I saw a good weekend day to go fishing a couple weekends back and pounced on it. The weather looked pretty cooperative and usually if you can catch mild weather in the winter luck will be on your side. I woke up early and got on the water shortly after sunrise.
It was a chilly start, but I knew the day would warm up so I wasn’t too bothered by the cold. Besides, the winds were light and the clouds were nowhere to be seen, it was looking like it could be a pretty good day to sight fish.
The tide was low, which is normally not a bad thing for sight fishing, however this tide was extremely low. This extreme low had the water pretty dirty. I knew it was low when I launched, but I didn’t realize that it would continue to fall throughout the morning. There were entire flats that were exposed that I’ve never seen exposed. The fish were nowhere to be seen and even when I did see them it was too late for me to make a cast. Fishing was tough.
I did manage to avoid a skunk though. Right around lunch I had made my way to a flat where I’ve always found fish. It is off of a deep canal, so even if the flat was mostly exposed, there was still some refuge that could be taken in the canal for the fish. Sure enough that’s where they were. There were a handful of big black drum (they looked white in the water) with their tails up in the canal. I moved into position and dropped my fly in the path of one of them and he vacuumed it up. The fight was on.
It was a hefty fish. It gave me a couple of good strong runs and put a solid bend in the old TFO Mini Mag. The drum was a square, nearly as heavy as it was long (35 lbs, 37 in. long). It was a fun catch and I was glad to have caught something, even if it did slime up the boat and my pants.
After that I tried to make my way through the marsh back to the launch, but without any water it was futile. I headed back the way I came, through the bay, and ran into Scott from Bayou Chronicles and his neighbor on the paddle back. We chatted and fished for a bit. He ended up catching a beast of a redfish later in the day as I was already loading up the boat to head home. The tide was coming back in after lunch and if I were patient enough I probably would have had better opportunities at redfish in the afternoon. It had been a long day on the water for me though and I packed it in. There’s always next time I guess.
I use to preach this more, but if you are new to kayak fishing or just shopping for a new boat demo days are far and away the best opportunity to see just what style of boat or even specific boat model you are most comfortable in. They provide the opportunity to try out as many different makes and models as you feel like getting into. These events are always free and typically come with store specials that are being run that day or week so they also make great opportunities to purchase a new boat as well.
I helped put butts in seats this past Sunday out at a demo day for Pack & Paddle that was held at Sugar Mill Pond down in Youngsville. We had fantastic weather and I was able to try out the Blue Sky Boatworks Angler 360 for myself – what a fantastic platform to pedal and fish from.
If you’re in the market for a new kayak do yourself a favor and call up your local kayak dealer and ask when their next demo day is. It is the best way to narrow down the ever-expanding kayak market to something more palatable. Sometimes the kayak you like best will be a surprise, which is one reason I like to work the demo days, to see someone’s reaction to a boat they may have not even considered.
I wanted to take a moment to profile one of the more unique fish found in Southeast Louisiana – the shadow bass (Ambloplites ariommus). In Louisiana they are only found in the sandy creeks that drain the Florida parishes – you won’t find them anywhere else in the state.
I’ve caught maybe a handful in my life as by-catch while fishing for spotted bass or longear sunnies. They hold real close to cover and don’t stray far from their hiding place to strike a bait. I’ve caught them on poppers and subsurface nymphs so they are fairly aggressive eaters, like their sunfish cousins. They are very closely related to rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) and resemble them in appearance. Their black-and-white mottled pattern makes them fairly easy to ID, especially when they are the only Ambloplites in the watershed like the ones here in Louisiana. The pattern can be well defined or somewhat faint, but combined with the big dark red eye they are hard to mistake for anything else.
They don’t get very big, a record was established in Georgia at 10 ounces, 9.25″, and I’d venture to guess that is about as big as they’ll get around here as well.
Keep an eye out for them if you do any fishing on rivers and creeks on the Northshore. If you spend enough time on the water between Baton Rouge and Slidell I’d imagine you’ll run into one one day and now that you’ve read this post you’ll know what it is.
I haven’t gotten out to fish for reds in a while, but Eli over at Bayou Yakin has. Check out his report and video from a late June trip to Pointe-aux-Chenes.
I had to work in Monroe last week and I brought a kayak just in case there was down time. Unfortunately there wasn’t much down time and I was only able to get out for a few hours one day. I elected to spend that time on Caney Lake, launching from Jimmie Davis SP. It was chilly post-front conditions that day which resulted in some quality time paddling and no time reeling in fish.
Although I didn’t catch any fish, I did see a few deer, a beaver, and several nutria. I had no idea they were on freshwater lakes too, but Caney was ate up with ’em.
I fished a lot of good looking water, maybe it was a case of right place, wrong time, or maybe I have no idea what I’m doing, it was my first time fishing Caney so I wasn’t too bothered to not catch anything. This is a lake known for big bass and I could see why, even if I only explored one branch of the lake.
The rest of my time in Monroe was spent working, but I did make it a point to stop by Flying Tiger Brewery one night to see how the local beer scene fared. I went in with low expectations just based on where I was and maybe a breweries location shouldn’t matter, but I don’t typically expect to get great beer from anywhere in the bible belt. I came away pleasantly surprised as they had several quality beers. The saison, IPA, DIPA, and milk stout were all very well done, enjoyable beers. On top of that the building was fantastic with a great big outdoor seating area too. I’d recommend a stop in there to anyone heading to Monroe.
On my way home from Monroe I did manage to fit in another short fishing outing, this time on Lake Rosemound. I had to make sure I could still catch fish and I’m happy to report back that I can.
I’ll just need to work on catching bigger fish now.