The lost art of fly fishing is recommended

Published 12:01am Sunday, July 20, 2014

Apparently, the Mississippi River level at Natchez is stuck at 35 feet. We just cannot get a river level below 35 feet to allow us to see if the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers, will produce fish this summer.

I recall a stage of 34 feet back in June then we had a rise, then a fall and another rise and then another fall. The river was on a fall last week.

Early this week, a slight rise came downriver just before the gauge dropped below 35 feet. This has been an unusual year not only for the river lakes, but the landlocked lakes as well.

The river lakes are producing a few bream. I heard a fair report on the bluegill and chinquapin from the old river bend lake at Deer Park. The numbers are low, around 12 to 15, but the size is huge, so 35 feet is a good level for the bream.

Of course when I say bream, that covers most all the sunfish like red ear (chinquapin) bluegill and long ear bream. It is just easier to group this entire sunfish under one name — bream.

Chinquapin is the larger of these pan fish and bluegill is right behind the chinquapin, which is also called red ear bream. Bluegill seem to like crickets over red worms and chinquapin like red worms more than crickets, but you can catch both on either bait.

The lost art of fly fishing for bream is what I would rather do. Fly fishing is fun and it is more of an art than pole fishing.

When using wet flies like a Ligon Bream Killer or Bream Killer by Accardo, you are not constantly losing crickets and worms to the little bait stealers. You can load the ice chest with these tasty little fish real fast using artificial lures.

When the bream start looking toward the surface to feed, any one of the many popping bugs and/or the swimmers like a Round Denny will catch bream from the surface.

I was fortunate to meet and make friends with the legendary fly fisherman Tony Accardo of Baton Rouge. For two decades, from about 1985 through 2005, I was an avid fly fisherman and had a partner that fly fished with me. He was shot and killed in a really strange deal that is still a bit of a mystery to me and I just quit.

As I type, I see one of his fly rods still sitting in the corner of my office were it has been for 8 years covered in dust. To fly fish with someone, you have to have a partner that shares the magic of the fly rod. We had a rhythm. One lure out while the other is on the back cast.

I met Tony Accardo at one of the many wholesale tackle shows I attended over the past 30 years or so. He had just purchased Pecks Flies. I was a huge fan of the late Ernest Peckinpaugh’s flies. He used to have 100 employees that hand tied all his flies producing about 300,000 bass bugs a year.

My largest largemouth bass to date caught on fly tackle weighed in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces. That fish ate a No. 2 Grey Ghost on Lake Concordia in the mid 1990’s. I recall more details about that 6-pound bass than I do the 11-pound bass and two or three 10-pound bass I caught on bait casting tackle.

I laid the fly out on an abnormally long 9 foot leader. It takes a lot of practice to fish with leaders that long. The shorter the leader the easier the lure is to cast but the longer the leader the more strikes you will get. In the 1990’s Lake Concordia’s North Flats (an area I call The Swamp) was loaded with coontail moss which filtered the water giving us really nice water clarity that allowed us to see fish as deep as 5 to 6 feet.

The big bass came under the bug and stopped within an inch of it. I froze and the fish froze. You work flies by pulling the line and not using the rod tip. I pulled the line gently and the little popper moved about two inches.

The bass sucked it up; I came up fast with the rod and pulled back hard on the line which buried the small hook in the bass’ upper lip. That fish tail walked across the surface in a way I have never saw before.

Fly fishing is fun. My friend had a picture of that fish somewhere. I wish I had it.


Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at