A bite on Sabine Lake that was already as good as you could possibly hope for only improved this past week. It looks as though we will get more rain and a little stiffer wind this week, but the weekend forecast will hopefully improve for John Thomas and all of the folks associated with the 22nd annual OCARC Fishing Tournament.

Don’t forget that the weigh-in site has been changed this year. The whole show will take place at the Center located on the corner of 905 W. Park Ave. and Eighth Street. The fishing hours begin at 5:00 pm Friday afternoon with weigh-in set for 6 pm the following day. If you will be towing your boat to the weigh-in, I would allow for a little extra time for parking as it could get congested with the usual big crowd of spectators.

Everyone caught fish last week so I feel certain that there are plenty of hot tips floating around for those entrants that have not been on the lake lately. I am not recommending fishing any of the following patterns, but they are current and working for us. I will get one more report in with Gary on KOGT later in the week, but I do not expect it to change too much.

The wildcard is the night fishing for the handful of anglers that always hit the water at 5:00 pm the opening day. I believe that the winning bass will probably be caught at night. For the first time in tournament history, all fresh water fish must be taken within a 40 mile radius of the weigh-in site.

That puts a premium on fishing the river and while the bass fishing has been good-number wise, the larger fish have been doing a good job of hiding. Trey Smith fished a big tournament out of Louisiana last week and made the hour run back to Sabine each day. He did well both days and finished fourth overall, but had he been able to put just one four pound keeper in the livewell he would have won it all.

Look for someone fishing buzz baits or a 6-inch lizard to find the right bass Friday night. If not, a small crankbait or Whacky worm could get the job done early Saturday morning. The recent rains have also ignited the catfish bite on local waters and I have seen three fish in the 25-pound class in the past week. Two of those fish were taken by rod and reel fishermen fishing for redfish in the Neches with live mullet. I believe that we are going to see the largest catfish weighed in that we have seen in years!

The bite that has surprised me the most of late has been provided by some really nice flounder. We caught at least one or two flounder in the 4-pound class every day last week and we were not fishing for them. If the river does not muddy up, it is very possible that you could anchor up in one spot on the ICW and win the redfish, trout, and flounder money without ever moving.

Look for the most consistent bite to take place in 12 to 15 feet of water and there is no better bait right now than a live finger mullet for targeting all three species. Should you accidentally catch a crab, use him for bait as most of the reds we have cleaned are full of pieces of crabs.

The trout bite all the way from the river to the short rigs has just been on fire. We are going to see a lot of quality trout this year and I think it will take something over 6-pounds to seal the deal if the wind is not a factor. If you elect to stay in the lake, I feel the best option is a pre-dawn wade on the north end with a topwater lure tied on.

As the day progresses, we have been sticking with the topwaters while cruising the lake looking for ladyfish or needle gar chasing shad on the surface. The larger trout and redfish are more interested in the gar and ladyfish than shad and they will demolish a She Dog or Super Spook.

Because reds are especially bad about missing topwaters due to the shape of their mouths, we have a better catch ratio with the smaller Spook or She Dog rather than the larger versions. If the water is choppy, however, I would stay with the larger lures and settle for fewer, but better bites.

There is no single area in the lake better than another right now for redfish. They are everywhere you fish. The bonus on a tough day has been to have them start schooling around you in the mid-lake area, but we are catching easy limits all the way from Stewts Island to Garrison Ridge.

This is going to be a fun and exciting tournament not only for the anglers, but the spectators as well. Get there early, get a good seat, and support an organization that makes you proud to live in Orange County!