by Capt. Adam Jaynes
We have been very fortunate over these last two months to accomplish exactly what we have set out to accomplish every trip except for one. John Martin Busceme and I spent hours on end scouring the marsh for reds on the fly to no avail. Despite placing the fly in perfect position on the few chances he had we were unable to land a single fish that particular day. However, the very next day we caught redfish from 8:45 until we cranked up to call it a day at 1:30 that afternoon. Amazing the difference a day can make!!
Our success over the last couple months is due mainly to my customers' willingness to get out of the boat and wade. Actually, every trip that comes to mind right now has been a wading trip except for two that I can think of recently. Wading has allowed us to be successful no matter how hard the wind has blown and kept us from losing any days due to wind. Recreational fisherman and guides both have been struggling a large percentage of the time on Sabine lately but they have also opted to stay in the boat.
There is always the classic argument of "why in the world would you want to get out of a perfectly good boat?" I hear it at the boat club as well, "you mean to tell me you spent $60,000 on a boat to get out of it?!!" That last one always makes me laugh a little. "Well, yes, we did drive all the way out to the lake to jump out of the boat." Invariably the next question concerns whether or not we did any good. I am very closed lipped when it comes to locations but I will politely answer with whether we caught them or not and on what. It's always entertaining to see eyes light up when you let them know, "yeah we released seven trout over 6lbs and one over 8lbs" or however the trip went for that day. Stringer pics of stud trout and filleting them makes absolutely no sense at all to me, all trout over 25 inches on my boat are released unless kept for a skin mount. Seems here lately the majority of my customers have been releasing everything over 4lbs which I applaud, however, has turned into very few trout at the cleaning table!
Sabine has undergone and is continuing to undergo a transition into more springtime patterns as shrimp and ribbonfish along with shad continue to pour into the lake with bull incoming tides. When the wind allows there has been a few groups of birds picking shrimp here and there but not consistently. I am confident as soon as this wind lays the entire lake will most likely be incredible as so much water has been off limits for the majority of the last month and a half. The last two times the weather allowed us to wade the north end we absolutely strummed the trout each day up to 8.5lbs but haven't been able to wade north in about three weeks now.
The easiest program to fish this May and working into June other than school fish is undoubtedly fishing slicks however many anglers will drive right by and many times over slicking fish. With the large numbers of baitfish that trout and redfish alike are gorging on this time of year slicks are a very common occurrence and a very productive means of locating fish. The naturally occurring oil in the baitfish that are being eaten is what produces the slick. If you are unsure what a slick looks like, toss a couple potato chips in the water and observe the slick that immediately develops. If you go the potato chip route you'll probably also make some new best friends pretty quick as the boats pull up on the birds that will also show up nearly as quick as the slick!
I am a topwater fishing lunatic so naturally I will be casting either a Gun Dog Flush or Heddon Super Spook at slicks. If they're unwilling I will make the switch to either a smaller topwater or a MirrOdine XL. Pink and gold or silver is a hard combination to beat, clown is also another personal favorite. MirrOlure's color number 808 and 21 are also two colors that are very productive in the MirrOdine XL for me. If unwilling to wade a PowerPole becomes an invaluable asset with positioning and successfully fishing slicks in shallow water. It's amazing just how much more successful a PowerPole has helped us to become when targeting fish in shallow water. I still prefer to wade fish but for days when customers are unwilling or the fish are out just a little too deep a PowerPole is irreplaceable on my Haynie.
Remember, slicks will drift with the wind and with the current. It is vital to position yourself upwind and upcurrent to try and cast to where the slick first developed, not where it drifted. Make long casts and fish slowly until you are able to locate the fish. Sometimes there will just be one or two and other times you will find a school under a slick that produces fish for several hours. To increase your chances fish as quietly as possible, simply shutting a hatch or cooler lid too loud can completely ruin a good bite. Another reason why I prefer to wade.
Whichever you choose enjoy your time on the water and be safe. There's no better place to be in my opinion so enjoy it while you can!