Whatever it takes to catch fish
“I am not believing this,” said Aaron Sessions as he tightly gripped the small crankbait and shook an undersized flounder off the hook. “Two years ago it was spinner baits, before that we were reeling rubber frogs across the surface, and now we’re throwing crankbaits at redfish and flounder. Do they have any self-respecting saltwater species in Sabine Lake?”
Aaron and his dad, Felton, have been fishing with me since Aaron was in high school in the late ‘80s so he is very much aware of what is and isn’t new when it comes to catching fish on Sabine. At the same time he is always open to anything new as long as he doesn’t think that I am taking him on a snipe hunt and he could not resist the opportunity to dis’ my fish!
Utilizing baits and techniques designed to fool bass in order to score well on saltwater fish has been the result of necessity more so than innovation. Adding the frog to the arsenal afforded us a better means of enticing redfish that refused to abandon the security of the thick moss in the back lakes and bayous.
It proved even more effective than the weedless spoon and a redfish will crush it when crawled across the surface or paused in pot holes in the moss. When we discovered that on occasions, magnum trout sharing the same aquatic jungle would assault the plastic frog as well, we soon found ourselves spending more time in the marsh than the open lake.
The following year, with redfish on the brain, we tied on a quarter ounce gold bladed spinner bait and caught them both faster and more consistently than we ever had with plastics. The spinnerbait was deadly in the marsh as well, but we covered miles of shoreline in the lake without ever picking up the troll motor and caught fish that we has passed over for years.
After a little tinkering, Brad Deslatte and I figured out that swapping the stock plastic body out for a BLURP Sea Shad was icing on the cake. The scented plastic not only produced even more strikes, but more aggressive strikes as well. Fortunately, we made that switch in a redfish tournament and caught well over a hundred slot reds in two days!
The unexpected bonus in adding the scented tail, however, was the fact that the flounder found it equally appealing. We slowed our retrieve down just a tad and the rest is history. We have already done well with it this year and I believe the spinnerbait produces fewer, but larger flatfish. I have caught very few trout on the spinnerbait, but who cares when you can stay on the troll motor all day and dupe reds and flounder.
I have a tendency to lump everything from Traps to Corkies in the crankbait category, but in this case we are using sure enough crankbaits designed exclusively for bass fishing. I really do not care about the brand as long as it has a square bill, a tight wobble and will dive 1 to 3 feet deep on a moderate retrieve. Crank baits have been popular in south Louisiana marshes for years, but very few anglers on the upper coast give them a try.
We do very well fishing them on a steady retrieve both around the rocks and anywhere there isn’t a lot of vegetation. We don’t catch as many flounder on the crankbait as we do the spinnerbait, but they will hit it when it passes too closely. I have done well with a Rebel Wee R, Mann’s Baby-1 minus, Bandit, and small Balgley B, just to name a few. Depending on water clarity, I usually fish a red or chartreuse pattern.
If you should bog down on your fish catching over the next few months, give any one of these bass lures a shot and you will catch at least a few self-respecting saltwater fish that you may have passed over with traditional saltwater plastics or even live bait.
I worked Texas Marine’s boat show at the fair in Beaumont Sunday evening and had an opportunity to visit with Toledo Bend pro, Stephen Johnston, again. He had just done well in a tournament on the Bend in very windy conditions the day before, but felt that he could have won it if he could have gotten to his fish.
More importantly for the weekend angler, the full time guide and pro said that the bass have not slowed down at all on T- Bend. “The lake is full now and they are generating which moved the fish a little,” said Johnston, “but they had a 12.5 pound fish taken last week and the spawn is still in full swing.”
He also said that the white perch bite has been really good for him of late. “We have caught as many as 75 in a trip recently and they have been good size crappie. I don’t like to stroll so we catch most of our fish casting small jigs along the outside of the grass.”
I was a little surprised when he pointed out that probably 40 percent of his trips this time of the year were crappie trips. He does what it takes to stay booked, but his weekends are reserved for bass tournaments across the state. He is booked everyday this week, but he has several excellent guides working for him including his son.
To book a trip or find out more about his services call 579-4213.