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.

15589719_1546306625384998_6565027758730914902_n

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.

Blasting and Casting at Reggio and Delacroix, 11-12-2016

Place: Duck hunted at Reggio, then fished a few miles down the road at Delacroix, LA

Wind: 10-15 mph with gusts – North (usually pushes water out, but see Tides below)

Tide: Low was forecast at 9 a.m. based on Shell Beach station. I add + 2 hours for Delacroix and it dropped and came back up as we fished in the afternoon. The “super moon” scheduled for Monday has “king” tides running higher than normal.

Water Level: a little high and in the grass in the early morning, above grass line, dropped below the grass line about noon, and was back up later in the p.m.

Water Temperature: almost cold to touch – probably about 65 F

Water Clarity: poor, about 1 foot visibility, seemed to have a very green tinge from small algae that were suspended. Shrimp boats are still trawling the bayous and canals.

Water salinity: not tested – probably pretty fresh

Weather/sky: partly sunny, with a high thin cirrus cloud overcast. Saw a sun dog.

Temperature: ~ 55 – 72 F for high

Moon: Full

Solunar period: weak major period @ 12 a.m.

Time on the water: Duck hunting from 5:30 to 9:30, fishing from 11-4.

Water covered kayaking: ~ 5 miles

Other hunter/fisher: Jeff W.

Duck hunt: Guide was Mitch S. with the Louisiana Marsh Guide Service. http://www.laduckhunts.com

The Daytona and Indianapolis 500s aint’ got nothing on the truck races that go on along I-10 and Paris Road heading toward the legendary duck hunting in the marshes of St. Bernard Parish on opening day of duck season. Pickups pulling trailers with boats decked out in camo and buried with marsh grasses and roseau canes jockeyed for position, skidded to stops at traffic lights, and burned rubber off the mark, all doing their best to make it to the launches in time to get out into the marsh before shooting time at half an hour before sunrise. Local police and state troopers stayed out of the way and let the race proceed.

Jeff and I arrived at Reggio about 4:30 a.m. and watched the game of musical boat trailers that was going on at the launch at Reggio. Mike, the omnipresent guy who manages the marina, was the leader of the organized chaos. We met up with the guides and it was determined that we would go with Mitch. This is an “all in the family” type of business with several brothers who guide the hunts. Jeff and I have hunted several times with these guys, and have been pleased with their professional and yet laid-back nature.

We were wondering about the conditions for this hunt for some time. It has simply been too hot to make birds migrate. Teal season, back in September, was largely a “bust” and the blue-wings came down weeks after the season ended. I did not even bother to try hunting during the early teal season. As Jeff and I had fished this area for the last weeks and not seen many flocks of ducks (usually no ducks) our chance of success was in question for this opening day. Fortunately a few cold fronts pushed through earlier in the week, and this gave us some reason for optimism.

We got to our spot and set up the decoys and then waited the half-hour until legal shooting time. As usual, there were a few premature shots fired – some guys just can’t hold it until it’s time. When 5:52 a.m. came we were ready for the ducks. The morning overcast and cooler temperature made it feel like duck hunting weather. Our day started slowly. Shots peppered out all around the marsh. Then we started to see flocks moving in the distance. Some gray ducks (gadwall) came over at high altitude, but they would not pay attention to Mitch’s calls – they probably were distracted by all the shooting in the distance. A gray duck came into the decoy spread and we got a shot at it. Jeff fired twice but did not connect, and then he and I both fired simultaneously as the duck flared off to the right. It hit the water and drifted off slowly downwind. Several times small groups of teal “bombed” us. They came in very low and 90 degrees from the left of the direction we were facing. By the time we spotted them they were over us and then out of range before we could raise our guns. One group of “teal” came in low and fast and we did pretty well, both Jeff and I knocked one down, only to discover that they were actually hooded mergansers. Later a lone green wing teal hen circled and then came in. I brought it down with a single shot. We watched some flocks in the distance, and as the morning progressed the sightings became fewer. We decided to pick up the decoys about 9:30. We ended up shooting 4 ducks and did not let any that came in shooting range escape; a so-so day of hunting but not too surprising given the warm weather. We went to collect the ducks and found that a hawk had found our gray duck and consumed most of it. The hawks migrate with the ducks, and will actually come to sounds of shooting to feed on downed and wounded ducks. Younger alligators learn this trick too.

Summary: It’s still too early in the season and not cold enough back north to push the ducks down south. I saw the national weather this (Sunday) morning and it’s in the 50s in Minnesota and 60’s along most of the Mississippi flyway. We did pass a few hunters who were cleaning birds and it looks like they had fair to good hunts, but others I spoke to had less luck. I spoke to Chris Holmes at the marina and his hunt went about like ours did. Until there are some hard freezes up north the duck hunting is going to remain spotty.

Jeff and I moved about 10 miles down highway 300 toward Delacroix. We tossed our Hobie Outbacks into the water and were disappointed to see that the water conditions were sub-par for Delacroix. The wind and algae in the water would make it tough for fly fishing. Jeff threw an Aqua Dream spoon for redfish and tried a jig under a cork for trout. He had several strikes and landed several redfish on the spoon, but could not find any trout today.

I fished for some trout using a clouser, but did not find any fish in the potholes and canal intersections where I usually get them. So I resigned myself to fishing the spoon fly for redfish. I got up against the leeward side of a an old canal and found the water to be flat enough to try to stand and sight fish. The sun was at my back and an odd tailwind that swirled in the canal worked in my favor. There were hoards of small 1-1.5” shrimp along the bank that would jump in “showers” as I passed. Fish that attacked them from beneath would also make them “shower”. I used this to help locate target fish. About 20 yards ahead I saw a big mud cloud from a resting fish that had been disturbed. The little shrimp kept jumping in the area so I sat down and eased closer and made a cast. Through the dirty water I saw a very light colored redfish. It looked like a giant white koi and I flipped my fly about 20 feet in its direction. It struck and immediately took of on a hard run and then cut straight back toward me. I did my best to keep the line tight and stay hooked up. I got the rudder up to avoid a snag as the fish passed around the kayak. After a few more hard runs I felt the slightly sickening feeling of no longer having a fish on the line. The hook had simply pulled out. *&$%#!!!

I fished some other spots, spooked lots of fish, but did not get any bites. The spoon fly would have probably had to hit the fish in the nose to get it to strike. I moved to a little chain of islands where the wind was pushing good-sized waves into them. A nice redfish voluntarily revealed its location by coming up on the leeward shoreline and belly crawling about 30 feet from me. I drifted toward it making casts. The water was really trashy from splashing waves and I did not hook up. The wind left me stranded on a little shallow shelf along the bank, so I had to reel in, lift the rudder, and paddle my way off the shelf and get back into deeper water. I swung the kayak around and saw what was probably the same redfish about 15 yards down the bank with its back halfway out of the water. I tried it again and hooked up. After about 5 minutes of a nice tug of war I got the fish in, lip gripped it, slipped the spoon fly out of its lip, and released it without ever taking it out of the water. I’m trying to do this type of release on fish to reduce the stress and damage from bringing them in the kayak.

So, it was not a spectacular day of fly fishing. But considering the wind and dirty water, I’ll take it.

img_2084

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!

Hopedale Lagoon, 10-30-2016

Wind: about 10-12 mph –East/Southeast as the day progressed, wind speed dropped later in the day.

Tide: rising, low was about noon, but wind kept the water in and it pushed up quickly

Water Level: high, above grass line

Water Temperature: 76 F

Water Clarity: about 1-2 feet, found some better water back in marsh

Weather/sky: sunny

Temperature: ~ 85 F for high

Moon: dark

Solunar period: major period @ 2 p.m.

Time on the water: 12:30 to 6 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 5 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

I was hoping to catch some trout around the deep mouth of the canal that opens into the lagoon, expecting the tide to be pushing out bait toward the lagoon. The tide was working as expected, but the trout were not on the feed. I could see some suspended fish on the Lowrance, but if they were specks then they weren’t hungry. I probed the area with a white clouser to mimic a shrimp, fishing it slow and fast, trying to cover different levels of water.

I worked out into the lagoon and made a zig-zag pattern for about a mile back and forth across the channel that the shrimp and oyster boats use for about a mile. No one was home, so I cut over to the shoreline and started slinging a spoon fly for redfish. I got back into a pond where the water was a bit cleaner and saw some reds working for bait. It was too windy to creep up on them, so I went around the edge of the pond and got upwind of them. I drifted downwind toward them but they moved and flanked me and were beyond casting distance. I drifted back to the entrance of the pond and cast into the entry point and got a good strike. The fish made a hard run and after a few seconds it came free. I cast a few more times into the spot and got another strike, and this time I landed the 25” red (released). When I unhooked and saw it had another spot in its mouth that looked like it had been hooked previously. Maybe it was the same one that bit a few minutes earlier.

I started working my way back in about 4:30-5 and picked up a few small specks on the clouser fly (all released). They seemed to be patrolling about 20 yards off the shoreline. Every now and then something would slash through schools of mullet that were scattered about the shoreline. It may have been trout or some other predator. I could not get close enough to get a shot at whatever it was.

I tried the mouth of the canal that meets the lagoon again on the way in, but did not get any action.

Saw no birds working bait today. Did see a mink, though. Just a few biting gnats (midges) were starting to show up in the evening. More will come soon (be prepared).

Was loaded up about 6 p.m. as the sun went down and hit the road back to New Orleans.