Back in June I got a wild hair to spend a morning fishing in City Park down in New Orleans. I wanted to target the non-native Rio Grande (or Lowland, apparently there may actually be two different species in the Park) cichlids that have made a home for themselves in the Park. I’ve caught a few in my life, but never really targeted them explicitly, so today was the day. I settled in on the lagoon where I’ve caught them in the past and went to work.
The water was super clear, as is typically the case in this lagoon, and probably a bit lower than normal due to our mild Spring drought (it didn’t rain 1000″ in South Louisiana this Spring). Temps were on the abnormally hot side for June which meant a pop-up thunderstorm could happen at any point. We had already reached our summer weather pattern here in South Louisiana. It was going to be a hot, humid sweatfest of a day.
This lagoon is pretty heavily vegetated aquatically and around the perimeter so you can really only cast in select spots. I popped into a few and eventually found one where I could see a pair of cichlids in the super shallows. They looked like they may have been preparing to spawn as they displayed some “guarding the nest” behavior. I’m not real worried about disturbing an invasive species during it’s spawn so this worked in my favor in terms of being able to sight fish them. After a few errant casts I was able to place a nymph close enough to illicit an eat. The eat was slow, but deliberate, and in short time I had my first cichlid on the day.
I botched an attempt at the other cichlid, a bigger one, that this fish was paired up with and after bidding my bird friend behind me adieu I moved on.
I switched from a weighted pattern to an unweighted nymph and that slower sink rate proved to be just the ticket in this shallow vegetated part of the lagoon.
As I worked my way around the pond I missed a couple more sightfishing attempts, including a fish on a beetle pattern I was using above my Tellico nymph, before bringing another one to hand. I had him all the way to the bank, a big one, but lost him as I went to lift him above the tall vegetation along the shoreline.
I was able to redeem myself though and did catch the next couple of fish on the beetle. The topwater eat was a very slow slurp, almost like a cutthroat sucking down a dry fly, so it took a little more patience to not pull the fly right out of their mouth.
Content with the handful of Rios I caught I decided to pack it up and head to some nearby canals to continue targeting non-native species and try my luck with a more discerning freshwater fish, the common carp.
The beautiful, majestic straight-line canals of Metairie hold plenty of carp and gar for the fly angler who likes to be frustrated. They aren’t hard to find, you can see them rooting around the bottom of the canal searching for food. I have a hard time connecting with them though, it seems like you’ve got to have everything perfect in order to get an eat. By perfect I mean the fly has to be right, the distance ahead of the fish has to be far enough so that it doesn’t spook on the splash, but close enough that it can pick it up while it hoovers the bottom, and then you have to be able to set at that critical moment when they do eat, which is often fairly hard to detect. This is why I’ve only previously caught only one of these bastards. Thankfully my second came about an hour into trying for them which, I’ll admit, could have been far worse.
It was lunch time at this point and starting to really heat up so I packed it up and headed on out. I’m not that dialed in on the carp so it seems to me like only someone who is a real glutton for punishment could enjoy carp fishing. That being said the challenge of trying to fool a carp was exciting and catching Rios at City Park was a lot of fun so overall the morning was a complete success.