Grand slam fishing on Sabine Lake

Sabine Lake guide Jerry Norris with one of many trout caught on 5-inch Shad Assa

We didn’t leave the dock until about 10:30 last Thursday morning, but it really didn’t matter. The weather was drop-dead perfect for fishing on Sabine Lake.

I hooked up with guide Jerry Norris and Ken Barker, and we headed out for what would quickly turn out to be one heck of a fishing trip. Within three hours, Norris put us on about 23 trout, four reds and three flounder. That is the ultimate catch along the Texas coast and is best known as a Texas grand slam. It’s tough to beat a fishing trip like that, especially during the month of February. Only in Texas.

“We’ve had such a mild winter so far that the fishing has never really slowed down all that much,” said Norris. “On most of my trips, we’ve been catching a mixed box of reds, trout and flounder. The flounder bite has been much better than expected the past couple of weeks.”

Right now the water on Sabine is the color of dark tea but clear enough for about a foot of visibility. Regardless of water color, the key was finding mullet.

“The best fishing is along the Louisiana shoreline where I’m seeing mullet,” says Norris. “I’m not looking for a lot of them. Usually just a few jumping on the surface is enough to make a few casts to see if the fish are there.”

On that day, we had a falling tide, and the best bite was off windward points holding mullet. At one spot we caught about a dozen trout to about 3 pounds out in the middle of nowhere. But the key was a big pod of mullet on that particular spot.

We tried a number of lures and started with topwater Super Spooks. But the go-to lure was a 5-inch Saltwater Shad Assassin shad in red/shad or fire tiger.

“Last week I was fishing on the lower end of the lake along the shoreline and we did pretty well with Super Spook Jr.’s throughout the day. Right now the water temperature is in the mid-60s. That’s about perfect for keeping these fish active and feeding.”

Even at that, you would think that a slow presentation of lures would get the most attention. That definitely was not the case on this trip. We were working the Assassins on 1/4-ounce jig heads. The key was to let the jigs fall to bottom and then work them back on a fast retrieve. We weren’t targeting flounder, but they were hitting the jigs on a fast retrieve. There is no telling how many flounder you could catch by working shrimp-tipped jigs along bottom or at the mouths of bayous on a falling tide.

Without a hard cold front, the “hot” fishing on Sabine will just continue. The good news is that you don’t need to be out there at the crack of dawn to get in on the action.

Sabine Lake crab trap removal dates set

Each February for more than 15 years, countless volunteers spend 10 days on the water along the Texas coastline searching the bays for abandoned crab traps left to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines and create unsightly views. To date, they’ve hauled off more than 32,000 of these derelict traps.

Between Feb. 17-26, Texas coastal waters will be closed to crabbing with wire mesh crab traps to facilitate the annual volunteer crab trap cleanup. Any traps left in bays, including traps tied to docks,  will be assumed abandoned and considered “litter” under state law. This allows volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.

Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous traps that have been lost or abandoned since last year’s cleanup. To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will provide crab trap drop-off sites at locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. – noon on Saturday, Feb. 18, weather permitting. Additionally at all sites, dumpsters or collection areas marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Volunteers may focus their efforts on Feb. 18 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 17 or after Feb. 26.

To participate, volunteers may pick up free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries field stations. TPWD requests that volunteers who remove traps record and submit information about the number of traps they collect as well as documenting any sightings of diamondback terrapins.

All other legal means of crabbing will not be affected during the closure period for wire crab traps. For more information, contact your local TPWD Coastal Fisheries office or Zack Thomas at (512) 389-8448 or crabtrap [at] tpwd [dot] texas [dot] gov.


For Sabine Lake, contact TPWD coordinator Carey Gelpi (409) 983-1104 (ext. 222). Pleasure Island Marina Boat Ramp is a non-facilitated trap drop-off site.