to go back to the “store” for more next weekend.

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Delacroix 6-9-2018

Delacroix, 6-9-2018

Wind: about 8 mph, dropping to 5 mph from the SW

Tide: nada

Water Level: a foot below the grass line – puzzled by this continual low water – usually higher this time of year

Water Temperature: ~ 90 F

Water Clarity: variable – muddy in spots, clean in the pockets around aquatic vegetation

Water salinity: no salt by the taste test

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast, thunderstorms stayed off in the distance

Temperature: ~ 92 F

Moon: Waning, half moon

Solunar period: minor period at 4 p.m.

Time on the water: slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in the water at 4 p.m., off at 8:30 p.m.

Water covered: about 1.5 miles

Other fishers: Michael M.

Game Plan: fish the holes in the weedbeds for redfish

Gear: medium action spinning reels with #15 braided line

Lures: ¼ oz. chartreuse Aqua Dream spoons (weedless), Matrix craw (olive, glitter flake) rigged weedless in a 1/8 oz weighted hook.

Total: 8 redfish from 17 to 25” and a couple of throwback “rat reds”.

I took a “new guy” from work to Delacroix for some kayak fishing. He did not have a fishing license, but it was “Fish Free” weekend in LA when license requirements are suspended on June 9-10. I left my fly rod behind to keep things simple. Rather than get up super early we decided that an evening trip would be better. It would be cooling off instead of getting hotter as we fished, and he could better see what he was doing by starting out in the daylight.

We arrived to find low water, which can either be a curse or an advantage, depending on whether there are fish around. The low water and thick weedbeds can tend to crowd the fish into the areas that remain open. It worked out for us today. We paddled (pedals did not function too well with the dense weedbeds) around and hit some open areas without luck. Then about 5:30-6 p.m. the fish seemed to appear and became more active. I started seeing wakes, backs, and tails. I guess the fish were waking up after their siesta in the weedbeds and were coming out to feed on crabs and shrimp.

I cast to some wakes moving my way and got a 20” redfish close to the kayak by bringing it in quickly to shorten the fight and reduce its heat stress. It was flopping around so much that it somehow worked the split ring out of the swivel and it released itself with a new $7 “spoon piercing”. My buddy hooked up next with the biggest fish of the day, a 25” red that tried a number of tricks like bulling into the weeds, diving under his kayak, wrapping around the stake out pole, and snagging the line on the rudder. But the trickery didn’t work out this time and the redfish went into the ice bag.

I re-rigged with a Matrix Craw and had a few hits before hooking into a nice eating sized redfish (17”). We would go on to catch several more of that size, and a few undersized throwbacks. Michael has a family to feed, so we kept 5 for the table and released the rest. I hope he enjoyed his first taste of LA kayak fishing and was glad I could find some fish for him. I guess he did because he’s already thinking of getting a kayak.

When we came in there was a huge hatch of some tiny (mayfly?) looking insects. They got on the downwind side of the pickup and literally covered it up. They lit on us too, doing anything to get out of the breeze. These were still attached to my hat when I got home later that night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delacroix 6-2-2018

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Wind: started calm, around 10 mph from west most of the day, 30 mph in storm

Tide: range about 1.5 ft. at the Shell Beach station (but actually dropped, nixed by W wind)

Water Level: a bit below the grass line at start, got lower instead of higher

Water Temperature: ~ 83 F

Water Clarity: 3-6 ft visibility in spots, dirty in others due to wind and shrimp trawling

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast, then rain and thunderstorms

Temperature: ~ 70 F, going up to about 90 F

Moon: Waning, couple of days post new moon

Solunar period: major period at 3 p.m.

Time on the water: slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in the water at 6:30, off at 2:00 p.m.

Water covered: about 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: combat launch, look for redfish

Gear: one #10 fly rod, and medium action spinning reel with #15 braided line

Lures: purple/gold Waldner’s spoon fly, Seein Spots in line spinner with black/chartreuse Vortex shad

Total: 5 redfish from 17 to 30”. They were headed upwind along banks.

I broke one of my rules of kayak fishing today and paid the price. Usually I head upwind with the logic that I will have an easier trip back in with a tailwind. Today I went east with the forecast of rising westerly winds. I decided it was worth the risk of pushing back home into a headwind of 10 mph. But I didn’t factor in a storm and the 30 mph headwind it would create, nor that the tide would fall rather than rise as predicted. This predicament left me about 2 miles from the launch with a stiff headwind, thunder getting louder, and a pretty solid weedbed that I had to traverse without the assistance of the pedal drive on my kayak. Suffice it to say that after putting away my kayak and gear and eating supper I had one of the best nights of sleep I’ve had in a while.

I got on the water a little later than I had planned, and it was already getting hot at 6:30 as I paddled and pedaled out to redfish waters. It’s about a mile and a half out to the area I like to fish and it takes some effort to get out there when the water is low and the weedbeds are thick. I brought a 10 weight fly rod which is generally considered overkill for marsh redfish, but with the heat and the weedbeds it would be important to have the power to horse the fish in rather than play them. I had the spinning reel in the rod holder ready to go in case I saw a redfish in the distance and the fly rod was tucked under a bungee. The first fish of the day came up so close to the kayak that I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of fumbling for the fly rod and just flipped the spinner to it. A couple minutes later I released the 22” redfish without ever it leaving the water. A crimped barb on the hook and a Boga grip make this possible.

I made a few blind casts with the fly rod at some favorite spots but no one was home. So I hit some open water and was able to pedal to a favorite point. Some guys in a tower boat were working some of MY ISLANDS when I came around the point. I had seen a nice redfish working the point and thought it would be fun to show them how real anglers caught fish so I flipped the trusty spoon fly across the point and sure enough got a taker. I was a small slot red instead of the larger fish, but it got their attention (Dey over here, brah!). Pretty soon they moved on and left me to MY MARSH.

Lots of the area was choked with aquatic vegetation, but there was a rim of open water along the bank of some islands, about 50 feet wide, that was too shallow for the wind to push up the weedbeds and algae mats. It would be hard for a boat or even a pedal drive kayak to get into this little river, but I could paddle into it with a bit of effort. It was essentially a redfish highway. I spotted lots of fish and spooked probably a hundred or more that were resting on bottom. They would give a grunt (drum) as I flushed them off the bottom.

The first fish was easy. I saw it coming right at me and when it got about 30 ft. away I flipped the spoon fly across his bow. Perfect tournament red….right under 27” and 8 lbs on the Boga. It fought hard and was stressed from the heat so I did not fool around and released it quickly.

I missed several tries with the fly rod. I’d see fish and cast to them but I think they saw me too. They would not come back up for a second cast, and blind casting to where I thought they’d be was unsuccessful. The wind was rising and messing up my casting so I went back to the in line spinner. I landed another nice upper slot red and a baby bull red of about 30”. It was about 1 pm that I noticed the puffy clouds were showing signs of becoming organized. I was about 3 miles from the launch so I started back. The first mile or so back was ok, but then the wind picked up considerably, and you know the rest of that story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delacroix (wind and weeds) 5-12-2018

Delacroix, 5-12-2018

Wind: started about 5 mph, soon around 15-20 mph, S – SE

Tide: little range at the Shell Beach station

Water Level: average @ the grass line

Water Temperature: ~ 75 F

Water Clarity: very good, 3-6 ft visibility, a few dirty spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast

Temperature: ~ 70 F, going up to about 90 F

Moon: Waning, sliver

Solunar period: major period at 1 p.m.

Time on the water: slipped the Hobie Outback in the water at 6:30, off at 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: about 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: combat launch, look for redfish

Gear: one #8 fly rod, and medium spinning reel

Lures: gold Waldner’s spoon fly, ¼ oz. chartreuse Aqua Dream spoon

Total: 9 redfish from 16.5 to 28.5”. They seemed to be headed upwind along banks.

The WIND AND AQUATIC VEGETATION (“weeds or grass if you prefer”) were the big factors for today. By the time I pedaled and paddled out to the area I wanted to fish it took over an hour due to a rising headwind. I brought the spinning reel in case the wind became too rough for fly casting (good idea).

I started fly casting to some likely spots (cuts and points) because the sun angle was still too low to sight fish. The wind was making it complicated, and after pelting myself in the back of the head with the spoon fly a couple of times and getting the line tangled I decided to give it a rest and picked up the spinning outfit. (For those who haven’t tried it, a spoonfly feels about like someone chunked a rock about the diameter of a quarter at the back of your head.) The spinner is a better way to go when the wind is up and fish can’t be seen. I caught 3 redfish pretty quickly and then tried the fly rod again. I gave it a couple of hours, became frustrated, and switched back to the spinner. I was standing and drifting down a little chain of islands when I saw a nice school of redfish working upwind through an open area in the weeds. I flipped the spoon beyond them and brought it across in front of the school. Naturally, the smaller one (24”) in the crowd grabbed it. I had the drag set pretty tight so I could pull it up and out of the weeds, and the wind quickly pushed me out into the open water away from the school.

I thought the school might still be around so I moved around upwind and took another shot at them. This produced my best redfish of the day. It was difficult to unhook the fish from the way the hook had twisted. Essentially, the fish was hooked twice. After a little surgery and resuscitation the redfish swam away quickly. I decided to crimp the barb on the spoon and had no more unhooking difficulties with the other fish I landed. I tried it another round with the fly rod. I spotted the fish as I drifted downwind and got a cast near them. They were reacting to the fly but I was drifting away and about to be slammed into the bank by the wind. I ended up yanking the fly away from the fish before they could get it, but at least I didn’t crash into the bank and fall out of the kayak.

I decided to try the fly rod as I started back in. Headed downwind, I shortened my cast to about 30 feet so I wouldn’t tangle the line and prevented hitting myself with the fly. I saw a flash of orange under the water in front of me – a nice sized redfish probably after a crab. I got the spoon fly in front of it and the game was on, and kept it up and out of the weeds. I fished the fly all the way back in and picked up my 9th fish of the day, a small 17” red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pointe a la Hache 4-13-2018

Wind: around 20 mph, S – SE

Tide: little range

Water Level: a bit below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~ 68 F

Water Clarity: good, 3-6 ft visibility, a few dirty spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast

Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F

Moon: Waning, sliver

Solunar period: major periods at noon

Time on the water: on at 8, off at 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: lots

Other fishers: Rich Waldner

Game Plan: Launch at Beshel’s Marina, fish leeward shorelines of marsh on east side of the MS River

Gear: one #8 fly rod, #30 tippet for the weeds

Lures: Waldner’s bullet-proofed clouser

Total: 6 redfish from about 5 to 10 lbs and one bass of about 1.5 lbs.

I had always wanted to meet Rich Waldner, so on this Friday the 13th I had the good fortune to do it. Rich is an ex-marine and long time fly fisher who chose to make Plaquemines Parish his home after he retired. Rich is the inventor of my favorite “fly” for going after redfish in the marsh – the flashy little Waldner’s spoon fly. Rich has also created a nice crab fly, and today he turned me on to his “bullet-proof” clouser. He uses purple and white synfiber with some gold flash for the body, and epoxy on the hook, body and head. He includes a stiff mono spike to protect the hook from weeds. I was surprised how weedless this fly was in the aquatic salad that we fished today. I only had to stop 3-4 times to clean it during a day of fishing. Rich fishes from a 17’ Dolphin flats boat with a 60 hp Yamaha. It has fore and aft platforms for casting and poling. Rich did a great job of keeping me well positioned to cast despite the horrid winds. He is a super experienced captain who put me on some nice reds today.

The WIND was the big factor for today. It was blowing hard when we started and sometimes gusted to 25 maybe or more. And, of course, it always seemed to blow harder at the wrong time. Nevertheless, we managed to prowl along the broken marsh and had lots of shots at fish. The wind made it tricky to put a cast in the sweet spot and it was frustrating. My best success came when sighting fish in front of me. I spotted my best redfish about 30 feet in front of me. The fish was facing away from us and I got off a 40-foot cast beyond it and stripped it back for an easy eat. After a nice tussle I got the fish to Rich’s net and it went about 10 lbs on the Boga grip.

Cloud cover came up in the afternoon and things slowed down. The redfish were not helping by revealing their location – we did not see a tail or back all day. But Rich had some tricks up his sleeve for these conditions and we moved to a big pond, overgrown with vegetation, but with a deep bayou through it that held crystal-clear water. It held a group of nice redfish, but the evil wind pushed us so fast it was hard to get a fly in front of one. Rich checked his gps and we were moving at 4 mph. Rich moved us over to a pond that made it possible to sight fish in spite of the overcast sky and wind. We had some more shots at fish but they appeared too quickly and were on us before I could pull the trigger. Finally I got a fish moving away in front of me and put the clouser in front for a nice eat. I had to pressure the fish to keep it out of the weeds and got it to the net. It was about 4:40, we called it done, and high tailed it for the ferry. We just made the 5:30 ferry run back across the MS River in the nick of time.

It was a great and challenging day on the water with Rich. He has a world of experience in the marshes and a real passion for taking redfish on the fly. I really enjoyed hanging out and talking with him – great guy to fish with. His web site is http://www.fishwithrich.com