While the local trout fishermen couldn’t be happier that the generators are shut down again up on Toledo, the BASS pros headed this way for the March Elite event on the Sabine are absolutely ecstatic.For the most part they have been launching at the tournament site here in Orange and burning lots of gas in search of clearer water and a dependable bite.

Mileage equates to time lost fishing, but they have proven time and again that they will run six hours for a single hour of catching.I spoke with a couple of the visiting pros recently that said that they were finally finding clearer water draining out of the surrounding swamps, but still had not located the kind of bass they needed to be competitive.

They were convinced, however, that baring anymore significant rain events that warranted having to crank open the generators on Toledo Bend, they could possibly get it done within an hour’s run from the launch.After fishing the tournament hosted here two years ago, their biggest concern was finding enough solid fish in one area to survive the cuts and make the final day!

The last event hosted out of Orange produced all kinds of attendance records and I won’t be surprised if they are broken this year…… weather permitting.Spectators were shoulder to shoulder from blast off to weigh-in every day in 2013 and I still talk with clients from Houston to Baton Rouge that knew nothing about the tournament.They do now and they won’t miss this one!

While the local bass fishing is improving at a much slower pace, the reduced influx of fresh water via the rivers has certainly helped the saltwater bite.The redfish simply returned to pounding away at anything they can chase down, but they never completely shutdown even on the coldest of days.

We haven’t seen them schooling on the surface, but we have found them feeding in big numbers on the flats in three to five feet of water lately.Unlike the trout, they are getting it started early and staying late.The better trout bite, on the other hand, has been during the afternoon hours.When night time temperatures stay closer to the fifty degree mark, the surface temperature warms up faster during the day and the bite usually starts a little earlier.Lots of sunshine is a good thing for the trout fishermen!

Prior to figuring out that the trout were not cranking up until much later than we fished, I spent an enjoyable day last Friday catching redfish with Jim Franklin and Sportco Marketing rep, Hughes Andry. No time spent in the presence of Franklin is ever boring and Andry shared a wealth of information concerning a few of the products in the Sportco stable.

On this particular day, Shimano reels were the main topic of conversation and anything Hughes does not know about them is of no value to anyone anyway.He shared everything from the composition of parts to design improvements that once again have returned the reels to the top spot they dominated for years.

He asked that I fish with two of the reels that he brought along and I should have fished with only the new Curado.The improved gear design keeps more surface area in constant contact resulting in an even smoother retrieve than my own Curado and Chronarch 50E’s and I was already pleased with them.

Hughes also pointed out that previous to their newest models, drag washer consistency had long been a major concern for all reel manufacturers.If it was thin and smooth it didn’t hold up well and thicker more durable material resulted in chattering and inconsistent drag tension.Slot red after slot red tested Shimano’s improved drag washer material Friday morning and it was even quieter and smoother than advertized.

Franklin, with a devious smile on his face, then insisted that I give one of their new “top of the line” Metaniums a shot. It is a $400 reel, but the performance was so impressive that I dismissed the price tag following the very first cast.I nearly emptied a spool of thirty pound braid with no effort and “smooth” is an inadequate description for every turn of the handle.

I fish over 200 days a year and I believe that any quality reel can only do so much.Following that trip, however, I am now compelled to upgrade once again to the new Curados and I will upgrade to a couple of Metaniums as well the day I bow out of the guiding profession.I share all of my equipment with my clients and having a client heave a $700 rod and reel combination over the side of the boat would affect net earnings for the week!

Jim grew up in Orange and sharing the boat with him is always an overdue reunion as well as a treat.Over the years he has won more big trout tournaments than most folks even enter and good luck played a very small role. I have always believed that the strength of his game is his attention to detail.He invariably notices the smallest of slicks to the silent swirl of a single mullet even in the midst of recounting one hilarious past experience after another.

While I would hope that he has gleaned even a little something of value from our time spent fishing together over the years, I can assure you that I never fish with him that I don’t learn something new.I can think of no greater legacy for any fisherman!

Photo – Sportco’s, Hughes Andry with another solid redfish.