Sabine Scene: October 2020

Sabine Scene: October 2020
Even though our house and garage suffered significant damage, we feel blessed to at least have something standing that we can repair and again call home. Many folks were not as lucky.

As if simply trying to avoid Covid 19 wasn’t enough of a hassle, it now looks like Hurricane Laura is bearing down on us.  I was dealing with the rigors of tying down the house, emptying freezers and loading up three truckloads of dogs and kinfolk when my wife asked if I had written my column. That wasn’t very high on the priority list at that moment, but I think I can finish it on the road and mail it in before the end of the month. I don’t know, however, if I can even send a text message from Arp, Texas where we are headed, but it is worth a try.

It should come as no surprise that we had finally turned the corner here on Sabine. You never know how accurate the forecasts will be, but even without a lot of rain, a twenty-foot tidal surge is unthinkable and would render this report totally useless! I don’t see any way this storm can possibly miss us altogether, but sliding over just a couple of miles to the east would not only minimize damage here in Orange, but do worlds for a shorter recovery as far as the fishing is concerned. To even be talking about fishing right now would be considered a tad irresponsible by anyone begrudgingly joining the northbound caravan of evacuees.

The good news is that while we have seen very few trout in the four to five-pound class, we are once again catching really solid numbers of smaller keeper-size trout all over the lake. I truly believe the bite on the north end has been as consistent as anything going on further south. We are not finding a lot of fish under the terns and gulls right now, but that will happen very shortly should Laura cut us a little slack.

Ladyfish have been all over the massive schools of small shad and schools of twelve to eighteen-inch trout have been right behind them. Easily the most productive approach has been to drift a medium cast away from the surfacing fish and offering them a four-inch tail under a cork. Color has not been critical, but an eighteen to twenty four-inch leader has worked especially well.

When that bite slows down or you tire of jumping off ladyfish crashing the party, the second-best option is bouncing a plastic tail off the shell in three to five feet of water or fishing a jerk bait. A rattail Assassin, Lil John, or Down South threaded on an eighth-ounce head will keep you busy catching and releasing, even after it is too hot to enjoy yourself.

The bite is little slower with the jerkbait, but the average size of the trout it fools has been a little better. There is a world of top-notch jerkbaits on the market, but I am still throwing a gold Long A with a black back. Regardless of which jerkbaits you prefer, life will be much easier if you switch the trebles for single hooks, or at least clip off the barb opposite the other two. We are also finding more schools of surface feeding reds every day. When we fish afternoons, we are starting out looking for the schooling reds and fishing the trout later. There is no wrong lure when they are on the surface, but I would tie on something you can throw a long way.

For those of you more comfortable hunting reds on the shoreline than cruising the open lake, the first couple of hours of the day have been the most productive for me. An outgoing tide improves the bite around the cuts and mouth of the bayous, but a high tide will hold fish tight to the flooded grass. I undoubtedly no longer throw a gold Johnson weedless spoon often enough, but I find it very hard to clip off a three or four-inch Usual Suspect swimbait when fishing this program. There are days when they will hit the larger version much better, but the three-inch model fools flounder and trout as well.

The only program that has yet to recover is the deep-water bite in the Intracoastal and rivers feeding into the north end. When that happens, I will consider the bite completely recovered. Big trout are still hard to come by, but waiting is much easier now.

A day spent fishing with the kids is never forgotten!