Hopedale 4-1-2018

Wind: 0 – 5mph early, kicked up to 10 mph after noon from S – SE

Tide: neap tide at Shell Beach station, wind pushed water up a bit

Water Level: high, in the grass….came up about 6” more during the day

Water Temperature: ~ 70 F

Water Clarity: good, 2-3 ft visibility, a few dirty spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional clouds

Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 82 F

Moon: Waning near full

Solunar period: major periods @ 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 7 a.m., packed up and driving home about 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 8 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find feeding redfish

Gear: one #8 fly rod, one light weight spinning rod n’reel

Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse on the fly rod, Voodoo shrimp in natural for the spinning rod.

I hit City Donuts on Claiborne Avenue to get energized with some coffee and doughnuts and then headed on down to Hopedale. Good doughnuts but I think Gerald’s in Chalmette is still my favorite. Both have drive-up windows, so you can grab and go.

I took off and made a long run down the canal with the plan to have the wind at my back on the way in. I brought the spinning rod with the plastic shrimp on it to troll the canal as I traveled. I brought the spinning rod with the plastic shrimp on it to troll the canal as I traveled. The canal is about 12 feet deep, so I made a long cast and put the rod in the holder and trolled. It turned out to be a good idea. I had only gone about 100 yards when I picked up the first speckled trout of the day….a nice 16” fish. I caught 3 more over about a mile, but they were smaller. When I got to the shallow water and reeled in the Voodoo shrimp.

I made my way into a duck pond (lots of old duck blinds from winter remained) and cruised around the shoreline. The water was pretty and I stood up to let a light breeze push me along. I did not see much over a quarter of a mile of drifting so I sat down and headed to a little cut of the pond. I came upon a nice redfish, but I was right on top of it by the time I saw it and it grunted and took off. I cast the spoon fly out in the general direction the fish went, but no luck. I proceeded on down the cut and came upon another red and the same thing happened. This scenario would be repeated about two dozen more times throughout the day. I saw nice sized reds, but for some reason I just could not spot the fish until they were about 10 feet away. I got a small six spotted redfish by blind casting as I left the pond.

I went over to one of my favorite bayous and cast into the scour hole (about 8-10 feet deep) at the mouth. Usually there are redfish here, but today it was a nice trout. I thought it was a redfish at first, but then I felt its head shaking. I got it in the net and onto the measuring board…..right at 19”. I cast the spoon fly back into the hole but that’s all it produced. I moved up into the bayou. The water was up in the grass and likely the reds were too, so I did not spend much time casting. I spooked a couple of 7’ gators off the bank and moved up to a nice duck pond. I repeated the spook the redfish scenario several more times and went on to the next pond up the line. The intersection of the bayou and pond seemed like a likely place for a fish to be sitting, so I made a couple of false casts and put the spoon fly in a likely spot. Fish on! But this one felt odd and when I got it up I saw it was a shell cracker (a.k.a. readear sunfish, chinquapin, lake runner). This was the 4th or 5th one I have caught on a spoon fly…..it’s always a surprise to find these fish out in the marsh, but with the human-made hydrological changes that have made the waters less salty I guess I’ll be catching these more often.

I spooked a few more redfish at point blank range and started back down the bayou. I hooked up on another trout with the spoon fly and finally the little light bulb went off in my head…..this is a day to fish for trout instead of redfish. So I put the trout in the bag and looked for more of them. I did not find any with the fly rod, but I did get two more 17” specks trolling the Voodoo shrimp down the canal on the way back to the truck. I cleaned the trout first thing when I got home and fried them up for a good supper.

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Delacroix Marsh 5-27-2017

Wind: 10 mph early, 15 mph later from the S and SE
Tide: High was at about 4:00 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range about 1.5 ft.
Water Level: pretty low to start and rising through the day.
Water Temperature: ~75 F
Water Clarity: fair, 2-3 feet visibility, but the wind muddied open water
Water salinity: ?
Weather/sky: mostly hazy, cloudy, with occasional sun poking through
Temperature: ~ 90 F for high
Moon: new
Solunar period: minor @ 9 am, major period @ 4 p.m.
Time on the water: 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 6 miles, but did a lot of extra pedaling and paddling due to wind and to hold a position while casting.
Other fishers: solo

Gear: 2 x #8 weight fly rods, did not use much due to wind – should have left them in the truck, and Revo baitcaster w Falcon rod, 15# Powerpro braided line.

Lures: I fished mostly with a Seein’ Spots in line spinnerbait rigged with a Saltwater Assassin plastic (chicken on a chain color) and caught 3 reds and a bass on it, then proceeded to lose the next 6 reds that I hooked. I had crimped the barb on the hook to reduce damage to the fish (and to me in case of accident) and am not sure if this was the reason the last 6 fish came unglued. They seemed to be hooked well and I lost them as they were coming in to be landed. I kept tension on the fish at all times. ???

Strategy/ patterns: The fish seemed to be scattered as singles and were hugging tight against the banks during the morning’s low tide. Later I got several fish (or hook ups at least) fishing parallel to weed beds, which are really starting to thicken up now that summer is coming. None of the fish were especially big. Most were around 18-20” – starting to see the more typical summer time sized fish in the marsh.

Hopedale Marsh 3-26-2017

17554242_1656026707746322_2217920357240801639_nWind: 10 mph early, quickly rose to about 15-20 mph from the S

Tide: Low was forecast at 11 am and high was at 6:00 pm based on Shell Beach station. Range about a half a foot on the chart, wind pushing in cleaner saltier water.

Water Level: started a bit below the grass line, up in the grass by afternoon.

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Clarity: fair, 2 ft. in main canals, clarity declined in windy shallow areas, cleaner water around weed beds with 3-4 ft. visibility.

Water salinity: ~ 5 parts per thousand

Weather/sky: mostly sunny, a few clouds

Temperature: ~ 80 F for high

Moon: almost new moon

Solunar period: good period @ noon to 2 p.m.

Time on the water: 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 9 miles

Other fishers: Jeff W.

 

Gear: #8 weight fly rods, floating lines, probably should have fished conventional tackle due to high winds.

 

Fish caught:

10 bass from 10 up to 14”,

4 speckled trout (10-14”)

1 redfish, 26.75”

 

Lures: bass and trout caught on natural (bucktail and white) and a purple over chartreuse clousers with #4 sized hooks. Redfish came on spoon fly with gold glitter/ chartreuse marabou. Lost another nice redfish that broke off the spoon fly. (note: make more spoon flies).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t lose your head(gear): Hopedale, LA 4-30-2016

Fishing Report

Date: 04/30/2016

Place: Hopedale, Louisiana

Wind: 20+ mph from SSE, with stronger gusts

Tide: Rising about half a foot, low about 10 a.m., high at 5 p.m.

Moon: Last quarter

Solunar period: major period: 8 – 10 a.m.

Weather/sky: overcast, sometimes heavy clouds, distant thunder had us heading for the truck at about 2 p.m.

Temperature: 78 F for the high

Water Temperature: ~70 F

Water Level: about 2 feet above normal and rising

Water Clarity: variable, up to 5’ visibility depending on spot

Time on the water: 7:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Water covered: only about 6 miles, continually pedaling to hold position in the wind

Other fishers: Brian M. (Dr. Wahoo)

 

Got up about 4:45 a.m., got some coffee and breakfast, and hit the road a little before 6 a.m. I listened to Brendan Bayard’s report for the kayaker fishers on WWL radio about the time I was cruising through Chalmette. The fishing forecast was not great, and the taught American flag and water creeping up near Paris Road told the story for the day. I met my buddy, Brian, and we fought of hoards of marsh mosquitoes that did not seem to get the memo about the 20+ mph wind as we loaded up our Hobie Outbacks. We combat launched near Breton Sound Marina and headed for the marsh to hide from the wind.

Our game plan worked pretty well and we were able to avoid the full force of the wind for most of the day. One notable exception was when we rounded a point and the full 20+ mph wind gust lifted the nice white Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club baseball hat off my head. I had just made a cast, and by the time I could reel in and spin the kayak around the hat was taken to Davey Jones locker. So I went into my bag and slathered on the sunscreen as best as I could. I really missed my hat.

We fished around a bit and then eventually found some redfish that were moving out of large pond and heading upwind into a bayou. We could not see the fish under water because of the overcast sky, but we could see them as they worked around some huge schools of mullet. Every now and then a dorsal fin or large wake would reveal their presence. The area was super grassy. The water was high and I had to push my five and a half foot pvc stake out pole way under the water to get it to bite and hold. There was about 5 feet of vegetation with about a foot or less water of super clear water above it, and that’s where the fish were. I was throwing a chartreuse Aqua Dream spoon, but it was difficult to get it through the vegetation even though it is weedless. I got a few fish to bump the spoon and then a nice 22” redfish really slammed it. The fish kept burying itself in the deep vegetation, but I worked it free and got the fish grip on it. The hook had gone through 3 different spots in the fish’s mouth, so it was going to take some surgery to get it loose. Then I noticed that I had caught wind and was quickly flying away from the lee shoreline into open water with whitecaps. So I hooked on my 3 lb. anchor and tossed it over, letting it catch in the weeds to stop me from drifting. Then I worked the fish off the hook and set it free.

I threw the spoon for a bit, but started realizing that I really had to start reeling fast before it even hit the water in order to keep the weeds off. I needed to FISH SMARTER. I decided to switch to a Seein’ Spots in-line spinner with a Salt Water Assassin (chicken on a chain pattern). This has become one of my favorite redfish lures. The in line spinner bait is rigged weedless with the hook embedded into the plastic lure, and the gold spinner blade allows it to be fished slower than the spoon. The gold blade gives it the flash that the redfish like. This switch turned out to be a good choice. I was able to work the spinner in the layer of water above the vegetation (most of the time).

We moved upwind into the bayou off the pond. I spooked a few large fish; some were reds, some were UFOs, and some were large gars about 5 ft. long. It was tough moving upwind through the weeds, but we did it by flutter kicking the Hobie Mirage drives and sometimes outright plowing through the weeds. The Mirage drive can work through the vegetation right now, but later as weeds get thicker it won’t work so well.

I missed a few good bites and then hooked up with another mid-slot sized red of about 22” and got it through the salad. Then I got a nice bass to take the spinner. It came up in the air with a nice tail walk and then spit the hook. I noticed a large wake down the bayou so I eased over toward it and hooked up with a nice sized redfish. It was easy to tell it was a bigger fish because of that authoritative sound of line peeling off the reel. I wrestled with it for several minutes and fortunately it did not try to bury itself in the weeds. It did make a few dives under the kayak but I was able to swing the rod in under and around the kayak to avoid a break. I got it in and it measured 28″ and weighed about 9 to 10 lbs. Brian was kind enough to get a photo of me as I picked up the fish for a quick shot and then got it back into the water for a good release.

I hooked another bass and landed it, but it was only 13”. I also had a few more good strikes from redfish but did not hook up. I think the one disadvantage of the in line spinner is that there will be some missed bites due to the weedless rigging of the hook. This is a trade off for the ability to work this lure through the aquatic salad.

About 2 pm we noticed that Mother Nature was sending us an eviction notice. The sky was darkening and so we started heading back to the truck. About half way back there was a grumble of thunder in the distance. We ran into Carlos (100chivas) and his son, who were also exiting the marsh and heading in. It’s always nice to meet some fellow BCKFC folks on the water. I ended the day with three reds and a bass and Brian got a couple of reds. We got loaded up and I started for home. About the time I made it to Chalmette the storm cut loose. Water was piling up in the streets and the wind was howling at 40 mph, blowing the torrents of rain sideways. I probably should have stopped but I went over the big green bridge with a little nervousness as I could only go about 20 mph. I got on I-10 headed back to New Orleans but took the first exit and sat out the semi-hurricane for a while. There were just too many nuts trying to drive 70 mph on the highway in 6” of water. After conditions permitted I got back on the road and saw a number of accidents on my way in. No need to push my luck, I want to be around for a few more fishing trips.

Modified Hobie Outfitter

My wife or one of the daughters takes the front seat of the Hobie Outfitter on occasion, but on most trips I have the Hobie Outfitter to myself. I could stand and fish in this tandem kayak pretty well, but the surface was not so level and the Mirage drive reduced the area of floor board. I thought it could be better, so I got the idea to add a casting platform made out of 3/4 inch plywood. I wanted it to be super stable for standing and fishing, so I added Hobie amas (outriggers). I found this modification made the Outfitter like fishing from a little moveable island. There is space under the plywood deck for tackle, equipment, an anchor, etc., and I left enough of a gap at the bow for a tackle box or fish bag (held in place by carabiner). I used the forward flush rod holders to receive pvc drain pipes that  hold the plywood in place and double as extended rod holders. The plywood is also notched on the aft end so that it fits into the mounts used by the amas crossbar, serving to further stabilize the plywood. I glued down a large fish ruler and applied some adhesive no-slip textured strips so my feet will not slide if the board gets wet or slimy from fish. I treated the plywood with several coats of water sealant to prevent warping or splitting when it contacts water.

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It is nice to pole along from the deck and sight fish, and being flat and unobstructed, it does not catch the stripped line when I fly fish.  After I “pool tested it” I put it to the test in the south Louisiana marshes. I have been please with the results.     

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First hunt at Big Branch WMA

A friend from work and I decided to try duck hunting from our kayaks this morning. We went to Big Branch National Wildlife Management Area near Slidell, LA.

http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=43558

I bought some camo burlap to make my light colored kayak blend in better with the marsh. I trimmed it to fit approximately to the water line of the kayak. Naturally, I used “duck” tape to hold in place.

 

A strong cold front had come through earlier in the week and we had hopes that some fresh birds had come down from the north. Hunting reports say that most of the ducks are still stuck up in the Midwest and it has yet to get cold enough to move them south. Global warming is ruining the duck hunting in south LA. It is not getting cold enough to make the birds fly all the way south anymore.

This was the first time we had hunted the area, so expectations were not too high. I got to the spot about 5 a.m. and was greeted by 7 empty pick up trucks. There were already a group of guys out in the marsh and we would need to be careful not to encroach on their places.  We noticed several guys in the marsh as we tried to find a place to set up. The marsh was very shallow, so we pulled up out fins and rudders and took to the paddles for most of the hunt. We had not been hunting long when a group of gadwall (gray) ducks came by. My friend and I both fired, and I’m not sure which one (or both) of us downed the duck. I moved over to a small island and tucked myself back in the weeds along the shoreline. I had a pair of gadwall catch me unaware as they approached me from behind. I was a little slow in deciding whether to shoot, and in the mean time they climbed and veered away.  Then three redheads moved in front of me, and I knocked down two. I had to chase one bird and it took a few minutes to run him down.  After chase number one was over I tried but could never find the second duck. I shot at a few more ducks when I probably shouldn’t have (too far/high). We came in about 11:30, as hunting must cease at noon. My buddy had a gray, bufflehead, and a scaup. I had a redhead in hand and downed but lost a couple of other birds.

 

It was not a bad trip considering that we really did not know the area or how to hunt it. I think we would like to try hunting it on a weekday when there are fewer people there. It could be easy to “jump shoot” some ducks because the kayaks sit so low in the water that the ducks don’t realize that a hunter is there.  After duck hunting with guides for the last several trips it was fun to try it on our own. And the price was right too. I think we will be back soon. Image