I spent the past week running the roads between Jasper and Houston and there wasn’t a ditch or low lying field that wasn’t under water. While no one is complaining after last year’s drought all but dried up the impoundments across the state, most of that runoff will have to exit though Sabine lake via the Sabine and Neches Rivers.

Thus far, it hasn’t washed out the incredibly good bite that we have enjoyed for the better part of a month, but it is still raining today and the fish and bait will adjust to the diminishing salinity levels at some point. Water clarity, which can also go to pot overnight due to high winds, affects angler confidence far more than it does the catching, but it’s the salinity factor that will eventually move the fish and alter the best of patterns.

The worst mistake you can ever make as a fisherman is finding a reason to not go fishing, but simply assuming that the bay fishing needs some time to recover following a major rain event can be a mistake as well. At the very worst, should it continue to rain non-stop, most of the trout, redfish and flounder currently occupying the north end of the lake will just ease off into the more comfortable depths afforded by the river and ICW.

At the same time, the fish on the south end of the lake may not move at all due to the closer proximity to the Gulf and incoming tides that are not as diluted. As late as Sunday afternoon, the gulls were still working in the Blue Buck area on an incoming tide and the trout and reds were still hustling shad.

The last areas to be effected will be the bayous on the east side of the lake and the Bessie Heights and Keith Lake marshes as their resident redfish and flounder have no reason to leave as long as the bait hangs around. Even the trout that ride it out in the deeper band of saltier water in the ICW will still move up on the shallow flats in the lake to feed. For that reason alone, concentrating your efforts on those breaks can be very productive if the easier bite in the open lake take a little while to rebound.

Should you choose to spend more time in Black’s, Johnson’s and the canals leading into the Game Reserve, do not overlook the fact that you will have to have a current Louisiana fishing license in your possession. Your last year’s license expired in June!

Rain or no rain, it is a sure bet that the folks that earn their keep over at 905 W. Park have already put the hay in the barn for their upcoming tournament. The 25th annual OCARC fishing tournament is set for August 3rd and 4th and rain may be an inconvenience, but I recall only one time in all of those years when it took a flood to postpone the big weekend.

With their dedicated sponsorships in place, it is angler participation and community support that always sends the event over the top. The majority of fishermen that sign up every year do so simply because they appreciate and value the work ethic of everyone associated with the center, but the prize money isn’t bad either and the modest entry fee fits the tightest of budgets!

Unlike everything from gasoline to groceries, the $25 entry fee has not gone up in years and kids under 16 not only fish for free, but can win prizes as well. There are ten different categories that pay 30 places ranging from $250 to $25 in cash and trophies. There is also a $50 payday for the winner of the coveted “Don Hubbard” mudcat division.

The largest bass, trout, speck, and redfish are all worth $250. In further promoting the family oriented concept, an “Appaloosa Red” category has been added this year giving every angler a realistic shot at cashing one of those hefty $250 checks. The angler that brings a 20 to 27-inch red to the scales with the most spots wins the pot!

The tournament kicks off at 5 p.m. on the 3rd with the weigh-in set for 6 p.m. on the 4th . For more information you can go by the center at 905 W. Park here in Orange or call them at 409-886-1363.

Photo: The redfish could care less about fresh water runoff from recent rains. RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn