Cracking the code on Sabine

Texas' Sabine River is a virtual unknown when it comes to major or even triple-A level bass tournaments. has nearly 5,000 bass tournament patterns covering decades of fishing over hundreds of water bodies, but not one for the Sabine River. A Google search turns up a similar goose-egg.

Does this mean that BassGold can't help? Nope! One example: BassGold didn't have any patterns for Green Bay, but still accurately predicted the winning patterns and weights for last year's Green Bay Challenge.

This is possible because every pattern and body of water in BassGold is classified also by "water type" – upland reservoir, lowland reservoir, riverine reservoir, natural lake/river and tidal. Because of this, BassGold has proven what a lot of anglers in the age of GPS spot-fishing have forgotten, or maybe never learned: Water bodies of the same type, even far apart geographically, fish very similarly.

That's a fact, Jack!

So when it comes to a blank slate like the Sabine, the procedure using BassGold is this: Find out the water type, then search for similar water types in Texas or nearby states to get a feel for what will happen – or, in more practical terms, to eliminate water, thus saving you wasted time and gas money, and gaining you productive fishing time.

In this case, according to folks in the know on the excellent, the Sabine is a tidal river. No surprise there's no bass pattern data on Texas tidal fisheries in BassGold, but there is a decent amount for tidal fisheries in Louisiana. That's good because the Sabine is right on the Texas-Louisiana border, and the locals say it should fish like better-known Louisiana tidal fisheries, namely the the Atchafalaya Basin and even the Louisiana Delta.

So here's what BassGold tells us:

Macro Factor

This time of year the bass should be around the spawn, which in tidal and river fisheries means backwaters. Sure enough, that's what BassGold tells us: More than 50 percent of the time, winners and high-placers (second-fifth) in tournaments on Louisiana tidal waters fish backwaters.

Canals, main "lake" points (meaning "river" points, in this case) and shoreline also account for some wins, but not nearly as much as backwaters.

Habitat Factor

Wood has been key in tidal tournaments – including a few Bassmaster Classics – and once again the data tells the story: BassGold shows it accounts for twice as many wins and high finishes as any other cover or structure.

Emergent vegetation (vegetation that comes out of the water) is next most important in wins, with submergent vegetation and spawning beds third. Bear all that in mind when looking at the next category.


BassGold shows the usual suspects when it comes to tidal fisheries around the spawn: crankbaits and spinnerbaits for moving baits, and tube/grub/craw and lizard/creature baits for flipping.

Spinnerbaits have factored into about twice as many wins as other bait types, though likely not exclusively.

So to sum it up: tidal, mostly backwaters, wood is good, look for a mix of moving and flipping baits.

Skimming the pattern details in BassGold show that running time, backwaters with clearer water and which replenish, and funnel areas to backwaters are important. Then again, this is the Elite Series so someone might win this cranking points – a scenario also covered by BassGold.


The "Weights by Month" graph shows that on tidal rivers this time of year, anglers need an average daily weight in the high teens to low 20s to win, with a bit less than that to place high. But since the Sabine River and other areas the guys can run to are such an unknown nationally, it remains to be seen whether this water will be able to measure up to those numbers.

Check out, a B.A.S.S. partner. Like your depthfinder, the more time you spend with it, the more you'll get out of it. Save 15 percent on the one-year subscription price by using code BASS132 (case sensitive) when you sign up. Note that BassGold offers a three-day free trial.

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