Reviewed by Roger Stouff
Louisiana. Boiled crawfish, etouffee, Mardi
Gras, fais-do-do, Cajun language, shrimp,
blue crabs and fly fishing mecca.
Fly fishing mecca? Louisiana?
Well, no. Not in the popular consciousness,
anyway. Once when I was fishing on a public
property pond, a lady watched me for several
minutes before striking up a conversation by
saying, "You ought to go to Montana, where
you can really use that thing."
That's about the size of it. Louisiana is not
known for fly fishing.
Never mind that one of the pioneers of warmwater
flyfishing, Tom Nixon, was a Louisianian. Heck,
there's even a website, Louisiana Fly Fishing,
dedicated to the subject.
But spend any time at all on the freshwater lakes,
bayous and ponds of this great state and you'll
find baitcasters, spinfishermen and the like,
with nary a fly fisherman in sight. Nary, I say.
Just nary. We're here, and there are clubs for
us in Lafayette, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and
other locations. We've even got a few fly shops
in the larger areas. But it ain't no Montana,
where fly fishing is as run of the mill as putting
on your pants.
Odd as it is, since I've lived here all my life,
I never did any saltwater fishing. When, this
fall, I announced to some die-hard speckled
trout and redfish anglers that I intended to
catch one on of those species on a fly rod,
I was met with bemusement and amazement.
"On a FLY ROD?" they asked. "Are you crazy?"
Maybe so. But I ain't the only one, by thunder.
I still haven't caught a redfish or a speckled
trout with the crazy weather we've been having
this fall in my immediate part of Louisiana,
but I stand ready, armed with a good rod, some
good flies, and a lot of information. I get
information from all over on fly fishing, but
when it came to fly fishing Louisiana's brackish
marshes and bays, there was a good amount of
information on various websites, but nothing
Enter Pete Cooper Jr.
I got Fly Fishing the Louisiana Coast
in my hands a bit too late to help me this year,
what with the djinn weather and all, but it didn't
take many pages of reading to realize Cooper has
provided a treasure of a resource for those wishing
to cast the long rod down here where nary a fly
fisherman can be found. I said, nary.
Heck, he admits the rarity of his breed: "I myself
was once one of those tight-lipped types, having
frequently and ardently fished with flies for many
varieties of Louisiana's briny beasts since 1971.
During much of that time, if there was someone
else around who has practicing the exercise,
they sure weren't admitting to it! It wasn't
that I was being clandestine about it all; it
was simply that virtually no one else cared
about it - or was radical enough to stray from
the conventional mind-set to try it. Most
Louisiana residents are pretty conservative."
That's no exaggeration, take my word.
Cooper doesn't throw out a technical manual
and expect you to stay awake reading it. He
peppers it with a bit of history about each
of the destinations covered in the book, and
an anecdote here and there to add a little
flavor to a state known for its hearty appetite.
But he puts the information the marsh and
saltwater angler needs right up front. By
the time the last page is turned, a hopeful
fly fisherman is ready to chase redfish, trout
and any number of other coastal species with
good wisdom in the fly box.
Cooper is quite qualified for the task, too.
He's a full-time freelance writer, and was
elected to the Louisiana Sportsman Hall of
Fame last year. He does statewide seminars,
publishes all over the nation, and lots of
folks reckon he's done for saltwater fly
angling what Tom Nixon did for warm, fresh
water fly angling.
The reader will find Cooper providing more
than destinations and a bit of Louisiana
spice. There's flies to be tied, of course,
with detailed instructions. And he'll let
you know where to stay, where to eat, and
what's happening in each of the destination
areas in the book, from Lake Charles to the
A resource like this is long overdue. I will
put it to good use, soon as this zany weather
gets a little more reasonable.
I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cooper
as yet, but if you're out there, Pete, just let
me say thanks, from one Louisianian to another.
Ya done good, cher. ~ Roger Stouff
Fly Fishing the Louisiana Coast: A Complete Guide to Tactics and Techniques, from Lake Charles to the Mississippi River DeltaPrevious Reviews
Pete Cooper Jr.
Softbound 6 x 9, 240 pages (est.)
40 black & white photos, 8 maps Index
ISBN: 1-57188-308-8 $25
Published by Countryman Press