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Showdown on the Sabine draws huge crowds


Last updated 9/26/2012 at Noon

Only because it isn’t my cup of tea, I was very much surprised by the huge number of people that packed the Orange pubic launch and park on Simmons Drive to watch the boat races on the Sabine this weekend.

I am not much on watching cars, horses or boats run around in circles, but everything from the live music to having to choose between brisket sandwiches or shrimp kabobs were enjoyable diversions.

I had a front row parking spot at 11:00 Saturday morning only to find myself engulfed in a sea of trucks and cars two hours later attesting to the fact that this was indeed a big deal that appealed to lots of folks. It was very much a family affair and the competitors readily answered the same questions over and over while the staff cordially kept everything running smoothly.

My first thought on the way home after witnessing the size of the crowd was, “What is this place going to look like next March when the Bassmasters Elite Series rolls into town for a week.” It is going to be exciting with ESPN on hand as well as ninety-nine of the best bass fishermen in the world.

At some point between wishing I had put on more sunscreen and climbing the levee to go buy one more cold drink, I couldn’t help but wonder what the fish in that stretch of the river were thinking as the normally placid water gave way to whitecaps and the endless roar of outboard engines.

All in all, it was a well run and well attended event that was a credit to everyone that had anything to do with making it happen.

The park and boat launches are second to none and more and more visitors are discovering that every day! The water clarity in the river is about as good as it can possibly get and the recent modest cold front lowered the surface temperature just enough to ignite a very good bite. The bass fishermen are not only catching better numbers, but more keeper size fish as well. It has been a long time since I returned to the dock to find fishermen cleaning bass.

They fished chrome Chug Bugs all morning and finished with four specks, two limits of slot reds and seven bass up to three pounds. The bucktails on the back treble hook of their small topwaters were completely chewed up and they attributed that to lady fish and small trout.

The redfish bite in the river has just been lights out for the live bait fishermen.

I was showing some clients the gators piled in at the DuPont Outfall last week when a friend anchored a short distance away stated, “Some spots are better than others, but there is no bad place around here right now. Just hang tight and the redfish will come to you!” Even live bait is not necessary as most folks are simply keeping their shad on ice just to keep them fresh or fishing fresh shrimp on the bottom.

Kevin Prior said he hasn’t thrown a cast net or bought shrimp this year, but has probably caught more redfish and flounder than ever before.

“I put a Gulp shrimp on my hook at the landing and let it dry out while I ride to a spot. As it dries out it toughens up, but still keeps the smell,” he says. “It is not unusual to catch 10 or 15 fish on the tougher bait and that beats the heck out of starting out each morning throwing a cast net or messing with shrimp.”

The bite in the lake has been equally good on the redfish, but solid trout have been more difficult to come by for us.We have easily limited on reds most every day while going through huge numbers of sand trout and small trout just to cull out a limit or two of 15 to 18 inch specks.

The winds have been very light and locating the birds is not necessary as you can idle through an area and target shrimp skipping across the surface.

If you can avoid the boat traffic you can stay with a single school of fish for hours without ever picking up the troll motor. Heavier jig heads with five inch plastic tails have produced most of our reds when they are not blowing up on the surface.

Split Tail eels, Assassin Shads, and TTF trout killers are all working well for us. For the most part, the only reason I switch from one to another is the color. Glow chartreuse and Texas Roach are pretty generic and are working most days, but the fish will eventually get more finicky and color will become more of an issue. After a summer of fishing topwaters with only single hooks rather than conventional treble hooks I am convinced that the hook-up ratio is comparable to that of stock treble hooks and the safety factor alone is worth the switch.

Smaller fish are easier released unharmed and it is much safer dealing with two barbs than six!

Wendi and Chris Parkhurst invited the redfish to their Birthday party. RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn


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