Hopedale, LA 10-7-18

Wind: still from 6:30-8:00, then 10-15 mph E/NE later with gusts
Tide: no real tide change
Water Level: Very high, about 1.5 feet up in the shoreline grass
Water Temperature: ~ 84 F
Water Clarity: visibility about 1 foot
Water salinity: fresh
Weather/sky: mixed sun and overcast, with passing thunderstorms that missed me
Temperature: ~ 75-85 F
Moon: waning sliver
Solunar period: major period @ 1 pm
Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6:45 a.m., driving in at 5 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 7 miles
Other fishers: solo trip
Game Plan: Sight fishing would be difficult with these conditions. I was looking to find specks based on the fact that I caught a few by accident on the fly rod last week. I expected more to be showing up in the marsh based on the push of high water. If no specks, then reds would be the target.
Gear: went to conventional tackle today because of the wind and dirty high water forecast, with spinning and bait casting outfits rigged with jigs, spoon, and in line spinnerbait with a lemon Matrix Shad for dirty water.

I started out trolling since I had a considerable pedal/paddle out to the fishing area. The water in the canal was dirty and nothing hit the natural colored Vudu shrimp and lemon Martix shad.

I tried the mouth of a little bayou off the canal when I spotted some small shrimp fleeing from something. I threw the Vudu shrimp about 18” under a cork and found a bass and a 5+5 spot redfish of about 15” were the culprits. I threw a chartreuse Aquadream spoon and got another small bass. No specks here.

I was casting along a shoreline and spotted a feeding redfish. I was throwing straight into the wind at this point and the spoon was kinda out of control like a knuckleball. I couldn’t get it in front of the fish. The red went down and disappeared from all the commotion. Redfish that show themselves in such high water are not common, and I was disappointed to miss this chance.

I fished the mouth of a bayou where I expected to get some trout. There was good water movement here. Instead of trout there were bass hanging out along the flooded shoreline on this day. I missed a few strikes and then hooked into what I thought would be a redfish, but it was a fat 15” largemouth. These “marsh bass” do not get very big here, but they are built like fireplugs.

I went up the bayou and through a series of ponds. There did not seem to be much activity and no redfish were feeding along the shoreline. I rounded a bend in the bayou and spooked a redfish that gave several deep drums as it took off. Usually a redfish is “gone for good” when it does this behavior, but I always make a few casts in the general direction. This time casting at the spooked fish paid off and I got a nice red at the upper edge of the slot size (27”). I think it might have been over the slot by a quarter of an inch, and it went 8 lbs on the Boga grip. It bit the in line spinner with the lemon Matrix shad.

I fished another 20 yards and hooked a nice (for the table) 18” redfish on the in line spinner after missing a few hard strikes. Then I went another 30 yards further and missed a hammering strike from another larger sized redfish. I was surprised the fish hit that hard and didn’t get hooked. I could see it and its buddy as they shot by about 5 yards from me just below the surface. I cast to the spooked fish for a few minutes without success.

I saw a storm getting nearer so I turned back even though there was no way I could outrun it since it was an hour of traveling time back to the truck. Fortunately it did not get much closer and I continued to fish my way back in.

I fished up another little bayou, throwing into the backs of some pockets along the bank. I missed a couple of strikes – probably from small reds or bass. Then I saw it – another redfish with its back out of the water at the edge of a pocket. I put the in line spinner bait about a yard away and the 20” red smacked it as it went by.

It was about 4:30 and another dark cloud was getting closer so I trolled back in using the same lures as before. This time the rod with the Vudu shrimp started dancing and I reeled in an 11” speck. Too little and too late. Not much of trout day but I managed to get  7  redfish and 4 bass under unfavorable conditions. Tails on the redfish were blue today. I saw a big gator of about 10’ and an otter popped up by me along the way in.

 

Hopedale 9-30-2018

Kayak report from Hopedale for 9-30-18

Wind: 5 mph from E early, 10-15 mph E/NE later, almost still after 4 pm

Tide: high was 6 a.m., low at 3:45 p.m., range 1.5’, wind held some of the tide up and it did not drop as much as forecast.

Water Level: High, in the shore grass

Water Temperature: ~ 82 F

Water Clarity: visibility about 1.5 feet

Water salinity: fresh

Weather/sky: overcast

Temperature: ~ 75-85 F

Moon: near half, waning

Solunar period: major periods @ 6 a.m., and 6 pm, minor @ 1 p.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 7:15 a.m., driving in at 6 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find reds and specks

Gear: #8 fly rod, 6’ of #20 lb leader/tippet, #8 weight fly rod with #12 lb.

Lure: chartreuse Waldner spoon fly, Rainy’s bubble head popper (burnt orange) with chartreuse/white micro clouser tied a foot below.

I pedaled out to the area where I wanted to fish and in route I got a nice 14” speck and a good-sized gafftopsail catfish by trolling.

I headed down a little bayou to a big pond and saw something large moving in the water. It was a pair of dolphin, one large and the other looked like it was half the size of its friend. The young one jumped completely out of the water. The pair was having fun with the ladyfish and small speckled trout.

After the dolphins passed I continued on down the bayou and saw a 2-3 unidentified fish showing some fins. I cast to them and immediately hooked up on the popper, fought the fish a bit, and then it came loose. Gar maybe?

At the mouth of the big pond there was trout action. I cast the popper/clouser combo and got several good strikes but no hook up. The trout were small and preferred the popper. I finally got one into the kayak – it was 12.5”. I had several hits on the popper, but failed to catch any more here. Then the bite just shut down.

I went over to a spot that drains into the pond. This spot is always good for a fish or two and today it produced an 18” redfish. I went up into the little bayou and cast into some little shrimp that were leaping for their lives. A small bass hit the popper and when I got it in there was a redear sunfish on the dropper too. A double! I got another small bass on the popper as I went back into the pond.

I fished around the shoreline of the entire pond, went up some drains, and managed to get two undersized redfish and a 20”er on the spoon fly. The overcast sky with high and dirty water made it hard to spot fish. The fish could push up into the flooded weeds along the bank and it was impossible to get a cast in to them.

On the way out of the pond I saw a little disturbance on the surface of a drain. Looked like it could be redfish, so I moved in and made a 30’ cast that went right into his living room. The second twitch of the spoon fly got the bite and I strip set as best as I could and the fish charged right at me. I picked up the slack line as it ran under the kayak and luckily the hook stayed put and the line went taught again. It went into open water and made some nice runs before coming to the net. It went about 6 lbs. on the Boga grip and was about 25” on the paddle ruler. I got another small redfish as I flipped the spoon fly into the weeds along the canal. The water along the banks of the canal had cleaned up nicely on the ride in. I saw several redfish hiding in the weeds there.

 

 

 

Lake Pontchartrain 8-25-18

Lake Pontchartrain (Seabrook public launch) report for 8-25-18

Wind: 0-5 mph from E early, 10-15 mph E/NE later

Tide: low was 6:45 a.m. high at 7 p.m., range 0.5’

Water Level: N/A

Water Temperature: ~ 86 F

Water Clarity: fantastic – green with 6+ foot visibility. Made me want to put out outriggers and troll ballyhoo.

Water salinity: fresh

Weather/sky: sunny with scattered clouds

Temperature: ~ 75-85 F

Moon: near full

Solunar period: minor period @ 6 a.m., major @ 3 p.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 5:30 a.m., driving in at noon

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find jack crevalle, backup – look for reds and sheepshead along the rocks

Gear: #10 fly rod, 6’ of #30 lb leader/tippet, #8 weight fly rod with #15 lb.

Lure: Homemade 6” deceiver in white/silver on the #10, #8 rod EP decendent crab.

I turned the Yak Attack light on and slipped over to the rock wall at the Lakefront Airport, watching for any signs of jacks working on the tremendous mullet population that’s in the lake right now. It was a little fogggy as the sun came up. I had seen reports of jacks being caught on the south shore and thought the airport might produce some. I did not see any sign of them today. I had floating lines on both rods, and I planned to be working around the shoreline rocks. The water was beautiful, and once the sun came up I could see how nice my deceiver looked as I stripped it hard. Surely no fish could resist it. Trouble was, there did not seem to be any jacks around to see it.

I went out past the runway and along the landing lights and was hitting massive schools of baitfish on the Lowrance. Sometimes they went from bottom to top of the water column. The mullet were happy today since no jacks were chasing them. It’s amazing there are so many fish out there.

I kept scanning for the jacks and started fishing the shore where I had seen them in summers past. I anchored and cast to a corner of the wall for a bit, but about 9 a.m. the wind picked up. Soon there were white caps and the 2-foot swells with an occasional 3 footer started telling me it was time to move. The period of the waves was pretty tight too, and it was getting hard to bounce over one without having the next wave wash over the bow. Fighting a jack with those conditions wouldn’t be much fun.

I tucked inside the sheltered rocks along the runway and fished back toward the truck with the crab fly. Surely there would be a hungry sheepshead around the mile or so of rocks. There was enough wind and current to keep me moving along and I could keep my position just by touching the rudder every now and then. I did not ever hook up with a sheepshead, but got several bites and landed a few small redfish.

Seabrook is a great spot to fish. It has all sorts of water depths, good rocky shoreline and pilings, and usually there is water movement (sometimes too much- be careful and always wear the pfd). The down side is that a change in the wind can make Lake Pontchartrain rough (very quickly). Sometimes the boat and large vessel traffic can be a problem for kayakers since the Seabrook Launch is at one end of the Industrial Canal. It almost physically hurts me to see the all the trash on the banks and in the water in this area. People ought to take better care of their resources. Don’t trash LA.

 

Delacroix, 8-18-18

Wind: 5mph from SW early, 10-15 mph later

Tide: rising then falling, high was 8 a.m. Shell Beach station, low 8:30 p.m., range 1.5’

Water Level: a little high and up in the shoreline grasses

Water Temperature: ~ 83 F

Water Clarity: meh, 1-2 ft. visibility in the marsh

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: overcast most of the day, thunderstorms around

Temperature: ~ 75-85 F

Moon: half moon, waxing

Solunar period: major period @ 8 a.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find redfish

Gear: one #10 fly rod, 6’ of #20 leader/tippet. I picked the 10 weight to get larger fish in quickly to prevent stress in the warm water.

Lure: Waldner’s spoon flies in purple/gold and chartreuse/gold

I was up before 5, made an iced coffee and took off for St. Bernard Parish. I grabbed a bacon and egg biscuit and 10 lbs of ice at the gas station on the right just before the Violet Canal Bridge and trucked on down to the intersection to make the game day decision. Straight on highway 300 or left on 46? I picked straight and went to Delacroix. A storm had brewed up to the west while I was driving and it drifted across Delacroix, delaying my launch for an hour. I sat in the truck and listened to Brendan Bayard and Ryan Lambert’s fishing reports on WWL until the rain cleared.

It was finally pleasant conditions for kayak fishing – not too hot, and the breeze plus the drying rain in my clothes helped cool me. The down side was the breeze and overcast sky would made sight fishing difficult. Additionally, the shrimp trawlers had stirred up the typically clean water. Water clarity in the ponds was not so good. I did not even bother trying to stand and sight fish today. Instead, I tried to prowl the banks and count on the redfish to show themselves.

About 9 o’clock I saw my first fish and it ate the spoon after I finally got a good cast to it. It was a nice tournament size redfish of just under 27” and went 8 lbs. on the Boga grip. I released it because it was larger than what I like to keep (and clean). Plus, it’s bad luck to keep the first fish. Its cousin was still prowling the bank and I went back for it. With the breeze and the 10 weight line (felt more like I was throwing a cable wire rather than fly line) it was difficult to place the fly exactly where I wanted it. I took several shots at it and then the next cast hit the fish on the head. It was gone in a flash.

I tried throwing into windblown cuts between small marshy islands –a pattern that usually produces – but the trick did not work today. Either the fish were not there or they couldn’t see the little spoon fly in the murky water. The other two fish I caught around noon were moving along the banks and showed themselves. I saw a few more fish working the banks but could not get a response from them. I could not figure out if they did not see the fly or if they were disinterested. I saw several redfish go into the grass and I could not get a fly to them. I could see little showers of minnows jump up as the redfish moved into the vegetation.

About 2 p.m. I noticed the sky was darkening and, despite the opposing wind direction, the clouds seemed to be moving toward me. I was about 3 miles from the truck and I started pedaling and paddling to get in as quickly as possible. I said a little prayer that there wouldn’t be lightning, and it turned out there wasn’t any. I can go about 6 mph for a short sprint, but about 3-4 mph is a pretty good pace for wider (less streamlined) fishing kayaks. I beat the rain in and got loaded up just in the nick of time. Next time I’ll be quicker to head in when it starts to get stormy. (Yeah, sure thing Mr. One More Cast.)

I did a post mortem on the two smaller fish I kept and found their stomachs were full of small crab shells, small shrimp about 1” long, and small minnows that were also 1-1.5” long. Maybe anglers should “think small” to match what the fish are feeding on right now.

Late July/ Early August @ Ft. Pike

I combined a couple of recent trips in this post.

Wind: 5mph from NW-NE on July 28, on Aug. 4 it was 10 mph from E, then died and came hard out of the NW with a storm

Tide: rising both days with decent range

Water: low on 7-28, a bit high and up in the grass on 8-4

Water Temperature: ~ 88 F on 7-28, 83 F on 8-4

Water Clarity: fair, 2 ft. visibility both days

Water salinity: a little salty on 7-28, saltier on 8-4 – maybe 6 ppt

Weather/sky: overcast both mornings, had to come in from a storm on 8-4

Temperature: ~ 75 F early, going up to about 85-90 F

Moon: just after full on 7-28, 2/3 and waning on 8-4

Solunar period: minor morning period on 7-28, strong period at 7-8 am on 8-4

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. respectively, driving home about noon both days.

Water covered: ~ 3 miles each trip

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: fish marsh at edge of Rigolets/Lake St. Catherine and be ready to run down schools of jacks should they surface

Gear: #8 fly rod and #10 fly rod

Lures used: Waldner’s spoon fly in gold, small yellow popper with black wooly bugger dropper, chartreuse clouser, purple wooly bugger, large clouser on the #10 rod for jack crevalle

July 28

I got on the water early on 7-28 and fished the lights of about 5 camps along the shoreline canal (no luck) and then headed out into the marsh to the west of the Ft. Pike launch when the sun came up. I was watching for jack crevalle out in the lake as I fished the ponds. I caught some nice bass here last year so I threw out a popper/dropper combo hoping to connect with one. Finally I got a small bass to take the popper by casting into a little bayou that was draining into a small pond.

I fished the little cuts and drains off the ponds and eventually connected with some small redfish. They preferred the dropper wooly bugger to the popper. An 18” red destroyed the fly so I tied on an epoxy spoon fly and got a couple more small reds to bite. I had spooked some redfish coming into the ponds so I swung around and went back a couple hundred yards to drift the bank again. I looked out into Lake St. Catherine and saw a shower of mullet in fear for their lives. I switched rods and took off after them but the fish had gone down. I looked and saw another shower of mullet being chased into the Rigolets Pass about 200 yards down and moving away. No way to catch up to that. I went back into the marsh and managed to catch another undersized redfish and then headed in as the sun began to heat things up.

August 4

I got on the water about 6 am on 8-4 as the lights of the camps were turning off. There was a stiff wind-blown chop out in the open water with occasional white caps so I went into the marsh. The water was higher and saltier and I was tossing a chartreuse clouser and thinking I might find a flounder if I worked the fly slowly in the cuts. After an hour or so with no luck I put on a purple wooly bugger with no lead. The water I was fishing was 1-3 ft, so the fly did not need to sink much any way. The first fish of the day was a needlefish. I literally yanked it into the kayak when I set the hook. Later I caught a small redfish and then got a croaker. I got a decent keeper sized redfish (released it) around an old duck blind and then noticed the wind had died. A big thunder cloud that was being pushed away by the wind now began to build higher and suddenly a cool wind blew by me in the wrong direction. The storm was brewing and heading my way so I hightailed it for the truck. I almost made it to the launch but had to tuck myself under under the roof of Vinot’s Marina as the rain poured down. The rain stopped after about 15 minutes and I got the kayak loaded up and headed for the house about noon. It was disappointed not to see any “Pontchartrain yellowfins” today, but I’ll keep hunting for them.

 

 

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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