Water was high even before weekend downpour!

Captain Dickie Colburn – For The Record

Count me as one of that handful of local fishermen foolishness enough to think that we had survived the worst weather 2015 had to offer and were finally looking at closing out the year with two great months of fishing.There was every reason to entertain that thought going into this past weekend as the bite had improved all week long in spite of incoming tides that pushed water over the docks at area launches.
Few, if any of us, credited the hurricane racing into Mexico with having that kind of impact on our own local waters, but that is exactly what happened.In fact, the water was higher at local launches preceding the twenty-four hour deluge than it was following the downpour.The twenty to thirty mile per hour north wind with even higher gusts that followed only compounded the problem, especially for the folks with waterfront property on the south end of the lake.

It appeared that the storm surge tide did most of the damage to the piers and covered boat slings, but once the decking was lifted off their runners the wind only served to make things worse.Because it happened so quickly, a few boats were damaged as well.

I have been asked several times to look at my fishing logs as far back as 1981 and I cannot find a single year to match what we have experienced this year from a fishing standpoint.Hurricanes and major freezes were little more than minor hiccups compared to what we have been forced to deal with since the end of March.

While we lost a considerable amount of fishing time due to rebuilding the community following both Rita and Ike, the catching on Sabine Lake scarcely missed a beat.In fact, it was even better as soon as the Gulf water retreated.The difference lies in the fact that we were dealing with salt water intrusion rather than fresh water runoff.

The Bassmaster Elite pros were already dealing with flooding and excessive runoff when they arrived for their Sabine showdown in late March only to get washed away on the third day of the event.They were able to complete the event and happily moved on to drier ground, but it was only the beginning of a miserable spring and summer for local bay fishermen.

Toledo Bend continued to rise in spite of the SRA running generators and opening flood gates 24/7 in an effort to control the lake at pool level.The non-stop flooding north of the huge impoundment continued to send massive amounts of water southward and all of that water eventually made its way into and through Sabine Lake.

Well after the SRA folks were able to finally catch their breath and cope with more normal levels, we were still dealing with salinity levels better suited for crappie than speckled trout.The first area that recovered was the stretch of ship channel south of the Causeway and for months spots like Lighthouse Cove looked more like a sold out Lion’s Club Carnival than a leisurely place to fish.It was the only game in town and folks desperate to catch a trout knew it.

Fast forward to the first week of October….. the bite was finally getting more consistent in both the main lake and the river and we no longer even mentioned the fact that the wind was still whistling across the lake most days.All that mattered was that the trout were biting again, the redfish were doing their thing on the toughest of days and we were even finding flocks of gulls hovering over surface feeding fish in the open lake.

I have no idea how long it will take the bite to recover from this latest hit, but my most optimistic guess is not long if Mother Nature will cut us some slack.The storm surge pushed an enormous amount of saltwater well up both the Neches and the Sabine so salinity levels shouldn’t suffer as badly as they might have.

The remainder of the year still has the potential to be very good, but I am no longer expecting nor hoping for any help in regards to the weather.If you think it can’t start snowing this weekend….. you don’t own a rod and reel