Just a matter of being able to get there
This past Thursday was one of those very rare days when Mother Nature finally inhaled for eight or ten hours and those fortunate enough to get on the water got a glimpse of just how good the fishing can be on Sabine Lake right now. It hasn’t stopped blowing since, but a number of questions were quickly answered once we discovered that we could fish anywhere we wanted to on the lake for a change.
Even with much of the lake pretty silted up due to the relentless winds, folks caught fish on a wide variety of patterns and lures throughout the day. Easily the biggest surprise was the number of gulls working over schooling fish all over the north end of the lake. Acres of surfacing shad are attracting the largest schools of fish, but the flocks of gulls working over shrimp pointed the way to the larger trout.
Most of the fish under the huge schools of juvenile shad were a mixture of small trout, sand trout and gafftop catfish. The smaller groups of gulls and the birds sitting on the water were picking at shrimp and the trout chasing them to the surface were mostly 17 to 20 inch fish.
We had several guides working a large party and it seemed like every guide had a different favorite color that worked. Most agreed, however, that regardless of color, the longer 5-inch tails produced better fish. I really wasn’t prepared to find myself right in the middle of all of that gull action and for some reason never tied on the first Crazy Croaker.
I mention that for two reasons. Over the past two years we have done much better on quality fish using the Crazy Croaker rather than a tail or even a topwater when fishing for trout chasing shrimp. The second reason is that by the time I had my boat cleaned up that night I had already received two calls from clients that had fished with me before, reporting that they had just pounded the trout all day long on a pumpkin-chartreuse Crazy Croaker!
I don’t know that the wind will ever quit blowing again, but I have six of those little “do-nothing” looking lures lying out on my console just so I don’t forget next time. School trout just love them and you can cast them out of sight. If you add them to your arsenal, and you should, don’t forget to fish them with some type of in-line swivel or they will twist your line!
We spent much of that perfect day hustling reds rather than chasing gulls and did well. We never found the first red under the birds, but we did find two different schools of redfish chasing shrimp on the surface in very shallow water. We tied on River 2 Sea Swim Baits and never took them off the rest of the day.
They are one of the newer Swim Baits on the market and the body is just a smidgen narrower than the rest, but the fish don’t seem to care. They are the same length and weight as the rest and best of all, more reasonably priced. They come in a wide variety of very productive colors.
The bite on the revetment wall was also on fire as at least one fish over eight-pounds fell for a topwater lure as well as several more over the six pound mark. Most of the bragging size fish hit topwaters, but five inch tails rigged on a quarter ounce head caught their fair share as well. Assassins, TTF Trout Killers and Tidal Surge Mullets in both Texas Roach and plum-chartreuse all worked well.
At the same time all of that was going on, Harold and Miriam Sallier called to say that they limited on trout up to four pounds before eight o’clock that morning fishing mud minnows on the bottom on the edge of the ICW south of Stewts. “We were just hoping to catch a few flounder and maybe a redfish,” said Harold, “and lo and behold we limit on trout!”
Jonathan Simon has apparently hit a home run with his Tuesday afternoon bass tournaments on the river. As I speculated in last week’s column, the size of the field did double for last week’s tournament. The one thing that did not change was the team collecting most of the money at the end of the day.
The only difference was that Hunter Gothia was back in the boat with Trey Smith and they not only had the winning stringer, but the big bass to boot. Their three bass total was 6.53- pounds and their big bass weighed 2.50 pounds. They split a $600 check for their effort. David Jaynes and Donnie Ratcliff cashed the second place check and the team of Aaron Castino and Robert Jackson finished third.
The Smith-Gothia team has won the first two events and this could very well turn into the Smith-Gothia Invitational if the rest of the field doesn’t figure out that this is the result of logging time on the water and not an accident. They both spend a great deal of time on the river eliminating unproductive water which is a critical factor when you have only three hours to fish. At least for right now, I am betting that they are sharing the boat with the only other person that could beat either of them on a consistent basis.
Now there’s a challenge for not only Smith and Gothia, but the rest of this week’s field as well!