Redfish rule the roost on Sabine
Perhaps it is only because the majority of my conversations involve other fishermen, or in many cases only frustrated fishermen, but the lion’s share of those chats usually begins with a modest exaggeration. I am not talking about the expected, “I caught a fish so long or we had so many fish!”
I am talking about something much more negative like, “I have never seen the wind blow this long” or “I cannot remember ever seeing this many ladyfish in the lake!” Both of those statements are products of frustration rather than fact.
If you are able to squeeze in only a limited number of fishing trips each year, it is possible that you are convinced that both of those statements are right on the money. According to my logs, however, I lost more days to wind in 1993 and 2007, but April and May of this year were indeed bad months.
And as far as those lady fish go, it really depends on where you are fishing as to just how many seem to be on hand. Considering them to be a nuisance, however, could well be your missing element in putting together a consistent fish catching pattern.
This may surprise some, but I will leave a flock of gulls wheeling and screeching over surface feeding fish before I will leave ladyfish sucking small shad or shrimp off the surface with no birds even in sight. Big trout and redfish are always mixed in the fray and they much prefer to eat one unsuspecting ladyfish than chase the smaller appetizers.
The red fishing has been so user friendly of late that I recently made the cardinal mistake of saying that I had never seen it this good before. Once again, all I had to do was scroll back through my logs to disprove that statement. We caught even more in 1981, but possibly not as many fish in the 20- to 28-inch class. Both the creel and size limits were more generous at that time.
After Rita passed through, local anglers found themselves absolutely covered up with 14 to 19-inch redfish for the better part of the following two years. For some reason it was difficult to consistently find slot fish excluding the fall run. Area biologists urged me to be patient with the assurance that the best was yet to come.
They proved to be correct in their assessment as I do not know how our redfish population could be any healthier. You can still find yourself in schools of smaller redfish in both the bayous and the river, but the lake is wall-to-wall with slot reds right now.
I have been on the water an incredible number of days in a row, even for me, and I never thought I would answer the question, “How’s the fishing?” with “Its okay, not great,” when we are limiting on reds every day. We have struggled to catch numbers of quality trout lately, but you have to hide from the redfish!
I will qualify that statement by adding that the bulk of my fishing is done between daylight and 3 p.m. Perhaps the afternoons are a little slower due to wind or whatever and maybe the specks are biting better then as well, but I am willing to bet that the reds are biting all day long.
Unable to fish where I wanted to one day this past weekend due to lots of boat traffic, I arbitrarily picked a stretch of shoreline only because no other boats were around. My clients had no idea that was the only reason I stopped there so they fished with confidence. We were done on reds by 7:30 with limits that included two fish they had to tag. We caught and released 28 more slot fish over the next two hours without catching a single undersized fish!
The bite is almost as crazy in the open lake, but in most cases you need birds or ladyfish to tip you off. There is no “best bait” when you find them. Topwaters, plastic tails, Hoginars, Swim Baits, Traps, and spoons will all work. My only suggestion with the open lake reds is that you throw something that you feel will catch trout as well.
If the annual fall run is any better, we may be able to just make longs casts from the boat ramp. Hats off to the biologists, but the weathermen are still not to be believed!
Fortune Ford continues to do her best to get the word out to local saltwater fishermen that we now have an active CCA Chapter in Orange. They are making plans for their first annual banquet on Sept. 17 and have been holding their monthly meetings at Cornbreads restaurant. For more information, call firstname.lastname@example.org.