It is rare indeed in fishing circles when you can point to a specific

day as the exact day the fishing changed for better or worse. I am not

talking about anything as dramatic as killer freezes or trout stockings

at Claiborne West Park, but just an anticipated bite that suddenly gets

better or goes to pot without any explanation.

The most obvious example of this phenomenon each year easily takes

place within the flounder migrations. While the other two members of

the big three, trout and redfish, bite at least to some degree year

round, the flounder can disappear overnight only to return just as

quickly with the warmer temperatures of early spring.

While we annually spend a great deal of time fishing Calcasieu through

early March, it is generally for only two reasons. The runoff from the

lakes makes the trout fishing double tough on Sabine or we are

targeting only trophy trout. Shallow shell is a favorite haunt for

wintering sow trout and a significant portion of Calcasieu is lined

with the preferred bottom.

Having gone through the short list of reasons for baling out on Sabine,

Saturday marked one of those rare days when the trout showed back up in

both numbers and size for no obvious reason. We instantly vaulted from

an occasional decent day of grinding away for a few decent trout to

catching them like we actually knew what we were doing!

Believe me when I say that the network of guides and perhaps even more

proficient fishermen that I talk with daily have been questioning the

trout bite for well over a month now. All of that magically changed

while working a big group of folks from Madisonville with Capt. Johnny

and Capt. Adam Saturday morning.

I was still on the south end catching redfish in the white caps when

Johnny called to say that Adam had just caught some trout on a drift in

deeper water up on the north end. Johnny had spotted a slick or two

earlier in the morning and Adam was making the oily spots pay off. By

the time we ran back up to the north end, Johnny and Adam were sharing

their drift with a gathering crowd and for good reason.

I feel certain that everyone involved in the fish catching felt good

about their choice of lures, but I can promise you that a TTF Red

Killer in any lighter color pattern rigged on a quarter ounce head was

difficult to beat. We did better early bouncing the tail across the

bottom, but the fish seemed to move into the upper column of water

later in the day and we caught more fish with a quicker retrieve. By

the time we quit, Corkies and suspending lures were working just as


My folks had not done a great deal of trout fishing, but all of them

cast well and did much better fishing tails under a cork as it was

easier for them to keep their lure in the strike zone. We switched to

Assassin’s stinky pink Sea Shad at that point and while they scored

more often with the new color, I continued catching fish swimming a

roach colored Trout Killer.

While confidence in the color and style of tail you are fishing is

easily the most important factor, not excluding the fact that it helps

to have a few hungry fish in the area, fishing the most productive

depth is absolutely critical as well. For that reason alone, it is

necessary to not only include jig heads of different weights in your

arsenal, but understand what your choice of tails is designed to do.

No single style of tail has presented a greater learning curve for me

of late than TTF’s red killer. Until Tal Cowan pointed out that it was

not simply a beefed up version of the Flats Minnow and was far less

effective when fished on a fast retrieve, I left it in the box. When

bounced off the bottom and allowed to erratically fall back without

angler influence, however, it is deadly.

The five inch rat tail plastics like the Assassin Texas Shad and Trout

Killer can be effectively fished from top to bottom, but are the

easiest of the tails to swim on a faster retrieve. Aside from pace, the

key element is to take the time to thread the tail on your jig head

without any crooks or bends which cause it to spin.

Only time spent on the water will tell how this latest onslaught of

cold weather will affect the improved trout bite, but it makes it

easier to sleep at night knowing that they are back. I don’t know that

they ever left, but I was not doing a very good job of proving it

either way.

In the event that you are addicted enough to wrap up in several layers

of insulated clothing and your Frogg Toggs and endure some miserable

weather for a swing at a memorable trout, my first choice of lures

would still be a Corky or at least a suspending lure like the Catch V

or MirroDine XL. Plan B, however, is only as far away as the tails and

jig heads tucked away in the top pocket of my wading jacket!