(Feb 21, 2017 - Jacksonville, TX)
I was having a ball, fishing – in my element – standing on sandbar along the Sabine River in far East Texas. Downstream from our fishing location – the 32nd parallel north, the Sabine River becomes the means of boundary between eastern Texas and western Louisiana. But here, it is Texas on both sides of the River.
The Sabine River begins somewhere up in the north Texas county of Hunt. It creates Lake Tawakoni and then picks up Lake Fork Creek coming past the city of Longview before passing by where we are standing. On the border with Louisiana the Sabine forms Toledo Bend Reservoir. Down a little east of Beaumont the historic Neches River joins the Sabine River forming the brackish Sabine Lake before dumping into the Gulf of Mexico at Sabine Pass. The Sabine River discharges the largest volume of any river in Texas.
But we’re fishing. Fishing for Sand Bass. “Sandies” or White Bass move up the Sabine River out of Toledo Bend Reservoir to spawn – millions of them. This happens annually toward the end of January to around the end of March. The smaller males come first and the larger (2-3 pound) females follow.
The river is full of fish – hungry, mad and aggressive fish making fishing “fun”. We use a jig (Road Runner) but several lures work and some use live bait. Almost anything works. Texas Parks and Wildlife allows a liberal bag limit of 25 fish per day and this does not affect the returning numbers of sand bass in the river.
I’m fishing with my long time outdoor friend, Barry Bingham. We have come up the Sabine from the put in location off FM 2517 in his flat bottom boat to beach on this sandbar. We have caught several nice, big females that put up quite a fight with our light spinning tackle.
I wasn’t exactly sure how many we’d caught; I thought I had five and Barry could have had about the same number. I caught one and he said “I think that puts you one up”. GAME ON! Fishing doesn’t have to be competitive but it is.
I remember years ago I would crappie fish in the evenings with my father-in-law from his pier. If I caught more than he did, it was a quiet ride home. I learned to make sure that didn’t happen.
There are strategies to use for an advantage. Always make sure your tackle is rigged up to fish so that when the boat stops the first cast can be make. Don’t pass up an opportunity to make the “money” cast – a cast into a good looking location for fish.
One time I took a doctor on a trip to a location I often fished and I knew where the “holes” were located. Being a good sport I’d tell him where to cast into the hole and I would cast over to the side. He assumed I was casting the hole and would cast over to where I was casting. That didn’t last long!
Fishing position in the boat matters. With the boat moving by trolling motor the person in the front has the advantage to cast first into a new location. When I first started fishing with Randy Gorham, he’d politely move the boat so I would have some first cast opportunities from the back of the boat. As I’ve closed the gap on his fishing skills, he doesn’t do that anymore.
Competition in fishing can become cut-throat, shouldn’t but it does. Altering the weights or lengths of fish in tournaments has become against the law – punishable offenses. Wait a minute; I thought this was for fun?
Fishing is fun and even a little friendly competition when “game on” is fun. I wouldn’t trade for the good times – in the outdoors – fishing with friends, even if I am one down!
Until we put in again,
PS I plan to kayak fish for sand bass on Kickapoo Creek this Thursday (February 23). If you have interest to join me, email or phone me. The weather looks good.
Michael Banks, DDS