Dickie Colburn – For The Record

Every time I find myself even remotely encouraged by decent weather conditions that increase the odds of locating and catching fish on Sabine Lake we are immediately swamped with a month’s worth of rain in a single day.The deluge that parked over southeast Texas this past weekend, while not as bad as predicted, will at least slow down the red hot bite we enjoyed the week before.

Amazingly enough, due in part to huge incoming tides generated by the storm that roared across the Gulf the week before, the monsoon that arrived the following weekend had little effect on the salinity and the bite and the weather improved almost immediately thanks to a light north wind.Over the next five days the wind was an ally, the water clarity was excellent and the only possible complaint was,”Too many boats chasing the birds!”

It wasn’t until I received a call from clients in the Corsicana area that I had any inkling that we were looking at yet another massive soaking headed our way.Their trip on Trinity Bay had already been cancelled due to all of the rain, but they hadn’t heard anything about Sabine. They added that they had water in places in their area where they had never seen it before, but at that time we were still in great shape.

Because it looked like we could possibly get that rain as well, we re-scheduled for a later date and as usual, we wished we hadn’t been so proactive.Friday turned out to be a little windy, but the catching was still great just ahead of Mother Nature’s latest temper tantrum.

Trinity Bay took a direct hit with all of the additional rain that inundated the Liberty-Dayton area, but many gallons of the wet stuff will still find its way into the Neches and Sabine Rivers as well. If there was any silver lining for us it was that the lake level on Toledo Bend was a little on the low side.

The bottom line is that you either fish and deal with these conditions or sit home and bitch while waiting on another Friday night football game to ease the pain. In my case, I am opting for the first and third choices!

Flooding this time of the year typically does not hurt the saltwater bite nearly as badly as it does in the spring and summer so don’t be surprised if your neighbor returns with reports of catching trout and reds amongst the floating debris and water hyacinth.North winds accelerate the recovery and the shrimp had already started making their way into the open lake.

Ironically enough, the bite that usually takes the biggest hit for the short term is the live bait bite for two reasons. As the heavier saltwater sinks deeper into the water column the bait fish and predators do the same and even the more successful live bait fishermen are not as mobile as lure fishermen.They tend to anchor up on a preferred piece of structure and wait for the fish to come to them.I am hoping that the water will flush out quickly enough to minimize that problem.

If tide movement wasn’t already the most critical piece of the puzzle it most definitely is when dealing with extended runoff.Excessive freshwater will impact bait movement for a day or two, but the bait and the predators quickly adjust.Their existence is based on taking advantage of tide changes 365 days a year and that survival instinct doesn’t change due to a relatively brief outside influence.

Without a doubt, many lure fishermen also tend to lose confidence due to reduced water clarity following a flood.It certainly doesn’t make catching any easier as the strike zone is smaller, but the largest trout of the year will be caught in water with less than six inches of visibility.The fish are still there and a slower more determined approach can still pay huge rewards.

At this point it looks like we have even more rain on the way this weekend, but we may possibly still be fishing gulls in the main lake depending on how much runoff we actually get in both river systems.If I parked the boat every time it rained or the wind howled I wouldn’t spend much time on the water over the course of the year.

Invest in some quality rain wear and be extra careful to avoid floating debris when running the bayous and the river and you just might find yourself smack dab in the middle of a bunch of hungry fish with no one else around.The fish still have to feed and most of your competition will be at home having opted for choice number two!