Before getting started with this week’s column….”Good luck to the WOS Mustangs as they invade Dallas this Friday looking to disappoint Gilmer and seal the deal on yet another football state championship.I can’t think of a better way to kick off the Christmas holidays……Go Stangs!

It is seldom indeed that I fish the bayous and the river north of the ICW and in most instances, I am not there because it was my first choice.We spent more time in the river a few years back when the possibility of encountering schooling stripers mandated a short run northward each morning prior to fishing the lake, but that bite has all but disappeared for me.

For the most part, if I am not jigging a deep break on a main point it is usually a stiff wind that has rendered the open lake off limits leaving us with only the more protected water in which to hunt redfish.We occasionally finish a good day in the lake with a scenic return jaunt through Cow Bayou that more often than not culminates with a stop by Peggy’s on the Bayou for a shrimp Po Boy.

Early last week, at the request of my clients, we tied on 3 to 5 foot diving crankbaits and quarter ounce spinner baits and went in search of a single bass after a great morning of catching in the lake.It didn’t have to be a big bass…..just a bass.They didn’t totally buy into the idea that you could really catch a largemouth, speck or redfish on the same stretch of shoreline and the first half mile of Cow bayou was the ideal place to prove a point.

Not surprisingly, due to the hard outgoing tide, the first three fish that smacked the crankbait were a pair of rat reds and a small trout that were riding herd on a school of shad exiting the marsh.The second small drain we hit, however, yielded two vicious strikes on spinner baits and we eventually broke off a very healthy red and boated a fourteen inch bass.

By the time I finally talked them into calling it a day we had buried the Talon in front of three more drains and each of them produced very good numbers of both small bass and rat reds.The crankbait gave way to a quarter ounce single spin spinner bait with a GULP Swimming Mullet trailer as it was much easier to fish through the scattered grass.

It didn’t surprise me that we were catching bass, but I was a little surprised by the numbers.It was reminiscent of the good old days when we could catch small bass and goggle-eye perch out of a single cut until we either grew tired of catching them or got the last strand of rubber torn off of our H & H spinnerbaits.The dollar spent for a rental john boat complete with a broken paddle and coffee can with which to bale was money well spent.If you arrived at Blue Birds early enough you got a boat with a bigger coffee can!

While the weather was user-friendly all of last week, the bite was all over the place as far as predictable patterns were concerned.One day the gulls would work like it was early September and the following day, aside from pelicans harassing the crabbers, you would never see the first bird.

We caught well every day but one, and fished everything from fifteen foot breaks to scattered shell in three feet of water.The tides were not as favorable towards the end of the week, and while our day was usually already done, I feel certain the bite was much better in the afternoon hours.

I was also pleased that in spite of the return of bigger incoming tides that have scattered the bait and the fish, our larger trout are starting to hunt mullet on the shallow flats on a more frequent basis.That plays right into the waders’ hands, but you can easily drift fish the same trout as well.We caught some nice fish on She Dogs and Spooks, but the most dependable baits for us were Corkys, MirrOdine XL’s, Maniac Mullets and suspending hard baits like the Catch V and Catch 2000.

I don’t know that we see a repeat of the Coffee Ground phenomenon of a year ago, but locating and catching shallow trout has been more about finding surfacing bait than any specific area.Coffee ground Cove looked more like a used boat parking lot than a viable area to fish for two solid months last year and a few of the folks that competed with the armada on a regular basis are already checking it out!

I know this may come as a shock to some of the anglers that wedged their way in to that one small portion of the lake trip after trip, but there are some fish in other areas throughout the lake that receive much less pressure.I also know that the time factor and the fear of not catching fish often keeps us doing the same thing time after time, but applying the same lures and techniques in similar water far from the crowds can be incredibly rewarding!

Photo: Deon Gipson with a nice red caught on a windy Sabine Lake.