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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.

IMG_5045 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.

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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.

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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.

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I’ll just need to work on catching bigger fish now.

Starting this month I’m going to feature a different beer that I’m drinking, and liking, every month.  The idea was tossed to Catch on the Louisiana fly fishing site and I liked it so I’m going to run with it here.  I’m not going to give you a full blown review because honestly I couldn’t do each beer justice., but I do know what I like though and that is what I’ll share here.  I’ll try to link a review from an actual beer blog if you want to know a little more about each featured beer.

For August, I’m going to keep it easy and feature the Commotion Pale Ale from Great Raft Brewing.  The American pale ale has been my favorite style for awhile now and this one did not disappoint.  The Commotion is out of Shreveport and I was able to find it in Tonore’s Wine Cellar up in Monroe, LA.  The Pickle Barrel also has it if you want to sit at a bar and drink one.  Grab a sandwich too because they’re pretty good.  Distribution of Great Raft beer has been limited to North Louisiana but you can expect to see some of their beers in New Orleans next year.  Here’s what Great Raft has to say about the Commotion:

“This pale ale has a slightly fruity aroma, with an upfront hop bitterness of grapefruit and citrus. This complex but balanced dry-hopped ale is faintly sweet, but soft through the generous amounts of wheat.

Malts: Pale Wheat, 2-Row, Caravienne
Hops: Bravo, Cascade
Yeast: House Ale
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 49
Availability: Y ear-Round”
What really stands out about Commotion is the can design.  It really is quite exceptional – if you see this beer in a store on a shelf you are likely to buy it.  You’ll thank yourself later too because it is damn good. Oh Beautiful Beer had a great write-up (with pictures) on the background of Great Raft’s can design.
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If you’re a pale ale fan I highly recommend picking up some Commotion next time you’re up in North Louisiana.

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