Surface temperatures and gas prices soar
I am officially out of the business of challenging Mother Nature or, for that matter, even mentioning anything that negatively affects the fishing. No sooner than I get it in print, it seems to become more prophecy than speculation over night.
Three weeks ago we were enjoying an improving trout bite and unseasonably warm surface temperatures and I stated that it would only get better if it didn’t start snowing by the end of the week. Mother Nature took offense and saddled us with back to back cold fronts that dropped the surface temperature 20 degrees and froze the rod locker lids shut three days later!
Last week, having not learned my lesson, I mentioned that I had fished with clients that were in the energy business that felt like gas prices would go as high as $3.50 by the summer. Now, I am not sure they won’t be there by the end of the week. I bought gas for $3.03 at 5:30 one morning last week and filled the boat on the way home that afternoon for $3.23. At that rate it will be $3.50 by the end of the week.
While on the subject of the back to back freezes, which I hope are done for the year, the fish did not fare as well on Calcasieu as they did on Sabine. Phil Broussard was fishing behind the weirs on the east side of the lake well after the weather had warmed considerably and discovered the shorelines of the marsh lined with dead redfish. The pictures I saw of the kill would just make you sick.
There is a huge expanse of shallow marsh behind those weirs with limited access to water deep enough to provide safe haven. I remember all too well when the first of three major freezes in the 80’s hit our area and the same type of kill took place in the shallow canals located off the shell cut.
We were back on the water fast enough to actually witness not only hundreds of dead fish, but several times that many still in the process of dying. A number of concerned anglers questioned why the dead fish showed up so late on Calcasieu, but it was due to the extended cold weather. They sank to the bottom and only floated to the surface after the water warmed up and they began to decompose.
We have run through a number of backwater canals around Sabine the past few weeks and haven’t seen any dead fish as of yet. I think we would have either seen or smelled them by now, but there are lots of shallow lakes in the Game Reserve that we cannot access at this time.
In the meantime, the surface temperatures continue to climb and we have seen numbers that we usually do not see until mid-March. The nighttime temperatures have dipped no lower than the high 50’s over the past week or so and we are already seeing surface temperatures in the low 70’s. The baitfish in the lake have responded as expected and they just cover up the flats and shoreline on tide changes. As of this past week the only complaint most local anglers voiced concerned was the absence of a consistent trout bite.
The redfish bite has not slowed at all and every trip we catch a few more solid flounder when fishing the flooded cane on the shorelines. Unable to figure out the trout, I opted to target flounder after quickly limiting on redfish while scouting new water one day last week. I fished nothing but stands of Roseau cane with no regards to cuts or any other structure for three hours.
I fished a tube jig with a piece of GULP stuffed in the head and a spinnerbait with an electric chicken BLURP Sea Shad body. I quickly caught two very nice flounder on the spinnerbait, but the redfish just would not leave it alone. I caught and released at least three more limits of reds, before putting it away and fishing the tube jig exclusively.
I still caught a few more reds, but I also caught 12 to 15 more flounder and at least 10 of those fish were 15 to 19 inch fish. I only kept the first two for supper and released the rest, but I was pleased to find so many flatfish already back on the shoreline.
On the freshwater side, if you are still waiting on the water to rise on Toledo Bend or warmer surface temperatures…you are missing out on a good bite. There were at least two bass over ten pounds reported last week that were caught on the south end of the lake in seven to 10 feet of water. One fell for a 3/4 ounce Trap and the other hit a black-blue jig with a black-neon craw worm trailer.
Gene Locke called when he got back in Thursday after three days on T-Bend and said that he and Phil Newman caught over 80 crappie weighing up to two pounds fishing jigs and Road Runners in the back end of the creeks. He added that at times you could see the fish dimpling the surface and that kind of activity always coincides with the biggest female bass in the lake moving up on the staging areas.
With the lake level so low, it is going to fish much differently this year and the odds have swung in favor of the fishermen. While some of them are even exposed, open water humps and extended points that you never even knew existed are magnets for spawning bass. Grass breaks on the outer edges of the shallow flats are more defined and it is not difficult recognizing potential hot spots.
I didn’t mean to bail out on a good crappie report, but they are usually easier to catch than double digit bass. This has already been a very good crappie year and it is only going to get better over the next few weeks. You better charge your boat batteries and fill up the tank while the gas is so cheap because the bite is on!