Place: Hopedale, LA
Wind: 0-10 – not much early, then it picked up, was shifting NE to N to E to S
Tide: >1 ft. above normal, fell a little in the pm
Water Level: high
Water Temperature: neutral to touch
Water Clarity: generally poor, 1-1.5’, a little cleaner up bayous and in ponds
Moon: Waxing, half moon
Solunar period: major periods 7 a.m. and p.m.
Weather/sky: sunny early, then scattered clouds and high overcast
Temperature: 80 F up to about 9o F, but a little breeze kept it from being miserable
Time on the water: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 6 miles
Other fishers: Jeff W. and met Ryan C. coming in as I was going out.
I lost the crab fly that I used on my last trip. A redfish won it fair and square. So I got the fighting blue crab “recipe” from Chris M. off of an “In the Riffle” video on Youtube and tied up a couple. I had trouble getting the claws the same length. They started out the same when I tied them in, but I caught one with the thread when tying in the body and each time I was almost finished before I realized what I had done. So these crabs looked like one of their claws had been lost and was regenerating. I used bead chain on them instead of lead dumbbell eyes because I wanted them to sink slowly. Most of the places I fish are weedy, and I need to keep the fly up so it won’t snag. One was tied on a #2 and the other slightly larger fly was on a #1 sized hook.
I only brought fly tackle because I was hoping to sight cast, but about the time I got out to the ponds the cloud cover picked up and it was hard to see underwater at much distance. I mostly spent the day by blind casting to good-looking spots. With the water high, the redfish were mostly up in the grass so I tried to cast parallel to the bank in hopes one peeking out would see my crab fly. I also saw three groups of duck hunters leaving one of the ponds I like to fish. I talked to one of the boats and they did not even see a teal today. So just because I did not hear shooting is no reason to assume there aren’t hunters around. There just aren’t any teal around right now. Glad I did not disturb them since they were probably pretty frustrated from staring into an empty sky all morning.
I could see a little bayou that I liked to fish about 20 feet on the other side of the canal I was traveling in, so I stopped and pulled the kayak over and dropped in. The bayou was only about 6 feet wide at that point, but after a little pedaling it opened to about 20 feet wide. I saw a few wakes from UFO fish and about that time I looked up to see 3 guys in a poling skiff working their way toward me. When they saw that I was fishing from the other direction they cranked up the outboard and took off, spooking any fish that I might have had a chance to see and catch.
So I went to another series of little ponds that were connected by a snaking bayou about 25 feet across. This one was surprisingly deep, about 7 feet and it had a good current flowing outward. The water was pretty clean too. I tried standing and poling and mostly saw mullet, a few gar, a few sheepshead, and then watched a redfish slink up into the flooded marsh grass. There was no way to get a fly to it in there. The bayou opened into a pond and I missed a bite there. Things were looking up. I fished across the pond but did not see anything but some large swirls that could have been redfish, gar, or others. The bayou reformed at the other side of the pond and I kept moving by sitting down and pedaling. I was using a technique that is similar to “flipping” that bass fishers use. I just moved up the middle of the canal with about 25 feet of line out, flipping it to one side, giving a few strips, picking up and flipping to the other side. I tried to hit any little indented pocket where a red might be sitting and waiting for a little crab to come by. It wasn’t long until I hooked into a nice 25” red using this blind casting method. It put up a good fight, and I got it in and removed the crab fly from deep in its crushers with some difficulty. It really liked my new crab!
I moved up the bayou and came to another pond. I could see some good wakes from fish that looked to be feeding at the far end. So I pedaled over and staked out nearby. I had one hit but no hook up and guessed it was from a gar. I watched what appeared to be a large redfish work its way out of the grass and into the pond. I pulled up the pole and went toward it as gently as I could. I cast to the spot where I thought it might be but had no luck. I stood up to look around the pond and about that time two slot reds cruised by the kayak about 10 feet away. They did not spook and as they moved off I casted the fly well beyond them and worked it back to them. One hit it instantly and took off on a hard run. I fought it for about a minute and the hook pulled out. I drifted to the downwind side of the pond and hooked another fish. The same thing happened – the hook pulled out after about a minute. I checked the hook and it was fine and appeared sharp. I gave it a few strokes with a file for good luck and sent the crab out to hunt again. Going back down the bayou with the wind at my back was better. I could use the rudder and just pedal a bit to keep the kayak in position. Once again I hooked a fish, battled a bit, and lost it to a pulled hook. I checked the hook again and sharpened it a little more.
I got a good bite at about the same spot where I missed my first fish going up the bayou. This one was a 22” redfish, and again I had to work to get the deeply hooked fly out of the back of its mouth.
I caught a ladyfish as the bayou opened up into the canal. I was seeing some swirls and then spotted the back of a nice redfish in the mouth of the bayou. I whipped out a cast of about 30 feet and worked it past the fish. About the time I started to get disappointed that I missed the fish it struck. It made a nice long run out into open water and pulled me along for a while. We battled around for a few minutes and then I put my stake pole down to stop from being towed. I got the fish close and almost had a disaster as it went around the Park n’ Pole. I kept the line from wrapping around the stake pole and landed the fish a few minutes later. It was a fat 26” fish, and good enough for me to be happy and start heading in toward the launch.
I flipped my crab fly along the canal as I pedaled in and picked up a bonus rat redfish of about 12”. I don’t usually fish as I’m traveling the canals, but I might need to do it more often. I ended the day with 3 nice slot fish and a rat red, and missed three or four more. Not too shabby considering it was my first trip with my new lucky fishing hat. My friend Jeff caught a rat red and missed 3 fish. He was fishing with conventional tackle. Ryan had pulled in a few specks during his morning trip so maybe more are moving back into the marsh.