Archive | November, 2017

Fly Fishing for Redfish Beyond Belief!

Fly fishing for redfish here in Louisiana has a reputation for being superb.  This week however it’s been fair.  Indeed, the reds we’ve caught have been good quality but only four in our first two days.  But this is why you can’t judge a location on only two days fishing.  Today, day 3, was nothing less than remarkable!

 

Instead of heading down to Hopedale like we did earlier this week we fished from Venice with Capt. Cleve Evans.  When I first chatted with Cleve two weeks ago I requested a hunt for black drum and sheepshead.  Cleve was on board for the challenge however when we talked last night he mentioned he’d been seeing some extraordinary redfish the last few days.  Twist my arm.  Flexibility in the species you seek often leads to great success.  Redfishing it was.

 

It’s about an hour and a half from our hotel in New Orleans to Cleve in Venice.  We left at 5:30 AM and by the time we had breakfast, picked up lunch and gassed up the boat, we left Cleves dock at 8 AM.  There was little wind and the early morning sun already had heat to it.

 

The first spot we stopped didn’t indicate what we had in store for us.  The location was gorgeous and we saw some “floaters” (big redfish laying in obvious view near the surface).  But like our previous two days these fish showed no interest in the fly and seemed exceptionally spooky.

 

The next spot didn’t resemble anywhere I’d expect to fish for redfishCleve used his electric motor to guide us into narrow Roseau Cane bordered channel.  The water was deep and off color.  Cleve said when we reached the back corner there would be schools of mullet and a huge cagey redfish.

 

When we arrived at the back, no doubt there were mullet.  They were everywhere.  Cleve said watch for a mammoth red to float then cast.  Sure, enough the big red showed but for my untrained redfish spotting eyes, she was up and gone so fast I didn’t get a cast.  I couldn’t even tell which end was the head to cast to.

 

I was bummed with myself but Cleve the opposite, “Excellent. . . She’s here”, he whispered”

 

 

 

 

I knew that meant expect another chance.  This time I was ready.  She lifted to my sight and I could clearly see she was facing me.  I made a surprisingly perfect cast and she devoured the fly gills flared and everything.  I strip set hard and to my dismay the fly came right out of her mouth.  Thank god she charged it again.  This time I drove the hook home.

 

I must say, once hooked up was sort of a – “now what?”  I had a huge redfish cornered in the back of a weed infested channel full of fight with loose line everywhere because she had nowhere to run.  I’d have tested my SA Flouro to the max defending my fear she’d burry me in the weeds but Cleve had a better tactic.  Don’t put too much heat on and rather only enough to let the red slowly swim out of the channel.  Cleve spun the boat and we followed my fish almost letting her tow us.  It worked!

 

This redfish was massive.  Often extra-large fish don’t panic like smaller ones.  My theory is they’re so dominant that nothing screws with them.  Therefore, they can’t imagine they’re in danger.  They slowly cruise pulling hard – probably in their own mind believing they are winning – almost outsmarting you.

 

For once it was us we humans who did the outsmarting.  After a few minutes of “walking the dog” the jumbo redfish was out in the open marsh.  Then I put the red on the reel and cranked down my drag.  That woke her up but it was too late.  I used my Winston Jungle 9-weight to finish her off and Cleve made a fine scoop with the net.

 

This size of this redfish far surpassed my wildest expectations.  The 21lber the first day was a thrill but this fish blew my mind.  Cleve pulled out a big fish cradle I’ve seen used for big pike and musky.  We carefully placed the redfish in the bag where Cleve measured the girth and length.  Our redfish was 42” long with a beastly girth of 21”.  This red was over 30lbs!

 

 

 

There are times when a fish you catch shocks you so much you hardly remember it.  This was one of those fish.  The pictures are ok.  As usual they hardly do the size of the fish justice.  But I promise you, this redfish was a specimen!

 

It was all I could do to bend over the side of the boat while holding the 30lb plus slab without busting a rib.  Once in position I admired the beauty one more time.  Due to her gentle fight the red was still full of life and after a few more clicks of the camera she spun off leaving me soaking wet but with a mighty big smile!

 

Granny should’ve taken the bow after that but refused.  I’m not sure if she was scared of catching a 30lb redfish, the challenging narrow casting lanes of this part of the marsh or perhaps she simply knew I was in my glory, but she told me to enjoy.  She kicked back and drank a beer.

 

It was so warm now I switched to a short sleeve shirt and then it took a mere five more minutes to land the next redfish.  It was a drumming male of 12lbs.  He too was a handsome red but with the previous monster fresh in mind, this was very much a baby.

 

I was more than satisfied with our redfishing at this point and Cleve knew.  We both agreed – lets go for a black drum and sheepshead.  We went for a 30-minute boat ride then Cleve poled me through several lagoons he often sees black drum.  Naturally because we wanted one they were nowhere to be found.  It didn’t help either that the sun was taken from us by clouds.  It was extremely difficult to sight fish.  For the next two hours I hardly made a cast.

 

My fish species quest has sacrifices.  We left amazing big redfish water for black drum water and they weren’t around.  Only a few sun blocking clouds.  But eventually, even with the light poor light I saw something.  I wasn’t sure it was a fish but threw a cast (like you always should!) and landed another dandy.

 

We had time for one more spot.  Technically we were still hunting our black drum.  The sun was low and it was hard to see but at least the clouds weren’t blocking at this time.  We saw a swirl and some nervous water with a few scattering mullet.  Without hesitation I chucked the fly there.  One strip and I went tight with my fourth redfish of the day.  And although not 30lbs, it was another red of a lifetime!

 

I couldn’t help but study that last redfish hard.  They are so beautiful!  I released him and reeled it in.  Granny and I thanked Cleve for one hell of day.  All I can say is – wow!  Despite the fact that I’d caught redfish before this week, Louisiana has given both of us a whole new appreciation.  I fully agree with anyone that says redfish are one of the top game fish species of North America.

 

It’s good to take a fishing trip on a whim.  Yea, it cost us some money.  But sometimes you need to say screw it.  What am I waiting for?  It was terrific to meet new fishing guides that have quickly become friends.  And we’ll be back.  Louisiana redfish is a top fly fishing experience!

 

Don’t forget Christmas is coming fast.  Not only can you order a painting or have me decorate a Cliff fly box, but check out my new fish decals.  There’s a chance for some free decals too!  And as always – my coffee mugs and beer steins are the ultimate gift for the angler that has EVERYTHING- SHOP ONLINE!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

The Louisiana Redfish Flats

We returned to the Hopedale, Louisiana redfish flats again today.  This time we fished with Capt. Paul Lappin.  Paul picked us up at 6:30 AM and we drove the scenic route from New Orleans to the marina.  It took about an hour.  Instead of grabbing a sit-down breakfast like yesterday we grabbed one to go and got on the water quicker.

 

The boat ride to the flats was far warmer than yesterdays.  The sky was blue and the wind was light.  You couldn’t ask for a better day to chase redfish on the grassy flats.  We traveled for about 30 minutes while Paul told us entertaining stories.

 

 

Once at the first flat it didn’t take but a minute to spot a redfish.  There were two together and I dropped my fly.  The purplish/black Clouser-like fly sank inches from their face and I stripped.  I was confident thinking “Wow!  This should be a great start”.  But instead of eating my fly the spot tailed fish spooked and ran as if a bomb went off.

 

 

 

We kept seeing redfish but they continued to scare.  If they didn’t scare they wouldn’t eat.  I made a lot of good casts.  Paul had me change flies a couple times but it didn’t seem to matter.  Plain and simple, the redfish bite wasn’t on.

 

The extra weary redfish were extra weary no matter where we went.  And we saw some big ones too that we really wanted to catch.  Finally, Paul said our best option would be to move to some outer flats where the water would be clearer and colder.  It was about a 20-minute run.

 

Paul’s new flat was out in the middle of a huge bay.  There were shrimp boats working the area out deep and a rock jetty protruded out of nowhere.  There was some minor wind and the water was significantly clearer than earlier.  No doubt the environment was different and Paul went to work with the pole and Granny took the bow.

 

They found some reds quick and Granny fired a missile right to them.  She fished well yesterday and the skills carried into today.  I’d been on the bow for an hour with no success and she hooked up to the first fish she saw.

 

We had a good chance to hook more than one here.  The red Granny cast to was traveling with a friend.  I had a second Winston rigged and reached for it as quick as I could but by the time I was ready to cast the other had spooked off.  Soon Granny landed her second redfish in two days.

 

Paul’s new flat was good.  After Granny released her redfish I got up on the bow and caught the next one we saw and hooked and lost another.  The bummer however was the flat was small and we wore it out fast.

 

We tried at least three other outer flats but the fish on them acted exactly like the ones earlier in the morning.  Eventually we returned to the inner flats but nothing changed there.  We saw a ton of fish and they simply wouldn’t cooperate.

 

Strange how that one flat had hungry fish and the others didn’t but saltwater fly fishing can me far more complex than freshwater.  The fish are heavily influenced by the tides and right now the fish don’t like what the tides are dealing.  We fished until around 3:30 but today was another two-fish day.

 

We’re taking tomorrow off from fishing.  I’ll work from the hotel room while Granny carouses the town.  Friday we’re back on the water with yet another new guide, Capt. Cleve Evans.  Cleve is taking us somewhere other than Hopedale and I told him we’d like to poke around for some different species.  They have a lot of black drum and sheepshead here but they are harder to fool on the fly.

 

Don’t forget Christmas is coming fast.  Not only can you order a painting or have me decorate a Cliff fly box, but check out my new fish decals.  There’s a chance for some free decals too!  And as always – my coffee mugs and beer steins are the ultimate gift for the angler that has EVERYTHING- SHOP ONLINE!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Louisiana Redfish

Funny, all the crazy fish I’m knowledgeable about from around the world, yet there’s one of Americas greatest game fish I hardly know.  That’s the red drum, better known as the redfish.  This week Granny and I are in Louisiana to do a little brush up on this sharp looking species of the grassy flats.

 

I’ve caught redfish.  In the late 80’s when I fell in love with fly fishing the flats I spent time in the Florida Everglades and on the Texas flats.  I caught a lot of reds.  But since those days I’ve been running so internationally I’ve not chased reds in years (was in Florida February 2016 but cold front ended all redfish hopes).

 

Granny and had no cemented plans for November.  I hoped to get Granny to Farquhar in the Seychelles where I was lucky enough to host Yellow Dog trips in 2014 and 2016.  But our plans fell through only about two weeks ago.  Our heads were spinning on what to do.  One night over cocktail hour it hit me, lots go for redfish.  And not just ordinary redfish, let’s go for the big dogs.

 

The biggest redfish thrive on the flats an hour out of New Orleans.  This is the nutrient filled water where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico.  Although this area has always been redfish, black drum and sheepshead heaven, it’s only been popularized for fly fishing in recent years.

 

I showed Granny a few Louisiana fish pics on the internet and in our minds, it was a done deal.  We quickly learned however that November is the top time for the massive redfish on fly and that every guide was booked.

 

Things weren’t looking good but by pure luck a company called Fly Water Expeditions got back with me with two available days.  We booked them then one of these guides hooked us up with another.  The end result was we found three available days – today with Capt. Matt Whitman.  Tomorrow with Capt. Paul Lappin and Friday with Capt. Cleve Evans.  We bought the plane tickets and arrived here Sunday night.

 

Matt Whitman picked us up at our hotel, Hotel Provincial, at 6 AM.  He was on time and welcomed us into his truck where he was quick to give the rundown for the day.  He’s friendly and it was fun towing a flats skiff through the narrow streets of New Orleans.  A half hour in we made a stop at the well-known Penny’s Cafe for breakfast and to pick up our lunches.

 

Another half hour and we were at the Hopedale Marina.  There’s not much going on in Hopedale these days other than crabbing, shrimp boats and fishing.  Before the massive Hurricane Katrina there was hotel and some places to eat but years later none of these businesses have rebuilt.  While Matt paid launch fees Granny and I rigged up the Winston’s.

 

The ideal rig for redfishing is a 9-weight with a floating line.  Scientific Anglers actually makes a specific “Redfish” line.  I didn’t have time to get one for this last-minute excursion but learned my Amplitude Grand Slam line was fine.  A 9-foot 20lb leader and a tarpon like streamer tops the rig off.

 

The boat ride from Hopedale to the flats took 30 minutes.  It’s a cold one in November even though temps were to reach the 70°s.  Granny and I always have our rain jackets as they are essential wind blocks when doing 40mph in a flats boat.  They keep you dry from wave splashes too.

 

When Matt cut the motor and climbed up on his poling platform I hopped up in Matts elaborate casting cage and made a long cast.  Then I stripped my line into a nice neat pile inside the boat console.  I still get goose bumps.  I’ll never get sick of getting poled on the flats no matter where I’m at.

 

It was calm and cool as we eased along.  The water color is brown and the bottom matches.  It’s not easy to see the redfish and takes a trained eye.  You look for muds and wakes, usually along the grassy edges.  We saw few muds right away but unfortunately, they were reds that already spooked from the boat.  45 minutes went by then we were in a tight channel and my first good shot came.

 

This redfish was cruising tight to the bank right towards us.  He was a respectable red around 10lbs.  Anywhere else this could be your redfish of the week!  I landed a decent cast and the fish spun and looked to eat my fly.  I strip set but didn’t come tight.  I kept stripping while the redfish followed.  He wouldn’t eat and he retreated to the deep and out of sight.

 

That was a start.  We continued on and it wasn’t long before the next redfish showed.  This one was mudding crazily, likely chasing mullet rather than spooking.  I tossed into the mud and let my fly sink.  I saw a flash of bronzy red color and stripped.  My fly popped from the mud into clear view and to our delight so did the redfish.  He was the biggest redfish I’d ever seen!  The hefty drum devoured my fly.  I set the hook and he took off.

 

Redfish don’t scream line off my Bauer like a big permit or a bonefish but they’re no slouch.  This big guy made a steaming run about 75 feet then surged sideways.  I crank my drag and trust my tippet more than most people.  I use the bend of my rod to absorb the power.  It makes normally tough fish give up quick.  This redfish fell to my trickery and in less than five minutes Matt tailed my first red of the trip.

 

The 21lb redfish is by far my biggest.  This was a thrilling start to our Louisiana adventure.  We clicked off a bunch of pictures.  Never assume that just because your first fish of the trip came easy that there will be more to come.  Enjoy to the fullest then release.

 

After, I kicked back on the Yeti seat and Granny climbed in the cage.  What a way to start I thought.  Now only if Granny could nail a beast of her own.  Strangely fishing didn’t continue like that.  We went the next two hours without seeing a one.

 

Fishing can be funny.  Particularly in the ocean.  Tides change as does the weather.  For some reason I’d proven to be lucky and now the redfish weren’t around anymore.  We ate lunch while Matt thought about a new spot.

 

Thinking out of the box and persistence often pays off in fishing.  Matts afternoon flats showed us some redfish.  While most were surprisingly uncooperative in eating, Granny managed to hook three and I a couple more.  Each of mine came off as did two of hers.  Luckily, one Granny hooked well.

 

Granny hooked her redfish in a precarious place.  He was feeding in a shallow corner and once hooked took off right under the boat for the main flats.  I ducked out of the way from her swinging rod tip then the line tangled around Matts push pole.  She kept focused on the battle despite the minor chaos and finally got her fish under control.  Soon my lady was posing with one of the prettiest fish you can imagine.

 

 

 

Granny’s redfish was a beautiful coppery silver in color.  You expect red but this sheen is common.  He was big and a true poser making it easy for Granny to hold him.  He didn’t have only the one tail spot like most redfish either.  He had three that we couldn’t help but admire.

 

For me guided flats fishing days always pass too fast.  Before we knew it the sun got low and spotting redfish went from hard to extremely hard to impossible.  We gave it up around 4 PM and headed back to Hopedale and on to our Hotel Provincial in New Orleans.

 

It was a terrific day with Matt.  Some would say, “but you only caught one redfish each”.  For us this is great.  Each of our reds were our biggest.  Plus, saltwater flats fishing is tough and today more so than usual.  Tomorrow we’ll take what we learned today and see if we can catch a few more.

 

Don’t forget Christmas is coming fast.  Not only can you order a painting or have me decorate a Cliff fly box, but check out my new fish decals.  There’s a chance for some free decals too!  And as always – my coffee mugs and beer steins are the ultimate gift for the angler that has EVERYTHING- SHOP ONLINE!

 

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Artwork on the Dark Days of November

No better way to ponder about my Arctic char fishing at Inukshuk Lodge at Nunavik Quebec this past summer than to kick back during a few cold dark November days and break out the watercolors.

As much as I hate the fact that it doesn’t get light until nearly 8 AM and it gets dark at 5 PM, it’s a fun time to be creative and paint.

I’ve only painted three Arctic char in my life that I can remember.  Any of the char from brook trout to bull trout are challenging with watercolors because you can’t paint a light color over a dark.  What’s done is done once that paint is down.  I am very happy with how this fish of Ungava Bay came out.

Don’t forget Christmas is coming fast.  Not only can you order a painting or have me decorate a Cliff fly box, but check out my new fish decals.  There’s a chance for some free decals too!  And as always – my coffee mugs and beer steins are the ultimate gift for the angler that has EVERYTHING- SHOP ONLINE!

 

Next blog reporting from the redfish flats of Louisiana!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Nearly Buffaloed in Texas

Huge bummer along with today’s blog.  Though I shot numerous photos and even had a chance to preview them on my camera – I accidentally deleted them all.  First time ever done such a bonehead move.  I’m so lucky these weren’t from some far corner of the earth.  Luckily, Adam Tate shot a few of his own so it’s not a total loss.  Enjoy the read!

 

I’m just home from a fun filled 40 hours in Texas.  Monday night I delivered my PowerPoint presentation, “Warmwater Fly Fishing” for Dallas Fly Fishers and Tuesday night, “Four Seasons of the Yellowstone Trout Bum” to Fort Worth Fly Fishers.  Both nights were action packed and I met some great folks.

 

Tuesday day I was free until my evening gig.  Lucky for me, Fort Worth Club Speaker Chairman, Adam Tate, took me fishing.  Adam knew from reading my species list I’d never caught a smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus) and he suggested we attempt to add this unique fish.  I must admit, I’ve been excited for this day for months!

 

Adam picked me up at my hotel at 9 AM.  It had been hot and sunny in the Dallas area and was forecasted to remain this way through my fishing day.  I packed accordingly.  But as you know, with the nickname “Monsoon Currier”, the weather changed.  I stupidly travelled without waders and brought the minimal warm clothes.  The day was overcast with temps in the 50°s while the north wind blew furiously.

 

We drove below a dam on the Trinity River.  The Trinity River consists of numerous dams and I couldn’t begin to explain which we were at.  Even if I remembered how to return here I wouldn’t on my own.  The busy roads twist and turn like downtown Boston and this lifelong country boy would be no less than a menace behind the wheel.

 

When we arrived at the surprisingly scenic spot I had a choice, be a whimp and not fish or freeze.  Naturally, I followed the fully wadered Mr. Tate for the river in my shorts and flipflops, convincing myself that because being from Idaho, this mere Texas cold wouldn’t be a problem.

 

By my observation, the smallmouth buffalo (a sucker) is North Americas closest fish species to the common carp.  And he’s a native.  Common carp are not.  Being a huge fan of carp on the fly, catching my first buffalo has been a goal.  I used my usual carp rig of my 5-weight Winston and floating line.

 

We didn’t pursue the buffalo immediately.  Instead Adam handed me a chartreuse bugger concoction and suggested I make a few cast with it below the dam.  I never streamer fish with only a one fly so I attached Adams fly on the point fly and hung a small olive wooly bugger up top for my dropper.  On my very first cast I caught a petite largemouth bass.

 

To get in the best position to cover the water below the damn required wet wading up to my kneecaps and crossing an algae covered submerged cement barrier.  Flip flops were a true test for my wading agility across the slick manmade rock.  I was dreading the thought of a falling in.

 

Once I got in position it was well worth it.  I pummeled small white bass one after another.  I went as far as to catch two at a time which is becoming a habit these days with my fancy two fly rig.  But that wasn’t my best catch to start the morning.  I caught the unimpressive yet rarely caught in the mouth on fly, gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum).  With or without catching a buffalo, Adam led me to a new species for my list.

 

We wore out the fish below the damn.  Soon the charm wore off and it was time for the buffalo.  I type roped the slippery cement back to shore then we hiked downstream.  By now the wind was howling and I was shivering.

 

We arrived at a shallow tailout below a fast-flowing pool.  Due to the clouds, the lighting was next to impossible to see far into the water.  This was a bummer because like carp, buffalo don’t exactly eat flies well.  It helps tremendously to see the fish and knowingly present the fly right in their face repeatedly.

 

For poor visibility I recommend yellow lenses for your polarized glasses.  I’m a Costa man and they make some fantastic styles.  Sure enough, despite the lousy conditions a few large figures took shape.  I was about to cast to some smallmouth buffalo.

 

I’ve tossed at buffalo before.  Most recently on the Etowah River in Georgia.  But that day I was after the redeye bass and wasn’t properly equipped.  The best flies for buffalo are nymphs and although anglers have opinions, word on the street says luck has more to do with having a killer fly.  I started with a red-colored Crazy Charlie looking fly.

 

Adam and I both struggled.  Even with the proper eyewear, spotting the buffalo was an eye straining task.  It seemed that nearly each time you focused on buffalo a gust of swirling wind arrived and the riffle blocked out the view.  When it cleared again the fish you were after was gone.

 

By 1 PM I was frozen solid.  Adam and I took a break in the car for ten minutes and powered through some soggy sandwiches.  In order to make my event on time we had to leave at 2:30 so despite the cold we didn’t warm up for long.  I was running out of time for my first smallmouth buffalo.

 

The afternoon light still wasn’t great but had improved.  Soon we both had more fish in front of us than we’d had all day.  Between the two of us we likely put flies on their noses 100 times.  I was getting restless and though my fingers could hardly function with the cold I changed nymphs several different times.  At 2 Adam hooked up!

 

I reeled in and headed for Adam.  The way I saw his rod bending and the fish exploding through the tailout I was expecting to watch a long heavy battle.  Instead, after the first run the buffalo remained close to him and made numerous short runs and none far.  Within about three minutes Adam had the smallmouth buffalo in the net.

 

No pics!  All of Adams fish were on my camera.

 

I was engrossed with this unusual fish.  This was only the second buffalo I’ve seen up close.  He has a wide body and large scales similar to a common carp.  His lateral line actually splits his midsection scales in half.  And his eyes are crazy big and black.  Almost reminding of eyes of a permit.

 

By the time we released the handsome fish the clock was winding down.  I had about ten minutes to lock down my first buffalo.  If you follow the blog you know these can be my glory moments.  I tied on a stonefly nymph tied by my friend Frank Smethurst – one I’ve taken a few mirror carp on over the years back home.  On literally my first cast with the fly I hooked up.

 

According to Adam it’s common to snag buffalo while trying to catch them on a fly.  And if that was the case, this fish wouldn’t have made my list.  By luck however, this buffalo jumped and I could clearly see I had him fair and square.

 

My fish was by no means a dazzling fighter either but his first run was a furry.  He ran a circle around me then bullied me upstream.  Once he knew he was hooked however I backed him down towards a small island and Adam broke out the net.

 

Adam used his camera and phone to photograph this one.  That’s fortunate because if he didn’t we’d have no pictures to show.  I posed with my long awaited smallmouth buffalo then released him.  A new species on the fly!

 

It was an outstanding trip to Texas.  A special thanks to Adam Tate for looking after me so well.  And a huge thanks to the folks of Dallas Fly Fishers and Fort Worth Fly Fishers for taking an evening from your week to catch my presentations.  I recon I’ll be back again soon.

 

Don’t forget Christmas is coming fast.  Check out my new fish decals.  There’s a chance for some free decals too!  And as always – my coffee mugs and beer steins are the ultimate gift for the angler who has EVERYTHING!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

preloader