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Last weekend I wanted to get Marin out of the house so I asked her if she wanted to go see what fish lived in the “creek” at the nearby park.  That wasn’t reason enough for her to commit to going, but then I sweetened the pot and told her that we could play on the playground after we fished which got her to immediately put her shoes on and head toward the door.

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The “creek” is a drainage ditch that runs through the park near our house.  It’s not very long, I’m not even sure it has a name.  You can jump across it and not get wet in some places, at bends it slows down and deepens enough to make a pool.  Those pools will hold fish.  On a hot, cloudy February day those fish were hungry.  We caught several species of small sunfish, some on tiny nymphs, but more on dry flies.  I brought a 1wt and had fun making bow and arrow casts to the pools and watching fish explode on the surface shortly after the fly landed.  Marin had a blast holding the fish and releasing them back into the water.

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Dollar sunfish (Lepomis marginatus)

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Redspotted sunfish (Lepomis miniatus)

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Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)

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Longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)

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Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

I was surprised at the diversity within this tiny trickle of a ditch, but really it shouldn’t come as a surprise as Louisiana is truly a melting pot for Lepomis species.  This was borderline microfishing but it was actually pretty entertaining, especially with ultralight fly tackle.  Marin loved it too, which is really all that matters.

My parents are in the process of selling their home in Alpharetta and when they do finally hand over the keys to the new owners there will definitely be a mix of emotions for the family.  Alpharetta was home to me for nearly half my life and home for them for nearly 30 years, so for them not to have a residence there will be a pretty strange thing.  The bright side of their departure from suburban Atlanta is that they have a new home on Lake Rosemound, here in Louisiana, just an hour north of Baton Rouge, so we’ll have the chance to see and be with them a lot more often as they split time between St. Francisville and the cabin in Suches and we are excited about that.

They’ve had the house at Lake Rosemound for almost a year now and we’ve made a few trips up that way, but never for more than a day or two.  It’s rare to find an entire weekend free it seems, but we were able to do just that this past weekend.  We loaded the car up Friday morning and headed north on Hwy 61 after work only to be greeted by a nice thunderstorm upon arrival.

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Amanda took advantage of us being stuck inside to whip up a fantastic shrimp creole for dinner, which I can attest paired really nicely with a Ghost.

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The next morning I was able to take out the new Kilroy DT we bought for Rosemound and see how she performs as a solo boat.  With dreams of big bass in my head I tied on a black buzzbait and began working it around the docks and other structure.  It seemed like a good morning for topwater as it was a little cloudy and not even the faintest ripple on the water from the wind.  I found out early on that the bluegill were going to be fairly aggressive today.

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After a while I wasn’t feeling the love on the black buzzbait so I switched colors and downsized and went with an oldie but a goodie, still a buzzbait, the Wolka double buzzer.  Terry Wolka, who use to frequent the Riverbassin forum, made custom lures and sent them out for guys to try.  I’ve managed to hold on to mine after all these years and have caught a number of fish on it.  It’s still in pretty good shape and is a testament to the quality craftsmanship that went into this lure.

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I’m not going to say that it was like a light switched on, but things certainly were better after the lure change.  I think it also helped that I moved into a shallower, grassier part of the lake, especially given my lure choice.

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The clouds gave way to a bluebird sky and I probably shouldn’t have still been throwing topwater, but I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to lures and I just wanted to catch them on top so I stuck with it and am happy I did.  I really didn’t leave myself much of an option though as my gear was pretty minimalist on the day.  If I wasn’t going to catch them on top, I wasn’t catching them at all.

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For about an hour the fishing was great, which was what I needed, because this was just short pre-lunch fishing trip anyway.

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That last one was the biggest on the day.  I’ve got no clue on the size as I didn’t pack a scale or a board.  It was great to finally dedicate some time to bass fishing the lake and I was pretty happy to have some relative success.  I know there are much bigger bass in the lake and I look forward to the challenge of trying to fool one.

We spent the rest of the day with a lakeside lunch at Satterfield’s in New Roads and then a Lake Rosemound beach trip with the kiddos.  The eggplant nelson appetizer at Satterfield’s is pretty damn good and this is coming from someone who’s not that big into eggplant.  I would recommend stopping there to eat if you’re ever in the area.

The next morning I took Marin for a paddle in the DT.  It was super easy to shift the seat trays from a solo position to a configuration where I could have her facing me, which was perfect for a toddler, but probably not something I’d do with someone who could actually help paddle.

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The DT paddled very well, even with a kid leaning out of the boat putting her hand in the water the whole time.  As with the 12′ Kilroy the DT holds the distinction of being one of the few kayaks out there that is both fast and stable.  I’m thrilled to have this boat at Rosemound and can see it getting a lot of use as my kids grow up.

At Marin’s request we hit the beach again before we headed on back down to Baton Rouge.  We really enjoyed our weekend up at Rosemound.  I look forward to spending more time up that way, learning the lake, and of course spending time with the family.

My beer coverage has been slacking as of late, so let’s catch up.  December’s beer of the month was the Parade Ground Porter from Tin Roof.  Tin Roof is my local brewery here in Baton Rouge and this is my favorite beer that they offer.  It’s a smooth drinking brew packed with coffee flavor.  I like it and I don’t even drink coffee, I wouldn’t judge if you woke up and drank one of these in the morning instead.

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Tin Roof’s winter seasonal is a “robust porter brewed with a special blend of New Orleans Coffee Company mocha and French roast coffee. This smooth brew is full of coffee and chocolate flavor,” per the Tin Roof website.  I’m not the only local blogger that’s a fan, here’s what everyone has to say:

And the Valley Shook!

The Ale Runner

Bite and Booze

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The Fly Fishing Film Tour will be back at Orvis in Baton Rouge in 2015.  Alex and the gang will be hosting the event Friday February 27th at 6:30 pm.  Tickets are $15 and a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.  I’m not sure if ticket sales have started, but the date has been posted and I believe tickets will only be available through the store this year – so stop by the store for more details.  You can watch trailers for some of the F3T lineup here: http://www.flyfilmtour.com/watch-trailers/

2015 F3T

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For those readers who are fellow Baton Rouge denizens, do yourself a favor and go visit the Paddle Baton Rouge website just to see what they have been up to.  Outsiders may not appreciate what the duo are trying to accomplish, but I certainly do.  Let me just highlight their “About” page so everyone has an understanding of what they are about:

Paddle Baton Rouge was created in 2011 as a grassroots group with a mission to improve paddling in Baton Rouge.  We are hands-on people who simply figured it was time *someone* started doing *something*, and it turns out, we also seem to enjoy a good day’s hard work.

Our mission, which we heartily choose to accept, is three-fold:

  1. Recon: We go see what’s out there.
  2. Trailblazing: Where debris blocks the water, we open a path.
  3. Cleanup: We collect litter to make the view worthwhile.

(There’s also an unwritten #4.  Where and when possible, we do what we can to improve public access to the waterways we work on.  That’s more talking than doing, and we prefer to get our hands dirty in the literal sense, but it *is* on our minds.)

Take a look around at some of the work we’ve been doing, and if you find yourself thinking that you might want to join us for a day on the water, we’d be delighted to have you.

It is one thing to talk about cleaning up waterways and improving access but it is another to actually get out there and do it and that is precisely what Paddle Baton Rouge is about. For those who are unfamiliar with the waterways they choose to work on – these are litter filled drains that are chock full of natural and artificial debris.  They’ve basically been written off for any sort of recreational use by the Parish and have been largely ignored even for proper maintenance as drainage.  I’ve fished them a few times when I need a quick fix, but often prefer to travel away from Baton Rouge.

These two saw a problem and attacked it with gusto.  Here is an article from The Advocate about the group(be sure to watch the corresponding video).  As a kayaker and citizen of EBR parish it warms my heart to see this.  Kudos to Paddle Baton Rouge on all they have accomplished and here’s to them continuing their mission on improving our local waterways.  Their “Upcoming Events” page lists scheduled cleanups where you can meet the group and lend a hand – I hope to make one of these soon, until then I will post what is scheduled below and hope that word spreads about their mission:

June 13-15, 2014

Project Clearwater — Do-It-Yourself Edition

Launching: Bayou Fountain at Highland Road Park, whenever you want.

Recovering: Bayou Fountain at Highland Road Park or whatever, whenever.

Mission: Nathaniel’s out of town, so after 26 straight weeks and 30 trips out on Bayou Fountain, it seems he and his canoe(s) are going to miss a weekend.  We’re trying to get BREC out for a tour, and after all this work, we certainly don’t want them to run into any obstructions, so if you happen to paddle the bayou and could send a brief note about what you find (or even, dare we ask) a photo or few that we can use for a brief post, we would be quite grateful.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Project Clearwater — Expedition 27

Launching: Bayou Fountain at Highland Road Park, 8am.

Recovering: Bayou Fountain at Highland Road Park, afterward.

Mission: Anyone want to spin the wheel and guess what this trip will bring? We’re pretty sure there will be water.