Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What now?

So you begged and pleaded to, dad, special someone...whoever before Christmas.  And it worked.  You woke up way too early, ran down stairs and found that bright and shiny new kayak sitting under the tree in the back yard.

You have a couple of buddies that convinced you to get it.  But now it's January, it's cold, the waters cold, and your buddies are quitters (mostly) and waiting for Spring.  What to do?!

Anybody want to go fish'n in Jan?
January is great for planning.  There are a million (not verified) resources out there to explore that will help you be ready for Spring.  Visit your local library...I hate books....Instead, join a kayak club, visit forums, and check out blogs.  Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club (BCKFC), Ozark Anglers (OAF), and my blog (duh) are a few (do a search for others or check out my blog roll) that have a wealth of information.  Facebook offers some other options for networking, page's like Central Arkansas kayak Anglers FB (CAKA), Bayou Pirates Kayak Fishing FB (BPKF) and way too many others to list (again do a search).  CAKA/BCKFC/BPKF often host kayak tournaments which sometimes include post competition COOK OUT's...that means eating, drinking, and BS'ing!  I'd like to fish a few this year just for the post party events!!!

Marsh highway

Kayak clubs and forums offer numerous pages of fishing reports, maps, gear reviews and other useful information that other anglers have provided.  The best benefit is having the ability to interact with other anglers on the site.  You can ask a specific question or easily search through years of data (data- yea right).  OAF has individual sections for popular rivers, streams, and lakes.  It's as easy as finding the name of the river/stream you plan to float and then reading!!

Bloggers offer detailed reports with pictures and usually network with other bloggers, providing a never ending web of information.  All are invaluable resources for planning purposes.  You could easily get a fishing report, launch locations, camping suggestions, and shuttle options from 1 blog centered around Arkansas...and linked to the Arkansas blog find another blog dealing with Redfishing in SE Louisiana or trout in Colorado.  Most bloggers welcome interaction and if you frequent their blog, will be most happy to answer questions...NOT in the comments section for all the world to read, but through email (PM -private message).

Remember to respect the source.  If you gain some valuable information don't post it on Facebook or other social media outlet.  But going past that...respect the area...practice catch and release and understand the environmental impact you have.  Example, last August I was heading the SELA to chase reds.  After getting several reports from BCKFC I had a good idea that throwing a fly rod from the kayak was going to be very stressful (warm water) on the reds.  Several reports I read expressed concern over reds not swimming off strongly and later finding a few floating in the same area.  I decided to leave the fly rod at home b/c this was a CPR trip.  Respect what other's share.

Let'em go and let'em grow

Now you're thinking; I'll join something and start asking questions (do a SEARCH-you'll hear that often on forums), posting pics of my pimped ride, and everyone will share their fishntale (*)!!  Not so fast...after building some trust...meaning you interact on the forum and don't just use it to collect fishing reports or BRAG, some users will be happy to help you.  Be prepared for the might get called out for something you posted or challenged.  How you handle that situation will determine how you're welcomed in the internet fish'n community.  Trust takes time to build so winter is a good time to start.  Especially since most are not on the water now either!  Time to start planning those yak angling adventures...take advantage of your resources!!

*fishntale would be a killer name for a blog, right!  (I'm stuck with looknfishy)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Use Caution - entering work zone!!!

So after several years of fly fishing I've decided to enter the world of tying.  I picked up a starter kit from JS Fly Fishing.  Some people will congratulate me.  Others will probably express the "wth" are you's hard enough with professionally tied flies.  Whatever your thoughts are it's cool!!

It's an awesome kit!!

Yep, it's also frustrating.  Especially the instructions.  Keep in mind I have put together 2 baby cribs, multiple kits purchased from Walmart (instructions written in India) and traveled to several foreign countries (inc driving on the wrong side of the road-that was in CA but who cares).'s an example of what I'm talk'n about, from the book, "you'll be, dubbing with dubbing" kidding...that helps!!

Terrible look'n, but fun to make.
It's all good...I've been look'n at youtube videos all weekend, plenty of info there, and it's even kinda helpful.  Understanding why certain materials are used is pretty awesome!  Can't help but think I have a better understanding of why an idiot (this guy) manages to fool a few on occasion.

Brassie - dubbing with dubbing!

The first fly from the vise was tied by my daughter...the main reason I started this new obsession.  I'm really building memories (a few flies included)!!!!

**If you have suggestions on resources, reading material, etc...don't hesitate to leave a comment.**

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cast from the Past - Lake Chicot, Lake Village, AR (April 2011)

Suffering again...that didn't last long.  It's cold and raining here today.  Both girls are home sick. I'm dreaming of bass season.

8lb off a bed, look at the tail!! (cooler for drinks-CPR'd)
Had to leave the kayak at home b/c of the 30 mph winds but I have an aluminum boat for those days.  It was slow and the weather was brutal.  I almost swamped the 17ft alumacraft launching and loading the boat.  But I fished anyway.  Not a bite until 9am...and then it was really good until 10am.  Just had to pitch beside cypress and let the soft plastic sit...the bass would move it.  Here are the pics from the day.  All weighed and CPR'd.  22lbs of fish in about an hour of fishing...not a bad day.

3lb  - purple/black on shakey head

The area I fished was in sight of the boat ramp.  I've taken the kayak there a few other times and had similar luck.  The biggest issue with kayaking this lake are the winds.  You need to check the forecast and launch's an oxbow lake with little to no protection from North or South winds.  The best thing to do is launch on the protected side and fish that area of the'll have miles of shoreline covered in Cypress and boat docks.




Look'n forward to spring.  The good news is that can be as early as next month here in SEAR.  I'm ready!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Infected with the Fever

News Alert....Cabin Fever is nearing epidemic levels and is wide spread across the fishing world.  I knew I was infected on Monday when I started making grand plans of driving all over the Country fishing in Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana...No, not 1 state, I was planning on fishing in all of them in 3 days.  I had a major case of Cabin Fever.  I get this way every March (no matter how much I fish during the year I can't build up an immunity).  It struck me early this year, January!  Luckily, reality punched me in the face and a bad decision got a black eye.  Otherwise you'd be reading about interesting bumper stickers, funny license plates, and getting a traffic report.  **Bad decision is in training and a rematch is scheduled for March!!**  Only known therapy is to get out and wet a line!!

treatment is a nice ~20" Bown - 1st fish
The weather has been down right, spectacular!!  The lows aren't too much fun, low 30's at night, ignore the lows!!!  Focus on the highs...HIGHS were near 70F!!!  All this over a 3 day weekend meant a camping trip wasn't avoidable.  It's only 3.5 hours to Heber Springs and I knew the LRR could treat my fever.  I decided to camp 2 nights at JFK park and reap the full benefit of treatment.  (Ironic since it was MLK holiday weekend)  Relief was almost instant, as I was driving over the dam I was greeted to an amazing sunset.

Only held phone up and snapped w/o looking - got lucky and captured it

 I packed lite so setting up camp was a breeze.  In under an hour, I was sitting by a fire, checking the generation schedule, and drinking a cold one.

Remember when I said, ignore the lows...don't listen to me.  At 5am when everything had a layer of ice on it, I was very much aware of the temp.   Gearing up isn't an option in my 2 person tent and I was dressing for a 30F start, warming to 65F...That meant stripping and redressing in the cold, short sleeves on 1st followed by cold gear to be removed as needed. Coffee not required for a jolt when you have freezing body parts.  

Jumped in the truck and headed to the river.  The COE was not running any water today so I was planning to fish all day.  I would head up river throwing streamers in fast water as the sun came up and nymph my way back after lunch.  Then back to the articulated stuff as the sun left.  It's fun to make a plan...plans are what keep you from being unprepared.  Back to that in a moment.

The morning started just like I planned.  I went to a spot I knew had a deep run and pulled 2 nice Browns from that run before 9am.  My fever was diminishing with every cast and I was feeling great.  I wasn't in a hurry.  I packed up about 9:30 and started up river.  The sun was getting high and the bite was getting slower but I was suffering from streamer fever now and I couldn't put the meaty stuff away.  I knew the areas that would be best for streamer work so I paddled past a bunch of water that would be great for nymphing later.

Throwing streamers isn't the way to load the boat and today wasn't different.  Caught a few more bows but that's it...just a few fish before lunch.  They were some hard fighters and I was pumped to pull 2 nearly 20" browns.

Took a break around lunch time, grabbed come calories.  Checked in at home...just enjoying the day.  When all of the sudden, I feel something crash into my leg.  I turn and there's my kayak, guess it's ready to leave.  The island it had been resting on was an underwater island now.  Confused I grabbed my phone and called the COE...guess they didn't follow their plan and pooped on mine.  They had turned on a unit for 2 hours earlier and that water reached me just when I got to my favorite place to wade.  Thanks for the warning.  I wasn't expecting the rise in water and wasn't such I was lucky to be standing by my kayak.

Wasn't the end of the world, some moving water increases feeding least that's what I read in my library of fishing magazines or watched or was told, can't remember where the knowledge came from.  But plan "B" was in action.  I go into fly fishing ninja mode.  I'm drifting...slinging at the bank, ripping, and stripping wait'n for that monster Brown to eat.  Hold on it's about to get real!!  Envision, full sinking line all over my feet, under the kayak, all up in my rudder...did I say "ninja" mode.  I meant "GB Packer" mode in the last 2 minutes of the NFC championship game.  It was both comic and tragic!  Full sink and kayaks don't go well one point I managed to tie the Cuda in the perfect improved clinch knot.  If only I could do that with my SH's (1 hackle always finds a way into the knot)!!?

So plan "C" if you will introduce yourself...say what...this will be on the fly, fly fishing!  Put the big stuff away and drifted an indicator until I found a place to wade.  So much fun watching my kayak with 1 eye (afraid it would lift and drift).  While watching my indicator with the other eye.  I did manage a few more bows on the way out.  Eventually, plan "C" became plan "D", paddle out and wade below the dam!!

Had a good time below the dam.  Not many people fishing and found a few small bows.  The campground was pretty empty over the weekend.

Made a quick dinner and a new plan for the morning.

Dinner w/ a side of beer can corn

Plan was to head further down river and avoid the water that was projected to run for 4 hours on Monday.  That would give me about 6 hours of low flow fishing.

Started the same as Sunday throwing a streamer in fast moving water.  It wasn't long before I had a beautiful brown in HAND...I say that b/c I had a net when I started's clearly visible in my pictures...but when I went to use it, it wasn't where I left it.

Wasn't here for long and eased back into the water

Didn't go far and got another eat from this nice bow!!!

The sun got high, a few boats ran through my water, just some excuses on why I didn't pull any more from that great run.  So I opted for the 5wt and nymphed the last few hours and lost count of the stockers.  They were eager to take soft hackles, and midges.

Around noon I started heading back to the truck.  I was about 1/2 a mile away when the water started to rise.  As luck would have it, I spotted my net floating in some slack water.  Nice to have it back!!!  After this weekend I'm feeling revived, not cured!  Cabin Fever has no cure, but when the fever returns I know what I'll need to do...get some therapy!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A beautiful day to be outside!

The day started out like most this week, raining and cold 33F, but man that changed.  By noon it was sunny and nearing 50F.  Finally...I couldn't stay locked in my house any longer.  At 1pm, I was lacing up my running shoes and running out the door, literally.  Made it to the drive way and turned around...double checking the door was brain is a lot like runners brain...causes one to get distracted and become forgetful.

Anyway, the cool air and sun was such a welcome change...perfect running weather!!!  But unfortunately, short lived, b/c I ran across this...I know it's hunting season...but seriously, is walking the carcasses 25 yds into the woods too much?  Then I wouldn't have to run up on dogs protecting their "kill".

But really it was this...dump site.

Fake tree dumped in a drainage ditch along the road - that's great for our water/fish!!

Still amazes me that people do this.  Not a treehugger...just been in the house too long.  Oh well, the weekend is looking fantastic and I'm planning on spending it on the water...somewhere!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No Fishing - Family Day at Black Bayou NWR

Wasn't able to get away this weekend.  The weather and other things got in the way of fishing.  But that made a great excuse for getting the girls out and visiting a place we hadn't been to since last year (about this same time).  Black Bayou NWR, north of Monroe, LA, isn't far from our house. For some reason, I haven't found the time to fish it but the trails through the park are great for families.

As you can see from the pictures, it's an easy walking path cut through some flooded timber and full of wildlife for viewing.  There's no end to the number of waterfowl, insects, and occasional alligator you'll see.

Very direct and to the POINT!!  Didn't see any to not feed.

On this trip we were reminded of a special day we experienced back in June 2014.  Along the trail are signs with descriptions of plants, trees, and other things you find in the refuge.

On one of these signs, we found a picture of the Luna Moth.  In June, we came across a Luna resting beside our front door.

Not something you see very often, my oldest grabbed her field guide and w/in a few minutes, was informing us that it was an endangered species and to stay clear of it.  We left it alone and used the side door the rest of the day.  The following morning it was gone, but found its way back into our lives 7 months later.

It was a chilly 39F today and the girls (all 3) were, more or less, humoring me as I led them through the park.  But after spotting the Luna, they got pretty fired up and really enjoyed the visit.  They were running from sign to sign, reading as fast as they could.  After about 45 minutes, we had covered the trails and decided it was time to leave, really they were ready to go shopping and that was part of the deal.  It was a great day, can't wait to do it again, minus the shopping part of course.

Links to check out (canoe rentals, educational activities, tours, children's programs, etc):

Black Bayou NWR
Friends of Black Bayou

Don't forget your's never too early to introduce your children to your interests but support their interests also.  Don't wait until their older...start now...and be creative!  They may not take to everything, mine don't like to fish (not this year anyway), but they love insects and nature.  My wife (hates insects) started this bug collection and it's a family event now, as long as I, COLLECT, everything they find!!!  They're still girls.

They don't fish, but maybe fly tying is in their future!!

While all this family bonding was going on, I couldn't help but notice the lake looks fishy.  It has a nice kayak/canoe launch with plenty of parking.  Added to my list!

Here are a few more pictures from the refuge: