As water heats up, live bait rules at Sabine jetties

Free-lining live shrimp at the jetties will catch more trout than lures.

The water temperature along the upper Texas coast is inching up to the 85-degree mark. That’s some pretty warm water, and when that happens, trout will be much easier to catch on live baits such as shrimp, mud minnows and finger mullet.

“As the water warms up, the use of live shrimp along the jetties will definitely hook up with more trout than lures will,” says Sabine Lake guide Jerry Norris. “Lures fished along the jetties will definitely catch trout throughout the summer months. I’m just saying they are more likely to eat a live shrimp or finger mullet as opposed to a lure, when given the choice.”

The bite along the Sabine jetties right now is pretty steady for both reds and trout at dawn. That’s when they are most likely to whack a lure. After the sun gets up, the bite slows down considerably on lures. The trout are still actively feeding but not aggressively going after lures, as opposed to a live shrimp.

One of the best ways to fish a live shrimp along the jetties, and just about anywhere along the Texas coast, is to free line. It’s a simple tactic. What you want to do is tie a small black barrel swivel to the end of your fishing line. If you use a silver swivel, Spanish mackerel will hit it and snip the line.

On the opposite end of the swivel, tie on a 24-inch section of 12 to 14 pound test fluorocarbon leader material. At the end of the leader tie on a No. 2 treble hook. The best knot for that is a locking loop knot. That way the shrimp is able to move more without being locked down via something like an improved clinch knot. Next attach a small split shot about a foot up from the hook. You might have to apply more weight depending on the current.

Once you’re rigged up and ready to fish, attach a live shrimp (hooked just behind the horn) and cast it out. This is when you want to feed out line as the shrimp moves with the current. The trick is to keep the shrimp moving down the rocks about 5 to 10 feet deep. Bump it up every few seconds to keep from getting snagged on the rocks. Typically when a trout eats a shrimp, you’ll feel a distinct thump. Free lining is that simple, and a very good way to consistently catch trout along the rocks throughout the summer months.

TPWD awards DU $600,000

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith has announced the department’s decision to award Ducks Unlimited $600,000 for conservation projects on waterfowl breeding grounds in Prairie Canada. This commitment brings Texas’ cumulative contribution for habitat conservation on Canadian breeding grounds important to Texas’ waterfowl to more than $4 million.

“Waterfowl are a shared resource. As a result, waterfowl habitat conservation has to take place not only here on Texas’ continentally significant wintering grounds, but also on the breeding grounds that produce our waterfowl,” Smith said. “TPWD is proud to be a strong DU partner across North America. Ducks Unlimited’s match and leveraging ability give our contributions four times the impact we could have alone. That’s a return on investment we can all be proud of.”

Recognizing the migratory nature of waterfowl, state wildlife agencies have been contributing to habitat conservation in Canada since 1965. More than 40 states participated this year, and funding comes primarily through hunting license sales. In Texas, all funding comes from the state Migratory Game Bird Stamp fund. This fund is solely supported by the sale of Migratory Game Bird Stamps, required of all migratory bird hunters in Texas. These funds may be used to support waterfowl habitat conservation in Canada, and Texas has been doing so since 1985.

“Banding data shows us a large portion of the ducks harvested in Texas come from Saskatchewan and Alberta, so investing the state’s dollars in this region clearly provides the greatest return for Texas waterfowl hunters,” said DU Southern Region Director Jerry Holden.

Breeding ground habitat work is critical for the health of continental populations of waterfowl.