Too hot not to fish
For the first time in a very long time, I fished Sabine Lake not only on a weekend, but on both days of a weekend. I do not need to be reminded how hot it is, but I was still surprised by the small number of boats on the lake both days. There were far more fishermen out Monday through Thursday!
Depending on why you are out there at all, you may or may not be taking advantage of a very good bite right now. If you just want to catch lots of any kind of fish under the birds, hit the lake about 9 o’clock with anything from a Rat-L-Trap to a Super Spook tied on and pick your flock of gulls or terns.
By the time noon arrives and you are thoroughly soaked in sweat, you won’t even need the assistance of the birds. A mixture of ladyfish, small trout, and gafftops will show you the way as they stomp across the surface chasing small shrimp and shad. Keeper trout can be scarce at times, but there are enough marauding slot reds to ratchet up the excitement level.
If, however, you hope to consistently return to the cleaning table with a decent catch of trout and reds, you better be darned lucky or more discriminating. Luck can be a fickle partner, but you do have some control over the discrimination factor.
Last Wednesday, I was idling away from a very active group of birds working over a school of fish that had yielded only a gafftop and a handful of small trout when I was approached by two young fishermen in an aluminum center console boat. “It is still early in the day, but we want to apologize now and offer you a cold drink,” said the driver.
“We read your blog and weekly column and we thought we had this bird thing right, but we have obviously got something wrong.
We try to pull up quietly, but we run you off every time!”
I gladly accepted the diet root beer and assured them that there was no need for any apology. By the time I finished their generous offering, I just love a cold diet root beer, I had explained why I was usually leaving by the time they arrived. They rode away eager to try the different tactic and emailed me that night to say that they later caught eleven keeper trout for the first time that week.
The secret to ferreting out the keeper trout is to not settle for catching undersize trout, ladyfish and gafftops on virtually every cast. Even though they are small it can be addicting and you will seldom if ever catch many keeper trout out of a school if your first 5 to 10 fish are all small or not even trout.
When that happens, move on even if it means fishing where there are no birds as long as bait is present on the surface. Saturday we had one keeper trout and a red when we finally found the right school of fish and we finished the trip with a great box of fish. Sunday we did not find the right bunch of fish until well past noon and we almost limited by 1:30 on trout and had three limits of redfish!
Once you find those fish, either do not leave them should they quit biting for a short period of time, or at least mark the spot on your GPS and return later. They do not move nearly as far as you might think once they go down. At least trout don’t, but a raiding party of reds may never stop!
Lure selection can make a big difference as well, right now. A topwater lure like the She Dog or Spook will result in fewer bites as a rule, but much better fish. When throwing plastics, you have to find the right size jig head, the right length of plastic, and the right speed of retrieve. The fish will let you know when you have it right, but what works today may not work at all the following day so do not get locked in on a certain color or length of bait.
It is almost too danged hot to fish right now, but the bite is too hot not to fish for folks willing to stay on the move and change tactics. Cover all exposed parts in sunscreen, take along enough water for about a week, and keep moving to enjoy one of the best bites in a long time!