Hopedale 3-18-2017

Wind: 3-5 mph early, quickly rose to about 10-15 mph switching from the SSW, W, N, SW

Tide: Low was forecast at 2 :13 am and high was at 6:40 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot on the chart, but it came up more like 1.5-2’. Rising all day.

Water Level: started super low, up to the grass line about 4 pm.

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: very dirty, clarity declined in windy areas, found some cleaner water around weed beds.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: mostly sunny early, by noon a few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waning, almost half moon

Solunar period: good periods @ 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo

I stopped in a Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette to load up with some fast carbs and caffeine and buzzed my way down to Hopedale. The light sugary donuts gave me the energy to literally toss my kayak off the truck. The water level was super low and I had to ease the kayak out on the bare mud for about 20’ to launch. It was supposed to be a day with light winds that would pick up a bit as afternoon came, so I brought only fly rods. I had visions of sight casting flies to redfish in clear water, but that fantasy ended after I made it to the first pond. The weatherman tricked me again. The very low tide coupled with a quickly rising wind made it a difficult day to fly fish, but I stuck it out and caught a few. It was difficult to pole along the bank with increasing wind, and hard to spot fish in the muddy water. I spooked a bunch of redfish that were resting on bottom in the pond. Even though the water was dirty, I could still see big muddy swirls and wakes as fish took off. I tried my old trick of working upwind and then drifting downwind quietly while blind casting or casting to wakes made by fish. I was slinging a gold and chartreuse spoon fly that I had tied. The wind blew me over to a bank and just as I was ready to paddle off the bank I spied a nice redfish coming right toward me down the shoreline with its back out of the water. I picked up my rod and the line tangled, so I scrambled to get ready to cast as the fish came closer. It was a little more than a flyrod’s length from the kayak when I flipped the fly in front of its nose. It immediately ate it and took off and I stuck the fly home with a strip strike. It took about 5 minutes to land the fish and when I measured it went a little under 28”. It was pretty chunky and I guessed it went about 9 lbs. It had a mark on its lower lip from a previous battle with another angler, and I’m glad I got a chance to catch this recycled redfish. I released it for another angler to have a chance at it. I fished the pond hard but could not come up with another fish even though I knew they were there.

I went to another pond and the water was still trashy and coming up fast. I drifted over some weed beds and spooked a few reds before being able to get a shot at them. I went over to a little bayou off the pond that connected to another pond about a half mile away. I spotted a few reds “bank crawling” and got a shot at a nice one but this time I muffed my chance by being a little off target with the fly. I tried a second time and spooked the fish. I got a smaller redfish of about 17” that was hanging around in the same spot. I went down to the pond and saw a number of fish working in the pond – some of the best redfish surface activity that I’ve seen in a while. The problem was that the pond was pretty shallow and the wind made it hard to be stealthy. I would try to move up to a fish to get a cast and it would disappear. I ended up empty handed when I left the pond, but I will be back there for sure when there is a little more water for maneuvering. I went back down the little bayou, switched to a natural colored clouser pattern, and made a few casts where it opened into the second pond. I spooked another nice redfish, and threw another cast and caught a small speckled trout. I would catch and release about 10 there. Unfortunately they were all small, with only about half of them being above the 12” keeper mark. The “big one” was a tad under 14”. I also got a surprise redear sunfish (shellcracker, chinquapin) on the clouser.

I went looking for more redfish but found some marsh bass, landing 4 on the clouser. I missed a few and also missed a few redfish that somehow missed the hook. It was getting late so I headed in and got to the truck about 6 p.m. I don’t like the daylight savings time shift except for the ability to fish later in the day.

 

 

Hopedale marsh, 2-12-2017

Wind: 0 early, rose to about 10 mph from the SSW

Tide: Low was forecast at 12 :23 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot. Rising a bit in the afternoon

Water Level: started low, went even lower, started rising about 3-4 pm.

Water Temperature: 70 F

Water Clarity: dirty, about foot of visibility, clarity declined in windy areas.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: started overcast, sunny by noon with few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waning, almost full moon

Solunar period: good period @ 2-4 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: Jeff W.

Gnats (midges) and mosquitoes attacked hard at the launch because there was no wind to start. I used some spray and covered up just about everything, but some slipped in under my hat. Water was low so I did a good bit of paddling today with the rudder and fins in the up position. I trolled a chartreuse Nemire spoon as I went down a canal and quickly hooked up on a decent sized trout. I fished the area a bit but did not find any more. I went down a favorite little bayou off a canal and hooked a nice trout in the hole where they meet. The trout shook loose at the kayak. I went about 50 yards and hooked into a nice 29” redfish. I decided to try the fly rod even though the water was very turbid. I got one strike on a spoon fly but I could not get the hook set in time. I went on down the little bayou and spooked a 6’ gator off the bank. It took off and I did not see it again, and it must have spooked the fish as well.

The wind picked up so I gave up on the fly rod for a while. I went over to a large pond and found some large weedy spots in it. I got a small bass as I entered, then picked up another decent speckled trout along a weed line in about 2’ of water. I had several other hits on the spoon. Probably could have caught more specks if I had used a more appropriate lure for them. I paddled across a large weed bed and found some cleaner water on the leeward side of the pond. There was space between the shore and the weed beds and that held cleaner water and fish. I spooked a few redfish and had a nice one bail out on the spoon at the last second, leaving a big wake about 10’ from the kayak. A few casts later I hooked up on what I thought was a redfish, but it turned into a nice bass. This was a chunk of a fish and was probably getting ready to spawn. Naturally it took the spoon under a gill and I worked hard to free it while doing it as little harm as possible. I caught another decent speck and decided that would do me for this trip.

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Waterlogged at Reggio, June 11, 2016

Fishing Report

Date: 06/11/2016

Place: Reggio, LA

Wind: 0 – 5 mph mostly from S, but switched directions frequently and went up to 30+ mph

Tide: 0.5 ft., rising to high at 6 pm

Water Temperature: ?, warm to touch, like bathwater

Water Level: average to a little high

Water Clarity: 3’ -6’ visibility depending on spot

Moon: half, waxing

Solunar period: major period 7-9 a.m., minor at 2 p.m.

Weather/sky: mixed clouds and sun, 40% of rain

Temperature: 90 F for the high with high humidity

Time on the water: 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 4 miles

Other fishers: none

I got up about 5 a.m. and got some coffee and breakfast in me and hit the road to St. Bernard Parish about 6. I had struggled to pick a place to fish because of the unsettled atmospheric conditions. I wanted to fish some favorite spots but they require more paddling to get out there, but more importantly, more paddling to get back in quickly. So I picked Reggio, because I needed only go out a mile or two from the launch to have a chance of running into redfish. It turned out that all my thinking and strategy would be pretty useless since I got wet twice.

When I got to the launch there was already a big dark cloud rising in the distance. I dallied getting in the water because the cloud seemed to be growing and moving closer. After about 15 minutes I pushed off and headed for the marsh, thinking the storm would pass based on the wind that should be pushing it away based on its direction. I ran into some kayak anglers in a canal and they seemed to be womping up on some smaller fish (bass and specks?) and looked to be using bait under a cork. So I gave them their space and worked my way around them by going through a cut in the shallow marsh.

About the time I got around the anglers and back into more open water I looked behind me and saw the cloud was coming toward me and growing quickly. The wind was picking up quickly and the temperature dropped to the point that it felt like the air conditioner had kicked in. I made it around to a canal and stuck my marsh pole in on the leeward bank. It soon was raining sideways and the wind picked up to around 30 mph or maybe more. It was not a time to be out in open water. It stopped after about 30 minutes and I started fishing again.

I crossed a pond and found a nice grass line along a bank. I was spooking some fish that were in the maze of grass. It was hard working my weedless spoons and inline spinner baits through the aquatic jungle. I could not actually see any redfish due to the cloud cover, but I cast toward disturbances on the surface that looked like redfish working. I got the spinner to stay weedless long enough to hook up with a nice 22” redfish. I sent my wife a picture of the fish to let her know I was ok. She texted back “Dinner?” and I texted back “No” as I had already let the fish go. She texted back a sad face, so I knew what I had to do.

It wasn’t long until another cloud came up and I had to hunker down by the bank again. This time it rained longer and I passed the time staring down a 5 ft. alligator that looked back from about 50 yards. I telepathically communicated with it and said “My kind kill and eat your kind and we put them on menus in our restaurants”. The wise gator kept its distance.

After the rainstorm I headed back in the direction of the truck. Another dark cloud bank was coming closer and I was not going to get drenched for a third time. The wind appeared to be blowing the storm right to me, so I picked up my pace. By the time I got a half-mile from the truck I could tell that the storm was being pushed by the higher wind currents that were different in direction from the winds at ground level. So, I started fishing again and picked up a nice 18” redfish and kept it for dinner (gotta keep the wife happy).

I fished over by some white pvc pipes that indicated a boating hazard (not an oyster reef in this case) and could see it was very grassy nearby. I got a hard hit on the inline spinner and when I reeled it in the plastic bait was gone. I reloaded and cast again and a bass hit and came up shaking its head and spit the lure. I repeated the process and the bass cooperated. This time a 14” fish came in. I took a photo and then made a few more casts and got a 13” bass. I left them biting at this spot.

More clouds were brewing to the east and south. The easterly ones would probably pass but the southern ones were of concern because the upper steering winds seemed to be pushing storms to the north regardless of the surface winds. I headed for the truck for real this time. I ran into fellow BCKFC angler Casey D. at the launch and we exchanged some intel. I asked him to watch out for that storm, and he later messaged me that evening and said it did not cross him.

I cleaned my little redfish, conserving the belly meat and throat in addition to the usual half-shell fillets, and threw it on the hot grill at about 550 degrees F for about 7 minutes. My favorite redfish recipe is simple. I just smear some olive oil on the fish and work in some Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to give it salt, pepper, and other flavors in one shot. Delicious!

 

Chili pepper fly @ City Park, 6-5-16

Fishing Report

Date: 06/5/2016

Place: City Park, New Orleans, LA

Wind: 5 – 10 mph from SE

Tide: Not applicable

Water Temperature: ~78 F

Water Level: OK

Water Clarity: fair 1’-2’ visibility depending on spot

Moon: new

Solunar period: major period 2 p.m.

Weather/sky: mixed clouds and sun, good chance of rain

Temperature: 90 F for the high

Time on the water: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Water covered: bank fishing ~ 1 mile

Other fishers: none

The weather was unsettled today and I did not want to get caught in a storm in a kayak, so I opted to fish in freshwater at City Park in New Orleans. If the weather got rough then I could just dash to the truck. It rained just a bit, but so far the potential storms that were forecast for today did not appear.

I tried a new red “chili pepper” fly I had tied and had a feeling that this would be a good day to sling it to some freshwater species. I made a couple of short casts and on the third cast a big Rio Grande cichlid (perch) ate the bug. It fought well on the light #5 rod and I got it in for some quick photos and released it. I tossed the fly back out and soon had another good strike. But this time it turned out to be a bull bream, and a nice one at that for City Park (the lakes get a lot of fishing pressure form urban anglers). I took a quick photo and sent the fish back. After I had landed a few more nice bream I decided to give them a break. They were sort of bedding and I didn’t want to disturb them too much. I starting moving around the “Big Lake” and started looking for Rios. I snagged my little chili pepper fly on a tree limb and had to break it off. I replaced it with a fly that A.J. Rosenbohm gave me. I saw several pairs of bedding Rios but could not get them to eat the fly. The bass seemed to like A.J.’s fly and I ended up with four small ones between 6 and 12 inches. Then I spied a pair of Rios on the bed and flipped the fly to them. One immediately inhaled it. It wasn’t a mature “bull” (no hump on its head), but it put up a scrappy fight.

I ended the day with 6 really nice bream and 2 small ones, 4 bass, and 2 Rios.

Rocking in the wind at Reggio, 5-15-2016

Fishing Report

Date: 05/15/2016

Place: Reggio, Louisiana

Wind: 10-20 mph from NE, gusty

Tide: Rising about half a foot, high at 3:30 p.m.

Moon: Waxing, 2/3 of full

Solunar period: minor period 9- 10 a.m.

Weather/sky: very sunny

Temperature: 83 F for the high

Water Temperature: ~75 F

Water Level: normal and rising a bit

Water Clarity: good, 3’-6’ visibility depending on spot

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

Water covered: about 5 miles, continually pedaling

Other fishers: solo

Got on the water and had not pedaled far until I ran into a small gator, then a couple more 4’ers, and finally a 6-7’er. I was going minimalist today. I brought a #8 fly rod and a medium weight Shimano spinning outfit. I had the trusty Waldner spoon fly on the fly rod and an Seein’ spots in-line spinner bait on the other rig. I did not realize how minimal I was until I discovered I left the lure bucket with the spoons and other lures for the spinning rig back at the house. I did have my fly boxes, though.

It was too windy to be very effective throwing the fly rod, but I started with that since I only had the one lure for the spinning rod. I fished down a canal and then took a cut and let the wind push me for a bit across a very shallow and weedy flat area where I could not use the fins. I moved into deeper (4’) water that was a little stained and dirty but I could still see the bottom. I was flipping the spoon fly downwind around some crab traps when the line went tight and I set the hook on a 25” redfish. It fought well and was going in and out of the weeds as the wind pushed me along. Finally got it to the kayak and released it.

I fished more in the same area but had no more strikes so I moved on. The water was pretty clean but the wind made it tough for sighting fish at any reasonable distance, and it made for tough casting too. The weed beds are really coming along, and good accurate casts are important for keeping the hook free of vegetation. I would pull a lot of salad off the hooks by the end of the day.

I found a flat shallow area with very clear water (due to vegetation) and saw some wakes but could not tell the types of fish that were making them. The wind was pushing a sort of current across the flat that was 1-1.5’ deep. I flutter kicked the fins of the Mirage drive on my Hobie Outback to slowly work up and around the fish and then drifted back toward them. I broke out the spinning rod and made some long downwind casts and it was not long until I saw a wake that was closing on my spinner bait. It hit and missed and then hit again and it turned out to be a 24” redfish. Again the fish fought really well and did the old bury in the weeds and take off again routine a few times. I got it in and decide to keep it for the grill. I “field dressed” it there in the kayak, stuffed a blue ice pack into its body cavity, and put it in the small cooler in my front hatch.

I worked around some crab traps in deeper (5’-6’) water without success so I moved over to some small broken islands with wind pushing the water between them. I saw a large redfish working a bank but spooked it with a cast that landed too close (@#*$ wind!). I drifted and paddled into some really shallow water and picked up a couple of small marsh bass. I was looking for a route out of the marsh that would lead me back into the more open water and got stuck a few times. The water sort of ran out and was less than 4” deep around me. So I plowed, paddled, and backtracked and got to about 6” of water that was deep enough to traverse and worked through the muck and salad and back into open water. You must not be averse to shallow water and thick weeds if you fish Reggio and Delacroix in summer.

I started working upwind and heading back toward the truck. I was pedaling and paddling parallel to a mat of weeds in about 4’-5’ of water when I spotted a gang of slot redfish. I threw the fly at them but they slipped away. It is hard to approach fish heading upwind without them knowing you are there. A minute later I spotted a really nice bull redfish, but it too moved away as I tried to cast the spoon fly to it. I was getting frustrated so I switched to the spinner bait and got a nice strike on the next cast. The fish pulled the plastic lure half way off the in-line spinner, so I gently re-rigged it and the same thing happened again. It seemed there were multiple fish holding off a small point that stuck out into the weed bed. Perhaps the wind was pushing a little current with the help of the weeds and the little point. At any rate, something was causing fish to congregate at this spot. I hooked into what I thought was a nice speck, but it came off. Then I had a few more missed bites – maybe they were bass? Finally I stuck a hook into a 17” redfish. Not too remarkable a catch, except it was one of those all copper ones with no white on its belly. The plastic Saltwater Assassin on the spinner was getting pretty ripped up about that time. I worked it back into a semi-fishable position and made a few more casts and then headed for the truck. I wanted to get the fish home grill it so that my wife and I could have it for supper. Redfish on the half shell is our favorite. I passed by the gators on my way back in and they sank down and slithered away as usual. Not too bad for a windy day and one lure on the spinning rod.

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2016: First fly fishing trip

Fishing Report

Date: 01/09/16

Place: Delacroix

Wind: 15 mph from W

Tide: not notable due to wind, but low at about noon, range about 2 ft.

Moon: waning, almost new

Solunar period: strong major period at 2 p.m.

Sky: Mostly clear, sunny

Temperature: 70 F

Water Temperature: Cool, 58 F or so (warming)

Water Level: very high about 1.5 ft. above normal

Water Clarity: Good, variable 2-5 feet of visibility

Time on the water: noon to 5 p.m.

Water covered: About 5 miles, but pedaled Hobie Outback all the time to maintain position

Other Fishers: solo trip

Fishing the tail end of a cold front, but the temperature had not dropped yet.

Today was a fly rod only day, but conditions were not too good for fly fishing (windy, not much chance to sight fish). I brought two #8 wt. rods. One was rigged with the old reliable Waldner gold spoon fly. The other had a white shrimp gurgler with a yellow deceiver about 2 ft. below on a dropper. The first cast I made was with the gurgler/deceiver, and it fooled a 14 inch marsh bass. It went for the gurgler I tied, which made me extra happy. I alternated between the two fly rods but did not have much luck as I drifted downwind about a mile. I drifted through a cut between two little islands and hooked a nice redfish on the spoon fly. It was on for a couple of minutes until the hook pulled out. I went around some broken islands and cast the spoon fly into a shallow pocket that was out of the wind. I watched a red chase the spoon and gulp it down. It was a determined fish that would not be denied. But the fish was moving straight to me faster than I could strip in the line, and as it swam away from me the line finally went taught and it was hooked. It fought well for a 21 inch redfish, and I got it in and up on the ruler for a photo. I went out into a large open pond and drifted for some trout but no one was home. Did a lot of blind casting to likely spots but did not get anything else for my efforts. It was a really pleasant day to be on the water, but not the best fishing conditions. With colder weather approaching it will be time to change fishing spots and tactics. I have some sinking lines that I have yet to try, and hope to learn some deep water fly methods.

 

Delacroix, Christmas Eve

Fishing Report

Date: 12/24/15

Place: Delacroix

Wind: 10-15 mph from S, SSE

Sky: Mostly overcast, 90% chance of rain that never came

Temperature: 72-78 F

Water Temperature: About the same as air temperature (long warming period)

Water Level: about a foot above normal

Water Clarity: Very good, 3-4 feet visibility

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

Water covered: About 8 miles by map, but pedaled the Hobie Outback most of the day to maintain position

Other Fishers: Jeff Wickliffe

I started out throwing a chartreuse/white two blade spinner bait and picked up a nice redfish near a little island after about 10 minutes of fishing. The redfish destroyed the skirt on the spinner bait so I replaced it with a pink/yellow Salt Water Assassin Sea shad. I drifted downwind and fan casted for a few minutes and then pedaled back to the little island. I felt a few bumps and on the next cast a nice 14” speck hit the spinner bait. I worked through some islands and picked up one of those cookie-cutter 12” marsh bass on a spoon. Next cast another 24” redfish. I did not want to hammer this spot any more so I drifted downwind into some more marshy islands and missed a few redfish and then got a 22” redfish to stay on all the way to the kayak. My buddy Jeff sent a text that the trout were biting at his location, so I started working my way to him. Of course, I was casting as I went along. I got another 12” bass and then I went upwind through a wide cut with wind blowing straight through it and picked up 3 more stud redfish from 24-27”. After the tussle with the last big redfish the spinner bait was looking like it was shot. The wire and hook were bent and the sea shad body was gone. I headed toward Jeff, who was drift fishing for trout in open water in a large pond. He had 3 nice 18” fish on a Gulp! with a 1/8 oz jig head. We teamed up and looked for the big school, but never found them piled up in a particular place. Instead, they were scattered all over the pond and we just kept moving around in order to bump into them. The wind seemed to slack up a bit around noon. I had tied a nice looking white shrimp gurgler fly that I wanted to try on trout, so I tried it for a while. I got a smaller 14” trout and then one about 18” before the wind got up and encouraged me to put the fly rod away. Bob Russell (Dogdad) had given me a new lure called a suspending shrimp by Unfair Lures (www.unfairlures.com), and I thought it looked really realistic and deserved a try. The shrimp sinks and suspends, but comes to the surface when retrieved. It took some time for me to get the hang of fishing it. I first felt some hits and saw some trout swirling at it when it was on top. Finally I caught one and broke the ice. As I got better at fishing the shrimp lure the trout started staying on and I landed 3 more on it. It is definitely a good realistic lure to throw for trout and it can be worked at different levels in the water column. I pedaled upwind into some small broken islands and saw my first and only redfish of the day, but I couldn’t get a bite from it. I drifted and casted downwind and picked up a few more trout in the big pond, including a nice one of about 20” on a chartreuse green Aqua Dream spoon (another lucky gift from Bob Russell).

We started back toward the launch about 2:30, and picked up a few more trout in some little cuts between ponds. I saw a canal oriented E/W that was protected from the S wind and headed down that way. I got another marsh bass and a small orange redfish at the end of the canal. I missed several light bites that were probably reds or bass. I exited the canal and got back into the islands and found some redfish that were spread out and feeding across a shallow flat. They were all nice 22”-24”ers. I landed 4, and missed a few more including a nice one that I fought for several minutes until the hook pulled. On the way back to the launch I trolled the chartreuse spoon and picked up an 18” redfish that hit several times before finally getting the hook. As I got close to the launch I got another bite on the trolled spoon – this time a 13” marsh bass.

The fish were scattered in the unseasonably warm water and the best strategy seemed to be “keep moving”. The warm water had them feeding throughout the day, and the trend will probably continue until the next cold snap.