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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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.

 

 

Hopedale 11-4-2018: Fun fishing with other people’s flies

Kayak report from Hopedale, LA 11-4-18

Wind: 15 mph from E/SE

Tide: not much range, but wind pushed in the water

Water Level: 6” up in the grass

Water Temperature: ~ 70 F

Water Clarity: poor, visibility about 1-1.5 feet

Water salinity: 1-2 ppt

Weather/sky: sunny early, clouds building about 11

Temperature: ~ 70-80 F

Moon: waning sliver

Solunar period: major ~ 10 to noon

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6:45 a.m., driving in at 4 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 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 18” below, yellow half and half on the other rod.

I passed through Chalmette and noticed really low water in Bayou Bienvenue, and the big flag was flapping in the wind – two bad signs. I planned to fish at Delacriox, but with the low water I would opt for Hopedale instead. I stopped in at the drive-thru at Gerald’s in Chalmette and got some instant energy from the coffee and a few doughnuts. Now I was ready to face anything that nature offered. When I got to the launch the water was surprisingly high rather than low. The wind had shifted from NW to SE over the last day or so, but I guess it takes longer for the water to reach Bayou Bienvenue than it does to get to Hopedale.

I trolled the lures behind me as I pedaled out to my target spot but had no luck. A few boats slowed down as they approached, and I waived them to come on by rather than to idle down. There was plenty of passing room and it would be better if stayed on plane instead of slowing and throwing a big wake my way.

I got to my spot and tried the popper with the shrimp dropper. I had only made a few casts into a little drain along a bayou when a redfish hit the shrimp fly that Joe Bandera had given to me. It took me a few minutes to get the fish to the Boga grip since the wind and current were working in favor of the fish. Then it took me some more time to get the hook out of the tough tissue in the corner of the fish’s jaw. Next time I’ll remember to crimp the barb before I start fishing.

I went another 50 yards or so and cast into another small drain. This time the redfish smacked the popper on the surface. I was proud to get this fish in since it had eaten the perch float popper I had made. It was my first redfish on a popper that I had tied. I thought the day was shaping up to be a great one, and then I didn’t catch another fish for several hours. I would throw the popper/dropper combo for 15-30 minutes and then switch to the half and half and then switched back again.

I caught a small redfish on the half and half about noon, and later found a couple more fish on a leeward shore. Bill DeCastro had tied the yellow half and half fly as a part of a swap that the New Orleans Fly Fishers put on a couple of weeks ago and gave it to me to field test. I tried it since it provided a larger bright target in the muddy water than the nickel sized spoon fly that I usually like to throw to the redfish. I moved in close on the leeward shoreline and made casts of about 30’ that went right into the edge of the flooded weed beds. First came a 14” redfish and then a 12” marsh bass bit a few casts later. Other than having a brief tussle with a 4’ gar that was it for the day: 5 redfish, and a bass. Not a great catch but, unlike LSU vs. Bama on Saturday,  I kept the skunk away on a day with poor conditions for fly fishing.

Shell Beach, 10-27-18

 

Wind: 10 mph from NW 10

Tide: high was 4:30 a.m, falling 1.5’, wind helped the drop.

Water Level: at the grass line when I started, lots of bank showing later on

Water Temperature: ~ 70 F

Water Clarity: visibility about 1.5 feet to very clear in spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: bright and sunny

Temperature: ~ 60-70 F

Moon: post full

Solunar period: minor ~ 10 a.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 10:15 a.m., driving in at 5 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find specks, redfish as a backup

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: chartreuse Waldner spoon fly, small silver and white shrimp fly on the other.

I pedaled the kayak out Campo’s marina and trolled along the rocks toward Antonio’s lagoon. Shrimpers were trawling in the MRGO, and flocks of birds followed them. I thought I would run into some trout that were prowling the rocks but did not. I did get the first of several bass on the white shrimp fly.

I got to the lagoon and tried a deep scour. First cast yielded a small trout, but it shook loose. I thought I was gonna limit out but that must have been the only fish in that spot. I moved over to the next islands and spooked several redfish that were sitting in the shallow water. It was pretty clean here and I could see about 3 feet to the bottom. I was blind casting downwind and got a small trout and a couple of small bass.

I’d planned to fish up a small bayou to get out of the wind, but the water was draining out hard and the bayou was not as wide or as deep as it appeared on Google Earth. So I turned back and fished some weed beds to the east that were draining. The area was full of small bass and a few redfish that had been pushed out of the marsh by the falling tide. I caught several more (all 8-12”) bass and had a shot at a nice flounder. My cast to the flounder was about a foot too long and it ended up snagging in the grass over its head. It spooked when I tried to pull the fly free.

I had some good encounters with redfish around the drains, but missed some takes. I saw the strikes and set the hook before the redfish really got the spoon fly in its mouth. Finally I saw a 20” redfish coming out of a drain, made a good cast and it swiped and missed the spoon fly twice. I cast back into the muddy spot and this time the fish got the hook. If fought pretty well for its size. I had a similar shot at a redfish in a drain but a little bass intercepted the fly before the redfish could see it. I also got another bite from what I thought was a small bass but it turned out to be a redear sunfish. These sunfish are showing up more often as the water in the area gets fresher. I ended up the day with half a dozen marsh bass, a redear sunfish, a small 8” speckled trout and a slot redfish on the fly.

Hopedale, LA 10-7-18

Wind: still from 6:30-8:00, then 10-15 mph E/NE later with gusts
Tide: no real tide change
Water Level: Very high, about 1.5 feet up in the shoreline grass
Water Temperature: ~ 84 F
Water Clarity: visibility about 1 foot
Water salinity: fresh
Weather/sky: mixed sun and overcast, with passing thunderstorms that missed me
Temperature: ~ 75-85 F
Moon: waning sliver
Solunar period: major period @ 1 pm
Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6:45 a.m., driving in at 5 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 7 miles
Other fishers: solo trip
Game Plan: Sight fishing would be difficult with these conditions. I was looking to find specks based on the fact that I caught a few by accident on the fly rod last week. I expected more to be showing up in the marsh based on the push of high water. If no specks, then reds would be the target.
Gear: went to conventional tackle today because of the wind and dirty high water forecast, with spinning and bait casting outfits rigged with jigs, spoon, and in line spinnerbait with a lemon Matrix Shad for dirty water.

I started out trolling since I had a considerable pedal/paddle out to the fishing area. The water in the canal was dirty and nothing hit the natural colored Vudu shrimp and lemon Martix shad.

I tried the mouth of a little bayou off the canal when I spotted some small shrimp fleeing from something. I threw the Vudu shrimp about 18” under a cork and found a bass and a 5+5 spot redfish of about 15” were the culprits. I threw a chartreuse Aquadream spoon and got another small bass. No specks here.

I was casting along a shoreline and spotted a feeding redfish. I was throwing straight into the wind at this point and the spoon was kinda out of control like a knuckleball. I couldn’t get it in front of the fish. The red went down and disappeared from all the commotion. Redfish that show themselves in such high water are not common, and I was disappointed to miss this chance.

I fished the mouth of a bayou where I expected to get some trout. There was good water movement here. Instead of trout there were bass hanging out along the flooded shoreline on this day. I missed a few strikes and then hooked into what I thought would be a redfish, but it was a fat 15” largemouth. These “marsh bass” do not get very big here, but they are built like fireplugs.

I went up the bayou and through a series of ponds. There did not seem to be much activity and no redfish were feeding along the shoreline. I rounded a bend in the bayou and spooked a redfish that gave several deep drums as it took off. Usually a redfish is “gone for good” when it does this behavior, but I always make a few casts in the general direction. This time casting at the spooked fish paid off and I got a nice red at the upper edge of the slot size (27”). I think it might have been over the slot by a quarter of an inch, and it went 8 lbs on the Boga grip. It bit the in line spinner with the lemon Matrix shad.

I fished another 20 yards and hooked a nice (for the table) 18” redfish on the in line spinner after missing a few hard strikes. Then I went another 30 yards further and missed a hammering strike from another larger sized redfish. I was surprised the fish hit that hard and didn’t get hooked. I could see it and its buddy as they shot by about 5 yards from me just below the surface. I cast to the spooked fish for a few minutes without success.

I saw a storm getting nearer so I turned back even though there was no way I could outrun it since it was an hour of traveling time back to the truck. Fortunately it did not get much closer and I continued to fish my way back in.

I fished up another little bayou, throwing into the backs of some pockets along the bank. I missed a couple of strikes – probably from small reds or bass. Then I saw it – another redfish with its back out of the water at the edge of a pocket. I put the in line spinner bait about a yard away and the 20” red smacked it as it went by.

It was about 4:30 and another dark cloud was getting closer so I trolled back in using the same lures as before. This time the rod with the Vudu shrimp started dancing and I reeled in an 11” speck. Too little and too late. Not much of trout day but I managed to get  7  redfish and 4 bass under unfavorable conditions. Tails on the redfish were blue today. I saw a big gator of about 10’ and an otter popped up by me along the way in.