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.



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.


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.



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!


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.