Hopedale 3-25-18

Wind: 0 – 5mph early, kicked up to 10-15 mph after 10 a.m. from S- SW

Tide: low at dawn for the Shell Beach station, range was supposed to be 0.7 ft, wind pushed water in and it was more like 2 ft.

Water Level: very low to start….lots of bank showing, cuts were empty

Water Temperature: ~ 65 F

Water Clarity: fair, 1-2 ft visibility, got muddy later in the day due to wind

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional clouds

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

Moon: waxing half full

Solunar period: major periods @ 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6:30 a.m., packed up and driving home about 3:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find feeding redfish

Gear: one #8 fly rod

Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse

I stopped in at Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette to get energized with some coffee and doughnuts and then headed on down to Hopedale. I made a combat launch off the roadside and pushed the kayak over about 10 yards of mud flat to get into the water. That was some low tide.

I cast to a drained out cut off a canal not far from the launch and got a 15” redfish. It looked like it was waiting for the water to come up so it could get back into the marsh.

I went on down a manmade canal for about a mile and a half and turned into a little bayou that went into a big pond. There was no action in the bayou, but when I got around on the leeward bank of the pond things picked up and muddy swirls were coming from spooked fish. I went down the leeward side and got a few shots at some tailing fish, and finally got a 24” red to pay attention to the fly. I grabbed it with the lip grip and did a water release, never touching the fish or bringing it ito the kayak. Having a crimped barb on the spoon fly makes unhooking the fish easy.

About 10 a.m. the tide was coming in fast and things started to get interesting. I was drifting quietly down the northern shoreline of the pond and a parade of redfish was marching up the shoreline. There was a fish about every 30-40 yards. Each one was hugging tight to the bank with its back out of the water. They all seemed to know that soon the water would be up enough for them to get back into the flooded grass and cuts. I cast to, fought, and lost then next two fish. The line was taught in both cases but somehow the hook pulled. Frustrating. I saw a tailing fish, cast, and did not get a bite. The wind pushed me away, so I swung out and back around for another shot at it. I flipped my line over to get it out of the way as I turned around and the line went taught. I set the hook and had a nice battle with a redfish that was almost 31” and probably weighed about 12 lbs. It buried in the aquatic grass a couple of times and I worked it free. Then it spun me around a few times and made a run under the kayak. I forgot to keep my foot on the pedal and the redfish wrapped the line around one of the fins. So I put some slack in the line, pulled up the mirage drive and freed the line. I cranked the reel and the redfish was still hooked. I got it in, put down the Cajun anchor to stop from being blown across the pond, and worked the redfish onto the ruler for a photo. It is always a struggle to get a good picture of a bigger sized fish, especially when it’s windy. The kayak is rocking and the fish can start to flop around and quickly make a mess of things. Fortunately this fish was calm. I got it back into the water as quickly as possible and watched it swim off.

I had some shots at other bank cruisers but had trouble getting them to see the little fly. The water along the edge of the bank was getting dirty from the wind and incoming tide. The wind made it hard to get the cast on target. I went around to the windward side of the pond and saw a few reds sitting in a drain with bait pushing toward them. It was very shallow and I saw the wake of a nice one moving about 15 yards across from me. I got a good cast out in front and started to strip the fly to get it positioned for a take. It’s always cool to see the redfish give the “Hey, look what I found swirl” and feel the line go taught. I gave a sharp strip strike and battled the 24” redfish in the shallow water. I had instructions to bring home a redfish and this guy went into the fish bag. A little olive oil and Tony’s made for a tasty meal of grilled redfish on the half-shell. As usual, I got a really good night’s sleep after a day of kayak fishing.

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Delacroix 3-17-2018

Wind: 0 mph in the morning, kicked up to 10+ after 9 a.m. gusting to 15, from S, SW
Tide: low about noon at Shell Beach station, range 0.5 ft, wind held the water in
Water Level: average
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: didn’t check
Weather/sky: partly cloudy, good sunny periods
Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F
Moon: waning crescent
Solunar period: major periods @ 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6 a.m., packed up and driving home about 5:30 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 7 miles
Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find fish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse, white and tan gurgler

Having a pedal drive kayak was not much of an asset today. The summer conditions are coming on quickly at Delacroix. It is getting really weedy. Lots of spots I fished were about 2-3’ deep but had 2’ of thick weeds growing up from the bottom. There was about 6-12” of super clean water above the grasses in most spots. There were large mats of thick algae that were difficult to traverse. It was like paddling across wet carpet.

Strategy/ patterns: I tried for trout early as I passed some cuts, got a few strikes on the gurgler (topwater) but could not keep them on. I eventually got one undersized speck. They all seemed small, so I pedaled and (mostly) paddled on to some ponds and broken marsh looking for reds.

Along the way to the ponds I saw a tailing redfish that disappeared about the time I was ready to make a cast. I made a few casts in its general direction and hooked up. It turned out to be a 16.5” trout that put up a pretty good fight on the fly rod.

I got to the ponds and found them to be filling in with aquatic vegetation – good for the fish, but difficult for anglers. It’s hard to paddle through the weeds and sneak up on fish. I saw quite a few backs and tails but it was hard to get into range. The wind picked up too, and that made fly fishing from the kayak even more complicated.

I was going through a narrow shallow cut and had to plow my way through with the paddle when a couple of redfish came from behind and around me about a flyrod’s length away. So I flipped the spoon fly to them and got an immediate take from a spunky red that went about 23.5”.

The wind and clouds picked up and became more difficult to fly fish. I covered a good bit of marsh, albeit slowly due to the weeds and the wind. I finally found some redfish stacked in the weeds on a protected shoreline. I could see them but had difficulty sneaking close enough and then getting a fly to them without it snagging on the weeds. I eventually had success and got another 23” and 15” reds. I had a close encounter with a nice sized red that was about to eat until it saw me and turned away at the last second.

The paddle in was challenging. I was headed into 15 mph winds (not too bad normally) but could build little momentum on the paddle stroke due to the weeds and algae mats. I went to bed early and slept well that night.

They went another direction so I hope they did well. I saw lots of good birds (big flock of gadwall, ibis), nutria, and alligators on this trip.

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.

 

 

Delacroix, 11-24-2017 “….must be like what fly fishing in Heaven is like.”

 

Wind: none for most of the day, after noon it came out of the NW at 2-5 mph

Tide: Falling, high 5 a.m., low 3 p.m. range 1.5 ft.

Water Level: a little below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~58 F

Water Clarity: amazing – could see the bottom of deep spots 6-8 feet down

Water salinity: ~ 1 ppt

Weather/sky: sunny

Temperature: ~ 50, going up to about 65 F

Moon: 1/3 waxing

Solunar period: minor period @ 6 a.m., major @ 12-2 p.m.

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 7 a.m., out at 2 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 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: It was so still and clear today that I could see a minnow wriggle from a hundred yards away. It may have been too clear because the fish could see me just as well as I could see them. The redfish were not very spooky, but they were aware of me and would just slowly move away when I got too close for comfort.

I had not paddled/ pedaled but perhaps a hundred yards until I saw the tail of a feeding redfish. I was unprepared and fumbled around a bit, banged the paddle, rocked the kayak by stripping line and casting, and when I looked up for my target the fish was about out of easy casting range. I tried a few casts but could not get the fly to it and the fish disappeared.

I pedaled and paddled (it was too shallow for the fins in many spots) over to the area I wanted to fish, being aware that the marsh held lots of duck hunters with shotguns. I had not seen many hunters in this area, but a guy and his son came by in a jon boat and set up in a spot off a canal where I often flushed mottled ducks a few hundred yards ahead. I passed them as they were setting up and headed on out to the marsh.

The water was still and acted like a mirror for the sky. If there were redfish moving I could see them for a couple hundred yards. It wasn’t long until the sun warmed up the water and the fish started to wake up. About 8 a.m. I saw a redfish, got my cast in front of it and it inhaled the spoon fly. It put up a nice fight and I got the fish in, put my fish grip in its mouth and easily removed the spoon fly from the back of its throat. I had previously crimped the barb on the fly for this reason. Redfish have very tough tissue in their mouth, and they often take small flies (like the spoon fly) deep, so it can be really hard to remove them. Going barbless is easy on the angler and the fish, and I don’t seem to lose any more fish than when fishing with a barb. I lifted the fish for a quick selfie and released it safely. (Note: the scraggly beard is for “No Shave November” -get that health check up guys- now back to fishing).

The next fish was the most fun. I was standing up and poling along a bank and as I went around a point about a dozen redfish were working their way toward me. So I sat down and stripped some line and by the time I raised my rod they were 20 feet away. I was hooked up on the first strip of the spoon fly. I worked the fish in and its buddies did not want to leave. They just kept swimming around their snagged friend. So, I worked out the iPhone with one hand while holding the rod with the other and made a little video. The video shows clouds reflected off the water, you can see my shadow, and then the school of redfish comes by as I pull the redfish closer. I was surprised that I got the fish instead of just a big reflection off the water’s surface. (video not supported on WordPress)

I sight casted to a couple more nice fish and got them in, unhooked, and released. I took a quick video of one of the smaller ones coming in.

The last and largest fish was caught about 1 p.m. I was after a smaller redfish and kept seeing this big tail go up about 50 yards away. I spooked the smaller fish with a bad cast that snagged the marsh grass above its head, so I went over for the big one. I got the spoon fly in the strike zone and tussled with the big guy (or gal?). It decided to use the “spin the angler” trick on me, just pulling the kayak around in circles for a while. Finally it gave in and I brought it onto the side of the kayak for a quick photo before releasing it.

I only landed five redfish today and had another one hooked but it shook loose. The fish were all stout crab-fed St. Bernard Parish reds. The smallest was about 24” and the biggest was almost 30” and they ranged from about 5 to 12 lbs.

Other notes: more white pelicans all around, but not very many ducks flying today and not much shooting. The still conditions must have made for poor hunting. Saw some nutria and a really large alligator (10-12 ft). Gnats (biting midges) were all around once it warmed up, but they never went after me. I was covered up pretty well except for my fingertips and did not need to break out the Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance to repel them. Nice big crabs were all over the place and easy to spot in the clear water. I keep saying that one day I’ll bring a cooler and dip a couple dozen –maybe next time. Today was about as good as it gets when it comes to fly fishing conditions from a kayak…..must be like what fly fishing in Heaven is like.

Finally got a Youtube video up of this trip:

Redfish video

 

 

 

Port Sulphur 11-17-2017

 

Wind: strong pre-front WNW wind 15-25 mph

Tide: wind and tide pushing water in, low tide at 6 a.m., high 8 p.m. range 1.5 ft.

Water Level: above the grass line

Water Temperature: ~68 F

Water Clarity: good up a protected bayou, later churned up by wind

Water salinity: ~ 3-4 ppt

Weather/sky: sunny

Temperature: ~ 70

Moon: new

Solunar period: minor period @ 6 a.m., major @ 12-2 p.m.

Time on the water: Launched the Hobie Outback kayak at 10 a.m., landed at 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles (pedaled almost continuously all day due to wind)

Other fishers: solo trip

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

Gear: 3 spinning outfits and bait caster.

Lures: in line spinner bait (1 red, 2 specks), natural colored Vudu shrimp under cork 4 specks and a few undersized reds, pink and yellow Saltwater Assassin sea shad with 1/8 oz jig head (a favorite for dirty water on a sunny day) caught 1 redfish and 4 specks. The trout were all keepers, from 12.5” to about 16”. I kept 5 of the bigger specks and the two redfish that were about 18” and 24”.

Strategy/ patterns: obvious spots like points, drains, and moving water held fish, but they were scattered. I’d catch one or two and then nada. Had to keep moving. Got the reds early before the water got dirty from the wind.

Other notes: big flocks of white pelicans working all around today. Too windy to go everywhere I normally fish –some nice 3’ chop in open spots. I shared a pond with a big bottlenose dolphin that was probably eating the trout I wanted to catch, but I managed to sneak a 15”er from in front of it.