Sabine Pass Walter Umphrey State Park fishing pier reopens

I’ve got good news and bad news from Sabine Pass. The good news is that the Walter Umphrey State Park pier has finally been rebuilt since it was completely destroyed when Hurricane Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass and Johnson Bayou on Sept. 23, 2005. But the bad news is that the wind has been blowing so much lately that fishing off the pier, and just about anywhere else on Sabine Lake, has been about as bad as it gets.

But sooner or later the wind is going to lay off, and fishing is going to improve. And when that happens, you can bet the farm that fishing is going to be red hot.

Meanwhile, things on the lower end of Sabine Lake at the Causeway Bridge are pretty much back to normal when it comes to boat launches, fishing piers and even a bait camp that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

According to Herb Schwarznau, who along with his family owns and operates the SGS Causeway Bait and Tackle store, the fishing pier has just been completed.“If we could just get rid of the wind, fishing for croakers, whiting, flounder and reds would improve big time,” Herb said.

The pier is open to the public at no charge, offers handicapped access and is lighted for night fishing. It’s open every day, all day.

Located next to the new causeway bridge are three boat ramps. Two are located on the Texas side of the bridge. The other one is in Louisiana on the Sabine Lake side of the bridge. Unfortunately, the best ramp is the one on the Louisiana side of the pass. The two Texas ramps are directly under the bridge and offer no protection from the predominant southerly breeze. In fact, with a blustery southeast wind like we’ve had lately, the waves will break over your transom at the launch. That in conjunction with a hard moving tide makes these ramps a dangerous option on most days.

The best ramps on Sabine can be found at the RV park on Pleasure Island. They are surrounded by a bulkhead, are easy to use and offer protection from tide and wind. There are also some pretty good ramps at what is left of the old Pleasure Island Yacht Club.

Another boat-launch option is located just east of the four-way stop in Sabine Pass. There are also a pair of ramps at the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site.Another chunk of good news is that the SGS Causeway Bait and Tackle store is selling mud minnows and finger mullet, and in the near future will usually have live shrimp and croakers on hand. They also have a good supply of tackle, food, ice and anything from breakfast biscuits to shrimp baskets.

In Sabine Pass, there are two stores open. The one at the four-way stop sells gas and live bait along with a good assortment of tackle, food and ice. As far as I know, the only place to get gas on Pleasure Island is at the Jeps Store.

It’s taken awhile, but things are pretty back in order on Sabine Lake and in the Pass. As far as fishing goes, it’s been good when the wind is not howling.

Another glitch in the fishing scene is the salinity of the lake. There is very little freshwater coming down the Sabine and Neches rivers. Because of that, trout and reds have been moving up the rivers to feed. Some of the best catches have been around the mothball fleet of ships in the Neches River. Guide Dickie Colburn says that one of his best days on the river has been with Kenny Vaughan. Kenny caught a number of reds on a perch-colored shallow running crankbait.

Regardless of where you fish, the best bite has been on live baits like finger mullet and mud minnows fished under popping corks. Soft plastic jigs are also good for drift fishermen. Lately a drift sock — a big one — has been a must for fishing jigs under rattle floats.

I’ve had a couple of calls lately regarding fishing the Sabine jetties. I haven’t heard anything about the rocks. But if you have a good report, send me the info at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.

If I had to pick one area of Sabine to fish right now, it would be in Lighthouse Cove. It’s been choppy and muddy lately, but if you hit the cove on a good incoming tide, your chances of catching big trout and reds increases dramatically, especially if the wind lays a bit early and late in the day.