Place: Delacroix, Louisiana
Wind: 5-10 mph from west
Tide: Rising about foot and a half, high at 4:30 p.m.
Water Temperature: ~75 F
Water Level: low and rising through the day
Water Clarity: good, 1’-6’ visibility depending on spot
Moon: Waxing, full
Solunar period: major period 2 p.m.
Weather/sky: very sunny
Temperature: 90 F for the high
Time on the water: 9:30 a.m. to 5: p.m.
Water covered: about 4 miles
Other fishers: Kevin Andry
Conditions aligned and it looked like it would be a nice Saturday for fishing. I met Kevin at the launch in Delacroix about 9:30 and, because of the full moon, expected there would be an afternoon bite. I brought two #8 fly rods; one rigged with a Waldner spoon fly and the other with a new pattern of fly that I had tied especially for the summer conditions (i.e. thick weed beds). One of my favorite lures is a purple plastic jig with a chartreuse tail, so I tied a clouser minnow in those colors with purple bucktail, a bit of chartreuse rabbit zonker, and added light bead chain eyes so that it would sink very slowly. A fly with any significant weight is going to sink too quickly and end up in a gob of aquatic vegetation. So I was pleased that this fly worked pretty well throughout the day.
We started out in our kayaks by drifting on a west wind that was fluctuating at 5+ mph. The sun was on the wrong side (east) of our westward drift to be very helpful, but we tried it because it is hard to work quietly and sneak up on redfish when heading upwind. At first I was not seeing much and was flipping my fly (blind casting) as I blew along. I drifted across a spot that was a few feet deeper (4-5 feet) than the typical 1-3 feet that characterized the pond we were fishing. There were several large redfish in the little hole, and the water inside it was crystal clear. But by the time I saw them they also saw me and moved away. I made a few casts, anticipating their position, but got nothing as I drifted away. The breeze was nice (comfort wise) but it made me move a little too fast and rippled the water a bit too much for optimal sight fishing. When I stood up in the Hobie Outback kayak to spot the fish I acted like a sail and the kayak moved faster. I’ve learned it’s important to lock the fins flat against the hull and pull the rudder up when drifting this way. If anything on the kayak snags on something while you are standing and drifting it can cause you to lose your balance and fall out of the kayak.
A few minutes later I spotted a redfish on the surface and it was facing away from me. I got a 40’ cast to it before it saw me and the new purple fly got its attention. It quickly scarfed down the fly and took off but did not get far with all the weed beds around. I worked the kayak over to the fish and freed it from the aquatic weed bed, but it simply went into the next clump of vegetation. After a few minutes of fighting more weeds than fish I scooped up the 26” redfish and another 10 pounds of weeds in the net. Kevin came over and kindly took a nice photo of the fish and me. (Note: As you can see in the photo I go for optimal sun protection.) I released the fish and spent the next 10 minutes picking the weeds off my line and net. I had prepared for the aquatic weed beds by using a leader comprised of about 5 feet of #40 mono with a loop connection to 3 feet of #20 mono. I’ve had fish bury in the weeds before, and heavier line is essential in these conditions. It is too easy for them to break a light line when they get in a weed bed.
I took a break and got out a 16 oz. water bottle. I did not intend to, but I ended up quickly chugging it all down, not realizing how thirsty I had become. Today was the first really hot day of the year and it was very sunny too. It is important to have enough to drink and to drink regularly in these conditions. I eventually drank a gallon of water and Gatorade today.
I tried heading west (upwind) with the sun at my back. I spotted a redfish but could not get a cast to it – making too much noise and spooked it. About 20 minutes later I started heading north (crossing the wind). The sun was now higher but still to the east and I spotted a nice redfish at the surface. I tossed it a spoon fly and it struck hard and took off. As it pulled the loose fly line taught a small loop wrapped around my gloved finger. Without any “give” left in the line, the leader snapped at the Rapala knot above the spoon fly. Hope the redfish likes its new jewelry.
I kept heading in a cross-wind direction and sighted a number of singles, pairs, and groups of 4-6 redfish. They also sighted me and slowly moved away. In some cases I got a couple of casts out to the fish, but they were spooky and uninterested in the fly. I was blind casting while moving and had a surprise strike from a redfish that I played for about a minute. Surprisingly, the hook pulled out and that was it. I let the wind push me between some small islands and noticed several clouds of mud in the water from fish that I was disturbing as I approached, so I blind casted downwind soon I had a redfish take the purple clouser fly. It was a smaller fish of about 17” and I just stripped it in and unhooked it.
I circled back to where I had spooked some groups of redfish earlier, but did not cross paths with them again. But I did pick up a couple of small speckled trout on the purple clouser. (I’m liking this pattern and will tie some more of them.). I tried a drift along the bank of a long island, blind casting as I went along. A large black drum and a huge sheepshead spooked as I came close. Neither one was interested in my fly. (Note: For some reason I have seen some really large sheepshead in the marsh this year.) I eventually drifted back up to the place where I caught the small redfish about an hour earlier. Again, I could see more mud trails from spooked fish, and I casted downwind to see if there were more fish. I hooked into a nice redfish and we tussled for a bit and then the hook pulled out. I inspected the hook and the gap was sprung open. I pinched the hook back into shape with the pliers and began casting again. About five minutes later I hooked another nice redfish and this one dove deep into some weeds and then started to circle. The line was caught fast in the weeds and the fish eventually tore the hook free. I felt like I had been robbed – the redfish were definitely winning the battle today.
I saw and spooked a few more fish and then decided it was time to head home. Kevin spotted me paddling in and joined me. He had a tough day as well, seeing plenty of fish but not being able to get them to bite the fly very often. I told him that fish just don’t bite well on a west wind with the high barometric pressure. That and some fish fighting snafus will be my excuses for today’s mediocre results.