2022 Recap

This is going to be a “recap” style post, to look back over my fishing trips throughout the year, document the best catches, most effective flies, methods, and equipment used, etc. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the blog in its first year, and I’m looking forward to making it even better in 2023!

Freshwater

2022 was definitely “the year of the bass” for me. I spent alot of time creek and river fishing this year, way more than in prior years, and I caught some of my best Spotted Bass and some new species such as Shadow Bass and various shiners, as well as my first Smallmouth Bass in Arkansas. I attribute my spending more time on moving water this year to the dry spring and summer we had in Louisiana, conditions were just too good to pass up compared to other still-water opportunities. Consequently, with more time on the water, I was able to try out a variety of new flies and techniques, most of which worked because Spotted Bass are just that aggressive.

My top four flies were: Poppers, Chubby Chernobyls, Small White streamers with an Orange Bead Head, and bigger articulated streamers similar to a Flugenzombie. Poppers are fun because you get really aggressive strikes, but I caught my biggest fish on size 10 purple Chubby Chernobyls. I also tend to fish the Chubby in more of a dead drift, with an occasional twitch, and maybe a popper would be more effective fished that way, but I tend to pop them pretty frequently. The small white hot-head streamer, roughly sizes 8 to 12, is great if you are fishing a smaller rod, and want to have fun with sunfish, or maybe find a Shadow Bass. I definitely rule out catching any sunfish when I fish the articulated streamer, which is about 4 inches long, although I did catch two Shadow Bass with it.

My main takeaway from the trips in Louisiana and Arkansas is, most river bass act the same way, and anything you read or hear about fishing for Smallmouth Bass will apply to Spotted Bass. Below are some photos with captions that are some highlights from 2022.

Heavier fiberglass fly rods became my go-to by the end of the year. The rod pictured here is a vintage Phillipson Master 6-weight that I fish with a Rio Bass 7-weight line. This setup can chunk some big streamers with a nice relaxed stroke.
I think this ended up being my biggest Spotted Bass, I’d guess it was about 1.5 pounds. Caught with a purple Chubby Chernobyl. I was lucky enough to get this catch on video, embedded below.
A nice bass from a paddle on the Tangipahoa River. Caught with a size 2 Lunch Money streamer.
A nice bass from the BREC park on the Comite, caught with a purple Chubby Chernobyl.
My first Smallmouth Bass, and also my personal best to date. Caught on a size 2 Half and Half streamer.
I had a fishing partner with me on this day. Once we got Luna’s cancer diagnosis early in the summer we started taking her everywhere with us, including driving all the way to Colorado so she could see the mountains.
My first Shadow Bass, caught on the small white streamer.
2nd Shadow Bass of the year, caught on an articulated streamer
3rd Shadow Bass of the year, pictured with the big streamer it ate

Saltwater

I didn’t make as many trips down to the marsh this year, and as of writing this in Mid-December 2022, its been a pretty mild winter so far, so I think early 2023 will include many more trips. Even with limited outings, I was able to land some absolute monsters. I caught my first Black Drum in the spring, and my personal best Redfish in late November.

Bull Red!
Big Nasty!
Early morning Speckled Trout

Jambalaya Challenge

I ended the RSFF Jambalaya Challenge with 38 species, good for 2nd place behind Chris Williams’ monumental number of 55! Out of the 38, 22 were new species to me, and while 38 is a good number, there were so many local species that I didn’t catch, notably: gar, carp, and bowfin. There were also several “ones that got away,” I hooked dozens of small spotted gar throughout the year, but could never land one. I also hooked a grass carp, fought it to shore with a 4 weight rod, but then foolishly grabbed the leader to drag it up the final couple feet of bank and it popped off. It should be pretty easy to catch alot of the same 2022 fish in Louisiana next year, so I need to spend more time targeting the ones that got away, and hopefully I can get over 40 in 2023.

Here’s a write up by the club on the 2023 contest.

Flies and Flights

An off-the-water highlight was the monthly fly-tying night we started. Named “Flies and Flights” we’ve met every month since April at Rally Cap Brewery in Baton Rouge. It’s definitely something I look forward to every month. Many fish stories have been swapped, I’ve learned about some new flies and techniques I never would have thought to try on my own, and the beer is good too! We’re going to keep in going in 2023, and I’m looking forward to heading to Lafayette and New Orleans for some fly tying nights that have popped up in those cities this year as well. These events and the local Red Stick Fly Fishers Club meetings have allowed me to meet some really great people! Thanks to all who have attended!

Flies and Flights tiers tying
These flies have a weighted head, but a piece of foam in the tail that makes the tail float up, very cool
There’s always a good IPA in the rotation at Rally Cap
A variation on the “Butt Monkey.” I haven’t tried a spun deer hair head on any streamers yet, but I have acquired some deer hair, so I’m hoping to try it out soon.

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