In the past few years I have really grown to appreciate a good beer. It is no coincidence that the rest of the US seems to feel the same way, as craft brewing in America is bigger than it has ever been. These are exciting times for beer geeks, a little overwhelming at times, but exciting. For once Louisiana is not being left behind either. Several new breweries have come online in the past few years and, as a state, we’re slowly building quite a catalog of craft breweries. I’m proud to say that my cousin Lindsay is now officially in that number. Lindsay and her husband Scott have talked about opening up a brewery in New Orleans for a few years now and just recently they accomplished that goal with the grand opening of the Courtyard Brewery. I happened to be working in the New Orleans area that week and was able to stop by to check the place out and grab a couple pints of deliciousness.
Their first day open was also the first day they were allowed to start brewing so they didn’t have any of their own beers available (not sure if that has changed yet, but I think a session IPA was going to be their first offer), but that really didn’t slow them down. They operate a little differently than you’re standard brewery and offer 12 rotating guest taps with only top shelf craft brews. They are fans of West Coast style beers so Lagunitas, Green Flash, New Belgium, Stone and North Coast were all represented. The one local option that made the cut was the Korova Milk Porter from Gnarly Barley, and it was obvious why as it was damn good. In fact I’m pretty sure it was the first to keg to tap out on the night.
The brewery itself is small, so small it is being dubbed a nano-brewery. Their brewing equipment is slightly larger than what you would have at home, so don’t expect to find any of Courtyard’s beers at your local grocer. Because of it’s size don’t expect a big brewery tour either – if you’ve taken one brewery tour though you know the process – beer is made the same everywhere, with the same 4 ingredients – water, yeast, malt and hops. The brewery felt more like a tasting room and I’m pretty sure that is the vibe they are putting out there. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the tap list was superb, I left just as the food truck started serving, but I’m pretty sure they will be doing that as much as possible. All of the beers offered were $5-6 for a heavy 16 oz pour, a heck of a deal, so if you’re looking for a good place in New Orleans to get good beer at a good price, go check out Courtyard at 1020 Erato St.
When pushing a stroller around the neighborhood, taking my daughter for a walk, I’ve noticed that the fish in one section of our neighborhood pond will follow you as you walk around that section, to the point where they make tiny wakes trying to keep up with you. I guess someone’s been feeding them and has destroyed their flight instinct when it comes to humans. After I noticed that a few of the fish were big catfish I decided that it was time to educate them by way of the fly rod. Catfish are a lot of fun on the fly as is catching bream one right after another – at this spot you can do both.
Surprisingly once one catfish was hooked the rest scattered, the bream not so much. I can’t wait until Marin is a little bit older and I can introduce her to the sport as our neighborhood pond is the perfect spot to introduce a kid to fishing – non-stop action and right down the street.
Amanda and I spent nearly a week earlier this month with my family down in St. John of the US Virgin Islands. It was a tremendous trip, we had a wonderful time and really enjoyed a relaxing trip to the Caribbean. I wasn’t sure how we would handle being that long away from our little girl, but it really wasn’t a problem knowing she was in good hands with Amanda’s parents. We ate and drank well, we swam, snorkeled, hiked, and really just got reacquainted with an island that my family has been to a few times now. Some of the highlights included the sunsets on the deck, the hike out to Rams Head, snorkeling with the sea turtles at Maho Bay and tarpon at Francis Bay, and the sunset sail on Survivan. I packed a couple fly rods, but never felt the urge to break them out and dedicate time to fishing – I was too busy enjoying not-fishing, if that makes any sense.
We took our time getting out on the stream on Tuesday, I’m not even sure if we made it out before noon. Whenever we did make it out, the fish were still there and they were still biting. Numbers were down for me on the final day, but I still managed to at least hook and fight a fish in every hole. I think we did our job and educated a fair amount of trout over the past two days.
We made it to a spot on the creek we hadn’t hit the past two days and had a small flurry of activity there catching a few fish on dries, which is always a kick, especially considering the size of the dries we were throwing(locust size hopper patterns). Blake even ended up catching a redhorse on the dropper, right on the top of his snout. Beautiful fish, you rarely get an up close look at them even though you see them stacked up in the riffles, they hardly ever take a fly though.
We headed back toward the cabin for supper then Amanda and I decided to take Marin on a ride in the UTV. We caught up with my mom at a bend to see how she was doing and on cue she catches a nice rainbow. We got in the water for a photo op – I think Marin was impressed. Mom caught some nice fish over the weekend too, we weren’t the only ones there harassing the fish in the creek.
We made another evening fish after supper but all I could muster were a few hookups. No trout were landed for me in the evening, which made for a bittersweet end to our trip. We still had another great time at the cabin though. The fishing at the cabin seems to get better every year – a big thanks to Dad, Jim, Dan and the rest of the folks who look after the stream. They have created a tremendous resource for anyone that gets a chance to fish it. We never made it to a small stream on this trip and it didn’t even bother me. The cabin fishing was too good to leave. A big thanks to my parents for being gracious hosts to us, again.
This Memorial Day trip has become tradition and I look forward to it every year. It happens to be a great time to fish for trout in the North Georgia mountains and with the extra day off of work it just makes sense to head that way. Of course none of this would be possible if it weren’t for our freedom. I am very thankful to the men and women who serve to protect this great country and honor those who have died while doing so.
We had originally planned on Monday to fish for shoal bass and stripers in a different flow about an hour from the cabin, but with the rain we had overnight my buddy we were going to float the river with suggested that it may not be the best idea with the water rising and stained. I was a little bummed because I was looking forward to fishing somewhere different and it seems like every time I try to make plans to fish for shoal bass the weather has other ideas. At the same time I wasn’t too bummed because the creek was fishing better than ever and it wasn’t that bad of a backup plan.
We made it out to the stream a bit later than on Sunday and picked up where we left off. I was having a pretty slow morning that quickly turned around when I caught back-to-back rainbows on dries. Unfortunately on my next cast the tip of my rod decided to break off and go for a ride with the fly line. I’m not sure how it happened, but it was on one of my favorite rods, a discontinued TiCr 7wt that I won in the CCA STAR raffle. I’m not sure that TFO still has replacement tips for that rod, we’ll see what happens when I send it off. I went back up to the cabin, grabbed a couple beers and the backup 6wt.
By the time I got back down to the creek Blake had made it to the spot where I had just taken two rainbows on dries. Wouldn’t ya know that he soon caught one of the same fish I had caught. We could tell by a black spot(looked like mole) that was on the left side of his head. The merits of catch and release played out in a matter of 30-45 minutes. We moved upstream to another spot that has been productive to us and after getting a crazy aerial fight from a tail hooked fish with my dropper Blake connected with a nice brown – dubbed “Cooter Brown” as that is what I was drinking at the time. Dad had brought up a bunch of Jekyll beer from Alpharetta, pretty good stuff from my suburban homeland.
After that brown we headed up to the cabin for a Memorial Day feast as prepared by my parents – bacon wrapped scallops, shrimp kabobs, wings, and potato salad – we ate well the entire weekend. We then drove over to a nearby waterfall for a short hike with the kiddos. This was probably the highlight of the trip for Blake’s little toddler – he could have stayed for hours just throwing rocks in the water.
After the hike we had time for an evening fish. Hoping to imitate the success of Sunday we headed back to the same spot and began nymphing our dry-dropper rig through the runs. Just like the day before I hooked with a fish on one of the first few drifts. It was a little football rainbow, short and fat with a nice kyped jaw. It took a tiny rainbow warrior nymph.
Blake got in on the action with a kyped jaw rainbow of his own. As he was fighting his fish I hooked up with my own solid rainbow. We didn’t realize it at the time but it ended up being the rainbow that Blake had caught the night before. Jim pointed this out to us as I was sharing pics with the group who regularly fishes the creek. Another big fish and another catch and release success story.