The crowds during the week at the Houston Fishing Show were a little thin during the week, but the nasty weather Saturday helped attendance. Unlike the Houston Boat Show, I thought this show was a good one for the fishermen if not for those more interested in buying a boat.

The good news for folks that were interested in buying a boat was there were plenty of fishing guides on hand more than ready to tell you what they did and didn’t like about a particular boat. More importantly, they were ready to talk fishing, as were the lure and rod manufacturers.

The most discussed topic, however, was the short term effect that gas and diesel prices would have on the fishing industry. Everett Johnson, the owner and editor of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, had just driven in from the Matagorda area and said that he had to stop at two stations to fill his tank. The pumps shut off at the $75 mark and his tank was still far from full!

If that wasn’t bad enough, a representative of a fuel additive company had the largest crowd gathered around him as he discussed all of the problems caused by ethanol. He was convinced that 15 percent ethanol may be more than outboard engines could handle even with the addition of any additive. If the cost continues to sore at this unprecedented rate it will matter little to the average angler anyway as most outboard engines will never leave the garage.

I cannot recall ever seeing so many new plastics at one of these shows. They weren’t just new as they both looked good and were designed to fish a certain technique. Tidal Surge was back in business with their new air brushed Crazy Croakers, Stanley has a newly designed Swim bait that requires only a 5/0 or 6/0 worm hook, TTF was showing off its new line of hard baits, and a lot of folks finally got their first look at Assassin’s new Die Dapper.

I also talked with Capt. Phil Broussard and he had a packet full of pictures of dead redfish that he took behind the weirs on Calcasieu. He pointed out that most of the pictures were taken right at the weirs as the redfish were desperately trying to make their way out of the shallow marsh and into deeper water. It was not to be, however, as the gates on the locks were closed!
Every once in a while, fishing in the rain and wind can be very productive, but that apparently wasn’t the case Saturday for the majority of the fishermen I spoke with Sunday night. I did get one good report off Toledo Bend which didn’t surprise me as there is always some protected water if you can get there. There aren’t many hills around Sabine!

I don’t know if the trout bite will pick up as the result of a pretty good dose of freshwater, but at the very least, it can’t get any tougher. While my scouting trips will probably decrease due to the cost of gas, I am very anxious to get back on the water and see if the flounder bite of last week was a fluke or the beginning of something very good.

The ratio of keepers to non-keepers was about 50 percent which is not bad, but still not as good as it was last year. It could well be that the smaller males just made up the bulk of the earliest arrivals. I haven’t looked at the tide tables for the coming week, but they are even more critical for flounder enthusiasts.

This is a fish that lies camouflaged on the bottom and waits for unsuspecting bait fish and shrimp to virtually swim into his toothy jaws. Everything in the lake moves on the tide and every predator in the lake knows that….including the fishermen.

I am forever being asked which tide I prefer to fish and the answer is either tide as long as I have moving water. My rule of thumb, at least for flounder, is to fish the mouth of marsh drains on an outgoing tide and the root systems of the cane lining the east side of the lake on a high tide.

If you are not doing well on an outgoing tide or three boats are already in your spot, back out and fish the shoreline 20 to 25 feet off the bank. Flatfish will often hold out there waiting on a high tide. Invariably, once you find that first fish in that location you will catch several more without having to move.

The bigger question for local fishermen may be how the rain affected the bass fishing on the river. Local anglers that pay their dues most afternoons and every weekend were doing extremely well on bass up to three pounds. Some of them were pitching jigs and tubes while other stuck with a Texas rigged worm or small crankbaits.

Trey Smith and Hunter Gothier just blew the rest of the field away the weekend before with a five fish catch off the river that weighed 12 pounds. The victory simply confirmed an earlier prediction as Trey told me prior to the event that he had a great bite wired and was going to be hard to beat……case closed!