After cashing a big check with a terrific second place catch only two weeks ago in the Rayburn Bass Champs tournament, Cory Rambo and Rusty Clark raised the bar last Saturday in the first Texas Team Trail event of the year. This event was also held on Rayburn and I am thinking that if they don’t get this red hot duo off Rayburn pretty quickly, tournament hosts may consider naming upcoming events the Rambo-Clark Invitational!

After drawing a “take-off” number well back in the huge 300 team field, they were more concerned about arriving to find another team fishing their spot than whether or not the bass were there.They had been keeping tabs on their deep water staging area over the past month and they knew it was continuing to reload with pre-spawn bass.

Much to their relief, no other boat was in the area and they caught the winning stringer before many of the other teams even caught their first bass.After quickly catching a five fish limit that included a seven pounder and a five pounder, they continued to upgrade until just after noon when they culled their smallest bass for another five pounder.

As it would turn out they wouldn’t even need that fish as their winning catch of 29.77 pounds was three pounds heavier than the weight posted by the Penney-Fowler team. Rambo and Clark won a $42,000 Ranger-Evinrude boat package for their efforts while the second place team cashed a $7,500 check.

Their approach and choice of lures varied, but virtually every one of the fourteen teams that posted 20-pound plus catches targeted pre-spawn bass in staging areas. Rambo said that their spot was more critical than their choice of lures, but they relied on a Carolina rig and an A-rig while the others got it done with jigs and slow rolled spinner baits.

This circuit may be the most user-friendly of all for teams looking to give tournament fishing a try.The prize money is very good, forty-five teams cashed checks, and the entry fees are a very reasonable $250 plus a $30 membership fee.The next event is set for February 21^st on Toledo Bend.For more information just check them out at Texas Team Trail.

The SRA was finally able to cut back on the generating and even with the latest rain we are starting to see a little clearer water in parts of Sabine Lake.As you would expect, incoming tides improve conditions much faster on the south end of the lake.If you haven’t been on the water in the past few weeks you won’t be overly excited with the less than optimum clarity, but it is plenty clear enough to yield a dependable bite.

The redfish continue to provide the most consistent action, but the trout bite is slowly coming around as well.The reds are doing their thing from the time we arrive until the time we quit, but the best trout bite is taking place in the late afternoon.The deep shell on the Causeway reefs has yielded some decent fish on the tail end of incoming tides and that is a bite that we haven’t been able to rely on over the past few years.

While most of those fish have been caught either bouncing tails off the deep shell or Carolina rigging minnow type lures like the Long A or Yozuri crystal minnow, we have been catching our fish drifting three to five feet of water with Corkies, Maniac Mullets and five inch tails. I prefer the Maniac Mullet over the Crazy Croaker this time of the year, but we got absolutely lit up one day last week by a pair of anglers fishing the smaller Crazy Croaker.

They were fishing it much faster than we were retrieving the larger baits and even when we speeded up we didn’t do as well.The hot color that day was red shad, but they said that they had done very well before the water got so muddy with chartreuse with gold flake sides.“Seeing is believing” and they were steadily catching both trout and redfish!

Thus far, we have managed to catch some very solid trout, but the fish worthy of wading for on a wet windy day have just not been there for us thus far.A six pound trout has been a really good fish lately and that is not what winter fishing is all about.A little clearer water will make locating small schools of mullet easier and I have no doubt that the larger trout will not be far behind them.

And, while the bass fishermen on both Rayburn and Toledo Bend are cashing in on the pre-spawn bite, the white perch enthusiasts finally caught a break with the rain and have done well the past few days.The fish have just been average in size, but the numbers have been good.

I spoke with a number of folks that fished the Chicken Coop area last weekend and their reports were much the same.They caught their fish on minnows and had no problem catching their limits.The white bass and yellow bass are also showing up in numbers, especially for the folks jigging spoons in deeper water.

Photo – Plenty of redfish to go around!