Capt. Dickie Colburn – For The Record

Our confidence level was waning and I was more in tune with a small group of teal bucking a stiff southeast wind than I was with the black-chartreuse She Dog attached to the end of my line.Over the past hour we hadn’t caught the first fish and I could only see the noisy topwater between every other whitecap anyway when the jolt of a solid strike snapped the wind-blown slack out of my line.

The 20-pound braid sliced through the tops of the white caps as the fish raced parallel to the shoreline in an effort to dislodge the mouthful of hooks.“It’s a redfish,” I stated as the line peeled off the reel, “but at least it’s a fish and I’ll take it in this wind.”Twelve year old Cain Sears hustled his way to the front deck and I handed him the rod as I made my way to the rear of the boat to retrieve the landing net.

I was so sure that it was a redfish, in fact, that I opened a bottle of water and leaned against the console to enjoy the tug of war.“You might want to hand me that net,” said his dad, Marshall, “I caught just a glimpse of the tail, but it looked like a trout!”I immediately handed him the net, buried the Talon anchor in the mud and picked up the troll motor to give the youngster more room.

I never saw the fish until Marshall lifted it over the side and it was indeed a long thick-bodied trout.After carefully removing the lure, Marshall measured her without ever taking her out of the net, high-fived his son and proudly watched as Cain slid his hand under her belly and watched her swim away. “She was just over 28-inches,” announced Marshall, “but I don’t think she would have quite made eight pounds. A very nice fish nonetheless!”

The Sears would have never kept the fish in the first place, but since Cain wasn’t the one that hooked it, the catching part was more of a formality than a memorable happening.Add to that, the fact that the elder Sears has caught and released six trout over nine pounds over the past four years and it is easier to understand their brief and under stated celebration.

As far as I was concerned, however, in light of the difficult year we have endured due to more flooding and fresh water runoff than we have ever experienced, it was a happening.Surprisingly enough, even with the latest round of rain and flooding north of us, the trout bite has steadily improved over the past two weeks.

Easily, our number one concern has been the absence of trout in the 25-inch and above class. At least for me, up until last week they had been all but non-existent.That all changed following the trip with the Sears.We caught and released two more trout over five pounds on that trip and two days later Evan Broussard, Joe Leone and I caught and released eight trout over 25 inches with the two largest just over the seven pound mark .

Gene Locke and Doug Patterson invited me to fish a half day with them at the end of last week and they both caught and released a trout in the six pound class.We have struggled to catch numbers, but we have basically turned our backs on gulls that are everywhere one day and nowhere to be found the next.As a matter of fact, we have caught more slot redfish than keeper trout when we have explored that bite.

Only because I guide and the majority of my clients are more interested in numbers than size do I spend so much of my time fishing plastics under a cork or cranking on a Swim Bait.Both choices will occasionally fool a bragging size trout, but we are quickly entering the time of year when the entire Corky-line up, suspending hard baits and topwaters are the most consistent performers.

I have spoken at several seminars this fall and via request, a portion of every talk has focused on switching out the stock treble hooks on topwater lures for single hooks.I really bought into this a few years back not because they were easier to fish through floating grass, but because they were more forgiving when dealing with school trout.Capt. Johnny Cormier finally convinced me that a topwater lure yielded far fewer strikes, but larger fish even when fished under the gulls.

Treble hooks are a pain, whether stuck in the mouth of smaller fish or a body part, and the single hook remedied that problem.I also cannot say that I miss a single strike due to fewer barbs.I can state, however, that I have experimented with it on my Corkies and suspending hard baits and the single hook doesn’t work nearly as well in that application.On a number of those lures it completely changes the action.

I hate the cold, but we still need a biting front and a stiff north wind to light the fuse!