I am way behind in the story writing about the
recent Mexico trip but still wanted to pass this
little tidbit along about a one-day trip to New
Orleans I just returned from. The reason is I
landed a rare fish on a fly for the area and
needed to show it off.
It was/is a "common" carp as near as we can tell
but would take any input as to the identity from
experts who really know. Rick Heim had a world
record with one kind of these fish and Jim Blackburn
is offering fantastic fishing adventures in Utah
fishing for them bonefish style. None of the boys
from around New Orleans have ever seen one eat a fly
before but this one did for sure. I had a witness.
And, this fish ate the now famous Rich Waldner "spoon
fly." Better than all the above, it was in "saltwater"
even though the high level of the big river was dumping
plenty of fresh water in these tidal flats.
The fishing around home is really hot right now
but the lure of the reds down river (Mississippi)
from the Big Easy is just about to start. Winter
has the big river too high to allow for the
fantastic 50-a-day trips until June but I called
Rich Waldner and he had the whole weekend open.
We planned to try the Venice area for some early
The drive over, dinner with his family, a trip to
a casino and his 90 year-old dad hitting a jackpot
all added to a fantastic one day adventure that
started at 0500. Rich likes to move about when
you cannot see and hit the water before the fish
roll out for the day.
We had a bit of wind, 15 knots all day from the
south (always over my right shoulder), lots of
dirty water and high water but we managed to find
some fish. I actually got about 30 good shots on
reds of big to bigger in size. The red "bite"
was really not on for some reason but I got four
of them up to eight pounds to eat. I had many good
shots that got the fly changed as rejection was
often and noticeable. There was a good "bite" on
for the sheapshead. They were interested and
although hard to hook, were hot on the trail of
just about anything I tossed properly at them.
I got three really nice ones on film as we are
going to ask IGFA (record keepers) to add them
to the list so we can claim some records.
Then the strange carp thing happened. This place
is a nature paradise with constant wildlife passing
in review all day. Underwater is just part of the
show and if it is a fish, I toss whatever fly I
have on at it. I have caught sharks, rays, jellyfish
from this tactic and now this fish as a result.
The big carp was lazing about the flat when we
pushed upon it. At the fringe of my sight it
looked like one monster redfish but as it moved
from the front of us to the right side going away
I could see it clearly and threw my spoon fly
perfectly so it would sink in time to be stripped
right in front of the fish's nose. I have tossed
at these fish before but never had a reaction or
even expected one. They eat grass, I thought!
As the fly passed through his vision he had only
to turn slightly to his right and he just opened
the slightly pointed down mouth and sucked it in.
Both of us watched and I reacted with a hook set
as we both said together, "he ate it." The fish
noticed something was amiss and just "blew up,"
turned 135 degrees away from us and took my line
out as he sprinted away in front of the boat. Rich
says, "hey Scud, I don't know what to do now." I
was, by then, watching the fish burn the clutch in
my reel drag as he tried to head for Texas and
suggested, "follow the fish, so I don't run
out of line." He did and the fish ran into a pile
of weeds slowing him down. I did not worry so much
about the line as I had fifteen-pound leader but I
was using a seven-weight rod. That is a stretch
on a fish this size. I had to put the pressure
on without much rod bend to get him out from under
the weeds and then he took off again. This run and
hide in the weeds went on for about four runs with
Rich working hard to keep up. He finally ran out
of steam and I had him on the surface waiving his
tail at us about 20 feet way like a tarpon does at
end game. By having the fish out front and walking
to the back of the boat I could get him close to the
net without bending the already overstressed rod too
much more. The first attempt with the net caused
the fish to sprint off again and it took some pressure
to stop him. He did not like the looks of Rich or the
net. They are equally ugly to a fish, I think.
Rich netted him and then just about broke the net
getting him on the deck. We shook hands then posed
the pictures, one of which is above.
I have been back since for another couple of days
and although I got 36 fish in the two days and threw
at many more carp, none seemed interested more than
one short "follow" without a opening of the mouth.
Since this episode, Unk gave me a book,
Carp on the
Fly (Barry Reynolds, Brad Befus and John Berryman),
by a couple of guys who took fly fishing for carp to a
new high. They chased and targeted this very spooky
fish even when other anglers were laughing at them.
They go into detail on fish activity and the tactics,
flies and gear to make the quest a success. It is a
My friend, Captain Jim Blackburn, is guiding trips
targeting these most fun fish on Flaming Gorge reservoir
in Utah part of the year (http://www.grandslamfish.com/).
I am planning on trip to try his fun this summer later.
Meanwhile, Capt Rich Waldner (504-656-7337) and Capt
Brian Carter (504-329-5198) are filling up their dance
cards for this season's fantastic redfish trips as
you read this. I am headed back every chance I can
get away. I would like another fight with one of
these monsters so will keep on tossing at them. I
now have some basic clues about how to do it. There
are other big things floating around there too and
sooner or later I will write about my pending success
with an eighty-pound gar. They are not all that
uncommon. ~ Capt Scud Yates, June 2004