While the live bait fishermen continue to hold the upper hand on Sabine Lake, the bite has improved for those committed to artificial lures as well. The water clarity in the ICW as well as in the river is far better than that in the lake and there is no doubt that the salinity level is climbing as well.

Every morning massive schools of small shad cruise the shoreline and everything from small bass to lady fish are in hot pursuit. Depending on the size of the smaller predators, they would do well to look back over their dorsal fin as even larger predators are not far behind them!

Even though most of the largest of the shad are less than three inches in length they have worked well enough this week along with finger mullet, but the number one bait when you luck up on them have been piggy perch in the three inch class. I don’t know how you can target the stocky little bait fish with a cast net, but when you do find them you are in business.

We were catching an occasional keeper trout and enough rat reds to keep us entertained one morning last week while a pair of fishermen anchored up in a pontoon boat just wore the big trout out for the better part of an hour. While they caught only two or three trout that were obviously over five pounds, they still had to net virtually every fish they caught.

I saw their boat anchored on the main point in Middle Pass again the following day and stopped to talk with them while they sat in waist deep water sucking down energy drinks to cool off. They said that they had caught several nice flounder earlier, but only six keeper trout all morning long. “This is the first morning we haven’t been able to catch any piggy perch at the DuPont Outfall,”  stated one of the gentlemen, “and it is the first morning that we haven’t limited on trout.”

We could only find shad just big enough to fish with the following day, but still caught and released trout in the 15 to 18-inch class until it was no longer fun. We didn’t experiment to determine whether or not it made any difference, but we were fishing a single split shot a foot or so above a thin wire 1/0 Kahle hook rather than the more conventional Carolina rig. There was just enough tide to keep the bait off the bottom and most of the fish hit as the bait was still falling.

I have not been able to find enough gull activity to warrant running all over the lake, but the shallow flats on the north end of the lake did give up two very good trout to folks sticking with artificials last week. They were post spawn fish and were a little on the skinny side, but they were very good trout nonetheless.

The largest was a 29-inch fish that narrowly missed the 8-pound mark and the other was a 27.5-inch trout that was released and never weighed. The smaller fish ate a MirrOdine XL in five feet of water and the other fish ate a 3.5-inch Assassin DieDapper fished over scattered shell in less than three feet of water. I have not tried the shorter DieDapper, but that is the second good report I have received on the smaller version in the past few days.

Both the Gulp jerk shad or swimming mullet and the four inch Usual Suspect Swim Bait are also working well when bounced off the bottom along the 8 to 12 foot breaks on the river and ICW. We have done much better on an incoming tide than an outgoing and we are doing more jigging than actually swimming the baits. A quarter ounce jig head has been the better choice for this technique.

We are still a couple of weekends away, but it is time to put together a game plan for the upcoming 4th Annual Cops Helping Kids salt water fishing tournament. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Garth House, Girls Haven, Boys Haven, CASA and other children’s charities.

This tournament is one that you do not want to miss as it fills the bill for every inshore saltwater fishing enthusiast. The Captain’s Banquet with steak dinners, auctions and raffles is worth the entry fee alone, but the tournament itself offers something for the entire family.

There are five cash prizes ranging from $1000 to$200 in the trout, redfish and flounder categories to be won in addition to food and some incredible door prizes for the contestants at the weigh-in. In addition there are side pot buy-ins and bonus money up for grabs. The Captain’s Banquet will be held at the Bowers Civic Center in Pt. Arthur from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday July 26th .

To receive more information on rules and entry forms you can contact Tony Viator at 409-284-7934 or go to their web site at www.copshelpingkids.com.

Flounder showing up on deeper breaks as well.