On Lake Sabine, many anglers have been reporting either hit or miss bird action or too many small fish. This is not uncommon for the early fall. Many times there will be huge schools of speckled trout and or sand trout, but the specks will be undersize. At least they are if the angler launches their boat in Texas.
Folks with Louisiana fishing license that live in Texas but launch in Louisiana may use the Louisiana limits. Lake Sabine is and has long been one of the bodies of water that allows both Louisiana and Texas anglers to do their fishing anywhere on the lake so long as they have purchased their state’s saltwater fishing licenses. Where one launches and loads the boat governs which regulations are in force. Although there are a number of fisherman that enjoy going after the schoolies, there are still others that choose going after larger ones.
Many of the professional fishing guides will reluctantly fish in the schools, but they will, when possible, head off to other waters. There will usually be less traffic from other anglers as well as, more than likely, larger fish. Nederland native Vern Stehle, whose middle name should be “Fish,” is one of the folks that enjoy locating spots. Rather than fishing the schools when the lake is crowded with other anglers, he locates the fish in another way. At least he does this time of the year. Stehle uses his depth finder to locate either schools of bait fish, shrimp or both. Once they are located, he will anchor up current and within casting range of the target area.
Stehle says he will cruise along areas of deeper water at idle speed with a sharp eye on his depth finder. There will likely be some shallower water that will either slope or drop off into deeper water. Sometimes the drop will only be a couple feet. At other times it will be much more drastic. Depths may run from 8 to 30 feet deep on the drop off. Some will contain troughs for draining run-off water. Others will have shell on the bottom. During the winter or early spring even darker bottom might be the better spot. The dark bottom absorbs the sunshine better than others. Whenever the water is as warm as it is now, the dark bottom is not likely the better choice. Go for the shell when it is in the area or at least one of the submerged troughs.
So once you have located the likely looking spot where there are baitfish or shrimp showing on your depth finder and anchor in the shallower up-current, what comes next?
You need to decide whether to use the live bait that you brought along or plastic lures for fish catching. Whenever possible, Stehle says that when trying to locate the fish he likes to use live bait. Whenever there are live shrimp available, he will take some along. Finger mullet are also one of the live bait choices if he is after specks, flounder or slot redfish. Should his prey happen to be bull redfish, he may choose fresh cut bait.
Which fishing tackle to use will depend upon whether you’re going after the bull reds or not. Regular casting equipment with good quality casting or spinning reels spooled with 15 to 25 pound test line and a rod with a stiff butt and more active tip seems to allow Stehle to feel a soft bite easier.
Once he locates the fish, Stehle will continue to use the live bait if he has plenty of it for the day’s fishing. If not, he will switch to lead-head plastics. Sometimes he tips the hook with fresh dead shrimp, but more than likely only the lure will be used. By casting out just off the submerged drop-off and slowly retrieving the lure along the ledge where the bait was spotted, he will likely connect with a fish. Sometimes the action will come quickly and at other times it could take a while. It is best to at least be patient for a time. Where that bait is hanging out will be where the larger fish will come to feed.
Through years of fishing experience, Stehle has logged in several likely spots that he depends on during hot weather or windy weather. It will pay great dividends to learn for yourself where some of the hot spots are.
Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.