Winter Micro-Fishing in Public Parks

Cold Water

January and February can be tough months for fly fishing in Louisiana. Cold water and short days mean that I usually just wait for a warm day and head to a local pond on my lunch break to see if anything is biting. If the weather is especially good on the weekend, I’d probably opt for a saltwater trip. We haven’t had any of those weekends yet, so I’ve been hitting up the local BREC parks and trying to knock out some common species in the 2023 edition of the Red Stick Fly Fishers Jambalaya Challenge. Cold water also means the fish are pretty lethargic, well, the bigger fish anyway. I find I have more fun bringing out the 2-weight rod and catching a bunch of small fish than dredging the bottom for a lunker. Micro-fishing also lends it self better to catching multiple species.

Jambalaya Challenge

Through the first two weeks of January I’ve caught 9 species, all at local BREC parks, mostly all on the 2 weight rod. The highlight has been catching Orangespotted Sunfish at two different parks, when I hadn’t previously caught any at either of those parks. I also caught a Channel Catfish on a tiny Soft Hackle while trying to catch the Rainbow Trout that BREC stocks at some of their parks (no luck with those yet this year), which was quite a surprise. I keep a spreadsheet of what species I’ve caught and at what park, and I am at 19 total species at all of the parks in my fly fishing lifetime. That’s pretty good diversity if you ask me. The trick is to concentrate on parks that have naturally occurring water features such as ditches, creeks, rivers, or old oxbows, as those waterways are way more diverse than a big round pond that was dug out to build the baseball fields and then stocked with bass and bluegill.

Orangespotted #1
Orangespotted #2
Channel Cat on a size 16 Soft Hackle

Micro Fishing Tips

As far as my micro-fishing technique, there’s not much to it, its basically just tight lining a small fly around shoreline structure and then setting the hook on feel or visual detection of a strike. The 2 weight I use is fiberglass, so its very sensitive, and I can usually detect the slightest bit of resistance, and when i do I pull up to set the hook. Sometimes its a stick and sometimes its a fish. I tend to keep about a foot of fly line out the tip of the rod, just to aid it casting. Occasionally I’ll do a little roll cast with up to 8 feet of line and do a slow retrieve, but the more line you have out the less sensitive the whole set up is due to slack in the line and leader. The easiest way to detect the strike is to tight line the fly with minimal line out of the guides, and watch your fly as you drag it around, I also raise and lower the rod to create a bit of jigging action. I like flies with bright orange or pink beads, because I can see them easily in the water. Anything size 18 or smaller can work for small sunfish, but I tie on a size 26 if I’m going for Topminnows or Mosquitofish. With the Topminnows, you need to try and put the fly in front of the biggest guy in the bunch and try and visually time your hookset with when their mouth is on the fly, you wont feel the strike, but if you time it well you can usually sling one up out of the water after a few tries.

The reel and a small Rainbow Warrior fly, pink bead
Redington Butter Stick – 2 weight
Blackstriped Topminnow
Dollar Sunfish
Dollar Sunfish – one of the smallest I’ve caught
Redspotted Sunfish
Green Sunfish
Redear Sunfish
Largemouth Bass

Wrap Up

I’ve only got a few species left on my spreadsheet that I think I can catch in the colder months, so hopefully I can add those to my list, and then when things start to warm up I can add some new ones to the list. My goal this year is to get at least 20 species from BREC parks in the Jambalaya Challenge for 2023. There’s a greater diversity in the local waters than most people realize, and I really enjoy seeing what’s down there, and hopefully the surprises keep coming.

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