Fly-fishing passion leads to records
By JOHN K. FLORES
When Dr. F.H. “Chip” Metz Jr. saw movement — the kind flounder make in shallow water — coming towards a little cut in Blue Hammock Bayou off Four League Bay last summer, he began to make several casts into it. With each cast, he did what’s known to fly fishermen as stripping line. What’s more, doing it just gentle enough to pick his artificial bait off the bottom.
Friend and mentor Peter Cooper had personally made and given to Metz the fly he was using, calling it “The Golden Rule.” And Metz wanted it to provide a little glimmer to entice the fish to charge it.
The two anglers had fished the location during August in previous years and knew flounder would be feeding in the oyster reefs there.
Metz said, “We were specifically targeting flounder. The flounder are always in there around this time of year, where you can see them flipping and chasing minnows and things. During July and August, the flounder must have some kind of pattern where they come into these areas. They’re on every sandbar in the river it seems. And when they hit, it becomes like a feeding frenzy, and that activity might go on sometimes for 30 to 45 minutes, where you can catch them with artificial baits.”
Suddenly, Metz saw the fish charge that, when landed, turned out to be quite a large flounder. Moreover, the third biggest flounder ever caught in the state of Louisiana with a fly rod, weighing 4.09 pounds.
What’s remarkable is a quick study of the state’s fish records maintained by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association will reveal that Metz’s name is listed four other times in the fly fishing division.
Metz holds the record for the second-largest black drum ever taken, which weighed 51.38 pounds; the largest blue fish, weighing 3.60 pounds; the third-largest gafftopsail catfish, weighing 5.20 pounds; and the eighth-largest cobia or lemon fish, weighing 23.13 pounds.
“I don’t fish for records, per say,” Metz said. “As it happened, it was a big flounder. That particular day we caught 6 or 8 flounder. We were targeting flounder because they are a great eating fish. If you’d have been out there using a regular rod and reel with some shrimp on it, probably you’re going to catch about double the flounder we caught.”
Metz’s passion for fly-fishing first began on a trip to Larsen Bay, Alaska, that he and several friends had taken more than 20 years ago.
Because of the fly rod requirement on the trip, he was pressed into getting outfitted and learning how to use one. And because of cost, Metz bought a Cabela’s blank shaft, making an 8-weight rod, and then bought a less expensive Orvis Battenkill reel to go with it.
For a carrying case, he fashioned one out of PVC pipe and screw-on end caps.
During the trip, Metz says in addition to fishing, he wound up treating one man who got a hook stuck along the eyebrow near his forehead, a local indigent who fell off a four-wheeler, and a guide’s mother, who had to be rushed to the hospital by sea-plane.
“After that trip, I continued to fly fish,” Metz said, recounting his trip of a lifetime. “It took me two or three years to catch a redfish. And now, if there is a redfish around, I think I can catch it as well as anyone. There’s a little bit of a learning curve and some people are quicker at learning the techniques than others.”
Metz credits Cooper for much of the progress he has made, saying they have been friends approximately 15 years and fish together frequently. Cooper has authored “Fly Fishing the Louisiana Coast,” “Redfish” and “Fly Fish for Specks.”
Metz said, “He’s like the guru of fly fishing in Louisiana, and I’ve been fishing with him for about five years, not every day, but several times a year. He actually started fly fishing in the ’70s and pioneered saltwater fly fishing.”
Metz says most of the time he fishes with a spinning rod and like most saltwater anglers, fishes specifically with a popping cork. However, he also says everywhere he goes he takes his fly rod — stored in a PVC pipe — with him, where it’s always close by and handy in case he decides to pull it out.
Metz says, “The thing about fly fishing is it’s a passion. And honestly, if we don’t catch a fish, it really doesn’t make a difference.”
The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association also recognized and presented a Fish of the Year award to Elliot Sale of New Iberia Saturday in the Rod and Reel Division for his 251-pound yellowfin tuna. The fish was caught in West Delta Block 122 last October.