Anxious, exciting time

I'm ready to get on the water. Over the years I've heard veteran anglers talking about the more success you have, the more you value fishing time. I'm starting to understand what they were talking about. I feel like the last four or five months all I've done is talk about fishing.

We start this week on the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas. I'm cautiously optimistic about this event. It's a tricky one in that we have no idea what to expect of this water. Unlike most other events, none of us really have an idea of what it's going to take to win or make the cut. It's a lot like a poker game, and we're all waiting for everyone to show their cards. It's a true wildcard event and although many of us have spent some pre-practice time out here, it's still a big place with a lot of water to figure out.

I've heard some griping from anglers, but I like it. No matter if it takes 40 pounds or 80 pounds to win this event, somebody is going to take it. I like the tougher tournaments.

The Sabine is one of those places where once you go to an area, you're committed. It's a lot like New Orleans. I'm hoping to commit to something that has the potential to win the tournament. Literally, the first decision you make could doom the whole tournament. If any of us select an area and then go and catch the best bag from that spot ever, it might not be enough to make the cut. We saw this at the Bassmaster Classic a few years ago. The guys that fished areas other than Lake Cataouatche were really fishing for 3rd, 4th or 5th (where I finished) at best. I caught the best possible bags I could down in Venice, but my decision to fish Venice made it nearly impossible to win that event. This tournament could be a lot like that.

What will make this event interesting is that we will be going by Texas laws, not Louisiana. All fish will need to be 14 inches long to keep. From what I've seen and heard this might make limits tougher to be had.

Here's a tip: Ultimately, this time of year weather and temperatures can really fluctuate. In the past, when a cold front hit, I always thought the fish would shut down, move out and stop biting. I've changed my thoughts on that over the last few years.

For example, I was doing some work in the front yard as the snow was melting, and I noticed that in the melted snow there were sprouts of new grass. This time of year, even though we might not want to believe it, things are starting to happen. The grass is starting to sprout, the fish are moving and even the birds are headed back north. Even though they might hit a cold patch, they continue to move. Birds won't turn around and head back south just because they hit a cold front. The same goes for the fish; they won't turn around and head back to their wintering spots just because a cold front pushes in.

So for most of the country now's when those fish are moving, and just because you might have a cold front move in, they're still going to be in that movement phase. They might go a few feet deeper or a little more towards the middle of a creek, but they're still there. Find 'em, catch 'em and release 'em. I say release them because they are about to reproduce, and killing one female bass during this time of year can actually eliminate a lot more bass down the line.