“Captain Dickie, we are just now leaving Big Lake and since we are passing through Orange on our way back we thought you might like to see a big trout we caught,” said David Ferris.

“I am on the water right now so I’ll have to pass,” I replied while trying to rein in my drift sock with my free hand, “but It must be a pretty good fish?”

Before he could answer we lost our connection and I never gave it a second thought as we were catching trout drifting the flats on Sabine. It was cold and the wind was blowing, but it wasn’t bothering the trout. As a matter of fact, our decision to fish Sabine rather than Big Lake had come down to a coin toss.

“Can you hear me now,” was a pretty good indication of who the caller was as I once again pressed the phone tighter to my ear to eliminate the wind noise. “My phone must have messed up, but I can hear you good,” he added. “We caught a lot of small trout and two limits of reds, but we also got us a 29 inch trout.”

They were even willing to exit I-10 and drive back on Hwy. 87 if I wanted to meet them at the ramp and see their fish, but I assured them that while I was happy for them that would not be necessary. I then got the whole story and was pleased that they didn’t take the lengthy detour and that I didn’t lose any fishing time.

As it turned out, they spotted the big fish struggling on the surface while they were wading West Cove. Every time they got close she would dip below the surface only to come back up a short distance away. Reasonably certain that it was a big trout and not a red, they continued to fish while half-heartedly pursuing the struggling fish.

When they eventually slid a small net under her, they noticed that she had a huge mullet about half way down her throat. “She was strong,” stated Ferris, “but would tire very quickly and we didn’t know what to do other than hold her upright in the water. “When she could no longer stay upright on her own they decided to try to pull the mullet out.
“She could never have gotten it down and it came back out with very little pressure,” he added, “but she didn’t recover. The last time we tried to turn her loose she just drifted to the bottom and laid there.”

I wasn’t there, but I have seen big trout that slightly misjudged the size of sand trout do much the same thing on two occasions. Neither of the trout was anywhere close to the 29 inch mark, but in both cases the sand trout appeared to be impossible for them to swallow.
Amazingly enough, the larger of the two specks somehow managed to eventually regurgitate the sandie even though it looked like the smaller fish was down past its dorsal fin. The battered sand trout momentarily popped to the surface and the big speck slowly idled away in search of something more bite sized.

I hooked a six or seven pound trout while wading two years ago that was doing exactly the same thing that Ferris’ trout did. I saw the fish protruding from her jaws, but I had every intention of keeping her and slipped her into my floating net. When I returned to the boat two hours later, I was shocked to find that she had somehow swallowed that whole fish.
I turned her loose in the hope that she would produce lots of baby trout that liked to eat as much as their Mom did. In both cases, the lesson learned was that we may at times be too quick to intervene when it comes to giving Mother Nature an assist!

If you are obsessed with catching a big trout this winter, Ferris’ experience should alleviate any fear you have of possibly fishing with lures that may be too large. Big trout are hunting that one over sized entre’ that takes very little effort to catch. They generally do not eat every day due in part to both colder water and the scarcity of available bait so they make every kill count.

We finally started catching more trout this past week and one of the keys has been to fish longer and bulkier tails on a slow retrieve. Offering them a lure that looks like the “full meal deal” and making it easy to run down has proven to be a very productive combination!

The Shangri La Botanical garden and Nature Center is once again hosting a trash pickup on Adams Bayou on Feb. 5th . If you have a small boat or kayak and would like to participate, join the crowd at Lion’s Park on Adams Bayou between 7:30 and 7:45.

For more information you can call the center or Scott Bandy with the Orange County CCA Chapter at 988-3667. The accumulated trash will be returned to the Park and participants will be served pizza and drinks at the end of the clean-up.