The redfish are currently riding herd on schools of shad in the open lake and that much anticipated phenomenon couldn’t have kicked off at a better time. Improved water conditions and lighter winds have enabled more fishermen to exploit this bite and there is no doubt that the numbers thus far have just been astounding. Depending on your perspective, the only problem has been the lopsided ratio of oversized fish to slot fish.
For the most part, the program has simply involved cruising the lake looking for slicks, gulls or mayhem on the surface. When the lake is dead calm we often hear them before we see them!
Confirmation of the consistency of this bite lies in the fact that we are now seeing far more tower boats running the open lake than we are in the canals and marsh lakes. Lots of gas is burned every day at speeds of 15- to 25-miles per hour by anglers looking for their next tug of war.
Aside from just plowing into the middle of the school, the biggest mistake you can make is offering them any lure rigged under a cork. They will readily attack your cork on the surface and demolish it before turning it loose. Their main diet consists of small ladyfish, shrimp and huge schools of menhaden. While the scorching heat makes it difficult to fish for an extended period of time, the middle of the day is often the most productive.
Anything involving a treble hook is a no-no. We replace the trebles on our spoons and Hoginars with a single hook to make releasing fish both quicker and safer. Five-inch Assassins and Split Tail mullets rigged on 1/4-ounce jig heads are all but a sure bet as are four-inch swimbaits like the Usual Suspect. Color is very seldom an issue, but chicken on a chain and pumpkinseed have been especially reliable.
Unlike our trout bite, the redfish bite is taking place from the Causeway all the way to East Pass. Some areas have been a little more consistent than others, thus a quality pair of binoculars can save you a lot of gas. The best areas change from day to day as the fish are tracking the mobile buffets.
While the trout bite continues to improve, they have not been that cooperative in the main lake. We have had just enough good days on the north end to keep the faith, but if it’s trout you want you need to head south. The ship channel from the Causeway to the end of the jetties as well as the short rigs are yielding not only good numbers but larger fish as well.
Live bait is inevitably the most dependable choice, but the hottest lures have been shallow running crankbaits like the Swimming Image or four-inch swimbaits. Depending on direction and strength of tide, the best bite will occasionally take place a little deeper, but I would still start my day probing the upper part of the water column closer to the rocks.
A word of caution for anglers looking to exploit the crankbait bite…take a bunch of them! There are several legitimate reasons why a local angler will purchase every available lure as soon as it adorns a peg in area tackle departments.
Not unlike your favorite Skitter Walk or She Dog, some will not survive ricocheting off the granite, but while Swimming Images are incredibly effective, they are not very durable. Lips break off, treble hooks pull out or open up and they will eventually start taking on water. When the Spanish mackerel move in, they are best left in the box for another day.
Our youngster-friendly bite under the birds seldom kicks off before the kids are back in school and this year is no exception here on Sabine. While they are not as available as they were during their summer vacation, however, weekends and holidays remain a viable option.
I recently stopped to chat with four different anglers fishing alone on the same morning. When I asked where their usual partner was or why they were fishing alone, three of the four replied, “I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to go.”There are a multitude of youngsters just dying for an invitation to go fishing, that would readily tell you that answer was B.S. Who stepped up and made the effort to take you on your first fishing trip?