by Capt. Adam Jaynes
"If you could pick one month out of the year to fish Sabine what one would it be?" A rather simple sounding question that is asked often on my boat but is much more difficult to answer than you would think. The different seasons start running through my head along with the different programs that are so addictive to fish. Standing waste deep twitching a Heddon Super Spook for sow trout during March, April, or May instantly comes to mind. All three of those months can be absolutely lights out despite a guaranteed stiff south wind however; the amount of freshwater runoff that we receive greatly dictates the amount of catching we do versus just casting.
You can have your arms pulled off during June, July, and August by swimming a TTF Killer Flats Minnow or Egret Bayou Chub down the rocks of the jetties or on the beachfront. The redfish schools in the open lake get going during these months as well however school fishing can be inconsistent to say the least. You might see them every day for a week and then they are gone for the next two weeks, ya just never know. The short rigs also offer a sure to be had great time and a different style of fishing.
September tends to be a transition month. We might be catching trout in twenty feet of water jigging a Maniac Mullet one day, catching trout chasing shrimp under birds the next, and catching them chasing shad and mullet in the river the next. Traditionally the birds begin to work over schooling trout and redfish more consistently during the month of October and this October has been no exception. Easy limits have been taken most days on Killer Flats Minnows and Bayou Chubs with some good catches on swimbaits as well.
We are able to catch redfish like these during December and January until we are literally worn out
Both months of December and January, in my opinion, are the easiest and most consistent to catch redfish until you are just flat worn out! With the colder weather and much lower than normal tides the redfish vacate the shallow marshes and pile up on predictable locations in the main lake and both Sabine and Neches Rivers. Despite the colder weather, at times the redfishing can be so hot it doesn't take anything more the just a jighead to get them to eat! Twitching a Corky Fat Boy or Maniac Mullet for sow trout is also hard to beat. The thump when one of those 8lb or better speckled fish inhale a slow sinker is just a different kind of adrenaline rush altogether.
A solid speckled trout with a very firm grip on a Tidal Surge Maniac Mullet!
February traditionally is a feast or famine month. When the mercury rises between the cold fronts the trout have at it on the flats but their mouths are typically closed tighter than a chastity belt when the surface temperature is forty-five degrees Fahrenheit or lower. It is still a slow-sinker or suspended bait bite for the most part during February as well. For me, donning waders during this time period and standing in water that is just above freezing is always worth it as the size of the trout we catch during this time is well above average.
BUT, if I was forced to choose just one month out of the year to fish Sabine Lake I believe I would have to go with November. There are so many options during November and everything is biting. Trout, redfish, and flounder are all gorging themselves prior to the coldest months of the year. In my honest opinion there is not a more consistent time of the year to be on the water, at least Sabine Lake that is. The lake will be full of shrimp as a result of each cold front that passes and "the big three" will be eating them as fast as they can. Flocks of seagulls will be hovering over schooling trout and redfish nearly every morning as they chase fleeing shrimp to the surface. There is not a more sure fire way to get bit than casting at a trout or redfish that is in the process of pursuing shrimp across the surface. Their desire to satisfy their satiety, which is virtually unobtainable during this time as they will regurgitate just to consume the next passing shrimp, mullet, or basically anything that resembles a meal improves our odds of catching exponentially. All the while tricking us into believing we are much better fishermen than what we truly are.
Birds working over trout and redfish are a common site during the month of November
However, there are a couple of downsides to the hot action of the "bird bite." Typically, many boats are courteous and will bypass a boat that is already on a school of fish to move on to the next school but it is rare to make it through a day without anyone coming and getting in your back pocket or worse, coming in from downwind idling with their outboard or trolling motor wide open and blowing up the whole school. Although those new four strokes are barely louder than a whisper above the surface, beneath the surface they are loud enough to run a school off clear to Cuba. Remember, it is always best, if possible, to approach a school of fish from the upwind side to avoid the use of your trolling motor as much as possible. Approaching fish in this fashion will also reduce the amount of hull slap as well. Also, try not dropping the net in the bottom of the boat or slamming hatches. These simple ways of decreasing your amount of noise production will help to keep those schools of fish up on the surface feeding for longer and improve your chances of catching fish. Another downside, which really isn't much of a downside, but many schools of fish will be primarily undersized trout. If you're like me, catching fish is catching fish and it is all fun. However, if you're looking for dinner I recommend after catching 10-12 undersized trout to move onto the next school. Typically, in an individual school of trout they will all be of similar size. Not only will there be plenty of trout under the birds during November, there will also be plenty of redfish. Make sure and be prepared with some FINS Windtamer braid as these bronze gluttons will attempt to swim away with all of your tackle!
Quality equipment can greatly increase your chances of catching fish
Another option during November, especially if chasing the birds isn't your thing, is wade fishing or drifting fishing. Better quality trout begin ganging up over shell pads and other structure in shallower areas as well as on the flats. These fish will begin making the transition from eating shrimp to finfish. Keep a lookout for slicks and fleeing mullet. When I slip over the side of my Haynie I will be armed with a Sarge Customs Free Bird and probably slinging either a Maniac Mullet, Corky Fatboy, or some sort of topwater plug. I will primarily be targeting trout but by this time of year there will be a large number of redfish in the main lake as well.
Solid trout like this one are what we are after when drifting and wading
Typically, during November the flounder run is in full swing also. However, do not forget during November the flounder limit is only two per person and gigging is not allowed. Very tasty but definitely not worth the price of a ticket! The majority of the flounder that we catch on my boat is by-catch since most of my customers prefer to catch redfish and trout. When we do choose to specifically target flounder a chartreuse Gulp! Swimming Mullet on a 1/4oz or 1/8oz Egret Beer Belly jighead is primarily what we will be throwing. A white curly tail grub tipped with shrimp on the same jighead is also a very proven bait for tempting flounder into striking.
Solid flounder like this one are on the move during November...
We are very fortunate to live in a part of the country that affords us the opportunity to be able to fish year around, and, even better, actually be able to catch fish year around. Although we all have our favorite time of the year and our favorite way to catch fish when it comes down to it, there is never a bad time. I, and I imagine many of you reading this, just enjoy fishing. Period.
As you can see, generally the hardest part of fishing during the month of November isn't catching fish but deciding HOW you want to catch them and what species you want to catch! Whether you are catching fish or not every day on the water is a blessing. Good luck and God Bless!