Got around to editing some footage from a trip in July. While working down in Grand Isle I got an evening to get out and stalk some reds. It was windy that day, the tide was high, and clouds were intermittent – basically conditions were working against me when it comes to sightfishing. However, I managed to one flat that was full of individual mangrove plants and had a few small reds too. This flat probably only floods on a high tide so I was in luck that it actually had water on it. The reds were a bit spooky because the water on the flat was shallow and clear and there really wasn’t much sneaking around I could do. After a bunch of refusals I finally had some success and now have a spot in the back of my mind for when the tide is super high.
The second leg of the IFA Kayak Tour Louisiana division was held yesterday out of Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle. 52 anglers signed up to compete in the event and despite weather conditions being horrible, most showed up to fish the tournament. Most brought their A-game as well because a lot of nice fish were weighed in yesterday, it was by far the most competitive IFA event that I have fished. The weather was horrible due to a low pressure system in the northern Gulf, it wasn’t organized enough to be a tropical cyclone, but it produced enough wind and rain to make it feel like it. I made it down to the island Saturday afternoon and was planning to do a little pre-fishing when I got down there, but decided against it due to the weather, ended up just hanging out with some friends until the captain’s meeting.
I had two gameplans to choose from for Sunday, one being tried and true and the other being new to me. Since I didn’t get a chance to pre-fish the new area I opted to fish a spot I’ve done well at in the past. With a low pressure system in the Gulf the high tide was somewhat magnified. The water at the boat launch was spilling into the parking lot when I went to launch the kayak in the morning. I actually got off to a nice start in the morning with the World’s smallest slam.
The action on dink trout and reds was fast and furious where you found moving water in the marsh. It was nice to be catching fish as the rain was non-stop throughout the entire day and I don’t want to think about how miserable I would have been if the bite was slow. Thankfully it was usually just a drizzle, but a few times it would open up and really come down. Interestingly enough I caught two fish when it was raining hardest, the flounder and my big red on the day. I was waiting out the heavy stuff, tucked against the marsh grass, I just tossed my popper in a cut to do something instead of just sitting there Eventually it went under and attached was a 12″ flounder. I saw the big red cruising the shoreline of a pond I was in and as I made a cast to him the skies opened. I was laughing as I fought him in the rain – I didn’t think I’d be able to do any sightfishing on a day like yesterday.
I had a 13.5″ trout and a 27″ red by 9:30am and because of the weather I seriously considered just packing up. I kept at it though heading to areas where I thought bull reds might be hanging out. The weather seemed to improve as the day went on, unfortunately though the fishing (for me at least) did not. I was never able to upgrade either fish, so I ended with a 40.5″ aggregate. My consolation for staying on the water was one more slot red. He gave himself away as he was crushing crabs against the bank.
I wasn’t sure where my agg would hold up against the rest of the guys, but I figured with the weather we had anything was possible. As it turned out a lot of folks had great days, here are the results:
I ended up 17th, not bad, not great either, but I’m happy with it, it was about where I expected 40.5″ to be. I was pretty excited to see my buddy Brendan take first, no one works harder on a tournament day than he does, nice to see him at the top again. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy seeing my name above his whenever possible.
One thing I’ve noticed fishing these tournaments is that you have three levels of angler that enter. 1 – You get your new guys and guys that aren’t there for the competition – they are there to learn and have a good time. 2 – You get the guys who are pretty good anglers and are getting better. 3 – Then you have the next level guys, guys with a do-what-it-takes-to-win mentality – these guys take risks, paddle far when they need to, and are motivated to win. I like to think I fall in category 2, but trust me I’m a category 1 guy at heart. It was obvious this weekend that I don’t fall into category 3. Mad props to the guys that pushed themselves in that weather to get after the big fish.
From left to right: Casey Brunning(big trout), Brendan Bayard(1st and big red), Steve Lessard(2nd), and Scott Harper(3rd)
The fly of the month for August is the first we’ve had featuring Fish Skull products, Blake writes, “I’ve caught a few reds that had gobies in their belly, so I figured that I would give one a shot using the sculpin helmets that I bought. I ended up with the SS (Simple Sculpin) Goby.”
- Your favorite jig hook (The Mustad 34011 will also work, just bend it into a jig hook)
- Magnum and crosscut zonker strips
- Sculpin head
Step 1. Puncture a hole in the zonker hides using a bodkin and push the hook point through from the skin side to the hair side. Mount the hook in the vise.
Step 2. Start thread and lay down a good base along the hook shank.
Step 3. Tie in flash on either side of the shank.
Step 4. Tie in the crosscut zonker skin side up with the fibers pointing away from you. This will ensure that the fibers will lay back toward the bend when palmered up the shank.
Step 5. Palmer the zonker down the shank in overlapping turns. I lay down a layer of super glue on the shank to help things stay in place. Tie in the strip leaving enough room behind the eye to fit the sculpin head. I like to slide the head on now and make sure that I have enough room.
Step 6. Bring zonker strip over and tie in at the same spot.
Step 7. Tie in a clump of rabbit hair on either side of the fly at the same spot that everything else is tied in. The tie-in area doesn’t need to be neat and tidy as the helmet will cover everything up. Just make sure that the tie-in area is not too bulky as to inhibit the head from fitting snug to the materials. Tie off the thread.
Step 8. Coat the tie in with superglue. I also like to put some superglue in the inside of the sculpin helmet. Push the helmet on to the fly making sure to butt it up nicely against all the rabbit hair.
Step 9. Start thread in front of the helmet and wrap a thread dam to keep the head in place.
Step 10. Add a small amount of super glue in each eye socket and place the eyes in their spots. Coat the thread wraps with some SHAN and the fly is ready to go. Finished Fly
Wednesday was a travel day for us, back to Salt Lake City from Island Park. With flights leaving out of SLC Thursday morning I thought it best to stay there the night before. It also provided a good opportunity that night to meet up with friends from high school who now live in Salt Lake. Instead of heading down Hwy 20 to I-15 at Idaho Falls though we took a more circuitous route which would take us through Teton Valley, on the west side of the Tetons, and put us in prime cutthroat territory. So, much like day one, I found us a roadside stream where we could fish and hopefully bag another species.
We started off our trip with a stop at Trouthunter to load up on flies before the trip home. One thing I loved about the Yellowstone area was that there is no shortage of fly shops. Good fly shops too and Trouthunter, which was right down the road, might be the best.
Our next stop was Mesa Falls. This is definitely a must-see attraction for the area. The park surrounding the falls is a top notch facility and the falls themselves are very impressive. A short trail will take you right next to the falls and you can really feel the energy in the water and the chill in the air.
From one of Idaho’s scenic byways to another we then headed to Teton Valley to get a view of the Tetons from the west. According to our guide Derek while in the area we had to stop at the Victor Emporium for huckleberry milkshakes. When milkshakes are involved you don’t have to tell me twice, so we had to stop. I was curious about huckleberries anyway since it seemed people from Idaho were more obsessed with huckleberries than potatoes. They’re pretty darn good too, like little blueberries, they go great in a milkshake. What Derek didn’t mention was that the Emporium was also a fly shop! Thinking about it now, the Victor Emporium may have supplanted Trouthunter as the best fly shop for the Yellowstone area because milkshakes and flies go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Once we left Teton Valley and entered into the Snake River watershed it was time to find our feeder stream to fish. The creek was relatively flat, bordered by willows and had deeper sections where there were beaver dams. Fishing a hopper, it didn’t take long to for my fly to get that familiar bump from the smaller trout. Soon enough I hooked up with a little bigger cutthroat and had my first Snake River Finespotted Cutt.
After catching a few cutthroat I let Dad take the lead on the creek and I tried to help Mom get a fish. I think fishing these smaller creeks with regular tackle is actually tougher than fly fishing, but Mom refused to use my fly rod. She got a few follows at her spinner, fish just wouldn’t commit to it though. Dad ended up bringing one to hand, but it flopped out before we could get a picture, but I was glad he caught one.
After a couple hours of fishing we hopped back in the car to make it back to SLC in time to meet my friends. They had the four of us over for dinner and really went out of the way laying out a nice spread and making us welcome. It was really awesome seeing my friends Eric and Sterling again, I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to make it to my 10 year reunion, so this was a good consolation.
A good bit of planning was involved in this trip and it was worth it because it ended up being a ton of fun. We saw so many new, awesome things, it’s hard to sum it all up. I felt we needed to do something big before having our baby in November and this was perfect. I’m already itching to go back out there, but next time I want to go after the Cutt Slam, hopefully I can find a fishing buddy that is up for the challenge.
One last note, I forgot to mention the cabin we stayed at in Last Chance was Kim and Mary’s Cabin. We really enjoyed staying here, it suited our needs very well. It is in the Last Chance area of Island Park, there is access to the Henry’s Fork right down the street and you have three fly shops within a mile. The cabin still looks brand new, it is in great shape, we were very comfortable there. Kim and Mary are phenomenal owners who will make sure that your stay in the area is all that it could be.