Friday, November 15, 2013

Sexy Caddisfly


Facebook posts with random terrible photoshop jobs are slowly becoming something I detest.  However, this popped up on my newsfeed today and the fly fisherman in me went crazy.  Wow. Just Wow. This is a Caddisfly Larvae that has only been provided precious gemstones as a means to make it's cocoon, which is normally made from leafy matter and river bed.  For those of you who aren't familiar, the Caddisfly is a major part of freshwater trout's diet and an insect fly tiers attempt to emulate throughout the summer in Michigan.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

More Power, Better Edits

Up until this point, I had been using a Toshiba, cheapo Black Friday special I got at Best Buy for about $250.  This machine was made for two things.  Farting around on the internet, doing basic budgeting with Excel, and keeping my resume up to date.

Fast forward two years, and my need for a computer with basic capability catapulted to a machine capable of processing the camera work I have started to do with my Go Pro.  The old computer could process the 720p resolution video I was shooting about as fast as grass grows. That's why you all had the video from my previous post to watch.  As nice as that video turned out, I wasn't pleased with it so I bought myself an iMac. Holy cow, what an improvement!!!!  I went fishing this morning and caught just a couple of reds; footage I thought wasn't going to amount to much. I upped the camera resolution to 1080p and just let the camera do what it do.  After I uploaded the videos and started messing around with them, I was instantly hooked (pun intended.)  Below is a trailer with the footage I shot today.  I'm planning on using the footage today in a future full length (5 or so minutes) film in the future, but this was so cool, I had to post.  Enjoy!

The Hunt for Reds…In NOVEMBER from Aaron Kopp on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It all came together

On a recent post, I talked about my new GoPro Camera and how I planned to get into making my own fly fishing edits.  Well, last Saturday, I got enough quality footage to produce a video worth everybody's time.  Be forgiving.  This is my first shot at this, but suddenly the fog has lifted and I'm thinking of all new ways to use my GoPro.


South Missisippi Fly Fishing from Aaron Kopp on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Scratchin' the Itch

For those of you who are familiar with sight fishing for Redfish, the holiest time of the year starts in a little over a month.  Redfish will fill our bayou's to gorge themselves on the shrimp which are reaching their peak size and abundance.I can barely stand the wait.  Cooler temps coupled with active fish; it's a Redfish fanatic's dream. All the anticipation gave me the itch and I had to scratch it this morning.  In 90 degree temperatures (felt like 101 according to and after about a 4 mile paddle in my kayak, I sweat like crazy and dug the claws in to scratch.

 At about 5:45 am, I arose with the intention of, hopefully, avoiding the scorching temperatures.  That was quite a silly idea since there is no escape in South Mississippi this time of year.  The spot I decided to fish has remained relatively untouched this year compared to last year which gave me high hopes for the morning bite to be on. The weather has been downright terrible and afternoon thundershowers have thwarted a lot of my weekly fishing trips in the kayak.  The spot I fished was where I caught the fish for the Spankin' the Specks Tournament last year.  Despite the hot weather, it did produce and unfortunately, I botched several opportunities at tailing Redfish. Below is the only one I managed to land.  I hooked two other and broke one off. I also had a baby Alligator Gar on for a second before he spit the hook. The gar seemed to be as plentiful as the Redfish.

It was a bluebird sky day and I've noticed that causes the fish to spook particularly easy. When the reds at this spot are feeding, my friends and I have found that to get a fish to bite, you literally have to land the fly on their head.  Today wasn't that case.  The fish were finicky. I had one Red examine my offering and swim away. It makes me curious if the fish are "learning."  This wouldn't surprise me since we did catch and release many fish from this honey hole last year.

Another interesting observation I documented regarded fish color.  The fish I landed was darker than any other Redfish I'd ever seen. That phenomena is unique to this little bayou from what I've seen which has a substantial weeds and very dark copper to black water. While this isn't a particularly mind blowing observation, it makes these fish tougher to site cast to than your average run of the mill Redfish. While I don't think this is a ground breaking observation, I think its very cool that if you were to browse this blog, you might be able to determine where I caught the fish at based on how dark brown and copper the fish are. I've also observed similar tendencies in Largemouth Bass in Michigan. Pond caught fish will be darker than their stream or lake brethren. What is truly unique is that this phenomena happens in a continuous body of water.  If I had gone just 1 or 2 miles further up the bayou towards the Mississippi Sound, you'd get coloring much lighter than the fish I caught. See the example below. (Science!)

Two fish, one body of water.
Despite the finicky fish, it was still  a very enjoyable day.  These pictures today were taken with my GoPro. On top of being an excellent little camera, it is a 12 mp camera with wide view lens.  In my obsession to try and capture video, I've ignored taking as many photos and that has really begun to bother me.  After the bite died down and wind picked up, I tried some experimentation with the camera on this thing and I have to say, I'm pleased with it.  Here are few of the decent shots from today that I captured.
Anybody know what type of flower this is?  It grows on a vine that wraps around the Marsh Grass.

Today's trip definitely got me in fall fishing mode. I'm ready for it and the cooler weather.  I'm really hoping my camera skills will be ready by then too.  Until then, these spur of the moments trip will suffice.

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Redfish on Video!

Hey everybody!  I have shared with you recently that I received a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition.  I have been attempting to capture enough interesting film to put together a Redfish Edit showing ya'll how we do it here in South Mississippi. 

I have gained quite a bit of respect for the guys out there who are able to mash together a solid 3 or 4 minute video and make it as kick ass as they can.  Guys like Ivan at Yukon Goes Fishing are a.) hella good fisherman, b.) talented cameramen, and c.) have the software and hardware to really put it together. Getting that shot is tough.  I feel like I'm constantly fighting short camera life, finicky fish, equipment growing pains, and struggling to really see what constitutes interesting fishing video

Today my first lucky moment of relief.  I finally caught landing a fish on video. I didn't realize my camera was off until after I hooked it but I managed to catch a couple seconds of the fight, the land, and the release.

He was a barely legal little guy.  I came around a corner and he was about 10 ft. off my starboard bow chasing bait into the reeds. I pumped the brakes on the kayak and offered my fly.  When you're that close you see everything and man it was awesome.  It really was my first fish since April.  Just Fantastic.

He really swallowed the fly. I actually had to break the line in an effort to release him alive.  At one point during the shot, it looks like I kill him.  He was playing possum, I swear. 

I'm taking the little victories here hoping that very soon, the big victories (a kickass video of my surrounded by tails) will happen.  Below won't be my best I'm certain of that. However, its a start and I'm excited.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


The fishing on the coast has been tough going this spring.  While we need the rain, I really think the salinity levels mess with the fish.  That coupled with a wind 10-15 knots with direction that varies everyday makes it difficult to cast and questionable whether the kayaks should be put in.  When the waves kick up, my sit on top becomes a bucket and every wave that comes over is a cold wet ass.

To couple that, my favorite launch is under construction.  Hurricane Isaac did a number on the fishing pier and one of the launch docks there and they decided that the spring would be the best time to fix it.  We anxiously check the status of this construction job on a regular basis and I've started mapping distance from an alternate launch to determine whether its really worth it to paddle and extra couple of miles to get onto our fishing spots.  This could be a great opportunity to learn some new spots is what I keep telling myself.

This spring for me has really been about learning to operate my GoPro Camera that I got for Christmas. This way when the fishing heats back up, capturing the events will be less of a chore and more of a set it and forget it type of application. When you first open this fancy new camera there are a TON of features and things you have to learn. For example, if you're using the headband to mount the camera on your head, don't forget to turn your head when things are happening. I have one video that has glimpses of my uncle catching a nice bass when I went to Augusta, GA for Easter. I'm not going to put it up cause seasickness will follow.
I went to Augusta over Easter to fish with my Uncle.  We spent a lot of time fishing for crappie.  It was just about the time they come up shallow to spawn and we were catching them in 5-8' of water.  We found them and wore them out for sure. WARNING: WE USED VERY LITTLE FLY RODS. I did catch one on a fly rod off a brush pile however, so I'm not completely a farce.  Purists, please don't forsake me.

Proof! I did use my fly rod a bit!
My uncle owns a Ranger Bass Boat which is a little more stable of a platform than a kayak and offered a great opportunity to learn about my camera. To capture everything that I want to capture, I need to invest in some more batteries. In all of this, we managed to just tear up the crappie the last day.  Below is a gem of me hooking a crappie and it spitting the hook at the camera.

I apologize in advance for the quality.  The camera had a funky lens that I didnt realize until the next day. In which I cleaned and fixed the problem. Lesson learned.

We could have limited out on Crappie, but the bass fishing was too enticing. This fishing trip has become a tradition with my Uncle. He has been a major influence on my obsession with fishing and my earliest best memories are of us on his boat fishing for Smallmouth Bass on Lake St. Clair in Michigan or ice fishing for bluegills on small lakes around where I grew up.  When he moved away from Michigan for a new job, those fishing trips stopped for several years. When I moved below the Mason Dixon in 2010, we began fishing together again when we could take the time off to make the eight hour drive.  Every time we get together we have fun, fish caught or none. If there is no fish, there is always cigars and a bottle of Woodford Reserve and always a fish story or two.  Below are some other pictures from the weekend of the 2013 Crappie Fishing  on Clarks Hill Reservoir near Augusta, Georgia.

Biggest Crappie of Weekend. Almost 3 lb.
I just downloaded some freeware video editing software so I think it is very likely that I will be putting together a long video edit of our weekend together.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I See The Light!

Dearest Readers:

Today is the one of the holiest days of the year for me. Today we get something back that they no longer have any reason to take away. For those of you unsure of what I speak of, you should consider springing your clock forward this lovely morning. Today daylight savings time will ultimately give me enough time after work to justify launching a kayak or slipping on the waders to catch a speck or two after work.

Think about this. 100 years ago 70-80% (wikipedia providing statistics here) of the American Population made its living cultivating the land. Today, it's just two to three percent. I love America's farmers, don't get me wrong. But with the advent of modern technology like, say, headlights, wouldn't it follow that outdated customs like daylight savings time would be changed? I guess there are more important things Washington should be worried about. Still, every year when I set my clock back in the fall a little part of me dies and is renewed again in March.

Hallelujah, I can see the light. A whole extra hour of it. After work. When the fish bite. Happy Day Light Savings Day Everybody!

Friday, March 1, 2013

To Go Big or Go Home: Advice for Purchasing Your First Fly Rod Outfit

On my last blog post I talked about my first HOSSFLY (Historic Ocean Springs Fly Fishing Club) meeting. At that meeting, there were several guys that were new to the organization who joined simply to start fly fishing.  During which they asked for advice on gear they should purchase to get started.  This started an extremely intense debate, and one that ultimately was of little help to these poor guys who just want to flip the buggy whip and catch a few fish.  During that discussion, a lightbulb went off in my head; time to blog.

The big debate that erupted was whether or not your first fly rod should be a cheap $80-$200 setup or whether you should pull out all the stops and spend the big bucks ($500-$1000).  The argument was that you'll end up purchasing the high dollar hank equipment eventually anyways. By purchasing that first rod, you're ultimately setting yourself back on what you could potentially spend on a new Sage, Orvis, or G. Loomis flyrod. Hindsight is 20/20 and here is my hindsight. I actually posted when I first bought my gear if you'd like to see where I started. Below are several elements that should be considered when purchasing your first fly rod.

What Weight Should I buy?
When first starting off this is the very first question a fly fisherman needs to ask. It's a function of the fish you expect to catch. That's for certain.  However, as your skill and competency grows with your fly rod, this will become a more complicated question each time you purchase a new fly rod.

In general, the best all around fly rod for inshore saltwater fishing is an 8 weight rod. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it is a formidable foe for inshore speckled trout, flounder, and redfish that you will catch most anywhere.  I would put my current setup up against a nice bull redfish at the islands any day.  I've also seen monster black drum combated with this weight.  It will give you some extra power for casting large flies in heavy wind also. For somebody just starting off, an 8 wt. rod will handle just about any thing you'll catch as a newbie to the sport.

Taken from Michissippi Fly's Blog.  Biggest Fish I've seen caught on an 8 wt. so far in person.
As you're competency increases with practice and experience, you're going to find that an 8 wt. can be overkill at times. Legal size Redfish will test your 8 wt. regularly, but you may find yourself hooking up with small school speckled and white trout for which your 8 wt. is just too much power. For anybody that's found said schools, they know all too well what a blast such a situation is and what an opportunity it can be to put a good fish fry for family and friends together.  I believe a solid 6 wt. in these situations is the perfect rod.  For saltwater fishing however, a 6 wt. is about as light a fly rod as I would venture.  Even when those schools are hitting, there is always the possibility of hooking up with something much, much bigger. The size of your fly rod really should be a function of how and when you plan to use your fly rod and the only person that can answer that question now is yourself. Do a bit more research and see what others say before you decide what you want to purchase.

These were caught when a 6 wt. would have turned these schoolie specks and flounder into Tarpon!.
After the decision has been made on the right weight fly rod to buy, the tough decision is ahead.  At this point, it's really important to establish a budget because with fly rod outfits, the sky is the limit.  Somebody can spend $2000 on a set up and not catch anymore than the next person with a $200 setup.  There are two options when purchasing your first fly rod. If you're a bargain hunter, you can buy the set up piecemeal wise or you can buy fly fishing outfits which come ready to fish.  If you decide to buy all your parts and pieces separately, you're going to need to buy a rod, reel, backing, fly line, leader, and tippet material.  For that reason, I'm going to speak to the best of my ability to each in the following sections, starting with the fly rod outfit.

Fly Rod Outfit

This was the route I went when I decided to purchase a fly rod.  It got me on the water quickly as I had already practiced on a friend's fly rod. For the novice fly fisher it takes a lot of the initial headache of learning all the knots to connect your leaders and backing.  Don't let your new pre-spooled fly fishing outfit dull you into a false sense of security.  At some point, you're going to have to learn how to tie knots, and tie them well.  In this day and age with the youtube and the self proclaimed fly fishing experts (you're welcome), learning to tie knots is not hard.  Try not to make the mistake, however, of waiting until you need the knot to learn it.  There are hand books galore that you can keep with you until you've mastered the knots enough to tie without.  I recommend purchasing one for placement in your fly bag or vest pocket.  Failing to do so is asking for a very frustrating situation in which you have a limited time to catch fish and an inconvenient nail knot you need to tie your leader to your fly line with that you've never tried tying before.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Learn This Knot! Used to attach your leader and backing to your fly line. Yes that's a straw.

Any fly rod you purchase should be a 4-piece fly rod.  They pack down to small and convenient sizes and are easily kept in a vehicle for that instance where you see a piece of easily accessible water and need to cast a line.  Also, airports will allow you to carry on a 4-piece fly rod in the protective container.  Check your reel though. Apparently TSA thinks you're going to strangle somebody.  I've already carried on my rod with me twice on trips up to Michigan.

Now the big question, what to buy, so many options!  I can only give recommendations here, as my list of equipment I've casted vs.whats out there is unbelievably small. Here's the fact, Jack. While I do not believe you need to start off with the super high dollar equipment out there, you need to realize that picking up a fly rod is a bit of an investment.  You can purchase the $80 special at the local sporting goods store, but you're going to get what you pay for in that realm. It is so much better however, to go and put you're hand on the product and test it out before you purchase it.  Find a flyshop.  My first outfit was the L.L. Bean 8 wt. Quest II that I first tested at their superstore in Freeport, Maine.  At $139, it was in the right price range that I could justify spending the money to get started.  For my first rod, this made sense, especially after my first winter and spring of relatively unsuccessful fishing trips.  I would not change this decision for a more expensive set up.  I have moved on from this rod, but having a nice backup rod that didn't cost me an arm and a leg is a priceless feeling when you're in the middle of a bayou surrounded by tailing redfish.  Even the master fly caster that taught me my first casting lessons said that it was a good purchase and will be a solid backup rod when I venture into nicer equipment.

Here are a few things to pay attention to while you're selecting your equipment.  First, Redington is a division of Sage. I do not believe that a Redington fly rod starts with Sage blanks as some people suggest. I have casted both and you can tell a distinct difference. However, I do believe Redington makes quality rods and are a great starter to experienced rods.  They offer an 8 wt. with a very nice fast action that allows you to load the rod quicker.

Took this image from the Cabela's Website on 3/1/2013. Redington Pursuit.  Good solid starter rod that comes as an outfit.
Another thing to pay attention to is what your rod is made of.  Typically, rods are made of fiberglass, graphite, or bamboo ($$$$$$$$$).  However, in the starter price range you will likely only find fiberglass and graphite.  Fiberglass rods are fun to use once you have learned to cast a good bit, due to their flexibility. Don't make the mistake of starting with a fiberglass rod as the flexibility isn't as forgiving when you have bad casting form as you likely will when you start.

Understand that typically the reels in the low dollar outfits are lower quality.  This typically doesn't matter that much as you rarely use your reel.  Be aware that saltwater corrodes the uncorrodable.  I do not believe equipment exists that fully is corrosion resistant, despite what manufacturers claim, so clean your gear after each use.  Otherwise your reel will sound like a gravel truck when you do get your first screamer on your drag. This goes for all of your equipment and is another reason a 4-piece rod is so important.  Smaller segments are easier to clean under a kitchen sink. Avoid the temptation to hit it with the garage hose against the wall while still assembled.  Salt collects in every nook and cranny and a detailed cleaning after you've disassembled your rod and reel is always required.  Even on my new Orvis I got for my birthday, I've started to notice slight corrosion where the line guides connect to the rod despite cleaning it after each use.  This is a frustrating fact of saltwater fishing and constant battle.

Piecemeal Fly Rod Setup

I've never actually priced it out, but I would be curious to see if a skilled online bargain hunter could assemble a higher quality fly rod than the outfits that are mentioned above.  I think if you found the right bargains, it might be possible.  Only go this route if you have the patience to check online fly shops regularly, and are prepared to spool your line on your own or pay somebody to do it for you. Also, pay attention to your shipping costs as any bargain you may find on each part separately may be decimated once you factor shipping in.  I think this option should only be considered if the buyer is a little more flexible on cost.

My advice regarding your rod is not much different than what I mentioned above in the outfit section.  I thoroughly believe that the only thing of high quality in outfits are the rod. The reason they can offer everything at that nice little price is due to the economy of scale.  This is where you want to spend the bulk of your money though.  Your rod is, by far, the most critical part of your set up.  My upgrade was an Orvis Clearwater II ($225) on  The difference between that rod and my LL Bean is like night and day. Shop around though. Sage likely has a nice lower end rod to compete with Orvis. The Redington that I recommended above comes non-outfit and would also be an excellent foundation for a great starter fly fisher.

This is really where your price savings on your first fly rod piece meal outfit can come from.  When I'm kayaking in the surrounding bayous, I will regularly get redfish on to my reel.  However, they rarely truly test it.  A cheap reel will get you by, but beware the components.  Check that the drags are sealed and corrosion resistant. Again, salt water is your enemy.  My current opinion is to buy the cheap reels and if they do corrode out, go buy a new one.  Cheapos are everywhere, on every major sporting good site.  Even if you replace two reels, its cheaper than the Tibor Reel that is going to last you forever and stand up to a 150 lb. tarpon.

My buddy recently purchased a Lamson Konic that he seems pretty pleased with.  He bought a 6 wt reel for his 8 wt rod to reduce the weight and ultimately the fatigue in his casting arm at the end of the day.  It was a pretty slick idea, and may be an option for fly fishers with shoulder and elbow problems. Smaller reels hold less line though, and if you have a fish of a lifetime on, that could be a devastating day.

Lamson Konic 8 wt. @ Flyshack.Com, $119 with free shipping

Backing, Fly Line, Leader, and Tippet Material

After you've spent the effort to piece together a perfect deal, you need to ensure that you find just the right cost to quality ratio for your line until you can afford to upgrade. Unlike conventional fishing gear, you need to give serious consideration to what you're spooling your reels with.  Good fly line can greatly improve your casting ability. Your backing is typically the longest length of line on your reel and is tied to the reel spool itself. That is followed by your fly line, which carries the energy for casting your flies and is equally as important as your leader which ultimately attaches to your fly and is most likely to break during a battle with a monster.

I can't express how unimportant your backing is after you've gone and spent all your hard earned money on a reel and rod.  It's dacron. It's the same stuff as braid. Don't fret too much over what you purchase.  For an 8 wt., I'd get 20-30 lb. backing and call it cake.

Your fly line is important. To start with, get a WF (weight forward) tip, floating fly line. Purchase the correct weight for the rod you have purchased to start off with. As you progress in your skills, you may find yourself experimenting with mix matched fly line and fly rods.  If you cast 8 wt line with a 7 wt rod, there are those that say it loads the rod quicker, allowing for faster response times to quick moving fish.  This will cost you distance, which may not be of concern for certain fishing situations.  When you shop, you'll see all different types of line options "customized" for the particular fish your targeting.  That will typically ensure that you're line is suited for the temperature environment you'll be fishing in although this isn't something to be incredibly concerned with.

The latest fad in fly line is texture. There are literally grooves along the line intended to cut down on the friction of the line leaving your rod.  This allows you to cast further (a plus), makes your false casting louder as your line slides through your guide eyes (a minus for spooky fish on windless days), and I've found that the line memory in these products is worse than untextured fly lines.  Catch a dozen flounder or speckled trout in the early morning hours on that textured line and tell me how that open sore on your finger feels.  The texture literally will cause "rope burn" on the pressure finger of your fish fighting hand. Finally, textured lines are expensive. Add another $100 to your fly rod outfit. Despite its drawbacks, textured line is worth it for me. It offers forgiveness for bad casting form while sitting in my kayak which is where I spend a majority of my time fly fishing. Below is what I have on my Orvis Setup for Redfish.
Scientific Anglers Mastery Textured Saltwater Taper, Taken from Scientific Anglers Site 3/1/2013, $84.95 MSRP
The last aspect to consider is your leader.  The break strength is a function of how much of a cowboy you are. I use exclusively 12 lb. leader material for my exploits here on the coast, but I think there are guys who would think I'm crazy.  If ladyfish or other fish with abrasive mouths are going to be in the area or start popping my lines, I carry 15 lb. to 20 lb. tippet to add as a shock tippet.  The length of my tippet depends on the water clarity.  Here in Mississippi, the water clarity is zero to zilch to nada.  It's not Key West here so you can get away with a 9' leader.  If I'm fishing at Horn or Ship Island where the water clarity ranges from zero to good, I'll slip on a longer leader or add tippet to the end for length.  The longer the leader/tippet, the further your fly will be from the unnatural looking fly line floating on the surface, increasing the odds of a hookup.  However, the longer the leader, the better your casting form must be to ensure your line stays loaded while casting.

Brands of flylines and leaders will become a personal preference after experimentation.  Scientific Anglers has worked very well for me since adding it to my rod, and I likely will continue to spool my rod with that until I am displeased with it. As for leaders, I use Rio Redfish/Seatrout leaders, the logical selection as they are the primary species of fish I target here in Mississippi.  These are my preferences, it doesn't mean they are the right for everybody.

There is a lot in this blog to digest so I wanted to recap it all with my main takeaways:
  •  If you're fishing for Speckled Trout, Flounder, Redfish, or any other inshore saltwater species, an 8 wt. will likely bring you the most initial success landing your first fish on a fly rod.
  • Concentrate on the quality of your rod and worry less about other items in your outfit. Your rod is the most important piece of equipment you will purchase.
  • An outfit that comes ready to fish will likely be your cheapest entry level option and many good options exist.  Do not dismiss this option as a decent back up to your next nicer fly rod option will be welcome when you snap that brand new $500 beauty on a snagged tree limb.
  • Piecing your fly rod together is a good option if money is less of a concern, although it may be possible to link together a few clearance items and bargains on the internet to assemble a great startup outfit. Do your research and you could end up with a higher quality set up for the same price as the outfits
  • Saltwater is your enemy.  Buy corrosion proof equipment and operate under the assumption that it's not.
  • Purchase your initial backing, fly line, and leaders with the intent that you will potentially upgrade as you grow in skill.  You've spent all that money on you're new setup and while a high quality expensive fly line may be easier to cast, its not essential initially.
Your outfit will unfortunately only be a small part that will determine your success in picking up fly fishing. Practicing casting is key and if you can afford lessons, that will help you even more.  I cannot stress that enough.  I received one lesson and pointers from more experienced fly fishers than myself and that got me running once I hit open fields to practice.  I practiced for a month prior to even casting at my first fish.

My final point where I get preachy is to follow. I'm 26 years old.  I've been a working adult now for three years. I don't have $2000 to spend on fly rods. One day I might but even then, I don't know if I could stomach an $800 broken fly rod tip because I was impatient and closed it in a car door by accident. Fishing, however, is about my only hobby and I spend more of my recreational dollars a year on this hobby than any other. I want to make sure that my equipment is reliable and puts me in the best position to hook that 30" tailing redfish from my kayak.  That's all this is about for me and I hope you find what it's about for you too. Good luck with your shopping and finding that balance that fits your lifestyle.

Tight lines everyone!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oil Slicks

As I told many of you on my last blog post, I joined the Historic Ocean Springs Fly Fishing Club (HOSSFLY) last month.  Its a group of guys that get together monthly to discuss all things fly fishing related in the area.  I was briefly a member two years ago and stopped going. Turns out that I fished against the president of the club during my tournament win in the fall and he was very adamant during our captains meeting that I join the club.

I went to the meeting in February during which they had the president from the nonprofit organization On Wings of Care.  Bonny Schumaker, president of the organization, is the pilot of one of the planes that are regularly used by the organization and an ex-NASA employee.  In the last few weeks, if you've followed the news, oil sheen was found near the deepwater horizon wreck which caused the Coast Guard to have BP re-investigate the Macondo blowout for leakage.  That was Bonny's doing.  She has become Public Enemy Number 1 for BP.  She does aerial surveillance in the Gulf of Mexico and regularly finds oil slicks and sheens, files sighting reports to the appropriate governing organization, which causes problems for owners of drilling rigs.  She had pictures from Pascagoula just down the road of an oil slick from the 2010 disaster that was here today, gone tomorrow. How close in was BP really using those dispersants? Who knows. On Wings of Care is a non-profit that runs on donations, and if you're feeling charitable, maybe you can give them a few dollars for fuel and maintenance of their aircraft at their website.  I also think it's important to see that just because the news isn't covering it, doesn't mean the problems suddenly have ceased to exist.

Taken from On Wings of Care Website, 2-23-2012.  Shows the Deepwater Horizon Wreck Area on 1-27-2013. Slicks 7 nm long and 1 mile wide were found.    

I have a very complicated view on these companies that I care not to get into on this blog, but I will say this.  Industries like this need a sort of checks and balances from non biased parties to make sure they are doing their job safely and with minimal impact on the environment.  And I don't trust Uncle Sam enough to make sure that happens. This is my only sway into politics, I promise.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dead of Winter

From my earlier blog posts, you'd get the idea that the fishing around the Gulf Coast stays pretty regular throughout the year.  Well, that's definitely not the case.  It's that time of year where your early morning alarm clock rings to go fishing, you roll over to check the weather forecast, and, more times than not, you roll back over and turn the alarm clock off.  For about a month now, the temperatures rarely climb above the lower sixties and the water temperatures reflect that.  The reds still stage in the shallows, but they seem to be more opportunistic.  They sit in cuts and channels and ambush passing prey.  From the vantage point close to the water in the kayaks, it's very difficult to pinpoint their positions and more difficult to catch them

Because of this, Michissippi Fly and myself planned a trip to Pensacola to target Little Tunny (Bonita, False Albacore) in the surf. That trip was a complete bust fishing wise.  Although a little cool, we still managed to enjoy the time we spent with the ladies in our life.

This little guy came right into camp, no worries whatsoever! Could have captured him, but I didn't want leperacy.

We also did some prospecting up in Moss Point, MS.  Every time I drive east on I-10 past Moss Point, there is a particular stretch of water that I have been wanting to check for tailing reds. We decided to get a late start and go up that way and check it out.  I saw several fish and had several legitimate shots at catching them.  My accuracy was not spot on that day and I ran into a problem I never had before. The redfish were drawn to that spot because of the endless sprawl of downed limbs and lumber that held bait.  However, if you did not place your fly directly upon the fish or near by, two or three strips would cause a snag which would then spook the fish.  It wasn't my day to catch a fish, which I realized when what seemed like a perfect cast hurled over and as the loop unfurled, the wind caught the fly and sent it barreling into a nearby log. The subsequent thud alerted the drum (unsure if it was black or red) and sent him barreling to the deep channel nearby.

Shoeless in Moss Point
From that trip, I decided I needed to add a weedless slightly weighted fly to my arsenal.  I modified the well known borski slider to be a bit more grungy looking based off an online recipe and this was the result. (Planning on a recipe soon to come.)

I got to test it out today in a spot between Pascagoula and Gautier and picked up this little rat.  I'm hoping that I can catch some bigger ones up in Moss Point next time I get the opportunity. Other pictures from this trip are below.

I struggle with this blog sometimes.  I feel obligated to post successful fishing trips regularly and when I don't I get frustrated. That's just not fishing though, is it?  If the trips were successful each time, everybody would fish and love it. You have to find the bright side to all such situations so you can keep coming back for the good times. My bright sides are as follows. My proficiency with my new GoPro Camera is increasing as I get closer to my goal of a video edit of my fishing trips catching tailing reds.  I found some new places to fish that should produce when the weather gets better and supply great shots of tails in the fall for my edits. I also have taken the down time to hit the vise and learn a new pattern which will help for new "terrains" where redfish may be hiding.  Finally, I joined the local saltwater fly fishing club, The Historic Ocean Springs Fly Fishing Club (HOSSFLY) at the recommendation of one of the fly fisherman I fished against in my tournament win this fall.  I think this will provide me several new opportunies and help me network and pick up some new friends and local fishing knowledge.

While I was on my kayak today, I chatted Michissippi's ear off on everything.  It made me realize something. I have a lot to say and have learned a good bit since I've started fly fishing.  Tying recipes, opinion columns and gear reviews, tactics, and general opinion type posts will be put up for your viewing pleasure.  Please stay tuned.  I'm very excited about where I want to take this blog.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Happy New Year to all my followers!  I hope your holidays were fantastic and you spent it with family, friends, and loved ones.  I've been off of work since the 21st of December and while the weather has been quite chilly around the MS Gulf Coast, I have managed to get out on the water twice in between visiting with friends and family, watching the ball drop, christmas shopping, and general busyness that comes with this time of the year.

The change in weather (highs in the mid 50's, lows below freezing) have caused the fish activity levels to literally die.   The redfish no longer seem to bruze (as I've come to describe their violent attacks of bait) in the shallows and the flounder and speckled trout have gone into their winter holding patterns.  Evidence of this came observing other fisherman who undoubtedly were targeting specks.  They would troll or anchor up and let their cork drift until they found biting fish.  They would then hammer that spot, likely a deep hole, until it didn't produce anymore.

I was deeply concerned for the redfish tactics that were so successful during the fall after my first trip to the bayou two days after Christmas. The tide was extremely low which is a common occurrence during the winter months around here.  The tides are in general low and if you couple that with a north wind which will blow the water back out to sea, the mud flats we've had so much luck catching redfish on drain completely of water. Because of this, we typically have to find other places to fish.  Well this day, I was completely unable to pinpoint the location of the fish.  I had no luck and froze my keister off in the cold. It was good to be on the water though as I got to test out my Christmas present, a Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition Camera.   This thing is pretty impressive and I'm still trying to figure out how best to use it.  None of the pictures I took from that day were really anything monumental. So my first day to the bayou, pretty demoralizing.

The weather and tides were a little more cooperative on New Years Eve so I decided to launch in the morning and see what luck I could have. The definition of insanity is repeating an action multiple times with the expectation of different results. Well my first insane act of this day was to leave in the morning when the tide was nearly as low as the time before, with temperatures slightly warmer but still brisk for South Mississippi.  (The Price is Right sad horn) I got out to the bayou and it was just dead.  The birds weren't even active.   I paddled around, not even seeing any bait.  After about three hours of abysmal fishing from what seemed like all fisherman on the water, I decided to paddle to the mouth of the bayou I was in to the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a long paddle, but I had all day and had never done it before.   So after taking my time and exploring each and every nook and cranny of Graveline Bayou to the mouth, I decided to rest my arms and try drift fishing.

As the wind blew me back up the bayou toward the launch the sun came out. The heat was a welcome addition to the afternoon. I may have been born in Michigan, but I've completely acclimated to the weather here on the coast and now I freeze in anything lower than 40 degrees (pathetic I know). As I drifted, I blind casted at the shore, emulating the tactic that appeared to be used by the other fisherman in the bayou. They were anchoring and letting the wind blow their cork up the bayou in hopes that their bait would drift by some hungry fish.  They had a cork, I had a kayak. I had one cast in particular where I lost control of my fly line.  I was drifting and the line slowly went off my kayak as I scrambled to get control of the line.  The rate that the line stripped off my kayak changed as I drifted, picking up speed and when I finally gained control of the line, I had a small rat red on the other end. As I reeled him in people around me looked on, I'm assuming in jealousy.

It's a Rat!


I continued to let the wind blow me back up the bayou, drifting by fisherman and asking them how there luck was.  The stories seemed to be changing as I drifted.  "We got a speck about this big (shows hands)" said one fisherman out with two other men, assuming a son and a brother in law or something.  Another fisherman, "Yeah it's picked up a bit."  This was news to me. So far, one rat red.

As I paddled back to the launch, I figured what hurt could it cause to hit the spot I hit earlier that morning.  If the tide was right this place would hold fish, so I made my way up into the cut. As I paddled giant swirls appeared in front of my kayak, signs of fleeing fish.  In the past these have revealed redfish, or schools of mullet.  Because there was no surface action, I assumed it had to be mullet.  I decided to blind cast and after a few strips of the line, BAM.  FISH ON!  It was no giant, but my fortunes had appeared to change.  I landed him after a short fight, newly renewed in spirit.  After 6 hours of dead fishing, I was ready to spend another 6 hours trying to catch fish.

Barely Hooked!

 With the renewed energy I paddled up to an area that produced a fish in a previous trip.  Blindly lobbing my offering up near the shore, I began the retrieve.  My rod then bent over. The surface at shore thrashed and quickly I strip set. The fish was on the reel in about 5 seconds and then he ran out to deeper water.  From the fight, I could tell this was a big fish.  Possibly the biggest fish of the season. The fish towed my kayak around for nearly 20 minutes before I landed him .  The tug of war was astonishing and I was pumped.  I thought to myself as the realization that I was going to have to pull off the water shortly due to the pending New Years Eve festivities that my last fish of the year would also be my biggest of the year.

Inhaled the fly.  Fantastic!

Still novice with the Go Pro.
I hammered one final spot and managed to pick off another rat before calling it a day (ruined my earlier claim of the biggest fish also being the last fish).  I did, after all, have a New Year to ring in. Its days like these that really make people better fisherman I believe. You have to endure an entire day of lousy fishing only to be rewarded at the very end of the day. It's also days like today that have made me a little more insane than the normal fisherman, unwilling to give up. (ask my girlfriend or fishing buddies)

The blue in their tails when they are aggressively feeding is amazing.

2012 was an incredible year of fishing for me and my buddies here on the gulf coast as you can see if you go back in time reading some of my other posts. One things for certain, fly fishing is insanity.  It's easy to go out with live bait, anchor up, and catch big ones here in Mississippi.  Anybody can do it and I recommend it.  Get on the water and enjoy what we've been blessed with.  However, fly fisherman knowingly go out and put themselves at a handicap (tell me a fly is better than a live shrimp and I'd smack you).  We make our own lures vs. going out and buying them and when we catch a single fish, we are content.  We truly do it the hard way, and people shake their heads when we tell them hey dude, we caught that on a fly rod.  It's beautiful; beautiful insanity and I look forward to a 2013 full of pictures (and video if I can russel up the cash to buy a computer quick enough to handle the editing) on my blog postings.  Already, I have a trip to Pensacola in the works to hunt for Winter Bonita planned with Michissippi the first weekend after we get back to work.  I cannot wait to see how this year unfolds and I cannot wait to tell everybody about my adventures on the gulf coast this coming year. Tight lines everybody!