Sunday, May 31, 2020

Welcome to SweatFest 2020!

SweatFest - the one festival no one likes to celebrate! Well, except for those who love the beach, snowballs, and cutting grass. Kids love it too because no school. Although this year, that's been true since March.

The Summer soltice may not arrive until later this month, but seasons in Louisiana are always about 2-3 weeks early. Memorial Day weekend is usually the kickoff for 90 degree days and 70 degree nights, and high humidity.  Oh, and the sporadic tropical storm in the Gulf.  Enjoy the June breezes because come July they go away and the sweating kicks up a notch.  And so does the tropical storm activity.

With SweatFest comes an emphasis on summer safety. Summer sun and heat bring many dangers to anglers. Heat stroke is the number one threat. Bring an ice chest or cooler tote bag with water and/or sports drinks to stay hydrated. The sun itself is a threat, but does its damage over time. Skin exposed to high UV radiation months can lead to skin cancer. Protect your skin by putting on a high-SPF waterproof sunscreen before you get on the water. Wear long sleeve breathable shirts, a rim cap or a bill cap in conjunction with a gaitor (buff). Always were some type of cover for your feet.

Also be aware that thunderstorms can be a daily occurence in summer. At the first sign of towering  cumulus clouds, start making your way back to the launch (especially if you're in a kayak). Lightning can strike from eight miles away, so waiting for lightning to approach is not a smart option!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Tidbits Thursday

Marsh & Bayou Outfitters is moving. Founded by Ben and Chris Tiblier, M&B has been in business in the French Quarter of New Orleans since 2014, a local source for fly fishing products as well as for fly fishing guides. On Tuesday, MBO posted on their Facebook page that they've decided to move from the Big Easy to the Northshore. The new location will be 2800 Florida Street in Mandeville, with an opening sometime in July.

Date set for Lake Athens Fly Fishing Festival.  LAFFF was originally scheduled for the first weekend in April, but postponed due to the COVID19 outbreak. Now organizer Johnny Martinez has set a June 27th date. The event has been condensed into one day, with the Big Bass Challenge (tournament) starting at 7:00am, and awards presentation at 2:00pm. Other activities include casting instruction, casting contest, fly tying demos (including realistic tying by Fred Hannie), and a raffle to benefit Casting For Recovery. For more info, go to

Online fly fishing and tying continues. Organizations, clubs, and fly shops are continuing to hold Zoom webinars and meetings at this time of social distancing. The Kisatchie and Acadiana clubs are holding a joint "Tying Tuesdays" each week. The clubs have announced continuation of this through June. Once regular in-person meetings resume, the clubs will continue to hold an online "Tying Tuesday" at least once, perhaps twice, a month.

Meanwhile, FFI has weekly Zoom webinars. Fly Fishers International has been holding various meetings each week. For example, this past week the FFI Tying Group did an online tying session, the Learning Center did a casting program with Molly Semelik, Jeff Currier continued his global fly fishing presentations with a program on "Big Fish of Canada", and the Conservation Committee continued their series of "Conservatin Conversation" with steelhead and cutthroat trout expert Dr. Richard Williams. These series and other presentations are posted on this webpage .  You do NOT need to be an FFI member to attend.

And then there's OFF THE WATER. Prior to the pandemic, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club had started doing a weekly Facebook Live program on Tuesdays at 8:00pm. The program features weekly guests on a wide variety of subjects, and cover topics from recent and upcoming tournaments, fishing locations and tips, fishing reports, tackle tips, and much more. It's also entertaining as well!

Speaking of kayak fishing. Check out this article by Melinda Martinez of the Alexandria Town Talk about kayak fishing in central Louisiana. The article features myself, Mark Elliott of H2GO Outdoors in Monroe, and Jerry & Kelly Maynor of Tioga. Martinez also mentions the Kayak & Canoe Fishing Tournaments Of Central Louisiana Group as well as Pack & Paddle of Lafayette.

Fishing reports. Great bream fishing continues across south Louisiana, especially in the Verrett-Palourde system. Recently bream have been bedding strong in central and northern parishes. Hotspots include Cane River, Lake Nantachie, Chicot Lake, Black River Lake, Caney Lake, Lake D'arbonne, and Cross Lake. Bass fishing on Toledo Bend in backwaters is good with frog patterns right now. On the coast, speckled trout have been hot in Golden Meadow and Hopedale, with some big fish being caught out west in Calcasieu on the south end of Big Lake. Redfish have been pretty solid everywhere except those areas affected by river water (fish are there but flies aren't as effective).

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Redington, Risen add new products to 2020

After this past week's new products posting, I received a couple of emails announcing more new items just released. Both from companies that target the budget and mid-priced market.

Redington Run fly reel - Let's face it, most freshwater fly fishing situations don't need a machined reel - which can cost hundreds. For example, the very popular Lamson Liquid and Orvis Encounter are not machined and sell for around $100. What they do have are very good centerline drag systems (conical and carbon disc) and appealing aesthetics. The new Run offers likewise. The carbon fiber drag is adjusted using an ergonomic knob. It comes in three color options (black, silver, burgundy) with a nylon reel case and a lifetime warranty. MSRP is $109.

Risen 23PS rods - Speaking of aesthetics, you normally wouldn't find high appeal in anything less than $500, but the new freshwater-targeted 23PS series does just that. For $289, you get a rod built on a fast-action IM12 Metallic Green blank, light green and silver thread wrappings, a nickel silver machined reel seat with green burl wood insert, and AAA-rated cork grip. The only negative is that the series is limited to five lengths/weights. The 23PS also includes Risen's lifetime warranty.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

While you were quarantining - five new products for 2020

Many non-essential businesses are beginning to reopen, including fly shops and other fly fishing related retailers. As they do, fly anglers might be surprised to find several new items arriving as we move into summer. These were products we expected to see in Spring, until the pandemic arrived.

Here are the ones that we think will generate the most excitement:

Simms Dry Creek Z Sling Pack - Submersible packs aren't new. What's different with the DCZ is the TruZip, a 100% waterproof, self-healing zipper that isn't a tooth zipper. While the pack incorporates lots of interior room (enough for a laptop?), it also features a water-resistant exterior pocket for quick access to keys or wallet. What excites me most about the DCZ is that it comes in a gorgeous Pacific Blue color as well as the usual camo. After all, this is fishing not hunting. MSRP $229. 

Orvis Hydros fly reel (upgraded) - The Hydros is one of the best values in a mid-priced saltwater fly reel. The machined body is complimented by a sealed clutch-bearing drag and low startup inertia. For 2020, Orvis has reduced the weight while strengthing the top-end drag. It also comes in LSU Purple. What's not to love? MSRP for the Hydros IV (8-weight model) is $259. 

Cheeky Launch - Friends will tell you that I love my Cheeky reel. It's not just functional, but I love the simplistic style and color. Also a big positive: a narrow spool which eliminates line stacking. For 2020, Cheeky has replaced it's popular mid-priced Boost series with the Launch. Lighter and with improvements on their sealed carbon drag system, the Launch 400  (8-weight model) weighs only 6.8 ounces and comes in a beautiful light blue color (notice that I love blue). MSRP is $249. 

Sage Maverick - this is a new mid-priced saltwater rod series that replaces their Motive series. I had an opportunity to cast this new rod at a show back in December before it was even announced. I was blown away. Unlike the Motive, the 7-weight Maverick had no problem casting 90-100 feet of line on target. Not that I fish that far out, but that type of reserve power comes in handy at times. No problem casting 30 feet on target either. Now the question is, how does it fight a big red? Sage salt rods have always risen to the occasion there, and if the Maverick does, it'll be one of the best salt rods on the market at any price level. MSRP $550. 

Orvis Recon II - At the December expo, the Sage rep told me, "We're aiming for the Orvis Recon". The Recon has been in the top tier of every group review, e.g. "shootouts", often rating above premium rods costing twice as much. Orvis is not sitting on their laurels. For 2020, they've adapted their Helios 3 technology into the Recon. Now I like the Helios 3, but I don't think it's the best premium rod (some friends do). So for me, adding H3 tech to the Recon might not be an improvement. If Orvis successfully managed to keep the beloved Recon taper while injecting the Helios vibration reduction, then this rod will certainly remain king of the mid-priced rods. MSRP $549 for the 8-weight model.