As longtime readers to this column know, I hate “best” lists. So much so, that each year I make my own.
And yes, I’ve been diagnosed as bipolar.
Here’s my recognition of Louisiana’s best fly-fishing achievements for 2015.
Fly Tier of the Year — Stephen Robert’s passion for fly tying led him to form the Houma-based FinAddict Fly Fishers club. He teaches tying to fellow club members, ties at various events and provides flies commercially for shops.
Among his mentors are fellow Louisiana tying legends Kirk Dietrich and Ron Braud. His slow-sinking spider (bream), crappie candy and poppers (bream, bass) are weapons of mass fish destruction.
Check out Stephen’s flies at finaddictflies.blogspot.com.
Club of the Year — The Kisatchie Fly Fishers of Alexandria restarted their club in January 2014 after a 10-year hiatus. Perhaps I’m biased, being a KFF member, but I think the record this past year speaks for itself.
They held a Fly Fishing 101 clinic, a rod-building clinic, hosted a very successful Cenla Fly Fishing Festival, and took part in Kisatchie National Forest Day and Cenla Hunting and Fishing Day.
KFF meets twice a month at the Rapides Westside Library. For more info, go to www.kisatchiefly.org.
Event of the Year — The North Louisiana Fly Fishers’ third annual “Master Series” in Bossier City in July was a big success. International fly angler Davy Wotton provided insights to advanced nymphing techniques that catch more and bigger coldwater trout.
The runner-up award goes to the seventh annual Rio Grande Rodeo hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers back in September. Many big rios were caught — the total inches for all three places set a record.
Fish of the Year — The Red Stick Fly Fishers annual spring weekend to Lake Concordia usually results in good numbers of big bream taken. But three members also decided to pursue hybrid stripers and had great success.
One of those was Gary Peterson. He used a baitfish pattern to hook and land a 6.71-pound hybrid, a potential state record.
Anyone who has ever hooked stripers on a fly rod knows the power and tenacity of these fish. This was an epic battle, indeed.
Blog of the Year — Kevin “Doc” Andry chronicles his adventures at Kayak Fishing with Kevin, whether it’s for bass, redfish or rainbow trout. The videos of his trips are highly entertaining. He’s also an accomplished fly tier.
When not fishing, Andry is music director for St. Micheal’s High School in Baton Rouge. This past year, Andry was one of seven teachers nationwide to receive the Educational Excellence Award from the National Catholic Educators Association.
Video of the Year — Scott Myers is a New Orleans-based musician and photographer. His blog at scottmyersmusicnola.com covers his diverse interests from music to kayak fishing to gardening and cooking.
Myers has a few fishing videos on Vimeo, but his best one has no title (click on 9-13-2015-1920). Shot back in September on a trip with fellow musician Josh Reppel, it defines the epitome of a great day in the Louisiana marsh sight-casting flies to redfish.
Cormier’s 4th Law of Fly Fishing states that “Good casting leads to success.”
The same could be said of all skills of our sport — the more you know, the more successful you’ll be.
Whether you’re a novice, an expert or somewhere in between, there are numerous opportunities through regional clinics and events to learn and get better. At the very least, it’s a chance to meet like-minded fanatics and pass a good time.
Several events coming up this spring are worth noting.
On Feb. 6, the Texas Fly Fishers of Houston hold their 24th annual Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival. This event features the largest group of fly tiers on the Gulf Coast. This year’s headliner is Blane Chocklett, articulated flies guru and creator of the Gummy Minnow.
On March 5, the Cane Country Fly Casters hosts the Red River Fishing Expo at the Natchitoches Event Center. This event covers all aspects of fishing, including crappie and bass on conventional tackle, kayak fishing, and fly casting and fly tying.
March 12 is Red Stick Day in Baton Rouge. This annual festival, hosted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers, offers great programs, kayak demos, tying demos, casting lessons and great food.
A similar event to Red Stick Day is the Caddo Conclave on April 9. Sponsored by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers and East Texas Fly Fishers, it’s held at beautiful Caddo State Park in Karnack, Texas, right on the lake. You can fish the park with your Louisiana license.
On July 23, the North Louisiana Fly Fishers will again hold their annual “Masters Series” featuring Bob Clouser. Yes, the guy who created the Clouser Minnow, along with other great saltwater and bass flies. Cost is $40, and includes lunch and refreshments.
For beginners, there’s several Fly Fishing 101 clinics on the spring calendar conducted by clubs or fly shops. Each session covers terminology, hands-on knots and hands-on casting. Most are free but require pre-registration.
Again, these are just a few of the many activities happening in 2016. Each month I list upcoming events in a sidebar to this column. An annual listing can be found on the calendar page on my LaFlyFish.com website. Take a few minutes to check those out.