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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Pointe a la Hache 4-13-2018

Wind: around 20 mph, S – SE

Tide: little range

Water Level: a bit below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~ 68 F

Water Clarity: good, 3-6 ft visibility, a few dirty spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast

Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F

Moon: Waning, sliver

Solunar period: major periods at noon

Time on the water: on at 8, off at 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: lots

Other fishers: Rich Waldner

Game Plan: Launch at Beshel’s Marina, fish leeward shorelines of marsh on east side of the MS River

Gear: one #8 fly rod, #30 tippet for the weeds

Lures: Waldner’s bullet-proofed clouser

Total: 6 redfish from about 5 to 10 lbs and one bass of about 1.5 lbs.

I had always wanted to meet Rich Waldner, so on this Friday the 13th I had the good fortune to do it. Rich is an ex-marine and long time fly fisher who chose to make Plaquemines Parish his home after he retired. Rich is the inventor of my favorite “fly” for going after redfish in the marsh – the flashy little Waldner’s spoon fly. Rich has also created a nice crab fly, and today he turned me on to his “bullet-proof” clouser. He uses purple and white synfiber with some gold flash for the body, and epoxy on the hook, body and head. He includes a stiff mono spike to protect the hook from weeds. I was surprised how weedless this fly was in the aquatic salad that we fished today. I only had to stop 3-4 times to clean it during a day of fishing. Rich fishes from a 17’ Dolphin flats boat with a 60 hp Yamaha. It has fore and aft platforms for casting and poling. Rich did a great job of keeping me well positioned to cast despite the horrid winds. He is a super experienced captain who put me on some nice reds today.

The WIND was the big factor for today. It was blowing hard when we started and sometimes gusted to 25 maybe or more. And, of course, it always seemed to blow harder at the wrong time. Nevertheless, we managed to prowl along the broken marsh and had lots of shots at fish. The wind made it tricky to put a cast in the sweet spot and it was frustrating. My best success came when sighting fish in front of me. I spotted my best redfish about 30 feet in front of me. The fish was facing away from us and I got off a 40-foot cast beyond it and stripped it back for an easy eat. After a nice tussle I got the fish to Rich’s net and it went about 10 lbs on the Boga grip.

Cloud cover came up in the afternoon and things slowed down. The redfish were not helping by revealing their location – we did not see a tail or back all day. But Rich had some tricks up his sleeve for these conditions and we moved to a big pond, overgrown with vegetation, but with a deep bayou through it that held crystal-clear water. It held a group of nice redfish, but the evil wind pushed us so fast it was hard to get a fly in front of one. Rich checked his gps and we were moving at 4 mph. Rich moved us over to a pond that made it possible to sight fish in spite of the overcast sky and wind. We had some more shots at fish but they appeared too quickly and were on us before I could pull the trigger. Finally I got a fish moving away in front of me and put the clouser in front for a nice eat. I had to pressure the fish to keep it out of the weeds and got it to the net. It was about 4:40, we called it done, and high tailed it for the ferry. We just made the 5:30 ferry run back across the MS River in the nick of time.

It was a great and challenging day on the water with Rich. He has a world of experience in the marshes and a real passion for taking redfish on the fly. I really enjoyed hanging out and talking with him – great guy to fish with. His web site is http://www.fishwithrich.com

 

 

 

Delacroix 2-18-2018

Wind: 0-5 mph in the morning, 10+ after noon from E

Tide: Falling, low at about noon at Shell Beach station, range 0.7 ft

Water Level: pretty low, lots of shoreline showing, frequently bumping bottom in the kayak much of the day

Water Temperature: ~ 70 F

Water Clarity: clear to very clear in most spots, some muddy spots later in the day due to wind

Water salinity: very fresh

Weather/sky: partly cloudy, good sunny periods

Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F

Moon: new waxing crescent

Solunar period: minor period @ 8:30 to 9:30, major period about 4:30 p.m.

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 8 a.m., packed up and driving home about 5 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find fish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: Waldner spoon fly in chartreuse, silver and white deceiver

Strategy/ patterns: The water was very low in most spots and I had to paddle instead of pedal the kayak for most of the day. I had planned to go out to a particular area but spotted a feeding redfish along the way. This caused me to move to a small pond where I could see several fish working. I detoured for several hours to chase reds here. It was very shallow and there were lots of aquatic weeds and algae in water that was only about a foot deep or less, but the shallowness helped in spotting fish. I had to work the spoon fly pretty quickly to keep it weed free. The first fish was pretty easy. I got the spoon fly to it and it ate. It was about 20” and it made it into the fish bag. I moved around and got upwind of another working fish about 15 minutes later, drifted silently in range, cast and the fish inhaled the fly before I could strip it. It was about 24” and I released it. I chased after a few reds and had a lull in the action. Then things seemed to pick up again. I landed a 22” red that I put in the bag. A few minutes later I hooked into a nicer sized redfish that went close to 27” and I released it as well. I decided to give this group of fish a break and went looking for some trout.

I went across the pond and hit some really shallow water that grounded the kayak. I decided to push through rather than turn back and after a few minutes of plowing I got to deeper water. I made it up to a cut with a scour that was about 6 feet deep where I often catch specks, but no one was home. I threw the spoon fly and the deceiver in the trout hole without any luck. So, I moved on to some other redfish spots to look for more fish.

When I arrived there was a nice big tail with a black dot that was flapping and I got upwind and drifted down to the fish. By this time the wind was strong and I couldn’t see the fish when it went under water. The fish went down and I cast in its general direction without success. I kept bringing in gobs of algae on the fly. Then I drifted too close and the redfish bolted away and grunted (drummed), leaving with a big wake. A few minutes later I passed over several fish that grunted as I spooked them. I went up into a small pond and suddenly saw a 30” red that was about 20 feet away and closing. I guess I got the fishing equivalent of “buck fever” and as I tried to flip a simple cast to it the spoon fly hit and wrapped around my rod. The fish spooked and I said a few special words that were appropriate for the situation. I found several other nice sized redfish but somehow always managed to snag my fly on underwater weeds or spooked them as I made a cast. It was getting frustrating. The fish were much harder to see now than when the wind was still earlier in the morning. By the time I spotted the redfish they were too close and saw me as well.

Finally I hooked up with a little bass by blind casting to a likely spot. Later I caught a small redfish hiding right behind a wind-blown point. I headed back in and had to paddle most of the way. The water never really came up in spite of the east wind. I cleaned my two redfish and grilled them for supper the next evening.

Other notes: Lots of big flocks of ducks today….. heading north. I saw two decent sized gators of 6 and 8 feet (they’re back), and an otter. It was good to get back out and catch a few fish.

 

Delacroix 12-16-2017

Wind: steady at 10 mph from N

Tide: Falling, low at about 11 am, range 1.2 ft., N and W winds have been draining the marsh

Water Level: pretty low, a foot below normal, lots of crab traps out of the water

Water Temperature: ~ 49 F

Water Clarity: amazing – clear as a swimming pool

Water salinity: ~ did not check

Weather/sky: supposed to be partly cloudy, but was overcast all day and the flats did not warm up as I thought they would

Temperature: ~ 45 F, going up to about 55 F

Moon: 1/8 waning

Solunar period: major period @ noon

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 10:30 a.m., packed up and driving home in the da

rk about 6 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find fish after the cold front came through Thurs./Fri.

Gear: Two spinners and two bait casters

Lures: Vudu shrimp under a sliding cork, Aqua Dream spoon, in line Seein Spots spinner with a Saltwater Assassin Die Dapper in Chicken on a chain pattern, small Unfair Lures gold/silver topwater.

Strategy/ patterns: Look for fish in or near deeper spots since the weather has been cold lately. I started later in the morning to let the duck hunters do their thing and to give the water some time to warm a bit. The water temperature did not go up because the sun never came out and the air temperature was not very warm either. Nevertheless, some reds were prowling the shorelines later in the afternoon. The two lures that were successful were the in line spinnerbait and the Vudu shrimp. The spinnerbait is rigged weedless and could be fished slow enough that the fish could see and attack it in the weedy, low water (usually a foot or less). The Vudu shrimp produced at the scour holes where the water was deeper (up to 6 feet).

Saturday’s weather looked like a window of opportunity between cold fronts so I took a shot at it. It was supposed to warm up more and be sunnier in the afternoon but that did not happen. Instead, it was a cold and gloomy day with a steady 10 mph wind, so I had to make lemonade from my lemons. There would be no standing to fish today with the wind and overcast sky, although the water clarity was still incredible for SE Louisiana.

I had to paddle out into the stiff wind and the water was only deep enough for the pedals in about half of the 6 miles or so that I covered today. Much of the shallow, cold water seemed devoid of fish and bait. I approached a deeper cut in the bank that had a scour and it held some fish. I got a 24” red on the spinner and then switched to the Vudu shrimp/cork rig. That produced a bass, followed by a nice 17” trout, then a 15” red, another bass, and another 15” red. There did not seem to be many trout here or else they were too cold, so I moved out to the marsh to look for reds. I had to cross a big pond so I trolled the shrimp and the spoon, but did not intersect any specks along the way. When I got to the other side I was greeted by a couple of redfish tails. Of course the wind was pushing me hard and I got a couple of casts off at one of the reds before I was pushed past and out of range. So I quietly paddled back into range and finally got the fish to see the spinner. It was cool to see the torpedo wake rise behind the lure and I remembered to let the fish have plenty of time to take it rather than anticipating the strike and yanking it away. When I felt the weight of the fish I set the hook and it was on. A few minutes later a nice 7.5 -8 lb red was in the net. I netted this fish instead of doing a water release because I wanted to get it in quickly and was trying not to scare off the other fish a few yards down the bank. After releasing the fish I went after its buddy. The fish was still showing its back and I moved closer and cast to it. The water was shallow and my weedless lure kept coming back in with a gob of vegetation on it. The wind blew me away so I had to paddle back toward where the fish had been. The fish had moved closer than I realized as it had followed the lure toward me and I scared it away.

So it went for the rest of the afternoon. I would see a back or tail of a fish, I’d try to move in, get off a few casts, and eventually I hooked up with another nice upper slot fish. It was difficult fishing conditions between the overcast sky, stiff wind, the shallow, cold water, and the weeds.

I ended the day with 2 bass, a trout, and 5 redfish. All the fish were released in good shape to fight again another day.

Delacroix 12-2-2017

 

Wind: 4-10 mph from N to start, after noon it came out of the ENE at 4-0 mph

Tide: Falling, low at 11 a.m., range 1.5 ft., but the N winds have been draining the marsh

Water Level: low, a little below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~60 F

Water Clarity: amazing – like a swimming pool

Water salinity: ~ 1 ppt

Weather/sky: fogged in until after 1 pm. Then it cleared and was sunny.

Temperature: ~ 60 F, going up to about 75 F

Moon: waxing near full

Solunar period: major period @ noon, minor @ 5 p.m.

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 9:30 a.m., out at 5:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, look for redfish

Gear: Two #8 fly rods

Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly (chartreuse), small beige elk hair crab

Strategy/ patterns: Throw flies to reds in shallow water 1-2 ft. deep. Water was super clear and the redfish were not too spooky, but they were aware of me and would move away when I got too close for comfort. I had to get within about 40 feet or so to make a cast. Get any closer than that and the redfish would move away. Remember that a fly line has to go backward almost as far as it goes forward, which is tricky in tight marsh. I can cast further than this while in the kayak, especially when standing, but it requires more false casting that scares the fish. I try to limit myself to two false casts.

The fog was the main difficulty early. It was so thick I could not see more than a few cast lengths in front of me. I used my Motion-X GPS app on my cell phone to navigate (this app has saved the day on several occasions). Since duck hunters were set up somewhere out there, I navigated to open water spots and stayed near the camps along the road so as to not disturb them. Later, when it finally cleared off, it became hard to sneak close enough to the fish without being seen. The sun was already moving into the west and both me and my shadow had to move to make a cast.

I pedaled and paddled (it was too shallow for the Hobie fins in many spots) through some canals and fished a few trout spots that are deep scours where the canals join to ponds. The first fish I got was a small bass. Then I had a hit from a nice fish that I thought was a trout, so I swung around and tried again. Sure enough another struck the spoon fly and it turned out to be about 18”. I tried a bit more, and then switched to the crab fly. I got a 17” speck on that and then it shut down so I moved along.

I tried to stand and sight fish as I got to the redfish territory. But the fog and low sunlight made it hard to see fish. I did spot one, but I was on top of it and it swam away before I could do anything. I headed upwind so that I could use the wind to move me through the area I wanted to fish. I was doing some blind casting and got a nice 26” redfish. I kept moving through the little ponds and bayous and about noon I went into a pond and found wakes and tails of feeding redfish all over the place. I put the spoon fly in front of one and wrestled in a nice 28” redfish of about 10 pounds. I moved slowly got a duplicate fish a few minutes later. The other redfish in the pond did not go far while I was landing my fish.

After recouping from the battle I proceeded to the next fish up. The best one of the day was about 30” long. It looked to have been caught before. It was roughed up, had some line cuts, and looked as though it might have bounced around on the deck of a boat for a while before being released. I chased the fish for a while and hooked into a “smaller” one of about 28” while seeing a much bigger tail rising up about 50 yards away. I tried to get the hooked fish in quickly so I could get on to the bigger one. I worked the fish close and it made a hard run around the rear of the kayak, cut the line on the rudder, and took away a nice piece of jewelry. I had to tie on a new spoon fly and did not see the big one again, but caught another 28” fish.

It was getting toward the end of the day and I started to head in. Of course, feeding fish kept popping up in front of me and I had to make a cast or two at them. I was about half a mile from the launch when 2-3 fish appeared in front of me. I cast to them and the line hitting above them made them dart to the sides. I went after the bigger one, and it kept hanging just out of range. My casts kept falling a little short and then finally it got a look at the fly and ate it. I got it in and it was about 28”. Today was “over the slot” redfish day.

I tried a shortcut between a couple of islands on the way in. About halfway through I started to bottom out and gnats started attacking since I was close to the shorelines. I had to dig hard to plow through the mud and weeds and covered up the kayak with marsh muck. But I got through, made it back, and lived to tell the tale.

Ended up with a bass, two trout, and 6 fat redfish (24”, 26”, 3 x 28” and 30”, not counting the break off on the rudder). All the fish were released in good shape to fight again.

 

 

Fort Pike, 10-26-17

 

Wind: strong post front N wind 15-20 mph

Tide: water pushing out of the Lake P. due to strong wind, high tide at 7:30 a.m., low 6:30 p.m.

Water Level: a bit below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~68 F

Water Clarity: fair, more churned up by wind as the day went on

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: stormy start, then scattered clouds, then sunny about noon

Temperature: ~ 58-60, 20 degrees cooler than yesterday due to strong cold front

Moon: 1/2 waxing

Solunar period: major period @ 8 a.m., minor @ 2 p.m.

Time on the water: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 4 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: Find clean water in protected marsh, look for specks

Gear: 3 spinning outfits and bait caster.

Lures: Tried in line spinner bait (couple of hits), chartreuse Gulp under cork (couple of hits), natural colored Vudu shrimp under cork caught all fish

Strategy/ patterns: stay out of wind, find speckled trout

I tested out a rod to see how it was working and caught a bass before I even launched the kayak. Nice start. Saw some gulls and terns diving along a tideline about 100 yards out from the launch. I worked my way over and fished around them for 15 minutes without success so I moved on. I went down a long bank to the SW and tried to cast to little pockets in the grass line. The wind made casting accurately a challenge. I managed to get one 13” redfish and after about a mile I turned into some marsh. I’d caught trout here a few weeks ago but the conditions were different (water was cleaner, higher, warmer, wind direction was more easterly). It seemed shallow for trout today. I picked up another bass and a couple of redfish and eventually found fish at hotspot 1. There seemed to be a hole on a point with some current sort of doing a whirlpool motion. I started getting strikes about every other cast. I caught 8-10 rat reds, 1 keeper red about 18” long and 4 bass. I went to the canal that runs along the camps and found a nice drain that was loaded with bass (hotspot 2). Got a half dozen or so, and one was pretty nice for a marsh bass…..about 16”. I caught 4 more rats along the bank of the canal as I went in, along with a couple of bass. The natural colored Vudu shrimp did the heavy lifting today.

No trout today — surprising.

Chilly out there today!

Other notes: no ducks, but lots of terns, pelicans, herons, cranes, hawks, osprey, and an eagle