Individual taste in books varies as much as the favorite rod or fly.  With that in mind, we hope to review books and videos from the ever-growing fly fishing world, and share them with you.  Books will be the best of all worlds, new and old.  Many of the old books are now available in reprint, and the wisdom contained is timely today.  Others can be found in second-hand book stores, or by mail order dealers. As we find videos we feel are outstanding they will be included. Be assured, reviews are based on what we have actually read, and due to that fact, may not appear weekly.

December 20th, 2004

Fly Fishing the Louisiana Coast: A Complete Guide to Tactics and Techniques
By Pete Cooper Jr.
Published by Countryman Press

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 really comprehensive.

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.

Author Pete Cooper 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 Mississippi River.

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 Delta
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

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