Speck-tacular flyfishing comes to those who wade
Members of flyfishing clubs from LA and MS hope to resume their summer wade-fishing ritual at Grand Isle, after a hiatus last year due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Summer brings clear water, small baitfish and fast predators to the surf.
The closures of beaches and lower estuaries hit hardest those flyrodders participating in the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Statewide Anglers and Tournament Rodeo (STAR).
It wasn’t until the last two weeks in September — the final days of STAR — that the boards in the Fly Fish Division filled up. Even so, the largest trout in either East or West region was a 1.2-pounder landed by Mike LaFleur.
It’s not like folks weren’t trying. I spoke to numerous flyfishers who were catching trout, just nothing of any size.
So what happened? Dr. Cormier has the diagnosis.
Because the STAR was delayed by a month, fly anglers found themselves fishing a time period when inside waters are their warmest — July through September. Coincidently, it’s one of the worst periods of the year for catching big trout on fly.
A peek at the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA) State Fly Fish Records confirms this. While the Speckled Trout Category contains rather large entries — ranging in size from 6.75 pounds (10th place) to Jeff Poe’s top fish of 9.31 pounds — none were landed in summer months.
One explanation can be found in Jerald Horst’s book, “Trout Masters.”
“The observation that many fisherman make, that large trout do not tolerate hotter, less-oxygenated water, may have a basis in fact,” Horst notes. “In most fish species, the body-mass-to-gill-area ratio increases, meaning that a large fish extracts oxygen from the water less efficiently than a smaller one.”
Little wonder that, for most of the year, active bigger specks are found in open waters with good tidal flow. Those areas were off limits for most of summer 2010.
Horst also notes that larger trout change their diet during this period, switching from smaller shrimp and anchovies to larger fish, such as croakers and mullet.
So when it comes to flies, size does matter. Peek into the box of your typical marsh fly angler, and you’ll see a wide variety of patterns tied on hook sizes 1 or smaller. A 4/0 size Seaducer or Deceiver is as rare as a good hair day for Donald Trump.
It’s not like we can’t use big flies. We just prefer not to — they’re not as easy to cast.
Two strikes. Ready for the third one?
Hot summer water holds more algae and more suspended sediment, both of which impede clarity. Here comes that famous 2nd Law again: “Clear water favors the flyrodder.”
So when the water’s cool, and clear, and highly oxygenated, and fish are deep inside, like in winter, flyrodders can compete with any lure or bait chunkers for those pig yellowmouths. Again, deferring to state records, half of the top 10 were taken in winter.
Fortunately there’s a place where clear, cooler, moving water can be found in summer. And this year it’s back open for business.
It’s the beach.
If you’re looking to catch those big specks in the surf this summer, here’s some suggestions.
Get to the beach at first light. Make your first casts with just your feet wet. Fly line is much more difficult to manage with crashing waves than mono (spinning or baitcast), and picks up sand easily. So cast a short distance out at first. Then as you slowly wade out into deeper water, you can let more line out.
Start with topwater flies like Skipping Bugs, Pencil Poppers and Crease Flies. The bigger trout will come to the top.
As the morning wears on, move to bottom fishing. Exchanging a floating line used for poppers with a sinking line is too much effort. I usually just carry a sink-tip connector and add it to the end of my floating line.
You want to fish big baitfish patterns. I mentioned Seaducers and Deceivers. Whitlock Baitfish, Sqworm Flies, Kinky Muddler and EP Baitfish Flies like the Peanut Butter should all be considered.
If you use fluorocarbon leaders for your sinking flies, use a secure knot like the Double Uniknot or the Triple Surgeons. Don’t trim the tag ends too close.
A 16-inch speck in the surf will pull line off your reel and test your drag. Imagine what a much bigger speck can do. Make sure your reel drag is properly set, especially if you’re using a heavier weight rod like a nine. Too much stiffness or pressure can easily tear the fly out of the soft mouth of Mr. Snaggletooth.
A few other suggestions. Wear light, quick dry clothing like nylon or polyester (no cotton) and water shoes or wading boots to protect feet and toes from debris or crabs. Use a floating fish basket and not a stringer — unless you enjoy the company of sharks. Wear a lanyard to carry your nippers, pliers, tippet spools and other accessories.
To protect my net and fly rods from sinking in case they’re accidently dropped, I use a 3-inch cross section of pool noodle foam around the lower end of the cork grip on the rod, and the upper end of the handle on the net. Pool noodle foam also holds flies to dry out.
Sometime in early summer, larger reds begin to migrate from the ponds to the shorelines and cuts on lakes. Though many reds still remain, you’ll find more diversity in the ponds, as drum and sheepshead fill the void.
Sheepshead, a.k.a. “Cajun Permit,” are challenging fish on fly. They’ll eat just about any fly that isn’t big. It’s the presentation and retrieve that get bites. Cast to the fish, get its attention, then retrieve in tiny half-inch strips. Keep the rod tip at the waterline, because when the strike comes, you’ll barely feel it.
Fishing for bass hits it’s second season. Summer bassin’ is about patience and targeting fish early and late. Sqwirm worms come into play about now. This is also one of the best times for poppers outside of late fall.
Bull bream fishing should explode in the live oxbows and spillway areas of the Mississippi and Red rivers when water levels come down. Try jitterbees, fluff butts, various beadhead minnow patterns and popping bugs at Lake Verret, Belle River, Henderson, Old River Morganza and Yucatan.
• Cane Country Fly Casters Expo. — June 18. Riverfront, Natchitoches. A celebration of fly fishing featuring fly-tying demos, casting lessons, kayak demos and more. For more info, go to canecountry.blogspot.com.
• 2011 Fly Fishing Film Tour — Lafayette. June 12. Pack and Paddle, 401 Pinhook Road, Lafayette. Doors open 3:30 p.m., with showing at 4 p.m. A collection of short independent documentary films featuring fly fishing adventures from the Louisiana Delta to Alaska to the South Pacific. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Seating is limited to 85, so advance tickets strongly encouraged. For tickets, go to packpaddle.com.
• Texoma on The Fly VI — June 18. Eisenhower State Park, Lake Texoma, Texas. Hosted by the Red River Fly Fishers and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Programs, fly-tying demos and classes, casting, exhibitors. Free fishing on premises. For more info, go to ww.rrff.org.
Subscribe Today and Save!!!
Louisiana Sportsman is the complete hunting and fishing magazine for Louisiana.
Devoted to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities in the wetlands,
Louisiana Sportsman is the information guide for Louisiana's most active hunters and fishermen.
Posted on December 10, 2012 at 9:00 am by Catch Cormier
Posted on August 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm by Catch Cormier
Posted on July 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm by Catch Cormier
Posted on June 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm by Catch Cormier
Posted on May 02, 2011 at 6:17 am by Catch Cormier
Fished the Michoud Substation ICWW at hot water canal Friday. Let me start by saying WOW!!! BIG Trout every few cast. It...
Featured Fishing Guide
Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne to the marshes, bayous, and bays from Reggio, Delacroix Island to Point A La Hache and all the open waters of Breton Sound and Black Bay. Targeting Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Drum, Sheephead & Triple Tail.
Since 1974 Dufrene's Guide Service has been building it's list of satisfied customer by helping them enjoy some of the best redfish and speckled trout fishing in the world.