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Louisiana Fly Fishing

Temperate Bass - the sequel. There are two primary runs of white, striped, and hybrid bass in Louisiana. One is in late February thru March. The other kicks off in August and runs thru early September. The latter is different in that it's not related to spawning, but to various other factors. For example, stripers are active on Lake Claiborne early and late in the day as the shad school to the surface. Poppers can lead to heart-stopping blowups. On lakes Concordia and St. John, the action is at night under lights. As the major rivers reach low levels, white bass and stripers will school in live oxbows and along runouts to the rivers. Clouser Minnows on an intermediate sinking line can put serious bends in a 7 or 8-weight rod!

Fly Of The Month

Slow Sinking Spider. During the dog days of summer, bream action can be slow. Hot water means less dissolved oxygen, so the gobbules aren't going to chase flies down. Especially when there's an abundance of bugs falling from the trees, they can be very selective. Enter the Slow Sinking Spider. The Triple-S is effective because it's meant to fish slow, and it imitates a very abundant food source that gobbules love to gobble up. It's an easy fly to tie, also. Stephen Robert of Houma, the originator, has posted these instructions on the OnTheVise.com website. How good is the SSS? Read our fishing reports and you decide!

Featured Tackle

Igloo Marine Ultra 36 Tote. Recently at ICAST a couple of new softside coolers were spotlighted. One was Yeti's new Hopper, which has an impressive set of features including 1.5 inches of insulation and a 5.2 gallon capacity. It also has an impressive price tag - $299. Garnering less attention, perhaps because it was introduced earlier in the year, was Igloo's new Marine Ultra 36 Tote. The exterior is anti-mildew and UV resistant and easy to clean. The interior is lined with a .35mm thick PEVA that is anti-microbial and odor and stain resistant. It also features 1.1 inches of extruded close cell foam insulation. There's a small zippered compartment on the outside to store items like cell phones, maps, sunglasses. Igloo claims it will hold ice for 2 days. We tested this bag in hot Louisiana weather, in shade, and a milk-carton block of ice lasted for 18 hours. The snap down ends convert it to a boxy, "ice chest look" - if that's what you want. Leave the snap downs undone, and add a liner, and you have a good fish bag for kayaks. In fact, it even fits well in my less-than-spacious 11-foot OK Caper. It may not be as good as the Yeti Hopper, but at $35 you can buy eight of these bags.

Thursday, August 28, 2014
The September issue of Louisiana Sportsman magazine features an article on fly fishing for reds with Keith Richard of the The Camp Fly Fishing School and Captain Steve Smith of Stillwater Charters. In "The Fly Guy", writer Jerald Horst tells of a trip they made around Marsh Island south of Cypremont Point, with Richard sightcasting flies to the wary poisson rouge. Keith also comments on tackle for saltwater, the importance of a good fly line, and the Federation of Fly Fishers and the IFFF Casting Certification Instructor program (Keith is a Master CCI). A must read for anyone interested in taking up reds on the fly! Elsewhere in this month's LAS... my Fly Lines column ("Lessons from a Legend") gives tips and strategies from bass guru Dave Whitlock, some from the sesson he gave at the North Louisiana Fly Fishers "Masters Series" back in July. Chris Holmes "Puddles and Paddles" column deals with fishing for sharks from a kayak. Yowza! The News Breaker section features articles on the recent Ride the Bull 5, including an interview with Teamed Hook on Yak about the making of their winning video at the RTB Calmwater Film Festival ("Business as Usual"). And of course, lots of other great stuff (Seafood Bible, Fishing Forecast, etc).

Belle update. Several of you have asked about the latest on Belle, our faithful collie and often fishing companion. FYI, we returned home late Sunday night to discover her lying in a corner of the garage, her leg badly maimed and blood on the floor. We treated the wound and covered it up. The next morning 6:00am we took her to the nearest animal hospital here in Alex. We were very concerned she would lose the leg, but it appears likely that the leg will recover, barring infection. The vet believes that she was the victim of a steel jaw trap. Last two weeks they have cleared a large section of property adjacent to ours that one of the locals used to hunt and trap on. Belle and the neighbors dog have been trekking through this property, so this scenario is probably correct. Anywho, Belle is doing fine but she has a long recovery ahead. I'm hoping my BFFF is back in full form for when the crappie start biting this fall.

Sunday, August 24, 2014
What's happening this week. An exciting one... the start of high school and college football, the Labor Day weekend, and the last days of the summer-long CCA STAR tournament. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahrs Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome, public is invited. Bring your own tools, the club has some to use. Materials are provided. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch at 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club, in conjunction with LDWF and Cabelas, will hold a "Kayak Fishing 101" workshop at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 9:30am to 3:30pm. There is no cost, but class size is limited to 35 students. For details, check out the post in the Puddlers Forum, or go to bckfc.org. Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle will host a "Kayak Fishing Mothership Trip" along Highway 1 in Lafourche Parish. The trip will be guided by Shane Curole of Team Hooked on Yak. Cost is $250 per person and includes use of a kayak, PFD, marsh anchor, lunch and guide. There's a limit of 4 seats for this trip, so reservations are required. For more info, or to register, go to www.packpaddle.com.

CCA STAR concludes next Monday. The Fly and Kayak Divisions in the summer-long tournament got off to a slow start this year. The Fly West Division leaderboard remained vacant for several weeks, but eventually filled up and since, has undergone a few turnovers as well. There's no question - numerous charter captains have confirmed this as well - that speckled trout fishing across Louisiana this year has been very much below average. So fly and kayak anglers have had to put in extra effort to register fish. There are several familiar names on the leaderboard as we enter the final leg, proving you can't keep good flyfishers down. But it's not over yet... in the last week, big trout have moved onto the beaches at Elmers Isle, Holly Beach, and the reefs off Cypremont Point. It could very well be that the winners of the Fly East and West are decided on this the last week of STAR 2014.

A big week for college football in Louisiana as the season kicks off for several schools, beginning Thursday. Everyone is excited about their favorite team, as at this point every team is undefeated, right? On Thursday, UL-Monroe entertains Wake Forest and Northwestern State hosts Missouri State, while Tulane travels to Tulsa. On Saturday, three big games of note... as everyone knows (or should know) LSU faces Wisconsin at Reliant Stadium in Houston in a clash of nationally-ranked teams that play similiar style offense. LSU has a number of exciting freshmen who could play a big role including quarterback Brandon Harris, running back Leonard Fournette, safety Jamal Adams and receivers Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre. LSU's chances may depend on how well those freshmen respond. Another big game has Louisiana Tech traveling to Oklahoma. The Sooners - which dismantled the Gumps in the Sugar Bowl - are my pick to win the national championship. In Lafayette, UL faces Southern in a game that should be a shootout. Also on Saturday, Nicholls travels to Air Force, Grambling travels to Lamar, and Southeastern hosts Jacksonville.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is September 27th. Established by Congress in 1972, NHFD is always the 4th Saturday of September, and recognizes the importance of traditional outdoors sports. This year's honorary chairman, country music star Craig Morgan - who also hosts All Access Outdoors television series - joins a long list of celebrities who have served as spokepersons for this nationwide celebration. Here in Louisiana, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries hosts NHF Day Outdoors Festival at four venues: Monroe, Minden (Bodcau), Baton Rouge (Waddill), and Woodworth. Over 10,000 adults and youth attend these four events each year. Fly fishing clubs have long been part of the many organizations and agencies that exhibit at NHF Day. The Red Stick Fly Fishers will be celebrating their 25th year at the Waddill venue, once again doing hands-on fly tying, fly casting and knots. The North Louisiana Fly Fishers will be doing likewise at Bodcau, while the Kisatchie Fly Fishers and Cane Country Fly Casters will be teaming up at the Woodworth venue. For the clubs, it's more than just picking up a few new members. It's exposing our sport to the many youth that attend. Most have never seen or cast a fly rod. Or even seen a fly, much less tied one. How important is National Hunting and Fishing Day? It's been cited as one of the reasons for the resurgence in outdoors participation in the pivotal 18 to 35 age group.

Thursday, August 21, 2014
The 106th American Casting Association National Championships was held August 5th thru 9th on the campus of Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. Hosted by the Southern Brothers Anglers ACA club, it featured some remarkable casting performances including Maxine McCormick of San Francisco, who in only her second ACA championships, set 8 new records in the Junior Division! Henry Mittel won all three fly distance events, edging out longtime distance king Steve Rajeff. However, Rajeff won several of the spin events, and once again was named Anglers All Round Championship as he claimed 5 gold and 7 silver medals. Here's a rundown on some of the fly category winners: In 2-Hand Fly Distance, Pam Peters - Womens 165 feet, Zack Willson - Senior Men 181 feet, Henry Mittel - Mens 247 feet. In 1-Hand Fly Distance, Pam Peters - Womens 131 feet, Chuck Phillips - Senior Men 150 feet, Henry Mittel - Mens 185 feet. In Anglers Fly Distance, Maxine McCormick - Juniors 94 feet (new national record), Pam Peters - Womens 113 feet, Alice Gillibert - Senior Womens 114 feet, John Seroczynski - Seniors Men 132 feet, Henry Mittel - 169 feet. Bass Bug Accuracy (100 points perfect score): Peg VanNatter Senior Women 85 points, Pam Peters - Women 87 points, Bill Burke - Senior Men 92 points, Maxine McCormick - Juniors 88 points (new national record), Steve Rajeff, Chris Korich - 99 points (Rajeff won castoff tiebreaker 99-98).

The IFFF 2014 Awards winners have been announced. At the recent International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) National Fly Fishing Fair held in Livingston, Montana, certain clubs and members of the organization were recognized for their contributions to the sport of fly fishing. Some of the winners are familiar to many Louisiana fly anglers. They included: Russel Husted, president of the IFFF Texas Council, as Federator of the Year; Fort Worth Fly Fishers and Southern Sierra Fly Fishers for McKenzie Cup (Club of the Year); Oscar Feliu for Buz Buszek Award (lifetime achievement in fly tying); University of Southern Mississippi and Gulf Coast Council for Conservation Award. Congratulations to these clubs, organizations and individuals as well as all others recognized by the IFFF.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Another event this Saturday in Lake Charles besides the Contraband Fly Fishing Expo, is the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club's 6th annual "Cajun Castaway". Time is 6:00am to 3:00pm. This tournament is open to the public, with weigh-in at Calcasieu Point Landing. Entry fee is $25. It's a roadrunner tournament, with boundaries anywhere in Cameron or Calcasieu parishes. Top prizes go to heaviest Slam (slot red, trout, flounder). For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

Drawdown scheduled for Chicot Lake near Ville Platte starting September 2nd, according to a press release from Wildlife and Fisheries. The lake level will be lowered 3 feet, and remain so for a period of several weeks. Drawdowns help to control aquatic vegetation but also oxidize shoreline muds, thereby improving spawning areas. The lake will open to fishing and boating, but boaters are advised to exercise caution as boat lanes will not provide normal clearance from underwater structures.

Another weapon in the fight against salvania. Today is the opening of the Morley Hudson Weevil Greenhouse on Caddo Lake, in Uncertain, Texas. The facility will enable year-round high production of salvinia weevils to control the fast-growing aquatic weed. The project was fundeded by grants from individuals and organizations, and the facility named after the late Morley Hudson, a Caddo Lake resident and lake caretaker. The immediate goal is to seed as many areas of the lake with weevils as soon as possible. Longer range will be to stock weevils on other waters infested with salvinia.

Sunday, August 17, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St Paul Lutheran Church Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. The fly this month will be the Foam Spider. Beginners are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: review of last month's LA 1 Slamboree, details on the upcoming Cajun Castaway in Lake Charles, and other fishing topics. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. This month's workshop will be a "Beginners Fly Tying Class". Bud Bethea will teach the Wooly Bugger. The workshop is open to the public. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools, materials are provided. On Saturday, it's the 10th Contraband Conclave in Westlake. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Tom Jindra will be conducting an "Intermediate Casting Class" in New Orleans. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. The class will begin with a review of the roll and standard overhead casts and proceed to the double-haul and other techniques for coping with the wind. Cost is $50 per person, seats are limited to 6. To sign up, drop Tom an email at tomjindra at cox.net or call 504-392-7511. Also on Saturday, Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly 4th Saturday Tying Clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Please bring your tools, materials are provided.

The 10th Contraband Fly Fishing Expo is this Saturday. Hosted by the Contraband Fly Casters / Tom Nixon Chapter of Lake Charles, the event will take place at PPG Porter Hall on 2250 Prater Road in Westlake. Time is 8:30am to 4:00pm, and admission is free. Like most conclaves, the event will have fly tying demos, casting demos, programs, exhibitors, auction/raffles, food, refreshments, and more. As for tiers... since moving from the Southwest Fishing Club as it's venue a few years back, the Contraband Expo has been able to accomodate a lot more tiers. Just about every style of fly, from tiny midges to hair bugs to realistic, can be observed. The Contraband conclave has always been one of the more popular events in Louisiana. In part because it segways into the fall fishing season, and in part because it often features a nationally-recognized tier or speaker. Even when the speakers are all regional - as this year - it's a captivating mix of topics.

Online registration is now open for Southern Conclave to be held October 3rd thru 5th in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Or as it's properly named, the IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair. Hosted by the International Federation of Fly Fishers Southern Council, it's annually the largest fly fishing event in the South, and one attended by a significant number of Louisiana fly anglers. This year there's been a change in the days. Traditionally, Thursday was a workshops day, with Friday and Saturday as the Expo days (tying demos, exhibitors, vendors). This year, Friday will be the workshops day, with Saturday and Sunday (until 2pm) as the Expo days. While the dates may be unsettling to some, other more traditional aspects of the conclave have returned for 2014, as well as a few new wrinkles that could have appeal. For more info, including registration, go to www.southerncouncilfff.org.

Stopped by the Orvis store in BR yesterday to pick up a few tying materials. Some of the crew had just come back from a trip to the Lower Mountain Fork in southeast Oklahoma (2.5 hours from Shreveport) and shot some excellent video. Which led me to suggest that, as part of their annual Fly Fishing Film Tour showing each spring, they precede it with a mini-film festival of clips shot by local and regional anglers. Yes, it was inspired by Friday's Calmwater Film Festival at Ride the Bull. The idea was liked, we'll see if it takes root. Meanwhile, folks interested in their best-selling Access rods might take note that these rods are on sale for $100 off. Also, I noticed in their new catalog (just received Friday) that the Frequent Flyer 6-piece rods are now upgraded for 2014/2015 and now carry the 25-year warranty. These are the best 6-piece rods I've ever cast, which make them a great value at $235 to $255. One other note from the visit: Orvis BR has set fall dates for their popular Fly Fishing 101 and 201 classes. The dates are September 20 and October 4 (FF101) and September 27 and October 11 (FF201).

Sunday, August 10, 2014
What's happening this week. First and foremost, it's "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel starting tonight. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Special guest speaker will be RSFF member-emeritus and former BR resident, Dave McDougal, who will present on fly fishing for trout near his new home in Arizona. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge, 150 Eagle Point Road, in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm, with casting prior to the meeting. Speaker will be Erik Jackson, who will talk on the Lower Mountain Fork River. The LMF is a year-round trout water about 2.5 hours north of Shreveport near Broken Bow, Oklahaoma. Guests are welcome. 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. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. Friday is the start of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation convention to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in West Monroe. It concludes on Saturday evening with the 50th annual Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet. Also starting Friday evening with the Captain's Dinner, with the main event on Saturday, it's the 5th-ever "Ride the Bull" extreme kayak fishing rodeo. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Gray Wolf Fly Shop in Shreveport will hold a fly tying clinic on "The Bass Popper". Cost is $20 and covers all supplies. Seats are limited, so call or email ahead. For details, go to www.graywolfflyshop.com.

The world's largest kayak fishing tournament takes place this coming weekend at Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle. It's the 5th-ever "Ride the Bull". Conceived by Captain Danny Wray, who does kayak and fly fishing guiding around the island, the concept is for kayakers to land, live-weigh (via patrol boats) and release bull reds. Largest bull red wins, with 10 places recognized. There's also a prize (TFO rod) for largest bull caught on fly tackle, as well as $500 for anyone who catches a specially tagged red during the tournament. RTB started 6 years ago and has grown each time until last year when it set the record for the world's largest kayak tournament, both registered (523) and actual participants (488). And it could possibly have been larger were it not for forecasts of thunderstorms (the kickoff was rain-delayed, but no rain afterwards). It looks like the 2014 version of RTB has already broken it's own record... as of yesterday, 557 were registered. And some involved in the event predict another 100 anglers by Saturday morning's shotgun start. So what makes RTB so popular? For starters, the bull reds are thick in Caminada Pass this time of year. Hooking onto one for a Cajun Sleigh Ride, for sure. But even just watching someone else hook into a bull is fun. With so many anglers packed into a 1/2 mile by 1 mile fishing zone, it's pretty common for groups to gather and hold conversations. Add into it the Friday night's Captains Dinner, the "Calmwater Film Festival" and it's obvious that camradery is a huge part of this event. The $65 entry fee - $75 onsite - covers Friday night dinner, film festival, t-shirt, tournament entry. If you just want to come down Saturday and watch, that's okay too. RTB is a spectator sport with folks lining up on the old Caminada bridge (fishing pier) to watch the action. For more details, or to register, go to www.calmwatercharters.net and click on "Ride the Bull".

It's Shark Week. No wading, no feet overboard. Late summer finds the toothy critters at their most active. It's not uncommon to find them in inland waters, or at the mouths of estuary rivers like the Blind and Tickfaw. It's something to be concerned about. At the least, I and others have had stringers attacked by sharks. At the worst, there can be human attacks like this one that occured on Lake Pontchartrain this week. The boy's foot was injured, but not too seriously. A stark reminder to kayakers to leave the stringer at home, bring a fish bag or ice chest instead, and keep those feet in the boat!

Thursday, August 7, 2014
Correction on the Louisiana Wildlife Federation convention. It's next weekend, August 15-16. The comments below have been modified to reflect the correct dates. Thank you, LFF readers, for keeping me straight!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
The IFFF Gulf Coast Council's first conclave since their realignment will take place next month. The "Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Fair" will be held on September 12th and 13th at the Civic Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The GCC currently represents International Federation of Fly Fishers charter clubs, affiliated clubs, and individual IFFF members in Louisiana, Mississippi, and south Alabama. Prior to the realignment, the GCC also included clubs and members from south Texas, while clubs from north Texas were part of the IFFF Southern Council. The realignment in January, 2013 grouped all IFFF clubs and members from Texas into a new Texas Council. Since then, there's been rumors of the new GCC having an event, and now it's come to fruition. Best of all, it's free to the public, a rarity among IFFF events. The GCC Fly Fair is being held at a time that coincides with the start of great fall fishing in the area. Bring your saltwater fly tackle if you go. For more details, check out the post in the Events Forum, which also includes a link to the full-size Fly Fair poster.

Congrats to Casey Brunning. Casey, a fellow member of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club, won this Sunday's IFA Kayak Fishing Tour event in Lafitte with a combined limit of 66.63 inches. Casey, a resident of Madisonville, fished the Grand Isle area using topwater lures and jigs. He reported calm, slack tide with clear water. While it impacted the trout negatively, it was a big positive for reds, especially for the bulls. IFA Kayak Tour events are CPR - catch, photo, release - using a token provided at the Captains Meeting the night before. As such, bull reds are okay for entry. In addition, the IFAKT is a "roadrunner" tournament, i.e., it allows launching anywhere within the tournament-specified fishing area. With bull reds and larger trout running in the Grand Isle area the past week, most of the participants concentrated their efforts there. Coming in 2nd was Benton Parrot of Spanish Fort, Alabama, with 3rd place to Clayton Shilling of Prarieville. Benton contributed his success to help from Brendan "Choupique" Bayard. Since this was the last IFAKT event in the Louisiana Division, the next event will be the National Championship on October 16-18 which returns again this year to Houma.

Sunday, August 3, 2014
What's happening this week. One event here, and two out-of-state events of great significance to Louisiana flyfishers and puddlers. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm, with casting prior at 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also starting Tuesday, and running thru Saturday, it's the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) National Fly Fishing Fair (aka, conclave) in Livingston, Montana. More on that later. Also starting Tuesday, and running thru Saturday, it's the annual Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah. More on that later. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on Girod Street in Mandeville. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meets at 9:00am in Baton Rouge. On the agenda are dates for the fall shrimp season. Also on Thursday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "Kayaking 101" clinics at Lake Martin near Breaux Bridge. Time is 5:30pm. Cost is $40 per person and includes instruction, use of kayak, paddle and PFD. Seats are limited and reservations are required, so check this event at www.packpaddle.com to see if any are still available. These sessions usually fill up days prior to the event! On Saturday, Tom Jindra will teach an "Introductory Flycasting" clinic in New Orleans. Time is 9:00am until 12 noon. Cost is $50 per person, and class size is limited, so pre-registration is required. The class will cover the roll cast, off-shoulder cast, overhead, false casting, shooting line, line handling and more. Tom is a former governor of the IFF Casting Board of Directors, and one of the finest instructors I know. For more details, or to sign up, contact Tom at tomjindra@cox.net or call 504-392-7511.

The IFFF National Fly Fishing Fair is being held this week at Park High School in Livingston, Montana. Over the past 21 years, I've attended a number of the "FFF National Conclaves", the most recent four years ago. As many as three dozen - possibly more - other Louisianians I know have attended this event during that time. At one time, this was the "Mother of All Conclaves", about 3-4 times larger in size than either Southern or Southeastern FFF Council events (and those are pretty large). It's here that I took workshops, or attended programs, or sat by as they tied flies, many of the great names in the modern day era of our sport. Folks like Mel Kreiger, Lefty Kreh, Bob Jacklin, Chris Helms, Bob Lay, Polly Rosborough, Chico Fernandez, Darwin Atkins, Joe Humphries, Mike Maxwell, George Grant, Gary Lafontaine, Steve Probasco, Royce Dam, Gary Borger, and many others to numerous to name. Unfortunately, the show is a shadow of it's former self for reasons that, quite frankly, are not worthy of discussion. However, the event is still a very good one. And more importantly, it has significance for the numerous IFFF members and 7 affiliated or charter clubs here in Louisiana. The IFFF board meets during this event, and usually it's the meeting in which any significant business items are addressed. Also, the annual Awards Banquet recognizes outstanding achievements by clubs and members over the course of the past year, or lifetime. Several Louisianians (and clubs) have been recognized in the past, and we understand that a couple are in the running for this year's awards.

For puddlers, Outdoor Retailer is the show of the year. Recently we saw a number of new fishing kayaks at ICAST/IFTD in Orlando, but we're going to learn about several more - plus all the new recreational yaks for 2015 - this Tuesday. That's when Outdoor Retailer (summer market) hosts it's annual Open Air Demo at Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville, Utah. The world's largest trade show dedicated to camping, paddlesports, biking, and all other outdoor activities then moves Wednesday to the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake and continues thru Saturday. At the Open Air Demo Day, retailers and media can demo paddle just about every kayak or canoe on the market, including some of the new models for 2015. And while many were revealed at ICAST, there's at least 3 new ones from Jackson Kayak making their debut at OADD. They are: the Coosa HD, a longer, wider version of the popular Coosa; the Big Rig Pro, a souped-up angler version of the Big Rig; and perhaps most intriguing, the Cuda LT, a thermoformed version of their polyethylene-constructed Cuda 14 (rumor is it will weigh a mere 50 pounds!). While we expect a few more fishing yaks to be introduced, it's the new "recreational" yaks to keep an eye on. Almost 40 percent of all yaks used for fishing are recreational models. For example, within my own fleet, the Ocean Kayak Caper and the Hurricane Skimmer. Every year there's at least one "rec boat" that stirs the passion of the angling folks and is later converted to a fishing boat. It'll be interesting to see what boat this is for 2015.

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation convention will be held next weekend, August 15-17. Location will be the Hilton Garden Inn in West Monroe. Friday's agenda is light, but Saturday's includes the business items that the organization used to conduct on Sunday. Those items are of significance because, if approved, they become resolutions. Many of these resolutions are later adopted by state representatives and senators, either into bills or resolutions during the following legislation session. There's a rumor that one proposed resolution would call for a statewide reduction in the daily limit of speckled trout.

Is it time to reduce the daily trout limit? Captain Danny Wray of Calmwater Charters thinks so. Danny, a popular Grand Isle fly fishing guide who charters other types of fishing as well, says it's the worst summer in his recollection. In an article in NOLA.COM, he adds that the decline has been happening over the last four years. You can read the entire article here. His comments echo those of many other guides, and my own personal experiences. For me, Lakes Laurier and Jesse are the perfect examples. Both used to be guaranteed catches of summer speckled trout. If I didn't have at least 15 keepers by mid-morning, it was a really bad day. On that scale, it's been a really bad last couple years! I don't agree with Danny that the limit needs to go down to 6 trout per day. But I think making 15 the limit - as it is in Calcasieu - would be acceptable. I know a number of folks will disagree on reducing the limit; they would yell out "the biologists don't think it's needed". These folks wouldn't know "science" if it bit them on the ass! For one, Louisiana trout limits are based on "minimum sustainable yield" not "optimum yield" as most states are. That means we skirt the line between a decent fishery and one in jeopardy. Especially disturbing considering the precarious state of our coastal nursery. For years, I've been harping that wetlands loss is taking it's toll, and perhaps now the chickens have come home to roost!

A drawdown begins this week on Lake Bistineau. Once again, LDWF is fighting giant salvania on this once popular fishing lake near Minden. Current estimates are that 2,000 acres of the 17,000 acre lake are covered. Expansion is expected over the next few weeks as hot summer temperatures promote maximum growth of this invasive weed. The drawdown will be to 7 feet below normal pool stage. The gates will be closed on December 1st to allow the lake to refill. At the maximum drawdown, approximately 8,000 acres will still have water and be fishable. Drawdowns are a very effective lake management tool. Aquatic weeds such as salvania and alligator grass are left to dry and die. Shoreline bottoms are exposed to air and oxidation occurs, terrestial plants grow furthering the improvement of these bottoms. They become much better spawning areas the following spring. Drawdowns can't cure everything... hydrilla can grow in deeper water. Hydrilla itself can harbor salvania, why is why it's elimination solves two problems. Triploid grass carp are effective there. Another solution to the salvania problem is the beetle that eats the plant. While stocking of the beetle is ongoing, developing a cold-tolerant beetle must be done before that solution is more effective. There's yet another "cure" to the salvania problem - thinning of the density of trees in the lake. This is a solution that has had lots of opposition. But unfortunately (and I speak from experience here) it does work. In fact, of all the solutions mentioned, it would be the most effective from a management standpoint. At some point, LDWF will have to tell the landowners and the public that the lake needs "tough love" or else this will be a costly battle (like in, our tax dollars) for many years to come.

Friday, August 1, 2014
Good news of the day - WarmFly.com is back.. Since last Saturday, the website was down due to technical difficulties. I got a lot of emails during that time asking about the site. After all, it is perhaps the largest site dedicated to warmwater fly fishing. What folks really missed was the forum, and it's back and intact.

More good news - Sharknado 3 is on! After ratings of this week's debut of "Sharknado 2: The Second One" on the Syfy Network went thru the roof, the producers of the made-for-TV movie have decided to produce another sequel for next summer. After wreaking havoc on Los Angeles and New York, the speculation is what city will be next. Already New Orleans is in the mix, perhaps with the storyline that a shark-infested hurricane combines with the failing of levees (again!).

It's now August and that means... the last full month of SweatFest! Typically the hottest month at that, with days of 100-110 degree heat index. Then again, this has not been a typical year. Next week, college football teams report to practice and at the end of this month, LSU kicks off their season with a big game against Wisconsin at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Meanwhile, our New Orleans Saints are already in camp and preparing for their first preseason game on August 8th against the St. Louis Rams. High school football kicks off as well later this month with the jamborees. Of course that means that school also kicks off. Sorry kids, Alice Cooper was wrong! August is a slack time for festivals, again due to the heat and humidity. But a trio worth noting are the Shrimp Festival in Delcambre August 13-17, the Southern Sportsman's Festival and Expo at the Alario Center in Westwego August 15-17, and the Louisiana Duck Festival in Gueydan August 21-15. Speaking of ducks, August is a time of preparation for teal and dove hunters. I've noticed that the programming on a couple of outdoor networks has switched from mostly fishing to mostly hunting.

August flyfishing forecast. Many fly anglers consider this one of the worst months for fly fishing. A lot of that has to do with hot water temperatures which suppress feeding habits for many species including sunfish, bass and speckled trout. And then there's all those pesky hotwater undesirables that saltwater anglers must deal with, like catfish and ladyfish. There's another undesirable as well... the vibrio bacteria is most active in marine waters in August and early September. And yet another undesirable... August and September are the most active months for tropical storms and hurricanes. But enough of the bad, let's look at the good this month has to offer. The first is the bull red spawning run which kicks into high gear. There's a good reason why "Ride the Bull" is scheduled each year for August. The second is pelagics - jacks and mackerals in particular. Jack crevalle have already invaded Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. Spanish are starting to get thick into Caminada and Barataria passes on high tide with some reports in Pontchartrain too. Hooking a four or five pound spanish on a 7-weight rod is a blast! Make sure you have a reel with a smooth drag. The other member of the mackeral family - the kings - are also very active and close to shore. Having fished for bonefish and kings, there's no comparison... kings anyday! Those looking for the dinner table will find no better fare than tripletail, and the 3-tails make their big run this month. Flycasters may find specks schooling on the beaches this month. But if not, white trout to the rescue! The sand trout (it's proper name) is a fast-growing, short-lived species that absolutely LOVES Clouser Minnows. They were averaging 9-10 inches in July and I expect mostly 10-12 inches this month (by October - their last month inside - they'll average 12-14 inches). The one reason so many anglers avoid white trout is because of their weak flesh. Keep them on ice (not in ice water) and filet asap, then put filets in ziplock bags and eat within 7 days (don't freeze). Sand trout eat as well as their speckled cousins, if not better! Yet another possibility that August offers is river fishing. The smaller streams should run low and clear, barring any tropical intrusion. The bigger rivers like the Mississippi, Red, Ouachita and Atchafalaya also offer fly fishing either in the main channels or in live oxbows. Here in the Alexandria area, the Red River usually runs clear from August to October and catches of bass and white bass can be exceptional.

What's happening this month. Tom Jindra will be conducting two flycasting classes, one for beginners and one for intermediates August 9 and 23. The Ride the Bull V extreme kayak fishing tournament will be held on August 15 and 16. On Friday, August 15 activities kick off that evening with the Captains Dinner followed by the Calmwater Film Festival. Saturday, August 16 is the actual tournament itself, where kayak anglers attempt to catch, weigh, and release bull reds inside a zoned area of Caminada Pass. Again this year, there's a prize for biggest red caught on fly rod. August 15 is also the first day for FFF Southern Conclave registration, that event being held on October 3-5. But the crown jewel of August events is the 10th Contraband Conclave sponsored by the Contraband Fly Casters of Lake Charles. This year the event returns to PPG Porter Hall in Westlake on August 23rd. The venue and on-the-water location were very popular with last year's attendees and I expect a strong turnout this year. There is one other event to note, the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) National Fly Fishing Fair which will take place at Park High School in Livingston, Montana on August 5-9, with the show event running Wednesday, August 6th thru Saturday, August 9th. I made this "conclave" at this same location almost 20 years ago and it was one of the most memorable events I've ever attended.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
This weekend is the Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday. The annual Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday provides an exemption from state sales tax on the first $2,500 of the purchase price of most individual items of tangible personal property for non-business use. The state sales tax is payable on the portion of the purchase price of any individual item in excess of $2,500. The holiday applies only to the 4 percent state sales tax. Under Louisiana law, the annual sales tax holiday takes place on the first consecutive Friday and Saturday each August. For 2014, the holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 1, and continues through 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, August 2. I'm often asked, "What's the big deal about the tax holiday?", especially considering that it's only 4 percent savings and sometimes better savings can be found in-store sales or on the internet. My response is two words: "price protection". The manufacturers of many fly rods, reels, lines, and kayaks have a strict policy that all retailers must sell their products at MRP (Manufacturer Retail Price). For example, the price of a Hobie Revolution 11 kayak is $1,849. All dealers must sell at that price unless the boat has been used for demos, and only after a period of one year. If the total tax in your locality is 9 percent, the total cost of the Revo 11 would be $2,015. With the sales tax holiday the total cost is $1,941. Saving $74 doesn't seem like much, but it's always better than saving nothing.

Monday, July 28, 2014
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahrs Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Cabelas store in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome, public is invited. Bring your own tools, the club has some to use. Materials are provided. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch at 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club holds their quarterly meeting at Don's Seafood Hut in Hammond. Time is 7:00pm. Steve "Gnatless" Lessard will be guest speaker, along with upcoming club activities. Current and prospective members are welcome. Starting Friday, and continuing thru Sunday, it's the 28th annual Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza at the Trademart in Jackson. Sponsored by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, the event will feature the Magnolia Fly Fishers doing tying demos and casting demos. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Friday is Kid's Day where adults are $7 and ages 12 and under are free. For more info, go to www.mswildlife.org. On Saturday, Pack and Paddle of Lafayette will host a "Highway 1 Marsh Mothership Kayak Fishing Trip". Seats are limited to 4 persons, so reservations are required. Cost is $200 and includes kayak, paddle, PFD, marsh anchor, guide, and mothershipping to the fishing area. For complete details, or to register, go to www.packpaddle.com.

Websites down. Over the weekend, Louisiana Fly Fishing and Warm Fly websites crashed. Both are hosted by different companies on different servers, so it was pure coincidence. Our site was down only for 12 hours, and obviously is back up. WarmFly.com is still experiencing problems as of this writing, but should be up soon. Most - if not all - these problems are related to the time of year when various hosting services do upgrades, either on hardware or software. One little change can disrupt everything.

Mega kudos to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers! Their 2nd annual "Master Series" was held on Saturday out of the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Featured presentor was Dave Whitlock, accompanied by his better half, Emily. The 70 or so attendees got their money's worth and more, as Dave discussed fly fishing for bass. He started with an on-the-water presentation emphasizing casting, fishing techniques, presentation, etc, followed by a slide show. After lunch which was provided, Dave demonstrated leader connections including needle knots for fly line to leader. And that was followed by Dave tying some of his favorite bass patterns. While many of the things Dave demonstrated were not new to me, what captivated me was how easy Dave made them look (I need MORE practice!). But there were a few new things, and like most attendees, I'm anxious to give them a try. Dave Whitlock is one of the great legends of our sport, and this event was a treat for all who attended. Tom Bullock of NLFF told me after the event that they've already set a date for next years Master's Series. Can't wait until next July!

LOWA has announced 2013 Fish of the Year winners. At their annual convention in Houma on August 8th and 9th, the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association will present their prestigious "Fish of the Year" awards for each of the two categories they administer on the state's top 10 fish records. The awards go to the outstanding catches made in the previous year. The Fly Fishing award will go to Victor Tedesco III of Houma for his 1st place, 6.24 pound Gafftopsail Catfish which was caught at the Buoy 13 area off Grand Isle caught in May, 2013. Vic is an outstanding fly fisherman who has several records in the top 10 listings among a wide variety of saltwater and freshwater species. He's also currently in 2nd place in the CCA STAR Fly East Division. While catching a gafftop on fly is fairly easy, catching one of that size on any tackle is really something! Incidently, the Rod and Reel award will go to Able Ceja of Fordoche for his 1st place Gag Grouper of 74.43 pounds. Ceja caught his fish out of Venice in July, 2013.

Monday, July 21, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library on 5416 Provine Place in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. The topic for this meeting will be "What Knot to Wear". Like the TV show of the same sounding name, there will be makeovers. In this case, of leaders using various knots. The public is welcome. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying session at the Whitney Bank branch on 1441 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Friday evening, it's the Captain's meeting for Saturdays annual Highway 1 Slamboree hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will be hosting "A Day With Dave Whitlock". More on that later. Also on Saturday, Tom Jindra will be teaching an intermediate fly casting class in New Orleans. Tom is former head of the Federation of Fly Fishers Casting Board of Governors, and recognized as one of the best instructors in the world. The class will begin with a review of the roll cast and standard overhead cast before proceeding to the double-haul and techniques for coping with wind. Additional techniques will be covered as time permits. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Cost is $50 per person, seats are very limited. Contact Tom asap to see if any seats available and/or to register (email tomjindra@cox.net or call 504-392-7511. Also on Saturday, Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic upstairs in the Conference Room. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. The class is free. Please bring your tying tools, materials are provided. Or come and just watch.

A day with a legend. The North Louisiana Fly Fishers started their "Masters Series" last summer, featuring Davy Wotton. They continue that series this Saturday with Dave Whitlock. The event will be held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Cost is $35, and covers a full day from 9:00am to 5:00pm, plus lunch and refreshments. There are a few limited seats still available, so you need to act fast! If you are relatively new to our sport and don't know who "Whitlock" is, then read on. Dave is considered by many to be the dean of warmwater fly fishing (even though Dave has also been very active and innovative when it comes to coldwater trout also). Thirty-five years ago the Oklahoma native resigned his position as a research chemist and entered the world of painting, illustrating, writing, photography and fly fishing. Soon he was consulting for numerous companies such as Scientific Angler, Simms and Sage, as well as writing for various magazines, appearing in outdoors TV shows, and even directed the LL Bean Fly Fishing Schools for their first 10 years. An innovative fly tier, he also created the Whitlock-Vibert Box System, used for instream salmonid egg incubation. For his countless contributions, in 1987 he was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and presented the FFF's James Henshall Award for contributions to warmwater fishing and conservation. I've had the pleasure to see Dave on numerous occasions, and it's never a dull moment! I'll be there, hope to see you also!

It's Slamboree time! The Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" tournament this Saturday out of Bobby Lynn's Marina in Leeville. Sponsored primarily by Pack and Paddle, the categories include Slam (heaviest 1 each of speck, slot red, and flounder), Leopard Red (most spots), and an optional Speck Calcutta. Entry fee is $35, and registration is open until Saturday at 5:00am. Fishing is anywhere between Golden Meadow and Grand Isle. Participants were dealt a blow last week with the announcement that a large section of marsh south of Highway 1 between Fourchon and Grand Isle is now closed to boats and kayaks. Still, as Casting for Kids this past weekend proved, there's lots of water still available and lots of fish, albeit smaller ones right now. One thing I really like about the Slamboree... you don't need to be a good fisherman to come away with the Grand Prize (Jackson Cuda kayak). You just need to catch the top leopard red (one with the most spots). It's more luck than skill, although it does help to know where to catch reds, what lures to use, and how to land them properly.

ICAST/IFTD 2014 is over and the big winner was... you, the consumer! Once again, combining shows proved fruitful for both IFTD (fly tackle retailers show) and ICAST (general fishing retailers show) as over 11,000 retailers, media, and other industry folks attended, making it the largest show ever. Needless to say, those naysayers who said the marriage wouldn't last... well, there's a 3rd anniversary coming up next July 14-17, 2015. That's when ICAST and IFTD will again join shows, making a return to Orlando. Frankly I was surprised at the number of new fly tackle items given the large rollout of new products last year. Many of the new products are already available thru dealers, such as the Best of Show Fly Reel, the 3-Tand, and the TFO Finesse Fiberglass Series and the TFO Fly Lines. There's a second wave of new product announcements that comes at the end of the year, almost entirely associated with "house brands" of megaretailers Bass Pro, Cabelas, and LL Bean. It'll be interesting to see what they offer for 2015. In the kayak fishing world, Wilderness Systems' new frame seat for the Ride models and the Old Town Predator XL certainly garnered much of the attention - and deservedly so. But I'm willing to bet that the new Feelfree Lure 13.5 will be the surprise kayak of 2015.

NFL training camps begin this week. Yes, the Saints start practice in West Virginia this weekend. Hard to believe, but summer is half over and we're cascading towards Fall. Late summer provides many good fly fishing opportunities, primarily for pelagics off the coast. It's not unusual - in fact, somewhat common - to catch large spanish mackeral and jack crevalle inside the passes. Jacks also invade Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. And then there's the annual invasion of sand (white) trout. Sandies love clousers! Taken on a 6-weight, they can provide loads of fun. Right now, the sandies are averaging 10-12 inches in size, but a few bigger ones are mixed in. By October, most of these fish will be 13 inches. There's no size or creel limit on this species as they live short, grow fast, and continually spawn. The only negative is they have a soft flesh... avoid putting a big red or large bag of ice on top of a mess of sand trout!

The bad and ugly of late summer. The bad is tropical weather: depressions, storms, hurricanes. The peak season of August and September is coming soon. Let's hope the El Nino effect blocks the formation of these storms, and we have a quiet summer. The ugly of late summer is Vibrio. This flesh-eating bacteria claims several victims each year - either resulting in surgery, amputations, or worst, death. According to some statistics I've seen, the worst months for Vibrio on the Gulf Coast are July, August and September - these correspond to when seawater temperatures reach the upper 80s and low 90s for which the bacteria thrives. Although anyone can be infected, the most vulnerable to serious effects are those over age 50 that have some other health issue (high blood pressure, etc.). There are numerous recommendations for avoiding infection; I suggest doing a Google on Vibrio and looking them up. One measure I take - carrying a small bottle of antibacterial spray with my tackle.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
New products abound at IFTD/ICAST. Today is the first day of the world's two largest fishing retailer shows - IFTD for fly tackle, ICAST for all other fishing - being held in conjunction. While we're not in attendance this year, there's more than enough info being released via email, Facebook, blogs, etc. to keep our laptops and ipads crunching away. For puddlers, lots of new offerings in kayaks. To keep LFF readers informed, I've created two posts in our forum, one in the Tackle section (for fly tackle and related) and one in the Puddlers Lounge (for kayak related). The posts will be closed to comments, so readers will have a faster reference. Readers with questions or comments are welcome to create their own post regarding any or all products.

Saltwater license fee to increase on August 1st. LDWF has announced that on August 1st, the saltwater license fee increase that was approved by the state legislature earlier this year, will go into effect. The fee is currently $15.00 and will increase to $22.50 starting then. The increase is expected to generate $2.25 million. Those monies will be used to fund the Louisiana Creel Program, the state's replacement for the former federally-funded Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). The bill for the increase fee also contains a sunset provision, requiring that by 2018 the increase must be renewed or it'll be dropped.

A very brief respite from SweatFest 2014. Temperatures today and tonight will be well below normal as an unusual mid-July cool front has moved thru our state. Skies will be clear and it'll seem more like mid-September than mid-July. Enjoy it while it lasts (for one day). As this front retreats northward, it'll be pulling up a lot of tropical moisture from the very warm (88 degrees) Gulf of Mexico. Chances of heavy thunderstorms will rocket up across the state starting Thursday. On Friday, rain chances are 50 to 90 percent, depending on parish. On the coast, the marine forecast is calling for 15 to 20 knot winds across the coast. It's Mother Nature's way of reminding us that it's not September yet.

Congrats to our friend Kerry St. Pe on his retirement. Kerry has served as Executive Director of Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) since 1997. During his tenure, BTNEP has been instrumental in raising national awareness of the loss of wetlands and marsh in coastal Louisiana. Those efforts have resulted in increased funding for studies and coastal projects. Kerry has also directed hundreds of oil spill removals and remediations. His many list of honors includes: recipient of the first (1996) and eleventh (2006) Annual Coastal Stewardship Award from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana; Interim Administrator of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) from July 2002 to June 2005; winner of the Gulf Guardian Award in 2009 in the Individual Category by the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program; an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Nicholls State University, his alma mater.

Sunday, July 13, 2014
What's happening this week. An All-Star week, activity-wise. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St Paul Lutheran Church Community Center in Lake Charles. Fly tying begins at 6:00pm, with meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: the upcoming Highway 1 Slamboree club tournament. Guests are welcome. Wednesday is the start of ICAST / IFTD in Orlando. More on that later. On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Tom Bullock will be demonstrating tying the October Caddis. The workshop is open to the public. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 1st of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St Frances Church on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools, materials are provided. On Saturday, it's the 4th annual Casting for Kids fishing rodeo out of Boudreaux's in Leeville. More on that later.

New 2015 fishing gear to be revealed this week at ICAST / IFTD in Orlando. Last year, the largest annual dealer trade show for fly fishing (IFTD) was held in conjunction with the largest annual dealer trade show for standard fishing (ICAST) for the first time. The event was such a success for IFTD that this year's event sold out all their venue space. The significance of both expos is that, each year, most of the new products for the coming year are unveiled. While a very few 2015 fly fishing products have already arrived at dealers (e.g., TFO's Fiberglass Finesse Series rods and TFO Fly Lines), most new items are just being revealed. These include: new lines from Rio, new rods from Winston, new sunglasses from Smith Optics. One rumor that has been announced: a new cooler tote from Yeti, called The Hopper. For puddlers, there are several new kayaks coming out... again, details lacking. It certainly will make for an interesting event.

Casting for Kids fishing rodeo will be held out of Boudreaux's in Leeville this Saturday. Not only does it have the highest participation of kayakers in any general inshore rodeo, the Kayak Division has beaten out the Boat Division three years running. All for a great cause, too. Proceeds from this event go to the Palliative Care Foundation of Baton Rouge, which helps families with kids with life-limiting illness. There are 4 divisions (boat, kids boat, kayak, kids kayak) with each division awarding places for speck, flounder, and slot red. The registration fee of $40 adults ($20 youth) includes t-shirt, meal and a chance at numerous raffle prizes. For more details, or to register, go to Casting for Kids webpage.

Mississippi stocked 225,000 sunfish last week into Lake Tangipahoa, located in Percy Quin State Park near McComb. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) closed the lake after the levee was damaged by Hurricane Isaac. The lake was subsequently drained and the levee repaired. Plans are to restock Floria-strain largemouth bass later this month, and crappie in the near future. Percy Quin is a popular weekend destination for folks in southeast Louisiana, and the lake has offered good fly fishing in the past. With the draining and restocking, good fishing should return soon.

Last week's meeting in Lake Charles between CCA, LDWF, CPRA, DEQ and other agencies/groups with concerned anglers about the state of the Calcasieu fishery resulted in more questions than answers. Apparently LDWF's preliminary stock analysis indicates no problems with the speckled trout recruitment in the estuary. The limit of 15 fish per person, per day, makes it unlikely that it's being overfished. And yet, there's little explanation for what most veteran anglers say is the worst trout fishing they've seen since the killer freeze of 1989.

Sunday, July 6, 2014
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge facility in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Larry Offner, owner of Green Trout Fly Shop and webmaster of WarmFly.com. Visitors are welcome. On Wednesday, CCA Louisiana will hold a "State of Calcasieu Lake" meeting at the Calcasieu Room in Prien Lake Park in Lake Charles. Time is 6:00pm. Hosted by the Lake Charles Chapter, this meeting will give the public a chance to hear the latest studies on the lake from various LDWF biologists, members of the Corps of Engineers and DEQ, and voice their concerns. Admission is free and open to the public. Light snacks and soft drinks will be provided. On Thursday, the Ponchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at 200 Mariners Plaza in Mandeville. Time is 7:00pm. For details, contact Colin McCormick at 985-264-3448. On Saturday, Tom Jindra will be conducting an "Introductory Fly Casting" class in New Orleans. Time is 9:00am to 12 noon. Cost is $50. The class will cover, in succession, the roll cast, off-shoulder cast, standard overhead cast, off-shoulder overhead, as well as the basic mechanics of casting. Registration required, as room limited to 6 students. For more details, or to register, email Tom at tomjindra@cox.net or call 504-392-7511. Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle of Lafayette will host a "Biloxi Marsh Mothership Kayak Fishing Trip" with Captain Gary Taylor. The cost of $189 includes: kayak, paddle, anchor, PFD and semi-guided trip. Seats are limited, so pre-registration is required. For details or to register, contact Pack and Paddle at 337-232-5854, or go to their website at www.packpaddle.com.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The second half of 2014 has begun. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer. By the end of this month, training camp for Saints football begins. And in five weeks, I'll be planting my fall garden. There's still plenty of hot summer days remaining... perhaps time enough for the fish to readjust to "normal" from what was an unusual - and often disappointing - first half. No question that the coldest winter in several decades disturbed typical spawning cycles. But once the cold was gone for good, fishing has remained below par. Let's hope for a second half comeback.

The 2015 Calendar of Events is already filling up. In many years past, fly fishing events were booked and announced within months of their date. More recently, events are booked a year in advance, and sometimes even further. Much has to do with venues - booking one even several months ahead is getting more difficult. There are a few activities left for 2014 which are not yet listed on the LFF Calendar. These include the IFFF Gulf Coast Council Expo which we learned this weekend will be held September 12-13, the annual Rio Grande Rodeo hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers, the North Louisiana Fly Fisher's Annual NLFF Banquet, and Fishing Tackle Unlimited (Houston) Annual Inshore Expo which features fly tying and fly fishing seminars. The 2015 calendar is also missing a few events which are in final staging plans. The most relevant ones are: the Kisatchie Fly Fishers first-ever KFF Fly Tying Expo planned for January, the Acadiana Conclave which we're told will be in March, as it was this past year, the Red River Expo which is the renamed "Natchitoches Fishing Expo", which starting next year will alternate between Shreveport/Bossier (in 2015, 2017) and Natchitoches (in 2016, 2018). There's also discussion of a rainbeaux trout tournament being held the end of December or early January. If you know of any event not listed on our LFF Calendar, and which has a scheduled date, please send us an email and give us dates and any other specifics.

Monday, June 30, 2014
What's happening this week. A light week ahead, with the Independence Day holiday. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahrs Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. On the agenda: a recap of the recent 2-Fly Tournament and discussion of a possible trout tournament this winter. Guests are welcome. Also Monday is the last day for the 2013-2014 fishing license. More on that later. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard 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. Guests are welcome. Friday is the 4th of July - Independence Day. It's also the start of the 76th annual Southwest Louisiana Fishing Club Rodeo which runs thru Sunday, with activities at the SWLA Fishing Clubhouse. There's a Kayak Division with three places for Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder. Tickets are $35, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Children's Miracle Network of Southwest Louisiana. For more info, contact Louis Vallee at 337-485-1540.

A reminder - fishing licenses expire tonight! Tomorrow is July 1, the first day when 2014-2015 Louisiana fishing licenses - both basic and saltwater - are required. LDWF Enforcement agents write more tickets during the first week of July than any other week of the year. And many of them are for license violations. Please remember to buy or renew your licenses before hitting the water.

Welcome to SweatFest 2014. Although this is one festival I prefer NOT to celebrate. For our readers in Siberia, June in Louisiana is hot, but it's not as bad as what we typically get in July and most of August. The heat and humidity over the next 8 weeks combine for heat indices which typically range from 100 to 110. It's also a time when pressure gradients are low, thus little winds. The only relief from the oppressive heat comes from - in ascending order of BAD - afternoon thunderstorms, easterly waves, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes. For flycasters, it's the best of times... the worst of times... heck, all three! Read carefully, my furry friends, and you'll understand. Large freshwater and inshore species do not like hot water as it holds little dissolved oxygen. For this reason, bigger reds leave the shallow ponds, bass move to deeper water, big bream stay deep. Most of these fish feed at night. However, during this same time the major rivers - and their live oxbows - fall and clear. Anglers can experience great fishing on these waters during this time. Another exception is pelagics. July and August are the best months to catch jack crevalle and tripletail inside, spanish mackeral in passes, and king mackeral and bonito close to shore. Rio Grande Perch also are very active during SweatFest, perhaps because they are native to south Texas and central American waters. Whatever species you wish to pursue over the next 8 weeks, prepare accordingly. Fish early, stay hydrated, and wear sun-protective clothing.

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