After years of hearing, “I am going to have to put a trip together one day and get over there and fish Sabine with you,” the promise finally came to fruition last week. A first cousin, Paul Kessler, drove in from Katy last Monday night with a friend and after forty-two years of guiding folks from all over the United States, I still slept very little the night before the trip.

The weather and the fishing had been so accommodating over the preceding month that I had been literally sweating out each day in hopes that nothing would change prior to his arrival. Just as feared, however, it was eighty-two degrees when they checked in the La Quinta the evening before and thirty-six degrees the following morning.

My concerns were admittedly self-imposed. While playing with his grand babies is now his number one priority, he still delights in picking his way through a bluegrass number with his band or proudly monitoring the work of one of his pointers frozen stiff over a covey of nervous quail. An even more enamoring talent as far as his friends and business associates are concerned is his uncanny ability to acquire everything from fishing trips with the best of coastal guides to deer leases that most folks can only dream about.

My goal each trip is for every client to enjoy the best fishing day of their life and Paul was already a leg up being kinfolk to boot, but this was a rare opportunity for me to get an honest assessment of how the fishing on Sabine stacks up with trout venues from Calcasieu to Baffin Bay. As it turned out, he never even saw Sabine Lake, but aside from time out for a hot bowl of chicken and dumplings and a little cobbler at Muddy Water Marina, we still caught solid trout and slot redfish all day long.

From bouncing a Flats Minnow off the bottom in 20 feet of water to cranking a Swim Bait through a school of reds and trout in the middle of the ICW, every aspect of the trip was somewhat foreign to what he was more accustomed to, but catching is catching and he was already talking about a return trip while still on the water. It pleases me to inform you that our fishing hole and the chicken and dumplings both received an A-rating.

Easily the most impressive aspect of the outing for him was the fact that we could still catch quality trout and redfish on a cold windy day that would have dry docked bay fishermen most anywhere else. Local anglers often take that benefit for granted, but it is one of the things that make this area so unique.

And, ironically enough, while the fishing right here on the Sabine is still holding its own in spite of latest the front, the buzz amongst area anglers is the flounder fishing in the Calcasieu ship channel. It started a little earlier and has lasted longer than it does most years. I don’t know if that is due in part to the drought or lack of really cold weather, but it is still going on.

I talked with Gene and Sherry Boullion Friday evening and they said they fished in the middle of a big crowd both wade fishing and anchored up along the channel every day of Thanksgiving week and they still caught the heck out of the flounder. Sherry was also quick to add that while the fishing pressure was incredible, the fishermen were not only cordial, but more than willing to share their secrets as well.

While it is obviously no longer a secret, the most consistently successful technique has been to fish Gulp four-inch mullets on a tandem rig. Delman Sensat says that he has found that the length of the two drops is more critical than the color of the Gulp. He also says that he never stops a slow steady retrieve once the jigs hit bottom.

He and his sons started fishing the run the first week of November and they have not only caught mind boggling numbers, but eleven flounder over the six pound mark as well!

Keith told me late last week that they have sold a ton of the pink, chartreuse and white scented lures, but the chartreuse is easily the most popular color.“I would have to look at the invoices to know for certain how much Gulp we have sold here at Daley’s Fish N Hunt over the past six to eight weeks, but it would be easier to guesstimate in pounds than in packages or buckets!”

Sensat also said chartreuse was their best color as well, but they still never fish the same color on both drops. It is hard to believe that many flounder can come out of such a restricted area, but it has apparently been happening for years. Dr. Fred Bessell said they were doing the same thing with live bait all the way from the Cameron Ferry to Oyster Bayou in the 80’s and very seldom saw more than a handful of fishermen on a given day.

“Doc…..I’m sorry, but the cat is out of the bag!”!