I really do not believe the catching can get any better than it is on Sabine right now. The lake is in excellent condition and the shrimp have arrived much earlier than usual.

Some of the bayous are still a little off-colored, but the water in the marshes matches that in the lake. Capt. Chuck and I toured a lot of backwater Monday morning and we watched singles as we watched any number of singles as well as a few pods of redfish idle by in the gin clear water. It is amazing that the water is still that clear with no more grass than we found in most of the ponds.

The only problem for area anglers this past week has been where to fish first. The wind has been user-friendly and it has been dealer’s choice as to where to start first. Last Saturday was a perfect example of “too many places….too little time.”

We were just hammering the trout on a Swim Bait fishing a shallow flat on the north end of the lake when my phone rang.“Where y’all at?” asked the caller. “We’re drifting Coffee Ground Cove and we are killing the trout on morning glory DieDappers.”

Curtis Herrington, 42, of Bridge City, catches a drum near the Rainbow Bridge. RECORD PHOTO: Debby Schamber

I thanked him for the heads up, but I never leave biting fish with customers. Twenty minutes later the phone rang again. “Dickie, I don’t know where you are right now, but you better get over here by Game Warden Cove. The redfish are schooling under terns and pelicans.”

I heeded that call as our bite was slowing down, but we got there only in time to catch only two solid slot fish. I was about to move again when one of my clients spotted two or three gulls working a short distance away. We wound up fishing that one school of fish for the better part of an hour catching trout after trout on H &H Swim Baits and TTF Flats Minnows.

Before we called in the dogs that evening due to a stiff south wind I received two more calls from friends. One group was catching trout drifting the reefs at the Causeway and the other was catching trout and redfish on a MirrOdine XL on the south revetment wall. Outside of dead smack in the middle of the lake and I can only assume that no one was fishing there, the fish were biting from one end of the lake to the other!

The kicker was that before I could even get home Eric Ronning called and said that they had also done well on trout fishing She Dogs on the Louisiana shoreline and they were wading.“The craziest part of it all,” said Ronning, “is that the drift fishermen less than 50 yards away were doing equally well fishing jigs and four inch plastic tails.”

I know that I am eventually going to be forced to go back to fishing a variety of tails on conventional lead head jigs, but we have had no reason to put aside the DieDapper and Shiney Hiney jig head combination thus far. Even under the birds it is catching larger trout and it is just as deadly when crawled across the bottom.

The other bait that seems to catch fish when nothing else will, excluding GULP, is the 3-inch Swim bait. There is any number of different brands on the market, but I have found none that fish any better than H &H’s Usual Suspect. They swim true right out of the package and they are tougher than some of the others which equates to more dollars for gas!

I think the only mistake you can make with the Usual Suspect is jigging it rather than swimming it on a steady retrieve and it took Adam and Johnny two years to convince me of that. We do catch fish bouncing it off the bottom in a strong tide occasionally, but it is at its best reeled in on a slow retrieve!

Aside from the fact that trout, redfish and flounder all like it, I especially like the fact that while it will catch numbers it will also entice very large trout. Even when the Corky and slow moving suspended baits were the hot ticket this winter the Swim Bait produced its share of seven pound-plus trout.

GULP rules the flounder fishing world and the following is something that you need to remember when fishing the scented bait. Wash your hands and dry them off before cranking on your reel. I could not figure out what was eating up the grips on my Shimano reel handles and a Shimano rep at the Bassmaster Elite event said that it was GULP that was doing it.

He said that the Florida fishermen were the first to report the same problem and that they now take great care to clean their hands after putting a GULP bait on a jig head. I have also learned that it is much easier to keep your hands clean than locate and purchase replacement handles!

Wading is a productive alternative on windy days.