Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The BOOK is out! For paddlers, the BOOK is the "Boat Book", Canoe and Kayak Magazine's annual magazine - a guide to new human-powered vessels for the coming year (including some of the existing popular models). In the 2014 edition, over 380 canoes, sit-in kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, sea kayaks, whitewater, standup paddleboards, specialty boats and other types are highlighted. For puddlers - those who fish from paddle/peddle craft - there is no shortage of new boats to consider adding to one's "plastic navy". Like with fly tackle, trends in paddlecraft seem to change every few years. The current trend is towards elevated seating, using a frame/fabric seat. Native started the trend, but Hobie, Jackson, Moken, Old Town, Current Designs, Freedom Hawk, Diablo, and now even Ocean Kayak have jumped in. Wilderness has adapted their more traditional seat to an elevated one, and Hurricane has adopted a built-in seat but with much better lumbar support. Six new models which have been getting a lot of attention so far are the Old Town Predator 13, Moken Feelfree 12, Current Designs Tailfin, Ocean Kayak Big Game 2, Jackson Cruise (mid-year entry) and Elie Gulf Angler. Guess what all these boats have in common? Elevated seating, with stand-up capability. The pioneers of kayak fishing - many of whom were fly anglers - had to cast from sit-inside boats with narrow cockpits. Never could they have imagined sitting so comfortably and standing up to spot fish in skinny water. Then again, they probably could've never imagined watching movies or "surfing the web" on their telephone!
The December issue of Louisiana Sportsman is on newstands. My Fly Lines column is entitled "The Best of 2013" or "I Hate Lists So Much, I Made My Own". My column lists the top Louisiana-based tiers, websites, blogs, events of the past year, along with my picks for best fly tackle in different categories. All finalists and winners were chosen by me. If you disagree with my picks, keep in mind I disagree with them also! (I've been known to write letters to the editor complaining about myself). Seriously, tho... many of our forum members are honored in the article so please check out their contributions to our sport. Also in this month's issue... the "Paddle and Puddles" column, Chris Holmes gives some ideas for Christmas gifts for the kayak angler including clothing, electronics, soft bags, hardware and more. In his "Creature Feature", Jerald Horst takes a look at the lowly "Banana Fish", or ladyfish as we know them. These cousins of the tarpon are fun to catch on the fly, just no fun to land (they spit up on you). Allen Tarvid explans in his "Marine Electronics" column how to update your fishfinder to almost new. This month's Seafood Bible highlights recipes from The Family Grill in Simmesport. The Catfish Jamie looks to die for.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
What's happening this week. 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. This meeting is the club's annual Christmas dinner and elections. On Tuesday the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. The program will be a video on casting. Also on Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Refuge off Eagle Point Road in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Rob Woodruff, Lake Fork Fishing Guide, who will present on targeting trophy bass with the fly rod. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session. Time is 7:00pm. For more info, contact Colin McCormick 985-264-3448. On Friday and Saturday, Pack and Paddle will host a "Marsh Mothership Kayak Fishing Trip" out of Golden Meadow. Cost of $375 includes use of fishing kayak and accessories, lodging, dinner on Friday night, breakfast Saturday, guided mothership trip to fishing spots. On 4 seats left, for details go to www.packpaddle.com. Also on Saturday, it's the Fishing Tackle Unlimited of Houston's 7th annual Inshore Fly and Tackle Expo at their Katy Freeway location. Time is 10am to 5pm. Guests include world champion flycaster and chief Loomis rod designer Steve Rajeff, world-renown fly tier Enrico Puglisi, Captains Scott Sommerlatte and Scott Null, and fly tiers from the Texas Fly Fishers club. For more info, go to www.fishingtackleunlimited.com.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Where's that global warming again? Most of the major climatological services predicted an unusually cold winter. So far, it's lived up to the hype and we're still two weeks from the solstice. Hope everyone has enjoyed these last few warm days... maybe got into some great speck action... because here comes the next artic express. This one won't affect the southern parishes that bad. The dividing line between somewhat cold and glacial will be around Alexandria. Tonight and tomorrow, a major ice storm and winter storm warning is in place for Oklahoma, east Texas, and all of Arkansas. On Friday and Saturday, Shreveport to Alexandria will see freezing rain and highs below 40 degrees! In Shreveport, it will stay in the 30s for highs until Tuesday. Monroe won't have it so lucky... they're expected to have freezing rain all weekend, followed by snow on Monday night. Parts of Arkansas will be even worse... below zero temperatures! And below freezing for 6 to 7 consecutive days! Sounds like an "ice on the guides" trip for anyone crazy enough to fish the White, Norfork or Red.
Somehow, "I told you so" just doesn't quite say it. One of my favorite lines by one of my favorite actors, Will Smith, pretty much sums up my feelings after reading this article in yesterday's Advocate newspaper. I didn't say it was a stupid idea... there were LOTS of folks who said that for me. I just said that the $50,000 could have served a far more useful purpose... much more bang for the buck... placing these islands in areas where they could've captured silt and built new marsh. The floating reefs will now be relocated to Lafreniere Park where they will be used for educational purposes, such as how NOT to spend money on coastal restoration. Maybe they will serve a better purpose there, as habitat for the lake's rio grande perch.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
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. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at The Beach House Bar and Grill on 124 Girod in Old Mandeville. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday Masseys Outfitters Mid-City New Orleans store will host a free "Kayak Demo Day" at 1400 Moss Street on Bayou St. John. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Possible demo boats include models from Hobie, Native, Heritage, Jackson, Wilderness, Perception, Dagger, BOTE, others. Call 800-754-7467 for more details or to request a specific model.
December is here. And that means... the peak of the holiday season. There's parties, decorating, shopping for Christmas presents, family gatherings and more. December also means high school and college football championships and the start of the bowl season. We're all waiting to see where LSU, ULL, and Tulane end up bowl-wise. And we're definitely pulling for McNeese and Southeastern Louisiana in the FCS (former Division II) playoffs. What great seasons the Cowboys and the Lions had! Both schools earned top-seeded byes and will play their first games on December 7. December also marks the start of true winter in Louisiana, with this month and January historically the coldest time of the year. Fishing hits it's low point, but there are a few consolations. The water is clear and bull reds are active in the marsh... a terrific month for sightcasting when conditions allow. Speck fishing slows down as a whole, but this is the month when big - even trophy - speckled trout can be taken on fly in the marsh. Flounder are very active the early part of this month. In freshwater, crappie will be the most pursued species. However, come late month, a non-native species takes the limelight. Thanks to stockings by local parks departments, rainbeaux trout return to ponds in East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes. And perhaps elsewhere. For those in north Louisiana, the winter stocking increases of trout on the Little Missouri and Mountain Fork in the Ouachita Mountains make for great fishing weekends.
December is a quiet month for activities with two very notable exceptions. This Friday evening and all day Saturday is the Renzetti Fly Fishing Fair in Titusville, Florida. A long drive for most Louisiana fly anglers, but if you want to see many of the legends of our sport at one event, this is it. Lefty, Clouser, Popovics, Pallot, Ehler, Cave, Curcione to name a few. Next Saturday, Fishing Tackle Unlimited of Houston will hold their 7th annual Inshore Light Tackle and Fly Expo at their Katy Freeway store. This event usually features one of the top names in our sport, but this year there's two: 38-time world champion caster and world-record flycaster Steve Rajeff, and world-famous fly tier Enrico Puglisi, creator of the EP patterns and EP fibers. As for club events, there are none this month. In fact, many clubs do not hold meetings and/or some tying sessions this month due to the holidays. Currently the LFF Calendar does not accurately reflect this, but we will update as notices come to us.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Happenings this week - updated. I was somewhat rushed yesterday when posting the latest news that I somehow mistaken two activities taking place this week. Tonight the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly "Fourth Monday Tying Session" at the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs, in the upstairs Conference Room. Time is 7:00pm. I had mistakenly posted yesterday as Cabelas, but now corrected. On Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual "Where Y'at Throwdown" tournament out of Gulf Outlet Marina in Chalmette. This is one of BCKFC's smaller Series tournaments, and a good one for beginners as entry fee is only $20. Fishing is from 6:00am to 3:00pm (weigh-in from 2pm to 3pm) and boundaries are St. Bernard and East Plaquemines. It's artificial lures only, best stringer of 5 speckled trout + 1 flounder. Registration is online at BCKFC.ORG and ends 9pm this Friday.
Thomas and Thomas is back. Matt Gedge sent us a link to this article on www.ginkandgasoline.com. Gink and Gasoline is one of my favorite fly fishing blogs for a number of reasons, and this article by Kent Klewein is reason why. Good interview and good historical background. My own recollection of T&T was that they were once one of the premier rod companies in America, along with Winston, Loomis, and Sage. T&T went thru some ownership changes - and issues - and the result was a serious breach in dealership. Although T&T is "back", I doubt they'll ever be the big market player they once were for several reasons. First, the emergence of Orvis and Hardy as technology leaders has stiffened the competition in the premium rod market. Second, most of the premium companies offer a mid-price series that allows buyers to "buy into" the brand name. When T&T dumped their Emerger Series, they lost that opportunity. Third, the emergence of TFO, Echo, Allen, Rise, and Redington as mid-price, Korean-made rods that offer very good performance for the money. More frugal buyers who would've gone "premium" years ago might not now. The fly rod market today is the most competitive I've seen in the last 25 years. But as long as Tom Dorsey is building their rods, T&T will be in demand.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
What's happening this Thanksgiving week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. The public is invited. 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. Beginners are welcome, materials provided. Bring your own tools, however if none, tools can be provided. On Thursday, it's Thanksgiving. Hope everyone enjoys their turkey, turkducken, or tofu turkey, if you're vegan. And let's be thankful for our family, friends, and the wonderful fishing and hunting opportunities the Lord has bestowed upon our great state. Friday is the infamous Black Friday. More on that later.
A reminder to clubs and others that this is the last week to submit your 2014 calendar entries to us for posting in the January issue of Louisiana Sportman. Also a trio of other annual calendars with a deadline of mid-December, so you don't want to miss those either. Please check our LFF Calendar page to insure your event is listed, or the date is correct. If not, please email us asap. This is great, free publicity you don't want to pass up. Thanks!
Ol' Man Winter makes an early visit this week to the mid-South. Winter storm warnings are in place for most of Oklahoma, east Texas and southwest Arkansas. Northwest Louisiana is expected to have sleet, freezing rain, and possibly snow starting tonight and thru Monday. Most of Louisiana will see lows in the 30s from today thru next Saturday. This is NOT good news for those of us who were looking to get in some marsh fishing this week... the action on reds and specks has been "chicken stupid" the last two weeks. The best game plan I can offer speck anglers is to fish the pits, deep canals and other "holes", use an intermediate fly line, and work those flies slow. If the wind tapers down, the reds will be active on flats from mid-morning thru early afternoon. Better get used to cold weather fly fishing... five of the seven major climatological services predict a much colder than normal winter!
This Friday is Black Friday the busiest shopping day of the year. I confess to having stood in line beginning at 10pm Thursday night just to get a chance to save unbelievable amounts on a laptop or digital camera. Of course, it's not just electronics that are on sale. A few years back, I made killer savings on a golf set for each of my sons, saving 60 percent. Because of the price protection policy that most fly fishing and kayak companies enforce (to protect dealers), you seldom see Black Friday sales on those items. However, private label tackle and fishing accessories are a whole different story. There's a website called www.theblackfriday.com that gives an early peek at the circulars coming out mid-week. An ad for Bass Pro Shops shows a graphite fly rod and reel combo for $49. Cabelas ad has their Wind River outfit (rod, reel, line, backing, leader) on sale for $69. Numerous fishing accessories are on sale also.
New for 2014. The Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler 2 was a prototype at the Outdoor Retailers Show back in July, but the final form has taken shape. This new yak is the first from Ocean Kayak to have a frame seat... the Element Seating which it shares with the also-new Old Town Predator 13 (both companies part of Johnson Outdoors). Also on the BG2 are built-in mounting brackets, a transducer-compatible scupper, Mod Pod center hatch, built-in carry handles and paddle keepers. The BG2 is 12-feet, 9-inches long, 34 inches wide and weighs 70 pounds. It has a whopping maximum capacity of 550 pounds! Our guess is that the OK BG2 will be a somewhat less expensive version of the Old Town Predator (the Predator has a few more amenities).
New for 2014. Allen Fly Fishing has just unveiled their XA2 series of fly rods. What makes these rods unique among online-based companies (eg, Albright) is that they are made here in the USA. Allen has earned a fine reputation for it's reels and customer service, so we should expect no less from their rods. The XA2 features a medium-fast action, navy blue color, titanium chromium guides, and premium quality hand-made cork handle. And the Allen lifetime warranty. All for under $359 or less. As with all Allen rods, if you buy one, immediately test it out - LEAVE the plastic on the cork - and if it's not for you, you can return with a full refund or exchange.
New for 2014 - Taylor Reels. Here's an inspiration for would-be entrepeneurs. Matthew Taylor decided to design and build his own fly reel. The graphics designer from New Mexico teamed up with an engineer friend and put together a great-looking and very functional reel that had friends encouraging him to launch a business. Thanks to Kickstarter, a funding business development website, Mr. Taylor soon realized his dreams of building and selling a high-quality, affordable fly reel. Taylor reels went "live" in October. Two models are now available: the Type1 (sizes 3-4 and 5-6) and the Array (3-4, 5-6, 7-8). Both are machined, anodized, with carbon fiber disk drag, with the Array having a watertight sealed drag (proven in a 30 hour submersion test). The Type1 sells for $139 and $149, with the Array for $159 to $179. Taylor Reels also come in colors black, slate grey, green, copper, silver and gold. For more info, go to www.taylorflyfishing.com.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Grand Isle is 2013 KACA Location of the Year. The Kayak Anglers Choice Awards are sponsored each year by YakAngler.com. This year a new format was implemented where anyone online could vote in each of 3 different elimination rounds. This new format prevented voter dilution and kept things exciting. As mentioned in previous posts, the original nominees included a couple of Louisiana businesses, the Bayou Coast club forum, and several Louisiana kayak anglers (including 3 members of our own LFF forum). The new format was popular... participation doubled from last year, with over 9700 unique voters. Among the 10 winners were Ashley Rae for "Kayak Angler of the Year", Kayak Angler Magazine for "Magazine of the Year", Bending Branches Angler Pro for "Paddle of the Year", Kayak Angler by Jason Self for "Blog of the Year". Unfortunately only one of our locals was a winner - the town of Grand Isle. It beat out Chesapeake Bay, VA and Devils River, TX for Location of the Year. And why not? Grand Isle was site of the largest kayak tournament EVER held this past August during Ride the Bull 3. It also hosted an IFA Kayak Tour event, and was the go-to location during the IFA National Championship based in Houma in October. It's also been the most popular locale for fly fishing puddlers, site of the annual "Grand Isle Fly Fishers Weekend" back in June. Congratulations to everyone in the Cajun Bahamas!
Congratulations to Mike Huffman. Mike, a former resident of Texas, and a longtime fixture at the tying tables at Southern, Southeastern and Gulf Coast FFF events, was awarded the Charles E. Brooks Memorial Life Award from the International Federation of Fly Fishers. Many longtime Louisiana tiers may recall Mike as a member of the infamous Dallas-based "Roadkill Round Table" of tiers which he co-founded with the late, great Mike Verduin. Huffman is an innovative tyer and a fabulous teacher, who originally learned his tying skills from none other than celebrated tier Darwin Atkins, while growing up in California. About 20 years ago, Mike was lured away from Texas by Bass Pro Shops. Today he co-manages the fly fishing business for the entire BPS corporation.
Lauren Grainger, heroine for us all? The student at the University of Richmond (Virginia) recently won the Grand Prize in a college-wide competition for start-up products and businesses. Her product, LineGuard, is designed to prevent fly line entanglement when fly fishing. This wouldn't be the first fly line management product, however according to Ms Grainger, "We have designed a superior technology to what is out there now.". There are no photos or videos of LineGuard in action yet. Can't wait to see it. Line management is an issue that many have tried to resolve, but few have succeeded, and none to any great success. If LineGuard really does work, Lauren Grainger's name will be immortalized in our sport.
Monday, November 18, 2013
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Community Center on East Prien Road in Lake Charles. Tying begins at 6:00pm, with 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: December club trip, tackle tip, location feature, more. 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. Bud Bethea will be teaching the bead head nymph. The public is welcome. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church at 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly free Fly Tying Clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Please bring your own tools, materials provided. For more info, contact Ron at 225-271-3100.
Monday, November 11, 2013 - updated 11:00am
Today is Veteran's Day. To all who have served, and to those currently serving our country, we express our unending gratitude. We also wish to thank those businesses that are offer our veterans discounts this day, or throughout the year (one of those is Allen Fly Fishing, kudos to our friends at Allen). As the son of a WWII veteran and POW, the father of two sons who served (one of which is still active in Air National Guard), and the brother-in-law of a career Navy, and uncle of a Naval veteran, I know the sacrifices these patriots make, and the many nervous days while they were in harm's way. If you see a veteran today, please thank them!
What's happening this week. Later today, 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. Club member Roger del Rio, an IFFF Certified Casting Instructor, will be demonstrating the Orvis Indoor Casting Tool, and some proper casting techniques to practice using the tool. There will also be a hands-on session. Guests are welcome. On Tuesday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. The program will be on tying practical flies. Bring your vise if you have one. If not, no problem. Also on Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Refuge off Eagle Point Road in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. Come early to tie flies. The program will be club member Brian McDowell, a veteran Arkansas trout angler. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, Masseys Outfitters on North Carrolton in New Orleans will present a free "Kayak Fishing Seminar" with Brendan Bayard of Hobie Kayaks. Time is 6:30pm to 9:00pm. For more info, call (504)648-0292. On Friday evening, it's the Captains Dinner for the 9th annual "Fall N' Tide" kayak fishing tournament hosted by the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club. The tournament itself is on Saturday. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Masseys Outfitters in Baton Rouge will host a free Kayak Demo Day at BREC's Wampold Park off Stanford. Time is 11:00am to 1:00pm. Boats include BOTE, Hobie, Native, Heritage, Jackson, Wilderness Systems, and more. To request a particular boat, call 800-754-7467.
This weekend is Fall-N-Tide. The activities - which include the Captains Dinner on Friday night, and the Awards and Saturday night fish fry - will take place at Cypress Cove Marina in Venice. This is a roadrunner event - puddlers can launch and fish along Highway 23. One of the 3 major kayak tournaments in the state, and one of 10 majors in the country, it offers participants a chance at numerous prizes, both as winners and in the fundraising raffle (proceeds to charity). A great event, and registration is only $50. But perhaps the greatest benefit to novices is the opportunity to learn from veterans as to techniques and rigging. I've seen many innovations to kayaks and kayak tranportation at these events, and it amazes me to the creativity of my fellow puddlers. Anything to make our trips safer and more successful is worth learning about.
Cold weather in store this week. This Tuesday night, folks attending the Cane Country Fly Casters meeting in Natchitoches or the North Louisiana Fly Fishers meeting in Shreveport will need a coat. A blast of cold air will move thru Tuesday, dropping temperatures that night to freezing. Wednesday's highs will only be in the low 50s for most of the state, with a freeze warning that evening in most areas north of Opelousas and in the upper parts of the Florida parishes. The weekend will see some moderation and a chance of rain. Better get used to the cold... five of the seven major climate centers predict a colder and wetter than normal winter for Louisiana, especially for the months of January and February.
Saturday night was painful, but relief came last night. Louisiana has been described as "A drinking state with a football problem". In addition, there few places in the country where you'll find alumni and fans of other state colleges pulling for the major program in the state. So when LSU loses, everyone is in angst. Especially when it's Alabama and Nick $aban. Thankfully, our Saints took away a lot of that pain last night by doing a complete beatdown on the Dallas Cowgirls. America's Team? Not even Central America would claim them now. The Saints set a couple of NFL records in the process. Congrats to Rob Ryan and his defense on an outstanding effort.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The Acadiana Fly Rodders meeting scheduled for tonight has been cancelled, according to a post by Pete Cooper, Jr. The club will meet again in December at the regular scheduled date and location.
The November issue of Louisiana Sportsman is now available. It may be hunting season, but fishing is going great. In my Fly Lines column, it's "Pumpkin Time", the season for sightcasting. I offer some tips for success in clear water. In Puddles and Paddles column, Chris Holmes suggests kayakers hit the Pontch this month, and offers tips on spots and what to use. Rusty Tardo spotlights Delacroix and maps hotspots to this fly fishing wonderland. Jerald Horst's article "Night Stripes" should be of interest to our forum members; Jerald details hybrid striper fishing at night on Lake St. John. Take the same approaches for using lures and substitute flies instead. Kyle Barnett tells of the demise of Lake Cataouche... or has there been a demise? You read, you decide. In the Seafood Bible column, Jerald and Glenda Horst say it's oyster time. Get the recipe for oyster-stuffed bell peppers.
Monday, November 4, 2013
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall 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. Starting Friday is the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual "Fall Catch-n-Eat" marsh outing. This friendly get-together (attendees make their own plans) culiminates with the Saturday evening fish fry. RSFF members and members of other fly clubs can participate. See the RSFF website and forum for details. On Saturday, it's the 5th annual "Turkey Trout" kayak fishing tournament hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club. Location is Cypremont Point State Park. This event is open to the public, entry fee is just $25. For details, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.
Election week is here! Not for politicians, but for the 2013 Kayak Angler Choice Awards sponsored by YakAngler.com. After two rounds of voting, five finalists have been chosen in each category of Kayak of the Year, Fishing Forum of the Year, Kayak Angler of the Year, Kayak Blog of the Year, Kayak Video of the Year, and more. There are several Louisiana finalists: Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club for Best Forum, Pack and Paddle of Lafayette for Best Retailer, and Grand Isle for Best Kayak Fishing Location. Please support our Louisiana finalists! Go to this link and vote!
Congratulations to Joe Humphreys and Joan Wulff. A world-renown fly fishing instructor from Pennsylvania, Joe was recently inducted into the National Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. I had the priviledge of taking a fly tying clas s with Joe and his mentor, George Harvey, many years ago. Joe's casual approach to instruction gave confidence to his students, that fly casting and fly tying were easy to learn. Joan Wulff was a national women's casting champion, married to the late, great Lee Wulff who passed away many years ago. Joan went on to continue her husband's legacy and has become a legend in women's casting instruction. Other inductees included A.J. Campbell, author of "Classic and Antique Fly Fishing Tackle".
Friday, November 1, 2013
November is here, and that means... perhaps THE best month for marsh fishing for speckled trout. Especially with flies. Sightcasting to reds is also great this month, especially after north winds lay down some and the fish move back on the flats. One species that gets very active in the fall is flounder. As Pete Cooper can testify - this fish loves flies, especially his Golden Rule. In freshwater, a solid bet this month is crappie... on the right days. On clear, sunny days fish early or late. Already with water temps in the 60s in most lakes, the fish are moving to the shallows and edges of dropoffs to feed. A fluff butt under a strike indicator will work in the shallows. For deeper sacalait, consider the Crappie Candy and small clousers (size 6). Some fine catches are coming from Caney and Chicot lakes using lures with a little pink. Bass are still very active in shallows, and last Monday's excursion on Cotile Lake proved they are still VERY much interested in poppers. BOTTOM LINE: Fly fishing in Louisiana is never better than November... GEAUX FLY FISHING!
What's happening in November. Major activities include this weekend's Toledo Bend Rendezvous, Red Stick Fly Fishers Fall Catch-n-Eat (Nov 8-9) open to members of recognized fly clubs only, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club's annual "Turkey Trout" tournament at Cypremont Point (Nov 9), and a Kayak Fishing Seminar at Massey's Outfitters in New Orleans (Nov 14). The biggest event of the month comes on November 15-16 when the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club hosts their 9th annual "Fall-n-Tide" tournament out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice. This event typically draws 200+ participants, both local and national. Some would say the biggest day of the month is November 9th when LSU faces off against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, or the 10th when the Cowboys come to the Superdome to take on our Saints. Neither is correct... it's Thanksgiving on the 28th. The second biggest day comes that Friday... Black Friday. And yes, I've met a number of fellow RSFF and Bayou Coast members standing in line at the mall. Why not? You have all year to fish, but only one day to get that GoHERO Pro for just $99.
Wanted: your events for 2014. A number of LFF readers have visited our Calendar page in the last week. The response was, where did all those 2014 entries come in? Many activities were set weeks or months ago, but with all going on, I've not been able to post them until recently. A very few are tentative, based on recurring dates (eg, Acadiana Conclave always the last Saturday in February). But most are established. As is common practice, I will be putting together the annual "Calendar of Events" for various publications and websites starting the week after Thanksgiving and ending 2 weeks before Christmas (depends on the publication or website as to when due). IF YOU HAVE AN EVENT WITH A DATE AND LOCATION, please email me with that info no later than November 28th. Thanks!
Sunday, October 27, 2013
What's happening this week. A spooky one indeed... On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Spahr's Seafood Restaurant inside the Ramada Inn on Tunnel Blvd in Houma. Time is 6:30pm. Lots of great marsh fishing right now will be on the topic. Guests are welcome. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. The program will be on "Fly Tackle for Saltwater and Bass". The public is invited. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Beginners are welcome, materials provided. Bring your own tools, however if none, tools can be provided. On Thursday, it's Halloween. Watch out for trick-or-treaters. Also on Thursday, it's the New Orleans Fly Fishers monthly meeting at the Whitney Bank branch on Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. On Friday and thru Sunday, it's the annual "Toledo Bend Rendezvous". More on that later. On Sunday, Pack and Paddle will hold a "Kayaking 102 - Self Rescue and Stroke Refinement Class". The session will be held in two parts, from 9:00am to 12 noon, and later from 1:30pm to 4:00pm. Cost is $75 per person, and includes use of kayak, paddle, and instruction. Registration required as class size limited. Go to www.packpaddle.com for details and registration.
The Southern Fly Fishers Rendezvous also known as the Toledo Bend Rendezvous, is the largest informal gathering of fly tiers in the South. Held each year, the first full weekend of November at North Toledo Bend State Park near Zwolle, Rendezvous has no organized activities. Folks come from Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and other states and simply tie flies, fish, cast rods, and enjoy good food. Perhaps most important... it's an opportunity for aspiring tiers to sit with one or more of the top fly tiers in the region (even country for some) and learn their patterns, tips, and secrets. There's no pre-registration required, simply show up and pay your fee. The nominal fee includes lodging for Friday and Saturday night, and meals. Thanks to sponsorship by the IFFF Gulf Coast and Texas Councils, most of the non-lodging expenses this year are covered. For more on this great event, go to the Rendezvous 2013 webpage.
Another fly fishing movie? Yes! "Not Yet Begun to Fight" premiered this weekend, but not to the same fanfare or widespread release enjoyed by "A River Runs Through It" or "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen". But that's not unusual for documentaries. The 60-minute film by Shasta Grenier and Sabrina Lee is getting some rave reviews. It focuses on five wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans whose physical and mental problems are pacified by the spiritual nature of fly casting, and catching fish on the fly. The film's inspiration was a non-profit Montana organization called "Warriors and Quiet Waters" founded by Eric Hastings, a retired Marine Colonel who served in Vietnam. There are a few venues in Louisiana for independent movies as this to be shown. We'll let you all know if and when it does come to our state.
Monday, October 21, 2013
What's happening this week.. A very light week ahead... on Thursday, it's the annual CCA STAR Awards Banquet at Live Oak Arabians off Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge. Open bar at 5:30pm, dinner by Walk-Ons at 7:00pm, awards at 7:30pm, and auction at 8:00pm. Tickets are $50, $30 spouse and $25 youth. Hope to see the Fly, Kayak and other category winners as well as the Bonus Drawing winners in the Fly and Kayak Division. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at the Whitney Bank branch on Metairie Road. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 9:30am to 12 noon. Beginners are welcome. Bring your own vise and tools, materials are provided.
A banner weekend for competitive kayak fishing in Louisiana. The IFA Kayak Tour held it's national championship in Houma this weekend, and several members of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club came away with awards. Steve Lessard from Prairieville finished 1st with 114 points, followed by Brendan Bayard (forum member Choupique) of Baton Rouge with 105 points. Other BCKFC membes were Chris Holmes in 4th with 104 points and Benton Parrot in 5th with 101 points. Brendan also came away with the award for "IFA Kayak Angler of the Year" for total points on the circuit. The IFA Kayak Tour is a CPR tournament where the longest red and speck each day are added to the points. Which means Steve averaged a red and speck total inches of 57 each day! A lot of the ridiculous totals came from catches of bull reds. Proving the inside waters right now are thick with Redzillas! Most of the top 10 finishers were in Hobies, with Ben Roussel (Fishtaco) the highest non-Hobie finisher. Congrats to all my fellow Bayou Coast club members on a great showing!
Cold weather already? Sunday morning I was hoping to hit the water early but when I walked outside, it was downright frigid. So I stayed in until it got a little warmer. Later, the weatherman on KALB said the low was 43 degrees! The forecast for this week calls for reinforcement of cooler air with most parts of the state having nighttime lows in the 40s and lower 50s. I'm already seeing a big change in patterns with freshwater. For saltwater, this means peak season for fly rod for speckled trout. Redfish should continue to be great. Many LFF readers are perhaps thinking it's time to hit the winter spots like the TPH (Grand Isle), Hopedale Lagoon, Lake Charles and Lake Prien, Wonder Lake, and The Pen (Chalmette).
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Weekend forecast. Cool weather has arrived again. The first arrival was very short-lived, followed by a long spell of unseasonably warm weather. Not the case this time... today's front will be reinforced early next week, resulting in highs in only the 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s for most of Louisiana extending thru next Sunday (10 days). North winds will lower the tide levels - good for the redfish folks. Speckled trout action was getting hot - and now it's about to get much hotter. We also have good tidal movement into next week for trout. Spoon flies, crab patterns, charlies for reds, clousers or charlies under a VOSI for trout, or even poppers when the wind is down. Seaducers are an option for both species. Crappie action should also improve greatly. Several north Louisiana waters such as Darbonne, Black Lake, Caney, and Cross Lake are picking up as the sacalait move to the edges of dropoffs. Try fluff butts, crappie candies, pink or gray clousers, and Pistol Petes for crappie. Bass are starting to school as well on most north and central Louisiana lakes. There's also been great bass fishing on Pearl River, Bayou Lacombe, and Bayou Black marsh. I'm anxious to throw Bass Bullys, Rapid Dogs, or Boogle Bugs at those fish. Maybe a spoon fly, deceiver, clouser, or EP fly for the schoolies busting shad. The only caveat to all this cool weather and great fishing is the chance of precipitation and windy conditions along the coast.
The end of government shutdown comes too late for the thousands of folks who would have attended last weekend's Wild Things Festival in Lacombe, or the Friends of Black Bayou Lake Fall Celebration originally set for this weekend in Monroe. It also comes too late for many kayakers wanting to hit the Sabine Refuge for prime October redfish action prior to the annual seasonal closure which starts October 15. It also has impacted tens of thousands of flyrodders across the country who make trips to fish Yellowstone and other federal waters during October. Most of those trips have already been cancelled. The downstream effect will hurt shops and many other businesses. Dems will blame Repubs, and Repubs will blame Dems. But here's the truth: if we don't balance the federal budget, what happened since October 1st will soon be the norm, not a one-time occurence. Let's hope both sides work that out...and soon!
The physics of fly rods. Someone who knows I have a degree in physics sent me a link to this article on PHYS.ORG.. Apparently Robert Selfors of Norway has been working with material scientists from SINTEF - the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia - on a new type of fly rod. At first glance, most of the rod looks much like most rods today... with one exception. The handle. It's hollow. The hollow handle enables longer casts with less effort. Of course, SINTEF's involvement means high-tech materials are also involved. It will be very interesting to see if this rod performs as expected. If so, it could be the hottest development in our sport since the large arbor reel.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Whats' happening this week. A very busy one again... On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the LDWF building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Meeting begins at 7:00pm, with casting outside prior. Guest speaker will be Mike McDonough, Louisiana Artificial Reef Program Coordinator, who will talk about Louisiana's inshore and offshore artificial reefs. Also on the agenda: the upcoming Fall Catch-n-Eat weekend set of November 8-10. The public is welcome. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting the Contraband Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Community Center on East Prien Road in Lake Charles. Tying begins at 6:00pm, with 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: recap of the Cajun Castaway tournament and update on upcoming Turkey Trout tournament set for November 9 at Cypremont Point, tackle tip, location feature, more. 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. Erik Dilts will be teaching a basic articulated fly, a versatile pattern that has been very productive in cold, warm, and saltwater. The public is welcome. Also starting Thursday and going thru Saturday, it's the Southern Rodmakers Gathering in Mountain Home. This is for those who make, fish, or simply love bamboo rods. Pre-registration was required. Also starting Thursday evening with registration and Captains meeting, it's the 2013 IFA Kayak Tour National Championship in Houma. To qualify, you must have fished 2 IFA Kayak Tour events in 2013. Should be interesting as several Louisiana puddlers (a few on our forum) are expected to be favorites on their home waters. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Frances Church at 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Starting Friday, and continuing Saturday, it's the IFFF Florida Expo at The Plantation in Crystal Springs, Florida. This annual conclave of the International Federation of Fly Fishers Florida Council features fly tying, seminars, workshops, vendors, casting certification, and much more. Headliners will be Chico Fernandez and Flip Pallot. Cost is only $10, under 16 free. Onsite registration is available. For more info, go to www.fedflyfishers.org/Councils/Florida. On Saturday, Masseys Outfitters of New Orleans will hold a free "Kayak Demo Day" at 1400 Moss Street on Bayou St. John. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Boats include Hobie, Jackson, Native, Wilderness, Dagger, Perception, YOLO, BOTE and more. For more info, call 800-754-7467. Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle will hold their free "Fall Kayak and Canoe Demo Day" at Vermillionville Pond in Lafayette. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boats include Jackson, Hobie, Wilderness, NuCanoe, Diablo, Hurricane, Old Town, BOTE and more. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Sunday, Masseys Outfitters of Baton Rouge will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at BREC's Wampold Park (University Lake) off Stanford. Time is 11:00am to 1:00pm. For more info, call 800-754-7467.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
It's official... Wild Things cancelled. The New Orleans Advocate is reporting that the 16th annual Wild Things festival, scheduled for this Saturday, has been cancelled due to the government shutdown. This free event - which drew more than 5,000 people last year - is held each year at the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge Center in Lacombe, and is a celebration of the outdoors, with emphasis on the Southeast Louisiana marshes. Since the venue is within the confines of the NWR, it is off limits until the shutdown ends. How big is this cancellation? First, it's the major fundraiser for Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, a non-profit that supports many youth educational projects. Second, as mentioned, there are thousands of folks who look forward to this event each year. Third, there are more than 50 exhibitors and 100 volunteers who must cancel plans. For some of these exhibitors, such as the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers, Wild Things is great exposure... not to mention the joy of teaching kids to tie flies. This makes the 3rd event in two weeks negatively impacted by the government shutdown. Fall 2013 is not shaping up as we had planned...
Fall-n-Tide is now November 16. Due to Tropical Storm Karen, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club made the wise decision to postpone last Saturday's "Fall-n-Tide" kayak fishing tournament. Considered as a "major tournament" in the world of kayak fishing - similiar to golf - FnT is the one of 3 majors in Louisiana, and one of 10 in the United States. Last year it drew over 200 participants. With so much interest, and so many sponsors, it was impossible to just cancel this event. So BCKFC made the smart move to reschedule, picking a date previously set for their smaller "Where Y'ak" tournament. This insured (1) no conflicts with other major events, and (2) many of the volunteers would be available. The location and format will remain the same: activities to take place at Cypress Cove Marina in Venice, with fishing within Plaquemines Parish, a Friday night's Captains Dinner and Saturday night fish fry. Mid-November should see excellent deep marsh fishing for larger speckled trout, giving yak anglers more quality options along the length of Highway 23. For more info, or to register, go to www.bckfc.org and click on the EVENTS forum.
Monday, October 7, 2013
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their annual Banquet and Fly Tiers Show at Fork and Spoon Restaurant on 4460 Youree Drive in Shreveport. Time is 6:30pm. This event is their annual fundraiser as well as a showcase for club tiers. The public is welcome, please check the NLFF website or their October newsletter for details. Also on Tuesday the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. On the agenda: a video on fishing for nymphs, followed by Vic McClain demo tying a couple nymph patterns. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, Pack and Paddle will hold a "Kayaking 101" clinic, covering the basic skills of flatwater kayaking. Meet at Lake Martin at 3:45pm, class begins at 4:00pm. Cost is $40, reservation required as class size is limited to 8 persons. Please check at www.packpaddle.com for details and registration. Starting Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the 4th annual "Kayak Boondoggle" at Big Lagoon State Park in Perdido Key, Florida. This event is the kayaking equivalent of a fly fisher's conclave. Activities include seminars, kayak rigging workshops, kayak demos, fly casting and fly tying demos, youth activities, photo clinics and more. Admission is FREE, with camping, workshops, and Saturday dinner extra. For details, go to www.yakangler.com. Also on Saturday, it's the "Wild Things" Festival. More on that later.
The government shutdown is impacting anglers across the country. The news reports of Yellowstone and other national parks being closed are just a small part of the impact. This past week's IFFF Southern Fly Fishing Fair in northern Arkansas saw nearly a hundred fly fishers forced from Corps of Engineers campgrounds in the Mountain Home area, having to search for a very limited number of private and state camping spots. Although no areas were closed to fishing, access required finding a spot to park as COE parking areas were also closed. Here in Louisiana, refuge areas are closed to fishing and hunting. The greatest impact is on Sabine Refuge where the last days before the seasonal closure on October 15th are usually the best redfishing of the year. Some national forest areas are also closed, such as Lake Valentine, Stuart Lake and Bayou Kistachie.
Will the shutdown affect Wild Things? This Saturday is the annual "Wild Things" Festival hosted by Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges. Location is Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe. Time is 9:00am to 4:00pm. Activites include seminars, live animals, piroque building, wildlife crafts, and fly tying demos by the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers. Admission is free, with food and drink sales helping to support this event and other projects. I've seen no updates on whether this event will be cancelled. It would be very disappointing if it was.
Wacky weather. We went from unseasonably warm temperatures the last two weeks of September, into a hurricane/tropical storm/depression/whatever with Karen to start October, and now a week of much cooler weather. With nighttime temperatures dipping into the 50s - even high 40s in a few spots - across Louisiana, and radiative cooling well in effect, expect water temperatures to drop several degrees over the next few days. One impact will be on deep reservoirs and oxbows in the northern and central part of the state, where turnover will take place. After turnover, fishing is usually slow for a week, followed by fabulous bass and crappie action. Another impact will be in the marsh. The cooler water temperature will send schools of specks into the interior lakes, and the trash fish southward for winter. The flushing action of the winds, especially the north winds lowering tidal levels, will give puddlers opportunities to sightcast to reds and drum feeding on exposed flats. Prime time is here... have those flies ready as the fishing will be great!
Monday, September 30, 2013
What's happening this week. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on Roselawn Boulevard in Lafayette. Casting starts at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Beach House Bar and Grill in Old Mandeville. Time is 6:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, and running thru Saturday, it's the IFFF Southern Council Fly Fishing Fair. More on that later. Also on Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission holds their October meeting at 9:30am on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. On the agenda are notice of intent for proposed changes to the Scenic River Rules and Regulations, perhaps aimed at restricting ATV use. On Saturday, it's the 9th annual "Fall-n-Tide" kayak fishing tournament. More on that later. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold a group trip to Pointe-aux-Chenes. Non-members can participate by going to www.packpaddle.com for details and signing up.
The IFFF Southern Council Fly Fishing Fair, formerly known as "conclave", is the largest fly fishing event held each year in the mid-South. It's held each year, the first full weekend of October, at Mountain Home, Arkansas, at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. With nearly three dozen exhibitors, over 100 fly tiers from across the country, a couple dozen workshops and a couple dozen seminars, and an auction that features many one-of-a-kind items, hundreds of fly anglers each year eagerly await this event. Of course, there's also the world-class trout fishing on the White and Norfork Rivers. Even when both rivers are high from tailwater generation, there are a dozen (or more) nearby creeks and streams that offer good smallmouth bass fishing. Not to mention great fishing in the big lakes. One other aspect of this event... it's one of the first major events following IFTD where many of the new products are available for public examination, and in the case of rods, public testing. We hope to do some testing ourselves, and give our review. For anyone with last minute ideas on going to Mountain Home this weekend, on-site registration is available. For details including a complete list of activities, go to www.southerncouncilfff.org.
Fall-n-Tide IX is this Saturday. One of the three largest kayak fishing events in Louisiana, and one of the top 6 in the country, Fall-n-Tide is hosted by the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club and will be held out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice. The registration fee includes admission to the tournament, Friday night meal, Saturday night fish fry, Captains bag, t-shirt, and chance at nearly 200 door and raffle prizes. Early registration is $50 and ends today at midnight. On-site registration will be $5 more. Launching of kayaks is allowed anywhere in Plaquemines Parish. Like Paddlepalooza held each spring, Fall-n-Tide gives out top awards in the "Cajun Slam" category, consisting of each angler's largest speck, largest slot red, and largest flounder. There's also a Ladies Slam division, and a FREE Youth Division (no fee required). There's also individual categories for largest speck, slot red, and flounder, which are exclusive of Slam winners. That means more chances for each entrant to win. This year may even be better, as the numbers of early registrants is down (probably because of the earlier date and relocation to Venice). Still, I expect about 100 to 150 attendees come Saturday.
Walt Holman has won the 2013 Buz Buszek Award. At last Wednesday's International Federation of Fly Fishers Awards Banquet held in West Yellowstone, Walt Holman of Madison, Alabama was honored with the Buz Buszek Award, which recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement in fly tying. One of the top honors in all of fly fishing, the list of past Buszek winners reads like a who's who: George Grant, Darwin Atkin, Gary Borger, Billy Munn, Dave Whitlock, Chris Helm, Polly Rosborough, George Harvey, just to name a few! Many Louisiana fly tiers are familiar with Walt... he's been a fixture at the Red Stick Fly Fishers' annual club conclave, as well as at the IFFF Gulf Coast Council, Southern, and Southeast events. Walt has been described as the dean of American balsa flies. His foil pencil popper, froggy slider, and pencil minnow, as well as diving, darting balsa flies have inspired many great warmwater tiers like Kirk Dietrich, and his creations have caught numerous bass, snook, reds, specks and other predatory species. It's great to see a warmwater tying legend recognized for his achievements. Congratulations, Walt, and very well deserved!
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