Place: Hopedale, LA
Wind: 10 – 15 mph started from NE to E
Tide: >1 ft. above normal, rising higher through day
Water Level: very high
Water Temperature: warm, but not hot
Water Clarity: generally poor, 1-1.5’, a little cleaner toward leeward banks
Moon: waning, 2 days from new
Solunar period: major period 2 p.m.
Weather/sky: sunny scattered clouds
Temperature: 80 F up to about 95 F, but wind kept it from being miserable
Time on the water: 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 8.5 miles
Other fishers: Jeff W.
I headed to St. Bernard Parish about 5:30. I only brought fly tackle because I was hoping to sight cast, but the wind said no. It was too gusty to be steady and also difficult to control the kayak. I mostly spent the day by blind casting to good looking spots. I only saw a few fish while seated, and of those only one was working at the surface. I went straight to a series of ponds as the sun was rising and saw lots of surface activity from mullets. Then I saw some fins, but they were dark and spotted and belonged to a gar.
I spooked a couple of redfish at close distance. The reds were just sitting still when I came up on them. Seeing redfish always builds my confidence, and I got my head into catching one. I flipped a little crab fly toward a bank and hooked into a nice one. We wrestled for a bit and then it decided to bury itself in a pile of aquatic salad. I felt it yanking hard and then could not feel it any more. I brought the half bale of weeds in and dipped it up with my net, but there was no redfish in there. So I turned upwind (it was now about 7:30) and the wind was picking up. I let the wind drift me down the shoreline, just using the rudder to move silently along. There were some swirls from larger fish that were sitting in the opening where a bayou came into a pond. I put the Park ‘n Pole down and did some fan casting. A nice dinner sized redfish soon responded to the crab fly and came in after a little fight. It swam around a bit and I think it spooked its friends away. So I fished the pond a little more without success and then moved on.
I pedaled toward another pond, and turning down a canal I realized the water seemed a little cleaner. So I pulled out about 20 feet of fly line and started flipping the fly into little pockets as I traveled to the pond. I flipped the fly into a little cut and saw a nice red come up and smack it instantly. I tried to set the hook and the fish was swimming along side of me a little faster than I could get the line in. So I changed direction on the kayak to tighten the line and set the hook. The fish swam alongside of the kayak and I could not fight it, so again I changed direction to tighten the line. I swung around and pointed the kayak into the current and the fish, moving the opposite direction, realized it was hooked and started to fight. After a pretty good battle the fish came in and I measured, unhooked, and released it. It was about 26” and was pretty fat, so I guesstimate it weighed about 7 lbs.
I went into the pond and pedaled around the shoreline. There were lots of nice fishy spots and little islands and cuts within. Since the water level was high it was easy to get around, but I suspect it would be shallow in there during a normal to low tide. I found some action on the leeward shoreline where the water looked a little cleaner. I cast to swirl and got a take but the fish was coming right at me. It bit the lure and then hit again and I struck too soon and pulled the lure away. I couldn’t get another bite, so I moved to the neck of the pond where the canal joined. There was good current pulling into the pond and I picked up a small redfish on the crab fly. I cast a bit more and then moved to the next pond to meet my friend Jeff there.
The pond itself was dirty, so we made our way into a little bayou that was draining the pond. The wind was really gusty and it pushed me along almost too fast to fish. I hooked into a nice redfish and it used the wind to its advantage. It took off upwind while I was blowing the other direction and the line went really taught and snapped. I reeled in to see the 20# line broke a foot below where it joined the fly line. It must have picked up a nick earlier in the day. So there went a nice fish wearing a crab fly. Chris Marrs tied that beautiful little blue crab fly, and it was part of the package from the last fly swap on the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club forum. It looked really fishy, it caught fish, and I wish I had kept it longer.
I reloaded with fresh leader and tippet and kept after them, moving further down the little bayou. I love fishing tight, twisty bayous like this one, where you are a nice cast from either side. This little bayou was simply a pipeline for the fish. I caught and released a fun 27” redfish of about 8 pounds on a crab fly tied by A.J., a buddy from the New Orleans Fly Fishers Club. I had already caught several redfish on A.J.’s crab fly, so I knew it was a producer. The fly was a little battered after the 27” fish and had lost a claw, but I kept throwing it as I worked my way back out and caught a redfish of about 20”.
It was getting later in the afternoon so I started back to the truck and landed about 3:30. I cleaned the two smaller redfish that I kept for grilling on the half shell. My buddy Jeff put his kayak on land a few minutes later. He had caught 8 on conventional tackle (gold spoon, Gulp! jig) kept 2, and missed a few as well. Not a bad day at all after considering the wind, and high dirty water.