I had just finished washing the boat and was in the process of hooking up the onboard charger after another tough day on the water when the ringer on my cell phone interrupted the daily routine. I finally found it buried in a pile of wet towels and empty water bottles and punched the SEND button hoping that I was redialing the right caller. The fact that I took the time to even hunt the phone was unusual for me.

“I can’t believe you actually returned a call on the same day,” answered Steve Menard.“I promised you that I would call when the trout started biting under the lights and it has been going on at a bunch of spots on the Intracoastal for the past three nights. Even better than that, the mosquitoes have been non-existent!”

“I am pleased that they are biting somewhere other than the jetties,” I replied, “but I am right in the middle of guiding mornings and driving to Houston every evening to watch All Star games and my days and nights are starting to run together. Your night bite won’t help me from a guiding standpoint, but I need to do it just to remember what it feels like to catch fish on consecutive casts.”

This is not to imply that there is not a decent day time bite going on somewhere on Sabine as the bite has ranged from good to very good most days on the ship channel from south of the Causeway to the jetties. Live bait, both finger mullet and shrimp, have ruled the roost, but the lure fisherman have had their moments as well.

The bottom line, as counter-productive as it might sound for someone in the fishing guide business, is that I will reschedule or cancel a trip before I will give up on the lake and ICW. It has been tough of late for no obvious reason and I have spent more money than I have made, but I’ve got forty two years invested in the north end of the lake and the river and my time is better spent figuring that bite out than sharing the granite rocks with the armada.

It is not like we are not catching any fish at all on the north end, but the bite is just not user-friendly enough for folks that get to fish only once or twice a month. Even more frustrating, is the fact that there is no obvious reason for the trout and redfish to not be doing their thing.

The lake is covered up with massive schools of shad, but shad are not the most coveted entrée, especially if they are also abundant where the shrimp are currently holding up and that is very much the case. We have gotten a little rain the past few days, but the dry spell over the past month has given the shrimp no reason to leave the marsh ponds and canals. Last week I saw more shrimp skipping across the surface in one marsh pond than I have seen in the lake in a month.

Fishing live bait along the deeper breaks in the ICW and the river this past week was not as productive as it had been, but I am convinced that those fish only moved a short distance and are still suspending in deeper water most of the day. With Menard and several others enjoying a phenomenal trout bite under the lights up and down the ICW there is no reason to believe that the same fish are not simply backing off during the hotter hours of the day.

In the very near future the shrimp, gulls and fish will make the catching much easier, but I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with figuring out a tough bite in the mean time. It doesn’t pay very well, but the most addictive aspect of fishing has nothing to do with cashing a check!

This week I saw my first flyer reminding folks of the upcoming OCARC fishing tournament to be held August 2-3 .Several years back, OCARC Director, John Thomas, wisely decided that it would be much easier for the legion of local anglers that fish the fund raiser every year if it was simply held on the same weekend each year thus making the date a non-issue. The first weekend of August got the only vote it needed and we are only three weekends shy of the 26th annual event.

While the prize money is certainly decent enough considering the fact that this is a charity event for an organization that supports itself, this is truly a family oriented tournament. There will be thirty winners in ten different categories along with a $50 bounty on the Don Hubbard mudcat and a $250 check up for grabs for a 20” to 27” redfish with the most spots!

I will remind you again over the next two weeks as this is a special event that needs and deserves your support, but in the mean time there are several locations in the area where you can sign up early. For more information call the center at 409-886-1363 or visit them at 905 W. Park in Orange.