Sunday, August 13, 2017

What's happening this week 8/13

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. Dirk Burton will give a presentation on fly fishing in the Atchafalaya Basin. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St Paul's Lutheran Center on East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Among items on the agenda is this Saturday's Contraband Fly Fishing Expo. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome! On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Tom Bullock will be demonstrating a new way to tie an old favorite, the soft-hackled wet fly. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Also on Thursday, the CCA Sugar Chapter will hold their annual banquet at the Cade Community Center in St. Martinville. Doors open at 5:30pm, dinner 7:00pm, auction 8:00pm. Tickets are $65 per person ($35 spouse, $25 youth) and include dinner, open bar, one-year membership, more. For more info, go to www.ccalouisiana.com.

This Saturday is the 13th Contraband Fly Fishing Expo

Hosted by the Contraband Fly Fishers, Tom Nixon Chapter club of Lake Charles, the event will be held at the VFW Hall Post 7321 on Highway 171 north of Moss Bluff. Time is 8:30am to 4:00pm. Admission is free. Like most conclaves, there's fly tying demonstrations, seminars, casting clinics and demos, silent auction, raffles, exhibits, food and refreshments. This event always features two of the best realistic tiers in Louisiana - Fred Hannie and Lee Robinson. Well worth watching them tie their unique flies. For more on this event, go to www.contrabandflycasters.net.

Fishing during the solar eclipse

On August 21st, all of North America will observe an eclipse of the sun. A large swath of the United States will get to observe a phenomena that only happens a few times a century - a total solar eclipse. That swath will stretch from Charleston, South Carolina to Lincoln Beach, Oregon. Here in Louisiana, we'll be treated to an 80 percent shading of the sun (at max). Don Kirk of Southern Trout magazine is asking anglers who might be fishing during the eclipse to report back what effect it has on trout. Already on Facebook, there are anglers planning to fish reds and speckled trout that day and see what effect it has. Likewise, I'll probably be checking out the effects on bass and crappie during the eclipse. It'll be interesting to see what results are posted from all these varied sources.

Results of the 109th ACA Championships

The 109th American Casting Association Championships were held the last week of July in San Jose, California. The ACA consists of clubs and members throughout North America, and annually holds several casting competitions with categories for spin, fly, and spool. In the 1-Hand Fly Distance, Steve Rajeff once again won the Men's category edging out his longtime rival Henry Mittel, 227 feet to 219 feet. In the Senior Men, Keith Sharp set a new national record with 188 feet. In the 2-Hand Fly Distance, Mittel edged out Rajeff, 283 feet to 272 feet. Donna O'Sullivan won the Womens with 161 feet, while Keith Sharp won the Seniors Division with 204 feet. Perhaps the most presitigous fly category is Anglers Fly Distance. Here in the Men's Division, it was Mittel edging out Keith Pryor 179 feet to 154 feet, with Rajeff in 3rd place with 152 feet.  Youth casting sensation Maxine McCormick won the Intermediate Division with 127 feet. Donna O'Sullivan took Womens with 87 feet, while Elaine Gong took Senior Women with 99 feet. Keith Sharp edged out Ed Tamson in Senior Men, 135 feet to 125 feet. In Dry Fly Accuracy, Steve Rajeff won the Mens with a perfect 100 score, while Mike Miller took Senior Mens with 96, Beth Statt took Womens with 93, and Elaine Gong took Senior Women in a cast-off after tying with Alice Gillibert. Maxine McCormick took Intermediate with a 97 and Micheal Han took Juniors with a 90 score. For complete results, go to www.americancastingassoc.org.

Hardy Ultralight duo shines at ICAST/IFTD

Two new products from Hardy for 2018 received rave reviews at ICAST/IFTD. Their new Ultralight fly rod is made from their proprietary Sintrix 440 material. In the hand, their 4-weight was one of the lightest rods I've ever held, rivaling that of the Sage X. On the IFTD Demo Day casting pond, it made for a nice, delicate presentation up close, but surprisingly could boom out to 60 feet without much effort. Initial offerings will be in 2 to 5 weights with lengths from 8'8" to 9'9". MSRP will hover around the $700 mark. A rod that light needs a complimentary reel. The Hardy Ultralite MTX reel got my vote for Best Freshwater Reel in the New Product Showcase. It's stunning beauty aside, this reel uses a carbon fiber and machined aluminum frame to reduce weight, while maintaining a powerful carbon-fiber drag with 340-degree adjustable setting and no start-up inertia. This reel will match great with any of the new lightweight premium trout rods now taking the market. Sizes range from a 3-5 to 7-9 with MSRP from $429 to $499.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Jackson Cruise FD is coming!

One of the surprises at this year's ICAST was a prototype of the new Jackson Cruise FD kayak.  It's sibling, the Jackson Coosa FD came into the trade show as a "new model" and was featured in the New Product Showcase even though it was unveiled at Outdoor Retailer last year.  The Coosa FD recently arrived at Jackson dealers everywhere and has been a smash at the demo days.  The "FD" stands for "Flex Drive", Jackson's patent-pending system that uses a unique articulating system for both deep and shallow navigation. A daggerboard protects the 3-blade propeller allowing for navigation among stumps and other underwater structures, and even into shallow water. While the propeller system is what makes this boat special, the Coosa FD has retained many of the features of the paddle version.  Likewise, in creating the Cruise FD, Jackson has opted to retain the cleaner layout design that fly anglers and less-hardcore conventional anglers loved so much about the paddle Cruise.  The Cruise FD will not be as long and wide as the Coosa FD, so likely not as stable.  And of course not as featured.  But it will be less expensive - likely $1999 compared to $2999.  That alone will likely make it a big seller.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

What's happening this week 8/6

On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Jeff Guerin, guide on the Little Missouri River and other Ouachita Mountain streams in southwest Arkansas. Jeff will update the club on the current state of the fishery, plus other news regarding the Little Mo. Guests are welcome! On Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Olde Towne Fly Shop on Pontchartrain Drive in Slidell. Time is 6:30pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets available for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome! On Saturday, the Backpacker store in Lafayette will conduct a "Paddle Demo Day" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands include Hobie, Wilderness, Perception, KC Kayak, Yolo and others. Please confirm if weather arises by calling 337-406-8754 or checking the Backpacker Facebook page.

Updates on FFI Council Events

Mid September and early October are the times for a pair of fly fishing expos hosted by regional entities (councils) of Fly Fishers International (formerly Federation of Fly Fishers). The Gulf Coast Council - comprised of FFI clubs and members in Louisiana, Mississippi, south Alabama and northwest Florida - will hold their annual "Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Fair" on Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16. Location will be the Ocean Springs Civic Center in Ocean Springs, MS. Admission is free, as well as casting lessons and programs. Many of the best fly tiers from across the region and even other parts of the country will be demonstrating their flies. Last week, FFI-GCC released an event poster to clubs and on Facebook (shown in image on left). The full size version can be seen on Facebook. Meanwhile, the Southern Council of FFI announced info on their annual expo - to be held October 6th and 7th at the Vada Sheid Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The Southern Council consists of clubs and members across Arkansas, Oklahoma, western Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Several Louisiana clubs were once part of this council, and a good number of state FFI members continue to attend "Southern Conclave". Unlike the GCC expo, Southern charges a $10 admission and certain workshops require a fee. For this reason, they have advanced registration forms on their website at www.ifffsoc.org. Banquet tickets, raffle tickets and conclave pins can also be purchased in advance.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

August is here, and that means...

1. The last full month of SweatFest 2017 - the one festival no one likes to celebrate. We had a tiny taste of early fall weather over the weekend, but the heat and humidity are back. We had several days last August with heat index over 110. So stay hydrated and limit your time outdoors if possible. August is also the start of the peack of hurricane season. I know you all love to hear that! Remember it doesn't necessarily take a "hurricane" to inflict great damage. Last August's tropical depression caused the greatest flood damage in Louisiana history. Enough bad news, let's go good.

2. Football is here! Saints are practicing for their first pre-season game against the Browns on August 10th. College teams started practice yesterday. Several teams have their first game on August 26th. UL-Monroe starts the state schedule against Memphis on the 31st (Thursday night game).

3. The last full month for CCA STAR.  The summer-long tournament ends on Labor Day. Typically, August is a tough month to catch big trout on fly or from kayak, but with conditions around Vermillion Bay and Calcasieu improving from heavy freshwater influence this Spring, the Southwest and West Divisions are starting to produce bigger trout.

4. The Contraband Conclave.  Officially labeled as the "Contraband Fly Fishing Expo", it will be held Saturday, August 19, at the VFW Hall on Highway 171 north of Moss Bluff. Like most conclaves, there's casting clinics, fly tying demonstrations, seminars, exhibitors, and raffle and silent auction items. More details can be found at www.contrabandflycasters.net.

5. Ride the Bull.  The world's largest kayak fishing tournament, the 7th annual Ride The Bull will be held Saturday, August 26, out of Bridgeside Marina on Grand Isle.  Activities start on Friday afternoon with the Captains Dinner and meeting, followed by the Calmwater Film Festival and live music.  Then on Saturday at 7am, anywhere from 500 to 700 kayakers, canoeists, or whatever floats without a motor, will spread out in Caminada Pass in hopes of catching a redfish over 10 pounds.  For more details, go to www.ccalouisiana.com.

Jason Borger's new book

Jason Borger has a new book on casting, entitled "Nature of Fly Casting: A Modular Approach". For those who don't know, Jason was the fly casting advisor and double to Brad Pitt in the movie "A River Runs Through It". He's been a featured speaker in recent years at the Red Stick Fly Fishers "Red Stick Day" and at the FFI Southern Fly Fishing Fair (conclave). His latest work is "Single-Handed Fly Casting". According to Jason, if you buy his book you'll get "A bunch of paper. Some ink. Several decades of fly casting instruction experience and research (with actual scientist types). And lots of drawings of me.".  Joking aside, Jason's book has been anxiously awaited. According to a press release, the author uses concepts developed through years of observing the ways people learn about fly casting. MSRP will be $60.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What's happening this week 7/30

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 holds their monthly general meeting at Abita Brew Pub on 72011 Holly Street in Abita Springs. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com. On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold an "Advanced Casting Course". There are three (3) two-hour sessions: 11:00am, 2:00pm, and 4:00pm. Each session has a limited class size so pre-registration is required. There is NO cost for each session. The class will focus on improving basic casting skills to the next level. To register, call 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, the Backpacker of Baton Rouge will hold a free "Paddle Demo Day" at BREC's Wampold Park on Stanford Avenue adjacent to University Lake. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Models include Hobie, Wilderness, Perception, Mad River, YOLO, and others. In case of inclimate weather, check their Facebook page to confirm, or call 225-925-2667.

The August issue of Louisiana Sportsman

Louisiana Sportsman magazine, August edition, is now available in sporting goods and convenience stores across the state and parts of southern Mississippi. For fly anglers, there's a rare double treat this month. In addition to my Fly Lines column, Jerald Horst has an article, "Poppin' Bugs for Bream". Jerald features Northshore fly angler Todd Schultz who enjoys casting small hard-bodied poppers and foam spiders in Bayou Castine and other northshore waters. The Fly Lines column - "Mission Accomplished" - is all about the first active saltwater fly fishing tournament in Louisiana in 8 years, this past June's "Fly Fishin' for the Mission" tournament held out of Pointe-aux-Chenes. In his "Paddles N' Puddles" column, Chris Holmes tells us why the life you save might be your own when wearing a personal floatation device (PFD). Chris gives several options for PFDs depending on season and kayak use. In his "Creature Feature" column, Jerald Horst tells us why "Tripletails are triple threats". The "Seafood Bible" column features crawfish and crabmeat pasta and Tiger Salad. Feature articles include: "Sight fishing for Marsh Reds" by David Brown on taking reds in skinny water; "Night Moves" by Jerald Horst on night fishing for bass; and several more. As usual, there's Newsbreakers, solunar tables, tidal charts, and regional hotspots for August.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide revised

One of the best new books at IFTD was "The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide" by Tom Rosenbauer. You're probably saying, "This isn't a new book". You're correct - it's the first revision in 10 years. Fly fishing is a dynamic sport. Much has changed since Dame Juliana Berners wrote the definitive book on our sport in 1496. But there have probably been more changes in our sport in the last decade than any decade previously and a lot of that has come from a combination of the internet, competitive angling, the rise of kayak fishing, and rod technology. The book is well illustrated, and includes sections on tackle selection, casting and presentation, flies and techniques for various fresh and saltwater species. The 408-page book is available thru the Orvis store in Baton Rouge and sells for $24.95.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

What's happening this week 7/23

On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners and public invited. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. This month, Catch Cormier will do a presentation "New Products for 2018" relative to fly fishing and kayak fishing from the recent Fly Tackle Dealer / ICAST trade show in Orlando. The public is invited. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. On Tuesday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 6:00pm. Please bring your tying tools. If none, a few sets available for use during the session. Materials provided. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel across the lot from Blue Crab restaurant. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold another of their "Fly Fishing 101" sessions. Time is 8:00am to 10:30am. There is no cost. FF101 is a free one-day, 2-hour clinic designed to introduce the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. For more info or to register, call 225-757-7286. Also on Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their annual Summer Workshop at the LDWF Woodworth Education Center in Woodworth. Time is 8:30am to 1:00pm. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

Kudos to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers!

Yesterday the North Louisiana Fly Fishers held their annual "Masters Series" event at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Approximately 60 folks showed up to listen to George Daniel, 2-time National Fly Fishing Champion and author of books on nymphing and streamers. George started with an excellent casting seminar before the heat set in. He followed up with a couple of slide presentations on his specialty areas. Then finished with a tying demonstration in which he tied five easy-to-tie but very effective nymph patterns. Congrats to Rex White who won a Cabelas CZN rod the club was raffling off for the event. According to organizers Scott Irwin and Tom Bullock, the 2018 Masters Series is already in discussion and a few names are being considered

National Hunting and Fishing Day in planning stage

National Hunting and Fishing Day is September 23rd. Although it's still two months away, planning has begun for Louisiana's celebration of this national event. Established by Congress in 1971, NHF Day - always the fourth Saturday in September - recognizes the many contributions that hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts have made towards sustainable use of fish and game, and towards conservation of waterways, forests, and other natural resources. In Louisiana, NHF Day is celebrated at four venues in Baton Rouge, Woodworth, Minden and Monroe, with average attendance nearly 10,000. Each venue has a wide range of activities and exhibitors. Fly fishing and kayaking are popular at the Baton Rouge, Woodworth, and Bodcau events thanks to the participation of local fly fishing and kayak fishing clubs.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What's happening this week 7/16

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 will hold their monthly meeting at St Paul's Lutheran Center on East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Among items on the agenda is next month's Contraband Fly Fishing Expo. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook Road. Time is 6:00pm. Among the items on the agenda is this weekend's LA1 Slamboree. Guests are welcome! On Thursday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly workshop at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Time is 6:00pm. Jerald Lewis will be leading the group in tying a Slow Sinking Spider. Beginners are welcome. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Starting Friday, and continuing thru Sunday, it's the Louisiana Sportsman Show - New Orleans edition. The state's largest and longest-running outdoors show has added a second venue. In addition to the March venue at Lamar-Dixon in Gonzales, the second show returns to it's roots at the New Orleans Convention Center. Times are 2:00pm to 9:00pm Friday, 9:00am to 9:00pm Saturday, and 10:00am to 6:00pm on Sunday. Numerous exhibitors and seminars. For complete details, go to www.louisianasportsmanshow.com. On Saturday, it's the 5th annual North Louisiana Fly Fishers Masters Series. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" out of the Leeville Public Launch. Entry fee is $35. Categories include Cajun Slam (slot red, speck, flounder 12" or longer), and Leopard Red. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Saturday, the Orvis store in Baton Rouge will hold a "Fly Fishing 101" clinic. Time is 8:00am to 10:30am. FF101 is a free, one-day course designed to introduce the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. Class size is limited, so pre-registration is requested. To register, call 225-757-7298.

5th annual Masters Series this Saturday

Hosted by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers, the "Masters Series" is an annual seminar which brings in one of the biggest names in our sport to share their knowledge and expertise. This year's event will be held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge off Sunflower Road in Bossier City. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm. Tickets are $40 and include presentation, lunch and refreshments. Seats are limited. As of this writing, only a few tickets were still available. This year's special guest is George Daniel, author of "Dynamic Nymphing" and 7-time member of the USA Fly Fishing Team. Having competed at a high level in international competition, Daniel is considered one of the best fly anglers in America. He will be doing a casting presentation, a fly tying demo, and a program on various fly fishing techniques designed to catch more, bigger trout. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org or contact Scott Irwin at 318-469-0854.

Another hectic IFTD / ICAST

This past week your intrepid reporter was in Orlando for International Fly Tackle Dealer Show (IFTD) held in conjunction with ICAST, the world's largest sportfishing trade show. While there were lots of new fly fishing products, as well as new fishing kayaks, it wasn't nearly as many as each of the last two years. But that's not to say it was a "down year" by any stretch. Readers will be delighted to hear that for 2018, the quality of rods and reels in the mid-priced range are stellar. With mid-range tackle so good, the rod companies had to up their game in the premium category to justify the higher prices - and they've done just that. It all keeps getting better! We tested over three dozen rods, took over 40 pages of notes, and collected over 60 publications on new and existing products!  Once again, we summarize our findings - and best products overall - in the Fly Lines column of the September and December issues of Louisiana Sportsman.