Sunday, September 25, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. Location TBA as this will likely be an on-the-water session. For more info, check their Facebook page or go to www.finaddictflyfishers.blogspot.com. Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Rapides Westside Library on 5416 Provine in Alexandria. Meeting time for this month will be 6:00pm. This is the club's annual fall casting session. Bring your outfit, casting will be on the lawn next door. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org. Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Orvis store in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. A pair of flies for Concordia and other warmwater locations will be featured. 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, Pack and Paddle will hold their weekly "One Beer Casting" casual fly casting session. Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette at 6;00pm. PnP will provide the beer. This is a free event. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel, 7840 Lakeshore Drive (across the parking lot from Blue Crab Restaurant). Time is 7:00pm. This month's program will focus on this Saturday's Rio Rodeo and topics on fly fishing this species. The public is welcome. Also on Thursday, the NorthshoreFishingReport.com website will hold their annual "Fall Fishing Seminar" at T-Rivers Bar in Madisonville. Time is 6:00pm. Guest speakers include Captains Mike Gallo, Brooks Levy, Andy Jones, Noel Brumfield and fly fishing specialist John Zeringue. Also, a live band, prizes and chartered trips and other raffle items. For more info, go to www.northshorefishingreport.com. Starting Friday, and continuing Sunday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual "Fall Concordia Weekend" fly fishing for bass, bream and other warmwater species, culminating with the Saturday night fish fry. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. On Saturday, it's the 8th annual Rio Grande Fly Fishing Rodeo. More on that later. Also on Saturday, Ship to Shore in Lake Charles will hold a "Kayak Demo Day" at Lake Prien Park. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. This will be their last demo day of the year, with several demo boats on sale for end of model year. Weather permitting, so check with StS at 337-474-0730. On Sunday, The Backpacker - Lafayette store will hold a free Paddle Demo Day at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 9:00am to 1:00pm. Models include Hobie, Wilderness, KC Kayak, Perception, Yolo and more. Some models will be on sale. Weather permitting, call 337-406-8754 to confirm. Also on Sunday, Pack and Paddle will host a "Hobie First Class" fishing trip. Price is $99 per person. Pre-registration is required. Price includes use of Hobie brand kayak, paddle, PFD, anchor system, basic instruction. Semi-guided trip to an area saltwater spot. Limited seats still available. Go to www.packpaddle.com for more details or to register.
This Saturday is the Rio Grande Fly Fishing Rodeo. Hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers club, this event - now celebrating it's 8th year - has become the largest fly tournament on the northern Gulf Coast. Time is 8:00am to 12 noon (weigh-in). Registration will begin at 7:30am, with coffee and donuts available. Also maps of the fishing area. At the weigh-in, there'll be lunch and drinks provided. Prizes include a fly rod combo. This year, the tournament is open to all fly fishers (not just members of recognized clubs). Entry fee is $10 which will go to the Second Harvesters Food Bank to help victims of the flood. There's only one category, and that's heaviest Rio Grande Perch. The rio is America's only native cichlid, common to south Texas but considered an "invasive" to Louisiana. It's introduction to the waters of New Orleans, Jefferson and a few other south Louisiana parishes the result of "aquarium dumping". The rio is now well established in the waters around New Orleans City Park, where fly fishers have discovered it to be an ideal species for ultralight pursuit. Rios LOVE flies, but they're also very wary. Many over a pound - some up to 1 1/2 pounds - have been taken in City Park. But several have witnessed potential world record rios in Bayou St. John (the world record is 2.02 pounds taken from Lake Dunlap in Texas). The RGFF Rodeo record is 1.58 pounds. A number of folks on Facebook believe that this year will see a new rodeo record. For more info about this event, check out the EVENTS section in the LFF Forum.
Finally, cooler weather on the way! It's been unusually hot for late September. At yesterday's Cenla Hunting and Fishing Day celebration in Woodworth, it was the hottest I can ever recall for a NHF Day event. The high reached 93 degrees, the low yesterday morning was 72 degrees. The average high and low for yesterday was 86 and 63, so that's well above normal. Darn that Global Warming!! But the good news is that a major cool front will invade the state tomorrow, bringing highs in the Alexandria area in the mid 80s and lows in the upper 50s thru all of the week! The front will bring relief from heat and humidity to the southeastern parishes as well. Just as important to human comfort will be the impact on fishing. Thanks to radiative cooling, we've seen water temperatures on the decline despite the hot air temperatures. Most of the area lakes were at 82 to 84 degrees on Friday. This front should drop them below the magical 80 degree mark - what crappie love! On the coast, the northerly winds should push high water out of the marsh, send the trout inside and those pesky nuisiance summer species (ladyfish and catfish) on their way to their winter offshore home. Last week's trip to Calcasieu was tough, and yesterday's Cajun Castaway kayak tournament proved it wasn't a fluke on my part - many outstanding kayak anglers had a tough day. But what we're all hoping for is that this front brings the start of what should be awesome fall marsh fishing - and freshwater too!
Friday, September 23, 2016
Is it time to modify speckled trout regs? Back in August, I posted that the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources was considering tightening their regulations on speckled trout. This was after survey studies showed that recruitment of spawning age fish (SPR) was at 10 percent, considerably below their conservation goal of 20 percent. The options that MDMR were considering were reducing the daily limit from 15 trout to 12 trout, with a 13-inch minimum size limit. Last week, LDWF released an updated assessment report on speckled trout and it appears that Louisiana may be suffering from the same dilemna. Anecdotal evidence suggests that speck fishing isn't as good as it was a decade ago. Consider this: prior to 2005, recreational and commercial catches rarely exceeded 9 million pounds (only 3 times in 25 years). Since 2005, it's exceeded 9 million pounds every year except one, averaging just over 11 million pounds. That would seem to indicate that speck fishing is better than ever. What has to be factored in is the numbers of fishermen. Coincidently, the last decade has seen an explosion in the number of kayak anglers - and consequently, numbers of saltwater anglers. Add to that the loss of estuary over the last decade and you can see where this is going. And it's not good. Last week, Todd Masson of Nola.com addressed this issue once again, pointing out that since 2007 when Texas adjusted their limits they've seen a consistent improvement in their trout fishing. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists have confirmed this, with SPRs above 19 across the coast. At the Gulf Coast Fly Fair, I spoke to my old friend Maumus Claverie, Jr., who once headed CCA Louisiana's Science Committee. T-Mau believes that we need some adjustment in our trout regs on the southeast coast (Southwest Louisiana already made a reduction from 25 to 15 based on public demand). What might work is a new statewide limit of 15-fish with a 13-inch minimum size limit. At 13 inches, nearly 70 percent of all female trout have spawned multiple times. Almost all of the anglers I've spoken with - including guides and kayak anglers - favor a 15-fish daily limit. For the last decade, I've had my own "Cormier limit" of keeping only 15 trout per trip. Most of those trips the average size is about 14 inches, and trust me, that makes for a heavy bag of filets! But I understand some folks like to make "meat trips" and want to "stock the freezer", so there's going to be resistance to any changes.
The Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians will be re-opening tomorrow at it's new home in Bryson City, North Carolina. The celebration will include the Hall of Fame Luncheon and Induction. This year's inductees include Jim Casada (Communications), Walter Cary (Crafts), Wanda Taylor (Recreation) and Phil Bracewell (Conservation). The Museum is also coordinating a "Hooks and Hackle" event on November 4th and 5th that will mirror the popular "Fly Tiers Weekend" which had to be cancelled this year. The Hooks and Hackle will be held at the Birdtown Complex between Bryson City and Cherokee, and will feature fly tyers from across the Southeast and elsewhere. Admission is free, but donations for the museum will be welcome. A "BBQ and Bluegrass" will take place Saturday night, tickets are available for that event in advance and at the door. For more info, go to www.flyfishingmuseum.org.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Americans finished in the top five in this past week's FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships held near Wolcott, Colorado. As a team, Spain finished first, France 2nd and USA 3rd. Julian Daguillanes of France took 1st place in Individual honors, followed by Jordi Cortina of Spain in 2nd, Lance Egan of USA in 3rd and Pat Weiss in 4th. During the 3-day competition, Daguillanes caught 86 trout, Cortina caught 70 and Egan caught 60. The fish were also measured for length and each competitor received points based on both the number of fish caught and length of the fish. It should be noted that Team USA is coached by George Daniels, who will be the featured speaker at next year's North Louisiana Fly Fishers' annual "Master Series" in July.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Where's the cooler weather? Let's face it, it never gets very cool in September. But by now we've usually seen a few days of highs in the upper 80s, lows in the upper 60s, and much lower humidity. Here in the Cenla area, we've had just 2 days of those conditions. It's also been wetter than normal for the month so far. Checking this morning's forecast for various cities across the state, it appears a dry pattern is developing but no relief for temperatures in the next week. Many locations will have highs almost 5 degrees above normal. I'm like most of you - waiting impatiently for that first big cool front!
Two down, one to go. This year, each of the five southern regional councils of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF or FFF) - Southern, Southeastern, Texas, Florida, Gulf Coast - had scheduled their conclaves for this fall. Conclaves, aka "fairs", "expos", "festivals", etc., are open-public events featuring seminars, fly tying demos, casting instruction, exhibitors, and more. They're also the primary annual fundraiser for each council, helping to fund conservation projects as well as supported charities like Casting for The Cure, Reel Recovery, Project Healing Waters and more. The Southeastern Council no longer has their own event, rather co-hosting with Little River Outfitters in Tennessee the annual "Fly Tiers Weekend" the first weekend of November. It's a great low-key event with a really good turnout. Unfortunately, it's been cancelled for this year due to unforeseen circumstances (expected to be back again in 2017). The Florida Council typically holds their conclave late October or early November. This year, the dates are November 4th and 5th, and will again be held at The Plantation on Crystal River. Unlike the SEC event, it's a very structured event with several big names. But it too has a strong turnout. At one time, southeast Louisiana and Florida were both part of the Southeastern Council and Louisiana has strong representation at events in Florida and Tennessee. Other than myself and one other tier, we've been the only Bayou State residents at the "new" Southeastern conclave. I'm not sure how many have been at the Florida expo, but it's very few if any. That leaves only the Texas, Gulf Coast and Southern conclaves as being of strong interest to Louisiana fly anglers, so those are the ones we promote here on LFF. Now that Gulf Coast and Texas are over, that leaves the Southern Fly Fishing Fair left on the calendar. It's coming up October 7th and 8th in Mountain Home, Arkansas, but at a new venue - the new Vada Shield Convention Center on the campus of Arkansas State University Mountain Home. At lot of folks I've spoken to are excited about the new venue.
My feedback on the Texas and Gulf Coast conclaves. I've gotten several inquiries about these two events. Comparing the two would be like comparing apples and oranges. The Texas Fly Fishing Expo was a very structured event, with many activities, lots of exhibitors and vendors, numerous workshops, and top quality headliners. The Gulf Coast Fly Fair was much more casual, no headliners and only three vendors, but with a large number of fly tiers and better food (the awards dinner featured catfish courtboullion from the "Bayou Chefs"). And best of all, it was free admission and the casting instruction was free. I thoroughly enjoyed both conclaves! At both, I got to see tiers who I'd never known about but whose patterns and skills were very impressive - particularly Matt Bennett at Texas and Ed Lash at GCC. But in the end, conclaves serve four primary purposes: bringing fly fishers together, introducing new folks to fly fishing, educating all levels of anglers, and raising money for causes. I think both events did very well on meeting the first two goals; attendance was very good for both. The Texas event had about 3-4 times as many attendees but that's expected from a council with a vastly larger population. As for the 3rd goal, again a success. As for the 4th goal, Texas had a large number of high quality auction items and made a lot of money, but they also spent a lot of money on their event. GCC didn't make very much money, but they also spent very little. So in both cases, it was not an ideal situation but any positive net income is always good. Now, if I could offer "constructive criticism" to both... Texas: with all the outstanding tiers they have, I expected a lot more flies in their raffle. I realize not all tiers will submit donations, but there was a very low proportion. I also would suggest looking at ways to reduce costs as this conclave has the potential to fund a LOT of their projects based on revenue. I'd also suggest returning to Grapevine if possible, it was a great location. Gulf Coast needs to recognize donations (who and what), recognize any vendors, solicit for better auction items, and get a new auction person. On the positive side, keeping admission free seems to get a lot more walk-in traffic.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
What's happening this week. A busy one, culminating with one of the largest outdoors events held in Louisiana. On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Rapides Westside Library on Provine Place in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. This month, Dan Fromme will lead attendees in tying the Slow Sinking Spider created by Stephen Robert of Houma. Guests are welcome. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold their "One Beer Fly Casting". Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette at 6:00pm. There is no cost. This is just an informal group of folks interested in practicing their fly casting. PnP supplies the beer! Also on Monday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold a public meeting on Lake Bistineau at the LDWF Region 1 Office on 9961 Highway 80 in Minden. Time is 6:30pm. The meeting will give an update on current status of the lake and field questions about Bistineau management. On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Church on 1620 East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 E Pinhook Road in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: this Saturday's upcoming "Cajun Castaway" tournament in Lake Charles. The public is invited. On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Church Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome! Also on Thursday, the Reel Paddling Film Festival comes to Ruston. Location is the Louisiana Tech University Planetarium on 305 Mayfield Avenue. Time is 6:00pm. Tickets are free. Hosted by Louisiana Delta Adventures, the 11th Reel Paddling Film Festival consists of short films in 10 categories, selected among hundreds by judges, and celebrating the world of paddle sports. For more info, go to www.reelpaddlingfilmfestival.com. On Saturday, it's Louisiana's National Hunting and Fishing Day. More on that later. Also on Saturday, it's the 8th annual Cajun Castaway kayak fishing tournament out of Lake Charles. Hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club, this event is open to the public. Entry fee is $25, and can be paid online via their website. Artificial lures only. The single category is Cajun Slam (combination of one each of slot red, speckled trout and flounder 12 inches or longer). There's an optional $5 calcutta for flounder. Boundaries are Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes, public access only. Weigh in will be at Calcasieu Point Landing. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.
This Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Established in 1972, NHF Day recognizes the contributions of America's hunters, anglers, and other outdoors enthusiasts and is celebrated on the last Saturday of September each year. Here in Louisiana, NHF Day is celebrated annually at four venues - Bodcau, Monroe, Baton Rouge, Woodworth - with close to 15,000 attendees. Making it one of the largest outdoors event in the state, rivaled only by the Louisiana Sportsmens Show held each March. This year, the Baton Rouge venue has been cancelled due to impacts from the August Flood. The Waddill facility was damaged, but in addition, many of the usual volunteers are having to deal with damaged homes, either theirs or loved ones. The good news is that the other venues are good to go. Each venue has a long list of activities and exhibitors, and the Bodcau and Woodworth venues will feature fly fishing, casting and tying thanks to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers and Kistachie Fly Fishers. Admission to each venue is free for all ages. Time is 9:00am to 2:00pm. For more details, check out the post in our Events Forum or go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov.
Green Trout Fly Shop is closing its doors. Earlier today, I received an email from Larry Offner that GTFS is having an "Everything in the store... 35 percent off" sale starting this Tuesday, September 20th. And that it "ends with store closing September 29th". This is sad news, indeed! But there may be a silver lining, or two... more on that later. Founded in 2009 by warmwater expert and enthusiast Larry Offner of Denham Springs, GTFS has always been "the little fly shop that could". From it's days as rented space inside an antique mall in downtown Denham Springs, the business grew despite heavy competition from local giant retailers Orvis, Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas. One reason was outstanding customer service, another was the fact that warmwater fanatics - both local and across the country - found the equipment, flies, and tying materials needed for pursuit of bass, bream, crappie, smallmouth, and other species. GTFS was also highly visible as a vendor at all of the regional club conclaves. A few years ago, Larry moved GTFS to it's current location at 3753 Perkins Road in Baton Rouge, adjacent to his daughter's business, Cupcake Allie. Many a flyfisher - including myself - came to Baton Rouge and stopped at Green Trout for fly fishing stuff and a cupcake and coffee. Okay, maybe a few cupcakes! The problem is that the cupcake business has been a booming success, perhaps TOO booming and relocation was going to be necessary. Add to that the residual problems post-flood, and it's going to be very difficult for small businesses to find retail space in the greater BR area. Now all this sounds like the epitath for Green Trout Fly Shop, but perhaps it's not. Larry did mention that "online sales in the near future". There's also a possibility of someone purchasing the business. Whatever happens, it simply won't be the same without visiting "Uncle Larry's store".
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Congratulations to Kyle Moppert and Fred Hannie! At last months' International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) National Fly Fishing Fair in Livingston, Montana, Kyle was awarded the "Federator of the Year" award, which goes to that individual or director who has demonstrated unusual devotion to the IFFF, and through outstanding contributions has benefitted the organization. Kyle - bowfin47 on our forum - is a resident of Baton Rouge and current president of the IFFF Gulf Coast Council. He previously served on the FFF Board of Directors and the FFF Southeastern Council board. Fred, from Lake Charles and another member of our forum, was awarded the Charles E. Brooks Memorial Award. This award is named in honor of Brooks, who had a deep affection of the outdoors and was very active in teaching the sport to others. Fred has shared his love of realistic fly tying with the public through numerous events, classes and donations.
LDWF will hold a public meeting on Lake Bistineau next Monday at the LDWF Region 1 Office on 9961 Highway 80 in Minden. Time is 6:30pm. The meeting will include an update on the current status of the lake. Members of the Inland Fisheries Staff will also field questions on management of the lake and giant salvinia. Everyone interested in the lake is encouraged to attend. Space is limited to 100 individuals, so please keep this in mind when making plans to attend.
Fishing industry growth expected to continue. The sportfishing industry has been on a rise the last several years and now Technavio, a global research firm, says that growth will continue steady for the next four years - thanks to the popularity of kayak fishing. One reason that kayak fishing continues to grow is that it's a low cost alternative to motorized craft - from purchase price to fuel to insurance and more. Further, it appeals to a very broad base of the public that enjoys the many aspects kayak fishing offers, from health benefits to stealth to the comradery among the puddling community. Clubs and tournaments have a vastly greater appeal that those of motorized clubs and events. Last year, more than 38 million kayak fishing trips were recorded in the USA, or 4.4% of the total trips. Technavio analysts forecast the sports gear market to grow at 3 percent over the next four years. They cite one of the benefits being the development of more access for kayak anglers (we certainly would love to see that!).
Sunday, September 11, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their monthly meeting at the Westside Baptist Church Center on Old Highway 1 in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. Guest speaker will be Howard Malpass of Gray Wolf Fly Shop in Shreveport. Guests are welcome! Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. This is their first meeting since The Great Flood, so discussion will be on members experiences with flooding. Also on the agenda: flies for fall bream, with emphasis on the upcoming outing to Lake Concordia. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle on 601 Pinhook in Lafayette will hold their "One Beer Fly Casting" session, weather permitting. Time is 6:00pm. This is casual fly casting, beer provided by PnP. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge on Sunflower Road in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. This month Tom Bullock will discuss George Daniels' new book, "Strip Set: Fly Fishing Techniques, Tactics and Patterns For Streamers". Daniels will be guest speaker for the NLFF club's Master Series next July. Prior to the meeting starting at 6:00pm, Tom will demo tie Euro nymphs and large streamers. The public is invited. Also on Tuesday, the Cenla Kayak Anglers will meet at Red Alert Lures on 6403 Shreveport Highway in Tioga. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: fishing reports, club business, and suggestions for fall club tournaments. For more info, go to www.cenlakayakanglers.com. 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. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. Also 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 a few sets are available for use during the session. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com. Friday kicks off the first day of the annual Gulf Coast Fly Fair in Ocean Springs, hosted by the IFFF Gulf Coast Council. More on that later. On Saturday, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette will hold their annual "Garage Sale" at their store on 601 East Pinhook. The sale kicks off at 8:00am and lasts until noon. Although all types of outdoor gear is for sale, this event always has several used canoes and kayaks at great prices. Those wishing to sell their boats should bring them to PnP between Monday and Friday. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.
The Gulf Coast Fly Fair returns to Ocean Springs this Friday and Saturday. The largest fly fishing event on the northern Gulf Coast will again be held at the Ocean Springs Civic Center, adjacent to some of the best marsh fishing in Mississippi. Hosted by the International Federation of Fly Fair (IFFF) Gulf Coast Council, their conclave features seminars, fly tying demos, casting clinics and workshops, tying workshops, auctions and raffles, an awards banquet and more. Things kick off Friday with an open casting clinic, examination review for potential Certified Casting Instructors (CCI), a special presentation by Steve Oliver on "Managing Your Club Using A New Excel Program", followed by the Awards Banquet. The Awards Banquet will feature a casual buffet and live auction. Saturday offers casting workshops, tying workshops, seminars, and fly tying demos by some of the top tiers from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, western Florida and beyond. There are activities for beginners and youth. The best part of the Gulf Coast Fly Fair is that admission is FREE! And workshops are FREE also. While free, some of the workshops have limited attendance, so pre-registration is necessary to reserve a spot. If you haven't already reserved a workshop, I suggest you do so now. There will be onsite registation as well for those workshops that are not full. The fundraising activities support research programs and Boy Scout activities. It's always a great time at these events, but I most enjoy exploring some of the many opportunities we have for fishing across the northern Gulf Coast from others, or learning about the flies they use. For more info, go to www.gulfcoastifff.blogspot.com.
LDWF has delayed the drawdown for False River. Acting in conjunction with the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury, Wildlife and Fisheries rescheduled the start of the drawdown from September 6th to this Tuesday, September 13th. This was a precautionary measure to prevent any compound effects from flood events back in August. Some downstream areas are just now seeing water levels back to normal. The drawdown itself will have no adverse effects, as only 1.5 inches per day will be released. When the lake reaches 6 feet below pool stage, the gates will be closed. The slow dewatering is to prevent shoreline erosion and seawall collapse. The drawdown will cease on January 15th. It's hoped that exposing shallow areas to air and sun will allow decomposition of organics and harden soft sediments, giving fish better spawning areas.
Sunday, September 4, 2016
What's happening this week. Monday is Labor Day, and the last day of the CCA STAR tournament. On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on 415 Roselawn in Lafayette. Casting prior to the meeting at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Wednesday, the Orvis Baton Rouge store will host a "Fly Fishing Night" celebration honoring Captain Bailey Short to the Orvis Endorsed Guides. Time is 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Free pizza and refreshments, plus a presentation. No registration is required. Also on Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Abita Brew Pub on Holly Street in Abita Springs. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Thursday, it's the first day of the Texas Fly Fishing Expo. More on that later. Also on Thursday, the Bayou Pirates Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Harbuck Outdoors on 1914 East 70th in Shreveport. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. On Saturday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will host a "Family Fishing Fest" at Ivan Lake Recreation Area near Cotton Valley. Time is 6:30am to 11:30am. Registration is free, and can be done online until Friday, or onsite starting at 6:30am. Divisions include Little Angler (8-under), Junior Angler (9-15) and Adult Angler (16+) with Categories for Boat and Bank. For more info, contact Danica Williams at 504-628-7282. Also on Saturday, the Save Louisiana Coalition will hold their annual "Battle for the Bayou" fundraiser at the Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette. Time is 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Tickets are $40. The event will feature Louisiana seafood, live music, silent auction and more. For more info, go to www.thesavelouisianacoalition.com. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will hold a free "Paddle Demo Day" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Models from Hobie, Wilderness Systems, Perception, KC Kayak, and more. Subject to weather, so call 337-406-8754 to confirm. On Sunday, the Backpacker of Baton Rouge will hold a free Paddle Demo Day at Wampold Park on University Lake in Baton Rouge. Time is 12 noon to 4:00pm. Call 225-925-2667 to confirm if weather issues arise.
This week is the 2016 Texas Fly Fishing Expo. Hosted by the Texas Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF), the expo will be held at the Grapevine Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas (in the Dallas and Fort Worth area). This marks their 3rd annual conclave since becoming a new council in the IFFF, and their first one ever held in north Texas. The event kicks off Thursday with casting workshops at Oak Grove Park. Later that night there's a welcome dinner followed by a showing of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4). On Friday, the "expo" part of the conclave kicks off at the Convention Center. There's the usual conclave stuff - seminars, fly tying demonstrations, casting demos, silent auction to raise money for council projects, youth activities, and also a Tying Theatre featuring one of the special guest tiers. On Saturday, there's a Womens Breakfast, a Youth Breakfast, a Kayak Demo Day at Oak Grove Park, and that evening, the Awards Dinner featuring a kayak raffle and live auction. One of the reasons that there's a lot of buzz about this event are the headliners... they include Dunn Magazine editor and fly fishing personality Jen Ripple (pictured), commercial fly tier and deer hair phenom Pat Cohen, Montana guide and creator of the articulated patterns Kelly Galloup, Classic Salmon guru Kyle Hand, fly casting expert Molly Semelik and several others. The seminars span a wide range of fly fishing interests, from urban fishing to fishing Colorado to the history of women in fly fishing to fiberglass rods. Pre-registration is available online at www.txflyfishexpo.com or onsite. Admission is $10 per day for IFFF members, $12 for non-members with extra cost for some activities such as some workshops, the Awards Banquet, and the IF4 Film Festival.
Voters in Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermillion Parishes will be asked to vote for a property tax increase to help pay for part of a coastal restoration and protection projects in southwest Louisiana, according to Executive Director of the Chenier Plain Authority. Last week, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) met in Lake Charles to discuss some of these projects in Cameron Parish - shoreline protection in Grand Lake, marsh creation in Oyster Bayou and Grand Bayou and others. Meanwhile, a study by the Corps of Engineers calls for $3.3 billion in projects to restore or protect 15,000 acres of marshland. Those projects would be funded by Congress.
A new book by John Gierach is due out for April, 2017. For LFF readers not familiar with author John Gierach, or his countless works, then the best description I can offer is that of the Wall Street Journal which calls him "the voice of the common angler... with a sharp sense of humor and keen eye for observation to the fly fishing life, or for that matter, life in general.". Some of his previous titles include favorites like "All Fishermen Are Liars", "Sex, Death and Fly Fishing" and "Where the Trout Are As Long As Your Leg". His newest book will be available this coming April. Entitled "A Fly Rod of Your Own", the description I got on it was as follows, "Gierach... scrutinizes the art of fly fishing. He travels to remote fishing locations where the airport is not much bigger than a garage.". More of the description includes "all but impassable roads" and destinations from Alaska to Rockies to Canadian Maritimes. This sounds like a book about the quirks of getting to those spots where fish seldom enounter humans. But the description also added that Gierach "explains why the most conscientious fishermen always seem to accumulate more rods and flies" than they'll ever use. I may have to read this book and find out why I do those things!
Thursday, September 1, 2016
September is here, let the transition begin. While hot and humid may persist another week or more, if this month follows the norm, then changes are coming soon. For example, the averages for today in Alexandria is 92 high, 72 low. By September 30, the averages are 84 high, 62 low. But that's half the story, because average humidity in September is lower as well. The combination of lower air temps and lower humidity and shorter days/longer nights means greater radiative cooling of waters. Consider that the amount of daylight and angle of the sun today is equivalent to that of April 9th. As for radiative cooling... last year at this time Cotile Lake at the Rec Area was 91 degrees. A week later - with no cool front - it was 87 degrees. This year, because we've had so many rainy days and cloud cover the lake temperature is already down to 88. Why is this important? When water temps get below 80 degrees, great things happen piscatorial-wise! Fish go into their fall feeding frenzy. So make plans now, tie those flies, get your casting tuned-up. It's about to happen!
What's happening this month. This Monday (Labor Day) is the last day of the 2016 CCA STAR tournament. Next weekend (Sept. 8-10) is the Texas Fly Fishing Expo in Grapevine, Texas. Hosted by the International Federation of Fly Fishers Texas Council, it'll feature several of the country's top tiers and personalities, as well as the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4). The following weekend (Sept. 16-17), the IFFF Gulf Coast Council holds their expo at the Ocean Springs Civic Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Unlike most IFFF conclaves, the Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Expo is entirely free. A host of great programs and some of the best fly tiers from seven states will be on hand. Then on September 24th, it's National Hunting and Fishing Day, the largest outdoors celebration in Louisiana with activities at three venues - Bodcau WMA in Haughton, Woodworth and West Monroe. In an announcement yesterday, the Baton Rouge venue was cancelled for this year. NHF Day is free of charge, and annually over 9,000 attendees participate. Also on September 24th is the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club's annual "Cajun Castaway" tournament at Lake Charles.
As mentioned, the NHF Day festivities in Baton Rouge has been cancelled for this year. LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon stated that, "LDWF relies heavily on the generosity of volunteers from our agency and the community to host these NHFD events. We believe those volunteer efforts would be better focused on the recovery tasks occuring in the Baton Rouge area.".
The world championship of kayak fishing is coming to Louisiana. It was announced this week that the 6th annual Hobie Kayak Fishing World Championship (HKFWC) will be held the first week of December in Louisiana, at a location to be announced later. This marks the 2nd time this event has been held in America, and the first time in our state. In case you're wondering, the HFWC is to kayak fishing like the BassMasters Classic is to bass fishing. One or more species are selected as the target species for the competition, and in the CPR format, it's total inches accumulated over 3 days. Teams from all over the world compete, with individual places awarded. Over the past 3 years, the World Championship has been held in Australia, Europe and China. In each of those events, one or more members of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club made the 6-person team. And in 2014, BCKFC member Steve "Gnatless" Lessard of Geismar took home the world title competing in The Netherlands. I have to believe some member of BCKFC will be favored to win this year's title, but the Canadians always fish tough regardless of location or species.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Looks like we're going to be spared from TD-09 (Tropical Storm Hermine). Located in the central Gulf as of now, almost all the models now predict a turn to the northeast by Wednesday morning and landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida late Thursday. A rapid increase in forward motion is also predicted. And that's good for two reasons: (1) the storm won't have time to strengthen over very warm Gulf waters and (2) accumulation of rainfall in the path of the storm will be much less than if the storm were moving slowly. If the forecasts hold true, it will be a blessing and a great relief to so many of us in Louisiana. We've had enough rain to deal with, we didn't need more, and certainly not associated with high winds.
The September issue of Louisiana Sportsman is now available at sporting goods and convenience stores across the state - and even in parts of Mississippi. If you're looking for insight into new products for 2016, this issue is your ticket! In my Fly Lines column, I cover many of the new fly rod offerings coming out this Fall. I also explain why those expensive premium rods that inundated the ICAST show are good news for fly anglers of all budgets. In his "Paddles and Puddles" column, kayak fishing columnist Chris Holmes gives a summary of the "Pedal Yak Explosion" that rocked ICAST. Chris lists each of the pedal-powered (and in some cases, electric-powered) yaks that were exhibited at the world's largest fishing trade show back in July. Not to be outdone, Don Shoopman talks about the new Gary Yamamoto lures in his "Lure Review" column. In their "Seafood Bible" column, Jerald and Glenda Horst share recipes from Vermillion Bay trout masters Steve and Pookie Smith, and David "T-Coon" Billeaud. In his Creature Feature, Jerald tells us about the Diamondback Terrapin, a resident of our salt marshes. Feature articles of interest to fishermen include: "Grand Isle Bullies" by Rusty Tardo on tips for taking on the bull reds that flood the passes of the Cajun Bahamas this month; "A Humdinger" by Jerald Horst on bass fishing around Venice; "Crappie Tops" by Kinny Haddox on where and how to find crappie in Lake Claiborne in the fall; "Life After Summer" by Jerald Horst on targeting redfish and flounder in Big Lake during the fall months. Newsbreakers features include how the "Cajun Navy" saved thousands from historic flooding, and the ongoing investigation into LDWF spending under previous Secretary Robert Barham. And as always, there's the all-important Tide Tables and Solunar Charts - which no angler should ever overlook!
Marsh and Bayou magazine is also available at convenience stores and bait shops across southeast Louisiana. I picked up the August issue this past weekend (the September issue will be out soon). There are several excellent articles you might want to check out. Beginning with Captain J.P. Morel's "Fly Fishing Challenges" in which J.P. tells us about his fly fishing experiences from mountain trout to Florida tarpon. And why "catching" is never as important in fly fishing as the "experience" (I agree!). Captain Eric Dumas talks about a fly rod species we often overlook in our coastal waters in "Trippin Over Tripletail". Other articles of interest include "Keyboard Warrior" by Capt. Casey Bruning, and "Big Bass at ICAST" by Chas Champagne, where he tells about his fishing experiences in the Orlando area where the show was held.
The Ascension Chapter of CCA banquet has been postponed due to the situation following the recent flood. Many residents of the parish were displaced and CCA felt that this was not a good time to hold their banquet. In addition, the facility it was to be held is currently serving as an evacuation center for flood victims. Meanwhile, the Slidell Chapter of CCA will continue to hold their banquet as scheduled on September 21st. It should be noted that the eastern area of the Florida Parishes in southeast Louisiana received only a fraction of the rainfall of the western area between I-55 and the Mississippi River.
While on the topic of precipitation... Since we're nearly at the end of August, I did some database research on month-to-date rainfall for certain reporting locations across our state. Denham Springs led the totals with 35.74 inches! That's roughly 60 percent of the average rainfall it gets in an entire year - and most of that came over 3 days! And while locations in Ascension, Livingston, West Feliciana and East Baton Rouge parishes dominated the top 15 locations, the next 10 locations included Abbeville, Scott, Church Point and Kaplan. So the Great Flood of 2016 wasn't just isolated to the Capital Area. And while those of us in north and central Louisiana were spared the deluge that flooded areas along the I-10 corridor, it's been a very wet August for us also. The typical rainfall for August in Alexandria is 4.09 inches; the current month-to-date is 10.35. Keithville in Caddo Parish is normally 2.72 for this month, they've received 13.44 inches!
Maxine McCormick, the 12 year old wondergirl of fly casting once again made news recently as she became the youngest gold medal winner in ANY world championship sporting event. Previously, the youngest was Marjorie Gestring, who at 13 years old won the gold medal in diving at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Longtime LFF readers may recall that last year at this time we were praising the achievements of 11 year old Maxine at the American Casting Association (ACA) Nationals, where she set several records. Again, this year she set several records at the ACA Nationals. At the World Championships in Estonia two weeks ago, she scored a 99 on an event called the "Trout Accuracy" where competitors cast to several small rings in succession. For those familiar with this event, that's an unbelievable score. One has to wonder what the potential is for Ms. McCormick. Consider her scores in the ACA Distance Event. In the Angler's Fly Distance, her top score (cast) was 122 feet, which would've been good for 9th place in the Men's Division. In the One-Hand Fly Distance, she scored 112 feet, which also would've been 9th in the Men's Division. Speaking of the Men's Divisions, Henry Mittel pulled a minor upset in the ACA Nationals outscoring Steve Rajeff by 619 to 606 in the Overall Fly Distance. But Rajeff made up for it in the Overall Fly Accuracy competition, outscoring Mittel 293 to 291. Maxine's father, Glenn McCormick, finished 4th.
For those of us who enjoy fishing Colorado better get our wallets ready! The cost of fishing licenses in The Centennial State is about to go up. Possibly way up! Colorado Parks and Wildlife is proposing an increase in license fees. Currently the 5-day fee for non-residents is $21. The proposed fee would be $42, or double the current fee. It's not just non-resident fees that would go up, all license fees would go up. Here's the situation... CPW has not had an increase since 2005, yet the cost of doing business continues to climb. During this time, CPW has cut it's budget by $40 million . But there's only so much cutting the agency can do before it negatively impacts programs, parks, enforcement, and public access. Naturally, the fee proposals have met with strong opposition. Not so much against increases, but the scale of the increase. The popular phrase "too much too soon" seems to apply.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
What's happening this week. Hard to believe, but this week marks the start of college football season, with most of the state schools seeing action, including big games for LSU and ULL. Also, it's the last full week of the summer-long CCA STAR tournament. Otherwise, a light week as we head towards the Labor Day weekend. Keep in mind any activities may also depend on what I99-L does (more on that). On Monday, the Fin-Addict Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting. Location TBA. Time is 6:30pm. Check their Facebook page for any updates, or their website at www.finaddictflyfishers.blogspot.com. On Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club holds their annual "PAC Attack" tournament out of Eddie's Launch in Pointe-aux-Chenes. It's open to the public, entry fee is $21.50 ($20 + paypal fee). Heaviest weight of 3 redfish wins. Artificial lures only. For more info, go to www.bckfc.org.
Keeping an eye on Invest 99-L. This tropical wave is currently situated between Cuba and the Bahamas and continues to move west-northwest. More than just affecting the Labor Day weekend plans, I99-L is of great concern to the nearly 100,000 residents displaced by the Great Flood of two weeks ago. We simply don't need - or can't handle - any large amount of rain at this time. I99-L has been slow to develop due to dry air aloft and shearing upper level winds. That's about to change. Once it enters the Gulf, it'll encounter more favorable conditions and roughly 3-5 degrees warmer water. So forecasters feel fairly certain it'll turn into a named storm. After it enters the Gulf, the models are divided as to it's future path. One group shows it veering northeast to the Florida Panhandle, the second group shows it continuing westward toward the Louisiana-Texas coast. The large degree of uncertainity is why everyone is keeping tabs on this one.
A record-setting Ride the Bull. For obvious reasons, the number of participants at this weekend's Ride the Bull 7 was down quite a bit from the last 3 years. Nevertheless, it was still an incredible turnout, with 579 at last count. And will remain the world's largest kayak fishing tournament by a wide margin. RTB7 did set a new record - most number of redfish landed. I'm not sure of the final tally, but with 30 minutes left to go on Saturday, 121 bull reds had been landed and weighed! Overall, it was one of the best RTB experiences I've ever had. Many of us wondered if CCA Louisiana could match the great effort that Danny and Kristen Wray had put into this fantastic event, and they did. And possibly one better. Starting with a demo by Wilderness Systems of their new pedal yaks on Friday afternoon, to the shrimp boil and film festival, and the addition this year of a live band (Wiseguys), it was a grand kickoff to Saturday's contest. A large storm dissipated Saturday just prior to the 7:00am start, leaving cloud cover for most of the day. In addition, the winds calmed as the day went on, aiding to the benefit of the anglers. It was another tough RTB for fly anglers, though. Those of us trying to win the Fly Rod Division had to contend with milky water and stubborn fish that were set on eating small crabs. However, speckled trout were there in good numbers and more than willing to eat flies! By noon, half the anglers were off the water, anxious to consume the chicken-and-sausage pastalaya lunch prepared by the Friends of Grand Isle. Yes, folks eat well at this event, as it should be! Congrats to Brock Miller whose 34.56 pound red won first place. Noel France finished in 2nd place with a 32.70 red, and Elby Champagne had 3rd place with a 32.28 red. From Brittany Jones at 5th place with 29.92 pounds to the 10th place was separated by just over a pound! But what makes RTB special isn't just the festivities or fighting a bull red from a kayak, it's the comradery on the water. You're surrounded by other participants and conversations are constantly going on. Those fishing near the Caminada pier (old bridge) have a large audience of onlookers who cheer every time a red is landed. It's an experience like no other.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Getting tropically depressed again. Invest 99-L is currently a strong tropical wave just east of the Antilles Islands, but worth keeping a watchful eye on. Unlike most of the Atlantic storms over the last year and a half - which have been steered to a more northerly course by strong steering currents - it appears that high pressure parked over the Mid-Atlantic states will force I99-L to maintain a more westerly course. In fact, most of the models now show it entering the Gulf of Mexico. There's some predictions that drier air at the upper atmosphere may prevent strengthing into a hurricane. But as I've stated on numerous occasions over many years on this website, if a storm enters the Gulf in August or early September, all bets are off! The very warm temperature of Gulf surface water is a powerful energy source for storms. At the least, this storm could be a major rainmaker. That's possibly the worst news anyone wants to hear, with nearly 100,000 Louisiana residents affected by the flooding of a week ago. I99-L is roughly 6 to 7 days from entering the Gulf, so let's see what happens. And pray that the one model showing it taking a right turn to the Atlantic proves out to be the correct forecast.
LDWF has scheduled a drawdown for Indian Creek Lake. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Rapides Parish Police Jury have announced that the popular lake near Woodworth will be drawn down beginning September 6th, at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per day, until the lake is 6 feet below pool stage. There's a chance that the lake could be lowered an additional 2 feet. The gates will close on December 15th for the lake to refill. Indian Creek will remain open during the drawdown. Approximately 1,500 acres of water will remain at low stage. Indian Creek joins Vernon Lake, False River, Cheniere Lake, Smithport Lake, and Bistineau scheduled for Fall drawdown. In recent years, LDWF has aggressively pursued drawdowns as a management tool for lakes to mimic the beneficial effects seen on overflow lake systems. In those systems, low water levels exposes shorelines to sun and air. This kills aquatic vegetation, decomposes organic materials, and compacts sediments. In many of the lakes of central and north Louisiana, where shoreline bottoms are mostly sand and gravel, drawdowns can have tremendous impact in regenerating spawning beds for bass and bream. The maximum benefits usually come in the second and third years, when the offspring of the "drawdown spawn" reach mature sizes.
The never-ending debate continues. Midcurrent.com website recently asked a group of experts "Which is better, blood knot or surgeons knot?". You can check out the responses by clicking on this link. I'll give a spoiler and say that most of the respondents preferred the blood knot, mostly for it's symmetry and smoothness. Missing from the debate was the Improved Blood Knot and the Double Uni-Knot, both of which I'd argue are better than either the Blood Knot or the Surgeons. But that's my opinion, and as I've said on many occasions, ask twenty fly anglers what their favorite knot is, and you'll get twenty different responses! As long as what you use works, does it really matter?
Sunday, August 21, 2016
What's happening this week. A few activities have been cancelled due to the continuing issues from the Great Flood of 2016. Those include the Red Stick Fly Fishers monthly fly tying session (Monday) and the Bass Pro Denham Springs monthly tying clinic (Tuesday). Please check for any further notifications in our forum. 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 will hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel at 7840 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans (across the parking lot from Blue Crab Restaurant). Time is 7:00pm. On Friday evening, it's the prelude to Ride The Bull 7 Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament at Bridgeside Marina on Grand Isle, with the Shrimp Boil, Captains Meeting, Calmwater Film Festival and live music. Activities start at 4:00pm. On Saturday, it's the main event for Ride The Bull 7, with shotgun start at 7:00pm. Last date to register online is this Wednesday, after which registration must be onsite. For more info, go to www.ccalouisiana.com.
Congratulations to the Contraband Flycasters on the success of their Fly Fishing Expo (aka, conclave) held yesterday in Moss Bluff. Turnout was good considering everything weather-related. The Lake Charles area may have been spared the worst from The Great Flood of 2016, but daily severe thunderstorms continue to plague southwest Louisiana, and that seems to have had a negative impact on everything. Still, the club did well in it's fundraising efforts thanks to their many generous sponsors and donors. It was great to meet many fly fishing friends again, and hope to see them again - and many more - at the IFFF conclaves coming up in September and October.
No major fish mortality so far. Everyone associates late summer storms with freshwater fish kills. And it's probable that there'll be some associated with The Great Flood of 2016. Fish kills can occur in several ways. For one, heavy rains can push high organic load into rivers. During late summer, when dissolved oxygen is low, this is fairly common. In lakes, cool rain water (~72 degrees) and persistent cloud cover can cause turnover of the hot (~90 degrees) surface water that is low in oxygen. This type of effect usually results in shad and other low-tolerant species dying. But by far, the largest fish kills are caused when high winds strip leaves from trees, and deposit them into water bodies. Compared to the organic load from runoff, this effect on dissolved oxygen is many times higher. The massive kills of Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita, and Gustav were associated with wind-blown organics. If there's a silver lining about TGF16, it's that it didn't have a wind effect.
Meanwhile, Montana has a major fish kill. One of the news wires reported that on Friday, the Yellowstone River - from Yellowstone Park to Laurel - was closed to all recreation, including fishing, floating and boating. This is to prevent the spread of a disease that has killed tens of thousands of trout and whitefish. Test samples sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Health Center in Bozeman revealed the disease to be Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD). PKD is spread by a microscopic parasite. Mortality from PKD is usually low, about 20 percent, but under stressful factors - such as abnormally high water temperatures in the river - the mortality rate can reach 80 to 100 percent. The report went on to state that PKD has only been documented in Montana twice in the last 20 years, but that there's been recent outbreaks not only in Montana, but in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. While PKD is not a threat to humans, the parasite can be easily transmitted by human activity.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Mississippi DMR considering speck reg changes. A recent stock assessment of speckled trout conducted by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is raising concerns about the future of that fishery. To understand why, a brief understanding of fisheries management and some terminology is required. The Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) is a measure of the sustainability of a fisheries, being the percentage of spawning-age fish that exist compared to the numbers that would exist if there were no fishing. Next is yield... the percentage of those uncaught mature fish necessary for sustainable recruitment. Most states manage either Maximum Sustained Yield (MSY) or Optimum Sustained Yield (OSY). For example, if MSY for a particular species is 35, that means that in order to maintain viable populations at least 35 percent of each year class must reach sexual maturity. OSY is always higher... the goal of OSY is -not- just to sustain a species, but to make it abundant. Such that the success rate of anglers is optimized. Unfortunately, when it comes to management of speckled trout, most states manage under MSY - and even then, don't do a good job. Mississippi has determined that their current SPR for trout is only 10 percent, while their management goal - based on MSY - is 20 percent. Currently, regulations are 15 trout per day, with a minimum size of 13 inches. To get the SPR up to the minimum goal means either reducing the daily limit or increasing the minimum size, or some combination of both. For example, one proposal DMR is considering is a 12-fish, 13-inch limit. Another is a 14-fish, 14-inch limit.
Why Mississippi's dilemna may be our own. The most recent stock assessment done by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on speckled trout in our waters found an SPR of only 10 percent. While LDWF has a lower management goal (also based on MSY) than Mississippi, the current SPR is still way below the threshold. Back in July, Todd Masson wrote this article in NOLA.COM titled "Is it Time For Louisiana to Lower Speck Limits?". Click on the link and check it out... very disturbing. The problem with limits is that, they work until something changes. In most cases, that "change" is increased fishing pressure. There's no question that the number of people fishing our coastal marshes has increased greatly in the last 20+ years since the current regs were put in place (a lot of that increase has come from kayak fishing). Like most fly and kayak anglers, I think a 15-fish daily limit is a very reasonable solution. It's been the limit in southwest Louisiana (Calcasieu and Sabine) for several years. What concerns me is that LDWF often seems unwilling to take the lead in conservation, sometimes even getting in it's way. Back when CCA supported reduced creel limits for Calcasieu, the opposition was quick to quote "the biologists say no changes are necessary". Perhaps not, but as mentioned earlier there are TWO management schemes and CCA wanted to go with OSY instead of MSY. This was never acknowledged by LDWF. Now that surveys indicate an issue exists in southeast Louisiana, there seems to be a "wait and see" attitude, rather than a sense of urgency. In species management, like with business, the sooner an issue is corrected, the less harsh the measures required to correct it. To borrow from one of our presidential candidates, it's time to "Make Speck Fishing Great Again".
South Louisiana continues the recovery from the Great Flood of 2016. It's very saddening to see so many of my friends, family and extended family post photos on Facebook of the devastation to their homes by floodwaters. One particular friend had just completed a remodel of her house, with upgraded flooring and appliances - all that gone to waste! I recall how efficient and rapid the government and insurance companies were to aid and assist victims of Katrina (that's sarcasm, folks). So I'm not expecting any miracles this time either. It's definitely impacting the fishing, too. Many of the marinas in south Louisiana are reporting very low traffic for this time of year. At least two events scheduled for this week have been cancelled or postponed, and some of the LDWF public meetings scheduled for next week have been postponed. I expect we'll see a few more repercussions from this disaster until some sense of normalcy returns.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
I haven't felt this tropically-depressed since Katrina. Katrina was a category 3 hurricane, but this tropical depression that moved from the northeast Gulf waters westward into south Louisiana since Friday may have inflicted greater property damage, even if the human casualties have been minor in comparison. At least there's something to be thankful for! Otherwise, it's been very painful to see news reports and Facebook postings of the widespread flooding and evacuations. How bad is the "Flood of August 2016"? Notice I had to put "August" in there... because this past spring we had an equivalent flood event in north Louisiana, but not as devastating - I'll explain why later. But here's a reference. During the 31 years our family lived in Wedgewood subdivision in Baton Rouge, we experienced two 100-year flood events. Neither came even close to flooding our neighborhood which sat on a ridge a mile from the Amite River. I recall when I was president of the neighborhood association and the first flood event occured, being told that if we did flood, "better build an Ark, it's the end of times!". This morning I got word that most of Wedgewood was under water. That infers that almost all, if not all, of Livingston Parish south of I-12 is under water, and that most of southeast Baton Rouge is also. From Facebook postings, it appears that most of Ascension Parish is flooded as well. Then I heard on The Weather Channel that this is a 500-year flood event. If you go to Facebook, you'll find photos of areas I never dreamed would be under water - including all of Range Avenue in Denham Springs. I'm talking about Baton Rouge, but my family and cousins and friends in the Lafayette area are also posting photos of widespread flooding, vehicles under water everywhere. Here in the Alexandria area, we've been on the northern outskirts of this system until last night. Since then, there's been constant rain - some heavy rain - and as of noon the lake was up 3 feet and rising. I don't know when the rain will end, as this system is moving slowly. Forecasts call for greater than 50 percent chance of rain for most of south and central Louisiana until Thursday.
Nothing could've prevented the flooding but it could've been a lot less devastating for Baton Rouge, Livingston, and Ascension parishes had there been a dam on the Amite River. For decades, this was a hotly debated topic in the Greater Baton Rouge area. A lot of preservationists opposed it... they relished the fact that the Amite is a free-flowing river and designated scenic stream. The dam proponents even acknowledged that their project would not totally stop flooding, only diminish the frequency and in a worst-case scenario, the scope. That probably didn't help their cause. Making it worse was the fact that some dam proponents were in favor of a "wet reservoir" instead of a "dry reservoir", complete with lake development. As we witnessed with Toledo Bend this past spring, once a wet reservoir is developed, the interests of lake homeowners somehow becomes more important than the folks who live below the dam. That's a "no solution" solution. Of course, there were other more moderate proposals offered that would've preserved the free flow of the river, but allowed for holding water back during heavy rains. But such ideas are seldom given consideration. As we often see with politics, it's always a battle of "all or nothing" and seldom a common-ground solution.
How will this affect the fishing? It's crossed my mind, but it's probably the least of my concerns right now. I will say that if this had been a hurricane, the devastation to our fisheries would've been significant. That's because the high winds strip leaves from trees, deposit them into waterways, and as the leaves begin to rot, consumes what little oxygen there is in our hot August waters. This system might actually benefit some areas, adding cooler water and oxygen - minus the wind/leaves effect. But that water will be muddy and that's never good for fishing. In addition, some of the inland coastal areas will be turned off, particularly Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne in the east and Calcasieu in the west. School-sized specks were biting really good in Lake Prien and that's probably over until September at least. But those who think the lower marshes will be okay might rethink. Late August to late September brings the highest tides of the year in south Louisiana. A lot of this rainfall will flow down into the marshes and only aggravate the situation. Those who enjoy sightcasting to reds on low tides may find that "low tides" are what "high tides" were back in June.
What's happening this week. As I'm posting this, there's changes and cancellations being considered, so PLEASE go to their respective websites and check. Or go to Facebook and search for the club and see what they've posted. I'll try and post to the LFF Forum and our LFF Facebook Page any news I pick up. On Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold their weekly "One Beer Fly Casting" clinic at 6:00pm. Meet at their store on 601 East Pinhook Road in Lafayette. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: this weekend's "Cajun Castaway" kayak fishing tournament out of Lake Charles. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com. Also on Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Church Center on 1620 East Prien Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. On the agenda: this Saturday's club fly fishing expo. For more info, go to www.contrabandflycasters.net. 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 Steve Oliver will be tying an articulated frog topwater fly. The public is invited. Also on Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the second of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their 12th conclave, the "Contraband Fly Fishing Expo" at Moss Bluff United Methodist Church in Moss Bluff. More about that on Monday. Also on Saturday, Backpacker of Baton Rouge will hold another of their free "Kayak Demo Day" at BREC Wampold Park on University Lake in Baton Rouge. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Brands to test will include Hobie, Wilderness Systems, KC Kayak, Perception, Mad River, Yolo and others. As always, subject to weather so check their Facebook page or call 225-406-8754. Also on Saturday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual "Cajun Castaway" tournament. Entry fee is $25, and it's open to the public. This is a roadrunner tournament, with boundaries in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes, with weigh-in at Calcasieu Point Landing. Categories include Cajun Slam (slot red, trout, flounder 12" or longer) and Leopard Red. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
What's happening this week. On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Time is 7:00pm. The public is invited. For more info, go to www.rsff.org. Also on Monday, the Cane Country Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at the Westside Baptist Church Community Center on the Highway 1 bypass in Natchitoches. Time is 6:30pm. This month, Catch Cormier will give a program on his hiking/fishing trip to Maine. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.canecountry.blogspot.com. Also on Monday, Pack and Paddle will hold another of their "One Beer Fly Casting" sessions. Time is 6:00pm. There is no cost. This is an informal session with a group of folks practice their casting. PnP will supply the beer. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge on Sunflower Road in Bossier City. Time is 7:00pm. This month, Richard Ramsey, guide on the White and Norfork rivers in Arkansas, and micro fly tier, will speak on trout fishing on those rivers. He'll also have some of his small flies for sale for just $1. The public is invited. On Thursday, the Bayou Pirates kayak fishing club will hold their monthly meeting at Harbuck Outdoors on 1914 East 70th Street in Shreveport. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome. Also on Thursday, the Cenla Kayak Anglers will hold their monthly meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:00pm. Catch Cormier will highlight many of the new fishing kayaks and kayak accessories for 2017. Also on the agenda: upcoming tournaments. For more info, go to www.cenlakayakanglers.com. Also 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 a few sets are available for use during the session. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com. 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. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during these sessions. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold the last of their "Summer Fly Tying Workshops". Go to www.kisatchiefly.org for details.
LDWF is proposing two new artificial reefs. One would be in western Lake Pontchartrain approximately 1.3 miles from Frenier Landing. The other would be in the southern portion of Calcasieu Lake. Prior to these projects moving forward, LDWF needs to hold public meetings and collect feedback. The first meeting will be for the Pontchartrain reef. It'll be held Tuesday, August 16 at 6:00pm at the East Bank Regional Library on Napoleon Avenue in Metairie. The 2nd meeting will be for the Calcasieu reef. It'll be held Wednesday, August 17, at 6:00pm at the Calcasieu Parish LSU AgCenter Office on Gulf Highway in Lake Charles. Both of these meetings are open to the public.
As you may have noticed, our "New Fly Rods" posting in the LFF Forum continues to be updated. Despite the number of postings already, we're not even halfway finished! Hopefully, we'll get to fly reels and other accessories this month, as well as a "New Kayaks" posting in the Puddlers Lounge - and that too will be quite lengthy! Seems several kayak companies skipped out on ICAST and introduced fishing boats at Outdoor Retailer this past week. Also, Jackson didn't mention or display a pedal yak at ICAST, but surprise! They introduced the first of two at OR. Another pedal yak that came out at OR was by Santa Cruz. They'll be using a fin system similiar to the Hobie. For those keeping count, that brings the number of brands of pedal yaks for 2017 up to nine, with rumors about a 10th brand joining the party.
LDWF has announced a drawdown for Cheniere Lake. Cheniere is one jewel of a lake near West Monroe, shrouded for the most part in Cypress and Tupelo trees that belie the lake's large size (3600 acres). The few times I've fished it, it's been tough, in large part due to the tight spaces in which to cast. But those tight spots hold some chunky bream and even "white perch" during the early parts of the year. LDWF is drawing the shallow lake down 6 feet below pool so that repair work can be done on Highway 3033 which forms part of the dam. The highway and bridge were damaged by flooding earlier this year. Since repair work will take 12 to 18 months to complete, the lake could be down that long. The last time Cheniere was drawn down for close to a year - back in 1971 - the following years the fish population doubled! As we've seen with Toledo Bend, there seems to be greater benefit in having low water over an extended period (a year or more) than with frequent drawdowns of 3 months or less.