Cranks, spinnerbaits best for Sam Rayburn bass

Robert Sloan photo

Once again, we’ve got a cold front plowing through Southeast Texas, and the high winds and cold air will slow fishing down on inland lakes and coastal bays. This is unprecedented weather for the right side of Texas. Temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s are practically unheard of the Piney Woods at this time of year. Needless to say, we’ve had a colder winter than usual, and the spring temps are way lower than normal. But like they say, if you don’t like the Texas weather today, wait until tomorrow.

“I don’t recall ever experiencing cold weather like this in April,” said Sam Rayburn guide Bill Fondren. “The bass spawn is about a month late. We’ve got ‘em on the beds, but it’s been a now you see ‘em, now you don’t situation. The crappie spawn is way late, as well. With this week’s cold snap, the water temperatures will undoubtedly slide backwards enough to further slow the spawn of bass and crappie.”

The late spawn of bass is good news for anglers looking to fish the Big Bass Splash on Sam Rayburn April 25, 26 and 27. Due to the late spawn, this could be your best chance ever to weigh in a big-money bass in this tourney.

This is a big bass tournament with a payout of $1 million in cash and prizes, according to Bob Sealy, who runs the whole show. Out of that there will be $372,000 in hourly payouts. The three-day tourney will be held out of Umphrey Family Pavilion north of Jasper on Sam Rayburn. Entry fees are $160 for one day, two days for $210 and three days for $260 per person at time of registration. For more information, go to

Fondren says that right now most bass are being caught on shallow running shad-colored crank baits and white/silver Stanley Vibra-shaft spinner baits.

“If we have a good warm up a few days prior to the tourney, I think we’ll see some very respectable bass being weighed in during the Big Bass Splash,” said Fondren. “Right now the water temperature is hanging in the lower 60-degree range. If we can get it to warm up in the mid-60s, lots of bass should move up on the beds during the tourney.”

Meanwhile, along the coast big trout are still not too easy to locate. On Sabine Lake, reds are plentiful, along with good numbers of trout. The only glitch is that trout in the 7-pound-plus class are very difficult to locate. That’s not usually the case right about now. The key has been to follow the mullet and fish windward shorelines.

Feds opt for 11-day red snapper recreational season

After receiving a briefing on a recent court decision in response to a legal challenge on management of the recreational component of the red snapper fishery, the Gulf Council took actions to prevent the recreational sector from exceeding its quota in 2014 and beyond.

For the short-term, the council asked the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement an emergency rule that establishes a 20 percent buffer on the 5.39 million pound recreational quota — a buffer with only a 15 percent probability that the quota will be exceeded. The 20 percent buffer, which provides a low probability that the quota will be exceeded, results in a recreational annual catch target of 4.312 million pounds, and an 11-day red snapper recreational season for 2014. The bag limit will remain at two fish per person.

According to the NMFS, the 11-day season takes into consideration the incompatible state seasons and bag limits adopted by Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

BoatUS releases annual list of top 10 boat names

If a car’s vanity license plate can tell you a lot about the person behind the wheel, what can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm? The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) may have the answer. They’ve just released the national boating organization’s 24th annual Top Ten Boat Names List.

The top ten boat names are Serenity, Second Wind, Island Girl, Freedom, Pura-Vida, Andiamo, Island Time, Irish Wake, Happy Hours and Seas the Day.

“We’ve had indicators that a boater who names their boat Second Wind may have rebounded from a misfortune such as divorce, health or another major issue, while someone who names their boat Island Girl or Island Time may enjoy a more carefree spirit and need an escape from everyday life,” said Greg Edge of BoatUS Boat Graphics. “And you can guess that boats with names like Happy Hours may be the most popular boats on Friday night at the marina or Saturday afternoon raft-up – their more outgoing owners celebrating with family and friends.”