Fish Delacroix’s deep holes this time of year, and you’ll swear Santa Claus must be coming to town.
I read where the University of North Dakota is the latest sports program to be targeted by the politically correct crowd. The NCAA wishes to have the school’s mascot changed from the Fighting Sioux to something less offensive.Call me the Henry Kissinger of the sports world. I offered up a solution that would appease everyone.
How about the University of North Dakota Fighting Gobbules?
So far, no response.
FYI, a ‘gobbule’ is a bream. Yes, it’s a term I made up many years ago, but it’s now widely accepted across the globe. Why, just last week a Nigerian banker offered to add it to his country’s dictionary if I would help him retrieve funds from a deposed dictator.
I decided long ago not to use the word ‘sunfish.’ That’s a hippie word, and I hate hippies! What does a sunfish do? Lie in the sun, getting a tan?
No, the bluegills, redears, and longears I catch are true fighting machines. When they feel the pull of my rod, they become hard-charging rockets of energy. They battle until they have nothing left to give.
If you want to find out why the gobbule deserves to be a sporting mascot, you need to experience one on flyrod. I recommend a five-weight outfit as it has enough backbone to handle the occasional bass or catfish that might eat your fly, yet without being stiff. If you fish ponds a lot, then a three-weight will be a fun rod to have. Why not get both? One can never have enough fly rods.
There are many inexpensive rods that will serve the purpose. Stay away from the plastic-wrapped outfits, as well as any rod that has fewer guides (not counting tip) than the length of the rod. For example, if the rod is 8-feet long, it should have eight guides plus a tip top.
My favorites are the Cabela’s Three Forks ($59), the Bass Pro Hobbs Creek ($89), TFO Signature ($99) and Diamondback Americana ($129). The TFO and Diamondback rods carry a lifetime warranty. If you break them for any reason, ship them back along with $25, and you have a new rod.
When I was growing up, flies were pretty limited to popping bugs, rubber crickets or ligons. Today, the crafty bream buster also carries an assortment of deep submergent flies. Here’s a few that I use most often: Jitterbee, Tussel Bug, Cap Spider, Fluff Butt, Crappie Candy, Goldbead Hare’s Ear, Black Boudreaux and Squirrely. Nearly all these are tied with a bead head on a jighead hook, or with tiny dumbell eyes to add weight. Average hook sizes are 8 through 12.
If you’d like to tie any of these flies, simply Google their names, and you’ll find their recipes online at several websites.
Many of these flies can be fished under a “vertically oriented strike indicator,” or VOSI for short. Another of my fabulous creations, the VOSI is nothing more than a 1 1/2-inch cigar perch float cut in half. It’s original intention — with a concave face drilled into the flat end — was as the saltwater flyrodders’ popping cork. However, bream anglers have long been using it to suspend their weighted flies, as it doesn’t sink like those trout floats do.
I usually bring two rods, one with a popping bug or foam spider and another rigged with a weighted fly. Each requires its own leader. I like an 80/20 butt-to-tippet ratio for the poppers and a 50/50 ratio for the sinking flies. The butt section is usually 0x or 13-pound material, and the tippet usually 4x or 6-pound material.
Such a light leader might seem hard to cast, especially if you add a VOSI. That’s why a moderate-action rod is ideal for this setup.
You’ll want a belly pack or chest pack to carry your flies and accessories. A traditional fly vest will be too hot come summer. Besides, all it takes is a small amount of storage space for your bream stuff.
Three accessories I carry are a pair of forceps for removing flies, a zinger with line cutter and a small measuring tape. When I take photos of my biggest fish, that tape comes in handy as a “de-liar.”
Now that you’re rigged up, you just need a spot to go fishing, right?
There are many great bream waters in Louisiana, but most in the southern parishes were devastated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. So far this year, I’ve been revisiting some of my old waters around Alexandria, particularly Lake Kincaid.
Kincaid currently boasts the state fly-rod-record bluegill, a 1.64-pound specimen taken by Tony Boatwright in October 1999. I’ve caught several redears just over a pound from this lake, but nothing close to that size.
Most of the lakes in Central Louisiana, and North Louisiana, too, offer good bank fishing. But if you have a boat — especially a canoe or kayak — you can work the areas along the grass beds and near piers and boathouses where much of the bream congregate.
One technique I use is to cast a jitterbee or tussel bug, suspended 3 feet under a VOSI, somewhat into the direction of the wind, and let it drift. In the meantime, I then work the second rod, which is rigged with a popper. I’m working both top and bottom in hopes of finding what the fish want.
On several occasions, I’ll look up and find the float on the drift rig missing. One must gently raise the rod — just in case the culprit is a sunken log or branch. “Set the hook hard” should never apply to trees. When I feel a tug, then I set the hook.
It’s a memorable experience when you get into a bed of those “stumpknockers.” You know, the ones that stretch out to your wristband. The rod doubles, the line zings through the water, and you’re realizing that somebody needs to adopt the “hard-charging gobbules” for a mascot!