Water makes a difference

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Southeast Texas has had no lack of water in recent months.
We have had the most consistent summer rain in recent memory and on top of that people in our region are still reeling from the destructive floods of the spring in areas like Deweyville.
Due to last week’s deluge and at the time of this writing tropical systems on the radar the talk of the fishing community has been how the water has impacted the saltwater fishing.
After doing some thinking about it I have broken down five key points about how the rain over the last 18 months has impacted our region as a whole on the fishing end of the spectrum with a little bit on hunting as well.
• Let’s get to the big issue and that is saline conditions in Sabine Lake, Lake Calctsieu and Galveston Bay.
The high level of fresh water in the system has had a fairly strong impact on speckled trout catches. We addressed this a little two weeks ago but now it is far more profound. Redfish are still holding in both the Sabine and Neches Rivers and there are fair amounts of flounder throughout Sabine Lake.
Trout are being continually pushed further south in the Sabine system with some pockets of fish on the north end, especially during big, incoming tides.
• On the flounder front, it is not the freshwater that is making fishing challenging in some situations, it is water clarity due to constant rain and run-off. Water clarity is a big deal with flounder and if you have water that looks like milk chocolate you will not be catching many flounder. If you find the right amount of shad and shrimp and happen to have water with at least one foot visibility (18 inches preferred) you have a good shot at catching flounder.
• There is plenty of freshwater for the early teal season which is coming up in two weeks but there is so much fresh water, even in the pasture areas, that it could spread the birds around. Marsh hunting could be tough. The hunters in flooded fields usually do well but if we keep getting this much rain even some of them might have some thin hunts compared to the normal.
• The shift in rain from the multi-year dry period we had has dramatically shifted fishing on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn but the kicker is the drought was actually good for those lakes.
Our local reservoirs are experiencing a “new lake effect”. The system becomes super rich in habitat and nutrients due to the vegetation that grew on the lakebed during drought. The lakes become red hot for a season or two for producing monster bass. Six years ago, Lake O.H. Ivie near San Angelo went through one of these production spikes and produced more Sharelunkers than any other lake in the state by a long shot. Between 2010 and 2012 it gave up 20 fish weighing 13 pounds or more including a 16.08 pounder!
We are see that same type of thing happening on Toledo Bend right now (minus the huge bunch of monster bass) with it cranking out more 10 pounders than ever and being ranked two years in a row as the top bass lake in America by Bassmaster.
Right now, there are big bass to be caught and there is little competition on the water. That means if you can safely access and navigate our East Texas lakes the opportunity is there right now to get those big bass.
• Bass regulations Sept. 1 switch to a 12 inch minimum in Southeast Texas on the Sabine River in Newton and Orange counties, and in Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, and Orange counties in other systems.
That has a lot of local anglers focused on bass fishing and I suspect will really drum up interest in local catch-and-release tournaments.
When there are clarity issues, Bass fishermen need to find areas in the backwater with patches of clarity. That is one of the favorite strategies of Bassmaster Elite Series pro “Big Show” Terry Scroggins. “When the water is murky find the areas where you have maybe some slack current or backwater that has a little bit clearer water than the rest. The bass tend to be more cooperative there than in super muddy areas,” Scroggins said.
Muddy water is something we are probably going to have to deal with for awhile. But that’s just part of living in Southeast Texas where we always find ways to make things work for us on the water, in the woods and beyond.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)

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