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!

Hopedale, LA 2-10-19

Kayak fishing report from Hopedale, LA 2-10-19

Wind: 15-20 mph from E

Tide: little range predicted, but wind had the water moving well

Water Level: a little above normal

Water Temperature: ~ 58-62 F

Water Clarity: pretty good, about 2-3 feet

Water salinity: very fresh – no salt detected

Weather/sky: mostly cloudy, fog started to roll in later in the evening

Temperature: ~ 60-70 F

Moon: first quarter

Solunar period: minor ~ 10 a.m., major ~ 5 p.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 10:45 a.m., driving in at 6 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: Sean R. and Jeff W.

Game Plan – troll canals for trout on the way out to the marsh, then switch to targeting redfish.

Gear: Spinning combo with #15 braided line and 6 ft. of #15 mono joined with a FG knot for jig trolling. #8 fly rod for the marsh

Lures: chartreuse Waldner spoon fly, ¼ oz jig with plastic bait to target trout: Matrix shad (lemon), Vudu shrimp (natural)

We launched later in the morning since a cold front had passed through recently. I like to let the fish warm up a bit this time of year, plus it’s nice to sleep in.

We started trolling jigs behind our kayaks as we moved slowly up a canal on the way to the marsh. Sean caught several specks by the time we reached the end of the canal, and a few made the 12” size cut. I caught 3, and one was 12.25”.

I left Sean throwing a hard bait over an oyster bed at the mouth of a pond. The last I saw of him, he was pulling in a small trout. I headed up into a tight bayou, maybe 25 ft. wide, to get out of the wind so I could cast the fly rod. I was blind casting to likely spots due to the wind. I picked up 3 redfish of 25”, 20”, and 16” (released). The little one had 16 spots.

About 3 o’clock I started back toward the truck and began trolling. I had lots of “taps” from small fish and would occasionally hook up. The majority of the specks were undersized, and the keepers were between 12 and 13”. The bite was pretty good at intersections. We stopped where activity was high and got lots of “taps” about every cast. Jeff caught a couple of redfish, several small trout and a bonus flounder. I ended up with 6 trout in my bag that will go into trout cakes tonight.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

Pearl River, 12-22-2018

Kayak / fly rod report from Pearl River, LA 12-22-18

Wind: 0-5 mph from SE

Tide: N/A

Water Level: average

Water Temperature: ~ 54-58 F

Water Clarity: great

Water salinity: fresh

Weather/sky: sunny

Temperature: ~ 55-65 F

Moon: full

Solunar period: major ~ 12-2

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in to the water about noon, driving home about 5 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 3 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find white bass

Gear: 4 weight fly rod

Lures: started with #6 purple wooly bugger, switched to #2 chartreuse/white clouser

Last Sunday I went out to the Pearl River to scout for ducks. I didn’t see any ducks, but fortunately I brought my fly rod along. I came to an area in about 10-12 feet of water in a bayou that had strong current flowing around it. That was the spot. I had a strong strike and it did not feel like a bass, bream, or crappie. I got it up and it was a white bass (a.k.a. a “stripe” as we call ’em back in Alabama). It was a chunky one so I put it in the soft cooler. Then I got another one that was bigger and into the cooler it went. I repeated the process over a dozen times and all but two of them were 2+ lb fish.  All these were released. A few weighed ~ 3-4 lbs on the Boga grip. My lovely wife and I ate the two I brought home for dinner. After dinner I looked up the state records for white bass on the fly rod and found it was 2.94 lbs. We ate two state record white bass for dinner!

So today I went out to see if I could correct my error. Not much action to start. I caught a fingerling largemouth bass on the purple bugger. I “saw” a few fish on the Lowrance and occasionally there would be a good one in the mix. I caught half a dozen or so smaller sized white bass of about 10”. The bigger ones were not very active today. I was thinking that it was going to be a bust and that I had missed my chance for a record fish. I started making wider passes away from the current and lady luck smiled on me. I got a hard strike and this time the line was going out fast. I got line out of my hand and got the fish “on the reel” so it would be easier to manage. It towed me around a bit and had the 4 weight rod bent in half. I eventually wore it down and caught its lower jaw. It was a chunky white bass, similar to the ones I had caught and eaten last week. I was pretty sure it was over 3 lbs, so I put it in the cooler and went toward the landing. I went another 20-30 yards and the fish finder lit up with nice targets so I cast, let the clouser sink down to the fish, and hooked another good one. It wasn’t quite as long a battle and not quite as big as the first one, but it was still a nice white bass. I decided to keep it as well.

I phoned the Rigolets Marina and found they had a certified scale, so I landed, got the gear stowed, secured the kayak, and took off to the marina. The first weighed 3.98 and the second weighed 2.85 lbs. This would make these the #1 and #3 white bass taken in LA on a fly. Now I have to get paperwork signed, have a state biologist verify the species, and submit the application. It was extra nice because I caught them on a clouser that I tied a few moths ago. And this time I did not eat the fish!

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Delacroix 11-24-18

Wind: 0-10 mph from E to SE as the day progressed

Tide: 1.5 ft. range from the Shell Beach station, water did not seem to move though it was supposed to fall all day.

Water Level: high, in the grass

Water Temperature: ~ 60 F

Water Clarity: dirty, visibility about 1-1.5 feet

Water salinity: fresh

Weather/sky: cloudy at first, sunny about 10, overcast about 2

Temperature: ~ 60-75 F

Moon: full

Solunar period: minor ~ 8, major ~ 2

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

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find redfish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: yellow half and half on one rod, chartreuse/white clouser minnow on the other

Got a couple of redfish on the half and half, and missed 3 more that came unbuttoned. Fish were right up against the bank. I thought several of the fish were initially snags until they started to swim away. I trolled in open water a bit and was surprised not to bump into a trout.

I was in a small pond and spied a chartreuse cork floating nearby. When I came closer it went under and then it reappeared a few minutes later. I eased up to it and wrapped my fly line around the cork and the fish took off. I was expecting a really big fish but the 24” red came in pretty quickly. The jig hook was deep in its throat and the bend went into the stomach, so I clipped the line as close as I could and released the fish. It swam away and seemed ok.

Gnats were not too bad. About the time they started to swarm the wind picked up and blew them away.

Didn’t see many ducks out there and only heard a little shooting early.

 

Hopedale Lagoon, 11-18-2018

Wind: 0-5 mph from E to SE to SW as the day progressed, and the gnats were fierce as I expected. The Amber Romance kept them at bay.

Tide: not much range from the Shell Beach station, water came up by half a foot even though it was supposed to fall all day.

Water Level: low, mud banks showing

Water Temperature: ~ 56 F

Water Clarity: dirty, visibility about 1-1.5 feet

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: sunny, bluebird sky

Temperature: ~ 60-70 F

Moon: waxing 2/3 of full

Solunar period: minor ~ 10 to noon

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak about 7 a.m., driving home at 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find specks and redfish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: big perch float popper with a Popovic shrimp dropper 2.5’ below, yellow half and half on the other rod. The average depth of the lagoon is about 3’ deep so the 2.5’ dropper should get to the fish without snagging on the bottom (fly fisher’s version of a popping cork).

I launched at Pip’s with a couple of other kayakers. Lots of trucks and cars were already in the parking lot across the highway from the boat ramp – duck hunters were out in force this morning. I headed left as I entered the Hopedale Lagoon and trolled the lures behind me as I pedaled out to my target spot. I was casting to some drains hoping to find displaced redfish waiting there. The popper/shrimp combo was being trolled behind as I casted, and the rod started bouncing. I brought the nice 16” speckled trout in and put it in the bag. I cast around the area for about 5 minutes, but it seemed this fish was a loaner. No reds spotted on the banks.

I tried fishing around the deeper cut where the big boats run (6-8’) and saw fish on the Lowrance but they were not biting. I went on down to the intersection and turned into Dow’s Ditch. I was hoping the water might be a little cleaner in there. It wasn’t. But it was shallower (1- 2’) and weedier, and there were redfish actively feeding back in there. I could see them making wakes and tailing amidst the big mullet and gar that were also making disturbances. I saw the flash of a tail and eased the kayak over to it. I made a good cast of about 30’ and put my first redfish in the bag. I repeated the process and got another fish of the same size that I released. I chased some fish around the pond and then saw a “bigger disturbance” on the water near a high spot in about a foot of water. I paddled up quietly, made a few casts, and hooked up with a hefty 29” redfish – the best fight of the day. It tried all the tricks — running under the bow, running under the rudder, plowing into the grass beds, and it finally came to the net that held less than half of its length. I easily got the crimped hook out and released it without even bringing it in the kayak. I circled around the pond and caught a second trout of about 14” and put it in the bag. I had a point blank shot at a pair of redfish coming right at me and as one of the fish went for the fly I pulled it out of the fish’s mouth. Later I hooked another redfish that came straight at me and I couldn’t keep the line tight enough to keep the hook in its mouth.

It was about 1 p.m. so I decided to reverse course for the truck. The light wind was kind and shifted to a tailwind – perfect for cruising the shoreline on the way in. I went back to one of the drains that leads into a “posted” duck pond. Although I heard no shooting from back there I didn’t want to chance messing up someone’s hunt, so I just fished the drain opening at the lagoon. I blind casted and got another 20” redfish, caught a surprise bass, and then got another cookie cutter redfish. They liked that yellow half and half, which is the fly fisher’s equivalent of a chartreuse jig. It is a good choice for dirty water on a sunny day.