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By Capt. Dickie Colburn
For the Record 

Numbers improving faster than size


Last updated 10/5/2021 at 6:23pm

“No excuses for not joining us,” was a rude way to open a phone conversation. “We are driving over Monday or Tuesday and prove to you that the trout bite is better than you have been reporting,” announce David Simon of Pearland.

“Johnny caught and released two trout over four pounds somewhere around Garrison’s last Thursday and that was good enough for us to hold our first mini-tournament in over a year,” he stated. I agreed to fish with them and the field grew to a whopping five fishermen!

That tight group of fishermen, plus one other that died from Covid in July, were regular clients for twenty-five years, but they put any fishing on hold due to the pandemic a year or so ago. “We are going to all put up the usual fifty dollars and the guy with the heaviest five fish wins it all, “added Big Dave.

“You better fish hard,” warned Jason Kyle, “because the guy who finishes dead last buys everyone lunch and has to wear an Oklahoma baseball cap all week.” “Don’t laugh”, he added in a serious tone of voice. “I lost our little golf scramble last month and had to wear that stupid plastic pig hat for a week after Arkansas crushed us!”

I accepted the invitation, but seriously doubted that anyone could even catch five trout over three pounds which was the minimum weight they would count. Based on what I had caught lately, five fifteen inch keepers would have been a happening.

We climbed out of the boat at daylight and five hours later we all bought our own lunch. Jason was actually the winner with one 3.2-lb. trout, but we couldn’t all wear that OU cap as four of us tied for dead last. I know how well all of these guys can fish and I was still not surprised by the outcome.

I enjoyed the company and catching a pile of ten to fourteen inch trout as well as a flounder and three slot reds. We waded the entire time and used only lures that usually dupe only larger trout. The smaller trout were not hesitant, however, to attack everything from a Corky to a Super Spook.

“I don’t know what you are hearing,” said Dave, “but we made five trips to the lower coast this summer and the four of us caught only one trout over seven pounds. That will hopefully change with cooler weather, but our guides were very concerned and we chased redfish most of the time.”

Until the late 80’s, my favorite three months on Sabine were September through most of November. There was no easier time of the year to catch trout from the jetties to I-10. I can’t even make an educated guess at how many trout we caught day after day without ever leaving the river!

When we discovered that we had been fishing for trophy trout the wrong way and more importantly, how many were there to be caught, I instantly fell in love with the last week of November through the end of February. Miserable weather and fewer anglers equaled more shots at fish over six pounds.

The river bite has not improved at all and expecting to catch easy limits of solid trout in cooler weather is not yet a reality. Just getting bites and catching small trout, however, is getting better by

the day. We have hopefully avoided any hurricanes for the year and the improved salinity has helped immensely.

I think the recent nip of cooler weather has also helped as the bite has recently grown more consistent. The only negative being that most of them are not Texas legal fish. That equates to fewer fish fries, but give those fish a year to grow and spawn at least once and we could very

easily be back in business this time next year.

Most wading enthusiasts have always released trout four pounds and up for two reasons. The initial reason being that those fish are well on their way to trophy status and the second being that fish with those superior genes will hopefully spawn multiple times.

The spawn factor is no less important in dealing with these smaller trout. There is no need to hurriedly jerk a treble hook out of their jaw and throw them over the side of the boat. It is very unlikely that your next cast is going to produce a larger trout, but you can still expect that next strike in a hurry.

The fall is traditionally fisherman friendly. Don’t overlook the “friendly” part!


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