For any of you who have spent any amount of time around the Cajun-French culture, the term lagniappe is commonly used to denote “a little something extra.” I could not think of a better word to describe how things are going in my little part of the world at the moment, it finally feels like a corner has been turned and the destination, even though it may still be a ways into the future, is actually beginning to come into view. After more disappointing days on the water than I care to recall it appears that some of the old reliable patterns that we counted on for so many years to catch fish on Sabine Lake are finally starting to produce again. I am personally trying to temper my enthusiasm with caution because it could all disappear as fast as it showed up. Until that time comes lets all enjoy it.
Looking back at many years of notes it’s not hard to put a plan together based on all that historical data. Several patterns jump out to be noticed right from the start. Consistent weather does nothing but increase every angler’s odds as virtually every inch of water becomes fishable – from offshore to the shallowest of marshes – and that means every angler can pursue their favorite pastime in the manner they prefer most. A couple of patterns that usually grab the lion’s share of attention are hustling big trout off the jetties and nearshore rigs before daylight as well as working the countless flocks of gulls picking brown shrimp in the open bay. Both of these patterns are paying big dividends right now and that should do nothing but get better as we get farther along into the summer months. The pre-dawn topwater bite is one that no angler should miss down on the rocks, it can be absolutely epic in every sense, from numbers of fish to the size of some these brutes, it’s impressive. Topwater plugs and swimbaits rule the roost down there so be prepared to do battle when you arrive.
The open water program of chasing flocks of feeding gulls is a bit less technical but just as much fun and action-packed. A vast assortment of baits work under these conditions from topwater plugs to soft plastics and virtually everything in between, it’s really your preference when the fish are feeding. Perhaps the most consistent producer under these circumstances is a plastic shrimp imitation on a 1/4-ounce jighead, rigged two feet below a rattling cork. The rattling cork is hands down the great equalizer under the birds because it gives you all the fish attraction you could ask for and just flat out catches fish for everyone from pro to a novice. Besides the fact that the rattling cork just flat works so well, it’s always fun to see that cork go under, a very basic technique that we all have enjoyed at one time or another during our fishing careers.
If there is any drawback to the summer months and the fishing that goes with them, it’s the fact the shallow water fish in the marshes becomes much more fragile. The water temps in the back lakes and ponds get so high that fish get somewhat lethargic and less aggressive. The high temps and dying grass also deplete oxygen content in the water so these fish really need to be cared for, especially when you release them. Please take time to show some respect to these fish and revive them properly, they deserve that opportunity. Now speaking of respect, it’s no secret that I despise people that ignore the rules or lack the common courtesy to treat the shallow water areas with little regard for this amazing resource and fellow anglers. Running boats through areas that are classified as “no motor” while destroying grass and harassing fish at the same time is inexcusable and truly fires me up. Just because you have a boat that will run in a couple of inches of water doesn’t mean you have to do it, especially at the expense of the habitat.
Now, earlier we mentioned lagniappe and the fact that it meant “a little something extra”. As a guide, or just average fishermen for that matter, we tend to get in ruts and stay there for periods of time until something snaps us out of it and we either get refocused or find something to renew our enthusiasm. Easily one of the things that I consider lagniappe is when I get to help new anglers learn more and catch more fish. So many of the things we take for granted every day as a ho-hum experience are really big occasions for young and novice anglers. I enjoy talking fishing with young anglers and helping them understand some of the methods so they can be successful. Many times after sharing a few tips or techniques I’ll get a text with some photos from a young angler or their parent showing off their catch and saying how excited they are to keep getting better. Few things are more satisfying than helping others enjoy something that you care about and seeing them succeed as a result of just sharing tidbits of knowledge with them. Each and every time this happens I make it a point to stop and take things in, appreciate the opportunities, and be thankful for the experiences.
Recently I got an opportunity to get back to my fishing roots and just unwind a bit. For many years during the early stages of my career I split time guiding between freshwater and saltwater. I eventually got to the point where I never left saltwater unless it was to hunt waterfowl. One of the things I loved about freshwater was chasing white perch or crappie, unless you are Cajun and call them sac-a-lait.There are few fish to rival fresh caught crappie when it comes to a fish fry and every now and again it’s nice to do just that. While on a family vacation in Arkansas I took the opportunity to fish Lake Greeson with Action Fishing Trips and had a great time. The lake was gorgeous and scenic with all the mountains surrounding it, a far cry from anything on the coast. We enjoyed a great day on the water while catching a ton of quality crappie on ultra-light gear. It was so nice to see some different water and get back to a style of fishing that I had forgotten how much I loved. The trip provided me with a shot in the arm of newfound enthusiasm and appreciation for other places as well as a fantastic meal shared with my family and friends. To me this was the ultimate lagniappe.