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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.

I’m always looking to add species to the fish page here on the site and I know there are some smaller sunfish species found locally that have eluded me thus far, so I put in a couple hours with the fly rod on a local ditch on Friday afternoon to see what I could find.

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The bream beds were thick in one stretch of the creek and I caught quite the variety of sunfish in short time.

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IMG_6577Longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)

IMG_6579Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

IMG_6580Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)

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The ditch was very shallow, but full of life.  There were also redear on beds and bass and gar cruising around, none of which I managed to fool with a fly.  It’s not the prettiest place in the world to fish and it’s hotter than hell right now, but you can’t beat the diversity of species.

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve got out and waded a local creek with the fly rod, so I did just that this past Saturday.  Ever the explorer, I hit a stretch of creek I’ve never fished.  In fact I’ve never really thought much about fishing this stretch until they recently opened a park along it.  I didn’t think it would be much different than other stretches of the creek I’ve fished or some of the creeks I’ve fished in the past but I was wrong.  This one was much tougher.

Most of the creeks I wade around here have big sandy spoil banks and shallow riffles that connect them, making wading a breeze.  Quicksand is about the only thing that can slow you down.  In fact, unless you get hung up structure or a tree on the other side you rarely have to wade deeper than your knees.  This one wasn’t like that.

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The hike in was fairly muddy and full of these guys.  Most you could avoid, but some had their webs a bit too low for comfort, so careful tip-toeing was required to negotiate around them.  I know they’re harmless, but they’re still a big spider.

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Then I cut through the woods, navigated my way through briers and poison ivy (I made a poor decision that morning and chose shorts instead of pants), then amble down a 20-30 foot muddy bluff face just to access the water.

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I caught a fish and took a picture just in case it was the only one I caught on the day.  Usually the wading part is no big deal once I get to the water.  Not here though, the bottom wasn’t as hard as the others, the water clarity wasn’t as pretty as the others and it had spots that seemed deeper than the others and soon enough I stepped off a mud ledge into a hole up to my chest.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that, glad it was super hot out.

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The wading wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the multiple downed trees that forced me to go up and down the bluffs just to get around them. Eventually though the wading got easier and of course the fishing picked up.

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Then it became a longear-fest.  If it wasn’t for the early bream and the world’s smallest bass that’s all I would have caught.  They were very aggressive, in full spawning regalia.

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I probably only covered 3/4 of a mile in five hours and didn’t catch anything bigger than my palm.  Scouting trips can be like that though, you really don’t know until you go.  Well now I know and I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Still beat sitting at home though.  Fishing trips always do.

I had to work up in Northeast Louisiana this past week.  This was the last part of our great state that I had never visited.  Monroe reminds me a bit of Alexandria, the two being of similar size, having similar populations and offering similar amenities.  The work I’m doing sometimes affords me a bit of free time, other times I work 12-13 hour days.  I had almost an entire day to myself yesterday and decided to make the drive over to Poverty Point.  Maybe not the first choice for many people, but I figured why not go check out the monumental earthworks while I was somewhat close.

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If you couldn’t tell I had the place to myself.  No one else is dumb enough to walk around outside in rural Louisiana in the dead of summer and at high noon.  It was hot as hell, but I enjoyed it. The earthworks were impressive.  The amount of artifacts that have been found at Poverty Point were impressive.  They weren’t all from the same area or tribe either.  Their trade network was huge.  There was a thriving civilization there way back when.  Kind of humbling to walk around the site alone, like I was in a Native American ghost town.

I left Poverty Point and decided it was time to go fishing.  It had been too long since my last outing (late June) and although this would be just a little afternoon bank fishing it was welcome.  I headed over to Kiroli Park in West Monroe.  While working I learned there was a fishing pond there and some trails so I had to go check it out.

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It was actually two ponds and they both held plenty of fish.  These little bass were a hoot.  They were ambushing minnows in the shallows causing all kinds of racket.  It was tough getting them to take a fly because they were in such a hurry.  Near a submerged log, in a shady part of the lake I saw a nice bluegill working a deep bed.  I had it hit the topwater a few times, but knew it would take a nymph so I tied one on and threw it back out there twitching the bomber ever so slightly. As the bomber started moving sideways I set the hook and it was a good fish – one of the biggest gills I’ve probably ever caught.  I then moved to the upper lake and found a nice school of bluegill under a tree, all smaller than the big one, but consistent action for a little while.

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Eventually that bite tapered off and I went on a walk on the trail, taking the long way back to the truck.  The trail crossed a sandy little creek (tiny enough to jump across) and curiosity got the better of me. I walked the bank of the creek tossing a fly in every likely lie.  Wouldn’t you know it that every likely lie was holding a fish? There were bluegill, bass, sunfish, goggle-eye and beyond the fish the creek was loaded with mussels and crawfish – this little creek was full of life.

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I was very impressed by Kiroli Park, what a great resource the city of West Monroe has.  They park was in great shape and it was obvious that it was a favorite of the locals – there were lots of people using the facilities.  Having not done any fishing since June, this was the perfect place to come fish.  To top it all off, I even stopped to pick up a few local brews from Shreveport – the Commotion is pretty darn good too.IMG_3198

Amanda and I took a somewhat last minute, short notice road trip over the Independence Day holiday to the Texas Hill Country, where we stayed in a cabin outside of Fredericksburg. We set out after work Wednesday evening and made it to the cabin REAL early Thursday morning, driving in the dark from about Houston westward. Over the last 1.5 hours of the drive we counted about 62 deer passed on the road, which was both exciting and a little nerve racking.

We woke up Thursday morning and stepped outside on our deck to a pretty impressive view, where we were soon joined by a couple of hungry deer. The reason we had a view was that our cabin actually sat on the ridge that separates the Pedernales and Guadalupe watersheds.

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Thursday was spent in and around Fredericksburg just playing tourist. The downtown historic district was pretty cool, but I think Amanda got the biggest kick when we got back to the cabin. We chatted with the owner who lives on site and he invited us over to come see the baby skunks and fawn they had been raising. The skunks had just been descented so they were okay to handle and the fawn had lost its mother, so they were bottle feeding it back to health. Amanda is not much of an
“animals as pets” person, she loves them at a distance, so it was fun to watch her pet the skunk and the deer. We ended the day in true American fashion with steaks on the grill. Admittedly we didn’t go see any fireworks on the 4th, opting to stay in and watch them on TV.

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On Friday I convinced Amanda to head to the South Llano with me so that I could try and catch a Guadalupe bass while I was within their native range. The state fish of Texas, they are only found in the Hill Country region, think of them like a Texas brook trout. The South Llano was a pretty river, much wider and deeper than I thought it would be, at least in parts, which made wading a little tough. It really looked like big largemouth territory though I didn’t catch any. I caught a few Guadalupe bass, 9″ was the biggest, and lots of different sunfish, which was a nod to how diverse the river is. I also got to see the Rio Grande cichlid in it’s native environment while I watched pairs of them protect their spawning beds.

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Neither of us had really ever visited the Texas Hill Country (sure I’ve been to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, but that hardly counts) so the landscape was a pretty stark contrast to what we were use to. The hills are covered in short, stubby Texas live oak and prickly pear cactus, it was almost like being in a different country as I walked back to the car.

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We headed back to Fredericksburg via US 290 and had to do a double take as we passed a herd of deer under some trees. They weren’t the normal white tailed deer we had been seeing, they had to be something exotic, I know the ranches have plenty of exotics. We just couldn’t put our finger on what exotic they were. Some locals tried to tell us they were Axis Deer, but their antlers looked more like Reindeer to us, I’m still not really sure what we saw, but there is a large herd of them under some trees on a ranch outside of Harper.

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We capped the day at Old Tunnel State Park, where we got to see the bat emergence. No good pictures were taken as it was close to 9pm, but imagine a swirling vortex of millions of bats leaving an old tunnel and flying downhill just over the tree tops – a pretty cool sight to behold.

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Saturday we decided to take a trip over to Enchanted Rock to do a little hiking. Enchanted Rock, like Stone Mountain in Georgia, is a huge granite batholith. Enchanted Rock though is a bit further from civilization and by default, less touristy. Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of tourists there (including us), but  Stone Mountain is like the Gatlinburg of Atlanta, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. I like to imagine Enchanted Rock being more like Uluru out in Australia, landscape and all. We hiked to the top, then came down and made a loop around the rock. It was a nice hike that got pretty hot toward the end. I failed to mention so far that the weather was awesome the entire time we were there. Highs were in the mid 90s, but lows were mid 60s – mornings were very pleasant.

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We stopped for lunch in Fredericksburg where I had some killer enchiladas at Mahaley’s Cafe. Then we headed over to the Pedernales Brewing Company for a tour and some beer. Wore out from our hike, we napped at the cabin after that and finished the trip with another solid meal at Alamo Springs Cafe – one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

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On the way back to the cabin I had to stop for a picture with this agave, as you can see it was a pretty impressive size. We also ran into some more deer. As we came to find out, the Hill Country has a deer problem. We counted over 260 deer during our stay there.

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Sunday we woke up and hit the road for the long trek back to Baton Rouge. We really had a lot of fun on our trip to Texas. If you are looking for lodging in the area, I can safely recommend the Walnut Canyon Cabins near Alamo Springs. Dave and Laurie were incredible hosts and the cabins were the perfect getaway for just the two of us.

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