Delacroix, LA 6/12/2021

Wind: 5-10 from the west

Tide: 2’ range based on Shell Beach station. high at 3:30 p.m.  

Water Level: a little below normal to start, rising all day

Water Temperature: ~85 F

Water Clarity: 6/10 to 10/10

Water salinity: no salt detected on the taste-o-meter

Weather/sky: sunny day, with passing clouds

Temperature: ~ 95 F for high

Moon: new

Solunar period: major 2-4 p.m.

Launch: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 6:30 a.m., out at 5:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: Kevin A    

Gear: 8 weight fly rod, gold spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: blind and sight cast for redfish

I had my good fly fishing buddy with me today. Kevin needed some redfish for dinner, so we headed to Delacroix. This was the first day this year that we felt the heat and humidity of the Louisiana summer. I drank the half-gallon of water, bottle of Gatoraid, and a Coke that I brought. I also used the “Cajun air conditioner”, putting a hunk of ice on the back of my neck between my shirt and my Buff. I was covered from head to toe with light-colored sun protective clothing and wore sun gloves and a wide brimmed hat. It would be torture to stay out all day on the water in a kayak without taking these measures. I also tried out the new Bajio polarized sunglasses today. They worked well and I picked up on cruising fish pretty easily.

The fishing today was frustrating to say the least. Kevin and I headed to a cut in the marsh. I spooked some large fish and did some blind casting for them. Kevin was throwing a popper and had several hits. He caught a few small specks and a bass and missed a nicer bass. I pressed on along an open corridor in the grass mats and started to encounter redfish. I spotted several fish but just could not get the spoon fly in the strike zone. And when I did get it close the spoon fly seemed to snag the aquatic vegetation at the critical time. Kevin caught a redfish a little later and then we had a lag in the catching, even though we occasionally spotted redfish.

The action picked up and it coincided nicely with the solunar activity period. We were seeing more fish and running across them in more places. But they were really picky and spooky. I finally got a good cast in front of a redfish that was coming toward me. As it got closer, I moved the spoon fly a little. But instead of smashing the fly, the fish veered away rapidly like it had received an electric shock. And so it went. I had lots of tough casts, and when I did make them, the fish refused or dashed away. Finally, a redfish was headed my way and I got the spoon fly in front of it. It turned down to eat and the fight was on. I was pulling hard on the 5 lb fish to keep it from burying in the vegetation. As I worked it close to the kayak, the TFO TiCr V rod snapped. I managed to land the redfish, but the damage was done. There was likely damage to the rod at the break spot. I hit my rod occasionally when casting epoxy spoon flies and other flies like clousers and crabs with lead heads. I know these saltwater flies pack a whallop, because they me from time to time too. TFO makes good fly rods, and fortunately for me they have a great warranty program.

Kevin and I met up and exchanged notes. Kevin had caught another redfish and had another one break his leader. We both saw a decent number of fish, but had trouble moving them into the catch column on our scorecards. We’ll get ‘em next time.

Delacroix, LA 5-28-2021

Wind: ~15 with gusts, S -SW

Tide: 2’ range based on Shell Beach station. Low at 4 a.m., high at 4 p.m.  

Water Level: about a foot below normal, rising all day

Water Temperature: ~80 F

Water Clarity: 10/10 most places

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: sunny day, with passing clouds

Temperature: ~ 90 F for high

Moon: just past full

Solunar period: major 4 p.m.

Launch: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 10 a.m., out at 5:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: 8 weight fly rod, gold spoon fly

Strategy/ patterns: blind and sight cast for redfish

Time for a rant. I’ve been waiting for a day with lower winds for most of the spring. Windfinder.com and Weather.com said today’s the day with predictions of 0-8 mph. They LIED. It was blowing at about 10 mph when I arrived and only went up. By noon, any open water had whitecaps. The aquatic vegetation has formed big mats in the ponds and paddling across those in a headwind of 15-20 mph is not a fun day on the water.

The great thing about those beds of aquatic vegetation is that they filter the water, and it becomes like an aquarium. I could easily see fish and crabs on the bottom in 4-5 feet of water. I spent the morning drifting downwind and saw lots of mullet and blue crabs, a few gar, but few redfish. I had a shot at a nice sized redfish that passed close and then started swimming away. I whipped out a quick cast and then another. I didn’t realize it was following the spoon fly and it spooked away as I lifted to make a third cast.

I tried a different direction but didn’t see much, so I went back in the general direction of where I saw the first redfish. I drifted down to an open area and saw a group of redfish that were actively feeding. I somehow missed them as I got close and one spooked and left a big boil on the surface as it sped away. They didn’t go far. Soon they were on the surface again, and this time I caught and released one of the smaller ones of about 18”. The wind was getting strong, so I staked out and let the fish work their way to me. I got a couple more chances to sight cast to fish and then caught and released one of about 23”. One of the redfish I cast to had a weird reaction to the spoon fly – it dashed away as if it had seen this before and knew it was trouble. Maybe it had a previous expereince with Rich Waldner’s spoon fly.

At this point the wind was getting too strong to drift and to cast. I moved to an area that was like a funnel for the fish between a bank and a grass mat. i did some blind casting but had no luck. My only option was to head back upwind to get to the lee shore. It took about 30 minutes to go the half mile across the pond. I noticed there were lots of crabs of all sizes when I reached the destination. Surprisingly, there were no redfish – just mullet and an occasional small gar. It was tough to pole and work the bank with the wind, and after a hundred yards or so I gave up. The low grasses were not doing a great job as a windbreak. I decided to try and drift a little and it paid off. After about 50 yards, I blew into a pair of large sheepshead. They spooked away, but I had a feeling they did not go far. I got the pole planted to stop my drift and made a cast into an open area in the weed mats. I wasn’t expecting much and then I felt some resistance, I thought it was just the fly getting caught in the vegetation. But then the line pulled away, and I knew it was a fish. I was excited when I saw the silver and black bars come up. I kept the line taught because I fish a barbless spoon fly and hoped I could get the sheep into the net. It was a nice one, so I put it on the ruler for the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s Fish Pics Contest that’s sponsored by Massey’s Outfitters. It went a tad over 18”, but the fish’s girth was impressive.

I revived and released it for another day. I tried drifting for a few more minutes and then gave up after fighting with the wind.

Hopedale, LA 4/28/2021

Wind: ~15 with gusts swinging from NE to SW

Tide: little range based on Shell Beach station, but wind had the water pushing in hard

Water Level: above grass line

Water Temperature: ~72 F

Water Clarity: 1/10 to 4/10 depending on spot

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: sunny day

Temperature: ~ 82 F for high

Moon: almost full

Solunar period: major 1 p.m.

Launch: slipped the Hobie Compass in about 9 a.m., out at 5:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo    

Gear: bait caster and in-line spinner bait with a Saltwater Assassin plastic in “chicken on a chain” color

Strategy/ patterns: blind and sight cast for redfish

Too windy to enjoy casting the fly rod today. I took it easy and started a little late since the moon was full and there was a major solunar period later. The water was very dirty and trashy, and the redfish were able to go up into the flooded grass. It was a tough day. I did not see many fish. I missed a few bites. One hooked nice sized fish wrapped itself around my stake out pole and broke off. Not a very good vibe out there today although I just enjoyed being outside. I did catch a couple of nice reds. One was multi-spotted and had several scales with black flecks. I tried to go into one of the duck ponds and spooked a 6’ gator, went 50 yards and spooked an 8’ gator, and then went another 50 yards and saw a 10’ gator sitting in a shallow spot that I needed to cross. I reversed course to avoid a possible confrontation. The gators are breeding right now and can be territorial. I don’t worry about them in open water, but when they are in tighter, shallow places and are as long as my kayak I have to give them their due respect. Gnats were moderately annoying on the way in. I’m hoping for some relief from these winds and dirty waters. It has been a difficult spring.

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.