This event marks my third time fishing the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas. My first tournament here was my rookie season in 2014 and was my first Top-10 finish where I landed a fourth place. I fished here again in 2018 and had a decent finish, so I have done well here.
There are many ifs and a lot of decisions to be made in these tidal fisheries, especially one with this large of a playing field. There are so many canals and cuts here.
The first priority on the Sabine is making sure that there are bass in your area. This week I have caught redfish, gar, catfish, bluegill, mudfish and a few bass. There are so many different fish species. Also, there is saltwater, and two hurricanes have come through since our last trip. Each trip here requires learning the fishery all over again.
This year we got an extra practice day, so I spent that day going to areas I had never visited before. The other three days, I tried to get a feel for where I need to be fishing and really learn that area. At any event, I like to know the area I am going to and then pick it apart. On the first day of practice, I went where I fished last time here and was fortunate to get some bites. Ultimately, that’s where I plan to fish.
One thing I noticed is that the water is much dirtier here – it’s muddy. If you drop a bait in the water, it’s visible for a couple of inches in most places. I’m not sure why it is like that, maybe from the hurricanes, some high tides, rain or whatever. Typically, the fish are aggressive here, so they will eat it if they can see your bait. That has made finding cleaner water important.
This fact will make the Sabine “fish small” this year. By that, I mean a lot of anglers will be fishing in the same areas. It always fishes small because the bass don’t live everywhere, but this water color will make it fish that way even more so.
Around the boat ramp in Orange, there will be a good many fish caught. Local tournament release areas like that have a population of bass here.
At the end of the day, these events are all about a solid mental focus and having a positive attitude. During practice, I didn’t fish daylight to dark like usual. Typically I stay out and practice all day, but here, where you don’t get many bites, it is best to learn in practice but not wear yourself out mentally.
Someone will win, someone is going to finish 10th and someone is going to finish last. Whether you’re catching 6-pounders every cast or all five fish weigh 6 pounds, it’s the same for everyone, so that attitude is important.
I feel like I can catch a few fish this week, but I don’t really know what size they will be. On the first day of practice, I had a decent bag of fish, but who knows at this point who will be in my area and what size fish bite. I shook off most of the bites I had the last three days.
Let’s talk about water temperature real quick. I'm seeing 68 to 73 degree water, and it has been that warm long enough here that most of the fish have spawned already. I have seen a lot of fry in the water this week. There was a full moon last week, so I think a good majority of the fish spawned then. Maybe someone will find some fish bedding and catch them, but I don’t think that will be a popular technique this week.
It’s always a fun challenge to fish here, and this event should be a good one. Y’all stay tuned.