As we do every January, we recognize fly-fishing achievements in Louisiana with our FLC (Fly Lines Column) Awards.
It’s like the Oscars, minus provocative dresses and long-winded acceptance speeches.
I’ve been asked who votes for these awards. The answer is me and me only. As the late Fidel Castro once said, “Democracy? What’s that?”
Fly Tier of the Year — Fred Hannie of Lake Charles is recognized as the nation’s top realistic tier, creating exact replicas of various bugs using mono, thread and ink.
His book, “Fly Tying with Monofilament,” was published late last year and has gotten rave reviews on Amazon. Fred was a headliner at this year’s Destination Texas Expo and featured in Flyfisher and Fly Tier magazines.
Event of the Year — The New Orleans Fly Fishers held their 8th annual Rio Grande Rodeo the first Saturday in October out of New Orleans City Park. Despite many past attendees having to miss it due to continuing flood issues, the rodeo still had a record attendance — and raised more than $400 for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Club of the Year — The Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers continued their community outreach this past year, tying flies for high school kids and at events like The Friends of the Refuge “Wild Things.”
In addition to their meetings the first Wednesday of each month, they now hold fly-tying sessions at Old Towne Fly Shop in Slidell on the second Thursday of each month.
Angler of the Year — Jeff Ferguson of Jennings made some impressive redfish catches on fly rod this past year. But ask Jeff what he’s most proud of and he’ll tell you it was earning his Federation of Fly Fishers Master Instructor certification at the FFF Florida Expo in October.
As such, Jeff joins a rare group of casting professionals worldwide.
Blog of the Year — Ben Roussel of Baton Rouge is an avid fly angler and member of the Jackson Kayak pro staff. His blog, “Mountains to Marsh,” chronicles his adventures, from wading rocky rivers for rainbow trout to paddling sandy streams for spotted bass to sight-casting for skinny water redfish.
Fish of the Year — Back in November, Susan Foster joined her cousin, Edward Cates of Converse, for a trip to Marsh Island. While enjoying lively action on white trout on fly rod, Edward hooked up with something really big.
After a 20-minute fight, a huge redzilla came to the net.
After taking measurements of length and girth, the giant beast was released. Later, Susan applied the measurements into a formula for estimating the weight of a redfish.
It calculated out to just over 47 pounds — heavier than both the state and world fly rod records.
For allowing this magnificent fish to live on and spawn, Ed also earns our “Conservationist of the Year” award.
Spring is conclave season. These day-long events feature seminars, fly-tying demonstrations, casting clinics and more.
There’s also a growing number of tournaments that are more popular with the younger crowd.
Here are a few notable events coming up this spring:
• January 21 — The Kisatchie Fly Fishers host their biennial Cenla Fishing Expo at the Baymont Convention Center in Alexandria. This expo covers all types of fishing — and admission is free.
• February 11 — The Texas Fly Fishers of Houston hold their annual Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival. This event features more than 75 fly tiers from across Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and elsewhere.
• February 18 — the annual Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival in Murfreesboro, Ark. Dedicated to southern Arkansas’ premier trout water, highlights include the boot camp casting clinic and the State of the River program by Arkansas Fish and Game biologists.
• February 25 — the Lower Mountain Fork River Foundation’s annual “Mystery Fly Tournament” in Broken Bow, Okla. It’s a fund raiser for conservation projects on this blue-ribbon trout stream just three hours north of Shreveport.
• March 4 — Red Stick Day in Baton Rouge. Hosted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers, this year’s conclave will feature Kansas’ Ed Lash, who is considered one of the world’s best deer tiers.
• March 10 — The Orvis store in Baton Rouge will again host the Fly Fishing Film Tour. These short films are extremely popular, and the event has sold out the last three years.
• March 11-12 — the first-ever Texas Fly Fishing and Micro Brew Festival at the Plano Center in Plano, Texas. It’s already generating a ton of interest on social media.
• May 6 — The annual Bass on the Fly tournament will be held on Lake Fork in Texas. This catch-photo-release event has been hotly contested between Louisiana and Texas anglers since it’s inception, with alternating winners from both states.
Looking to get started in our sport? Several clubs and fly shops also will be conducting Fly Fishing 101 clinics.
These are just a few of the many activities in 2017. A detailed listing can be found on the calendar page at my laflyfish.com website.