No bite still better than a hurricane
Mark Chauvin reeled his Super Spook right up to the tip of his rod, stepped off the front deck of the boat and slipped his rod into one of the holders on the back of the leaning post. He looked over the array of lures strewn about the console and disgustedly announced, “If this don’t beat all!”
We could not have had better conditions in which to fish. The water clarity was as good as it can get on Sabine, a light north wind rippled the shallow flat, and a steady incoming tide lured massive schools of baitfish out of the deeper water. The first hour of fishing had proven to be user-friendly as we quickly caught three slot reds and as many trout as Chauvin and his wife Kylie cared to keep.
That bite ended all too quickly, however, and we had caught only two more trout over the next hour. The fact that Kylie had duped both of those fish drifting a glow-chartreuse Sea Shad under a Kwik Cork while we continued to change lures made the dry spell seem even longer to Mark.
“Even if I never catch another fish, I refuse to tie a cork on a $500 casting rig and sling it out in the middle of nowhere with no game plan,” her husband barked. “I refuse to ever fish with dead shrimp on the bottom and it is all I can do to make myself even occasionally chase birds.”
Not unlike a growing number of converted bass fishermen, he had discovered over the past two years that consistently catching quality trout is more difficult than it would appear. Catching numbers of both keeper size reds and specks is no slam dunk, but targeting only big trout year round is a challenge for even the most seasoned trout enthusiast.
While adding another layer of sunscreen, he repeated a scenario that I hear on a very regular basis. “Two years ago I decided that after twenty years of chasing bass all the way from the Game Reserve to Lake Amistad that I would switch gears and give trout a try,” he said. “I really thought it would be a no-brainer, but that has not been the case.”
“The economy played a significant role in my decision as it was getting more expensive each month to run up to the lakes. I had this lake less than an hour from the house, I thought I could get by with a third of the tackle, and I could still scratch my itch at a fraction of the cost.”
Kylie rolled her eyes when she heard that statement. “After the first year he sold his new bass boat, bought an even more expensive Bay Boat and fishes more than ever now that he is so close to the lake,” she said and she wasn’t laughing. “I could have gotten by cheaper,” pointed out Mark, “but I like speed and I wanted something that at least looked a little like my bass rig!”
“I cut back on rods, but I have already filled my boat and garage with boxes of topwaters, crankbaits, and soft plastic tails,” he added. “I am probably spending more than I did on bass fishing baits and now my wife is putting it on me dragging a cork around on a spinning rod.”
We found the trout three more times over the course of the day and mercifully they would hit only a MirrOdine XL or smaller topwater. We never caught a trout over four pounds, but Mark was elated that we had put together a pattern and Kylie couldn’t catch them under her “stupid” cork.
While there are days on Sabine Lake when you can catch trout with your eyes closed as well as those days when you can’t draw the first strike, the attraction of light tackle saltwater fishing is that you can usually make it as challenging as you wish. On most days, weather permitting, you can catch at least a few fish by chasing the birds, downsizing lures, switching to live bait, or even fishing with one of those “stupid” corks.
At the same time, you can upgrade the challenge by targeting only bragging size trout, but that approach usually carries a heavier price tag. The added cost of a higher end rod and reel, a broader assortment of lures, and wading gear strain the average fishing budget. For that reason, the majority of anglers prefer to rely on the best rod and reel they can afford, but fish with whatever it takes to catch numbers and proudly settle for that occasional big fish.
Unlike this same time a year ago when fishing was the last thing on our minds, both the lake and river are incredibly clear and the bite is pretty easy for those folks that just want to catch fish. Never forget – ”No bite at all is still a good day on the water when you don’t have a hurricane breathing down your neck!”