Hopedale 9-30-2018

Kayak report from Hopedale for 9-30-18

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

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

Water Level: High, in the shore grass

Water Temperature: ~ 82 F

Water Clarity: visibility about 1.5 feet

Water salinity: fresh

Weather/sky: overcast

Temperature: ~ 75-85 F

Moon: near half, waning

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

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

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find reds and specks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Delacroix, 8-18-18

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

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

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

Water Temperature: ~ 83 F

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

Water salinity: did not check

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

Temperature: ~ 75-85 F

Moon: half moon, waxing

Solunar period: major period @ 8 a.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find redfish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Late July/ Early August @ Ft. Pike

I combined a couple of recent trips in this post.

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

Tide: rising both days with decent range

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

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

Water Clarity: fair, 2 ft. visibility both days

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water covered: ~ 3 miles each trip

Other fishers: solo trip

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

Gear: #8 fly rod and #10 fly rod

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

July 28

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

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

August 4

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

 

 

Shell Beach, LA 7-15-2018

Wind: 0 – 5mph from W early, 7+ mph after noon from N, then NE

Tide: rising, the low was at 2:30 a.m. Shell Beach station, high at 4:20 p.m., range 2’

Water Level: SUPER LOW! 2 ft. below average, at grass line (normal) later in the day.

Water Temperature: ~ 85-88 F

Water Clarity: fair, 2 ft. visibility in the marsh, less in MRGO

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: overcast most of the day, when the sun came out it got hot quickly

Temperature: ~ 80 F, going up to about 92 F

Moon: sliver of a new moon

Solunar period: minor period @ 8 a.m., major at 4 p.m.

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

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find bass, reds, and maybe a jack crevalle

Gear: one #8 fly rod, 6’ of #20 leader/tippet, #10 fly rod, 6’ of #30 leader/tippet (for jacks)

Lure: tried a gurgler with a woolybugger 1’ down on a dropper for a few hours (for bass), Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse/gold, had a large clouser on the #10 rod.

Slow day, with a few bass caught to keep the skunk away. There were so many mullet around that it made fishing difficult.  I launched at Campo’s Marina in Shell Beach, went across the MRGO, and fished the marsh behind the rocks. I spooked a few redfish (could hear them drum) as I went through the marsh near Ft. Proctor. It was slow going….had to paddle a good bit due to the shallow water. The redfish were there but uncooperative. Every now and then I saw a tail in the distance but never got a shot at a red. They seemed to be sluggish and most were just resting on the bottom. I did a good bit of blind casting today without much success. I worked my way back toward the MRGO and went down the rocks on the marsh side. It was pretty weedy, but I managed to catch seven small marsh bass on the spoon fly. The smallest was 10”, the biggest was 13”. I got a good shot at a large black drum that was feeding in the rocks, but it either did not see the spoon fly or did not care for it. I could see some clouds forming in the distance so I headed in. No jacks sighted today. I slipped Mr. Campo $5 for the kayak launch even though he does not charge for it.

 

 

 

Pushepatapa Creek / Father’s Day 2018

Father’s Day Weekend Report June 16 and 17, 2018

Pushepatapa Creek

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On Saturday the 16th I went with the New Orleans Fly Fishing Club to Pushepatapa Creek in Washington Parish, LA. We met up at a restaurant and then caravanned over to the creek. The Pushepatapa is a cool (literally and figuratively) creek that’s relatively clean, shallow, and easily wade-fished when at normal water levels. The day we fished the water was up and a bit on the swift and dirty side. Local rains can swell and muddy the creek pretty quickly. A few of the guys surveyed the creek at the highway 21 bridge and decided it was better to try upstream. We drove over to Parish Rd. 6 (Military Rd.) and about a dozen of us started fishing. It seemed that we all favored the downstream route. I had trouble finding spots that did not have heavy current. I was looking for a deeper hole or a shoal that might hold fish but didn’t seem to find any. After about 30 minutes and wading about a quarter of a mile I decided that maybe upstream of the bridge might be a better choice. The terrain upstream of the bridge was steep and rough, making it hard to get to the creek. I found a way down to the creek and started wading upstream. There were some nice sandy shoals, some tree falls, and other obstructions that might hold fish there. I was throwing my “nothing special” bead head peacock herl nymph on my #4 weight rod with a #4 lb fluorocarbon tippet. I got a little bream of some sort on for a second or two but it shook loose. I got a few more bites and then the action stopped and I moved upstream. I found a sand bar that split the water and also got a few bites there but no hook ups. I had gone about half a mile upstream, checked the clock and saw I needed to start back. We were to meet up at 10:30 and go to lunch. I fished downstream and caught a small spotted (Kentucky) bass by putting the nymph close to a downed log. I took a photo and released the little guy. I made a few more casts to the spot and got a pretty long ear sunfish. The colors on this guy were superb. I fished down to where I had some strikes earlier and missed several more. The fish were coming off my barbless hook. Maybe I was having trouble keeping the line taught in the current. It was frustrating that I missed several fish. I climbed back up out of the creek and headed to lunch with the gang. Lunch was at Urbain Broad’s place, and he provided a nice lunch and good hospitality. He and his wife have a nice home with a large park-like yard on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain.

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On Sunday (Father’s day) I met up with my younger daughter and we went to City Park for some fly fishing. Jenna had fished with me before, but never with a fly rod. So I gave her some quick lessons and she was off. We tried one area where I had caught several bass a few weeks ago, but they weren’t home today. So we went to another spot and after a cast or two she shouted that she had a fish. It was a Rio Grande perch (cichlid). The Rio is an invasive species here in LA, but they are a prized catch and are really beautifully marked and colored. I was pleased that she got her first fish on the fly on Father’s Day. It’s something we both will remember. She also caught a bluegill later that morning. She’s got a bit more to learn about fly fishing but it was a great start.

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Hot at Hopedale 7-1-2018

Wind: 0 – 5mph from west early, 7+ mph after noon from north
Tide: rising, the low was at 2 a.m. Shell Beach station, high at 4:30 p.m., range 1.5’
Water Level: SUPER LOW! 2 ft. below average, at grass line (normal) later in the day.
Water Temperature: ~ 90 F
Water Clarity: good, 2-3 ft. visibility, deteriorated as the tide came in
Water salinity: no salt detected on the taste test
Weather/sky: sunny, with one merciful cloud that shaded me for 10 minutes.
Temperature: ~ 80 F, going up to about 95 F
Moon: Waning, 80% of full
Solunar period: minor period @ 8 a.m., major at 4 p.m.
Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 5:45 a.m., driving home at 4:00 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 7 miles
Other fishers: solo trip
Game Plan: find redfish
Gear: one #8 fly rod, 6’ of #20 leader/tippet
Lure: Waldner’s spoon fly in purple/gold on the fly rod

I stopped in at the drive through window at Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette and headed on down to Hopedale. It was gonna be a hot one; high humidity with a heat index of about 105 F. I knew of some duck ponds that are connected by little bayous with good depth (4-6 ft) and thought the redfish might be hanging out there. The duck ponds are pretty shallow and can be hard to fish even when there is more water. It was a good distance to this spot and by the time I arrived after about 40 minutes of pedaling my shirt was soaked with sweat even though I was not pushing too hard.

The bayou opens off a canal and there is a scour at its mouth that’s about 8 ft deep. I figured there would be fish there and I got a 17” redfish after a few casts. I let the incoming water push me up the bayou toward the duck ponds and blind casted to spots as I went along. My timing was unlucky because I spooked several fish in between casts, hearing them drum and seeing clouds of muddy water as they took off. I saw a redfish in the first pond but it disappeared and did not take the spoon fly that I sent in its general direction. I went up the second bayou and spooked more fish and missed a bite. I spooked several reds at the mouth of the second pond, saw several wakes as I paddled (very shallow here) across and then caught a 19” redfish at the exit into the third bayou.

The third bayou was about 3 feet deep (enough to pedal instead of paddle) and was full of fish. I rounded a little turn, saw something swirl, and made a cast that connected with a 18” redfish, then a 15”er, and then a 24” fish. I could have stayed here and tried for more, but decided to see what else was down the bayou. I moved about 50 yards and caught another 20” fish and then went into the third pond. There were fish here too, but it was shallow and I could not sneak up on them. I tried standing and saw several fish but they saw me too.

It was getting hot and I started back the way I came. I didn’t get any fish when I passed through the bayou, but a look across the second pond suggested they had moved out to this area. The water level was coming up and the light breeze had shifted to the north, pushing water across the pond. I could see several nice redfish actively feeding in about a foot of water. It was too shallow to pedal, so I paddled up to casting distance of one and “took the shot”. It didn’t care or didn’t see the spoon fly and the wind quickly pushed me out of range. I moved up again and this time the fish took the fly and charged off. After a tussle I got the 26” red to the kayak and released it. I had to resuscitate it to allow for recovery in the hot water. I swung the kayak around and went after another fish. I was working pretty hard to catch up with a fish that was moving upwind when I got a little dizzy and lightheaded. It was about noon and the breeze blowing across the hot water was not doing anything to cool me down. I stopped, drank some cold water, and came back to normal. I thought about heading in and started to paddle out of the pond…..but there were two large redfish in my way.

Rather than chase the redfish, I just slowly paddled around and upwind and positioned myself in their path. I just watched for about 10 minutes as one of the fish worked toward me. Every now and then it would feed and lift its big tail as it tilted its head down to eat something. When it was about 40 feet away I cast to it….maybe a little behind it. The next cast was a little too far in front. I thought the third cast might be a little too far in front as well until the fish’s body arced and the line went taught. I’m not sure how long it took after that. I got the fish close but couldn’t get it to the boga grip. It was a standoff – the 8 weight rod would flex as I lifted and the fish countered in the other direction. I finally got the boga grip on it and it weighed almost 14 lbs. It was close to the size of another redfish that I had entered in a CPR contest, so I needed to measure it. It went 31” even and my previous fish was 30.8”…..not enough difference to harass the fish any more than I already had, so I put it back in the water as quickly as possible. I had to resuscitate the fish and it took it a bit to recover. Everybody was overheating today.

I went back though the first pond. It was still very shallow but I noted a path through it that held a little deeper water and went that way. A fin broke the surface about 30 feet away. I thought it was a red, wasn’t sure, but I whipped a cast to it and whatever it was ate the spoon fly. The fish dove through a big grass mat and ripped the line out nearly to the backing. Suddenly a big 4’ gar leapt up and did a somersault. I was left pulling pounds of weeds off my fly line and trying to keep the line taught. After a bushel or so of weeds were removed I got the line taught and the fish was still on. But it wasn’t the gar – it was a 28” redfish. The gar was just spooked by the charging redfish. I got it in and nursed it back to health.

I got 3 more small 15-17” redfish around the deep scour at the mouth of the bayou. It was about 3 o’clock and I was ready to head in. I took it slow and drank more cool water and a Gatorade. The north wind was in my face all the way in. Sometimes it felt cool but most of the time it picked up the heat from the water. I paced myself so as not to overheat and was back at the truck in about an hour.

I had to be pleased with the results given the hot day. It was unexpected that the best fish were most active at midday. I probably would have gone in sooner if I hadn’t kept seeing and catching fish. The biting flies were out in full force today. I was covered from head to toe and used OFF repellant, but they nipped me where the bare ends of the fingers stuck out of my fishing gloves. I stopped in at Hopedale Marina, got an iced tea, and put some extra ice on two of the smaller redfish that I kept for dinner. I sautéed them in olive oil with a little garlic, thyme, and black pepper. Pretty good! But now I have no fish and need to go back to the “store” for more next weekend.

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Delacroix 6-9-2018

Delacroix, 6-9-2018

Wind: about 8 mph, dropping to 5 mph from the SW

Tide: nada

Water Level: a foot below the grass line – puzzled by this continual low water – usually higher this time of year

Water Temperature: ~ 90 F

Water Clarity: variable – muddy in spots, clean in the pockets around aquatic vegetation

Water salinity: no salt by the taste test

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast, thunderstorms stayed off in the distance

Temperature: ~ 92 F

Moon: Waning, half moon

Solunar period: minor period at 4 p.m.

Time on the water: slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in the water at 4 p.m., off at 8:30 p.m.

Water covered: about 1.5 miles

Other fishers: Michael M.

Game Plan: fish the holes in the weedbeds for redfish

Gear: medium action spinning reels with #15 braided line

Lures: ¼ oz. chartreuse Aqua Dream spoons (weedless), Matrix craw (olive, glitter flake) rigged weedless in a 1/8 oz weighted hook.

Total: 8 redfish from 17 to 25” and a couple of throwback “rat reds”.

I took a “new guy” from work to Delacroix for some kayak fishing. He did not have a fishing license, but it was “Fish Free” weekend in LA when license requirements are suspended on June 9-10. I left my fly rod behind to keep things simple. Rather than get up super early we decided that an evening trip would be better. It would be cooling off instead of getting hotter as we fished, and he could better see what he was doing by starting out in the daylight.

We arrived to find low water, which can either be a curse or an advantage, depending on whether there are fish around. The low water and thick weedbeds can tend to crowd the fish into the areas that remain open. It worked out for us today. We paddled (pedals did not function too well with the dense weedbeds) around and hit some open areas without luck. Then about 5:30-6 p.m. the fish seemed to appear and became more active. I started seeing wakes, backs, and tails. I guess the fish were waking up after their siesta in the weedbeds and were coming out to feed on crabs and shrimp.

I cast to some wakes moving my way and got a 20” redfish close to the kayak by bringing it in quickly to shorten the fight and reduce its heat stress. It was flopping around so much that it somehow worked the split ring out of the swivel and it released itself with a new $7 “spoon piercing”. My buddy hooked up next with the biggest fish of the day, a 25” red that tried a number of tricks like bulling into the weeds, diving under his kayak, wrapping around the stake out pole, and snagging the line on the rudder. But the trickery didn’t work out this time and the redfish went into the ice bag.

I re-rigged with a Matrix Craw and had a few hits before hooking into a nice eating sized redfish (17”). We would go on to catch several more of that size, and a few undersized throwbacks. Michael has a family to feed, so we kept 5 for the table and released the rest. I hope he enjoyed his first taste of LA kayak fishing and was glad I could find some fish for him. I guess he did because he’s already thinking of getting a kayak.

When we came in there was a huge hatch of some tiny (mayfly?) looking insects. They got on the downwind side of the pickup and literally covered it up. They lit on us too, doing anything to get out of the breeze. These were still attached to my hat when I got home later that night.