Monday, July 08, 2024

Welcome to SweatFest 2024!

SweatFest.... a celebration of heat, humidity, hurricanes, and horseflies. As well as lots of mosquitos, and the occasional tropical storm. Conversely, it's also fun time for those who love the beach, snowballs, and cutting grass.  

Memorial Day weekend is usually the kickoff for 90 degree days and 70 degree nights, and high humidity.  At least during June there's a good seasonal breeze most of the time.  But come July and August, the wind goes away and the sweating kicks up a notch. By early September, the nights are long enough for radiative cooling to take effect, even if the days are still a bit balmy.

As for tropical weather activity, we currently have Hurricane Beryl bearing down on the Texas coast, with some possible impacts to western Louisiana.  At one point, Beryl made history as only the second category 5 storm in the month of July.  If that's an indication, it's going to be a long season. The National Hurricane Center predicts an above-average year. 

The summer sun and heat of SweatFest bring dangers to anglers.  Heat stroke and high UV radiation pose threats.  And for coastal fishermen, there's potential exposure to the vibrio bacteria which has the highest occurence from July through September. There are plenty of web articles on how to cope with these dangers of summer.  Let Google be your friend!

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!

Fishing wise, July and August on average are probably the worst fishing months of the year in Louisiana.  Fish are lethargic as very warm water holds less oxygen.  They feed less, and when they do, it's either very early in the morning or at night.  In most cases, they move to deeper waters.  

There are exceptions.  In fact, offshore and nearshore fishing is the best of the year.  Species such as spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, bluefish, bull reds, and sand (white) trout are abundant nearshore and inside passes and interior coastal lakes.  So are gafftop catfish and ladyfish, so it's a case of avoiding them as well.  And if a tropical storm moves close by - let's hope not, but if it does - the bite can be really good in freshwater lakes and in the brackish marsh. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Allen Heritage rods embody traditional action

Back in April, Allen did one of their BOGO discount offers: buy a Heritage rod, and get a second one of your choice for half price. At $189 suggested retail, we decided to jump on this offer and get a couple of these rods: a 7-foot, 6-inch, 3 weight (hereafter referred to as 763) and an 8-foot, 6-inch, 4 weight (or 864). We put both the 763 and 864 through our usual range of tests.


Most of us began our fly fishing journey with moderate-action rods since most budget-priced models are of this action. Moderate rods allow beginners to develop their timing skills. But there's also a contingent of flycasters who enjoy them regardless of skill level. There's just something pleasing about making slower casts, and once a fish is hooked, seeing that rod bend and giving smaller fish more fight.

This "traditional action" - as it's sometimes called - is why so many of us were addicted to legacy models like Winston WT, the Sage LightLine, the Orvis Superfine, and the Thomas & Thomas LP. It was extremely rare to see good-quality traditional action rods in the Budget Category until the TFO Finesse and Redington Classic Trout came along.  While not to the level of those legacy models, they were still a joy to fish with!

Sadly, TFO has discontinued the Finesse. I'm told the similiar actions can be found on one of their newer models which I've not yet tested. The Classic Trout remains one of the best-selling Budget rods on the market.  I first tested the Heritage at ICAST six years ago and listed it as one of the "Best of Show". However, I've not a chance to give it a full review until now.

The Allen Heritage

Allen is based out of Southlake, Texas, and their rods are manufactured in China. They sell directly via their website. The company describes the Heritage series as "A classic trout rod action with modern refinements. The mid flex has been finely-tuned to.. cast small dries and nymphs with delicate presentation, and protect fine tippet...".  While it's advertised as "trout", it's actually an ideal rod series for panfish and even creek bass.

Because Allen doesn't sell through dealers, they offer a unique program called the "30 Day Rod Test Drive". Buy a rod and if you love it, you keep it. If not, send it back to them within 30 days. They will not refund your purchase, but rather give you store credit. Not a bad deal, considering Allen's reputation is based on their lineup of excellent fly reels.  

Price.  All important to the buyer working within a set budget.  Our current pricing division for fly rods goes as follows:

    Budget - up to $200
    Value - $200 - $400
    Midrange - $400 - $700
    Premium - $800 - $1200

At $189, the Heritage is clearly a Budget class rod. Competitors include the Redington Classic Trout, Orvis Encounter, Redington Path, Fenwick Aetos, Douglas ERA, Cabelas Bighorn, Echo Carbon XL, Echo Lift, and Maxxon Gorge. Only the Carbon XL and Classic Trout offer an action similiar to the Heritage, but both are outstanding rods - even among higher-priced Value models they shine.

As with all Allen rods, there's a lifetime warranty for the owner. The repair cost is $45 plus shipping. But here's a pleasant surprise: you don't have to send back the rod to file a claim. Just a few high quality pictures of the rod, the break, and the label section, along with the Order Number of the purchase you made.

  While most Value category rods have a basic all-aluminum seat, the Heritage has a wood insert. The cork grip has a few filled-in gaps, but is still very decent. Unlike some rods which have gone to shorter 6-inch grips, the Heritage retains the 7-inch size. Bully for them!  Alignment dots and high-grade guide wraps give the rod a quality appearance. The rod tube is triangular, so it doesn't roll around.

Taper Test. This involves tying off the leader to a post, locking the fly line/reel so no line comes off the reel, and then progressively pulling the rod back.  We look for the shape of the bend in the rod.

The 864 had more bend in the rod than the 763. This isn't unusual, as shorter rods have less blank to make the progression. The taper was very close to that of my Redington Classic Trout rod of the same length and weight, but just a tiny tad less smooth. This was confirmed when test casting.

Casting Performance.  We ran the 864 and the 763 through our usual four tests:  short cast (20 ft), medium cast (40-50 ft) and distance maximum, as well as our infamous "60D Test".  This is where we stand 35 feet center from a concrete basketball court,  cast to one corner which is 30 degrees left of center, and with only one backcast, cast to the opposite corner which is 30 degrees right of center.  Our line was a Mastery Trout Taper for the 864 and a Wulff Triangle Taper for the 763.

The 864 loaded easily for short casts and medium casts. Casts were fairly accurate as well, often within inches of the intended target. The maximum distance of five "long casts" was 78 feet. Not bad for a moderate action 4-weight. What was more impressive was that, for all five of the long casts, the leader layed out to within 5 inches of the tape!

The 763 also loaded easily for short and medium casts, with good accuracy.  As expected, it fell a bit shorter than the 864 on distance, although the last of the five casts hit out to 73 feet.  Like the 864, accuracy was superb.

The 60D test was decent. Again, this is the big reason you pay more for Mid-Range and Premium rods. In the 60D test, a rod tip has to have exceptional vibration reduction for the casts to lay out perfectly accurate and straight. Both the 864 and 763 had average results.

Final Verdict.

If you're looking for a budget rod to take out west, where the rivers are big and the wind is always a-blowing, the Heritage rods might not be your best choice. Just about anywhere else, it's hard to beat the Heritage series for performance and aesthetics at a value price. And when these rods are put on sale, they are the best bang for the buck - hands down! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tenkara on Caddo public registration up

Tenkara on Caddo
Saturday, July 20, 2024

9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Registration required, limited to 15 students
No fee

The ArkLaTexOma Fly Tyers are hosting a Tenkara clinic on July 20th.  Keira Quam, Aquatic Ed Training Specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife will instruct an all-inclusive class on this Japanese style of fly fishing.   Keira will cover Tenkara basics, casting, and flies that are most often used.

Registration has been limited to ALTO members up to June 11th, after which it is open to the public.  If you wish to attend, text message Jo Anne Woodard at 318.617.2912 and she will respond if a seat is still available.  As registration is limited, PLEASE make sure you can show up!  

Saturday, June 08, 2024

New redfish regulations in effect June 20th

New size and daily creel limits for redfish go into effect and will be enforced beginning Thursday, June 20, 2024.  Click on the image on left for a full-size version that you can print and trim for your gear bag.

The new regulations are as follows:

  • Daily Creel: 4-fish daily limit per angler
  • Slot size Limit: 18-inch minimum and 27-inch maximum total length
  • Bull Reds: keeping Red Drum over 27 inches is prohibited
  • The retention of Red Drum by captain and crew on charter or head boats while on a for-hire trip will be prohibited.
  • Charter captains and crew will still be allowed to engage in fishing on charter trips to demonstrate how to catch red drum, but will not be allowed to retain red drum towards any limit on the vessel.

Biologists have determined that red drum stocks are not meeting the required conservation standards for spawning potential ratio and stock recruitment in Louisiana, and that changes in creel and/or size limits were necessary.  For more info on the biologists stock assessment, go to

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Echo 84B revives the "Short Sticks" (updated)

Back in December, we reported that Echo Fly Fishing had come out with a new rod series - the 84-B.  Don't bother looking for that post as it's been deleted.  Reason?  We finally got our hands on one and put it through the range of tests.  So this post combines details of what we reported before... plus impressions from our test results.


Those of you who followed me for two decades on Louisiana Sportsman magazine may recall,  I'm a huge fan of "Short Sticks" or "Bass Shorts".  These are midweight and light-heavyweight fly rods (weights 6 through 10) but shorter than the standard 9 foot length.  

There are advantages of these rods over the 9-foot and 10-foot rods that dominate the market.  Back in 2014, in my Fly Lines column, I wrote what the advantages and disadvantages were.

"There are reasons why most fly rods are 9 feet long — and sometimes longer. Longer rods cast farther and allow for better line management on the water. For example, mending line on a moving stream."

"But short rods have their advantages. In addition to lower swing weight, they give more casting control, can be used under tree canopies or docks, in tighter casting spaces, are easier to manage while fishing from a canoe or kayak, and have the ability to place a fly in tight spots."

"And then there’s lifting power. When it comes to getting a big fish out of grass or timber, a shorter rod gives more leverage than a longer rod."

I own, or have owned, a few graphite Short Sticks.  Among them were a Redington Predator, Ross FlyStik, Diamondback Backwater, and Mudfish Flyer, in weights 6, 7 and 8.  These have been great for my bass fishing and kayak fishing adventures.  In fact, I'd say that in numerous kayak bass tournaments, short sticks have delivered for me time and again where a longer rod might not have.  My two personal best bass - an 8.8 pounder (public water) and a 9.6 pounder (private water) were both landed on shorts.

Of the 10 models of  Bass Shorts available in 2014, only 3 remain.  The entire Redington Predator series has transitioned to 9-footers.  Sage replaced their Bass Series with the Payload.  The Payload shortest offering is 8'9"... so essentially another 9-footer.  The Mojo Bass is still around. It puts the "broom" back in "stick".  The Mudfish is a fine rod, but it's a 1-piece.  Forget travel use.  The White River Heat - like most of Bass Pros fly rods - has breakage issues.

Some will say, "What about fiberglass?".  There are a good number of fiberglass short sticks on the market.  With glass it needs to be the newer S-glass or S2-glass... in my opinion, your grandfather's E-glass rods are simply too slow and too heavy.  As much as I want to love glass, only one of the glass short sticks I've tested has met my high standards for these rods.  More on that rod at a later date.

What the world has needed is a good graphite Bass Short.  Echo to the rescue!

The new Echo 84B

This rod was developed by Tim Rajeff and Pat Ehlers with bass anglers in mind and tested extensively on smallies and largemouth. All rods in the series - which include 6, 7 and 8-weights come in length 8'4".  According to Echo, this length is the perfect compromise between accuracy, distance, and leverage.

Price.  Many reviews list this as last, but this is all important to the buyer working within a set budget.  Our current pricing division for fly rods goes as follows:

  • Budget - up to $200
  • Value - $200 - $400
  • Midrange - $400 - $700
  • Premium - $800 - $1200

At $299, the Echo 84B falls firmly in the Value category, along with the Redington Predator, Orvis Clearwater, TFO Mangrove Coast and BK Legacy, and many others.  As with almost all rods in this category, there's a lifetime warranty for the owner, which involves a nominal repair fee. Echo repair fee depends on the rod section.  For the tip section replacement (which is 90 percent of all breaks) the fee for the 84B is $40.

Appearance.  I received the 84B from Red's Fly Shop as it was the only shop to have this new model in stock in a 7-weight.  These rods have a deep olive blank, a flared full wells grip, a fighting butt, aluminum anodized reel seat, and comes with a zippered cordura rod tube.  The tube is rectangular which I really like (doesn't roll around).  The cork grip looks better than average for the price point.  It flares up at the top a bit more than I'd like, but it wasn't detectable at all when casting or fishing.  There's alignment dots which is a feature once found only on premium rods.  The stripping guides and guides are high quality, and the wraps look very good for an Asian-manufactured rod.  

Swing Weight.  The 84B weighs in at 3.8 oz.  Granted it's 8 inches shorter, but still a light rod when compared to the Redington Predator 9'0" 7-weight at 4.2 ounces.  Because of it's shorter length, the swing weight should be "light".  Sadly, that's not always the case.  But with the 84B, the swing weight was fantastically light.  This is a very important feature as a heavy swing weight tends to widen your casting arc after a couple hundred casts.  A long day of fishing can lead to a long day of open loops!

Taper Test.  This involves tying off the leader to a post, locking the fly line/reel so no line comes off the reel, and then progressively pulling the rod back.  We look for the shape of the bend in the rod.  I used to do this test using a "Common Cents System" setup, but this is a lot faster and easier, and is a fairly accurate test of taper and rod action.    What we WANT to see:  a smooth progression where there's some bend in the tip (but not too much) and then progressively less as you go down the blank.  The point at which the bend begins to end determines if the rod is moderate, moderate-fast, or fast action.   Casting a few dozen times often confirms this.

The 84B has a nice smooth progression.  I'd describe it as moderate-fast with just a touch more on the moderate end.  It was a somewhat relaxed casting stroke that worked best... the kind of stroke I love.   As I've stated numerous times in the past, you do -NOT- want a very fast action rod for tossing bass bugs.  I'd explain the physics of why, but it would bore most readers. So just take my word on it.  Or Tim Rajeff's.  He describes this rod as ideal for casting large flies.

Casting Performance.  We ran the 84B through our usual four tests:  short cast (20 ft), medium cast (40-50 ft) and distance maximum, as well as our infamous "60D Test".  This is where we stand 35 feet center from a concrete basketball court,  cast to one corner which is 30 degrees left of center, and with only one backcast, cast to the opposite corner which is 30 degrees right of center.  Our line, as for all our tests, is a Wulff Triangle Taper with a 40 foot tip and head.

The 84B loaded easily for the short casts and medium casts.  Since most bass fishing is done with casts under 50 feet, this was exactly what we hoped we'd see.  Casts were extremely accurate as well.

The maximum distance with the 84B we obtained was 96 feet, but the average of most double-hauls was in the 85 foot range.  This rod is not designed for distance, but for accuracy especially in tight situations.  But it does have enough power to go long if needed.  Loops were nice and tight.

People ask me why anyone would ever spend $1000 on a fly rod.  Other than extreme light weight (common to premium rods these days).  The answer I tell them is, "The 60D Test", and then explain what the test is.  In the 60D test, a rod tip has to have exceptional vibration reduction for the casts to lay out perfectly accurate and straight.  

The Echo 84B scored about as good as any Value rod I've recently tested on the 60D Test, matching the performance of the TFO Axiom II  (which like many great TFO rods, has been discontinued).

Final Verdict.

While promoted as a bass rod, we're certain it could also be great for pike, pickerel, snook and redfish. And could be a great kayak fly rod as well.  I was so impressed with the 84B, I decided to keep it and sell another of my "Short Stick" rods.  That's about as positive a review as any rod can get! 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Registration now open for 2024 Gulf Coast Classic

2024 Gulf Coast Classic
Friday-Saturday, May 3-4, 2024

Gulf State Park – Learning Campus
Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Gulf Coast Council (GCC) of Fly Fishers International (FFI) will hold their 2nd annual Gulf Coast Classic back again at the Learning Campus of Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  The GCC is a regional entity of FFI, representing members and clubs in Louisiana, Mississippi, south Alabama, and northwest Florida.  While the Classic is not considered a fundraising event, any net revenue goes to conservation efforts within the council.

The event is open to the public, and admission fees are only $10 per day adults and $15 per day for families.  There are also workshops available, some free, some at a nominal cost, which seats can be reserved at registration time.

The Classic website is up and lists current sponsors, exhibitors, demonstration fly tiers, speakers, instructors.  More will likely be added over the next 2-3 weeks.  This year's title sponsor is No Wake Outfitters out of Metairie, LA.  NWO specializes in fly fishing, paddle sports, outdoor apparel and gear, and services.  Check them out at

Other activities associated with the Classic last year are back again for 2024, including the Mixed Bag Challenge, with a few improvements. Also back is the 2024 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) on Saturday evening. In fact, tickets are already available online.

There are special lodging opportunities for volunteers, demo fly tiers, speakers and instructors.  These VIPs get first shot at booking dorm beds at the special rate of $50 per night.  Starting April 1st, all attendees will have a chance to book any remaining dorm beds at that same rate.  

For those coming as strictly attendees, now is the best time to book lodging in the Foley and Gulf Shores area. Check out the LODGING page on the Classic website for details.

Again, bookmark the Classic site at and visit often as updates will be posted routinely.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

LWF Commission opts for 4-fish limit

Today the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission rescinded the proposed Notice of Intent (NOI) for new redfish regulations of a 3-fish daily creel, 18"-27" slot with no overslots, and replaced it with a 4-fish daily creel, also with a 18"-27" slot (no overslots).  So basically added 1 more fish to the proposed daily limit. But in doing so, that extra fish will add 11 more years to the Spawing Potential Ration (SPR) recovery to the Conservation Standard. 

Comments were evenly divided between the 3-fish and 4-fish proponents. Two new commission members both voted for 4-fish while the retired members they replaced had both voted in support of 3-fish. CCA Louisiana has been spearheading efforts to get a 4-fish regulation in place, while Fly Fishers International Gulf Council (FFI-GCC), Louisiana Wildlife Federation, and other groups supported the 3-fish limit.

A public hearing will be held on April 29th for the modified NOI.  If no further changes are made, this proposed regulation will go into effect either July or August.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

LWF Commission to review redfish regs - again!

This Thursday, March 7th, the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission will once again review arguments and consider amendments to proposed redfish regulations. This comes after the 3-fish, 18-27 inch slot proposed Notice of Intent (NOI) passed in December by the Commission was only days away from taking effect.

By now, it's common knowledge that redfish are being overfished. In addition to a number of environmental problems that plague the species, the amount of fishing pressure has more than doubled since the current regulations were established in 1988. Biologists say that changes are necessary to restore both Escapement Rate and Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) back to the conservation standard.

Several conservation groups have supported the 3-fish NOI, including the American Sportfishing Guides Association (ASGA), the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, the Gulf Coast Council of Fly Fishers International (FFI), to name a few.

However, one “conservation” group – along with their bowfishing allies – have continued to push for a four fish limit. What's the difference between a 3-fish limit and a 4-fish limit of the same slot sizes?  About 17 years longer recovery with the 4-fish limit! That group is not denying that they would like to build a hatchery for the purpose of stocking red drum in Louisiana waters. This despite much evidence that hatchery-raised redfish contribute less than 2 percent to recruitment of spawning stock.

What can you do?

  • Contact Commission members below and ask them to retain the current 3-fish NOI, and a faster recovery period.
  • Contact your state legislator and let them know you support the 3-fish NOI.
  • If possible, attend the March 7th Commission meeting in Baton Rouge and speak out!

In crafting your email, be kind and courteous. Please point out some of the issues facing redfish, including the fact that we've doubled the number of anglers since the current regulations were set 36 years ago!

Opponents of the 3-fish NOI have stated they are seeing lots of small reds in the marsh. At least where they fish.. not everyone is seeing this. The real problem is the number of fish making it to maturity. It takes 4-5 years, during which they have to avoid more threats now than ever before. At least 30 percent must escape or our stocks will continue to decline.

Again, if you can make the Commission hearing on March 7th, PLEASE DO SO. Meetings are held at LDWF headquarters, 2000 Quail Drive in Baton Rouge, LA, beginning at 9:30 a.m..

If you can attend, please sign up prior to the meeting start to speak on the topic. Instructions are given when you signup.

Members of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission

LA House Natural Resources Committee

With a strong email effort, and a strong turnout, we can finally win the battle to give redfish the faster recovery they need.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Finesse for success for spawning bass

The bass spawn is on in some parts of the state. This is an opportunity to catch a trophy-sized fish, or even just a larger specimen, on your fly rod.

Back in the days when I fished conventional tournaments - and even some that I've fished more recently - the key to getting a spawning bass to eat was to present the lure in the most delicate way possible and keep it near the fish as long as possible.  These "finesse" tactics can be applied to fly fishing as well.

The key is small and near-weightless flies, and longer leaders 8 to 9 feet. I leave the 8-weight at home and bring a 6-weight outfit. That might seem a bit light for battling a big bass. But before you can battle the fish, you need to get it to eat. Spawning bass are exceptionally spooky!  Light tackle and finesse flies are the ticket.

Think about what the conventional angler might use in this situation. From my experience, nothing beats a wacky worm or a fluke. Comparable worm-like flies would be Terry Wilson's Bass Bully or Ted Cabali's Cabali Creature (shown on left).  

As for the fluke, nothing matches it better than the gold standard of freshwater fly fishing, the Woolybugger!

In tying woolybuggers for bass, I make them larger than those for trout, usually sizes 4 down to 8. My SR71 Woolybugger has proven to be a real killer, with the action of the schlapplen feather too much for Miss Bigmouth to handle.  But any type woolybugger will do, and in fact, the 5.36 pounder pictured above fell for an olive Fluff Butt. A Fluff Butt is nothing more than a woolybugger without the hackle, right?

Remember that these spawning bass are replenishing the waters you're fishing.  So handle them gently and release them to lay their eggs.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Make plans now for Red Stick Day

29th annual "Red Stick Day" fly fishing festival
Saturday, March 9, 2024

8:30 am to 3:30 pm
LDWF Waddill Outdoors Center,
4141 North Flannery, Baton Rouge, LA
FREE admission!

Hosted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers, Red Stick Day is the longest-running event of its kind in Louisiana. It routinely features regional as well as nationally recognized speakers and fly tiers.  The casting sessions are led by Fly Fishers International (FFI) Basic and Master level certified instructors.

While the programs, fly tying demos, and casting sessions appeal to both beginners and experts, many attendees enjoy the kayak demos, comradery, and fishing on premises. Lunch is also provided for a nominal cost.  There's also one of the largest raffles of any fly fishing event on the Gulf Coast, which raises money for the club's various educational and conservation projects.

For more info, including a schedule of activities, go to the Red Stick Fly Fishers website at and click on "Red Stick Day".

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The 5 Waves of Sunfish

One of my favorite alien invasion movies is "The 5th Wave" starring Chloe Grace Moretz. In part because Ms Moretz is a great action film heroine. And in part because the story makes far more sense than most others. If an alien race wanted to invade Earth, given the small amount of resources they could bring through the vastness of space, a series of devastating non-confrontational attacks works far better than an all-out military assault.

Speaking of invasions, we have a series of panfish invasions to shallow water starting right now. For us humans, our weapons in this battle will be lightweight fly rods, loaded with various bug and minnow imitations.

The 1st Wave are small bream of various species looking for any feeding opportunity. They'll have a pale color to them. It's mostly a sign that the days are getting longer and water is getting warmer.  This is happening right now.

The 2nd Wave are large redears. The biggest redears in any water spawn early, usually in late February, and in water 3 to 5 feet deep. Cap Spiders, Hares Ears, Jitterbees, Fluff Butts - any fly that gets to the bottom where the fish hold tight - will work.

The 3rd Wave are crappie. Sacalait begin moving to the shallows as early as mid-February but the peak is sometime late February to mid-March.  Look for any structure close to shore, e.g, docks, cypress trees, sunken logs, etc. Although Fluff Butts are the primary weapon against their invasion, Woolybuggers, Cap Spiders, Wet Flies, various beadhead nymphs, will work. When fished under a strike indicator, it allows the angler to work the fly close to structure longer.

The 4th Wave are big bluegills. Like with redears, the largest bluegill spawn earlier than the rest. Timeline is usually early March to mid-April. The beds are usually shallower than with redears and this allows patterns like Slowing Sinking Spiders, Wet Flies, and even poppers to be added into the arsenal.

Then there's the 5th Wave. These are mid-size to large bream of various species that are actively feeding on bugs. This is a time when solid numbers can be caught, and with the water still cool, the fights are scrappy! Usually early April to mid-May. At this point, the "gobbules" will eat just about any bug, minnow, shrimp or worm imitation. But I prefer to fish popping bugs or Triangle Bugs because the eats can be explosive!

So get your tackle ready, your flies tied or purchased. The invasion of sunfish is about to begin, and unlike an alien invasion, it's a fight we can win.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Spring is a time for conclaving!

When it comes to fly fishing, Spring is event season across the deep South. There's a wide range of events from large commercial expos like the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show and Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival to club festivals like "Red Stick Day" and to the larger Fly Fishers International regional events like the "Gulf Coast Classic".

In the past, we referred to these club and FFI regional events as "conclaves". There was some resistance to that name by some because it's defined as "a private meeting".  When in fact, these events are open to the public.

However, we made a strong case to the folks at Webster and Cambridge to add "a fly fishing festival" as a definition.  And to include it as a verb as well. So you can say "He went conclaving" which means a man went to a fly fishing festival. Or if they're gender fluid, "Ze went conclaving". Or if your group went to a conclave, "They conclaved last week".  We've not heard back yet from Webster or Cambridge, but certain our proposal will be adopted someday. 

In the meantime, check out the list of Spring 2024 events here in Louisiana or within a short drive from our state... and "Happy Conclaving!".

Jan. 20 (Sat) – 5th biennial CENLA FLY FISHING & LIGHT TACKLE FESTIVAL, Kees Park Center, Highway 28 East, Pineville, LA. 8:30am – 3:30pm. Free admission. Presentations, fly tying demos, casting clinics, exhibitors and more. Special guests: Duane Hada, Tadd Fore.  Jambalaya lunch available. Benefits Food Bank of Central Louisiana. Hosted by Kisatchie Fly Fishers club. Website:

Jan. 27 (Sat) – 31st annual Dr. ED RIZZOLO FLY TYING FESTIVAL, Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX. 8:30am – 4:30pm. The largest fly tying event on the Gulf Coast features over 80 tiers as well as seminars and vendors. Featured guest tier: Les Lehman. Hosted by the Texas Fly Fishers club. Website:

Feb. 2-4 (Fri-Sun) – ATLANTA FLY FISHING SHOW, GA South Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Duluth, GA. 9am – 6pm. Largest fly fishing show in the South featuring nationally-renown speakers, tiers. Workshops, seminars, destination seminars, exhibitors, and more. FFI will host the Learning Center, with casting and fly tying instruction free to show attendees. Website:

Feb. 24-25 (Sat-Sun) – 7th annual TEXAS FLY FISHING & BREW FESTIVAL, Mesquite Convention Center, Mesquite, TX. Nationally known fly fishing authors, professional guides, expert casters, fly tiers from across the country, dozens of exhibitors. Microbrew sampling. Website:

Mar. 9 (Sat) – 26th Annual RED STICK DAY, Waddill Outdoor Education Center, 4142 N Flannery Rd, Baton Rouge, LA. 8:30am – 3:30pm. Free admission. Seminars, tying demos, kayak demos, casting clinics, food, refreshments. Hosted by Red Stick Fly Fishers. Website:

Mar. 21-23 – 27th annual SOWBUG ROUNDUP, Baxter County Fairgrounds, Mountain Home, AR. 9am – 4pm, each day. Admission $10 for all 3 days, adults with kids under 12 free. Largest fly tying event in the country, over 120 tiers. Seminars, fly tying clinics, vendors. Special guests Davy Wotton, Tim Flagler. Hosted by North Arkansas Fly Fishers. Website:

May 3-4 (Fri-Sat) – 2nd annual FFI GULF COAST CLASSIC, Learning Campus, Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL.  Seminars, fly tying demos, casting clinics, raffles, Mixed Bag Challenge fishing contest. Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) on Saturday 4pm. Hosted by the Gulf Coast Council of Fly Fishers International. Website: or

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Rainbeaux Trout time in Louisiana!

Each winter, over a dozen ponds across Louisiana are stocked with rainbow trout. Some of the stockings are by local agencies. For example, ponds in East Baton Rouge Parish are stocked by Baton Rouge Recreation (BREC). Most ponds are stocked by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries under their "Get Out and Fish" community fishing program.  

These fish can live in water up to 70 degrees - usually mid to late March here in Louisiana.  However, nearly all the trout are usually caught (and kept) by then.

To see the locations of the LDWF stockings, go to:  or click on the image to this post.

A few things to keep in mind. You do need to have a Louisiana fishing license.  All fish must be caught on legal recreational tackle (rod and reel, fly tackle or cane pole). There is a daily limit of four (4) fish per day.

Most of the stocked fish are between 10 and 12 inches, but each pond will have several up to 16-18 inches to give anglers the opportunity for a bigger fish.

For fly anglers, it's an opportunity to enjoy good fishing at a time when native species like bass and bream are sluggish. All that is needed is a 5-weight outfit. However, for those with an ultralight outfit (3-weight or lower), the fun factor is amplified!

Regarding flies. The first couple of weeks the fish are opportunistic. An olive or black woolybugger will work best, along with a few nymphs such as Prince Nymph, Copper Johns, Hares Ears, and San Juan Worms. Once the trout have acclimated to their environment, dry flies work very well late in the day.