“Wade fish!?……..There isn’t a trout in that lake big enough to make me stand in the water and cast all day this time of the year,” stated an incredulous Terry Martin. No one paid Terry much attention as my clients for the day methodically added layers of clothing before wrestling on their waders and boots.

“I don’t even fish out of my boat this time of the year, “he continued as if anyone was even listening. “Its too danged cold. Y’all are gonna go out there and walk around in the mud all day and still not catch any big trout anyway cause the redfish have run them all off!”

The look on their faces following his final statement indicated that they were catching at least bits and pieces of his dock side ranting. “That may well be true,” responded the best fishermen of the group, but we won’t know unless we go!”

Terry hasn’t even launched his boat since Thanksgiving week, but more than one local Sabine Lake angler would at least partially agree with his final remark. The trout fishing on Sabine Lake over the past month has been a struggle for both wade fishermen and those that prefer to stay in the boat and drift the flats.

While no one is complaining about the phenomenal redfish bite, it is a little frustrating when you cannot get away from them. Stretches of shoreline and prime patches of isolated shell on the shallow flats that annually yield the largest trout from December through early March have not produced. As of right now they are either covered up with schools of redfish or will be if you hang around long enough!

Last year was maybe even a little better than average for folks with big trout on their mind, but even then the redfish would eventually move in and either scatter the trout or beat them to your bait. Trying to outlast them seldom worked so you felt like you were on the clock as soon as you stuck that first good trout.

Catching redfish hand over fist is never a bad thing and they are more than welcome when you haven’t had the first strike for a while, but gearing up for the solitary task of out smarting a big trout with a piece of plastic is the ultimate commitment. Redfish do not require nor deserve that level of dedication.

I am not going to stand in waist deep water all afternoon hoping to catch a fish that I could have just as easily caught on a piece of frozen shrimp while sitting in the boat. I will, however, willingly bite the bullet and endure the inconveniences associated with wading for only one or two swings at a 28-inch trout over the course of a day.

The redfish do make it difficult, but I do not believe their resurgence is the sole reason for such a slow start on the trophy trout catching. I also do not believe that it is due to increased pressure resulting in more and more big fish being taken out of the lake. There are always a few exceptions, but for the most part, the hard core anglers dedicated to winter wading seldom keep any fish at all.

I will say, however, that if this is just a late bite it is very late and we can’t blame it on freezes or muddy runoff from the lakes.Maybe that is the answer…our big fish are still trying to adapt to unusually clear water. They may have even followed the salt water all the way to I-10!

As a rule, we try and take advantage of the best bite by fishing both Calcasieu and Sabine this time of the year. Calcasieu has been much better thus far, but even at that, it has not been as good as it has been in years past. The marked difference in both lakes has been the numbers of keeper size trout taken off Calcasieu recently. While the big fish have been somewhat scarce, limits of smaller keepers have been easy to come by on most days and that has not been the case on Sabine.

The weather conditions are just now getting really miserable on a more consistent basis and that may prove to be all it takes to put the big female trout on the move. I cannot recall ever having any banner days when I wasn’t cold and wet and losing the afternoon light by the minute.

Make no mistake about it. I do not like to wade in the winter, but I will continue to do so only because I believe it affords me the best chance of catching the largest trout in the lake. Only time will tell, but for the time being the redfish continue to rule the roost and that beats the heck out of no bite at all!