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.