Big wind contributes to big mess
We have experienced more than our fair share of significant weather events over the past four years, but the latest was scarcely noticed by anyone other than fishermen. As a matter of fact, most folks chalked it up as little more than an unseasonable blast of cold air that merely rendered night time baseball games a little uncomfortable.
From a fishing standpoint, however, it was a major setback as we were finally crawling out of the stranglehold of two months of surface temperatures running 7 to 10 degrees cooler than this same time frame last year. The cooler temperatures were a mere bump in the road, however, compared to the still lingering effects of the 30 mile per hour winds with gusts of 45 miles per hour that pounded the coast all night and most of the following day.
Shallow cuts, bayous, and drains off the river were sucked down to the mud and launching a boat was all but impossible at area ramps. I have never seen the water that low in March nor had any of the guides I talked with up and down the coast. Jimmy West of Galveston said he could not recall anything to match it nor could several other veteran guides in the Matagorda area.
The fish in Sabine Lake were reduced to feeding by scent alone and thanks to yet another strong north wind this past weekend, the water clarity in much of the lake is still only marginally better than chocolate pudding. To make matters even worse, only one day ahead of the big blow, three tugs plowed their way across the north end towing a new rig and creating a massive plume of even muddier water.
The south end of the lake is gradually improving as far as salinity levels and clarity are concerned with each big incoming tide and it is not difficult to determine just how far into the lake the better water is pushing as there is a distinct color change.
The bull tides of spring are just around the corner, however, and you can expect the south end of the lake to recover much faster than the north end. The shrimp and sand eels that ride these big tides into the lake will be closely pursued by game fish and their first stop will be the Causeway reefs.
The fish on the north end of the lake did not pack up and leave town, but their nearest safe haven was deeper water in the ICW and they will be harder to locate as they make their way back into the lake. With dirtier water and far less bait roaming the shallow flats, what had been a rapidly improving trout bite may be a little slow in gaining ground.
I baled on Sabine Lake and took my chances on Calcasieu this past week. The water was in great shape the early part of the week but silted up a little due to the wind closer to the weekend. The only place we did not find fish early in the week was West Cove and I feel certain that it was more of a confidence factor than anything else. The water there was dirty and that area was covered up with oyster fishermen!
Much to my surprise, we found a bunch of big trout Wednesday that would not eat a Corky. We were fishing just ahead of a rapidly approaching front and while we caught the first fish with tails, they really wanted a Catch V or Catch 2000. I did try the Corky again while the bite was the strongest, but they would have nothing to do with the Fat Boy or the Devil.
The smallest trout we caught was well over the four pound mark so we were definitely in Corky type fish. I returned with a group Saturday and the lake was not nearly as clear, but still looked great compared to Sabine. I have no idea how many fish we actually landed as it was all catch and release, but we consistently caught fish all morning long.
Most of the trout were 16 to 18-inch fish with the exception of two over the five-pound mark. We also caught two nice slot reds drifting shell in 2 to 4 feet of water. We caught most of our smaller trout on tails on the final drift of the day, but the reds and larger trout once again ate either a Catch V or a 2000.
I never saw any gulls working Saturday, but we saw several groups picking over smaller trout earlier in the week. Until the water clears at least a little on Sabine, I think your best bet for a fish fry is the extreme south end of the lake on a big incoming tide or trailering over to Calcasieu. Toledo Bend or Rayburn would not be bad alternatives either as the spawn is in full swing