“I very much enjoy and appreciate the Sabine Lake reports on your web site and hope that you will not think that I am being too forward,” stated an email last night, “but they would be even more beneficial if you could mention a few waypoints or possibly a few landmarks to help me find those spots.”

The email was from a Houston angler that also stated that he loved to fish Sabine, but could not afford a guide, had only one day a week to fish, and did not want to waste gas hunting fish. I wade my way through a large number of emails each night, but very few cut to the chase like that one.

The fishing is always inconsistent on Sabine this time of the year and it seems even more so as the rising cost of gas limits your fervor for covering water in search of fish. Local anglers launching out of Adam’s bayou are looking at a fifteen mile round trip just to get into the lake. If your engine gets three miles per gallon, which is about average, it costs you $20 before you make the first cast!

I will not get into the average cost of running around the lake hunting fish all day as your wife may read this column out of boredom. If you intend to fish come hell or high water, you have two viable options for keeping the cost down without limiting your potential for a successful outing.

The first and the easiest option, depending on the size of your boat, is to add another friend that enjoys fishing. Chipping in on gas is much cheaper for that person than the cost of insuring and maintaining a boat. When safety is not compromised with the additional fisherman, you will appreciate not only the extra set of eyes, but the ability to serve up a broader choice of lures as well.
The second option will not save you quite as much money, but it will make you a far better fisherman over the long haul. It is also the number one reason for taking the time to record every fishing trip at the end of the day.

Concentrate your efforts on a smaller stretch of water and fish it more efficiently. Stay in the area, fish different lures, use different colors, fish both tides when possible, and believe the fish are there. If you have already been keeping a log, you will already know where the fish were or were not this same time last year.

Last Friday I had Plan A blown out before I could even get to the launch. I went through my logs the night before and decided that we would fish water that had been productive in August 3-years earlier. I had to go back that far to find similar water conditions.

My clients from Houston were ready to mutiny after four hours of casting practice. We pounded a small stretch of water catching only an occasional undersized fish when the tide finally started out.

When a thunderstorm forced us off the water two hours later, we had two big flounder and five slot reds in the box and were still catching fish.

Had I not referred to my logs the night before, not only would I have not stayed in that area, I would never have gone there in the first place. Even If you do not catch fish, record that information as well.

I easily have more poor days recorded than good ones, but they save me money as well!

A couple of months back, I fished with Bob Hood and Perry Morris and we enjoyed one of those really good days. It was hot as blazes, but the fish were right where they were supposed to be and it was easy.

I mention that trip because both Bob and Perry are local anglers that are familiar with fishing the short rigs, jetties, and the lake. We caught two very nice trout right off the bat, but we had a dry spell for the next hour or so. Because I knew the fish were there, we stayed and were eventually rewarded for homesteading the area.

We were able to call in the dogs early and took a minute to cool off with a bottle of water while assessing the productive bite. “We would have never caught these fish,” Bob told his fishing partner.

“Had we caught those big trout early and the bite stopped, we would have never stayed here for another hour waiting on an even better bite!”

Johnny Cormier and I fished a group from Dallas Saturday and experienced very nearly the same thing. We hung in a small plot of water on the south end under a broiling sun with very little to show for five hours of fishing. A handful of terns suddenly started working, one ladyfish chased a shrimp to the surface, and we boxed eight redfish and thirteen trout over the next hour.

Regardless of your choice of options in dealing with the rising cost of fishing, keep a log. Lures, colors, and number of fish are worth noting, but they are the least important items on my list. Weather conditions, water levels, clarity, and tide changes for the day pay bigger dividends.

The cost of fishing has not increased nearly as much as the cost of catching, but these two options will at least alleviate some of the pain experienced while standing in front of the gas pump!