Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ICAST, IFTD, EFTTEX: The countdown to 2020 products begins now

We're a month away from the largest fishing trade show in the world.  But this year, it won't include most fly fishing products.

For the first time since 2012, the International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) show will not be merged with the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST).  The American Fly Fishing Tackle Association (AFFTA), which hosts IFTD, made the decision last year to once again do it's own event. IFTD will be held in Denver on October 16-18. The decision to split was no surprise, but the date was. Before the merger, IFTD was traditionally held in August.

ICAST still has considerable relevancy to fly anglers. First, there are several companies that make both conventional and fly tackle, so it's likely we'll see new fly rods and reels from those companies.  Second, about two-thirds of the exhibitors at ICAST deal in products that span tackle choices. Those product lines include clothing, kayaks, waders, electronics, shoes, books, cutlery, artwork, coolers, sunglasses, and MANY more!

While we won't be attending ICAST (we will be at IFTD), we'll be monitoring the show highlights on various sites and Facebook and spotting the products we find most interesting to readers.

However, there's another show to consider and it's being held this week. The European Fishing Tackle Trade Assocation Expo (EFFTEX) is taking place in Brussels. Several fly companies are on hand revealing new products for 2020 (which will be available to retailers this Fall).

Temple Fork Outfitters will have an updated NXT outfit, featuring a new reel, new rod, and new (better) line. Also, a beefed-up version of the popular Axiom II rod, called the Axion II-X, offered in heavier line weights.  The BVK reels are being updated with a sealed drag system.

Sage looks to be replacing their BASS series fly rods. The new PAYLOAD rods are being promoted as capable of delivering big flies and heavy lines. It'll feature a powerful tip, transitioning to slower butt to allow a more relaxed casting stroke, and for more leverage when fishing fish. The sad news is that these rods will all be longer than the 8-foot lengths of the BASS series, even up to 9-feet, 2-inches!  Rod weights will range from 6 to 11. MSRP will be $550.

Sage is also introducing the Trout LL Series. This looks to be an updated version of the legendary Lightline Series of two decades ago. Newer KonneticHD technology matched with classic tapers.  The rods will feature a mahogany blank and the Sage Super Grip. Weights will range from 3 through 6, with lengths from 7'9" to 9'0". MSRP will be $800.

Rio has several new fly lines at EFTTEX, but the one that will interest readers the most is their new Technical Trout line. I say that because unlike some of the newer freshwater lines that have copied upon saltwater tapers (short, heavier heads) the Tech Trout lines will have a long head and back taper to improve loop stability and long range control. Think of fishing the Wall Hole at the Little Missouri River. MSRP will be $79.

Monday, June 17, 2019

What's happening this week - 6/16

On Monday, the Kisatchie Fly Fishers hold their monthly fly tying session at Rapides Westside Library on Provine Place in Alexandria. Time is 6:30pm.  Bill Morrison will lead the group in tying the Goober Bug, a simple but effective freshwater fly for bass and trout. Beginners are welcome. Bring your tying tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Materials are provided. 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.  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. For more info, go to www.lafayettekayakfishing.com.

On Wednesday, Orvis of Baton Rouge will hold a weekday edition of "Fly Fishing 101" at their store on 7601 Bluebonnet Blvd.  Time is 4:00pm to 5:30pm. No fee, but pre-registration is required as seats are limited. Orvis FF101 is a one-day clinic designed to introduce the basics of fly fishing and fly casting. To register, go to this link or call 225-757-7286.

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.

On Friday, Pack & Paddle will hold a "Fly Tying Happy Hour" at their store on 601 East Pinhook in Lafayette. Time is 6:00pm to 8:00pm. This free event is open to all tiers of all levels. Bring your tools and materials and tie. Or just come and watch, or talk fishing. Pack & Paddle will provide the beer from Urban South Brewing Company. For more info, go to www.packpaddle.com.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

What's happening this week - 6/9

On Monday, the Red Stick Fly Fishers hold their monthly general meeting at the Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Casting practice at 6:30pm, meeting at 7:00pm. On the agenda: fly fishing the Highway 1 corridor and this month's annual Leeville Fly Fishing Weekend.  The public is welcome. For more, 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.  The public is welcome! For more, 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. Bring $1 for materials. Bring your tools, if none, the club has sets for use during the session. Beginners welcome! For more, go to www.neworleansflyfishers.com.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

What's happening this week - 6/2

A reminder that with National Fishing and Boating Week, Louisiana's free fishing days are this coming Saturday and Sunday. Both residents and non-residents can fish fresh or salt June 8-9 without needing a license.

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.

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. Weather permitting. The Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club will also be on hand to discuss kayak fishing and kayak rigging. For more info, go to their Facebook page.

Also on Saturday, Masseys Outfitters of New Orleans will hold a free "Kayak Demo Day" at Deutsches Haus at 1700 Moss Street on Bayou St. John. Time is 10:00am to 3:00pm. Subject to weather.  For more info, check their Facebook page.

How all this river flooding will affect fishing

Bonnet Carre Spillway. Photo from USACE.
The Mississippi and Red Rivers drain over two-thirds of the United States. Since 1831, when steamboat captain Henry Miller Shreve cut a shortcut in the Mississippi at Turnbull's Bend, the Mississippi and Red / Atchafalaya have been separated. The Mississippi wants to take the shorter route through the Atchafalaya, which is why in 1950 the Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the Old River Control Structure.

The longer path of the river has its own consequences. In years of extreme high water, the Mississippi gets bottled up - the water simply cannot exit fast enough into the Gulf of Mexico. The levees built to contain the river were meant to withstand weeks - not months - of inundation.

Despite the Bonnet Carre Spillway having been opened twice (and still open) along with other diversions, the Ol' Muddy is beyond stressed. Some flow is also being diverted through the Old River Control Structure into the Atchafalaya. But the Red River that feeds the Atchafalaya is itself at the highest level in many years.

That leaves one option left - opening the Morganza Spillway. The Spillway has only been opened twice in history, and was scheduled to open today but has been postponed to this Thursday. The Morganza diverts water into a broad plain containing forests, fields, camps and some homes. The delay will allow extra time for landowners to move livestock and belongings.

The water that flows into the Morganza eventually empties into the Atchafalaya Basin, putting more stress on Morgan City where the basin flushes back into the river. A barge will be sunk on Bayou Chene as a dam to prevent back-flooding in the Lake Verret, Belle River and Stephensville areas - although that will also result in higher water in those waters because water levels will be raised by the "dam".

So everyone is asking, "What will be the impact on fishing in areas affected by the rivers?".  The following is speculation, based on past situations.  Nobody really knows what the weather - and rivers - will do.

The live oxbows such as Old River Morganza, Old River Vidalia, Yucatan, Mary Crawford and Deer Park Lake will be a waste of time until the Mississippi gets down to under 25 feet on the Baton Rouge gauge.  But then expect a brief spurt of outstanding fishing! 

The Pontchartrain Basin has already seen a large impact from the Bonnet Carre. Freshwater fishing across the basin - from Highway 51 canals all the way to Shell Beach near Lake Borgne - is the best in many years. Redfish and sheepshead - which don't mind freshwater - continue to be fairly good. Speckled trout fishing has taken a big hit in Pontchartrain itself, but the edges of Lake Borgne and beyond have been very good as the trout have congregated eastward in avoidance of the river water.

Once the water starts to go down, we should see outstanding catches of bass, bream, and crappie in the Atchafalaya Basin. And also in the Verret Basin. Probably late June through July.

One area that will be a bust this summer will be Cypremont Point. It typically takes 2-4 weeks after the Atchafalaya hits it's summer low mark before the Point begins producing decent numbers of speckled trout. That could well be as late as August.

The worst fear on every anglers mind in south Louisiana is that once the rivers get down, we'll get a hurricane that will knock the fishing prospects back further.