Early spring will bring our first bird action back to Sabine Lake.
Fishing the birds is an exciting and fast paced way to catch speckled trout. However, you may need to fish several different schools before finding the better fish.
The size of the trout under the schools over the years definitely seems to have decreased as it used to be common to get on schools of nothing but three to four pound fish with some heavier fish mixed in.
When the birds really get going, seagulls that is, it really is some of the most exciting fishing that can be done on the lake. Running and gunning from one group to the next, catching fish as fast as you can and then moving on to the next makes for an adrenaline filled fishing trip. It is also a great way to get kids hooked on fishing, as the action is very fast paced.
In April, there are a couple of key areas where you are likely to encounter bird activity over feeding speckled trout on a rather consistent basis. Garrison’s Ridge is a good area to start your search for feeding activity. Cruising slowly around 300 or 400 yards off the bank scanning both the surface of the water for fleeing shrimp and scanning the skies for seagulls that are circling and picking.
Seagulls that are sitting on the water may also tip you off to a school of speckled trout. Oftentimes when a school goes down the seagulls will sit on the surface and wait for them to pop back up. From Garrison’s Ridge, I would search southwest towards Blue Buck Point, the causeway reef and then make a run north along the south revetment wall to the Pleasure Island Marina. Making this loop will put you in good position to potentially spot seagulls working off schools of trout.
Once you get on a school always come in from the upwind side if at all possible using your trolling motor on the lowest setting that you can.
Be patient and use the wind to push you towards the fish. The goal is to get on them while causing the least disturbance as possible. The longer you can stay on a school of fish the more you will catch. It is also important to try and not drift through the school, use your trolling motor to keep your boat positioned upwind if possible.
Fish are still there
Most often the birds will leave as you approach a school, just because the birds fly off does not mean the fish left.
Keep your eyes on the surface and chances are good that you will see shrimp fleeing from hungry speckled trout. Keep your ears open as well; many times you will hear trout eating a shrimp on the surface before you see them. Do your best to be courteous to other boaters; if there is a boat already on a school of fish move along to the next school unless they wave you in. If you have to go fish by them, then use your trolling motor and fish behind them. Do not drive into the middle of the school.
A topwater, like a Zara Super Spook or the Super Spook Jr., are good choices if you are trying to find the bigger trout out of a school.
Throwing a cork with a tail under is a good option, but can be difficult to fish in a school that is moving quickly. Rigging your favorite paddle tail on an 1/8-1/4-ounce jighead is the go-to for most anglers. A Killer Flats Minnow in the color East Beast from TTF is definitely one of my favorites on Sabine. It is tempting to load an ice chest full of trout when the birds are working well, but please take only what you need and leave the rest for another day.