Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sight fishing Louisiana weather patterns

Inclement weather can be an absolute nuisance to sight fishing. Lately weather is a monster gobbling up chunks of good tide weeks. Occasionally the center of a high pressure system will pass close enough to clear the skies and calm the winds. Recent weather seems to mean ice storms. New Orleans rarely experiences snow and sleet. In the past month we have had two ice storms with another on the way. This renders a lot of my bookings unfishable.

There are many conditions considered in calling a day unfishable in Louisiana. Some of the basics include wind, water height and clarity, air temperature,  and lightning. A day can be cloudy with 20 knot winds and produce high floating aggressive bulls ripe for the picking. Louisiana may have small tides but they can play a key role in finding active fish. I prefer a 1.5 foot tide with the low tide value below ( +.5).  Sometimes the rotund girls just seem to show up to the dance for no reason whatsoever. However, there are some conditions that just plain stink for the Louisiana marsh.

Wind, the fly fisherman's nemesis. Actually wind can be managed to a certain degree. Large fly rods, like 9 and 10 weight, can handle big wind. Polling downwind gives clients downwind shots. There is a point of huge diminishing returns. Fishing becomes increasingly more difficult when my clothes begin to flap like a  flag. This happens around 18-20 knots. At or above 25 knots I begin to loose the ability to pole and direct the boat. Casting with accuracy becomes almost impossible. At winds above 25 knots I generally tuck my tail and head for the launch. Don your gear, this ride will get a little bumpy.

 High water can be a trip killer. This seems to be a Louisiana phenomenon. Both Florida and the Carolinas seem to treasure their flood tides. Louisiana boys don't have the same glossy outlook for flooded marsh grass. If the tide is above +2 feet don't expect to see many fish. When the water gets to +3 feet  most of  the areas launches go under water. Parking lots flood and levee gates close. Empire and Bayou Beinvenue Louisiana I am looking at you since I have gotten caught outside both gates. In general a hard Northwest wind will blow water out and a hard Southeast wind blows water in making tide charts unreliable. 

Poor water clarity can make sighting fish tough. If the fish are active and moving, dirty water is fishable. You may have to shoot at wakes, boils, and dark shadows. Obviously cleaner water is preferable. It is not essential unless the fish are sitting on the bottom inactive. Then all you may see is plumes of mud puffs coming up from the bottom like massive mushroom clouds. In these conditions the most common shot is right under the boat. Practice your short game fellas it will come in handy.
Air temperature effects redfish. Fish conducive to sight fishing live in water that is at or near the air temperature. When the High for the day does not reach 50 degrees I don't leave the house. Around 23 degrees the Louisiana marsh will have a fish kill. The big fish will not take the risk and head for deeper warmer waters. Defensively they sit on the bottom, gathering leeches and other parasites all over their body. The reds cant stay down forever in such a state of discomfort. The first warm stable day should produce  good fishing. On the opposite end of the thermometer 95 degrees seems to be a cutoff point for me. I start to overheat polling. Shallow fish come off flats to head for deeper cooler water.

Most of the year lightning would keep me landlocked. Fly fishing Louisiana summers include thunderstorms and water spouts. Generally small storms dot the fishing grounds and fire up most afternoons. They cannot be completely avoided. Chasing tails I will generally skirt the edges and run into sun openings trying not to allow a white towered cluster to slip between the skiff and the dock. At steak is a run home in the stinging rain with bolt after bolt popping off close. The balancing act could be called a guides version of risk management.

Anyway as for tails from bayou big easy, fly fishing has settled into full a blown winter pattern.  Fishing the bull redfish is easy when the big easy gets a break from this abnormally severe weather pattern. Lately I am finding the schools of bull redfish much closer to the mash banks. Any nice flat with shallow still water seems to hold sunbathing 10-15 pound fish. Since they are inactive sitting on bottom try polling in a zig zag pattern. This will stir the fish up. Some fish will want to come back to the same holding spot. Easy pickings for a good caster like you.  Come on down I'll show ya.  

Captain John Iverson