We were already catching trout both Friday and Saturday morning by the time Bob Sealy systematically dispatched the forty-nine teams fishing the Oberto’s Redfish Cup. In single file, they idled through the opening in the marina bulkhead on Pleasure Island before blasting off to parts unknown.

Many years ago, when my wife and I were in the fishing tackle business, she would often flash a knowing smile after customers left with their purchase. “You hear all kind of stories all week long,” she would remind me, “but the truth comes out when the money hits the counter.”

Based on what we observed each morning, a large contingent of the elite field were of that same mind set. We were starting our day each morning a mile or so south of Stewt’s Island, thus granting ourselves an excellent view as to where they would really fish with $50,000 on the line.

Friday morning a few boats turned north up the Neches, a larger number peeled off into the Intracoastal, and about the same number made a beeline for the Louisiana shoreline and marshes. A few of them stopped in the mid-lake area to check out lone gulls before leaving the lake.

The following morning, far fewer boats were headed east. With the exception of Phil and Kevin Broussard’s record opening day catch taken out of the marsh, the jetty fishermen put too much pressure on the rest of the field attempting to make up any ground on Day 2. Four of the top five qualifiers for the Day 3 competition posted big numbers dissecting the rocks with everything from Carolina rigs to crankbaits.

When all was said and done, Cajun Phil and Kevin Brousssard were edged out of the $50,000 first place check by less than three ounces by Paul Jeuckstock and Manny Perez. Both teams brought in over 16 pounds fishing two very different patterns. Phil and Kevin expressed concern that they may have depleted their marsh fish by the third day and the jetty fishermen had to suffer through four hours of slack tide, but both patterns prevailed.

While most of the local anglers, me included, have struggled to consistently catch slot reds lately, the entire field talked about how easy it was to catch redfish on Sabine. It took them only two tournaments to solve this fishery and I can assure you that they found fish that most of us would have never caught!

The first of the week started slowly for the trout fishermen, but it got progressively better each day. There was some very decent gull activity on the north end Tuesday and Wednesday, but it slowed to a crawl by the latter part of the week. Most of the consistent gull action took place on the extreme south end of the lake.

As usual, the folks that opted to chase gulls voiced the same assessment of the run and gun technique. By the time Saturday rolled around, they found themselves in a race to every bird and a number of the trout were small. The trout that we found chasing a mixture of ribbonfish and shrimp earlier in the week were solid keepers.

While I was pleased with the results of all but one trip, we never limited the entire week. We did, however, finish the better days with 12 to 15 trout in the three to five pound class and had a shot at a couple of very big fish. The action was not fast and we had to cover a lot of territory, but the results were good.

The key to catching the larger trout for us has been using the wind rather than fighting it and making exceptionally long casts. Most of the strikes are occurring within the first ten feet of the retrieve as the clearer water makes it more difficult to crowd the fish. We have also done better swimming the bait rather than bouncing it off the bottom.

We have been catching most of our fish on swim baits, suspending crankbaits like the Catch 2000, or swimming the longer Assassin Shads on a sixteenth ounce head. Because we are usually dealing with a bow in the line due to the wind and longer casts, it can be difficult to detect strikes.

For that reason, we are fishing exclusively with braided line because it has a zero stretch factor. It is easy to put too much pressure on a fish once it is hooked on braided line, but at least it is hooked. That problem can be remedied by backing off the drag and fishing a softer action rod.

I am using Power Pro 20-pound test on my spinning reel and 30-pound test on my casting reels. While this sounds like very heavy line, remember the diameter is equivalent to six or eight-pound test monofilament. Depending on the choice of lures, I may or may not add a few feet of fluorocarbon leader. I usually fish a crankbait on mono, as there is a tendency to jerk it away from a trout with the braid.

I have also found a leader to be of little value when working the flooded grass with a spoon or spinnerbait. Brad Deslatte and I learned that lesson a little too late last year after breaking off some very expensive reds in a Redfish Cup using leader material.

I am very reluctant to ever sell out on any product as most every manufacturer has something in their line equally good. At least for right now, however, I have never fished with any other spinning reel that can match US Reel’s 230SX.

It virtually eliminates all dreaded line twist associated with braids, casts a mile, and sports a fantastic drag system. There is no fear of casting into the wind and I am astonished at how well the finish has held up after many hours of use.

Last week alone, I had five clients that said they would never use spinning tackle, email me for an address to buy their own after fishing with one of mine. After buying my first 230SX at a Houston tackle show, I ordered my others off ebay to get them as quickly as possible at a good price. Do yourself a favor and load up one of these reels with some 20-pound Power Pro. That combination will give you an edge you cannot afford to pass on!