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Back in mid-July I managed to get a saltwater kayak daytrip in. The destination I chose was Leeville, for no reason in particular, it just seemed like it had been a while since I fished out of Leeville. I had every intention on making it out super early and watching the sunrise in the kayak, but we had gone to a party at a friend’s house the night prior and getting out of bed was a task in itself. It worked out to my benefit as I’m pretty sure a storm had rolled through the area at sunrise so I was able to avoid that. That was the theme for the day, avoiding thunderstorms, but I was able to do that for the most part.

I piddled around the marsh close to the road early on with no luck and made my way into a bay where I could tell the water was looking pretty fishy. There was a lot of bait activity and that bait was looking pretty unsettled. I even had a mullet jump in my kayak while I was just sitting there. Soon I caught a trout under a popping cork.

I pulled out the fly rod and started throwing my own version of a popping cork bait which was a Vlahos’ combo crab suspended off a an old crease fly Blake had tied. It wasn’t long before I had a nice fish on and after a good fight which had me wondering what the hell it was I had on the other end of the line I soon found out.

It was a gafftopsail catfish, which was definitely a first for me on the fly. It was amusing and slimy as hell. My leader was all slimed up and it took effort getting that slime off my hands. Shortly after that fight a storm chased me off the water.

I retreated back to the vehicle and hunkered down until I felt it was safe. After that I ventured back out toward the marsh. In between storms the winds were actually fairly light so I felt like I might be able to sightfish a redfish or two provided I could find flats that held them. The tide was high when I launched and had been falling all morning so the later it got the better conditions were. Eventually I put myself in a position to catch a redfish.

I kept fishing, hoping to catch a better one for the BCKFC/Massey’s yearlong CPR tourney, but I really wasn’t having much luck. As I got into skinnier marsh I was hearing fish crashing bait, which is usually a sure sign of redfish in the area, but it wasn’t redfish this time. It was sheepshead! Another fish I needed for the tourney and with them acting so aggressively I figured I had a shot to get one to eat and eventually after putting fly in enough of their faces I managed to get a strike.

It’s always fun catching sheepshead on the fly. I really don’t recall when my last one was, I think it’s been a few years. They are picky as hell though, I was thankful to have been on the water with some aggressive ones. I kept searching for reds and sheepshead, but started working my way back toward the vehicle as the afternoon was waning on. As I got closer to the road I connected with a solid redfish that actually broke me off. My line didn’t clear and got caught on something on the boat and the fight was over just like that. I was bummed because it was clearly an upgrade, but undeterred. I paddled around an island and soon enough had another opportunity. This time everything went right and I was hooked up to a nice upper slot red.

After a few pics I sent him on his way. I was satisfied to call it a day after that fish. I didn’t catch many, but I caught a few memorable fish and I figured I came out ahead having to dodge thunderstorms.

I put a link to the fly that caught the sail cat, but I wanted to take another moment to plug Nick Vlahos and his flies, which you can find at Sandbar Flies. Nick actually went to the same high school I did over in Georgia, Milton HS in Milton (was in Alpharetta I went there). Nick is a great guy and a fantastic fly tier, you can buy flies tied by him at his site, but you can also find some of his patterns at Orvis stores. I don’t know if it’s Fulling Mill or Orvis that carries his patterns, but the Baton Rouge store tends to keep them in stock as he did live in Baton Rouge for a number of years. Nick’s got some great patterns, be sure to check them out.

skullet

What do Hulk Hogan, Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare and David Crosby all have in common?  They all rocked a skullet at some point in their lives.  With the rate that my hair is receding I could sport a mean skullet myself pretty soon, perhaps elevating my awesomeness to the caliber of those skullet-bearers before me!  Blake’s latest pattern pays tribute to those brave men before us via fish skull and zonker strip.  Use this fly whenever you want to catch the most baddest ass fish in the pond/river/lake you’re fishing.

Materials:

  • Hook to match the size of baitfish you are trying to imitate
  • Fish skull
  • Mono
  • Bucktail
  • Rabbit zonker
  • Trilobal fiber
  • EP Fox brush
  • Krystal flash

1. Put the fish skull over the hook eye to make sure that it will fit. Start the thread and put down a base. I like to stop the base where the fish skull will end. It acts as a reference point so I don’t overcrowd the eye.

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2. Tie in a mono loop at the bend of the hook. This helps to support the zonker so that it doesn’t foul as much.

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3. Tie in some bucktail on the under side of the hook. This fills in a bit of the body and also gives a tad bit more support for the zonker.

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4. Tie in the zonker. Pull the tag in back and out of the way for the next steps.

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5. Tie in the trilobal wrap and palmer.

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6. Tie in the EP brush and palmer a few wraps. This material is what is going to give you the profile. The more wraps you do, the bigger the profile. I was going for the finger mullet look, so I went with three. Pick out the fibers after wrapping.

Unpicked:

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Picked:

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7. Separate the brush fibers on the top of the fly, bring over the zonker, tie in, clip excess, and tidy up behind the eye.

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8. Tie in red krystal flash on the bottom for gills. Whip finish.

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9. Coat the head with glue and push on the skull. I normally like to make a few wraps between the skull and the eye with thread, but I didn’t have room here. The glue will hold it on just fine though.

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10. Add the eyes that come with the skulls using some glue and the fly is ready to go. I like to run these flies under hot water and let them dry by hanging them from the hook eyes. It sets them in a nice, bait fish shape. Enjoy!

Before bath:

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Completed fly after bath and dry:

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