Sabine Scene: September 2021
Catching Texas legal trout with any consistency has been a challenge this summer and Mother Nature has not made the chore any easier!
The heat is all but unbearable after nine o’clock in the morning and coupled with daily afternoon thunderstorms it limits the time allowed to piece together a productive pattern. The accompanying lightning also eliminates any thoughts of hanging around hoping the approaching storm will miss you.
Fresh water continues to pose a minor problem as well, especially on the north end of the Sabine system, but we generally do better when it is local rain rather than having to deal with the impoundments making large pool adjustments.
Everything I thought I knew about salinity, however, is a wash…no pun intended. Our deep water bite (22-25 ft.) in the river remains non-existent and the fact that local bass fishermen are catching bass at that depth would indicate that the salinity level is non-existent as well.
I am even more confused after fishing virtually every technique and lure that worked in the past in the main lake. Eight feet is deep in Sabine Lake so virtually every cast passes through the entire water column.
Assuming that saltwater is heavier than fresh water, I have targeted what is left of small clumps of oyster shell dotting the bottom. I don’t expect the trout to be hanging on every clump, but on more than one occasion I have been crawling a tail across the shell only to have another boat pull up and catch trout on topwaters!
For that reason alone, I am now more receptive to the idea that entire pockets of water may have adequate salinity levels from top to bottom. Most of my trout have been small, twelve to seventeen-inch fish, but when we stumble up on them we are as likely to catch them under a cork as we are crawling a tail across the bottom.
Due to lighter fishing pressure which yields fewer helpful reports, we are left to figure things out on our own and that means eliminating a lot of barren water. Knowing where the fish “aren’t” saves a lot of time!
When reading this column, remember that I spend very little time south of the Causeway and that is a whole different game!
I have not regularly targeted trout since finding some very decent fish running the north revetment wall following the freeze. I am still finding a few fish on the east shoreline and in the passes on the north end, but the size does not merit the effort for me.
Without exception, throwing a small topwater in the middle of school fish or “dead sticking” a tail rigged on a quarter ounce head has worked the best. You literally have to only move your bait an inch or two and leave the rest to the trout. It has worked for us when I would have sworn there wasn’t a fish in the area.
The usually dependable redfish bite in the marshes has slowed down, but there are still small groups hanging tight to the taller grass lining the shoreline. You can eliminate a lot of wasted casts by paying attention to the birds when fishing this pattern.
Not gulls in this case; red-winged black birds perched on a reed just above the water is all but a sure bet that a redfish or sometimes a flounder is running shad up on the bank. Several egrets patrolling a very small section of shoreline can be equally rewarding.
You can usually fool these fish with a topwater or gold weedless spoon, but I prefer to use spinning gear and throw a three-inch swimbait or one-eighth ounce curly-tail grub soaked in a scent or tipped with shrimp. The “smaller” approach increases your odds of duping those energetic flounder as well.
While I would bet that it is only going to get hotter and the storms will intensify this month, I would also bet that we start seeing more schools of slot reds schooling in the open lake.
The flounder bite has been the saving grace for me this summer. Drains on outgoing tides are always good spots, but we have done very well just fishing points on the shoreline. Once again, light gear and small lures are a good combination.
Kids just love throwing the lighter tackle and every tug of war is a memorable experience. Include lots of water and sun protection and don’t make this an endurance test for them!