While local youngsters were forced to hunt Easter eggs in soggier conditions than they would have liked and thunderstorms idled across east Texas, the SRA was finally able to squeeze back the discharge rate up on Toledo Bend. For the past three weeks the majority of the Sabine Lake fishermen have been forced to either make the run to Big Lake or ply the waters south of the Causeway due to the massive amount of fresh water runoff.

And, while they paid both fresh and saltwater categories, there was no doubting the effect the extra fresh water had on last weekend’s second Annual OJC fishing tournament.The final total showed that while 42 bass were weighed in, only seven redfish and one trout found their way to the scales.In talking with several of the bass fishermen, there was no doubt that the recent Bassmaster Elite tournament altered their approach to duping bass in flooded backwater areas.

With the exception of the winning trout (just catching one was a feat in itself) the winning weights were very respectable.The big bass weighed 4.09 pounds and the top five fish were all right at the three pound mark.The top redfish weighed 7.90 pounds and that isn’t bad for a 27-inch fish.Even the lone trout weighed 3.22 pounds and that is very respectable.

I know that the 42 bass were caught on a variety of lures, but every one of the fishermen I talked with caught their fish pitching a craw worm pegged on a quarter ounce weight or swimming a chatter bait around flooded grass.I wonder how many of those bass lived in Taylor’s Bayou prior to the Bassmaster event?

The wind has made it significantly tougher on the saltwater diehards that have been forced to spend most of their time on the extreme south end of the lake or fishing the jetties.Those that have stayed in the lake have found a few trout and slot reds bouncing plastics off the deep shell.They are even seeing a few small schools of reds feeding on the surface when the wind allows.

A few flounder and redfish are also showing up on the shoreline from Blue Buck to Garrison’s Ridge, but that bite has been very tide dependent. Gulp, Swim Baits and four inch Sea Shad have been the most productive lures on both species.

The most consistent bite on the jetties has been on the Gulf side of the rocks.The massive schools of shad and mullet are attracting schools of redfish and jacks that are more akin to small submarines than fish.The oversized reds and turbo charged jacks will wear you out in a hurry, but the first two or three are a ball to catch.

Had you been in Daley’s last week you would have thought that the only lures these bruisers will eat is a chrome or sexy shad shallow diving crankbait, but we have done nearly as well on four inch Usual Suspects and a three-quarter ounce Trap.It is, however, admittedly a riot when they crash the crankbait and the plastic lip makes them easier to keep out of the rocks.The KVD models have a very substantial set of treble hooks that are not as quick to open up under the power of a runaway train!

It was surprisingly cooler this past weekend, but for the most part it seems like we just went from winter to summer overnight and skipped the spring.It probably doesn’t seem that way if you are allergic to pollen, but you just think it’s bad here until you see clouds of the yellow stuff exploding from the tops of the pines on Toledo Bend.

The veteran Toledo Bend crappie fishermen that I have been visiting with are also wondering what happened to their traditional spring patterns. Delmar Gatlin blamed much of it on the high water.“We are already strolling up crappie on the outside of the grass breaks and I caught very few fish under a cork in the creeks or sow crappie on the shallow grass flats with a Trap.”

“I guess I better hurry up and get my brush piles in good shape,” added Gatlin.“I am finally starting to feel a little older, so I will probably anchor up only 20 to 30 piles this year……maybe a few more if the grandkids come up and help.”He can be excused for slowing down just a little as he celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday last month!

He was also willing to share a few tips that could help you when strolling for crappie on T-Bend.“I never do well on the larger crappie strolling any deeper than twelve feet, I never fish a jig heavier than 1/16^th ounce and I fish with 4 to 6 pound fluorocarbon line.”And, as far as his favorite color, “If I am not fishing a black-blue tube jig I am fishing black-chartreuse.”

I think you can take this time tested information to the bank.He has fished for crappie exclusively for the past thirty years and fishes only the south end of the lake.

Photo – Oversized reds make for a fun Plan B!