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

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!