The duck action at Atchafalaya Delta WMA is often too good to fathom.
Fly fishers will find any means necessary to amuse themselves on the water. If it has fins, it’s fair game.For some time, there’s been a growing interest in carp, both the common (German) carp and the infamous grass carp, as targets for the fly rod. Today, there are books on the subject, guides who specialize in the sport, and now even the “Carp Fly Fishing School” held on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. And now the ultimate — a carp cookbook. Carp dumplings, anyone?
They’ve been called “Kentucky bonefish,” while in Texas they’re referred to as the “poor man’s redfish.” My question is this — if redfish are called poor man’s bonefish, and carp are poor man’s redfish, then just how really poor does one have to be to catch carp?
Tom Conner is a Michigan State professor who fly fishes for bonefish — the gray ghost — in Florida and carp — the golden ghost — back at home.
He draws an analogy between both.
“Like bonefish, carp can often be seen tailing in the shallows. Like bonefish, carp will eat whatever organisms they find or scare up from the bottom. And like bonefish, when they take your fly, expect a hard run that takes you into your backing,” he said.
Well, there is one difference. In addition to organisms like leeches, worms and crawfish, carp also have a strong fondness for plant material and pantry items like corn, dog food and bread. In fact, Conner’s favorite fly is his own “Corn Fly” creation.
My brother-in-law Leon lived in one of many thousands of South Florida neighborhoods where retention ponds were built to collect street runoff and protect bays and rivers from nutrient overload. To keep the ponds from being choked with weeds, sterile grass carp were stocked.
I had the occasion to join Leon on several backyard fishing trips where the golden ghost was our quarry.
The first task was to chum the fish by running the lawn mower and spraying grass clippings into the pond. Then we’d follow up with the infamous “grass fly,” which is basically any non-distinct green material tied to a hook. One chomp, and it was off to the races. Much like a big redfish — but a lot uglier.
In Louisiana, the premier carp fishery has to be False River near New Roads. In spring, the flats are full of busting fish. In late winter, the carp will be found back in the canals and bayous that adjoin the oxbow.
Last year, while fishing for crappie with John Landry and Mike LaFleur out of our paddlecraft in one of those bayous, my green Fluff Butt pattern was inhaled by a beast that dragged my canoe up and down the bayou.
Having a smooth-disk drag reel on my 3-weight saved the day, and eventually put the carp to the net. When weighed on the BogaGrip, he came in at 14.5 pounds, just shy of the world record.
Cajuns have a reputation for eating just about anything, but unless Paul Prudhomme can pull off some magical recipe, my interest in carp fishing will remain strictly catch and release.
Late winter is a busy time for fly fishing events, ranging from commercial expos to club-sponsored conclaves. Here’s what’s coming up:
• Saturday, Feb. 7 — Red Stick Fly Fishers (Baton Rouge) annual Red Stick Day conclave, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Waddill Outdoors Education Center, 4142 North Flannery Rd. Programs, fly tying, casting, paddlecraft, fishing on premises, food and refreshments. Open to public, free admission.
For details, check out the club’s web site at rsff.org, or contact Paula Cannon at (225) 924-7346.
• Feb. 13-15 — annual Little Missouri River Fly Fishing Festival. Community Center, Murfreesboro, Ark. This popular trout destination 2 1/2 hours north of Shreveport will be featured along with regional tiers and great speakers.
For details, check out the littlemissouriflyfishing.com web site.
• Feb. 14 — Contraband Fly Casters (Lake Charles) annual conclave, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Southwest Fishing Club on Lake Prien Drive. Programs, fly tying, food, fishing on premises. Open to public, free admission. For details, check out the club’s web site at cbfc0.tripod.com, or contact Mark Delaney at (337) 477-3845.
• Feb. 28 — Acadiana Fly Rodders (Lafayette) annual conclave, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Grace Presbyterian School Hall, 518 Roselawn Blvd. Programs, fly tying, casting, exhibits, food and refreshments. Open to public, free admission.
For details, check out their monthly newsletter online at laflyfish.com, or contact Rick Latiolais at (337) 988-5079.
• March 3-7 — Louisiana Sportsmen’s Show, Superdome, New Orleans. In addition to a myriad of attractions, there are fly fishing exhibits and a casting pool. Check out delgiorno.com web site for show times and ticket prices.
• March 19-21 — Ouachita River Fly Fishers (Monroe) annual Spring Rendezvous, Lake Bistineau State Park. Fishing and evening programs.
For details, check out the club’s web site at home.centurytel.net/orff or contact Buster Wolfe at (318) 397-9763.
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