Dickie Colburn – For The Record

“Go figure,” said Jamie Diggs as he finished the last of his coffee while staring at the black water in the bayou lapping against the top of the dock.“We have had a solid week of north winds strong enough to keep us out of the open lake along with a good outgoing tide and this water still hasn’t dropped an inch!”

His pre-dawn assessment was right on the money and it has not made figuring out the big trout any easier in spite of the user-friendly conditions.Unlike the water soaked spring and early summer we endured, we are now catching fish, but piecing together a consistent bite on quality trout has been a daily struggle of late and the high water deserves more blame than the wind.

More surface acres of water equate to more room for the predator and forage fish to roam and they do just that.Redfish and flounder can be seen pounding away at shrimp and finger mullet in the flooded grass rather than hustling the same bait fish in the open lake under flocks of opportunistic gulls.

Before canceling a trip and pushing the boat back in the garage, however, you have to remember that as a guide I don’t always have the luxury of taking advantage of the easiest bite.That fact alone tends to skew my assessment of how good or bad the catching is for the recreational fisherman that just wants to relax and catch a few fish to eat.Relaxing is seldom if ever a part of my fishing day and there is a good bite to take advantage of right now.

Even with this high water, if you can live with catching small keeper size trout and some very decent flounder as well as slot reds that decide to crash the party….all you have to do is catch a little live bait and anchor up on the ICW or the river.Obviously, a point, drain or the mouth of any bayou is a good place to at least start most days. You will catch fish and the live bait bite will only improve once water levels recede.

After four days of working my tail off to put together mixed catches of trout, redfish and a flounder or two with artificials, I fished two groups in a row that wanted to fish nothing but live bait.I did little more than bait hooks and net fish as they kept17 trout and 5 redfish the first day and limited on trout and flounder the second day fishing the same type areas I just mentioned.We didn’t have a trout over 18-inches, but we hadn’t been catching any trout much larger than that with artificials either.

When we have stumbled up on a few birds working in the lake it has been more of a surprise than something we expected to find when we left the dock.That, in itself, is unusual this time of the year, but what hasn’t been unusual about the fishing this year?

Most days you can fish a Vudu shrimp, Lil’ John or Sea Shad under a cork or bounce a jig or Gulp product off the bottom and catch trout, but it is especially difficult to locate decent numbers of trout over three pounds that will eat an artificial lure.I network with a handful of very good guides and they are burning more gas right now just looking than they were running all the way to the jetties back in the spring.

Because of the incredible numbers of smaller trout that are already showing up where the larger trout usually show up in October, I am convinced that it will all change for the better when the water drops out.Until that happens, however, I recommend either breaking out the cast net and enjoying the day or breaking out the credit card and covering a lot of water!

Don’t forget about the S.A.L.T. Kids tournament to be hosted out of their clubhouse located on Pleasure Island Saturday morning. The kids can fish anywhere between the hours of 7am and 11am as long as you get them to the weigh-in with their fish by 11 am.The 3 to 7 year olds can even weigh in a crab. There are prizes and money for the winners of three different age groups ranging from three to sixteen.

Aside from the fact that you are taking the kids fishing, the highlight of the day is that every youngster that weighs in just one fish will be eligible for a drawing for a lifetime fishing license donated by realtor-Dawn Jones.For more information call 728-3823, 626-2501 or 963-0433.