Louisiana – the cause of all this…

Haoma

Several moths ago a fellow work collogue invited me down to Louisiana for a fishing trip sometime during the year. As he was telling me I should come down, I sat there and thought about it for a while and decided that if I didn’t make the trip a priority it would be like many other trips I had been invited on, great idea I should have done that. So built up the gumption and did whatever man does, I asked the boss (my wife) if we could plan a trip to New Orleans with on caviot, I got to fish the first two days. After selling my soul the plane tickets where purchased and a plan was made!

We arrived in New Orleans on a Wednesday in first part of June fairly early in the day knowing that she (the lovely wife) would have a wish list of National Parks and sites to see on our way out to the bayou. We arrived in Houma around 6 that evening which just happened to be when my work/fishing partner Dan was passing through town on his way to meet our guide Captain Ron a friend of his. He was staying with Ron but was nice enough to join us for dinner that night so we could catch up a put a plan together to fish the next day. We would be meeting at Ron’s the next morning around 5 and we all new that would be coming early

The next morning did came quick with some sleep and lots of anticipation. After a quick hello, short breakfast and a formal how are you we where off to launch the boat at one of the many local ramps. Ron having fished there waters for many years quickly had us speeding through the bayou toward open gulf water in search of speckled trout. The trout this time of year had left their wintertime hangout of the local marshes and waterways in search of their summer time homes out in the open water of the gulf. We had to travel about 30 miles via boat from our launch spot to our first set of fishing grounds. The plan of the day was to fish for trout on old rigs and pilings.

The run...

The run…

Sunrise on the the Gulf

Sunrise on the the Gulf

Our first stop of the morning was a set of pilings that Ron and been fishing with some great success the last few weeks. We pulled up, quietly dropped anchor and started casting plastic swim baits to the base of the pilings. It didn’t take long for us to find the first trout. The fish where short striking so the hit to hookup ratio was fairly low but fun nonetheless. Sadly shortly after we found the fish so did the dolphins, and I quickly learned that porpoises enjoy speckled trout as much as humans do. I put my first few trout of the trip in the box and the day was looking good. So with this spot being done for a good while, captain Ron had a great spot a few islands over he wanted to go try.

Captain Ron

Captain Ron

His sweet rig

His sweet rig

First Trout of the trip

First Trout of the trip

After another 20 minutes boat ride we pulled up to our next spot where a flooded marsh was draining out (low tide) through a narrow cut into the channel creating a small strip of running water. We pulled the boat in there and hammered a couple of nice trout right away. As we worked our way into the cove the trout bite died but Dan hooked into a giant 40lb black drum that gave him 10 minutes of all he wanted to fight. What a blast to see that fish go in a foot of water. As we worked our way out, Capt. Ron handed me a rod with a gold spoon and said, here catch a red fish would you. It took 15 minutes but I did manage to catch two keeper reds on back to back casts… those boys loved to fight and where just a blast to play with. We didn’t have any other takers but on our way out of the cove but man those 3 big fish sure where fun for us. We spent the next two hours fishing two more spots in between more 20 minutes boat rides yielding a scattered fish. Then Capt. Ron finally got the call he wanted; fish where going good at the pickets… And off we went for another 30 minutes of boat ridding.

At around 11 we where on our way to the pickets when Capt. Ron decided we had better have shrimp for our next stop at the pickets so a quick veer in the boat and off we went for a short 20 ride to the shrimp boat and then 30 minutes to the pickets… Now at this point it’s about noon and I am just having a blast but we only have about 7 of our needed 75 trout in the boat we some serious fishing that needs to be done.

150 Shrimp...

150 Shrimp…

Tank full of shrimp

Tank full of shrimp

We pulled up to the pickets in-time to see guys pulling fish in regularly so Dan and I’s excitement level grew proportionately! Capt. Ron quickly showed me (the newbie) how to hook a shrimp on a popping cork without killing it, some of great importance. Over the next 30 minutes it took us a while to figure out the exact location in out designated area to find fish and then it took me a few misses to figure out exactly what the tout wanted and how quick I had to be to get a hook in them when the bobber went under. With in the hour we where in them thick and old Capt. Ron even softened up enough to tell I was getting good at this. We proceeded to put about 60 trout in the box over the next 2 hours of magic. I was even able to get this quick video (we all know when the video camera come out the bite stops immediately):

The bite ended a quickly as it shut off that day with the tide change. We ended up getting 71 of our 75 keepers, no help from me dropping several at the boat and missing even more, but we still had a blast. That day we covered over 235 miles via boat, which was more than most, can say they did in a car. What a day for my first time on the LA bayou trout fishing.IMG_1208

First Red of the trip

First Red of the trip

Basket of trout

Basket of trout

January 3, 2015 – Louisiana Boys, Day Two

Our first dayout with our Louisiana brothers turned out to be a blast. Not as productive as we wanted, in terms of harvest, but I am not too sure they noticed – or cared. These guys are a lot like us – just happy to be out doing what they love.  And doing it in a new place, new quarry, new chase, just adds to the mystique of fowling. We really wanted to get them on some geese, some up close and personal interaction with the big Canadas that are using our areas. We had the morning set aside to try and get this done, but they just didn’t really fly. Compared to the day before, where we at least saw decent traffic, today they just never really moved in our area. An unfortunate end to the prospects of some big honks for these guys, but they understand what we all know – that’s why they call it hunting and not killing.

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The monotony of a slow goose morning was broken by a 5-pack of Gaddies that had apparently followed these boys all the way up from Louisiana. These were taken in fantastic fashion, and in an excellent display of shooting. Skunk averted, morning somewhat saved. Although I do think these guys would gladly show back up on a day like this for the breakfast that Nick cooked alone, even knowing not a fowl would show its feather. I don’t know many who wouldn’t…

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The afternoon setup was a completely different focus – all mallards in a pit blind an hour-and-a-half south of Kansas City. A surprise to me, these fellows shoot very few mallards in the areas they hunt in Louisiana. So getting to work some green heads would be another very nice bonus along with the Canadas from the day before. And flooded corn out of a pit blind that’s had two ice eaters rolling all week is, indeed, a pretty sexy proposition for any wildfowler.

We made our run, grabbed some barbecue for the road,  and got setup where recent evenings have found nice numbers of afternoon/evening mallards coming in to dine and roost.

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While, again, we did not load up limits, we had a pretty good time and worked some nice groups, filling a couple straps with green.

Our typically crazy Kansas weather – which has made birds tough for us to pattern and figure out, would win out over bag limits this weekend. And even kill our plans to hunt Sunday (single digit temps with 20-30 mph nw winds) – but I’ve no doubt these guys had just as good a time as we did getting out, doing something a bit different… and enjoying some success at it. We hope to have them back again next year, and look forward to seeing them this spring and summer for some redfish and trout action down there way. I can’t wait to take those pics and write about it – because I know for sure, whether we catch anything or not, spending time in the boat with these guys is going to be one heck-of-a good time.

Check out the full gallery from this day. 

~ Benton

January 2, 2015 – Louisiana Boys, Day One

We started the New Year off by entertaining some friends from Louisiana. These guys are used to hanging bags of my good friend Mr. Blackbill (Ah, Benton, you mean Gadwall, Gray Ducks) and teal, among others. But the big Branta canadensis – those B-52s we take for granted, that have become the majority of our bag every year… these are a rare treat for folks where they come from. In fact, I think maybe one of them mentioned having ever shot one. And the thought of getting “Sauce” – a beautiful, well-trained yellow lab, a nose full of Canuck was enough to inspire these fellows to make a long drive to Kansas.

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Our first day would be split between a couple of our regular spots – our usual cattle ponds, that typically provide loafing and sometimes roosting areas in medium to highly trafficked areas. We saw pretty decent numbers, but just didn’t quite have our schedules tuned with the birds going out to feed and our hopes that hey would come back to water.

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We managed  to work a few, and while we didn’t shoot limits, the excitement of these guys shooting their first big Canadas – seeing Sauce react to the size and weight of these big geese – was pretty priceless. I love seeing good dogs do great work. And you may have noticed from browsing this site that I love taking pictures of dogs as much as I enjoy shooting birds, with Canon or Beretta.

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Above all of that, though, was getting to know a few new friends. I write this up a couple days later, and can note that my stomach still hurts a little from laughing so hard the past couple days. The blinds were filled all weekend with laughing and stories and plans being made, and now I have to figure out how in the world I am going to make 3-4 trips to Louisiana this year. Very, very good times with some genuinely wonderful, appreciate, and generous folks.

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Here are a few pics from this hunt.

~ Benton

Band Info

Nick's Band

Nick’s Band

Date 07/15/2014
Species Large Canada Goose
Age HATCHED IN 2013 OR EARLIER
Sex MALE
Location NEAR FLORENCE, CODINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, USA

 

Sometimes it all comes together.

As JJ and I were talking about where to hunt last night he casually mentioned that he saw some geese on one of our ponds we don’t hunt all that much. It took me just a few seconds to say hey why don’t we go hunting that tomorrow instead of the river and a plan was made. Gary, JJ and I pulled into the field that held the pond about 30 minutes before LST this morning and quickly made a pass with the head lights from a distance to see that it was still holding birds, to our luck it had several hundred geese resting on a spot they where keeping open.  We decided to hang back and let the first couple of lights go out to the field this morning so we didn’t spook them all off and then hunt them on the return. So we spend the next 45 minutes watching the sun come up.

enjoying the sunrise

enjoying the sunrise

 

you can get up already...

you can get up already…

This did cost us some ducks as small groups of mallards dropped in to the resting geese but the end result was more than worth it. We did end up having to push off several hundred birds after sunrise because they just wouldn’t leave the pond, even as we were setting up decoys they just kept circling and a few even landed in the water next to me. As hard as it was we stuck to the plan,  we where not going to shoot until all the birds we spooked off had left the immediate area so we didn’t burn the pond off.

Frosty puppy in the sunrise

Frosty puppy in the sunrise

Once we settled into the blind the bird started return in small groups, singles and pairs allowing us to quickly ended up putting 9 birds on the ground.  Then to finish the day out had a group of about 150 start working us. 30 to 40 birds ended up coming in and landing in the decoys while the rest kept circling. The dogs stayed steady so we waited let those in the decoys keep swimming and watch this group of hundred. It really was one of the better shows I have seen. The birds still in the air where very weary and just kept circling. As they did we would have multiple singles ,doubles triples and all sorts of groups break out of the main group and come down to land with the other birds until the final group came made the full commitment and came down as well. Once the final group came in we went ahead and shot our remaining eight Birds of which one was banded.

Nick's Band

Nick’s Band

Paige watching over her birds

Paige watching over her birds

Gary and JJ

Gary and JJ

What a morning and what a show to end it. As quickly as we could we picked up the decoys and head to the top of the hill to take picture hope we didn’t burn this pond and can make it back to its Saturday. As we where leaving about 50 birds where circling to go right back in. :)

 

~Nick

The Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cookbook, by Michael Pearce

Another guest post, this time from Melissa Neff, offering up an excellent review of a recently acquired work of art we managed to beg, borrow, or steal from our opening day duck blind guest, Michael Pearce from the Wichita Eagle

Ok, I will fully admit I might be one of the weird ones out there. But I absolutely love it when cookbooks have a story woven throughout the pages. There is something beautiful about how certain meals invoke certain memories and – honestly – how much more rewarding is it when you find a new recipe that has a story attached to it?

pearce-cb

I recently had the distinct pleasure of meeting Michael Pearce of the Wichita Eagle when he made a trip to this neck of the woods to test out the opening weekend of duck season with the hubby and some of the other Outdoorsman. With very few birds in the area, the talk led to cooking, and just how “gourmet” the meals can sometimes be in the blind.

From the discussion of blind food, the conversation turned to Michael’s latest collaboration, “The Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cookbook”. And wow, is this a cookbook to behold. Beautiful pictures, creative and amazing recipes, and special stories woven throughout the book made each turn of a page bring new “oohs” and “aahs.”

This cookbook highlights every possible type of wild game you can find – or have even been rumored to find - here in Kansas. I say rumored, as I have never seen any elk or wild pigs. But, let’s be honest, in the ten years of marriage to an Outdoorsman the poor hubby can count on one hand how many times I have joined him in the field.

This cookbook is broken into different types of animals, ranging from big game to fish to native plants that can be found in different parts of the state. Throughout the book, Michael takes the reader on an adventure of exploring Kansas and the many wonders and beauties that so few of us have had the opportunity to experience. After exploring the pages, I was seriously ready to pack the pups up in the truck with our tent and venture out in search of some of these views.

When it comes to the actual recipes, they ranged from simple to complex. There are great pictures of step-by-step procedures on how to handle the different meats to how to prepare the meals. There is truly a recipe for everyone in this cookbook.

But my favorite part of the book has to be the stories. The stories about how the outdoors can become such an integral part of small town Kansas community. About the bond that is forever formed between a hunter and his trusty hunting dog. The stories of life long friendships made in a duck or deer blind. Those stories that make the cold blustery mornings all worth it.

“Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cookbook,” is a must have for any Outdoorsman to expand their own recipe repertoire. It’s a great cookbook for anyone who appreciates the outdoors and all that Midwest has to offer. I am excited for the boys to have a successful hunting season. And if I am lucky, maybe the hubby will test out a few of these recipes sooner than later.

Here is link to the cook book if you have interesting looking at it. http://www.kansas.com/sports/outdoors/article2999919.html

~ Melissa Neff

A Pheasant Opener in Kansas

Enjoy a guest post from a close friend of the Kansas Outdoorsmen, Patrick Mellard -

personal limit

Pheasant numbers have been down throughout the majority of the state the past few years. This year was a great start on turning the wild bird populations in Kansas. Opening weekend of pheasant season in Kansas finds people from all over enjoying the hunting opportunities our state has to offer. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to head west and chase around the colorful ditch chickens.

After some scouting on Friday night, we knew where there was good CRP, along with food sources, stirring hope for a few concentrations of birds. Then began the “other part” of what hunting season is all about. Drinks, poker and stories, all tossed around with the excitement for the next morning.

1st morningThe morning came and the group was ready. We started by walking a WIHA piece that has been very good to us in the past. This year it wasn’t stellar, but we did put a few birds on the ground. The next chunk of WIHA found us to be a little too late, as we were watching birds leave it heading towards the food source (milo field) just to the East. Four more roosters in the bag, but we knew there were a lot in the uncut milo we didn’t have permission to hunt.

Location seemed to be the most important element to success for the weekend. Wherever grass met food there were birds. At points we had stellar shooting, but these were equally met with times of “how’d that bird get away?” A beautiful sunset only made the end of the day that much better as our last field produced 6 or so roosters. 27 total on the day was a great start to the upland season.

2nd morningWe saw 2 coveys of quail over the weekend. Sadly, both were not large in size so we didn’t pluck out any of those. We like to leave large enough coveys so they are sure to survive the winter and have breeding stock for next year. Again, this is the first year on a long road to recovery.

We started day #2 in the same WIHA field we let birds sneak out of the first day. It provided 5 birds and plenty of hens. We hunted a few milo fields that we didn’t walk the day before and covered a few more miles. Some fields were just calorie burners while others provided some hot and heavy shooting. It was a great trip overall and I hope all of you got to sneak out as well.

Safe and happy hunting!

~ Patrick Mellard

Paige’s First goose

It’s been a slow start to Paige’s waterfowl career… not because of her it’s been slow getting birds down on hunts she goes on. Today she got her first duck and goose, sadly I only got pictures of her first goose but someone else may have gotten the duck so here we go… the day after the smack down things slowed up a lot. We only had 3 ducks and 4 geese come in, all stayed… Paige got her first birds and I loved every cold minute of it.

~ Nick

First goose

First goose

Just like a champ

Just like a champ

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First good puppy ice cycle

First good puppy ice cycle

Paige and Luba

Paige and Luba

First Migration Day of 2014 Season

The start to this year’s waterfowl season has been one that has been very up and down. It’s been very slow for the first 9 days of the season with the migration not starting until this week. We received our first true taste of fall and winter starting Tuesday morning so we decided to take a short hunt out to try for ducks. Kansas has a two-day goose closure on Monday and Tuesday so we knew we would defiantly have geese around. Just as we finished setting up we were greeted two minutes in the legal shooting time by a group of about 40 geese. Knowing that we couldn’t do anything to them, we just took pictures and enjoyed the morning, which provided a show for the next 3 hours as several hundred geese landed in our 12 goose floaters.

Luck Bird

Luck Bird

snuggling behind the blind out of the wind

snuggling behind the blind out of the wind

Chilling in the decoys

Chilling in the decoys

Dakota with a fetch

Dakota with a fetch

Tuesday’s results were limited with just a few mallards that we where thankful to have, but we quickly devised a plan for Wednesday morning where five of us made plans to be “sick” and head out for a hunt hoping for the same results and numbers of birds that we’d seen the day before. We set up with eager anticipation knowing that there were a lot of new birds in the area that didn’t know the whole game yet. We were quickly greeted with multiple flocks of single and doubles honkers mixed in with a few ducks. We where very excited to be able to put a good number of birds in the decoys fairly quickly since one of our hunters had to leave for work by 830 and he was able to fill his six birds. The other four of us proceeded to enjoy an incredible morning of great gunning and even better dog work filling out most of our 24 birds by about 1030 in morning.

Helping the Old Dog Out

Helping the Old Dog Out

Gary Helping Dakota out

Gary Helping Dakota out

A ray of light

A ray of light

JJ, Nick and Benton with the rock star

JJ, Nick and Benton with the rock star

Gary with the other side of the blind

Gary with the other side of the blind

We also added an 8 bonus ducks of which Dakota being the only dog out there had to do most of the work. She brought back over 30 birds with many of them being long swims in the water and for a 10 year old Labrador that’s a lot of work, she’s a rock star. The first great hunt of the year two birds short of a six man do so I meant with 8 bonus ducks provided our first great waterfowl hunt of the year.

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~Nick

Opening Weekend

No wind on the water

No wind on the water

Friend of the outdoorsman and outdoor writer for the Wichita Eagle Michael Pearce joined us on our miserable opening day hunt. He knew going into it that the birds where just not there but we tried to make the best of it.

Here is the link to his article - http://www.kansas.com/sports/outdoors/article3513549.html

His Photo Gallery - http://www.kansas.com/sports/article3514041.html

Dakota with her only prize of the day

Dakota with her only prize of the day

 

As a side note this is what I came home to today. My new pup is not ready for the big show yet but she still doesn’t like being left at home… You can almost read her mind… so you only took the old dog this weekend, thanks….

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