Friday, December 9, 2016

The day I got lost in Brown Town on the Little Red River

Last weekend some friends invited me to the Little Red River.  They only had room in their boat for three dudes and a giant cooler of beer.  So the plan was for me to start up river on Saturday morning and float down to them in my kayak.  We'd meet for lunch and fish the afternoon together.  If you know me, you can see where this is going...

When I got on the water and started fishing I knew I was going to detour from the plan.  But these guys know me well enough and being fishbums themselves understand that plans are just a good idea not meant to be taken seriously.  That's my understanding anyway.

On the 3rd drift, I hooked and landed this beautiful bow.  A guy fishing near me was kind enough to snap a picture.  I spent 20 minutes with it and watched it swim away strong.  If my day had ended right then, I would have been good with it.  

The area was starting to attract some attention and became a little too crowded for me.  I prefer to fish without an audience.  I decided get in my kayak and find some new water.  I had only planned on fishing through the next area quickly and moving closer to the meet up.   Looking back, I realize that was where I took a wrong turn.  The first brown caused me to miss my exit.  I should have made a u-turn and got back on track.  However, I failed to notice it because a second brown was steering me down a new road.  When you're really lost, there's a point that you stop caring and say "Oh well (or different word), I'm taking the scenic route today."  That's where I was when the third brown ate.  The day got away from me here.

I had good intentions but the fish kept distracting me.  I'd be ready to leave and then I'd get an eat.  It was like they knew I was suppose to be somewhere else.  Not every eat resulted in a brown caught but seeing those wild browns scream across the river and leap into the air re-set my internal timer and led me in a different direction.

I tried to call and check-in but I ended up taking photos of trout instead.  Hours passed before I realized how off schedule I was.  The rainy, overcast conditions helped hide the progression of the day.  Before I knew it, it was completely lost in Brown Town.

The next day my buddies let me in the boat and we fished until lunch.  I guess the boat will hold 4 occasionally or they didn't want me getting lost again.    

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Not a bad day in Pointe-aux-Chenes, LA

About a month ago an invitation to film the new JK Cuda HD down in Southeast Louisiana was extended to the JK team.  No chance I was going to miss out.  So I cleared my, lets call it less than full, schedule and set the dates aside for some kayak fly fishing.

I've never been to PAC and wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  I knew it held loads of willing redfish.  I've followed fellow JK team member and blogger Eli Braud from Bayou Yakin for about 2 years.  He regularly fishes the area with great success and was going to be there the next morning to show us around.

I arrived at PAC kayak rentals at 6pm.  Eddie and his wife Mrs Lisa, the owners showed me around and helped me find the beach where I would be tent camping for the next 4 days.  Well, that was the plan I had been told.  Eddie informed me of a new plan.  The houseboat was going to be free after the first night and we could have it.  That's the kind of news I like to get.  During the last JK Mediahouse trip, my wife informed me about a new river running through our home due to the 100 year storm that was happening while I was fishing in the FL Keys.  This trip was looking up!

The weather was perfect for sightfishing.  We enjoyed lots of sun and low winds while we were in PAC.  As you can imagine with such great conditions, the fishing was crazy good.  However, it wasn't easy.  The water is known for being really clean, which means you see reds easily but they also see you.  It took an hour to get that first eat.

I came out of a cut and saw a redfish belly crawing over a shallow mud flat.  I stopped the kayak and swung it around so that I could intercept its path before it found deeper water.  The trick in these situations is presenting a bug delicately.   Any disturbance in the area will send the redfish into "stranger danger" panic mode.  My fly of choice was a lightly weighted craftfur minnow with small BB chain eyes.  It lands soft and sinks slowly.  I try to put it about 10 ft away and bring it to the fish in a way that looks like bait fleeing a red and not like bait trying to get dead.  This technique worked well for me.  The video shows a few of the many reds caught over those 4 days (at the end of this post).

We fished the same area for two days and I don't feel like I saw half of what was available.  The third day we drove west to Cocodrie, LA.  I'll admit, after the two days of fly fishing I experienced in PAC, I was slightly bummed to fish a new area.  Turned out I had nothing to be concerned about.  The only real change, the fishing was red hot for about 3 hours then dead.  I caught as many in those three hours as I did all of the first day.  We packed up early and stopped for dinner on the way back to PAC.

On the vise

Off the vise

Day four started tough.  I paddled to the area I had fished the first two days but never made it.  A guy in a duck boat stopped me and informed me I was trespassing on a duck lease.  Louisiana property laws are different than Arkansas, the property owner owns the land and the water covering the land and they don't have to post it.  It's up to me (you) to know where you can fish legally.  Although I don't like it, I can see the argument.  The marsh is changing and eroding, it's not out of the question that a piece of land that was once above water is now covered.  If I were a LA property owner I would not want to hear I lost my property because it's now underwater.  I can also see the other side.  I'm only accessing the water, not the property.  Colorado has similar laws.  You can use the water but do not walk, wade, or anchor on private land.  I got yelled at in CO also.  Anyway, I apologized and made my way out of that area.  He was very polite about it and gave me some directions to a public area.

It took a few hours to find fish.  Eventually I paddled about 2 miles out to a section of marsh islands that were loaded with reds.  I only wished I had done it earlier.  I ended the day with 11 reds, I only had 3 at noon.  After 3:30 pm sighfishing was done and so was my trip.

The weather changed quickly.  The last night we had to tent camp on the beach.  The forecast was for winds in the 20-30 mph range.  I'm confident they reached that range because I was awake listening to the dog from the next camp over running circles around my tent all night.  Then the winds blew my tent down.  That wasn't the story of the day...a guy lost his truck in the water.  Yep, guess he forgot to unstrap it.  He backed it down, went to unstrap it and the boat pulled the truck into the water.  My day wasn't so bad.

Quick video from the trip.  Open it in YT and watch it full screen in HQ.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Orvis Recon and Hydros SL review

The Orvis Recon 9'/10 wt /4 pc is simply a fly rod that covers the big game situations.  Let me elaborate.  Over the last 8 months, I’ve used it in three unique environments to target big game fish with great results. 

Say you are planning a solo, 16 hour road trip to Wisconsin to chase pike and musky.  You’re probably going to be throwing some rather large bugs.  When you get into 10 weights and large arbor reels, weight of the combo takes a back seat.  However, you’ll appreciate that the Recon has the right action to help load and shot line easily.  In comparison to my Orvis Encounter (entry level set up) it wasn’t even in the same ball park but this isn't an entry level combo.  The Recon’s action is much smoother and angler friendly.  For example, I didn’t have to get 30 feet of line out to really feel it loading.  Over three days of slinging 4/0 hooks over my head, I really appreciated that I had complete control of the magic that was happening around me.  I say magic because it made me look way better than I actually am.  Check out the video and see what I’m talking about: 

Now, I’m back in my home state of Arkansas and stumble upon a school of giant gar.  Gar aren’t necessarily selective on what that want to eat but they don’t really chase either.  In my experience, sightfishing them is far more productive than blind casting.  Or maybe it’s that flinging a 10 wt from a kayak all day can be exhausting. 

Either way, I prefer to cast at something I see first.  Here’s where the action of the Recon is worth its salt.  In the summer, gar will rise and slurp air from the surface.  When his happens, you have a few seconds to get a fly in front of it.  The Recon excels in its ability to get line out quickly and precisely.  More importantly, it can get to fish rising 80 feet away or 20 feet away with accuracy.

Last week I took it to Southeast Louisiana to chase redfish in the marsh.  If you’ve read this far you know it will hold up to the rigors of catching large predatory fish.  Pike, gar and reds will test your gear (more on that later) and the Recon has been up to the challenge.  Salt is a whole other world and I was interested in seeing if it would keep its sheen.  Out in the marsh there isn’t a place to escape from the wind.  My fear was that the action wouldn’t be helpful in the winds I would face.  Keep in mind that I’m in a kayak, so winds above 15 mph aren’t going to be tested.  I’m ok with that because the kayak isn’t a stationary platform.  As soon as I drop the paddle, the winds have an impact on my ability to cast.  In these conditions, I need a rod that has some flex but enough power to drive a fly through the wind.  You’ll appreciate it when the kayak starts to turn to the starboard and your backcast has reached its point of return.  Yeah, lets just say generating line speed becomes an important consideration and the Recon had my back. 

The Recon is paired with the new Hydros SL “super large” arbor reel.  I immediately recognized the worth of a fast retrieve and smooth drag.  Kayak fishing has a certain amount of inherent chaos built in.   When these big fish start moving, they also move the kayak.  Now you’re fighting the fish and dealing with a moving kayak.  Often that means handling the rod with one hand while you have the other hand on the paddle.  A smooth powerful drag and the ability to get line back quickly is huge. 

The drag on the Hydros SL allows me to control the kayak without fear of losing the fish.  After I’ve gotten the kayak under control, I can get back to playing the fish.  The fast retrieve of the Hydros SL gets all that lost line back quickly.  These features are sweet to have when a redfish decides to jump three marsh islands and you have to go chase it down.  Like I said earlier, I have to do the paddling and the fishing.

Kayak fly fishing can be very demanding.  Often times the angler’s success is directly related to the tools you have and you’ll need every tool you can get your hands on when you target big game fish.  There’s nobody on the other end of the boat to help you when things start to get intense.  Case in point, while freeing a redfish from the grass it decided to make a sudden run under the kayak breaking the Recon.  Yep, that really happened.  

Chaos dialed up to intense levels

The culprit - no smiles, but I'm not concerned.

That’s why you need a good warranty from a company you can trust.  Orvis’ customer service is well known for being great to its customers.   It’s another tool that you’ll likely need at some point if you fly fish from a kayak. 
Smooth drag, there when you need it.  Like an unexpected burst right beside the kayak (watch the video).

When I’ve paddled two miles out, I want gear that is reliable.  Gear that will aid me in my pursuit of big fish and that’s what I have found in my Orvis Recon and Hydros SL.  When bad things happen, and they will, knowing your equipment will be fixed is very important.  As a kayak angler, I need tools that help quiet the chaos when it starts to get intense and that’s what I’ve found in my Orvis gear.    

My only real concern is not with the rod but with the rod tube.  I wish the it had a handle or something to clip the reel case to.  I like to keep my reels attached to the rod tubes.  Helps me not forget them when I packing for a big trip.  Be cool if they incorporated something like that in the future.

Other reviews:
Orvis Encounter 8wt review
Orvis Clearwater 6wt review
Orvis Silver Sonic Wader review

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Redfish on the fly video

The short video from last weeks trip into the marsh.  I had a great time, hope the video shows how much fun this trip was.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Overnight trip to the Little Red River

The temperatures are falling and the days are getting shorter.  It's time to get out and chase some trout.  That's the idea a buddy and I had a few weeks back.  We made a plan to hit the Little Red River at the end of October.  Like most long range fishing plans, it quickly fell through.  After discussing the, not many, options with our significant others a new plan was put into effect.

The boat was loaded with 4-9 weights.  The cooler was packed with calories and attitude enhancers.  Dozens of fly condos were included, everything from 8" double articulated streamers to size 22 emergers found their way onboard the hog island.  We were covered for high water or no water...

Luck was on our side and the predicted generation schedule was actually, accurate.  We waded the shoals during the morning hours and threw streamers in high water each afternoon.  It was an interesting trip.

The mornings were very productive, which made it easy to foolishly throw every streamer in the boat during the afternoon.  The blue bird skies had the browns on lock down.  I had two really nice fish rush out and give the illusion of interest only to disappear back into the flow.  That's the game...

Aside from he normal residents, two lost tourist were found near the dam.  The first nearly pulled the 6wt out of my hand when it ate.  My heart was pounding with the excitement of a potentially huge trout running away from me.  I gave chase and attempt to turn it, that's when I saw the silver flash under the surface, his identity was no longer a secret.  A hybrid bass had stolen my joy.

I guess watching me stumble across the slippery rocks was entertaining to the fish because the next eat I got was from a smallmouth bass.  However, he didn't have the strength to get my heartrate up or confuse my senses.  In fact, there wasn't much of a charade at all.  Smallmouth bass aren't coy.  It immediately surfaced, as if to say, "I'm the coolest fish in the little red."  Maybe so...

Like I said, "it was an interesting trip."  I'm really looking forward to the Fall fishing season.  More people in the woods hunting and less people on the water...that's why I love Fall!