Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Rajeff, McCormick shine at ACA Casting Nationals

Maxine McCormick. Photo courtesy of ACA.
The American Casting Association held its 110th National Championships the week of July 25-28 in Valpariso, Indiana. Participants from across the country came to compete in casting competitions involving both conventional and fly tackle.

In the last few years, the ACA Nationals have been of high interest to flycasters everywhere. First, because of renewed interest among fly clubs in casting games.  Second, because of the numerous records set by Steve Rajeff, one of the greatest fly - and conventional - casters of all time. Rajeff's record 243-foot single-handed distance cast is jaw-dropping!  Finally, there's the extraordinary accomplishments of 14-year old Maxine McCormick, who has been the subject of countless national news stories.  And who many think will be the greatest female fly caster since the legendary Joan Wulff.

Yesterday, the ACA posted the official results of the competition.

In the men's fly competition, it was once again a battle royale between Rajeff and Henry Mittel.  Rajeff came 1st in the 2-handed Distance with 240 feet, followed by Pat McFadden at 236 and Mittel at 235.  In the 1-handed Distance, Rajeff was first with 208, followed by Mittel with 204, and Keith Pryor 156. 

In 2-handed Distance, Keith Sharp won Senior men with 204 feet.  Pam Peters won Womens with 147, and Maxine McCormick won Intermediates with 146.  In 1-handed Distance, Keith Sharp won Mens with 170 feet, Peters won Womens with 119 feet, and McCormick won Intermediates with 130 feet.

The Accuracy Division of the ACA Nationals focuses on hitting five targets of varying distance in sequence.  A perfect score is 100 points.

In Dry Fly Accuracy, Chris Korich won Mens with 99, Larry Moffett won Senior Men with 95, Pam Peters won Women with 97, Alice Gillibert won Senior Women with 89, Maxine McCormick won Intermediates with 96.

In Trout Fly Accuracy, Steve Rajeff won Men with a perfect 100, Charles Phillips won Senior Men with 95, Pam Peters won Women with 89, Elaine Gong won Senior Women with 93.  Maxine McCormick broke another record in the Intermediates with a near-perfect score of 99.  Had she competed in the Mens Division, she would've finished 2nd.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

What's happening this week - 8/27

A light week with the Labor Day weekend ahead.

On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs. 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.

Also on Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Rapides Westside Library in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm.  The meeting is open to the public. 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 their monthly meeting at Lakeshore Marina and Fuel on 7640 Lakeshore Drive. Time is 7:00pm. A.J. Rosenbohm will have fly tying materials from Olde Town Fly Shop (now closed) for club members to purchase at 50 percent off. Guests are welcome. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

What's happening this week - 8/19

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 Meat Whistle. 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, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers will be exhibiting at the Alexandria Farmers Market as part of their "Outdoors Recreation Day". Location is 2727 Jackson in Alexandria. Time is 3:00pm to 6:00pm. The club will be tying flies and giving fly casting instruction.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Fly Fishers hold the 2nd of their twice-monthly fly tying sessions at St. Francis Xavier Church Hall on 444 Metairie Road. Time is 7:00pm. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Bring $1 for materials. For more info, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Friday and Saturday, it's the Ride The Bull. More on that following.

Ride The Bull this weekend

This Friday and Saturday is the 9th annual "Ride The Bull" kayak fishing rodeo out of Bridgeside Marina on Grand Isle. The world's largest kayak fishing tournament, RTB was the brainchild of Danny and Kristen Wray. After Kristen's untimely passing, CCA Louisiana agreed to take the reigns. The event is one of the most celebrated fishing events of the year, with between 500 and 760 participants from across the country and globe, and thousands in prizes.

The tournament remains the same, with the goal being to catch the heaviest bull red.  There is some basic skill and proper tackle involved in catching and landing a bull red, but beyond that, this is a tournament of chance. And that's what makes it so attractive - that anyone can win! When a red is caught, one of several CCA scout boats is flagged down. The boat takes the red back to the marina to be weighed, tagged and released.

Every imaginable watercraft can be seen at this event, from kayaks to pirogues to canoes to standup paddleboards to roundabouts. With so many participants, it's a great opportunity to see just about every type of kayak, every type of rigging and every type of transport.

Friday evening is the Captain's meeting and dinner, with Saturday the tournament and awards. It's a shotgun start, weather permitting. The early regisration period is over, however onsite registration begins Friday evening and up to tournament time on Saturday. Entry fee is $85 and includes entry, dinner, t-shirt and CCA membership for 1 year (or extended). For more info, go to www.ccalouisiana.com.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday Snippets - 8/18

Sheep herders can't wait for the PAC Fall Fly
BHA member survey results.  This week, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers - one of the fastest growing organizations in the country with over 24,000 members - released results of a demographic survey.  It found that  nearly 70 percent of its members are under 45 years old, and that political affiliation ranges the gamut - 33% independent, 23% Republican, 20% Democrat.  The significance of this cannot be overstated:  this shows that young outdoors men and women of ALL viewpoints support the protection of public lands and waters.  BHA has been very active here in Louisiana, and supports public access to open tidal waters.  For more on this survey, click here.

PAC Kayak Fall Fly tournament.  With the success of the two "Fly Fishin For the Mission" tournaments benefitting the Mission Six non-profit,  Eddie Mullen of PAC Kayak Rentals and Matthew Roberts of Troll Squad / Mission Six have organized a fall event.  Date is Saturday, October 13.  This one is a bit different in that it'll be a CPR (catch-photo-release) using the Tourney X app to "weigh-in" catches.  Most total inches instead of weight.  As with FFFTM, there's separate Kayak and Boat divisions.  But two categories - Redfish (2 longest slot reds) and Mixed Bag (longest 1 each red, speck, drum, sheepshead).  The Mixed Bag addition is drawing lots of interest especially among speckled trout and "goat" enthusiasts.  For more info, go to www.packayakrentals.com.

Friday Fly Tying.  Allen Fly Fishing started as a small scale manufacturer of fly reels with direct sales online.  They've grown in size and expanded their product line to include rods, apparel, hooks, beads, and more.  They're also working to promote fly tying with a series of videos they call "Friday Fly Tying".  Each Friday, Allen subscribers on Instagram and Facebook get notification of a new pattern.  The first dozen and more are simple but effective patterns.  The list will continue to grow.  Beginner tiers can check out the video archive by clicking here.

Counting down to cooler water.  Fall officially begins a month from now. Some will say it really doesn't begin in Louisiana until the first week of October.  But if you own a swimming pool, you know all about radiative cooling - and that it begins the first full week of September. Water temperature is what it's all about.  First time it dips below 80 degrees is when freshwater fishing in north and central Louisiana turns back on. Especially for bass, crappie and redear.  Next week's cool front won't do much - highs will still be near 90 and lows in the upper 60s.  But let's see how water temps respond.  As of today, the temperature here on Cotile Lake was a tepid 86.5 degrees.

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!