Sabine marsh is paradise for reds, largemouth bass

Noah McFarlane, 7, has become quite a fisherman, keeping his dad busy netting solid bass like this one.

Hunting season is over, and it’s time to be completely focused on fishing. I am looking forward to things warming up around a little bit, but mostly I am excited about the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge opening March 15. At that time, anglers will have access to fish more than 100,000 acres of some of the most beautiful marsh on the coast.

The past couple of years, the bass fishing has trumped the redfishing by a long shot. It has been exciting to see how much our local bass fishing has improved.

Typically, if we were catching bass in my boat, they were by-catch and not necessarily our targeted species; however, now with the fishery being so full with quality fish, I find myself targeting those marsh bass regularly. I prefer sight-casting to redfish, although the bass are a lot of fun as well, and in my opinion, easier to target than redfish.

When searching for redfish, I am looking for both the clearest and shallowest water I can find. When bass fishing, I am looking for the deepest holes and guts I can locate. We catch them drifting open ponds and fishing shorelines, but I find much bigger numbers in deeper holes and guts. These areas are significantly deeper than their surroundings, anywhere from about 3 to 6 feet deep, with some even deeper.

The extra depth provides bass with more cover to ambush their prey, as well as providing more protection from drastic temperature changes. I prefer to slow-roll a spinnerbait with a gold Colorado blade in these deeper areas. I like to put Egret’s chicken-on-a-chain Wedgetail on the spinnerbait; the tail adds even more vibration coming through the water. A good buddy of mine, Luke McFarlane, prefers to catch them on either a Spro frog or a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper. When throwing the Skinny Dipper, he prefers their sungil color rigged weightless and weedless. When throwing the Spro frog, he likes to work it in a walk-the-dog fashion, mixing in pauses.

McFarlane has done well in local bass tournaments on the Sabine River for quite some time. His son, Noah, is also becoming quite a bass fisherman. They spend more time on the water fishing than most people, and it shows. Noah McFarlane finds it a real treat when he hooks a big redfish while fishing for bass in the marsh. Normally, if he hooks into something other than a bass ,it would be a grinnel, but they have definitely upgraded in the by-catch department now that they are fishing further south. McFarlane and I pick on each other quite a bit when it comes to comparing saltwater and freshwater fishing. I have to remind him that the fish I am after eat his fish.

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