The good and bad news on fishing at Sabine Lake
A few days ago I pulled my boat up to the ramp on the Sabine Pass side of the causeway bridge and notice something a little strange. The ramp was closed. It looked like something out of a Third World country. Apparently it’s already coming unglued, and it’s not even more than a few years old. The wind was blowing about 20 mph out of the southeast so it’s basically useless to put in there anyway. The waves were crashing over the bulk head. So I did what I normally do — put in at the protected and very nice ramp on the Louisiana side of the causeway bridge.
I wrote a column a few months ago about the shoddy Texas boat ramps at the causeway bridge. At that time, we had two working ramps at that location. That column centered on how bad those particular ramps are, but I didn’t expect them to disintegrate this soon.
There is good news to report on Sabine Lake fishing. But first, the bad news — there is a ton of freshwater in the lake right now. That’s due to all the runoff moving into the lake from the Neches and Sabine rivers. And the most recent rains won’t help the situation. The good news? Fishing is a lot better than you might expect. Last weekend I fished on Saturday and Sunday. Both days we had enough trout, reds and founder to make a trip well worth the effort. The Sunday weather was the worst of the weekend. The wind was honking at about 20 mph. The water was brown and very fresh. I had my doubts as we left the boat ramp. But at the end of the day, three of had nine trout to four pounds, four reds and three flounder. That’s not bad for fishing in something akin to gale-force winds.
The ticket has been to drift while fishing jigs on the lower lake reef. Another option is to drift away from the Louisiana shoreline up close to Madame Johnson bayou. Last weekend, we caught most of our trout about 200 to 300 yards off the Louisiana shoreline. The best lures were Egret Bayou Chubs in black/chartreuse or split-tailed chartreuse Gulps. We fished them on 1/8 or 1/4 ounce lead-head jigs.
Guide Jerry Norris says his best catches of trout and reds are coming from fresh slicks, or by fishing 100 to 200 yards off the Louisiana shoreline in 6 feet of water. He’s been using black/red split-tailed Assassins on 1/4 ounce jig heads.
Right now, catches of big trout are few and far between. If we can go a week or so without a substantial amount of rain, the lake will clear up enough for some serious trophy trout fishing. The trout are out there; it’s just a matter of finding them when they’re feeding.
Meanwhile, the flounder bite all over the lake is excellent. Sherry Schwarzna at Causeway Bait Camp reports that a guy stood on the boat ramp right outside the store and caught 27 flounder a few nights ago. She said he was using live mud minnows on bottom. Many of the flounder being caught are under the 14-inch minimum length limit. But there are quite a few out there that are big enough to drop right into the cooler without measuring.Some of the best areas to target Sabine flounder are at the mouths of bayous feeding into the lake. What I’ve been doing is staking out on a point and fishing Bayou Chubs up close to the bank. The outgoing tide is usually best.
Another good thing that’s happening on Sabine right now is the pier fishing under the lights. The good news is that the public fishing pier at Walter Umphrey State Park, adjacent to the causeway bridge, is now lit up like a Christmas tree every night. The bad news is that those lights are not nearly bright enough. In fact, they barely put out enough light to tie on a hook. Whoever came up with the plan for the lights on this newly rebuilt pier totally screwed up. However, it’s better than nothing.
I talked to a friend of mine that fished off his pier the other night. It’s on the lower end of Pleasure Island. He caught a box full of solid trout, along with a few reds. But on the following three nights, he struggled to catch anything.
If you’re going to fish off the piers or the bank at night, the best bait is definitely a live mud minnow. They can be bought at the Causeway Bait Camp. Live mullet will also work. Sherry says they can’t get live mullet right now. But mud minnows are in good supply. By the way, if you’re looking for a good pizza, live bait or a fishing report, give the Causeway Bait Camp a call at (409) 985-4811.