Right place at the right time
Jalen Simar and his 14 year old son, Carlton, shared a Thanksgiving they won’t soon forget. They had been on their deer stand early Friday morning less than an hour when they heard a shot echo through the woods.“We never even saw a squirrel and gave it up just before noon,” said Jalen.
“We were sitting on the tailgate eating a leftover turkey sandwich when Carly’s two cousins drove up with a big buck that they all said Carly had seen twice this year, but could never get an open shot,” stated Jalen. We both looked at each other and it was plain that I had a disappointed youngster on my hands.”
After talking about that deer all the way back to the camp they decided to switch gears and run out to one of their brush piles to see if they could burn the rest of the afternoon catching a few crappie.“Carly’s heart just wasn’t in it…. even after I boated six or seven very nice crappie on shiners.,” said Jalen.“He finally cheered up a little when I told him that we would hunt his Uncle’s lease the next day.”
According to Jalen, for no apparent reason, his son slowed the boat down on a shallow flat on the way back to the camp and tied on a red Rat-L-Trap. His first cast was his last cast with the brand new Trap as he hung up and broke it off. From that point on, however, his bad luck would come to a screeching halt.
“I was surprised that he even tied another one on,” said Jalen, “but after only three or four more casts he stuck a good bass and flashed his first smile of the day.”The bass weighed a little over six pounds and they put her back as they eat only crappie and channel catfish.“On his very next cast he stuck another bass that looked larger than the first one, but she shook his Trap when she jumped,” said Jalen.
Over the course of the next two hours they lost all of their red Rat-L-Traps, but not before they caught and released thirteen more bass between 5 ½ and 7 pounds. “It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen and I have been fishing the same flat in the Arnold’s Bay area for twenty-five years,” stated Jalen.“I’ve caught numbers of big bass fishing structure at night, but I’ve never found bass that size scattered all over a flat with very little grass!”
And, if that wasn’t enough to salvage the weekend, Carly got his deer the following morning. “I don’t know which of us had the best time, but I guarantee you the ride back home for both of us was more enjoyable,” added Jalen.“He never told me why he decided to stop and throw a Rat-L-Trap the day before, but we hit it again the following afternoon and never got a strike!”
While the bass bite on Toledo Bend is apparently out the roof when you can find the right spot, the redfish catching has been just as hot in and around Sabine Lake lately. The combination of icy cold mornings and a north wind that sucked a lot of water out of the marsh put the redfish on the move. There is no doubt that live bait is all but a guarantee right now, but we have caught enough on artificials to make my clients cry “Uncle”.
Not surprisingly, the bite in the river and bayous is every bit as good as it is in the lake. Easily, the biggest surprise for us has been the number of flounder that are still hanging around and at least a few of them have been in the five pound class. While on the subject of big flounder, Charles Gonzales and his big flatfish wound up on this month’s cover of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine.
I am sure that he would be more than happy to share a few tips with you after acquiring celebrity status. It just proves that good things happen to good people as Charles caught his flounder on a guided trip that he bought in an auction to help raise money for the St. Mary school. Wearing the A&M cap may also have sealed the deal with the editor, but either way it was indeed a flounder worthy of a cover shot!
While the redfish have seemingly been everywhere, the trout bite has been ultra difficult. We spent the week prior to the freeze culling big trout almost every day only to have them disappear after the weather warmed up a little. There is no doubt that they have transitioned from shrimp to mullet as that is all we found in the stomachs of the trout we cleaned. At the same time, most of the redfish we have cleaned have been full of tiny striped minnows and shrimp.
I have no doubt the redfish will eat mullet as well, but the live bait fishermen have been doing most of their catching with shad. If you catch more bait than you need I would take it home and freeze what you don’t use as it gets more difficult to find as we move into the colder months. The redfish don’t care if its dead or alive!
Also, a few words of caution for that small handful of folks that just can’t make themselves release a redfish when they are biting like they are right now. Taking a limit back to the launch and returning for more is not only unethical, but a recipe for a hefty fine as well. Thus far, I know of only two such incidents and they were very expensive mistakes.
The river crested earlier this week so we should see clearer water by the time the next front rolls in on Friday night. The southwest wind hasn’t helped either, but two days of north wind should work in our favor as well. Until that happens, don’t panic as the fish aren’t going to quit eating just because the water clarity temporarily went to pot. Continue to fish the same areas a little slower with darker lures and believe that you are going to get bit on every cast!
Another over size red that fell for a 4-inch Usual Suspect. RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn