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Tag Archives: Sheepshead

Back in June I had the pleasure of joining my friend Josh on a trip to fish out of his “new-to-him” Sabine Micro. Sabines are designed and built by another friend of mine, Brian Little, over in Texas. They are aluminum technical poling skiffs that are designed to have no hull slap on the water. They are very nice boats and what a joy it was to finally fish out one! A long time ago, pre-kids, I fished with Brian out of a fiberglass skiff he built in his garage in New Orleans. I was floored then by his craftsmanship and attention to detail and things have only gotten better now that he has full blown production models.

Josh picked his boat up in Texas and was on his way back home to Alabama. He wanted to fish the marsh somewhere in Louisiana and I was lucky enough to get the invite to go and lucky enough that I had time to break away to fish. We arrived after sun up in St. Bernard Parish to excellent conditions and had a pleasant ride out to the marsh. The tide was a bit higher than I like but eventually we caught our first redfish on conventional tackle and got the skunk off.

It was a privilege to slide the first fish into Josh’s new boat. It was a beauty of a redfish too, a typical sweetwater red like you find down in da Parish.

Neither of us are purists so I was switching between fly and conventional, mainly due to the water level. We weren’t seeing a whole lot of fish and when we did it was a little late to get a good cast off to them. It’s kind of frustrating when it works out that way, but that’s usually why I have back up conventional gear, for those just-in-case situations. In a deep bayou I caught a little trout and lost him at the boat, then I hooked into a hammer trout and after a short fight lost him at the boat as well. I was trying to work my way down from the casting platform to get the net for a no doubter 20″+ trout, but he ran under the boat and worked himself free from the hook. It was heartbreaking. I rebounded with another redfish, but losing that trout was tough.

Later in the morning with the fly rod in hand we spotted a redfish moving some distance ahead in a pond we were in. It was at the far end of my comfortable casting distance and after a couple of false casts I bombed a shot to this fish and hoped for the best. It happened to land exactly where I needed it to and even curled the line so as to not spook the fish. A fool would think I did it on purpose, I can’t explain it, but that’s how it worked out. The fish pounced on the fly and I set the hook on what I thought was our first fly caught red for the boat. Shortly into the fight I realized it was a sheepshead! A welcome swap for me, the ‘ol Cajun permit was eager to eat my friend David Roger’s fly.

Throughout the morning storms were popping up in the distance and shortly after the sheep was landed lightning started popping off that was a little too close for comfort. We decided it was better to be safe than sorry and call it a day. Josh had time to make the drive back home by quitting then too so it just made sense.

It was a treat to fish with Josh out of his new boat, I’m very thankful for the invite. The boat was fantastic and I can’t recommend Sabine enough if you’re in the market for a bombproof flats skiff. It’s the quietest aluminum boat you’ll ever ride in. That Yeti chair you see in some of the pics is the real deal too. Josh had picked that up and it was a perfect fit in the Micro. It made for a super comfortable ride. The fishing wasn’t on fire, but we were able to land a few fish and I think it was a good shakedown run.

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.

2015 is over so here’s a look back at my (outdoor) year in pictures.  Click on any pic to read more from that day.

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The year started off solid, with my first ski trip with a big group of friends.  It was a ton of fun and really set the bar high for a non-fishing trip.  Then came a personal best brown from Memorial Day weekend, which was actually the same pb brown I caught last year – what are the odds?  I think the high point though will be the Wyoming Cutt Slam trip in August.  Five days of incredible dry fly fishing with a great friend is tough to beat.  It was a fine year and like any other year it had its share of ups and downs, but I’m ready to see what 2016 brings.