Sabine lake bite survives flooded river
“Maybe we should try to catch our better trout first and then chase the redfish later,” speculated Johnny Cormier while we compared notes on the water Saturday morning. That approach may very well work, but when you have paying customers you don’t have the luxury of passing on a sure thing.
Anyone that has fished Sabine over the past six weeks, which included one solid week of flood conditions and muddy water, know that the redfish population in Sabine Lake has been suicidal. The really easy bite takes place both early and late, but things are going really bad for a guide if he is still on the water waiting on the later bite.
If you are fortunate enough to work two or three flocks of gulls alone, the chances are very good that you are going to be limited on slot reds very early. The only problem has been that those train wreck strikes and ensuing drag burning runs are addicting to the point of not even caring about keeper trout. By the time you are done with that madness, the birds have usually slowed down and the armada has arrived!
There have been those days when we found ourselves in the midst of solid keeper trout right out of the gate, but more often than not, it has been a case of small trout and big reds for the first couple of hours. From that point on, you either completely change your approach or cull your way through huge numbers of smaller fish.
Saturday morning, Doug Childress and his brother-in-law, Dr. Bill Wood of Chicago, met me at the dock before daylight on a perfect day for fishing. It should come as no surprise to area folks that know Doug that we had to get back in time for him to get to Kirbyville for a music session, but I can tell you that he’s pretty darn passionate about his fishing as well.
It was cool and overcast all morning with a light wind and we just wore the slot reds out very quickly with 5-inch Assassins and BLURP in both red shad and pearl. We were fortunate in that we were also able to catch plenty of quality trout under the birds at the same time. With no need to change programs, we stuck with the birds until time to call it a day.
While there are finally some big trout starting to show up on the shallow flats, that is not an easy game and most folks do not care to grind away for a big fish with the birds screeching over schools of smaller trout and reds a short distance away. We have, however, worked several patterns for quality trout that preclude having to wade or committing to more casts for fewer, but larger fish.
One of the most consistent patterns has been to locate distinct mud lines and fish the color change like it was a shoreline. That has been especially good when you can find the line well out into the lake, but more often than not they show up around the mouths of bayous on an outgoing tide.
We have also done well on better trout by hanging around and switching to suspending lures like a MirrOdine XL, Catch V or Corky after the birds leave. I did very well with a Crazy Croaker all last week. We finished the trip up Saturday morning with the Crazy Croaker and boxed several 20 to 22 inch fish while releasing a number of 15 to 17 inch trout.
I mentioned the pearl BLURP earlier and the way we were fishing it was something new for me. We shortened up our leaders under a Kwik Cork and tail hooked a BLURP shrimp on a weighted hook just like it was a live shrimp. The larger trout just loved it and pearl was by far their favorite color. Because it is simply hanging on the hook by the tail, it tears off pretty easily, but that’s the cost of doing business.
I cannot believe that the bite under the gulls survived the tremendous amount of runoff from Toledo Bend, but it did so with flying colors. The river is dropping and the bayous are now starting to clear up as well. Look for both the striper and flounder action to improve as the surface temperature continues to fall with the arrival of each new front.