First redfish ever was a good one!

Capt. Dickie Colburn

For The Record

Two short weeks ago I was convinced that we had turned the corner as far as the “trout catching” was concerned on Sabine lake.A mini-drought of sorts that had parched local lawns had also yielded a much clearer lake with higher salinity levels.

Catching trout was simply a matter of locating them and locating them was simply a matter of finding a mixed bag of terns and gulls riding herd on schools of shad in the open lake.If the lady fish and a ribbon fish or two were present as well, it was “game on”.

More often than not, solid redfish in the 25 to 30 inch class were tagging along working the fringes of the buffet and guiding was once again a less stressful line of work.Then came the rain…..and more rain.We somehow dodged the epic flood that inundated much of Louisiana, but it absolutely came a frog strangler somewhere in the immediate area every day.

While some folks were navigating flooded streets in one part of town, others were watering their lawns less than five miles away.The problem was that all of this runoff eventually runs downhill and Sabine Lake is downhill!The salinity levels are still good, but the north end of the lake has taken enough of a hit to hurt the clarity and apparently scatter the trout.

“Before these daily thunder showers arrived,” said David Plaissance, “we were catching some pretty decent trout everyday either in the back of Coffee Ground or on the north revetment wall depending on wind direction.There are a few redfish still in there, but we didn’t catch a keeper trout all last week.”

Capt. Johnny Cormier, one of the most experienced guide on the lake, pretty much echoed those sentiments early last week.“I have still been able to do pretty well on the redfish every day, but I have had to run a lot of water to make it happen.”

When the terns and gulls aren’t ratting out schools of fish plowing through huge pods of shad, a growing number of local anglers have turned to drifting with live bait to get it done.The two preferred methods are drifting a finger mullet or shad just off the bottom on a Carolina rig or rigging the bait under a popping cork.

Rigging the Carolina rig simply involves sliding an egg weight on your main line, then tying on a barrel swivel.Attach two to three feet of 20 to 30 pound test leader to the bottom eye on the swivel and tie a 3/0 or 40 Kahle hook on the other end.The weight needs to be just heavy enough to maintain contact with the bottom.

I use an oval TKO cork for 90 percent of my cork fishing with plastic tails.The oval design floats any tail I choose to fish and unlike the cup shaped cork, there is less resistance when setting the hook and fighting the fish.I reserve the remaining 10 percent of my time for those days when the fish react better to a noisier cork or I am fishing live bait.

I long ago learned everything I know about drifting live bait under a cork from Robert Vail and he is a firm believer in the attributes of a cupped cork.The bottom line is that no one does it any better so there was never any need for me to experiment.Vail is also a firm believer in a weighted cork or at least attaching his egg weight just beneath the cork which makes it easier to cast and keeps it upright even in shallow water.

He also fishes with a longer leader than most other folks which enables his bait to swim freely just beneath the surface.You may well take a different and effective approach in rigging your cork, but Robert and his wife, Betty, are hard to beat when it comes to fooling fish with live bait!

The hyacinth that was choking off the bayous has thinned out some, but there is still a lot of floating debris that can ruin your day.Be especially careful when running Cow bayou, Adams bayou and East pass!