Delacroix, LA 2-16-2019

Kayak fly fishing report from Delacroix, LA 2-16-19

Wind: 0 at first, afternoon came up to 10 mph from SW

Tide: low about 10:30, range 2 ft.

Water Level: low, a foot of mud bank showing

Water Temperature: ~ 70 F

Water Clarity: pretty good, about 2-3 feet

Water salinity: very fresh – no salt detected

Weather/sky: fog early, but had cleared by the time I was on the water

Temperature: ~ 70-75 F

Moon: ¾ waxing

Solunar period: major ~ 10:30 a.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 11 a.m., driving in at 6 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan – stalk redfish

Gear: two #8 fly rods for the marsh

Lures: chartreuse Waldner spoon fly, large popper with a purple bunny leech variant tied two feet below.

I launched and met “blackfish” as he was coming in. He had had a pretty good morning, catching several redfish.

With the low water, I had to paddle instead of pedal the Hobie Outback about half the time. I found some redfish in the back end of an old canal. Had two good hook ups on the spoon fly early, but both shook free.

I went into a small shallow pond and saw several fish rooting around. I tried to ease over to one but it seemed to stay just out of casting range. I didn’t want to spook it with too many casts, so I gave it a break and cast downwind for a minute. A redfish came out of nowhere and struck twice at the popper and then bit the dropper fly. I netted it and found its belly was covered with leeches. It had been spending a good bit of time on its belly.

I cast the popper/dropper rig back where I had spotted the first fish. After a few casts a large fish came up and struck the popper but missed. It was pretty close when it hit and spooked.

I spotted 3-4 other fish on the surface over the day but had no luck getting a bite. I spooked scads of redfish that were bedded down on the bottom in shallow water. I looked at lots of mud clouds today.

I headed back toward the truck and picked up a small bass on the dropper fly. Had to paddle a good bit of the way in to get across a shallow area. A slow day for sure, but I got to see an otter feeding and an eagle chasing an osprey that was carrying a fish. The eagle forced to osprey to give up its catch, and the fish dropped into the water. Surprisingly, the eagle did not go after the fish, but just flew away. Mean bird!

Pearl River 12-28-2018 Blast and cast

I worked my way out to the duck ponds off the river in the dark. The water was high from the previous day’s rains and it was easy to paddle over the flooded weeds. I set up with 6 gadwall on the left and 4 green-wing teal on the right with a little pocket between them. I backed the kayak up into a clump of bullrushes and hid there. I think the mistake I made was positioning myself directly in line with the pocket, such that the ducks coming straight in would be looking right at me. It was very still that morning and the duck decoys did not have much movement. Rain sprinkled down sporadically, and it was warm for late December – about 60 degrees F. The biting gnats were pretty annoying. I brought OFF to keep the mosquitoes away but left my Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance (repels gnats) in the truck.

49203201_2479460348736283_6763436707846029312_n

View from my kayak with decoys in the pond.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda had a limit. First a pair of wood ducks swooped in on me at the instant I had to scratch some gnats that were biting my forehead. I “waived” them goodbye.  Then a squad of green wing teal buzzed through the decoys and I started to shoot but held off thinking they might swing around but they didn’t. The last was the worst. I had three gadwall dropping into the decoys, feet down, and suddenly they flared off. I emptied the Remington but didn’t have it on my cheek. These were the first shots I’ve fired at ducks in a couple of years. The rust was bad, and I don’t think I have shaken it off yet.

The ducks seemed to have found their places in the marsh and after an hour of gazing up at an empty sky I decided to pull up the decoys and try some fishing. I had found a hotspot for white bass and the hybrids (striped bass -white bass cross) off the river that has been good for the past couple of weeks. I put away the gun and the decoys and rigged up the 4 weight fly rod with a chartreuse and white clouser minnow. I marked lots of larger fish along the deep bayou (12-15 feet). Most of the fish were suspended at 6 to 10 feet. I worked the clouser slowly with short strips, tried big hops, and other retrieves but could not get a strike.

I moved over to some moving water where I had caught them on previous trips and a few were hanging out there. I caught six, ranging from a pound and half to about three and a half pounds. The larger fish had several broken lines in it’s striped pattern, which indicated it was a hybrid (sometimes called a wiper or a rockwhite). I took a photo of its mouth. The hybrid is supposed to have two tooth patches on the sides of its tongue while the white bass should have a tooth patch in the center of the tongue. This fish, and some others I caught seem to have combined features. Maybe these are hybrid x white bass crosses? I’m not sure what’s going on here, but they are fun to catch on light tackle.

 

IMG_0984

Say aahhhhh for me! The entire “tooth patch” in the center of the fish’s tongue is rough, and there is pigmentation on the sides.

 

 

Blasting and Casting at Reggio and Delacroix, 11-12-2016

Place: Duck hunted at Reggio, then fished a few miles down the road at Delacroix, LA

Wind: 10-15 mph with gusts – North (usually pushes water out, but see Tides below)

Tide: Low was forecast at 9 a.m. based on Shell Beach station. I add + 2 hours for Delacroix and it dropped and came back up as we fished in the afternoon. The “super moon” scheduled for Monday has “king” tides running higher than normal.

Water Level: a little high and in the grass in the early morning, above grass line, dropped below the grass line about noon, and was back up later in the p.m.

Water Temperature: almost cold to touch – probably about 65 F

Water Clarity: poor, about 1 foot visibility, seemed to have a very green tinge from small algae that were suspended. Shrimp boats are still trawling the bayous and canals.

Water salinity: not tested – probably pretty fresh

Weather/sky: partly sunny, with a high thin cirrus cloud overcast. Saw a sun dog.

Temperature: ~ 55 – 72 F for high

Moon: Full

Solunar period: weak major period @ 12 a.m.

Time on the water: Duck hunting from 5:30 to 9:30, fishing from 11-4.

Water covered kayaking: ~ 5 miles

Other hunter/fisher: Jeff W.

Duck hunt: Guide was Mitch S. with the Louisiana Marsh Guide Service. http://www.laduckhunts.com

The Daytona and Indianapolis 500s aint’ got nothing on the truck races that go on along I-10 and Paris Road heading toward the legendary duck hunting in the marshes of St. Bernard Parish on opening day of duck season. Pickups pulling trailers with boats decked out in camo and buried with marsh grasses and roseau canes jockeyed for position, skidded to stops at traffic lights, and burned rubber off the mark, all doing their best to make it to the launches in time to get out into the marsh before shooting time at half an hour before sunrise. Local police and state troopers stayed out of the way and let the race proceed.

Jeff and I arrived at Reggio about 4:30 a.m. and watched the game of musical boat trailers that was going on at the launch at Reggio. Mike, the omnipresent guy who manages the marina, was the leader of the organized chaos. We met up with the guides and it was determined that we would go with Mitch. This is an “all in the family” type of business with several brothers who guide the hunts. Jeff and I have hunted several times with these guys, and have been pleased with their professional and yet laid-back nature.

We were wondering about the conditions for this hunt for some time. It has simply been too hot to make birds migrate. Teal season, back in September, was largely a “bust” and the blue-wings came down weeks after the season ended. I did not even bother to try hunting during the early teal season. As Jeff and I had fished this area for the last weeks and not seen many flocks of ducks (usually no ducks) our chance of success was in question for this opening day. Fortunately a few cold fronts pushed through earlier in the week, and this gave us some reason for optimism.

We got to our spot and set up the decoys and then waited the half-hour until legal shooting time. As usual, there were a few premature shots fired – some guys just can’t hold it until it’s time. When 5:52 a.m. came we were ready for the ducks. The morning overcast and cooler temperature made it feel like duck hunting weather. Our day started slowly. Shots peppered out all around the marsh. Then we started to see flocks moving in the distance. Some gray ducks (gadwall) came over at high altitude, but they would not pay attention to Mitch’s calls – they probably were distracted by all the shooting in the distance. A gray duck came into the decoy spread and we got a shot at it. Jeff fired twice but did not connect, and then he and I both fired simultaneously as the duck flared off to the right. It hit the water and drifted off slowly downwind. Several times small groups of teal “bombed” us. They came in very low and 90 degrees from the left of the direction we were facing. By the time we spotted them they were over us and then out of range before we could raise our guns. One group of “teal” came in low and fast and we did pretty well, both Jeff and I knocked one down, only to discover that they were actually hooded mergansers. Later a lone green wing teal hen circled and then came in. I brought it down with a single shot. We watched some flocks in the distance, and as the morning progressed the sightings became fewer. We decided to pick up the decoys about 9:30. We ended up shooting 4 ducks and did not let any that came in shooting range escape; a so-so day of hunting but not too surprising given the warm weather. We went to collect the ducks and found that a hawk had found our gray duck and consumed most of it. The hawks migrate with the ducks, and will actually come to sounds of shooting to feed on downed and wounded ducks. Younger alligators learn this trick too.

Summary: It’s still too early in the season and not cold enough back north to push the ducks down south. I saw the national weather this (Sunday) morning and it’s in the 50s in Minnesota and 60’s along most of the Mississippi flyway. We did pass a few hunters who were cleaning birds and it looks like they had fair to good hunts, but others I spoke to had less luck. I spoke to Chris Holmes at the marina and his hunt went about like ours did. Until there are some hard freezes up north the duck hunting is going to remain spotty.

Jeff and I moved about 10 miles down highway 300 toward Delacroix. We tossed our Hobie Outbacks into the water and were disappointed to see that the water conditions were sub-par for Delacroix. The wind and algae in the water would make it tough for fly fishing. Jeff threw an Aqua Dream spoon for redfish and tried a jig under a cork for trout. He had several strikes and landed several redfish on the spoon, but could not find any trout today.

I fished for some trout using a clouser, but did not find any fish in the potholes and canal intersections where I usually get them. So I resigned myself to fishing the spoon fly for redfish. I got up against the leeward side of a an old canal and found the water to be flat enough to try to stand and sight fish. The sun was at my back and an odd tailwind that swirled in the canal worked in my favor. There were hoards of small 1-1.5” shrimp along the bank that would jump in “showers” as I passed. Fish that attacked them from beneath would also make them “shower”. I used this to help locate target fish. About 20 yards ahead I saw a big mud cloud from a resting fish that had been disturbed. The little shrimp kept jumping in the area so I sat down and eased closer and made a cast. Through the dirty water I saw a very light colored redfish. It looked like a giant white koi and I flipped my fly about 20 feet in its direction. It struck and immediately took of on a hard run and then cut straight back toward me. I did my best to keep the line tight and stay hooked up. I got the rudder up to avoid a snag as the fish passed around the kayak. After a few more hard runs I felt the slightly sickening feeling of no longer having a fish on the line. The hook had simply pulled out. *&$%#!!!

I fished some other spots, spooked lots of fish, but did not get any bites. The spoon fly would have probably had to hit the fish in the nose to get it to strike. I moved to a little chain of islands where the wind was pushing good-sized waves into them. A nice redfish voluntarily revealed its location by coming up on the leeward shoreline and belly crawling about 30 feet from me. I drifted toward it making casts. The water was really trashy from splashing waves and I did not hook up. The wind left me stranded on a little shallow shelf along the bank, so I had to reel in, lift the rudder, and paddle my way off the shelf and get back into deeper water. I swung the kayak around and saw what was probably the same redfish about 15 yards down the bank with its back halfway out of the water. I tried it again and hooked up. After about 5 minutes of a nice tug of war I got the fish in, lip gripped it, slipped the spoon fly out of its lip, and released it without ever taking it out of the water. I’m trying to do this type of release on fish to reduce the stress and damage from bringing them in the kayak.

So, it was not a spectacular day of fly fishing. But considering the wind and dirty water, I’ll take it.

img_2084