It is Tuesday morning and I am one cup of coffee away from hitting the “send” key on the computer and filing this week’s column for the paper. My previous two editions of The Record splashed down in my driveway under a steady downpour and it looks as though this week’s paper will do the same as well.

I have no doubt that someone somewhere needs all of this rain, but we have had more than our fair share this spring. Had they not been able to close the gates on Toledo Bend last week we might have been strolling for crappie In Sabine Lake by now!

The saving grace for the growing number of local bass fishermen now spending more of their fishing time and money right here on the river is that most of the rain events have not included lightning. They have been slow moving soakers that only render the water a little off-colored and keep you in rain gear while you continue to fish.

At least from a bass fishing perspective, the bite has improved since the Bassmaster Elite pros fished here in late March and in part, that improvement is a direct result of the tournament itself. “No…..it’s not because they caught bass all the way from Lacassine to Houston and released them at our back door.”

Live releasing a pile of spawning bass certainly didn’t hurt anything, but it was more a case of convincing area bass fishermen that they could still catch bass in rising muddy water and showing them how to do it. The best local fishermen immediately became even more proficient and a legion of young fishermen suddenly couldn’t wait to get on the river.

Jonathan Simon, owner of Simon’s Outfitters located on MacArthur Drive, is a heck of a bass fisherman in his own right and he told me last week that the kids know exactly what they are looking for when they walk through the door. “Crankbaits and spinnerbaits will always be effective on the river, but the pros sold the youngsters on pitching jigs and craw worm style plastics to tighter targets,” said Simon.

Most off the folks that sell fishing gear in the area have restocked by now, but you couldn’t find a couple of colors in a particular craw worm in Orange or Jefferson County one day after the pros left town. Those same lures are also deadly on Rayburn and Toledo Bend lunkers, but it was the local fishing that emptied the racks.

Two local bass fishermen that are never far behind the bass when fishing the Sabine teamed up to win the initial Sabine River Afternoon circuit tournament hosted by Simon Outfitters last Tuesday. Melvin Dunn and Barry Celestine won virtually everything there was to win in besting one of the largest fields in the history of the tournament.

They earned $1075 in winnings for their brief, but effective afternoon of fishing. They won the heaviest stringer with 6.70 pounds as well as the big bass and the side pot money. Cory Rambo and Bobby Vice took home $490 for their second place finish and Brent and Chad Kemp cashed a $130 check for third place.

While the modest $40 per boat entry fee is well worth a shot at the winning check, at least two local insurance agents, Matt Purgahn and Shawn Landry will also match your side pot winnings if you have your boat insured with them. Simon’s will host these tournaments every Tuesday afternoon through July with the championship event set for August.

You do not have to win a weekly tournament to qualify for the Championship, but you do have to fish at least eight over the next four months. For more information you can drop by Simon’s Outfitters on MacArthur Drive in Orange or give them a call at (409)-313-1377. Unfortunately, this paper goes to press just prior to these tournaments so the results are a week old, but late is still better than never when it comes to fishing reports.

The catching on Sabine Lake has improved a little in spite of almost daily rains. Amazingly, the trout population in the lake can quickly adapt to huge amounts of local rain while a significant release from Toledo Bend all but slams the door shut very quickly.

The ship channel, south of the Causeway, and the jetties, depending on the wind direction, have been the most productive areas over the past two weeks. We found a few trout on the deep reefs north of the Causeway late last week and the water even cleared up just a little on the incoming tides.

Our bite was almost exclusively on tails with red shad, morning glory and purple-blue flake being our most productive colors. As a guide, I cannot fish in the Game Reserve, but I did see two very solid catches of flounder and rat reds that were caught on Gulp baits anywhere clearer water was draining into the main bayous.

You can certainly catch fish in the rain, but there isn’t a fish out there worth attempting to dodge lightning!

Photo – Nice fish on another rainy day!