Jerkbait proves to be potent option
Yet another band of thunderstorms had finally sloshed its way across the lake and judging by the ominous clouds rising up out of the marsh on the south end of the lake there was more to come. I pulled the hood back on my Frogg Toggs for the first time in over an hour and immediately had to fend off a cloud of relentless mosquitoes.
Adding to the minor discomfort was the fact that I had yet to fool the first fish. As I continued to switch lures and drift different depths of water with the same poor results, all I could think about was the number one question filling my email box every night.“When are the trout going to leave the river and get back in the lake like they normally do this time of year?”
I, for one, have been in no hurry to see them leave the river and move into the lake like they normally do. My monthly gas bill was significantly lower, the fish were easier to target, and we were catching trout every bit as large as any that we ever catch in the lake this time of the year.“ I hope y’all are happy now,” I muttered to myself as I picked up the troll motor to make another move.
Cow Bayou, Adams Bayou and both the Sabine and Neches are getting fresher by the day and the water clarity is only marginally clearer than chocolate milk. The saving grace is the fact that, surprisingly enough, the water clarity is not all that bad in the lake.The big question is, “Do the fish realize that and do they even care enough to make that move?”
By the end of the week it was obvious that things may well be back to what most local anglers deem to be “normal”.The trout and redfish were frequenting the flats on both sides of the ICW in very decent numbers. The water was a little dirtier on the flats on the north side, but there was a lot of bait there and availability of food is the most critical factor in locating fish.
Ironically enough, while cold weather usually makes it tougher to piece together a consistent catching pattern, the unseasonably warmer water of late has expanded the playing field and mobilized both the bait and the predator fish. The bite has improved every day, but you never know if they are going to be in a foot of water or six feet of water.
When that happens, you can just leave the tackle box open as virtually any proven bait may be the right one depending on the tide, the presence of bait and the wind direction. Because the prevailing wind was out of the east-southeast most of last week, we spent much of our time pinned down on the Louisiana shoreline. When the trout decided to stay in depths of 5 to 6 feet we had to get creative in order to effectively fish any lure through the white caps that build up that far off the shoreline.
The single biggest mistake proved to be thinking any one lure or specific presentation would work day after day. One day it would be Corkies and Maniac Mullets and the next day it would be a tail like the Die Dapper or TTF Trout Killer. Color didn’t seem to be nearly as critical as the size of the lure.
There hasn’t been a day when a tail fished on a 1/16th ounce head hasn’t produced at least a few trout, but our largest trout consistently ate the Mullet, a Corky, or a She Dog. The tails were much easier to fish in the rougher water, but it was a mistake not to at least offer one of the mullet imitations.
We were so locked into what we were doing one morning that had it not been for a phone call from a friend on the water, we would have totally missed out on a fantastic bite. We were just slaying trout up to four pounds along with an occasional slot red and couldn’t have been happier when my phone rang.
“Are you catching trout or reds,” he asked.“If you are not catching big trout you better get over here before this bite ends!”I am not much on running off and leaving fish, but we at least knew where these fish were and could return.
He was releasing a 26-inch trout when we idled within shouting distance.“You need to give your Maniac Mullet a rest and tie on a jerkbait,” he instructed.“Don’t ever let it come back up to the surface…just fish it in quick jerks.”I tossed my clients a couple of clown colored jerkbaits and lowered the troll motor. I continued to throw both a fat Boy and Maniac Mullet just to see if it really made any difference.
As predicted, the bite proved to be almost over, but not before my clients boated four trout over 25-inches while I caught nothing. The same afternoon they caught four more big fish while I did almost as well with the She Dog. Once off the water I called Daley’s and discovered that the jerkbait that worked so well was a 4 1/8^th inch Strike Pro Arc Minnow and the color is officially called Ate-O-Ate.
The color looks a lot like the popular clown pattern. Capt. Chuck and I fished several different jerkbaits using this same technique for years on Big Lake, but I apparently haven’t been doing it enough on Sabine. The Arc Minnow is also equipped with a pair of quality treble hooks that don’t open up under the weight of a big fish and the trout are yet to put the first dent in the paint job. No, I don’t get them for free and “yes”…I now own four more in the same color!
While you’ll have to endure the non-stop attack of blood thirsty mosquitoes to hang in there, the last hour of daylight has been unbelievably good for both numbers and size. The fish seem to move shallower late and they will just crush both the She Dog and the jerk bait in two feet of water or less.
Most of the strikes on jerkbaits like the Arc Minnow are not as visually exciting as they occur beneath the surface, but it is hard not to come unglued when a big trout blows up on the She Dog. Easily the two best colors for us lately have been the new Geaux Daley (black-white ribs) and chartreuse or gold sides with a red head.
If it continues to rain…normal may not be a bad thing after all!