Cast your vote for surf fishing

Starting this month, fly anglers from across the region descend upon the Grand Isle surf.

Why Grand Isle is the place to be this month

In this crazy election year, we’ve seen some highly unusual candidates.

But none can top Limberbutt McCubbins.

McCubbins, a Democrat from Kentucky, was officially registered with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for president. While he wasn’t able to compete successfully against Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, he did get strong grass-roots support in his home state.

Probably what hurt McCubbins most was his inability to effectively debate the other candidates. That was going to be an issue from the start, since McCubbins is a cat.

Yep: Meow, meow!

To some, he was the purr-fect candidate, more qualified than most of the candidates who started the race. And he certainly had the vote of the “Cats Are People Too” crowd.

The whole idea was conceived and executed by two high school students as part of a YMCA Youth in Government program. They’re lucky it didn’t result in a “Youth in Jail” program.

As for poor Mr. McCubbins: There’s so much stress in running for office, having to deal with policy positions, frequent town hall meetings and the occasional fur balls to cough up.

Now that he’s lost the nomination, it’s time for him to relax. I suggest a little saltwater fly-fishing.

From my perspective, any time my paws get hold of my 8-weight fly rod, I’m ready for the salt.

This time of year, the surf at Grand Isle beckons, as trout will be pounding bait on the beaches on calm days.

Folks often ask me what makes surf fly-fishing so special. Most would say it’s being in the same realm as the fish, much like wading for cold-water trout in a mountain stream.

However, I would add that surf fish have extra vigor not seen in their marsh counterparts.

Many times I’ve hooked into a surf trout that, based on the fight, seemed like a 3-pounder only to come in at slightly over a pound.

Surf fishing is something any fly angler can do. It requires a minimum of tackle and accessories: a fly rod in the 7- to 9-weight range, a floating or intermediate sink fly line, a handful of flies (mostly Clouser Minnows), a spool of tippet material, a fish grip, a net and a floating fish basket.

There are a few caveats. The reel should be anodized, preferably with a sealed drag, as frequent dunks in saltwater fuel corrosion.

The fish grip should be one of the floating plastic types. And a 2-inch cross section of pool noodle slipped over the grip will help float your rod if for it falls out of your hand.

While my trips to the beach are common, the one weekend I look forward to most is the annual Grand Isle Fly Fishing Weekend. This is a gathering of members of fly clubs from Louisiana, Mississippi and a few other states.

Outside of the great feasting and camaraderie, this event is an opportunity to learn. With nearly 100 fly anglers fishing different locations, different tactics and different flies, the ones who are successful provide a valuable data source for others.

One example took place six years ago.

At first light, several of us walked the beach near the Grand Isle library. Not one of us waded out into the water, instead looking for signs of bait activity.

Dan Weber spotted something and immediately began casting outward while remaining in ankle-deep water. Pretty soon his rod was bent doubled, and a nice trout came flopping onto the sand.

The rest of us joined in and several more trout came in. As the sun came over the horizon, the action stopped.

We waded out into the breakers, into waist-deep water. Casting into the first deep trough, we all managed to connect on more trout.

As the sun came up more, the action slowed down.

But I noticed Dan and Murray Neames were continuing to catch trout. They told me they had added a sink-tip connector to their floating fly line. A sink-tip connector attaches to the loop at the end of your floating line, causing it to sink and keep your fly closer to the bottom where the trout were holding.

If you fish the surf, an intermediate clear line is probably best, since it cuts through the waves. But occasionally trout will hit poppers, and that’s why some of us will use floating lines.

Dan was continuing to do better than the rest of us. What I didn’t know was that he was also using a fluorocarbon tippet on his leader.

As the sun came up, it was obvious that the water was very clear. In the clear water, the difference between a strike and skunk was that fluoro tippet.

It’s said that in fly-fishing, the learning never stops. If I had nine lives like Limberbutt McCubbins, it might take all nine to be an expert on surf fishing.

At least knowing a few tricks goes a long way.


For CCA members hoping to place an entry in the STAR tournament Fly Rod Division, June is the best month to register a larger-than-14-inch trout. As summer wears on, and water temperatures rise, larger specks become more selective in their feeding habits — and less likely to eat flies.

Aim for big specks by tossing poppers from first light to early morning along the edges of shorelines, tidal edges and drop-offs. Later on, look for schools of mullet and other baitfish, and toss large clousers and seaducers using an intermediate line.

For school trout, try a clouser or charlie suspended 3 feet or so below a VOSI — the fly-rodders popping cork — over oyster reefs in lakes and bays.

Redfish will also be very active in the ponds around sunrise and on low tide. Small poppers like Dinks and Pete’s Perch Float Popper will entice vicious strikes early. As the day wears on, crab patterns and charlies will be effective.

If all else fails, cast a spoon fly.

By now the Atchafalaya Spillway will hopefully be in great shape for big “stumpknocker” bream. Tony Accardo, one of the pioneers of fly fishing in our state, had a great technique for locating these fish: He used a popping bug on the surface, with a ligon spider fly tied off the popper on a dropper line.

Flyrodders in New Orleans and Jefferson parishes were reporting larger-than-usual numbers of Rio Grande Perch, possibly due to the mild winter. Catching a one-pound rio on a 3-weight rod is like hooking a wet cat.

These South Texas natives love wet flies and slow-sinking spiders.

About Catch Cormier 275 Articles
Glen ‘Catch’ Cormier has pursued fish on the fly for 30 years. A certified casting instructor and renowned fly tier, he and his family live in Baton Rouge.