Hopedale 3-18-2017

Wind: 3-5 mph early, quickly rose to about 10-15 mph switching from the SSW, W, N, SW

Tide: Low was forecast at 2 :13 am and high was at 6:40 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot on the chart, but it came up more like 1.5-2’. Rising all day.

Water Level: started super low, up to the grass line about 4 pm.

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: very dirty, clarity declined in windy areas, found some cleaner water around weed beds.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: mostly sunny early, by noon a few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waning, almost half moon

Solunar period: good periods @ 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo

I stopped in a Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette to load up with some fast carbs and caffeine and buzzed my way down to Hopedale. The light sugary donuts gave me the energy to literally toss my kayak off the truck. The water level was super low and I had to ease the kayak out on the bare mud for about 20’ to launch. It was supposed to be a day with light winds that would pick up a bit as afternoon came, so I brought only fly rods. I had visions of sight casting flies to redfish in clear water, but that fantasy ended after I made it to the first pond. The weatherman tricked me again. The very low tide coupled with a quickly rising wind made it a difficult day to fly fish, but I stuck it out and caught a few. It was difficult to pole along the bank with increasing wind, and hard to spot fish in the muddy water. I spooked a bunch of redfish that were resting on bottom in the pond. Even though the water was dirty, I could still see big muddy swirls and wakes as fish took off. I tried my old trick of working upwind and then drifting downwind quietly while blind casting or casting to wakes made by fish. I was slinging a gold and chartreuse spoon fly that I had tied. The wind blew me over to a bank and just as I was ready to paddle off the bank I spied a nice redfish coming right toward me down the shoreline with its back out of the water. I picked up my rod and the line tangled, so I scrambled to get ready to cast as the fish came closer. It was a little more than a flyrod’s length from the kayak when I flipped the fly in front of its nose. It immediately ate it and took off and I stuck the fly home with a strip strike. It took about 5 minutes to land the fish and when I measured it went a little under 28”. It was pretty chunky and I guessed it went about 9 lbs. It had a mark on its lower lip from a previous battle with another angler, and I’m glad I got a chance to catch this recycled redfish. I released it for another angler to have a chance at it. I fished the pond hard but could not come up with another fish even though I knew they were there.

I went to another pond and the water was still trashy and coming up fast. I drifted over some weed beds and spooked a few reds before being able to get a shot at them. I went over to a little bayou off the pond that connected to another pond about a half mile away. I spotted a few reds “bank crawling” and got a shot at a nice one but this time I muffed my chance by being a little off target with the fly. I tried a second time and spooked the fish. I got a smaller redfish of about 17” that was hanging around in the same spot. I went down to the pond and saw a number of fish working in the pond – some of the best redfish surface activity that I’ve seen in a while. The problem was that the pond was pretty shallow and the wind made it hard to be stealthy. I would try to move up to a fish to get a cast and it would disappear. I ended up empty handed when I left the pond, but I will be back there for sure when there is a little more water for maneuvering. I went back down the little bayou, switched to a natural colored clouser pattern, and made a few casts where it opened into the second pond. I spooked another nice redfish, and threw another cast and caught a small speckled trout. I would catch and release about 10 there. Unfortunately they were all small, with only about half of them being above the 12” keeper mark. The “big one” was a tad under 14”. I also got a surprise redear sunfish (shellcracker, chinquapin) on the clouser.

I went looking for more redfish but found some marsh bass, landing 4 on the clouser. I missed a few and also missed a few redfish that somehow missed the hook. It was getting late so I headed in and got to the truck about 6 p.m. I don’t like the daylight savings time shift except for the ability to fish later in the day.

 

 

Hopedale marsh, 2-12-2017

Wind: 0 early, rose to about 10 mph from the SSW

Tide: Low was forecast at 12 :23 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range was about a foot. Rising a bit in the afternoon

Water Level: started low, went even lower, started rising about 3-4 pm.

Water Temperature: 70 F

Water Clarity: dirty, about foot of visibility, clarity declined in windy areas.

Water salinity: ?

Weather/sky: started overcast, sunny by noon with few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: Waning, almost full moon

Solunar period: good period @ 2-4 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: Jeff W.

Gnats (midges) and mosquitoes attacked hard at the launch because there was no wind to start. I used some spray and covered up just about everything, but some slipped in under my hat. Water was low so I did a good bit of paddling today with the rudder and fins in the up position. I trolled a chartreuse Nemire spoon as I went down a canal and quickly hooked up on a decent sized trout. I fished the area a bit but did not find any more. I went down a favorite little bayou off a canal and hooked a nice trout in the hole where they meet. The trout shook loose at the kayak. I went about 50 yards and hooked into a nice 29” redfish. I decided to try the fly rod even though the water was very turbid. I got one strike on a spoon fly but I could not get the hook set in time. I went on down the little bayou and spooked a 6’ gator off the bank. It took off and I did not see it again, and it must have spooked the fish as well.

The wind picked up so I gave up on the fly rod for a while. I went over to a large pond and found some large weedy spots in it. I got a small bass as I entered, then picked up another decent speckled trout along a weed line in about 2’ of water. I had several other hits on the spoon. Probably could have caught more specks if I had used a more appropriate lure for them. I paddled across a large weed bed and found some cleaner water on the leeward side of the pond. There was space between the shore and the weed beds and that held cleaner water and fish. I spooked a few redfish and had a nice one bail out on the spoon at the last second, leaving a big wake about 10’ from the kayak. A few casts later I hooked up on what I thought was a redfish, but it turned into a nice bass. This was a chunk of a fish and was probably getting ready to spawn. Naturally it took the spoon under a gill and I worked hard to free it while doing it as little harm as possible. I caught another decent speck and decided that would do me for this trip.

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Winter trips to the bridges on Lake Pontchartrain

With all the pictures of big speckled trout coming off the highway 11 bridge and the train trestle that crosses Lake Pontchartrain, it was time to see for myself. On December, 28 Joe L. and I got out there about 7 a.m., launching from the south shore at the bridge. There had been a warming trend and the water temperature was up to 63 degrees F with a couple of feet of visibility. The wind was very light from the SE and a heavy fog bank covered the lake, with visibility of a few hundred feet. We worked our way around the shoreline to the bridge. I had my fishfinder running and it was picking up clouds of baitfish all around the bridge. I was fishing a chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet on a 3/8 oz jig head due to the hard current from the falling tide. We got on the down tide side of the bridge and I spotted numerous large fish on the screen. They were holding a couple of feet off the bottom, and it wasn’t long until I hooked into a nice 3 lb. speck of about 20”. I fished along the bridge toward the first drawbridge and then turned back. As I approached the spot where I caught the first fish I got another fish of about 15”. It was on! I got Joe to come over and he started catching them too. We would go on to boat good numbers of fish. Joe stayed and fished this area while I went exploring and drifted down to the I-10 bridge and pedaled out to the first concrete pad with the transmission tower. I caught a few in each spot. Joe stayed in the hot area and caught approximately a limit (25) of trout. Three of them were in the 24” / 4 lb. range and all were nice fish. I caught 10, and there was no need to measure any of them. We came in about noon.

I tried a trip on Wednesday morning, the 3rd of January, but the wind was up and from the north at about 10-15. I was trying to beat a cold front that would drop the balmy temperatures we had been having into the freezing zone. The tide was falling out hard, waves were up to 3’, and the water was churned up pretty good. I had to cut it short as it became futile. Bad choice – should have launched on the north side of the lake to get some shelter from the wind.

I had a little time to try a short afternoon trip on Friday the 13th. I launched from the south shore about 3 p.m., knowing I had about two and a half hours until dark. The wind was from the east at about 10 mph, and the tide was falling out pretty hard. The water temperature was 52 degrees, and it was dirty. It took a heavy jig head to get the plastic bait down. And although I tried the fly rod I could quickly tell the 15’ sink tip was not going to get the fly down in the strike zone. So I stuck with the conventional tackle. I fished a chartreuse Gulp swimming mullet and fooled a couple of decent ~17” fish at the bridge, and then I tried a quick run over to the train trestle but did not have any luck there.

jan-13

I got a message from Eric M. and met him out at the south side of the highway 11 bridge at 6 a.m. Once again the fog was thick, and the east wind started slow, but blew up a good chop at 10-12 mph by about 11 a.m. The water clarity was about a foot to a foot and a half, and the temperature of the water was 58. The sky remained overcast and the air warmed to about 70, but it was cool out on the water – glad I had a jacket. I switched fly line to an Orvis Depth Charge, and it helped get the fly down in the water column. I used a black and chartreuse Clouser minnow that I had tied the night before. I got a bite from a 15” speck about 8 a.m. I did not see many bigger fish on the fishfinder, but there was lots of bait around the bridge. I caught 3 more trout in the area, using a troll and strip technique. The fish were clearly not as dense as when Joe and I caught them a couple of weeks ago. I made a number of passes up and down the bridge, went over to I-10 bridge, the train trestle, the rock wall beyond it, and the shoreline, but did not have any luck. I came off the water about 2:30 after covering 8 miles, but pedaling essentially the whole time.

Hopedale Lagoon with Jenna Miller, 12-21-2016

 

Wind: 5 mph from the east

Tide: Flat

Water Level: at grass line all day

Water Temperature: 58 F

Water Clarity: fair, about 2 feet

Water salinity: 1 part per thousand based on taste test

Weather/sky: generally sunny

Temperature: ~ 70 F for high

Moon: Waning, half moon

Solunar period: weak period @ 1 p.m.

Time on the water: 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: Jenna Miller

Jenna and I took off from Pip’s launch, turned right when we entered Hopedale Lagoon, and headed toward Lake Ameda. We trolled Gulp! shrimp on 1/8 oz. jig heads. The lagoon is generally about 4 ft. deep with lots of oyster shells on bottom. There are some well-known oyster reefs near the junction of the lagoon and Lake Ameda that often hold speckled trout this time of year. We drifted and trolled through this spot with no luck, so we went around the corner into Lake Ameda and tried some cuts on the shoreline for redfish. I had a nice fish follow my lure but it swirled away at the last second instead of biting. After no luck with the reds we went back to the lagoon and drifted across the shells again. About 2 p.m. I got a small trout and signaled to Jenna to come over. Another angler (Reel Rebel, from the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club) joined us as we trolled. The bite picked up but the trout were generally small. After catching several I got a 13” keeper and put it in the fish bag. Jenna was about 100 yards away closer to the eastern shoreline of the lagoon when I saw her hook up with a trout. I pedaled the Hobie kayak over to her and I got another trout on the way. We put the trout in the fish bag and got after the fish again. I went back toward the west “corner” of the lagoon where it joins with Lake Ameda and fished that area while Jenna stayed closer to the eastern side. She said she was getting bites there. I probably caught another 30 fish (plus or minus), with a few that were big enough to go in the bag. I began to cast to an area and had several 5/5 and 6/6 cast/hook ups. I threw several different colored baits but it did not seem to matter – they were not picky. I tried an Aqua Dream spoon, thinking it might produce some bigger trout. I got a few strikes, probably from small trout, but no hook ups. I went back over to Jenna and she had 2 more keeper trout and a small 16” redfish in her kayak that I moved to the fish bag. We fished for another 30 minutes and I caught several trout, mostly undersized or around the 12” length limit that were released. It was a fun day of fishing with my daughter and it made for a nice Christmas present. The “big” trout for the day was probably about 14″. I cleaned 10 specks and 1 redfish that evening, and we cooked them for a nice dinner over the holidays.

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Hobie World Kayak Fishing Championships

This little event is going on just down the road a bit from my house. Some of the best fishers in the world are competing in the marshes at Leeville, LA. Here is a little video that describes the competition and shows some of the areas that I like to fish. Several local anglers qualified to fish this tournament.

http://hobiefishingworlds.com/video-mike-iaconelli-talks-about-hobie-fishing-worlds-6/

 

 

 

Black Friday Fishing at Hopedale, LA 11-25-2016

 

15193490_1507205542628440_2924426272510997952_nWind: 5-10 mph from the north

Tide: Little range. Low was forecast at 11:19 based on Shell Beach station. I usually add + 2 hours for this station when at Hopedale, might have come up 6” by afternoon. Tide was probably slowed by north wind.

Water Level: started low, was below grass line all day.

Water Temperature: 65 F

Water Clarity: dirty, a foot of visibility to start, but clarity declined as the wind churned it.

Water salinity: about 3 parts per thousand based on taste test

Weather/sky: sunny, sometimes with high, thin clouds

Temperature: ~ 60 –75 F for high

Moon: Waning, about 1/3 from new

Solunar period: fair major period @ 10 a.m.

Time on the water: 6:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: Kevin A. and Joe L.

Brought two #8 fly rods, one with a crab fly and the other with a white clouser.

We tried a few of the cuts that drain a main canal, but did not find any trout schooled up there.

Shotgun blasts told us that duck hunters were in some ponds I like to fish, so we looked elsewhere.

Kevin went up a little bayou that was wide enough for one angler, but it was fruitless and dirty today. Usually the reds get pushed out of the weeds on a low tide and are in this bayou. Usually.

I sent Joe up the next little bayou. This one leads up to some nice duck ponds, and fortunately no one was hunting there. Joe was fishing with conventional tackle and ended the day with 6 reds (two throwbacks), 10 specks (a few keepers), and 2 bass. Most of his fish came on a Voodoo shrimp under a cork, and a couple of reds came on the gold spoon.

Kevin and I fly fished in the same general area around a large pond. I found some redfish on a bank. One big fish was harassing baitfish and every few minutes it would send them leaping out of the water in a shower. I stripped my crab fly in front of some flying baitfish and worked it back in. As I lifted the fly there was a big cloud of mud as the fish spooked. Spooky fish…that would be a theme that was repeated many times today.

I worked about 50 yards down the bank and saw more fish activity. I cast parallel to the bank and got a 20” red to take my blue crab fly. I was proud of that fish because it bit the crab fly I had tied.

Kevin and I fished around the duck pond but did not catch any. We went over to a large pond and tried the drains. I went up a long one and spooked more fish. It seemed the redfish were really sluggish…..just sitting on the mud bottom and would only move when I got to about a rod’s length from them. I could not see them when standing because the water was too dirty to spot them until it was too late. I had a few hits from small specks and finally hooded a 10” fish on a spoon fly.

It was a tough day with lots of frustrating “almosts”. It was hard to get a visible fly in front of the redfish today. I think I would have fared much better on conventional tackle. It was an interesting and pleasant day to fish, though. I saw a couple of 4’ alligators, several hawks and an eagle, flocks of white pelicans, and some good flocks of gray (gadwall) ducks.

Port Sulphur,11-6-2016

Fishing Report

Date: 11/6/2016

Place: Port Sulphur, LA

Wind: 10-15 mph with gusts – East / Southeast

Tide: Low was forecast at 10:17 based on Empire Jetty. I usually add + 2 hours for Port Sulphur, it fell about foot later in afternoon. Maybe slowed by wind.

Water Level: started high, above grass line, dropped below later in the p.m.

Water Temperature: 76 F

Water Clarity: nice green water to start, about 2-3 feet visibility, but clarity declined as the wind whipped it up

Water salinity: about 10 ppt based on taste test

Weather/sky: sunny, sometimes with high, thin clouds

Temperature: ~ 60 – 80 F for high

Moon: Waxing, about 1/3 from full

Solunar period: fair major period @ 6-8 a.m., minor at 2 p.m.

Time on the water: 7:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Two #8 fly rods as usual, with a purple/gold spoon fly and a white clouser as per usual. (If it aint’ broke…). I also brought a light spinning reel/rod with a chartreuse Gulp! Swimming minnow with a 1/8 oz. jig head rigged 2.5’ under a cork. I troll this behind as a “trout finder” and cast it when the wind gets too rough to use the fly rod very effectively.

I was seeking speckled trout today, and I wanted to try some points and curves in the bayous. I got to my first point (Disappearing Point as I like to think of it, because I have watched it shrink and erode to become a much smaller feature in the 8 years I have been fishing here.) The wind was blowing across the point, leaving a sheltered side. I probed it with the Gulp! mullet and the cork went down almost as soon as it hit the water. In came a small speckled trout. I put the spinning rod away and tossed the clouser in there, catching a 12.5” speck and several throw backs, hooking up about every other cast. I decided to move on since it did not seem to hold fish of much size.

I switched to the spoon fly and fished a favorite little bayou but found bigger fish there. I caught a bunch of undersized reds from about 8-14”, but nothing remarkable. So I swung out into some open marsh and drifted downwind. The wind blew me up into a little cut and about the time I figured I needed to turn around it became clear that I could go further and pass into a large pond if I went through a narrow area. Then I noticed a redfish traversing through the cut. I slipped the spoon fly over to it with about a 25-foot cast and hooked it on the second strip. Nice 24” red that put on a good battle.

I drifted on through to the pond, spooking lots of fish as I came through, but not getting any hook ups. I went across the pond and into a little twisty bayou that opened into another pond. The SE wind was pushing pretty hard through the bayou, and I cast the spoon fly right into the middle and got a good hit, landing a 14” speck. I repeated this a few times, landing more trout and a few small reds. I decided to switch to the clouser and that worked just as well. There was a magical spot of about 8’ x 8’ that drew a strike every time a fly went through. I put about a dozen specks in the bag, cookie cutter fish of 13-14”. The bite fizzled after about an hour and I moved on, throwing the spoon fly.

It was getting later and I wanted to fish a few more little bayous that connected to ponds as the tide ran out. I went up one and spooked some fish but got no takers. I moved on to the next and saw a perfect scenario. The little bayou almost ended, but there was a little pass about the width of a kayak that opened into a pond about the size of a house lot. I staked out where I could intercept fish as they came out of the little pass and it was only a few casts until the line went tight from the bite of a 20” redfish. It took off and tried to go back up the little pass, then went down below me, then under and around the kayak, snagging the line on the rudder. I flipped up the rudder and got the line free and the fish was still on. It tried to run up into the weeds several times, but there was not enough water for it to make it. Finally it gave up, I got it in, and released it. That was a fun battle, and so I started back to the truck.

As I came back in I spotted some gulls diving on bait. It looked to be shrimp, as a saw some popping along on the surface. I threw the clouser in and got several strikes but they did not stay on. Finally I landed a few more undersized specks and one of about 14”. Then I loaded up the truck and fought off some biting gnats as I secured the kayak. I headed home with the sun slipping below the horizon. Days are getting shorter for sure. My wife and I turned the trout fillets into trout cakes….deeeelish!