Sunday, August 12, 2018

What's happening this week - 8/12

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. This month, Glen 'Catch' Cormier will share many new products for fly fishers and kayak anglers from last month's IFTD / ICAST in Orlando, as well as a "2018 State of the Sport". The public is welcome. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Gathering starts at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:45pm, program at 7:00pm.  Vicki and Gene Thibodaux will give a presentation on Mountain View, Arkansas, including fly fishing and other things to do in the area. Guests are welcome.  For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier community building on 444 Metairie Road.  Time is 7:00pm.  Joe Bandera will be teaching the A.P. Emerger. Bring $1 to cover materials. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Beginners welcome!  For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Snippets - 8/11

Drawdowns kill aquatic weeds and oxidize lake bottoms
Fish of the Year. This weekend, the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association holds their annual convention and awards banquet in Gonzales. At the banquet, LOWA will recognize - as they do every year - the most significant catch of the previous year in both Rod & Reel and Fly Fishing Divisions. Winners were announced recently. Top catch in the Rod & Reel Division was a 140-pound amberjack taken out of Venice by Chris Legrand of Slidell. It was a new state record for the species. Top catch in the Fly Fish Division was a 9.66-pound sheepshead taken by visiting angler Micheal Lee Clark of Hanahan, South Carolina. Clark caught the big "goat" in January 2017 in the Delacroix marsh while fishing with Capt. Lucas Bissett of Low Tide Charters. The new state record sheepshead ate a Bissett's Mud Bug fly. Congratulations to Chris and Micheal!

National Hunting and Fishing Day. This past week, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sent out exhibitor notices for NHF Day on September 22nd. NHF Day is celebrated nationwide on the 4th Saturday of September. It was established by Congress to recognize the contributions of anglers, hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts to conservation. Here in Louisiana, LDWF hosts outdoors celebrations at four venues: Waddill (Baton Rouge), Bodcau (Minden), Cenla (Woodworth), and Monroe. Admission is free. There's numerous activities, exhibitors and plenty of food and refreshments.  The Bodcau, Woodworth and Waddill venues feature fly casting, fly tying, and knots courtesy of local fly fishing clubs. For more info, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

CCA STAR. We're into the final weeks of the summer-long CCA STAR tournament, and all the speckled trout divisions - especially Fly and Kayak - have been negatively impacted by two factors. First, it's been a very tough year for specks. Most blame the brutal winter we had. Second, many anglers are boycotting STAR in response to CCA's opposition to a bill allowing tidal water access. Whatever the factors may be, recent good reports of speck catches from Grand Isle (east) and Big Lake (west) may mean changes to the leaderboard soon.

2019 Calendar. It's looking like a busy first half of 2019 for fly fishing events across the state and region. Most are long-running events such as the Natchitoches Fishing Expo, Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival and Red Stick Day. But there are a few new ones, including the first-ever New Orleans Fly Fishers conclave (which we're excited about). As for kayak fishing tournaments, most dates won't be set until December - with the exception of Paddlepalooza which could announced in the next few weeks.

Drawdowns. This week began a drawdown of Black and Clear Lakes in Natchitoches Parish in an effort to combat giant salvania and improve fish habitat by exposing banks heavy in organic material to oxidation. The gates will be left open until January 29th.  Meanwhile, Vernon Lake near Leesville remains 8 feet below pool. Meanwhile, Vernon Lake remains at low levels and will continue until next Spring. In this case, the issue is continued restoration of a dam that was damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Coastal fishing report.  Excellent redfish action continues across the coast.  But speckled trout remains below average.  And those targeting trout are having to put up with a trio of unwanted species -   ladyfish, gafftop catfish, and hardhead catfish.  Cooler weather will drive these undesirables back into the Gulf, but that'll be several more weeks.  Along the beaches and passes, white trout and spanish mackeral are giving fly anglers a cheap thrill, with the occasional jack crevalle giving them a workout. Now is NOT the time to be using anything less than an 8-weight in open waters!  There's a lot of sheepshead activity along marsh grass even in the middle of the day, so keep that as an option. Of course, weather is a major factor.  Late August means calm, hot days with frequent lightning storms. Hydrate often and stay alert!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

What's happening this week - 8/5

Another very light week ahead, as summer starts to wind down.

On Thursday, Pack & Paddle will hold a special seminar, "Learn to Ride The Bull - Kayak Fishing Edition" at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. This free seminar will cover the different strategies necessary when fishing for bull reds as opposed to slot reds. With additional tips for the upcoming "Ride The Bull" kayak fishing tournament on August 25th. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Welcome to August! Top 8 things about this month.

1) This is the last full month of "SweatFest", the festival nobody likes to celebrate! It's also the worst month - we typically get several days or more of temperatures 100 degrees or higher. Add in the humidity, and it can be brutal. Fish early in the day, and hydrate often.

2) We're now in the peak of hurricane season. The period from August 1st to October 15th accounts for 91 percent of the named Atlantic storms. August alone accounts for nearly 30 percent. Last month, the National Hurricane Center downgraded their earlier prediction for an above-average season. However, it looks like the Gulf Coast may get some tropical moisture starting this weekend.

3) It's a quiet month for fly fishing activities. In fact, the only significant event anywhere in the country is the National Fly Fishing Fair hosted by Fly Fishers International (formerly the Federation of Fly Fishers). The expo will be held August 7-11 in Boise, Idaho.

4) Kayak fishing is also fairly quiet with one major exception: the 9th annual Ride the Bull out of Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle August 24-25. Originated by Danny and Kristen Wray, RTB grew to become the world's largest kayak fishing tournament. After Kristen lost her battle with cancer, CCA Louisiana agreed to take the reigns. Registration has picked up in the last week and I expect a good turnout, even if far below the tournament record (753).

5) It's bull red season. And the reason why "Ride the Bull" is held this month. Bulls will be thick in the passes as the spawning cycle peaks. Along the beaches, passes, and even into interior lakes, August and September are the best times to hit a "redfish blitz". Schools of reds - sometimes in the thousands - will be busting up pogies on the surface. A bit of advise... something I learned the hard way when Tiger Jake and I crossed paths with a redfish blitz the first time - only one fly angler hook up at a time!

6) This is the best month for pelagic species. Spanish mackeral and bluefish are in the passes. Jack crevalle are active in bays and interior lakes. Bluewater is close in, and dolphin are plentiful. Close to shore are cobia, king mackeral, mangrove snapper. The bad news: it's also the worst month for the nasties - ladyfish, gafftop catfish, and vibrio. Bring antibacterial spray!

7) August is also the last full month for the CCA STAR tournament, which ends on Labor Day. Participation in the Kayak and Fly Fishing divisions has been low this year due to the fallout from this past legislative session and CCA's opposition to the tidal waters public access bill. Regardless, August is always a difficult month for fly anglers to catch large speckled trout. In hot water, the fish are more nocturnal and feed sporadically.

8) Football season kicks off this month. Colleges begin practice next week, and a few games are scheduled late in the month. NFL practices have already started and preseason games begin next week. As always, we're excited for our Saints and all of our college teams and hoping they have a great season!

Monday, July 23, 2018

6th annual "Masters Series" this Saturday

Kelly Galloup to headline 2018 Series
There are two major fly fishing events held each summer in Louisiana. One is the Contraband Fly Fishing Expo, held two weeks ago in Westlake. Hosted by the Contraband Fly Fishers, this year's event was very well organized and a big success! Folks are still talking about it.

The second major event of the summer is the annual "Masters Series" held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Hosted by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers of Shreveport, the Series is much different than the conclaves (expos) put on by other clubs. It's basically a day-long seminar conducted by the headliner. Segments include programs, a casting demonstration, fly tying demonstration, and more.

The headliner is usually one of the big names in fly fishing, one who has made major contributions to our sport, and/or brings a wealth of information for improving our success as anglers. Past headliners have included: Dave Whitlock, Davy Wotton, Bob Clouser, and George Daniel.

This year NLFF is proud to present Kelly Galloup. Galloup is co-owner and  guide of Slide Inn Lodge on Montana's Madison River. Galloup started tying flies at age 13, he currently has over 40 recognized patterns. His biggest contributions have been the articulated streamers now recognized as the ticket to big predatory fish.

In addition, Kelly has written two books, Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout and Cripples and Spinners.  He's been published in nearly every fly fishing periodical in the country, and was a host of Fly Fish TV on the Outdoor Life Network.

The Masters Series is a limited ticket event, with only 75 tickets sold. Tickets are $40 each and include lunch and refreshments. As of today, only a handful of tickets are still available. Anyone wishing to get in,  please contact Scott Irwin at 318-469-0854 asap.      

Sunday, July 22, 2018

What's happening this week - 7/22

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Glen 'Catch' Cormier will give a presentation "Whats New for 2019" highlighting most of the new fly fishing and kayaks featured at ICAST earlier this month.  As well as a "State of Fly Fishing" report. The meeting is open to the public. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Goodwood branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Conference Room B on the 2nd floor. Time is 7:00pm.  Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Tuesday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 6:00pm. Bring your tools, if none there are sets for use during the session. Materials are provided.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold a "fishing meeting" in lieu of their monthly general meeting. Club members are invited to fish at the Gretna City Park Ponds from 4:00pm to 7:00pm.  At 7:00pm, the group will gather for a short business meeting. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

On Saturday, it's the 6th annual NLFF Masters Series. More on that later.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

SweatFest 2019: no celebration this weekend!

Friday temperatues and heat indexes near record highs
We're now in the second half of our annual SweatFest - the festival no one likes to celebrate. As is typical, the hottest days come in late July through mid-August. Currently, the situation is compounded by a large ridge of high pressure over a four state area.

A heat advisory has been issued this weekend for north, central and southwest parts of Louisiana. Maximum daytime temperatures in the upper 90s up to 105 degrees - combined with high relative humidities - will result in maximum heat indices of 105-110 degrees.

Persons involved in outdoor activities - especially fishing - should take extra precautions. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light and loose fitting clothing and drink plenty of water. Be prepared to move to a cool and shaded location.

Fishing in the advisory areas has been mostly poor, fair at best, over the last couple of weeks. Mid-July through August is the time of year when I do the least amount of fishing. Even January has much better days.

Too hot to fish? Tying flies gives an indoor alternative during the second half of SweatFest.Nearly 80 percent of the flies I use during the year are tied during this "down time". With each batch of a particular fly, some are put into the fly box, while the better ones are placed into "donation bin". Later flies from that donation bin will be put into separate boxes for donations to club events in 2019.

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 State of the Sport - Fishing & Fly Fishing

At ICAST, we were given an oral presentation on the current state of recreational fishing in the United States. This data was compiled by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation in conjunction with the Outdoor Foundation, and was released last Monday.

Since 2010, fishing has been on a slow but steady growth. Currently there are 49.1 million participants, with the largest growth in the age group 25 to 44. Men make up 65% of all anglers, and whites make up 78% of the sport. Only 33% of all anglers have a college degree.

With regards to fly fishing, growth has also been on constant rise since 2010, and at a slightly higher rate than fishing in general. In 2017, there were 6.8 million fly anglers.  This represents an all-time high in participation!  The largest growth was in the age group 25 to 44, which makes up 35% of the sport. Nearly 45% of all fly anglers have a college degree. Almost 72% of flyfishers are white, but the number of Hispanics continues to grow, now over 11 percent. Almost 1 million people were new to fly fishing in 2017, another all-time high.

There's no question that outreach programs such as "Fly Fishing 101" or similiar clinics put on by clubs, retailers, and agencies are having an impact. Also, exposure to our sport via the internet and television programming (NBC Sports Channel, World Fishing Network, Pursuit, etc.) are also generating interest. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What's happening this week - 7/15

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm.   Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

On Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: upcoming LA1 Slamboree tournament, CPR Update, tackle tips, and fishing reports. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

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. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Bring $1 for materials. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Starting Friday, and continuing to Sunday, it's the Louisiana Sportsman Deer, Duck and Fishing Expo at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. This show is a compliment to the magazine's spring show in Gonzales. There are numerous exhibitors as well as multiple seminars. Times are Friday, 3pm-9pm, Saturday, 10am-9pm, Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission is $12 for 13 and over, $6 for ages 6-12, and free under 6. For list of seminars, go to www.louisianasportsman.com.

On Saturday, it's the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club's annual "Highway 1 Slamboree" tournament out of Top Water Marina in Leeville. It's open to the public, entry fee is %35 (plus $1.25 paypal fee) and can be done online at their website. Species is "Cajun Slam" - slot red, speckled trout, flounder 12" or longer. Artificial tackle only. For more info, rules, or to register, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

Recapping ICAST / IFTD 2018

The world's largest fishing trade show took place last week in Orlando. This was the seventh, and final merged event between the International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) show and the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST). For 2019, ICAST returns once again to Orlando on July 7-10. While IFTD moves to Denver on October 16-18.

One of the advantages of the merged show was the opportunity for attendees to see the wide array of products that are common to all types of fishing - shirts, kayaks, coolers, luggage, software, to name a few. These made up over half of ICAST exhibitors. Most of those companies were NOT at Fly Tackle Dealer prior to the merge. So the question will be: how many accessory companies will come to a separate Fly Tackle Dealer Show?

Another potential issue with the 2019 show is the date. Buyers are concerned about the timing for orders, which usually begin in September in time for the Christmas season. Guides and pro-staffers have expressed concern about the fact that October is their best fishing month.

Despite those issues, IFTD 2019 is already generating much excitement. Many attendees had "Florida Fatigue", while several companies that held out of ICAST due to high costs plan to return to IFTD.

I'm continuing to add new product summaries to our sister website, flytacklereport.blogspot.com. Unlike the larger fly sites with several staff members, we're a one-person operation. So it will take longer to post all the products. But here's the other difference - we test every new rod and examine every new reel.

As is our long tradition, my Fly Lines column in the September issue of Louisiana Sportsman will spotlight several of the new tackle. And again list our "Catch's Choice Awards" highly recommended rods and reels for 2019.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

What's happening this week - 7/7

A big week in fly fishing, with the Fly Tackle Dealers Show (ICAST) in Florida during the week and the 14th Contraband Fly Fishing Expo here in Westlake, Louisiana on Friday and Saturday.

On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Casting practice at 6:30pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. For details, go to www.rsff.org.

On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Gathering starts at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:45pm, program at 7:00pm.  Also on the agenda: the club's annual "Master Series" coming up on July 28th featuring Kelly Galloup.  Guests are welcome to the meeting.  For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers will hold the first of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier community building on 444 Metairie Road.  Time is 7:00pm.  Joe Bandera will lead the group in tying the "Peanut Popper" as well as a bonus fly. Bring $1 to cover materials. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Beginners welcome!  For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

On Friday, and continuing Saturday, it's the Contraband Fly Fishing Expo at the Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake.  Hosted by the Contraband Fly Casters of Lake Charles, this will be their most ambitious and largest event in several years, featuring one of the world's top fly tiers and young gun anglers, Pat Cohen.  Along with Cohen is a very impressive list of FFI Master Certified Casting instructors as well as nearly two dozen tiers from across the Gulf Coast.  The event kicks off Friday noon, and goes all day Saturday.  For a complete schedule of activities and times, go to www.contrabandflycastersinc.net.

* Regarding IFTD/ ICAST.  We'll be reporting product announcements and other news from the trade show via our sister site www.flytacklereport.blogspot.com and giving a summary report here on Thursday *

Monday, July 02, 2018

What's happening this week 7/2

With Independence Day on Wednesday, a very light week ahead.  Hope everyone and their loved ones enjoy a great holiday. Right now, the forecast calls for a tropical low to move across the state this week and bring us some much-needed rain in western and central Louisiana.

On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting in Lafayette, location TBA.  Time is 6:30pm. For more info, contact Bob Tabbert at 337-989-0815.

On Saturday, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette will host a "Fly Tying Level 1" at their store on 601 East Pinhook. Time is 9:00am.  Cost is $20 and seats are limited, so pre-registration is required.  As of this writing, only a couple of seats were still available.  The class will cover tying tools, and how to use them. Then with help from the instructor, students will tie two of the most effective flies for Louisiana: at topwater gurgler style popper and a subsurface redfish fly. All tools and materials are provided.  To register online, go to www.packpaddle.com and click on "Store Events".

July is here

A number of big events taking place this month.

Next week - Tuesday thru Friday - in Orlando, Florida, is the annual IFTD trade show (fly tackle), held in conjunction with the ICAST trade show (conventional tackle). Most of the new products coming out Fall 2018 and into 2019 will be revealed. As always, we'll be covering live from the show and posting press releases and updates on our sister blog, flytacklereport.blogspot.com.

July 13-14 is the annual Contraband Fly Fishing Expo to be held at Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake, featuring special guest Pat Cohen. Details were posted here last week, but since then the Contraband Fly Casters have added the event booklet to their website at www.contrabandflycastersinc.net.

July 20 thru 22nd is the annual Louisiana Sportsman Duck, Deer, and Fishing  Show at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.  Last year, the publishers of Louisiana Sportsman magazine - which now run the show - expanded to two shows a year, one in Gonzales in March and a second in New Orleans in July.  The summer show will feature exhibitors and multiple daily seminars, including kayak fishing.  Also the New Orleans Fly Fishers will be taking part in the show.  For more info, go to www.louisianasportsmanshow.com.

July 21 is the annual "LA 1 Slamboree" kayak fishing tournament along Highway 1 corridor from Golden Meadow south. Hosted by the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club, it's their largest tournament of the year and open to the public. Details can be found at www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

July 28 is the annual North Louisiana Fly Fishers "Masters Series" to be held at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. This year's headliner is renown big fish guru Kelly Galloup. Some tickets are still available for $40 which includes lunch and refreshments. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Contraband Fly Fishing Expo booklet now online

14th Contraband Fly Fishing Expo
Friday-Saturday, July 13-14, 2018
Friday,  Noon - 4pm
Saturday, 8am - 4pm
Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, Westlake, LA
Free admission!

Next month the Contraband Fly Casters of Lake Charles will host their annual expo, and plan to make it the biggest one in many years.  Headlining the event is Pat Cohen, one of the most recognized names in fly tying, and a master of deer hair flies.

In addition to Pat, some of the top fly tiers in the Gulf Coast region will be demonstrating their favorite patterns - including nationally-recognized realistic tier Fred Hannie.  Several of the region's top fly casting instructors - such as Jay Clark and Jeff Ferguson - will be on hand to give casting sessions and instruction.  There's also a number of programs covering everything from fishing South Louisiana waters to fishing the Texas Hill Country.

Exhibitors and vendors will also be present. There are raffles and silent auctions to  benefit Project Healing Waters and Reel Recovery.

The Contraband club has put out an Expo booklet with schedule of activities, speaker bios, list of tiers, and much more.  The booklet is available online - click here to open.

For more info, go to www.contrabandflycastersinc.com or call 337-540-1292.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mid week tidbits 6/27

With only 12 days to go until IFTD / ICAST, the release of new fly fishing and kayak fishing products is gaining momentum.  The latest release comes from St. Croix Rods. Available in September of 2018, the new Mojo Trout series will consist of 11 new beautiful and dutiful 2-piece and 4-piece models from 6-feet to 9-feet in length, covering 2-weight to 7-weight.  The blank will be built on SCR's high-modulus SCIII graphite, and will be targeted at a price point "not to break the bank".

Another new product getting much buzz in advance of the trade show is Flymen Fishing Company's new soft-body Surface Seducer Double Barrel Popper.   The original SSDD Bug came out last summer and won Best of Show (Flies category) at IFTD.  Incidently, it caught the most bass on the pond at the IFTD Demo Day of any flies used.  Well, Flymen has improved the bug by switching from a hard-epoxy coating to a flexible coating.  The company even has a video out where the body is tested with a hammer (ouch!) and still holds up!

EFTTEX, the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exposition, is this week and several fly companies have introduced new products.  However EFTTEX is far more secretive than IFTD / ICAST and only a few scraps of information can be found.  What we have learned is that TFO, Winston and Hardy all have new rod series.  We did know of the TFO Finesse being upgraded to a more powerful blank, but retaining the classic action. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What's happening this week 6/24

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guest speaker will be Kristi Butler, manager of the LDWF Booker-Fowler Hatchery. The meeting is open to the public. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Goodwood branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Conference Room B on the 2nd floor. Time is 7:00pm. This month the group will be tying the Senko Worm fly.  Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel on 7640 Lakeshore Drive. Time is 7:00pm.  Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Saturday is the last day for fishing with the 2017-2018 Louisiana licenses. On Sunday, July 1st, the 2018-2019 fishing licenses will be required. Make sure to purchase your new ones before then.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fishing from a plastic boat - an anniversary and a prospect

A tease pic of the 2019 Topwater kayak
Thirty years ago this month, I did something that radically changed my life forever. I rented a kayak down in Sanibel. And went fishing in it.  After getting the feel of the plastic boat, I managed to lay a cast along some mangroves. I twitched my topwater lure a few times, pausing after each twitch. Then suddenly, an explosion of water where my lure was. A good-sized fish then took to the air. I had hooked a snook! Just as important, he had hooked me - into puddling (fishing from a canoe or kayak).

When I got home, I started fishing from a friend's canoe. Soon after, I started fishing from another friend's kayak. Shortly after that, I bought a canoe so I could share my paddle fishing adventures with my boys. In 1997, I bought my first kayak. I've had six more since then, as many as 3 at one time. Today, the lone boat in my plastic navy is a Native Ultimate 145. Although I am in the market for a sit-on-top.

No one knows when the first kayak was created. But folklore tells of an Inuit eskimo who carved the first kayak out of ice. His name was Jerry Utkuhikhalikaha (Ut for short). Ut had two problems with his creation - his butt got cold sitting on ice, and his kayak would melt away in summer. Ut had to move south to California where there were trees. Here he was able to carve a kayak out of wood.

As materials evolved, kayaks went from wood to fiberglass to rotomolded plastic. As of 1988, all kayaks were SINKs (Sit INside Kayaks). That year, Tim Niemer founded Ocean Kayak in Ferndale, Washington and launched the first SOT (Sit On Top) kayak. It completely revolutionized the recreational kayak industry and paved the way for kayak angling to become popular.

The last decade has seen an explosion in kayak fishing. Once considered an extremely niche market, fishing kayaks now dominate sales. Companies have risen and fallen. At the time that I bought my Ocean Kayak, it was the most popular kayak brand. Today, it's struggling to keep up with the likes of Hobie, Jackson, Native, Wilderness, NuCanoe, Vibe, and most recently, Bonafide. Not to mention a host of standup paddleboards.

With ICAST coming up in three weeks, I once again expect to see a bunch of new boats. That's been the case the last four years. Ocean Kayak finally made some waves last year after a decade of dormancy with their Malibu Pedal boat. It was a good effort, but it got lost in a wave of other new offerings - especially the introduction of the Bonafide.

OK's sister company, Old Town (both are now owned by Johnson Outdoors) has been leaking bits of information and "mystery video clips" about a new boat called the Topwater.  They describe it as the "compact SUV of kayak fishing".

Many years ago, I sent a design to OK for a new version of their popular Caper - one of my favorite kayaks ever. The design had a framed seat and a flat cockpit area.  It kept the dimensions similiar, but added an inch to the width to accomodate the frame seat. It also retained the tri-hull design that provides great tracking and stability.

From the little I've seen of the Topwater, it's either this "Dream Caper" or a smaller, more streamlined version of their highly popular Predator MX. Nearly everyone who owns a P-MX loves it, but at 82 pounds it's a bit heavy. If the Topwater does happen to be an improved P-MX, I expect it will be a highly popular boat.  Not sure if it would be the 2nd boat in my plastic navy. But as I remind my wife, I'm actually two boats short.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What's happening this week 6/17

Today is Father's Day. Wishing all of you dads a wonderful day - especially those of you who have made fishing a part of your family life. I'm especially grateful on this day to my late father, who shared with me his passion and skill of fishing, hunting and gardening.

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm.  This month, the group will tie the Disco Midge. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

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.  On the agenda: the club's upcoming fly fishing expo in July. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.contrabandflycasters.net.

Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: upcoming LA1 Slamboree tournament, CPR Update, tackle tips, and fishing reports. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

Also on Tuesday, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) will hold a "Pint Night" at Columbia Street Tap Room in Covington. Time is 7:00pm. Come grab a beer and a burger and discuss water access issues with BHA regional directors and board members.  For more info, contact Jason Sheridan at jason.a.sheridan@gmail.com.

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. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Bring $1 for materials. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Starting Friday, and continuing Saturday, it's the "Leeville Fly Fishing Weekend" which replaces the long-running "Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend". Members of fly fishing clubs in Louisiana and Mississippi (and elsewhere) are invited to fish along the Highway 1 corridor, then join the group for Friday night shrimp boil and Saturday night fish fry (sharing a portion of their filets for the fry). Make your own lodging arrangements. RSVP if attending either the Shrimp Boil or Fish Fry. Go to www.rsff.org for details.

On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another "Fly Fishing 101" at their store on 7601 Bluebonnet. Orvis FF101 is a one-day, 2-hour clinic introducing the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. There is no cost, but pre-registration is required as spots are limited. For more info, contact 225-757-7286.

Sun safety - always in season!

It never fails. As we approach the 4th of July holiday, or the summer solstice, suddenly a barrage of articles about summer safety. Particularly those warning folks to be careful to protect their skin through Labor Day.  If you think about it, the amount of solar radiation that hits Louisiana in early September is the same that hits us in mid April. So those articles are bit late, if you ask me! Nevertheless, good advise is always welcomed.

If you ask a dermatologist, they'll tell you that you should protect your skin from sun damage year-round, even if the period from Spring equinox to Fall equinox is the worst time. Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation can cause sunburn, wrinkles, skin spots, eye damage and worst of all, skin cancer. Each year, nearly 70,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma - the worst form of skin cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises the following:
- Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10am and 3pm.
- Wear clothing to cover skin, SPF rated clothing is best.
- Use broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF factor 15 or higher.
- Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply every 2 hours.
- Wear sunglasses with a UVA/UVB rating of 100 percent.

Of course, protecting the skin and eyes from sun doesn't protect one from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Or from the threat of summer lightning storms. So make sure to pack plenty of water (not highly-caffeinated liquids) on your fishing trips. And be alert to the weather around you. If you hear thunder, you're probably closer to danger than you think. Stop fishing and start making your way back towards harbor. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Finding Joe Brooks airs this weekend

The world premiere of the highly-anticipated fly fishing film Finding Joe Brooks is set to air on Father’s Day weekend, June 15-17 on Sportsman Channel (Friday at 7:00pm CT) and World Fishing Network (Friday at 9:00pm CT), and Outdoor Channel (Saturday at 6:30pm CT).

One of the most iconic fly fishers of the 20th century, Joe Brooks wrote for many of the top outdoor publications in the nation including Field & StreamOutdoor Life and many others. Brooks was a born natural with the fly rod, whether casting or catching, much like his good friend and fellow Maryland native Lefty Kreh.  His articles and books on our sport gained national  attention propelling him to become one of the most respected fly fishers in the industry.  

I was a young boy still mystified by this thing called "fly fishing" when American Sportsman first aired on the ABC Network.  Brooks was a frequent guest, and his adventures with the long rod were my early inspiration.  Although my maternal grandfather was an accomplished flyrodder and fly tier, by this time he had passed.  Those American Sportsman episodes - especially with Joe Brooks - were the next steps to my lifelong pursuit of this sport.

I'm really looking forward to this film, and hope you are too!

Monday, June 11, 2018

We're a month away from ICAST / IFTD

Let's start with some acronyms. ICAST = International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, the world's largest fishing trade show. It's hosted by the ASA = American Sportfishing Association. IFTD = International Fly Tackle Dealer, the world's largest fly fishing trade show. It's hosted by AFFTA = American Fly Fishing Trades Association.

For decades, ICAST and IFTD held separate events, in different locations, usually 2-3 weeks apart each summer. In 2013, the two shows merged into one. Giving retailers, media and industry folks a chance to see all fishing-related products at one event. And reduce their expenses of having to travel to two different events. ICAST and IFTD held separate auxiliary events - such as seminars and demo days - but the rest of the event was seamless.

That 2013 show was held in Las Vegas. Since then, ICAST/IFTD has been held in Orlando. The event has continued to grow - last year it hosted 582 exhibitors in nearly 2000 booths covering 650,000 square feet of space. Almost 15,000 folks attended - quite a number considering that ICAST is not open to the general public.

However, this July 10-13 will be the last year of the merged show. Next year, ICAST returns to Orlando for the 6th straight year, while IFTD will be held in Denver. While the merged show has numerous advantages for the fly industry, it's no secret that many have "Florida Fatigue". Most fly companies are located in the Midwest or west of the Mississippi. Florida was fun at first, but the combination of long travel and tropical heat have offset the saltwater and warmwater fishing opportunities. For those of us media who cover different categories of products (e.g., fly fishing and kayak fishing), the merged show has been golden. It will be greatly missed!

Why is IFTD so important to you the readers? It represents an opportunity for us in the media to see, exam, and even test out just about every fly fishing product there is. Including some new products that will hit retailers in Fall 2018 or early 2019. Even the largest public event - the Somerset Fly Fishing Show - has only a fraction of this many product companies. 

As writers, that gives us great responsibility. Take fly rods, for example. Of the nearly 80 companies that sell fly rods, only about five percent are sold at any fly shop. And 90 percent of all fly shops combined only sell about 16 different brands. That same level of exclusivity applies to nearly all product lines. There's also many accessory products that seem lost in a world where marketing isn't just important - it's life or death!

Most media simply edit the countless product press releases. I'm proud that we're one of the few that go to every booth, exam and test every product (best we can) and give an unbiased review. As well as give the inside scoop on the people and companies that make these products. And learn why each product fits a specific need. It's not an easy task - from 8:30am to 6:00pm each day with no lunch break. Plus the demo days. Even then, we sometimes miss a product.

Once again, our focus will be on fly fishing products, any and all accessories of interest to fly anglers, kayaks and kayak fishing accessories. As of today, there's been some rumors about new rods from Sage and others. As for kayaks, Bonafide and Old Town have confirmed new boats. Everything is tight-lipped, even among pro staffers. Companies love to make the big announcements at ICAST, and we respect that.  Here's what we can say - the last three years have seen an unprecedented number of new fly and kayak offerings, and like with Orlando, there's fatigue!  So expect fewer new products this year.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

What's happening this week - 6/10

On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Casting practice at 6:30pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. For details, go to www.rsff.org.

On Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will participate in a special Fathers Day edition of the Alexandria Farmers Market off 2727 Jackson Street. Time is 3:00pm to 6:00pm. The club will be doing tying and casting demos. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge off Sunflower Road in Bossier City. Casting lessons during our social gathering at 6:00pm, meeting starts at 6:45pm. Andy Tackett and Randy Haimen will give a presentation on the Mayfly Project. For more info, go to www.northlouisianaflyfishers.org.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers holds the 1st of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Church Hall on 444 Metairie. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during this session. Materials are provided. Bring $1 for cost of materials. Beginners welcome. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another "Fly Fishing 101" at their store on 7601 Bluebonnet. Orvis FF101 is a one-day, 2-hour clinic introducing the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. There is no cost, but pre-registration is required as spots are limited. For more info, contact 225-757-7286.

Orvis will also hold a special Fathers Day in-store event from 11:00am to 3:00pm, with free food and refreshments, as well as sales items.

Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters in New Orleans will hold another "Kayak Demo Day" near the Cabrini Bridge on Bayou St. John. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Weather permitting, check their Facebook page for updates. Boats from Hobie, Jackson, Native, Bonafide and others will be available.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

What's happening this week - 6/3

On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders will restart their monthly meetings after a short hiatus. Location will be Grace Presbyterian Church Hall. Time is 6:30pm. For more info, contact Bob Tabbert at 337-989-0815.

On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers will hold their monthly meeting at the Abita Brew Pub on 72011 Holly Street in Abita Springs. Time is 6:30pm. For more info, go to www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com.

On Saturday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will hold their annual Summer Workshop, an "Introduction to Deer Hair Tying".  Time 8:30am to 12:30pm.  The class is free. As of this writing, there are two (2) open spots. Members of any organized fly fishing club can participate. Deadline is Thursday. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters of New Orleans will hold a "Kayak Demo Day" at Cabrini bridge on Bayou St. John. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Subject to weather, check their Facebook page for updates.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

New book features Fred Hannie flies

Fred Hannie of Lake Charles is one of the most respected fly tiers in the country. His realistic flies are incredibly lifelike. One time he gave me a wasp fly and I left it on the kitchen counter. My wife spotted it and grabbed a swatter and hit it several times before I walked in and saved that priceless bit of tying art!

Hannie's flies have been featured in several magazines, in his own book on realistic tying, and now in a new book by Tony Lolli. "The Art of the Fishing Fly" is 240 pages long and features stunning photography by Bruce Curtis of flies and the anglers who use them. It also focuses on the evolution of fishing flies and profiles 75 different flies. Included in that list are a dozen of Fred's flies. The book's forward was written by former president Jimmy Carter!

The Art of the Fishing Fly is now available on Amazon. Hardcover price is $25.70 and Kindle price is $14.99.  For those who want to see Fred tie one of his incredible creations, he'll be one of the featured tiers at the upcoming Contraband Fly Fishing Expo in Lake Charles on July 13-14.

ACA National Casting Championships coming in July

The American Casting Association will hold it's 110th annual National Casting Championship July 25-28 at the Valparaiso Casting Club in Valparaiso, Indiana. Most of the top casters in the world - both fly and conventional - will be on hand to compete for distance and accuracy. Among the many events are Single Hand Distance, Two Hand Distance, Trout Accuracy and others.

For two decades after World War II, competitive casting in the United States was a big deal. While it may have lost much of it's appeal domestically, it remains very popular in Europe. However, the USA has it's stars. Steve Rajeff and Henry Mittel have dominated much of the competition, setting world records in fly casting. And in 2015, 11 year old Maxine McCormack brought national attention as she broke several records. In 2016, she won the world casting title while competing with the USA Team in Estonia. Her emergence has reinvigorated interest in the ACA Nationals.

Some of the records set at the ACA Nationals include 1-Hand Fly Distance men's of 243 feet (Steve Rajeff, 2009) and women's of 155 feet (Pamela Peters, 2006). The 2-Hand Fly Distance men's record is 294 feet (Henry Mittel, 2011) and women's record of 179 feet (Pamela Peters, 2010). Anglers Fly Distance records include men's of 190 feet (Rene Gillibert, Steve Rajeff), women's of 150 feet (Alice Gillibert) and junior of 122 feet (Maxine McCormick).

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Free fishing days start this weekend

This weekend kicks off National Fishing and Boating Week, a celebration of the importance of recreational boating and fishing in America. Most states, including Louisiana, have designated "free fishing days" either the first weekend or second weekend in June.

Free fishing days are a perfect opportunity to try out fishing for the first time. Or, if you're willing to travel, to partake of fishing in another state without having to purchase a license. Some states may have certain restrictions. For example, you might be able to fish freshwater for free, but still have to buy a saltwater permit or trout permit. So please check before making plans.

Louisiana's free fishing weekend is June 9-10. You can fish fresh or salt over these two days without needing a license.

Adjacent states:
- Arkansas, June 8-10 (beginning noon June 8th)
- Mississippi, June 2-3
- Texas, June 2nd (state parks are always license-free with admission)
- Oklahoma, June 2-3

For a complete list of free fishing days in all states, go to www.takemefishing.org.

Another setback for Alaska's Pebble Mine

This week, the proposed Pebble Mine project took another hit when Northern Dynasty Minerals - the company backing the project - failed to reach an agreement with it's financial backer, First Quantum Minerals. This was the fourth failed attempt for Northern Dynasty to secure a financial partner. 

Anglers, sportsmen, commercial fishermen, conservationists, and environmentalists everywhere celebrated the latest setback and hoped that this might shut down the Pebble Mine project once and for all. Pebble Mine is located in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near world-famous Lake Iliamna, and contains ore deposits rich in copper, gold and molybdenum. Widespread opposition is due to the fact that mining operations such as this generate large amounts of waste water - possibly toxic - that would put at great risk one of the world's greatest salmon fisheries. Also at risk would be countless wildlife that depend on the river, including bears and eagles. It would also risk thousands of jobs that depend on the renewable resources of the area.

Pebble Mine came to the forefront of the fly fishing community in 2013 during the Fly Fishing Film Tour. The movie "The Last Cast" told the story behind the Stop Pebble Mine initiative. Numerous fly fishing companies, such as Orvis and Patagonia, as well as organizations such as the Federation of Fly Fishers (now Fly Fishers International) voiced their opposition to the project. Today over 300 companies in the industry have united in opposition to Pebble Mine.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

What's happening this week - 5/27

With the Memorial Day holiday, start of summer vacation, and the threat of subtropical storm Alberto, some activities this week may be affected.

Monday's monthly fly tying session for the Red Stick Fly Fishers has been cancelled.

On Tuesday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at Rapides Westside Library. Note the change from their regular 4th Monday date. Time is 6:00pm. It's their annual "Spring Casting Session". Members and guests are asked to bring their favorite fly outfit. If none, the club will have a few outfits for use during the meeting. Brief business meeting afterwards. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

The Thursday meeting of the New Orleans Fly Fishers has been cancelled.

Saturday is the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's inaugural "Midnight Madness" kayak fishing tournament along Highway 1 from Top Water Marina south. Launch time and fishing begins at 12 midnight with weigh-in at 12 noon to 1:00pm. Target is total weight of up to 10 speckled trout and 5 flounder (11" or longer).  Entry fee is $30, open to the public. For more info or to register, go to www.bckfc.org.

Also on Saturday, Ship to Shore in Lake Charles will hold a free "Kayak Demo Day" at Prien Lake Park. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boats from Hobie, Wilderness, Perception, Old Town, ATX, Ocean Kayak and more. Members of the Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club will be on hand to discuss fishing. Weather permitting, check their Facebook page for updates.

Tidbits

Congratulations to David Drez of the Contraband Fly Casters club. Yesterday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, David passed the Fly Fishers International Casting Instructor certification exam. He becomes the 11th FFI-CCI in Louisiana.  A list of current CCIs can be found at www.gulfcoastcouncilffi.org.

The 9th annual Bass On The Fly tournament has been featured on the BassMaster.com website.  The article recaps the tournament stats and winners, as well as acknowledging sponsors. As the article states, weather was a detriment to this year's attendance, even though a total of 39 boaters and 23 kayakers participated. The husband-wife team of Don and Kim Penick took first place in the Boaters Division, while Rex White and Eric Dilts of the North Louisiana Fly Fishers finished 2nd for the 2nd year in a row. Kevin Fuller took 1st place in the Kayak Division with 5 fish totaling 56 inches. For the complete article, click here.

Speaking of fly tournaments, this is the last week to register for the 6th annual Cedar Lake Fly Fishing Tournament to be held June 30th out of Biloxi, Mississippi. The freshwater tournament is sponsored by the Mississippi Coast Fly Fishers, and the $25 entry fee includes lunch from Your Mamaz House. For more details, go to this site.

Friday, May 25, 2018

KastKing introduces fly outfits benefitting "Anglers of Honor"

Click on image for enlargement
In 2011, Tate Cui and some of his college buddies at Syracuse University decided to start a fishing tackle company that emphasized value. KastKing was founded on the concept of providing a quality product, yet keeping prices low by selling direct to customers via eBay, Amazon, and through their website. 

KastKing has expanded a great deal in the last 7 years. Two years ago, they broke into the fly fishing market. One of their big sellers has been the Emergence outfit that features rod, reel, fly line, backing, and carrying case. Like most cheap Chinese products, it was a bit on the heavy side and therefore for my annual ratings didn't beat out similiar combos from Redington, Cabelas, TFO, Bass Pro, and Echo. However I would note that the KastKing outfit has had generally good reviews on Amazon (4.8 out of 5).

Yesterday KastKing announced a new combo series called the Defender series. It's dedicated to U.S. military veterans and the support organization Anglers of Honor (www.anglersofhonor.org). The outfit includes a 9-foot, 5-weight, 4-piece rod, CNC machined fly reel with graphite disc drag, floating fly line, backing, tapered leader and carrying case with "Anglers of Honor" logo.

Although it was created for veterans, KastKing is selling to the public and will donate a portion of each sale to Anglers of Honor. The outfit is available on Amazon for $99. The rod and reel look to be of higher quality than that of the Emergence series, and at a lower price, may be worth taking a closer look at. We hope to test this outfit in July at ICAST and will report back.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Masseys, Pack & Paddle offering Tidal Watersports

Just this week, Masseys Outfitters of New Orleans and Pack & Paddle in Lafayette announced that they will be carrying kayaks from Tidal Watersports. These basic kayaks offer a number of features at great bargain prices. They are meant to compete against cheap kayak offerings from Bass Pro, Cabelas, Academy -  even Walmart, Tractor Supply and T.J. Maxx! Yes, kayaking has become that popular. As the PnP blog puts it, "Why stand in a box store trying to get someone (who knows nothing about kayaks) to help you, without trying it first and have no service after the sale?".

The three boats in the Tidal Watersports lineup are the "Coast", the "Shoreline", and the "Vista". One benefit of Tidal kayaks is that - unlike the vast majority of boat makers - dealers have the latitude to offer promotional sale pricing instead of being locked into the manufacturers MSRP price.

The Coast is 10 feet in length, comes with waterproof hatches, removable padded seat, 4 rod holders and a paddle. MSRP is $559. This weekend, Pack & Paddle is offering this boat on sale for $449.

The Shoreline is their premier fishing boat. It's 12 feet long and features a hi-low frame seat, open floor plan (great for fly casting), dry storage up front, gear tracks, and a weight capacity of 400 pounds. The MSRP is $899.  Again, PnP is offering it for sale this weekend for $799 and that price includes paddle and life jacket!

The Vista might just be a big win for Tidal. At 13 feet long, this tandem sit-on-top kayak has frame seats and beaucoup open floor space. It also comes with four plastic accessory mounting points, tub type dry storage for each paddler, and four rod holders. With a capacity of 500 pounds. It's rare to find tandem kayaks of this type, but almost impossible to find at an MSRP of just $1199. Again, Pack & Paddle is offering this boat this weekend for just $999.

As with all their boats, Masseys and Pack and Paddle offer "try before you buy" testing. The rental fee can be applied towards the sale price when you buy.  For more info about these boats, go to www.masseysoutfitters.com or www.packpaddle.com.

LDWF to hold research symposium on June 4th

On Monday, June 4th, biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from across the state will meet in the Louisiana Room at LDWF headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. The purpose will be to present the latest information on wildlife and fisheries research.

The event runs from 9:00am to 3:00pm and is open to the public. There is no cost. Preregistration is not required. For those unable to attend in person, a webinar link will be provided at :
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5262302623075376385.

For more information, contact Jeff Duguay at 225-765-2353 or jduguay@wlf.la.gov or Brett Falterman at 504-286-4160 or bfalterman@wlf.la.gov.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Potential world record fly rod redfish caught from kayak

Photo by Joe Underwood, courtesy of IGFA
Without question, Louisiana is the redfish capital of the world. But when it comes to bull reds on fly, Virginia has quite a legacy. Many years ago, I worked with Stuart Lee, who was our accounting manager at the Richmond office. At the time, Stuart held two fly rod world records for red drum. Both caught in Virginia's fabled Eastern Shore waters of Chesapeake Bay.

Currently, Louisiana holds the IGFA fly rod record for 20 pound tippet -  a 41.65 pounder taken by Conway Bowman out of Hopedale while guided by Capt. Gregg Arnold. But that record is now in jeopardy.

On May 14th, well-known kayak angler Rob Choi of Richmond Virginia was fly fishing the Eastern Shore from his yak using a Half-and-Half (half Clouser, half Deceiver) when he hooked and landed a 53-pound redfish.  After weighing it on an approved measuring device, the fish was released. The record application documents and photographs have been sent off to IGFA, where they are currently under review.

Not many details were given about how Choi was fishing, but I can share what Stuart shared with me about Eastern Shore. A lot of bull reds congregate into deep flats during late Spring and early Summer. The fish can be seen at times, and a sinking line with a baitfish pattern - and a lot of patience - is the key to success on these big brutes.  While it's not the type of fly fishing Louisiana redfish anglers are used to, it's effective and the fight is just as fun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fishing participation continues to rise

Events such as youth contests are inducting new anglers 
The Recreational Boating and Fishing Association yesterday announced that participation in fishing in the United States increased for the second year in a row. After a slight dip in 2015 (0.2 percent decline), numbers for 2016 and 2017 were back on the strong trend that started a decade ago. For 2017, participation rose 4% to 49.1 million anglers. This gives the last decade a 4.3% average increase.

Of great significance were the numbers of youth anglers. There were 11.6 million between ages of 6 and 17 who wet a line last year. That's a 5.4% increase from 2016.  Also up - the numbers of female and Hispanic anglers - up 3.1% and 11.0%, respectively.  And Americans that took up fishing for the first time was up a whopping 21 percent!

RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson stated, "As we continue to move closer to our 60 in 60 goal, news like this is incredibly encouraging. It's obvious that the work RBFF and the industry is doing is working. More and more consumers are realizing the joys of fishing.".

In most states, the community fishing programs, youth educational programs, and events such as National Hunting and Fishing Day have contributed largely to the continued growth. The largest increase in anglers has been under age 35 - which coincides with the time frame which most of these programs have been in place.

As for fly fishing participation... historically it tracks at about 10 percent of the total participation. However, last year it exceeded 11 percent for the first time. So it's probably safe to assume that it too rose 4 percent (but possibly higher).  We'll know for sure when the American Fly Tackle Trade Association (AFFTA) gives their annual "State of the Industry" presentation at ICAST/IFTD in July.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It's that time of year

Memorial Day weekend is typically the start of climatological summer here in Louisiana. And the start of tropical activity.  While it's still early for development of named storms, it's still possible for tropical depressions to form.  In fact, we might just have one for the start of Memorial Day weekend.

A broad, monsoonal-type disturbance in the Caribbean is expected to move into the Gulf later this week. Two models - GFS and Euro - call for northward movement and increased flow of moisture.  But the Euro model calls for some development and a more northwestern path.  At the least, it could mean a significant rain event for south Louisiana.

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest fishing periods of the year.  Expect everyone to keep a close eye on this disturbance.


Grand Isle Weekend is now Leeville Fly Fishing Weekend

It was a tradition for nearly two decades. Members of clubs from Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as a few members from clubs elsewhere, would gather in late June or early July for a weekend of surf and marsh fishing, featuring a shrimp boil on Friday night and fish and shrimp fry on Saturday night. Sponsored by the Red Stick Fly Fishers, the Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend (GIFFW) was centered out of Blue Dolphin Inn on the beachfront at Grand Isle.

Last year, the GIFFW was cancelled due to a scheduling snafu. That resulted in RSFF discussing the future of the event and other options. At a meeting this Spring, Saltwater Chairman Randy Leonpacher discussed the concerns and issues with continuing at Grand Isle, and proposed a move to Leeville. The club voted nearly unanimously in favor of the change.

So the Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend is now the "Leeville Fly Fishing Weekend" set for June 22-24, 2018 with headquarters at Boudreaux's Waterfront Motel in Leeville. As in the past, participants are free to stay whereever they like. UNLIKE the past, everyone is responsible for making their own reservations. Once again, the event will be culminated with the Saturday evening fish and shrimp fry to take place at Boudreauxs, with the fish being contributions of freshly-caught cleaned fish filets from participants.

Members of organized fly fishing clubs are invited to participate.  In order to insure enough food - including salad, drinks and dessert - Randy is asking that those coming give him a headcount. For more info on the event, go to the LFF Forum or Red Stick Fly Fishers forum on www.warmfly.org

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What's happening this week - 5/20

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm.  Gene Taylor will lead the group in tying the Skip Morris Panfish fly. Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

On Tuesday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 6:00pm. Bring your tools, if none there are sets for use during the session. Materials are provided.

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. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Bring $1 for materials. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Saturday is the kickoff for the CCA STAR tournament. More on that later.

Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters of Baton Rouge will hold a "Kayak Demo Day" at BREC Wampold Park on University Lake in Baton Rouge. Time is 11:00am to 3:00pm. Models include Jackson, Native, Bonafide and others. Hobie products will not be available (only at their New Orleans store). Subject to weather, check their Facebook page for status.

Louisiana CCA STAR tournament kicks off Saturday

The Coastal Conservation Association STAR is the state's largest annual saltwater tournament, now in it's 24th year. It kicks off the Saturday before Memorial Day and continues through Labor Day. Last year, nearly 13,000 anglers participated, but that number could be considerably less this year. More on that later.

Entry fee is $35 and you must be a current member of CCA (also $35, only $15 for member spouses, $10 for youth members). As always, the top division is Tagged Redfish, with the biggest prizes for the first 10 caught. CCA has tagged 100 reds for the 2018 STAR, distributed throughout the coast both inland and nearshore. There are also numerous other divisions - ranging from Speckled Trout (four regional divisions), Sheepshead, Flounder, and other species.

Back once again are the Fly Division and a Kayak Division - both heaviest speckled trout. Within the Fly Division, there are two (2) regional divisions, East and West. The winner of each division gets a $1,500 gift card to Academy Sports, sponsored by Costa. The Kayak Division has four (4) regional divisions, East, Southeast, Southwest, West. The winner of each division gets a Hobie Compass mirage-drive kayak, sponsored by Hobie.

Excitement for this year's STAR is considerably less than years past, due to CCA's opposition to House Bill 391 this past Spring. The bill, which would've allowed public access on flowing tidal waters (with exceptions) was defeated on the House floor after passing in committee. Many inshore anglers - particularly kayak and fly anglers - were outraged and vowed to boycott CCA, the STAR tournament and the Ride the Bull kayak tournament (hosted by CCA). We'll see how this plays out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mangrove Bay reveals the new Ibis Skiff

Mangrove Bay Boats is the latest to introduce a skiff designed to attract younger, budget-minded flats anglers who are also looking for a quality purchase.  Their new Ibis is hand laid using Kevlar and Carbon Fiber, and utilizes Vinylester resins (as opposed to polyester resin).  The boat is designed to last for generations and comes with a 100% transferable lifetime warranty!

Here are specs for this new boat:
- 16 feet LOA
- 57" beam
- recommended HP: 25
- composite corings (no wood)
- all stainless steel hardware
- LED navigation lights
- flush mount bow cleats
- 500 GPH bilge automatic

Best part of all is the price. The base boat sells for $8,500. 

For more info, and a gallery of photos on the Ibis, go to www.mangrovebayboats.com.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

What's happening this week - 5/13

Today is Mother's Day.  Hope all are enjoying a great day celebrating the women in our lives, especially those who raised us!

On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their month meeting at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Casting practice at 6:30pm, meeting at 7:00pm. This month Chester McDonald will speak on his fishing trip to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.  Also on the agenda: this weekend's annual Spring Catch-n-Eat marsh trip. Guests welcome. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Tuesday, the Contraband Fly Casters hold their monthly meeting at St. Paul Lutheran Church Center on 1620 East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. Fly tying and discussion at 6:00pm, meeting at 7:00pm. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.contrabandflycastersinc.net.

Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club will hold their monthly meeting at Pack & Paddle in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. On the agenda: recap of the Oak Pointe Classic tournament, CPR standings, tackle tips, and more.  Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers holds the 1st of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Church Hall on 444 Metairie. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during this session. Materials are provided. Bring $1 for cost of materials. Beginners welcome. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Starting Friday and continuing thru Saturday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual "Spring Catch-n-Eat" marsh fishing trip along Highway 1. The outing culminates Saturday evening with a fish and shrimp fry, with participants contribute a portion of their fresh catch. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Saturday, the Cane Country Fly Casters will hold their annual Spring Fishing Day & Picnic on the Cane River.  The group will gather starting at 11am for grilled burgers and dogs, followed by their May meeting.  For more info, go to www.canecountry.blogspot.com.

Also on Saturday, Pack & Paddle will hold a "Fly Tying Level 1" workshop at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 2::00pm to 5:00pm.  FTL1 is a one-day, 3-hour hands-on clinic covering the basics of fly tying. Students will tie some basic patterns that catch fish. Tools and materials provided. Cost is $20, but seating is limited so pre-registration is required. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com. 


Sunday, May 06, 2018

What's happening this week - 5/6

On Tuesday, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier City. Social gathering starts at 6:00pm, with meeting at 6:45pm. This month Art Seale will give a presentation on fishing the Red River. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.northlaflyfishers.org.

On Saturday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold another "Fly Fishing 101" at their store on 7601 Bluebonnet in Baton Rouge. Orvis FF101 is a one-day, 2-hour clinic introducing the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. There is no cost, but pre-registration is required as spots are limited. For more info, contact 225-757-7286.

Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters in New Orleans will hold another "Kayak Demo Day" near the Cabrini Bridge on Bayou St. John. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Weather permitting, check their Facebook page for updates. Boats from Hobie, Jackson, Native, Bonafide and others will be available. For more info, go to www.masseysoutfitters.com.

Sunday is Mother's Day.

Monday, April 30, 2018

What's happening this week - 4/29

On Tuesday, the Acadiana Fly Rodders hold their monthly meeting at Grace Presbyterian Church Hall on 415 Roselawn Blvd in Lafayette. Time is 6:30pm. Guests are welcome.

On Wednesday, the Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Abita Brew Pub on 72011 Holly Street in Abita Springs. Gathering starts at 6:00pm, meeting at 6:30pm.  Guests are welcome. For more info, go to  www.pbasinflyfishers.blogspot.com.

Starting Friday afternoon, it's the 7th annual "Bass On The Fly" fly fishing tournament at Lake Fork Marina in Alba, Texas. It's a CPR tournament with total length of five longest (5) largemouth bass with divisions for Boat and Kayak.  Entry fee is $60 and can be done online at www.ianglertournament.com or onsite Friday. Friday afternoon there's casting games, kayak demos, and from 2:00pm to 6:00pm is the annual Sunfish Tournament (optional $10 entry) followed by the Captains meeting and fishing report. Saturday is bass tournament day with weigh-in at 2:00pm followed by awards and door prizes. For more info, go to www.bassonthefly.com.

On Saturday, it's the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club's annual "Oak Point Classic" kayak fishing tournament out of PAC Kayak Rentals in Pointe-aux-Chenes. The tournament is open to the public. Format is for heaviest 2 redfish. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

Also on Saturday, Pack and Paddle in Lafayette will hold a free Kayak Demo Day at Vermillionville Pond. Time is 10:00am to 2:00pm. Boats will include Jackson, Hobie, Native, Wilderness and more. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What's happening this week - 4/22

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Rapides Westside Library on 5416 Provine in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm. Guest speaker will be Tom Bullock, who will speak on "Fishing the White & Norfork Rivers Below the Dams". Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

Also on Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Cabelas in Gonzales. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tying tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners are welcome. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Tuesday, the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs will hold their monthly fly tying clinic. Time is 6:00pm. Bring your tools, if none there are sets for use during the session. Materials are provided.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel on 7640 Lakeshore Drive. Time is 7:00pm.  Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Saturday and Sunday is the 2nd annual "Fly Fishin For The Mission" fly fishing tournament out of Pointe-aux-Chenes. More on that later.

Also this Saturday, Backpacker of Lafayette will hold a "Kayak Demo Day" at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville. Time is 10:00am to 12 noon. Weather permitting. Check their Facebook page for updates and more details.

Fly Fishin For the Mission this weekend

This weekend, the state's newest and most popular saltwater fly fishing tournament takes place out of Pointe-aux-Chenes southeast of Houma. The 2nd annual "Fly Fishin For The Mission" has expanded this year to include a "fishtival" on Saturday, with the actual tournament on Sunday.

The event will once again be held out of PAC Kayak Rentals in Pointe-aux-Chenes. Saturday is "Vets Fishing Day" along with fly tying, casting clinics, kayak demos, and food and music. Sunday is tournament day with Captains meeting at 5:30am, followed by shotgun launch. Weigh-in is 2:00pm to 3:00pm.

Format is two (2) heaviest redfish per team. Divisions include Boat, Kayak and Overall. Team format, entry fee is $80 per team with all donations going to the Mission Six charity, which aids veterans and other uniformed heros.

The boat folks will be anxious to atone for last year's showing, where they were clocked by the kayakers. All three places in the Overall Division went to kayak teams.

For complete details, and to learn more about Mission Six, go to www.mission6.org.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The demise of the FFI council conclave

Earlier this week, the Gulf Coast Council (GCC) of Fly Fishers International (FFI) announced that their 2018 Fly Fishing Fair has been cancelled. The event was scheduled for September 14 and 15, once again at the Ocean Springs Civic Center. It would've been the GCC's 10th "conclave" since formation. Whether you call them "fair", "festival", "expo" or "conclave",  these events feature seminars, casting clinics, fly tying demonstrations, workshops, exhibitors, and other activities. Most important, they are fundraisers for the council's conservation and educational projects.

FFI members in the geographic region of the GCC - Louisiana, Mississippi, south Alabama and extreme northwest Florida - received an email citing reasons. "Support for putting on the show has waned in the last several years. The same small group of people tasking themselves with all of the show responsibilities. Therefore the GCC Executive Board decided to not have a show this year.".  The email went on to say that the facility has been booked for September 13-14, 2019 in hopes that there will be an "increased level of volunteerism".

Just twenty years ago, the Federation of Fly Fishers (now FFI) council conclaves were the biggest fly fishing events each year across the country, with attendance at each in the hundreds. Vendors, exhibitors and fly tiers would flood the floor space. Fast forward to present and only four councils have held, or will hold, a conclave this year. One of those is the Southern (Council) Fly Fishing Fair set once again for the first weekend of October in Mountain Home, Arkansas.

So what has led to the demise of the council conclave? Armchair analysts cite the decline of fly fishing and the "graying" of it's participants. FAKE NEWS! According to AFFTA surveys, our sport has been GROWING at a clip of nearly five percent the last six years. Furthermore, much of that growth has been in ages under 35, among both men and women.

In our observations, there are many reasons for demise of the conclave. However, we'll list our Top Six.

1) The internet. Back 20 years ago, conclaves were the ultimate learning experience. The internet was in it's infancy. Getting started or advancing one's knowledge in our sport could be done via books and VHS/DVD, but nothing came close to human interaction.  The internet and Youtube has changed much of that, especially with the large number of young flyfishers.

2) Lack of volunteers. Simply put, "time conflicts". There's just a lot more things going on these days that occupy the time of folks. Especially young people with kids.

3) Growth of kayak fishing. In the late 90s, kayak fishing began it's rise in popularity.  Most of the pioneers of the sport were flycasters.  Today a large number of flyfishers also kayak fish. The rise in kayak clubs and tournaments has given rise to yet more "time conflicts".  Many young flycasters who might otherwise be involved in an FFI council are occupied with kayak fishing activities.

4) Growth of other events. Twenty years ago, there was one commercial event and only a trio of club conclaves across the South. Now there are a couple dozen club events and four commercial shows. If learning is your main consideration in attending a fly fishing event, why travel several hours and spend a couple hundred dollars (or more) when there's a similiar event an hour or two away?

5) Lack of exhibitors. The ICAST and IFTD trade shows are not open to the public, but if they were, the attendance might approach a million! People want to see and buy products, and at one time, conclaves offered that opportunity. While retailers have hit hard times due to competition from big box retailers and internet stores, product companies are at an all time high. Yet most do not exhibit at council conclaves. I've been told a myriad of reasons, but none make sense but one - that getting pro-staffers and reps to do these shows is like getting a bear into a box!

6) Fewer superstars. The 1960s was the Golden Age of American Fly Fishing thanks to numerous books, magazines and the American Sportsman TV show. Folks like Lee Wulff, Joan Wulff, George Harvey, Joe Brooks, Stu Apte, Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Dave Whitlock, Mel Kreiger, Gary Borger and many others became icons. There were not only great writers and pioneers, but they all had personality. A conclave with any one of them drew attendees like gnats in Delacroix! Today many of those icons have passed or have greatly limited their event schedule. And while there are many young experts, only a handful have their charisma.

As mentioned, there are other reasons. But these six are enough to make any conclave organizer pull their hair!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A sad day for Louisiana coastal anglers

Yesterday afternoon the Louisiana House of Representatives debated and voted on House Bill 391 by Kevin Pearson of Slidell.  HB391 would have allowed public access to tidal waters. It was expected to be a close vote, with some momentum after having passed 5-3 in committee. And with a large number of supporters in attendance for the vote, there was glimmer of hope the bill might actually pass.

But after  much debate - and a couple amendments - the bill was voted down 59 to 37.  With many of the "no" votes coming from north and central Louisiana, whose representatives were heavily lobbied over the weekend by large out-of-state land companies and oil companies.  In fact, according to some accounts, as many as 50 lobbyists were brought in to work against HB391.

Many of the hundreds of anglers on Facebooks who supported the bill quickly posted their disgust with the politicians who clearly were trying to derail the bill, speaking the talking points given them by the lobbyists. Anglers were also quick to point out that this was just one battle - the war will go on!

As with every issue of this magnitude, there were winners and losers. The big oil companies won the vote, but anglers won their dignity. They will be more determined than ever to organize and fight on. The losers were CCA, who went back on their stance. Based on dozens of comments, I doubt there will be enough kayakers participating to hold this summer's Ride The Bull. Another big loser were the representatives who voted against HB391 in areas where anglers make up a significant portion of the electorate.  As the support for public access continues to mount, this will become a campaign issue in next year's state elections.

For more complete details of the House vote on HB391, and a list of legislators who voted FOR and AGAINST the bill, go to this article by Louisiana Sportsman magazine.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What's happening this week - 4/15

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm.  Bring your tools, if none, the club has a few sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. Beginners and public are welcome. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.

Also 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. For more info, go to www.contrabandflycasters.net.

Also on Tuesday, the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club holds their monthly meeting at Pack and Paddle on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm. Special guest speaker will be Heath Hippel, owner of Buggs Fishing Lures. Also on the agenda: Marsh Madness results and overview, upcoming Oak Point Classic, CPR Update, fishing reports. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

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. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Bring $1 for materials. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

On Friday and continuing thru Sunday, it's the Red Stick Fly Fishers annual Spring outing to Lake Concordia. For more info, go to www.rsff.org.

On Saturday, Pack and Paddle will host the 2018 Fly Fishing Film Tour - along with a "Fly Fishing Hangout" at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. The hangout begins at 3:30pm with fly tying, rod demos, beer and snacks. At 5:30pm the show starts. Tickets are $15 in advance and at the door, but seats are limited so pre-purchase is advised. For more info, or to purchase tickets, go to www.packpaddle.com.

Also on Saturday, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club will hold their annual Redfish Rumble tournament out of St. Bernard Parish. Format is 3 redfish + 3 combination of trout or bass. For more info, go to www.bckfc.org.

HB391 set for House vote Tuesday

This past week, the Louisiana House Civil Law and Procedures Committee approved House Bill 391 by Rep. Kevin Pearson of Slidell by a 5-3 vote. Setting the stage for a big vote by the full House this Tuesday. The bill would provide public access to running waters, with certain exemptions.

In the committee hearing, the bill was amended to exempt water bottoms where navigation has been prevented or impeded by an obstacle permitted by the Corps of Engineers, and to running waters during migratory waterfowl season when such waters have been posted.  A third provision bans watercraft with combustible engines that may cause damage to bottoms or banks or submerged vegetation.  The bill also limits liability of the owner of waterbottoms open to public access.

Despite these several compromises, the bill still faces very strong opposition from large landowners and oil and gas companies. Their lobby group has been contacting legislators and organizations. Late in the week, three organizations expressed opposition to HB391: the Louisiana Forestry Association, the Louisiana Farm Bureau, and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI).

Meanwhile, on yesterday's More Outdoors with Don Dubuc and Martha Spencer, guests Rep. Kevin Pearson and Capt. Daryl Carpenter (board member of Louisiana Sportsman Coalition) spoke about the merits of the bill and dismissed some of the false claims made by the opposition. There was a feeling by the opposition that the bill would never make it out of committee. According to Pearson, it was a demonstration that people do have a voice and can make a difference.

Pearson and Carpenter encouraged listeners to continue to call their legislators and make their support for HB391 known. And if possible, to attend the House vote on Tuesday at the state capitol. To find out who your legislators are, and how to get in touch with them, go to www.joinlasc.com/speak-up.