Sabine Lake produces leading S.T.A.R. flounder
I don’t think I have ever received a phone call from Peggy Albair at Bridge City Seafood when she was not excited, and the most recent was no exception. In between selling seafood and cooking everything from shrimp PoPoys to fried catfish, she has weighed-in some potentially valuable fish this summer.
Several years back, she and husband Richard decided to take on the duties of an official weigh station for the annual CCA S.T.A.R. tournament. “Aside from the fact that Richard won a boat that first year,” laughed Peggy, “it was an investment in time and money that a lot of people in the area didn’t even know about.”
They have had at least a runner-up or winner weigh-in a fish darn near every year and no one could be happier than Mrs. Peggy. The tournament still has a long way to go, but she called to inform me 16-year-old Andrea Peters had just weighed-in a 4-pound 9-ounce flounder to take the lead in the teen division.
For those of you not familiar with S.T.A.R., that was not a “so what” catch. Should her fish hold the top spot the remainder of the tourny, it will be worth a $20,000 college scholarship for young Andrea. At the very least, that would make mom and dad happy.
Charles Hennigan and Randy Orth have also weighed-in fish with Peggy that have potential runner-up spots. There is still a lot of money up for grabs, and in several categories there has not been a single entry.
The 6-10 age division leaders have posted weights that are still in reach and each winner will earn a whopping $50,000 scholarship. A 4-pound flounder, a 6-pound 2-ounce gafftop and a 6-pound 5-ounce sheepshead are the current first place fish. Those three categories alone are worth $150,000 in college money!
I am even more surprised there has not been one fish entered in the teen upper coast trout division. The minimum weight is 6 pounds, which is a good trout, but we have had an unusual run on trout that size the past two weeks. We caught at least one trout in the 6- to 8-pound class four days in a row last week and had several 5- to 6-pound fish this weekend!
The Albairs have made it easy for area anglers to enter their catch without even getting off the water. They are on Cow Bayou just south of the Roundbunch Bridge and you can motor right up to the back door in your boat.
Of course, you have to take the time to sign up to get a shot at one of these phenomenal prizes, but you also need to leave the dock prepared to properly care for your winning fish. After netting the fish, you need to handle it as little as possible, put it on ice immediately, and hurry back to the weigh-in station as soon as you can safely get there.
Peters’ flounder nipped the leader by one ounce and weight loss is a guarantee if you do not ice your fish in hot weather.
The wind finally eased up and the fishing on Sabine has just been fantastic all week long. We have been dodging a few thunderstorms, but the ability to fish all over the lake has been the key to consistently catching fish.
We spent two days filming early last week and it could not have worked out better. While I always expect the worst with the cameras rolling, we survived the curse with several trout between 6 and 8 pounds.
Most of those fish hit either a MirrOdine, Catch 2000 or 5-inch Assassin rigged on a one-eighth-ounce head.
Earlier in the week, we targeted the rocks on both revetment walls as well as the rocks just north of Willow Bayou. If there was any bait activity on the surface we stopped, if not, we kept running. As the bite improved, we started catching more fish on the open flats near the Louisiana bayous or the intracoastal.
Even with all of the crew boat traffic, we found 15- to 17-inch trout hustling shrimp in East Pass while waiting out afternoon downpours. Those fish were chasing small shrimp on the surface and would jump all over 3-inch tails in glow-chartreuse or Roach.
We had been doing much better on size than numbers, but that changed as well Friday morning. I fished with Bob Hood and Perry Morris and we were limited by 8 o’clock. We caught a couple of big fish with the rest averaging 3 pounds.
The following day, Johnny and I fished Drs. David and Mike Olson and friends and it was a virtual repeat of the day before. We tried to get out at daylight, but were pinned down at the dock by a potent thunderstorm until nine o’clock. Once on the lake we caught fish consistently until the incoming tide all but died.
The big fish are on the move right now and I urge you to handle them very carefully when releasing them. You can legally keep one trout over 25-inches in your ten fish limit, but that does not mean you have to do so. In the event that you are fortunate enough to catch more than one big fish or simply want to release all of them, get them back in the water quickly.
Keep them wet, do not hold them with a towel, and take care in removing the hook or lure from their mouth. Hopefully, the one big fish you or your youngster does keep will require an immediate trip to Bridge City Seafood. Peggy will be waiting for you at the scales!