Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Better late than never

Thankfully, there are those occasions when not finding what you are looking for is a good thing. Partly because it was comfortably warm enough for the first time in over a week and partly because we hoped to not find what we were looking for, Johnny and I made a quick round through the north end of the lake and several bayous.

What we were hoping to not find was dead fish floating against the shoreline.With the exception of a few shad and small sand trout, the mortality rate usually associated with an extended freeze looks as though it was minimal.

We first checked the back end of two bayous because Brad found dead redfish in those areas following the last major freeze. Those fish had gone unreported following the last major freeze and we felt reasonably certain that it would be more of the same, but the fish obviously moved into deeper water in time!

We idled as much of the Louisiana shoreline as time allowed as far south as Johnson’s Bayou and found only a handful of small dead fish floating in the flooded grass. We also talked with two other fishermen that said they had seen nothing as far south as the Dredge Hole.

Invariably, dead speckled trout will show up a little later as they tend to sink before floating back to the surface.Hopefully, they found deeper water in time as well.I talked with Chuck earlier this week and he said a Louisiana biologist told him that they had found nothing alarming as well.

We already know that some of the more popular venues on the lower coast weren’t as fortunate, but in their case access to deeper water requires a significant swim.

One of the fishermen we talked with said that they had already been catching a few fish since Sunday morning. They were catching Louisiana legal reds, catfish and bass. They had two bass in the three pound class when we talked with them.

While on the subject of local bass fishing, the much anticipated Bassmaster Elite event scheduled for April has been rescheduled for August due to Covid precautions. The previous tournaments based out of the Public Boat Launch guaranteed social distancing would be a problem as they drew massive crowds.

Orange County Judge, John Gothia, said that the regional Covid mandates currently in place would have reduced crowds that totaled nearly 100,000 spectators for the past three events.He added that B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to ensuring competitor and fan safety in regards to Covid over the past year and Orange County was more than happy to work with them in moving this tournament to August.

 From a fishing standpoint, I can assure you that the later date will make it much more challenging for the anglers. The barometer for how good or bad the catching on the Sabine River is requires only checking the results of the weekly Sabine River Shootouts and they were impressive this past year.

As it got warmer, the catching got tougher for the growing group of local group of bass fishermen that can compete with anyone on the Sabine and Neches. Add to that minor problem the fact that the Bassmaster Elite pros will not be allowed to fish the marshes on the Louisiana side of the river and the playing field shrinks drastically.

There is absolutely no doubt that not only the numbers, but the size of the bass has improved and that will be a game changer that will make both weigh-ins and potential “come-backs” even more exciting for the spectators. A number of the local anglers are convinced that the past elite events have played a role in this improvement.

Not only are the tournaments catch and release events, but it is a virtual restocking in the areas where the fish are released. August temperatures in southeast Texas can make live release even more difficult, but the visiting pros take very good care of their money makers!

The bottom line is that while the heat will be an unwelcomed factor, Judge Gothia, Orange County and the Bassmaster Elite organization were still able to bring another tournament back to Orange in 2021.


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