Hopedale, LA 3-9-2019

I don’t usually fish in tournaments. I work in a pretty competitive field, so fishing is my way of relaxing and disconnecting from that part of my world. I planned to fish on Mar. 9, and this date coincided with Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s Trout Challenge. It would be held at the places I usually fish in St. Bernard Parish, so I entered. I rarely specifically target speckled trout. Usually they are by-catch when I am targeting redfish, so this would really be a “trout challenge” for me.

I combat launching off the roadside and was on the water by 6 a.m., just a bit past the legal start time of 5:45 a.m. It had been pretty cold earlier in the week. Friday it warmed up nicely, and Saturday was forecast to be warmer, with a high of 78 degrees. The catch was the wind had been blowing from the south on Friday and continued Saturday at 15-25 mph. This meant the water would likely be high (it was) and the fishing would be more difficult under these conditions. It was a bit foggy and overcast most of Saturday as well. Although it was supposed to be warm it really wasn’t. The water temperature was about 58 to start and it warmed to about 64 degrees by afternoon. The wind blowing across the cool water made me keep my jacket on most of the day.

The water was pretty green color when there was enough daylight to check it. I could see lures about 2 feet below the surface. The water got dirtier through the day as the wind picked up, with visibility declining to about a foot. There was not much tidal range so most of the water movement for the day was wind driven.

My plan was to follow a deeper canal and troll plastic baits while looking for schools of trout on the fish finder. When I came to bayous or cuts I would fish that area, working from deep to shallow to try and intercept trout as they moved up to warmer waters. I got one undersized trout trolling along the canal. When I reached the first bayou I started casting into it and immediately caught another undersized trout. I spent about an hour here catching little trout and hoping there would be some bigger ones hanging out with them. After releasing about a dozen and losing a bunch, I got a 13” trout into the net. I fished some more but couldn’t make them grow any bigger. I had a couple of false alarms when I hooked up with redfish instead of trout. I slipped an 18” redfish into my fish bag to supplement my lone trout for Saturday night supper.

I pushed on and tried a spot where I caught a rogue 19” trout on my fly rod last spring. Nobody home this time. So I went back to the main channel and trolled a bit. No luck. I saw a deep cut off the channel so I followed it to the shoreline. More redfish were caught and released off this bank. I went back to the channel and kept pushing upwind. It was now about 12:30 and about time to turn around if I wanted to make the weight in. I tried a wind blown shoreline off a bend in the main channel. The wind was pushing me hard as I was blown along a nice looking tideline headed toward the bank. I got a cast off and hooked up on a 15” speck that made it to the net. I was thinking it was “pattern solved, game on”, but that was the only speck to come off that bank.

I retraced my track, this time with help from a tailwind. I slowed to hit some shoreline structure and got another small redfish. I went up a bayou that opened into a small pond and “bingo”. Hooked up on a keeper trout but it shook free at the kayak. Cast back out and repeated the hook with premature release another three times. What’s up with this – maybe a bad hook – it looked ok. So I switched from the chartreuse matrix shad to a Vudu shrimp, but it really didn’t help much. I lost several more fish until I finally got one in the net. I managed to lose some more before getting another 12.5” fish into the bag. It was really frustrating because I easily lost enough fish to surpass the 10 fish limit for the tournament. They weren’t very big trout, but I had intended on being able to put 10 in the bag. I was pretty disappointed at missing so many fish. When I’m not trying to catch trout I usually land them.

It was getting late, a little after 2 p.m., and weigh in ended at 3. If I hustled I could make it and weigh in my 4 dinky trout. The wind was pushing hard on my back. I was doing 3.5 mph without pedaling, and almost 6 mph with pedaling the Hobie Outback – probably close to the max hull speed for the kayak. Then a little bayou off the canal caught my attention. I stopped to check it out. After a few minutes of no bites and dirty looking water I decided to call it a day and headed for the truck. I decided to clean my fish instead of racing in for the weigh in.

I checked my track when I got in. I covered about 9 miles and checked out some new spots and fished with techniques that I don’t normally use. So it was a “challenge” for me except there were not many trout. I tried several lures, with success on chartreuse Matrix shad and a natural colored Vudu shrimp fished on a tight line and when trolled. I tried them under a cork, but didn’t have luck with that. I also threw and trolled an inline spinner with a Matrix Vortex shad (black/chartreuse tail) and a ¼ oz. Aqua Dream spoon (chartreuse) but got no love with those.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

 

 

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.

 

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 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.