In all honesty, the real reason we were crossing the Intracoastal early
Saturday morning was that the drive would culminate with lunch in Lake
Charles at a favorite spot.I knew as soon we could see the open lake,
however, that the 169 anglers participating in the 45^th edition of the
Memorial Classic Fishing tournament were in for a challenge from more
than other anglers.

The Intracoastal was white capping and even the white caps weren’t
white!Far too much wind was once again churning up what was already a
very dirty body of water.

Over the course of the morning we made stops along the entire loop
through Johnson bayou and Hackberry and saw very few folks fishing or
crabbing at the usual hotspots.Unfortunately, the water was as dirty at
the Causeway as it was on the north end of the lake.

The closer we got to Big Lake….the better the water looked and we talked
with a few anglers that had called it a day early only because of the
wind.They said they were fishing West Cove and the south end of the lake
and that the bite had improved a little.I assumed, rather than ask, that
they were spending some time around the weirs as they only had small
reds and several flounder in their coolers.

I also talked with a guide friend that said he had spent more time
pouring slabs than fishing this year, but felt it was improving some.“We
don’t need any more rain,” he said.“I am just now seeing a few more
birds working over small trout and my neighbor is catching an occasional
five- pound trout on live bait.”

Even though the two lakes are in close proximity, you will not get the
same promising report from Sabine Lake anglers.The bite remains tough on
Sabine.

If you have entertained thoughts that you possibly forgot how to catch
fish, consider the following.The annual S.A.L.T. tournament is a family
oriented affair, but every year some of the best fishermen in the area
fish the event and that was the case this year as well.

Jim Morrissey, the final word in recording weights in virtually every
fishing tournament in the area was less than enthusiastic when he told
me, “Can you believe we had a 169 fishermen in the adult division and
they weighed in only sixteen fish!”

Had it not been for the Fesco team that saved the day with three trout
in the five pound class, there would have been little to get excited
about.Having said that, Morrissey added that he spoke with them and they
caught their trout on Big Lake.

Only two flounder were weighed in and neither fish made the three pound
mark.There was only one winner in the offshore division and several
categories had no entries at all.

On the other hand, the nineteen kids that entered all won a rod and reel
and ate their fair share of Boss Burgers.As tough as the fishing was it
was anything but ironic that the most talked about catch was Aspen
Romero’s 1.03-pound crab.

Tournament Director, Tony Viator, said the huge crab measured 17 inches
from claw to claw.Also, not overlooked by those in charge of determining
the winners was the fact that girls won all but one category!

Entry numbers were down this year for obvious reasons, but the S.A.L.T.
Club was still able to donate $800 to the Southeast Texas Food Bank.

In spite of the high water, the bass bite in area marshes and bayous has
continued to improve.As of Tuesday, all eleven gates were still cracked
open a foot or so and both generators were running 24/7 in an effort to
slowly gain control of the lake level.More rain would quickly add to the
problem.

I have fished the clearer drains in the bayous more than I have the
marshes of late and I am convinced that your chance of catching a bass
over three pounds is still better in the marsh.You can catch a pile of
small bass in the bayou most every afternoon, but we have yet to catch a
fish over two pounds.

At the same time, in one afternoon we caught several bass in the three
pound class in the marsh fishing a free-floated lizard and frog.It
didn’t take long for redfish to crash the party and that is a happening
when they decide your frog is the real thing!

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