Fifty years later, back in his native south Louisiana, Vidrine now builds his own fly rods and makes or "ties" his own fly lures. As a founding member and current president of the Acadiana Fly Rodders organization, he's helping introduce the intricacies of the sport to locals who might view a fly rod as a foreign object.
"Everyone believes in the myth that if you fly fish you've got to be in a mountain stream somewhere," says Jack Deshotels (pictured), a veteran member of the Acadiana Fly Rodders. "Well in Louisiana, we are not blessed with cold water mountain streams." Fly fishing in Louisiana lakes and saltwater marshes is equally fulfilling for its regular practitioners.
"To tie your own fly, and then to go fool a fish with it, to me, it doesn't get any better than that," Deshotels says. "It's something I created."
And there are no boundaries to where fly rods can be used. While some local fly fishers mainly stick to freshwater lakes and rivers, Deshotels does the bulk of his fly fishing offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. "Anywhere there's water with fish in it you can fish with a fly rod," he says.
A few years ago, he reeled in a 27-pound redfish using a sinking Clauser minnow fly while fishing about 15 miles off the coast south of Rockefeller Refuge. Other local fly fishers attest to the thrill of fly fishing for redfish in shallow marsh areas. "You can see them tailing," says local attorney and Acadiana Fly Rodders club member Bob Boese. "And you sneak up behind them and drop the fly about two or three feet in front of them."
According to Deshotels, who grew up in Mamou, fly fishing has some roots in Louisiana. He learned to fish with a fly rod when he was 5 years old. "In the '50s and '60s, in Louisiana, there were a whole lot of folks fishing with fly rods," he says. People fished their area ponds and lakes with either cane poles, fly rods or a crude casting rod used to fish for bottom-dwelling catfish. But when tournament bass fishing took off in the '70s and '80s, fly fishing was largely forgotten.
"It just kind of faded out, and in the past few years there's definitely been a resurgence," Deshotels says. "Now it's the thing to do. Everybody wants to go catch redfish and trout with a fly rod."
However, fly fishing can require considerably more time to learn than conventional fishing. "Fly fishing is art because there's so much that's involved with it," says Boese. "It's kind of like golf in that if you really get involved in it, all you want to do is get better."
Unlike commonly used fishing rods, which rely on substantive lures and metal sinkers attached to the end of the line to provide the weight needed for casting, fly fishing rods use the line itself to carry out a virtually weightless fly. The line is made up of several parts, but basically consists of a heavier backing line attached to a lighter end, called the leader.
During a cast, the leader plays the critical role of transferring the momentum of the backing line to push out the fly. Before it lands, the line must then be pulled back with a check cast in order for the fly to flip out in front. The leader also works to dissipate the line's energy so the fly appears to land as gently on the water as a natural insect would. More complicated casts allow fly fishers to throw out their line around corners or under low-lying tree branches.
On the first Tuesday of every month at about 6:30 p.m., the Acadiana Fly Rodders practice their art by casting lines out on the front lawn of Grace Presbyterian Church on Roselawn Boulevard. The casting is followed by the club's brief meetings, in which members discuss environmental conservation or other political issues of their parent organization, the Federation of Fly Fishers. Meetings also usually include a brief fly tying demonstration by one of the members.
AFR consists of about 40 dues-paying members, up from the 18 members that founded the club in 1987. Each year, members usually take two group trips, one out to the Gulf area and another up to fish one of the running rivers in southwest Arkansas. The group also organizes a local tournament and a seminar for its members each spring. From 9 a.m.-noon this Saturday, Aug. 6, AFR will be at the pond behind the Crescent Apartments in River Ranch wrapping up a series of free lessons open to the general public.
The club has helped its members push each other to hone their fly fishing skills.
Vidrine says it wasn't until the club began its regular meetings that he really became proficient with his fly rod, which he had owned for more than 25 years. "I had never picked up the skills," he says. "I couldn't cast worth a hoot, but through the club we taught each other."
While club members are more than willing to take the time to teach casting and fly tying to anyone interested in learning the craft, they say most people don't have the patience required to learn the sport. "You spend a lot of time outside of the actual fishing aspect of it," Vidrine says, noting how many people enjoy fishing as a casual hobby with minimum work.
"Anybody can go fish with a bait casting rod and reel," adds Deshotels. "It takes a little more effort to fly fish."
Free Fly Fishing lessons from Acadiana Fly Rodders
9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Aug. 6, River RanchPreservation Lake, behind Crescent Apartments
For more information, call Bob Boese at 344-3200.
Casual cool for Thanksgiving
Shop Lafayette goes strong
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
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State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.