ONLY TIME WILL TELL
“We’re not catching any fish……..got any suggestions?” I was on the water
when that call came in last Thursday and I wasn’t catching any fish
either. “We tried the same flat we caught fish on the other night and
never got the first strike,” Tom added.
Tom Gayle had talked me into a night trip a couple of weeks ago and much
to my surprise, we caught a dozen or so solid trout before the short
major feed ended. The only negative was that we had to wade to catch them and I have never looked forward to fishing in waders, more especially after dark!
Simply putting them on gets more difficult every year and every task is
amplified when you are standing waist deep in water. I never gave it a
thought back when I missed very few days chasing ducks in all too brief
seasons, but the ability to occasionally sit down minimized the discomfort.
I no longer hunt, but I have continued to wrestle with waders in order
to stalk magnum tout in the winter for many years.As a matter of fact,
the opportunity to fool one big trout…..not numbers, is the only reason
I wade from December through March.
I later joined up with Tom and his son and we eventually saved the day
wearing out small reds on a short stretch of shoreline. For the most part
I backed off and watched twelve year old, Les, dupe small slot fish with
a jerk bait for the better part of an hour.
The water had less than a foot of visibility, but his fire-tiger Long A
was apparently easy enough to locate. Every strike occurred just as the
lure started floating back to the surface. Once the wind blew things out
we called it a day and my trout fishing was saddled with another zero.
You would think that the trout would know that I have no intention of
keeping a single fish, but that has proven to be nothing more than
The bottom line is that while we have found only two small areas
consistently holding a few trout, ninety percent of the lake has
produced only wasted casts for us.Salinity, or the lack thereof, is the
ultimate factor, but we have found the presence of exposed shell to make
a difference as well.
Between Ike and Harvey, a significant amount of the relatively small
amount of shell in the lake got covered up with silt and mud. Two
dependable stretches of shell on the north side of the Intracoastal are
now covered with at least a foot of loose mud. They are no longer magnets
for trout running the deeper breaks.
For years the oyster reefs north of the Causeway temporarily
shortstopped thousands of trout entering the lake from the nearby
Gulf. As that shell took hit after hit, the bite that was talked about
all the way to the Laguna Madre became only a fond memory.
Conservation will prove to be the saving grace, but the altered
ecosystem will require some re-thinking for area trout fishermen.Only
time will tell!
Texas Parks and Wildlife will host a meeting at the Port Arthur Civic
Center at 6:00 p.m. February 28th to discuss changing trout limits on
Sabine Lake from ten fish to five. For the most part, the lower coast has
already taken this measure and their trout population rebounded even
quicker than expected.
The only two complaints I have heard of lately are that anglers will
only have to drive to the Louisiana side of the lake and launch to keep
ten fish and “Once the government takes something away you never get it
I personally support reduced limits not only because our trout need
help, but because I recall the furor surrounding the proposal to cut
bass limits to five. I was guiding full time on Toledo Bend at the time
and everyone with a bass boat, including me, was freaking out!
An eight pound bass was a happening back then and today Toledo Bend is
one of the best double-digit bass lakes in the United States. It may
require a stocking program as well on Sabine Lake, but expecting to
catch better numbers and larger trout each trip rather than hoping to do
so is worth the experiment!