DuPont outfall merits reputation
We had just exited Adams Bayou and turned south in the ICW when one of my clients tapped me on the shoulder. Even the slow ride was much colder than anticipated and judging by his pursed lips and watery eyes, the rain suit he stowed away in the front locker was now more than an afterthought.
By the time he had all of the strings tied and the snaps snapped, we had drifted in the middle of the ICW in front of the DuPont outfall ditch. Three boats were already on anchor while two others were on the troll motor cast netting for shad and finger mullet. Yet another angler was jockeying for position a cast away from the main group.
Without a doubt, the outfall ditch is the most popular fishing hole on the lower Sabine River and while more discreet local anglers avoid the daily armada, it consistently produces catches worthy of crowding into close quarters. If you are a live bait fisherman, regardless of where you choose to fish for the day, you also know that bait is easiest acquired in that immediate area. So do the fish!
Throughout the summer and early fall, the ditch also attracts boaters that gather only to watch a significant fleet of hungry gators ranging in length from four to 10 feet pound away on the surface at rafts of mullet. Observing the crashing and splashing never gets old as they launch themselves well out of the water time and again in pursuit of their next meal.
Not unlike any other spot along the ICW, tidal movement is a crucial factor to consistent catching, but the structure and ever present supply of bait set the ditch apart from any other single spot on the river. Even when the bait is churning the surface for a quarter of a mile either side of the ditch, the number one location is the bottom structure directly in front of the cyclone fence.
Depending on salinity levels, you can catch anything from speckled trout to bass anchored in one spot, but as a rule redfish and flounder dominate the scene during the fall. There are days when folks anchored in just the right spot catch redfish until you are convinced that there just can’t be another redfish down there. And, while they don’t catch them that fast, the more knowledgeable or perhaps luckier fishermen catch flounder at an incredible pace as well.
I have seen veteran outfall anglers pick up their anchor and move several yards, because they could catch nothing but a darned ol’ speckled trout. If you drop a shad or mullet to the bottom on a Carolina rig you are going to catch your share of croaker, sand trout and drum as well, but this is by no means simply a gathering spot for pot lickers just looking for an easy bite.
I have no idea how many trout over five pounds are caught each week, but I know of one ditch regular that recently caught and released three over the 26-inch mark in a four day period. Two fish flounder limits are all but a given most days and four to five-pound flounder have been very common this fall.
There isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t get pulled around by one or two over sized redfish and the only two stripers that I know of over 20-pounds that were caught last winter were taken within a short cast of the mouth of the ditch. The bottom line is that the fishing is pretty simple at the DuPont outfall ditch, but you can still fish with great expectations.
With the exception of one user-friendly day last week, we continue to deal with pretty tough winds on a daily basis. For the most part it has been out of the south prior to switching to the north and blowing all of the water out of the bayous.
When we can get into the lake we are working schools of both trout and redfish under small flocks of gulls. When the lake is dead calm you can continue to catch fish well after the gulls leave if you will watch for shrimp skipping on the surface. We have caught more fish with Flats Minnows or Sea Shads fished under a cork, but five-inch tails like the Assassin, Trout Killer and Split tail Mullet have produced more redfish and larger trout this week.
A two flounder limit isn’t all that bad when you can catch the kind of flounder folks have been catching lately. We had several over the four-pound mark last week, but I saw a six and two more over five-pounds back at the launch. Live mullet accounted for the largest fish, but a Gulp mullet rigged on a spinner bait harness and roach colored four-inch paddle tails threaded on quarter ounce heads have been deadly as well.
The two largest trout we caught last week were taken bouncing a Tidal Surge Maniac Mullet off the bottom in 12 feet of water in Blacks bayou. I haven’t tried that technique very often thus far, and as one would expect, we did lose three or four baits to shell or abandoned crab traps, but both trout were over six-pounds. Oh well, buying new lures is a whole lot easier than locating big trout!