Monday, March 23, 2015
We are saddened to learn that Walt Holman passed away yesterday morning. Although he lived in Madison, Alabama, Walt was born in Louisiana, and frequently came "home" with his lovely wife Gennie to enjoy the good food and great redfishing, as well as participate as a guest tier at events such as the Red Stick Fly Fishers conclaves where he was an annual fixture. Walt served in the U.S. Navy, later attended Auburn University where he was a member of the Auburn football team, and earned a degree in engineering. He took up tying after coming to the conclusion that he could make baits for a lot cheaper than what he bought at the store, just by using cork, wood and feathers and a few basic carpentry tools in his shop. Walt would go on to share his innovation... he was highly influential to many fly tiers across the country, including several Louisiana tiers who have since emulated his mastery of balsa flies. It's from Walt that several of us learned how to tie his foil covered poppers which have been so effective for bass and speckled trout (pictured is one of Walt's famous foil poppers). In addition to the events here in Louisiana, Walt and his wife Gennie were annual participants at Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) Southern and Southeastern conclaves. His craftmanship was as much art as it was design and execution. His donations of flies for various events have raised thousands of dollars over the course of three decades for clubs and councils. For his contributions to the art of the sport, Walt was recognized three times as FFF Southeastern Council "Fly Tier of the Year" as well as the 2013 FFF Buzz Buszek Award winner (lifetime recognition in fly tying achievement). His legacy of tying was only equaled by his legacy for teaching others. Walt was 84 years young, and will be greatly missed.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Orvis store on Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Ron Braud will tie two of the late Mike Verduin's most popular bream flies - the Cap Spider and the Woven Catalpa Worm. Both were used by Mike himself on his trips to Lake Concordia with the club - with great success! Bring your tools if you have some, if not, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials will be provided. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. This month is their annual Spring "On the Water meeting". Instead of the library, the club will gather at Cotile Recreational Area beginning at 5:00pm, fishing off the bank or from boat/kayak. The club will meet for business at 7:30pm in the parking lot. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, it's the New Orleans Fly Fishers monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also starting Thursday, and continuing thru Saturday, it's the 9th annual Sowbug Roundup in Mountain Home, Arkansas. More on that later. On Saturday, it's the 68th annual New Orleans City Park Big Bass Fishing Rodeo and Fishtival. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Please bring your tying tools, materials are provided. Also on Saturday, Ship-to-Shore in Lake Charles will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at Lake Prien. More on that later.
The New Orleans City Park Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival is the oldest fishing tournament in the United States, marking it's 68th anniversary this Saturday. As mentioned last week, the event has undergone a few changes in the last few years, and there are changes again for 2015. One of those changes was the addition of "Boats on the Bayou", a kayak fishing event on Bayou St. John. It's celebrating it's 2nd year, and interest continues to build. BOTB runs from 7:00am to 10:30am. Entry is $15 per person, online registration only. Registration ends this Friday. Another change is the expansion of the fly rod division - for 2015, it's no longer "Fly Rod Bass", it's "Fly Fishing" with either bass or rio grande perch as eligible species. Entry for the Fly Fishing division is $10 adults, $5 kids 12 and under. Registration can be done online thru Friday, or onsite from 6:00am to 8:00am. Fishing is from 6:30am to 11:00am. Weigh-in at 11:00am. In addition to the fishing, there are exhibitors for the "Fishtival". Those will include the New Orleans Fly Fishers, who will also be demonstrating fly tying. For complete rules, registration, and more, go to www.neworleanscitypark.com.
This week's Sowbug Roundup has long been the largest club conclave (fly fishing festival) in the country, hosted by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers of Mountain Home, Arkansas. The event runs Thursday thru Saturday and features over 100 fly tiers from across the country, along with seminars, vendors, exhibitors, casting clinics and much more. For those who have been to an IFFF conclave, Sowbug is bigger than most, on par with the IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair held each fall, also in Mountain Home. Location is Baxter County Fairgrounds. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm each day. Entry fee is only $5 for all 3 days with kids 12 and under free. For more info, go to www.northarkansasflyfishers.org.
Orvis of Baton Rouge offering more Fly Fishing 101 classes this Spring. The dates are April 11, April 25, May 16, and June 6. Each class is a one-day, 2-hour workshop that covers the basics of the sport along with an hour of basic casting instruction. The events are held at the store's location in Perkins-Rowe. Best of all, the classes are free! Registration is required, as class size is limited... most of these classes do fill up! Now there are two ways to signup - first, by contacting the store at 225-757-7286. Second, by going to their new Event Calendar Page and clicking on the event.
Speaking of Orvis... Orvis Days are coming soon. On Saturday, April 25, the Orvis Baton Rouge store will host Captain Lucas Bissett for a presentation from 12 noon to 1:00pm. Titled "Great Expectations: Finding Common Ground", the seminar will help anyone considering booking a guide anywhere on how to maximize their day on the water - and their fishing vacation in general. Also covered will be the questions to ask when booking a guide, and how to interact with the guide while on the water. On Saturday, May 2, another presentation will be offered, "Do You Want More Distance in Your Casting". Emphasis will be on the double haul, along with tips and tricks for better line management when distance casting.
It's time for Kayak Demo Days. We've had a few already, but with Spring here and warmer weather, all of the locally-owned dealerships are filling up their schedules. "Try before you buy" is Cormier's 2nd Law of Puddling. These free events give prospective owners - or those upgrading their boats - a chance to try various models on the water. Pack and Paddle of Lafayette will be holding one Saturday, May 2, at Vermillionville Park. Among the boats will be Hobie, Native, NuCanoe, Jackson, Feelfree, Mad River and more. Contact the store at 337-232-5854 to reserve. Ship to Shore in Lake Charles will be doing a Kayak Demo Day this coming Saturday, March 28, at Prien Lake Park. Hobie Fishing Team member A.J. McWhorter will be on hand to answer questions, as well as the guys from KC Kayaks. For more info, contact their store at 337-474-0730. Backpacker will hold their next demo days on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12. The April 11 demo will be at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville, from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Hosted by their Lafayette store, more info is available by calling 337-406-8754. The April 12 demo will be at BREC's Wampold Park on Stanford Avenue in Baton Rouge, from 12 noon to 4:00pm. Among the boats on demo will be Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Dagger and more. Masseys Outfitters, New Orleans store, will hold a Kayak Demo Day on Saturday, April 11, on Bayou St. John at 1405 Moss Street. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Models include Hobie, Native, Jackson, Wilderness, Dagger, BOTE, Feelfree, and more. In addition to these specific dates, most stores do on-request demos. Contact the specific store to inquire for details.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
What's happening this week. You know Spring is almost here with 2 big kayak tournaments this weekend. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Beginners are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Church Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, with general meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 E. Pinhook Road in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: this weekend's club "Marsh Madness" event, tackle tips, fishing reports. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Bud Bethea will be demonstrating tying the "Tussel Bug", an effective bream fly created by Dirk Burton that uses woven technique. The public is invited. On Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold their first-ever freshwater tournament, "Yak-A-Bass", at Chicot Lake State Park near Ville Platte. Entry fee is $20 for this CPR (catch-photo-release) tournament and registration is online until 11:00pm this Wednesday. For more info, or to register, go to www.bckfc.org. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual "Marsh Madness" kayak fishing tournament out of Coco Marina in Cocodrie. Entry fee is $25 members, $30 nonmembers. This is a tackle exchange tournament where participants randomly draw a bag starting at 5:30am. Shotgun launch starts at 6:15am out of the marina (no roadrunning). For LKFC members, this is the 1st of the Series tournaments for 2015 AOY points. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Saturday, it's Kisatchie National Forest Day with activities at the Recreational Area on Kincaid Lake near Gardner. Numerous outdoor groups will be on hand for this free event. The Kisatchie Fly Fishers will be presenting fly casting seminars at 10:00am, 11:00am, and 1:00pm. For more info, click on Kisatchie NF Events page..
The 68th annual New Orleans City Park Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival is coming up in 2 weeks on Saturday, March 28. For flyfishers and kayak anglers interested in this event, NOCP is now taking registration online until the Friday before. For "Boats on the Bayou" - the kayak fishing portion of the rodeo - registration is online only. Entry fee is only $15. The BOTB Division allows canoes and kayaks only, with four categories for largest bass, redfish, trout, and trashbash (any other species) each. In addition, there's a "Red Tag Special" offering prizes for up to 3 anglers who bring in the heaviest cumulative weight of tagged reds (limit 5 per person). If no tagged reds are caught, the prizes will be drawn from all BOTB registrants. Last year, 89 puddlers participated in the first-ever BOTB.
For fly anglers, a big change in the NOCP-BB rodeo. For many years, there's been a "Big Bass - Fly Rod" Division in the tournament. This year, the division has changed to "Fly Fishing" with either bass or rio grande perch as the entry. Organizers think this may help fly anglers having to compete against a barrage of bass competitors. Although history has proven that fly anglers can hold their own. For example, in 2008, Ralph Litolff won with a 3.25 pound fish that was the same weight as the Casting Division winner that year. However, in 2012, the winning Fly Bass weighed only 0.36 pounds... I doubt there are any rios that small in the lagoons. At least fly anglers won't be competing against teams trying to catch (and kill) as many rios as possible - the Rio Team Division has been eliminated. As for any guess as to what the winning weight for this year's Fly Fishing Division might be, who knows. The lagoons hold some mighty bass - in 2013, two fish over 9 pounds were caught including the park record of 9.05 pounds by Tim Zissis.
The end of Coldpocalypse! It finally feels like Spring here in central Louisiana, even though only willow trees and swamp maples have sprung leaves. We're still running about 2 weeks later than normal on vegetation, and the water temperatures are still about 8-10 degrees below last year this time. But the fish are reacting... and so are the humans. The boat launch by my house was packed yesterday after reports of two bass over 8 pounds caught! The water is still chocolate milk from all the rain, so most came back skunked. Nearby Kincaid Lake was a different story. I spoke to one angler and his son who caught 10 bass yesterday morning. The water there is clear across most of the lake. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Valentine Lake and did some bank fishing. The water was milky here - again from last week's torrential rains - but I caught probably 50 redears between 5 and 7 inches on a Beadhead Hares Ear Rosborough Style. Meanwhile, there were a half dozen kayaks (it's a no-motor lake) working the western flats. Only one I spoke to caught a bass. Later this week I plan to scout either Grande Bayou or Hodges Gardens for a lunker. Yes, it's that time of year when the big gals head to the banks. To all my fellow flybassers, best of luck!
Sunday, March 8, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the LDWF building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. The public is welcome. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. This will be their annual "Chili and Flies" meeting, featuring a chili cookoff and a fly tying contest using a "secret" set of materials. Things kickoff at 6:00pm. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church Life Center in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. Special guest speaker will be Larry Offner, owner of Green Trout Fly Shop and the WarmFly.com website. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the CCA Northshore Chapter will host a Spring Fishing Seminar at the Tchefuncta Country Club in Covington. Time is 6:00pm. CCA members admission is $5, non-members $10, ladies and kids are free. Jambalaya and two beverages provided, cash bar also available. Guest speakers include Captains Sean O'Connell, Mike Gallo, Charlie Thomason, and Bubby Lamy. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "Kayaking 101 - Basic Skills for Flatwater Kayaking" on-the-water workshop. Currently this session is filled, but there are cancellations, so if interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the waiting list. At worst, you'll be contacted about the next upcoming workshop. Also starting Thursday and running thru Sunday, it's the 36th annual Louisiana Sportsmen's Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Hours for the Granddaddy of Louisiana outdoor shows is Thursday and Friday from 2:00pm to 9:00pm, Saturday 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm. There are countless exhibitors and numerous retailers, so make sure you have a good 3 hours to take everything in. More info on activities and exhibitors can be found at www.louisianasportsmansshow.com. On Friday thru Sunday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their annual "March Brown" trip to the Little Missouri River. On Saturday, the Ascension Parish Library will hold a fly tying class at the South Irma Boulevard branch. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. There is no fee. Covered are the basics of tying fresh and saltwater flies. Bring your tools, materials provided. For more info, call instructor Darrell Crawford at 225-644-7989. Also on Saturday, it's the annual "Fly Fish Texas" at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm. All activities are free with regular paid admission to the Center. There are seminars, fly tying demonstrations, casting clinics, and more. For a schedule of activities, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc and click on the "Fly Fish Texas" link.
More on that monster brown trout caught up on the White River in northern Arkansas a couple weeks ago. It's now been confirmed that at 38 lbs, 7 oz, it is the third largest brown trout ever caught in Arkansas, and the largest ever recorded from the White River. The fish was taken by Calvin Johnston of Olathe, Kansas. Johnston, who grew up in Little Rock, had joined his brother and friends for a retreat at Rainbow Drive Resort. Being primarily a bass angler, he was using the same spinning tackle and drop-shot rigging he uses for bass, for trout. He had decided to wade out a little just before sunset to get some fishing in before dinner when he hung into the trout of a lifetime. After he stuck the fish, he knew it was a brute - it took most of the line off his reel before settling in to a tug-of-war for about 20 minutes. Finally, with the help of another man fishing nearby, he was able to get the trout's head into the net. Johnston wasn't the only one gleed by the monster brown: for Arkansas Game and Fish biologists it confirms that the White River is still a world-class water capable of producing trophy fish. Photo courtesy of The Fishing Wire
But fishing for those trophy trout will cost a little more if you're a Louisiana angler - or from any state outside of Arkansas. That's because at their January meeting, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved an increase in several non-resident fishing licenses. An annual NR fishing license will be $50, up from $40. The NR 3-day trip license will increase from $11 to $16, and the NR 7-day trip license will increase from $17 to $25. Hunting license fees for non-residents also increased as well. Resident license fees were not impacted.
Are we there yet? One of the few displeasures of taking family vacations was that annoying question from the kids - "Are we there yet?". Lately anglers - both fly and conventional - have been asking the same regarding the start of freshwater fishing. At the Red Stick Fly Fishers conclave in Baton Rouge yesterday, I had a chance to gauge the relative state of fishing compared to past years, since the event is always held the first Saturday in March. The ponds at the LDWF Waddill Outdoors Center are fairly homogenous, so whatever activity is happening is almost entirely related to water temperature. To no surprise, I measured the water temp about 10 degrees below what it was this time last year. Observations confirmed that... normally we see the bass either on beds or searching for beds, but yesterday they were deep early in the day, and by afternoon sunning in the surface. A characteristic more common of mid to late February. Early in the day I hooked into a big bass deep on a fluff butt using my 3-weight and fought for about a minute in front of several witnesses. I called it a 4-pounder, Pete Cooper says a solid 3, but however big, it seemed to indicate they might be active. A couple more bass were caught that morning, including a nice one by Ron Ratliff's wife Cynthia. But once they moved up to the surface, they became very spooky and reluctant to bite anything. Later yesterday afternoon, I spent an hour fishing BREC's Forest Park pond. The craneflies were everywhere on the water, and the gobbules were tearing up on a size 12 black popper. I also spotted a few bass looking to spawn. Being a shallower pond (average depth 4 feet compared to 10 feet at Waddill) was likely the reason water temperature was 6 degrees warmer - and the bug life and the fish were much more active. The week ahead calls for seasonal temperatures - first time above freezing lows statewide area since mid-November!! That's the good news. The bad news - it's going to be wet. Very wet. All parts of the state have a chance of rain thru next weekend, but the southeastern part will hover in the 70-90 percent range! One can always look at the silver lining - at least there'll be a lot more water to fish.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. The public is welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold a rescheduled meeting from February 23rd. That meeting was cancelled due to icy conditions. Location will be the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Club member Roger Breedlove will do a presentation on "Custom Rod Building". The public is invited. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on 124 Girod Street in Mandeville. Gathering starts at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. The public is welcome. Starting Friday evening, and continuing Saturday, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette kicks off their annual Spring Demo weekend. More on that later. On Saturday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual conclave, "Red Stick Day", in Baton Rouge. More on that later. On Sunday, it's the start of Daylight Savings Time. Don't forget to set your clocks one hour later.
This Saturday is Red Stick Day in Baton Rouge. The Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their 23rd annual fly fishing festival at the LDWF Waddill Outdoors Center on 4141 North Flannery Road. Admission is free, and there's free refreshments. A jambalaya lunch is also available for $7. There are several reasons why Red Stick Day is a very popular event. One is a greater emphasis towards saltwater programs. That's true again this year with presentations by Chuck Fisk of Fairhope, Alabama ("Wade Fishing the Northern Gulf Coast for Pompano, Specks and Reds") and Captain Ron Ratliff of Houma ("Springtime Redfishing"). For those interested in coldwater and warmwater, there's programs by Larry Offner ("Rios Revisited") and Jim Wright ("Coldwater Fishing the Lower Mountain Fork"). A second reason for strong attendance is the presence of fly tiers not seen at other state conclaves - from Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. A third reason? Kayak demos on the premises. Backpacker will be there from 11:00am to 2:00pm with the most popular boats from Hobie, Wilderness Systems and others. A fourth reason - fishing on the premises. It's not unusual for attendees to catch a bass or bull bream. And if that's not enough reasons, there's the raffle. It's big, often over 80 items! For those new to the sport, Roger del Rio, an IFFF certified casting instructor, will be doing "Casting Basics" in the morning and "Advanced Casting" in the afternoon. For a complete schedule of all activities, along with list of fly tiers and speakers, go to www.rsff.org and click on "Red Stick Fly Fest".
Pack and Paddle's annual Spring Demo weekend kicks off this Friday evening with "Beer and Gear Social Night" at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Festivities begin at 5:00pm and continue to 8:00pm. Local brews provided by paddlesports reps, with reps talking about their products. At 7:00pm, PnP will draw among attendees (ages 21 or older) for a Jackson Coosa HD kayak to be given away. On Saturday, the big on-the-water demo takes place at Vermillionville Pond off Surrey Street. Time is 9:00am to 2:00pm. There's no cost. Folks can try new models from Jackson, Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Native Watercraft, NuCanoe, Diablo, Hurricane, BOTE and more. Finally, on Saturday evening at 6:00pm, Pack and Paddle will host the annual "Reel Paddling Film Festival". Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Price includes entrance to festival, snacks, drinks, and free subscription to Rapid Media magazines. The festival showcases some of the world's best paddling films, exploring rivers, lakes and oceans. For more info about any of these activities, go to www.packpaddle.com.
It's March. Prime fishing begins this month. It may start a bit later than usual, though. Water temperatures are still way below normal. And while we're in for a few days of mild weather - high temps in the 60s - yet ANOTHER polar vortex moves in on Wednesday. Here in the Alexandria area, there's a forecast for sleet and freezing rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I keep saying that every week it seems, but as long as "global cooling" continues, we're in for bad times. Someday it will get warmer. I promise. And when it does - hopefully this month - we'll see the opportunities for the biggest bass of the year, some sacalait spawning in lakes and reservoirs, the start of redear activity, and more consistency on redfish as bait moves back into the ponds.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. This meeting will be a fly tying tutorial session, with the fly du jour being the Panther Branch Hopper. Bring your vise, materials if you have some (some will be provided). Beginners are welcome. For more details, go to www.finaddictflyfishers.blogspot.com. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria - weather permitting. Time is 6:30pm. For the program, Roger Breedlove will discuss the many aspects of custom rod building and show off some of his creations. The public is invited. For more info, go to www.KisatchieFly.org. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. For those without tools, the club has a few tool sets for use during these sessions. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. On Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 E. Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. For this meeting, Brendan "Choupique" Bayard and Steve "Gnatless" Lessard will be giving "Secrets of a Tournament Kayak Fisherman" program. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at location TBA (due to construction work at the Whitney bank branch). Time is 7:00pm. Check the forum for details. On Friday, the Fly Fishing Film Tour comes to Louisiana. More on that later. On Saturday, it's the 29th annual Acadiana Conclave. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly "Fly Tying" clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. There is no cost. Please bring your fly tying tools, materials provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Saturday, Orvis in Baton Rouge will hold another of their free "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This one-day, 2-hour workshop covers the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info, or to register, call Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Baton Rouge in conjunction with Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation (BREC) will hold an "Intro to Kayak Fishing" clinic at Wampold Park. Time is 8:30am to 2:00pm. Cost is $10. Members of Team Hobie will instruct on kayak fishing techniques, rigging, safety, and more. Also, an on-the-water session for students. Registration is required. For more info, or to register, call 225-272-9200 ext. 435 or email email@example.com.
This Friday the F3T comes to Baton Rouge. The Fly Fishing Film Tour is a collection of independent short films highlighting the adventure and conservation aspects of our sport. It will be shown at the Orvis store in Perkins-Rowe in Baton Rouge. Doors open at 6:30pm, movies start at 7:00pm. A limit of 150 are being sold, and last year the event sold out. As of this writing, there were still some tickets left - so don't procrastinate! In addition to a very affordable cash bar, there are some great door prizes as well. The films are enjoyable, but in the past couple years this event has become a great social gathering for south Louisiana fly anglers. For more info, or tickets, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286.
The Granddaddy of Louisiana fly fishing events takes place this Saturday with the 29th annual Acadiana Conclave in Lafayette. Hosted by the Acadiana Fly Rodders, this celebration of fly fishing features seminars, fly tying demos, casting instruction, exhibitors, raffles, silent auction, and more. Location is Grace Presbyterian Church Hall at 518 Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Doors open at 8:30am and the event continues until 3:00pm. A schedule of programs, and list of speakers and presentors can be found in our Events Forum or at the AFR website. The Acadiana Conclave was the first of it's kind in Louisiana, and it's success spawned similiar events now held by clubs in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Natchitoches and Alexandria. However, the AFR event still stands out, due in large part to it's casting programs. No other club has as many IFFF Master Certified Casting Instructors as does the Lafayette club. For more details, go to www.acadianaflyrodders.com.
No rest for the weary! Weary of winter weather, that is. Yes... here we go again... another polar vortex. There's a winter storm watch for most of north and central Louisiana beginning tonight, and continuing thru Tuesday. Freezing rain and sleet seem most likely, with a slight chance of sneaux. Areas west of Natchitoches could see some accumulation of the white stuff. Regardless of what parish you live in, it's going to be a cold week. And windy on the coast. Just as water temps were starting to climb into the mid to upper 50s, this front will likely knock them back down again. Normally the last week of February I'm preparing the garden for summer veggies, fishing for early spawn bass or chiquapin. Then again, the water temperature is usually 60 degrees. May be a few more weeks before "normal" makes it's return.
The Super Bowl of Bass Fishing was held this weekend with the BassMasters Classic at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. Record low temperatures marred what should've been great fishing at one of the nation's top-rated bass waters. As of this writing, the final day competition among the top 25 finishers of the 2nd day was taking place with Yakahiro Omori holding on to first place. Louisiana had 3 representatives in the Classic: Greg Hackney of Gonzales, the reigning B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, Cliff "Cajun Baby" Crochet of Pierre Part, and Brett Pruett of Monroe. Hackney came the closest of the three to making the final day cut, missing out by 5 ounces. I didn't expect our guys to do well in sub-freezing weather. As you might guess, this is -NOT- the typical late February weather for Lake Hartwell. Regardless, this weather may help propel BassMaster directors towards bringing back the Classic to northwest Louisiana for 2017.
Drawdown for Cotile Lake approved. Last week, the Rapides Parish Police Jury approved a proposal by LDWF for a drawdown of Cotile Lake west of Alexandria starting in September and ending on January 1st. The lake would be drawned down a total of 8 feet in an effort to control hydrilla and other nuisance aquatic vegetation. At a meeting on Thursday night at the Cotile Volunteer Fire Department, about 50 residents and concerned anglers gathered to hear Rickey Moses, LDWF Inland Biologist, detail the proposal and give reasons why the drawdown was necessary. There was near unanimity in support of the drawdown, and even strong support for doing this every 3-4 years. As a resident of the lake, I testified how last year's bream fishing was the worst I'd ever seen... almost all the beds on the south end of the lake - and even around the "islands" famous for big redears - were all covered with hydrilla. Somewhat of a surprise, many of the attending anglers said the exact same thing. I've heard drawdowns - despite the many great things they do for weed control and to rejuvenate fisheries - are often contentious. It was great to see such overwhelming support for this one!
Monday, February 15, 2015
What's happening this week. A double holiday week. On Monday, it's President's Day. Tuesday is Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, chic-a-la-pas, run away, ha-ha-ha! Last chance to enjoy king cake this year (if you haven't had enough already). Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Dan Fromme will demonstrate the Christmas Tree, a popular fly for trout on the Little Missouri. Bring your tools, materials provided. For those without tools, the club has some for use during the session. Also on Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at the St Paul Lutheran Community Center on 1620 East Prien Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion begin at 6:00pm, general meeting at 7:00pm. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions. Location to be announced. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials provided. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will be holding their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Tom Bullock will be demonstrating woolybuggers for larger species. The public is welcome. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited's annual "TroutFest" at Rio Raft Resort near New Braunfels, Texas. The banquet and auction are Friday night, with the Expo on Saturday and Sunday. Headliners this year are Frank Smethurst, Wanda Taylor, Kelly Galloup and Pat Dorsey. Tickets for the Expo are $15 adult, $12 children. For more details, go to www.grtutroutfest.org. On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their annual "Fly Fishing 101" clinic at Booker-Fowler Hatchery in Forest Hill. Time is 8:30am to 12:30pm. There is no cost, but class size is limited, so registration is required. The workshop topics include equipment, knots, flies, and hands-on casting. For more info, go to www.KisatchieFly.org. Also on Saturday, Orvis in Baton Rouge will conduct another of their "Fly Fishing 201" clinics. This free, one-day, 2-hour session applies casting and rigging skills to on-the-water situations. Also a few more casting techniques are taught (beyond FF101). Pre-registration is required as spots are limited. To register, call Alex at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, the Orvis in Baton Rouge will conduct another of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This free, one-day, 2-hour session covers the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info or to register, call Alex at 225-757-7286.
It's not over 'til the fat mammal says so. Whether you follow Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog, or locally, Naquin the Nutria, you know that on February 2nd both forecasted 6 more weeks of winter. This spring-like weather of the past week may have dazed us into believing those fat mammals were wrong. But here comes Ol' Man Winter with a vengeance! A Siberian front will move through the state on Monday, bringing strong north winds, and dropping temperatures back to below or near freezing over most parishes. Now here's where it gets interesting... the jetstream is dipping further to the east than usual. That means areas west and south of Alexandria may have low temperatures in the upper 30s and 40s thru Thursday. However, Monroe and Vidalia are forecast for sleet and snow on Monday night and Tuesday. Further northeast, the coldest weather of the year is forecast for Tennessee and North Carolina. If the jetstream dips further south and west - as one forecaster predicts - most of Louisiana could experience a winter wonderland this week! Regardless of whether we get "sneaux" or not, it's going to be a miserable week for fishing.
Orvis Recon Series expanding. For 2015, Orvis replaced it's very popular Access series rods with a new series, the Recon. This mid-priced rod has received numerous accolades and very positive reviews since first making the rounds at the IFTD Show last summer. The Recon is different than it's predecessor in that it comes in only "action", as opposed to "mid flex" or "tip flex" of the Access. The Recon uses similiar tapers to their premium Helios 2 rod, but with different materials and components to keep it in the mid-priced range of rods ($420 freshwater, $450 saltwater). While not quite as light as the Helios 2, it's certainly lighter than most fly rods on the market. It also has one improvement over the Access - it's much easier to load in close. Yet it has enough reserve power to boom a long cast if needed. Now Orvis has pulled somewhat of a surprise - they're already expanding the Recon lineup. In May they will add 9 new models. And if you love fly rodding for bass and/or kayak fishing - like I do - then the good news is among those new models are three 7-foot, 11-inch "brush rods" in weights 8, 9 and 10. These rods give bass anglers - as well as backcountry saltwater anglers - the leverage they need to pull bass, snook, baby tarpon out of cover. I also love these lengths for kayak fishing because there's less exposure to tips when the rod is seated alongside the yak.
Tuesday, February 12, 2015
Sacalait spawning. But it depends on where. Several of the fish I caught this past week here on the bayou had eggs. But at Toledo Bend, Sibley Lake, Caney Lake, and a few other waters in the Cenla area, there's been no movement to the shallows yet. On the other hand, waters just south of here - Chicot and Millers Lake - are starting to turn on. The best crappie reports are coming from the Houma-Thibodaux area, mostly around Bayou Black and in the Bayou Sherman and Crackerhead area. As for bass, the pre-spawn activity is still on hold in most places. Looking at the extended forecast - there's a chance of snow next Tuesday night here in Alexandria - it's doubtful that will change a lot over the next week. Still, all it takes is that one big bass to think Spring is here - and for the right fly to land in it's vicinity - to make for a great beginning to the 2015 season!
The American Casting Association has announced that it's 107th annual National Casting Championships will be hosted by the Long Beach Casting Club this July 28th thru August 1st. This also marks the 90th anniversary of the LBCC. The ACA Nationals is the premier event for both fly casting and spincasting competition in the United States. Among the categories are Fly Distance, Dry Fly Accuracy, Trout Fly Accuracy, Bass Bug Accuracy, Plug Distance and Plug Accuracy. There are divisions for men, women and youth. Steve Rajeff has long dominated both fly and spin categories, but last year's competition saw longtime competitor Henry Mittel score a double upset. Mittel edged Rajeff in the 1-Hand Fly Distance with 185 feet to 180 feet for Rajeff. Mittel also won a castoff with Rajeff in the 2-Hand Fly Distance after both tied with 247 feet. The other big story from last year's event was Junior competitor Maxine McCormick, who won the Angler's Fly Distance with 94 feet! For more info, go to www.americancastingassoc.org.
Jimmy Kimmel, Jim Belushi, Huey Lewis join the cast for Season 5 of "Buccaneers and Bones", popular fly fishing TV series. Veteran cast members include newsman Tom Brokaw (narrator), fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh, award-winning author Tom McGuane, and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust board member Bill Klyn. Buccaneer and Bones is featured on the Outdoor Channel as part of their winter/spring programming lineup. The season premiere is Saturday, February 21 at 4:00pm CST. The show is an unscripted travelogue about the fly fishing pursuits of it's cast as they fish some specific destination. For the 2015 season, the cast will head to South Andros Island in the Bahamas to explore the area's famed saltwater flats. The diverse group of cast members lends itself to highly entertaining and often insightful aspects of our sport, and to a mutual concern for conservation of marine resources.
Garmin introduces a new kayak mount for it's fishfinder and sonar transducers. With the In-Hull Kayak Mount, puddlers can mount a transducer for inside the hull of a kayak. This as opposed to traditional kayak mounts which expose the transducer to scrapping against obstructions in shallow water. Or as opposed to DIY in-hull installations where selection of the wrong epoxy can result in a complete mess. The installation of the In-Hull Kayak Mount is quick and easy and doesn't require tools. Simply attach the adhesive backing to the hull, fill the pocket created between the pad and the hull with water, and place the transducer in the pocket to remove the air. Once installed, the mount has the ability to withstand continuous water submersion without releasing. The In-Hull Kayak Mount will be available in April, 2015 for an MSRP of $19.99.
Monday, February 9, 2015
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the LDWF building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Michelle Maloney, Coastal Outreach Coordinator for the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, will talk about the current status of the BP settlement and coastal restoration plans. Also, an Orvis representative will be present to discuss, and sell tickets for, the F3T Film Tour set for February 27th at the Orvis store. The public is invited. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. This month's speaker will be Phil Rispin, owner of Dutch Creek Fly Fishing, who will talk about fishing Alberta, Canada. Also, details on the NLFF club's upcoming "Dinner and A Movie" set for February 28. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church Life Center in Natchitoches. Casting practice begins at 5:30pm, followed by pot luck dinner at 6:30, meeting at 7:00pm. For the program, the club will tie a couple of Little Mo favorites, the Christmas Tree and the Pink Weenie. Also on the agenda, next month's CPPR tournament with the Kisatchie Fly Fishers club on Cane River. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church on Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your own tools, materials are provided. Friday afternoon kicks off the annual Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival, which runs thru Sunday. More on that later. On Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This one-day, 2-hour workshop covers the basics of tying. Tools and materials are provided. Class size is very limited, so pre-registration is required. For more info, or to register, call Alex Beane at (225)757-7286.
The 13th-ever Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival is this weekend at the Community Center in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. This annual event celebrates fly fishing in general, with emphasis on the Little Missouri River, the premier tailwater trout fisheries in southern Arkansas. Organizer Jeff Guerin, owner of the Little Missouri Fly Fishing website, does an outstanding job with this event. Doors open Friday afternoon with fly tying on the agenda. Saturday is the main event... doors open at 8:00am, with fly tying and several programs. The highlight of the event is always the biologists' "State of the River" presentation, which this year will be at 1:00pm. A recent tradition to the Little Mo Fest - and one that has become extremely popular - is the "Little Mo Fantasy Fly Draft". Admission is just $5 per person or $10 per family, and that includes lunch. For complete details, go to Jeff's website at www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com.
How soon is now? That's the title of a popular song by the 80s group, The Smiths. It's also the question many Louisiana anglers are asking in regards to fishing. Seems like a little warmth and lots of sunshine have anglers anxious to wet a line. So how soon will the fish start biting? Maybe "now" is correct. It's been a persistently cold winter as evidenced by water temperatures last week in the 40s and 50s (depending on which part of the state). That's way below what the ideal temps are for crappie and spawning bass. But often it's not the actual temp that counts, but the temperature trend. As the water has warmed just a few degrees over the last week, there's been increasing reports of crappie and BIG bass catches. The next 7 days will see low temperatures in the 30s and 40s, but will be moderated by high temps in the 60s and lots of sunshine. Every reason to believe that now is the time to tie up those bass and crappie flies, have them ready for the Mardi Gras weekend coming up!
Monday, February 2, 2015
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church on 415 Roselawn in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill in Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. On Saturday, it's the 23rd annual Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival in Houston. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Fishing 101" sessions. This free, one-day, 2 hour clinic covers the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. Limited seats, so reservations are required. To register, contact Alex Beane at 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, Orvis will do one of their "Fly Tying 101" clinics. This free, one-day, 2 hour session covers the basics of fly tying. Materials and tools are provided. Class size is very limited, so registration is required. For more info or to register, call 225-757-7286.
The Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival this Saturday typically features the largest group of tiers of any event on the Gulf Coast. This event, hosted by the Texas Fly Fishers club, is held at Bethany Christian Church on Westheimer in Houston. There's always a well-known guest, and this year's headliner is author and fly creator Drew Chicone. Like most club "conclaves", this event also features vendors, company reps, food and raffles. More details on the Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival can be found in our Events forum.
February means festivals, films, spawning crappie, pre-spawn bass. In addition to this Saturday's tying fest, there's also the 10th annual Little Mo Fly Fishing Fest in Murfreesboro, Arkansas (February 13-15), and the Acadiana Conclave in Lafayette hosted by the Acadiana Fly Rodders (February 28). Also, the Fly Fishing Film Tour comes to Louisiana on February 27, at the Orvis store in Baton Rouge. Tickets are available thru the store, but there are a limited number available and they're going fast. As for fishing this month... In many waters, the crappie have already moved into the shallows for spawning. The last week has produced good reports from Chicot Lake, Lake Martin near Breaux Bridge, and the Bayou Black marshes. Shortly we'll see the white perch doing likewise here in the "hill country". Within the next couple of weeks, bass will start looking for spawning areas. Like the crappie, much depends on location (southeast=warmer, northwest=cooler), depth of water (shallow=warmer) and whether there is heavy runoff (less runoff=warmer).
How to Sea-duce a Predator. That's the title of the Fly Lines column in the February issue of Louisiana Sportsman. The chain pickerel, aka jackfish, aka grass pike, doesn't get much respect, but it should. What a great fly rod species! I also mention how one of my favorite classic flies has played a huge part in my success with "Louisiana's pike". Also in this issue - kayak fishing columnist Chris Holmes explains why February is for fishing (when weather's good) and rigging (when it's not), and offers some yak rigging tips. Seafood Bible authors Jerald and Glenda Horst give recipes for crawfish fettuccini and crawfish corn soup. Jerald also writes on barracuda in the Creature Feature column. Humberto Fontova tells us where to find easy limits of sheepshead. And the monthly Fishing Forecast. One of the featured waters of the month is Saline Lake east of Alexandria, part of the Saline-Larto complex... and rated one of the best crappie fisheries in the country. LAS is available at most fishing retailers and convenience stores.