It hasn’t rained in the last twelve hours and that is noteworthy, considering that it has poured somewhere in the immediate area thirteen of the last fifteen days. The trout in Sabine Lake are already forced to cope with more fresh water than they can comfortably handle and unfortunately, there is more on the way!
Rayburn is nine feet high and finally had to start releasing water this week. Toledo Bend only compounds the problem as they have been running both generators 24/7 with eleven flood gates open for a solid week. Long story short, it will not take another “named storm” for us to be underwater again. Another six- to ten-inch rain squatting on the north end of Sabine will leave a lot of area anglers filling sand bags and cursing insurance agents.
With a number of boat ramps still unusable as of today, I would have bet that the trout bite would once again be non-existent, but that has not been the case. As expected, we have struggled on the north end, but folks fishing the south end are still finding a few trout herding shrimp.
On a positive note, let’s assume that we survive the glut of fresh water exiting the impoundments and don’t get saddled with another major storm in the process. Should that happen, we may very well salvage a fisherman-friendly summer as our trout population has been steadily improving.
Once the tide changes are strong enough to not only flush out more fresh water, but pump more saltwater and shrimp into the main lake as well, good things will happen. For the first time in the past few years we were again catching solid trout all over the lake, but until things dry out, I would start my day somewhere between Blue Buck Point and the jetties.
The stretch of deeper water from the Causeway to the end of the jetties will recover the fastest, but it will also absorb most of the fishing pressure. Depending on wind direction, either side of the jetties can be lights out and the pressure is usually much lighter than it is in the channel. You don’t have to be a resident angler to figure out the proven spots on the ship channel, but you do have to get there early.
Shrimp are easily the main course right now, but once the shad pod up again, expect to find more schooling reds and trout in open water on the south end of the lake. Any flock of terns or gulls that won’t abandon a small stretch of water merits a cast or two.
In the past, the bite directly in front of the bayous has been the first indication that the north end is recovering. Color change is a dead giveaway and for that reason alone, outgoing tides are invariably the most productive. Everything from crabs to finger mullet exit the marsh through the narrow openings and the predators are usually waiting.
While the numbers have been improving much faster than size, the lion’s share of our more successful anglers have gone “old school” in their approach and I look for that to continue. More trout fishermen are now fishing smaller plastics under a cork or swimming them on one-eighth ounce heads.
While you may sacrifice a little distance with the lighter lures, do not think for one second that a hungry slot red will turn its back on the shorter tail. Excluding the venerable Hoginar, I have caught as many redfish on a 4-inch Sea Shad or Lil John as any other lure in my box.
You still may dupe a bragging size trout on occasion fishing the smaller stuff, but targeting bragging size trout with larger lures is a completely different game. Smaller baits attract smaller trout, but its catching that keeps you coming back. Don’t forget that catch and release works on small trout as well and I guarantee the kids will vote for more catching.
If you are not above utilizing this approach, you might also consider drifting a live finger mullet or shad under a popping cork. A four foot leader with the weight immediately below the cork is the ticket. It is not unusual to see the strike on the surface well before the cork dips beneath the surface.
The bonus to fishing this technique is how many kids enjoy catching the bait as much as they do catching and releasing fish!