Chasing schooling redfish in open water on Sabine Lake and Lake Calcasieu are some of my fondest memories in fishing.
And I mean “chasing” in every literal sense of the word. Open-water schools of redfish move much faster than their counterparts, speckled trout. Figuring out which direction a school is moving and determining a good approach can help alleviate some of the frustration when attempting to get on them.
If at all possible, approach the school from the upwind side. Letting the wind and current assist you in getting in position to cast to the feeding frenzy will greatly enhance not only getting on the school but also hopefully catching fish for an extended period of time. Also, utilizing a trolling motor is much more advantageous than motoring in with an outboard.
I come across schooling redfish much more frequently during the hottest parts of the summer than any other time — the kinds seen in YouTube and Facebook videos, the ones where there appears to be acres of redfish blowing holes into the water with fleeing baitfish, shrimp, crabs and any other prey that gets in their path. Getting on these schools is without a doubt some of the most fun you can experience with a fishing rod anywhere along the Gulf coast.
Unless you are just inherently lucky, getting on one of these incredible feeding frenzies typically requires paying your dues. I always encourage paying attention to the predicted major and minor feeding periods, although the majority of the schools that I have been fortunate to fish occurred during the hottest time of the day.
When to go
One thing we can count on with summer redfish is hot, calm weather. It seems more often than not that the wind lays down during the middle of the day, roughly noon to 3, and then the redfish show up. Many anglers have already retreated to the ramp due to the heat, but for the diehards looking to score some gold, the time is right. Calm winds and sunny skies give the angler the edge to locating these schools that are found many times by the vicious explosions from feeding fish on the surface. Pelicans and seagulls will also give them away from time to time as they try to capitalize on the prey fleeing from the redfish. A darting shrimp or mullet may be all it takes to give them away.
You can pick your poison when it comes to tackle; whatever lure you choose, be prepared to donate it, as they tend to quickly destroy treble hooks, paint jobs, soft plastics and any lure with a wire. I opt for lures that I can cast an extremely long distances, as it can often be difficult to get close to a school before they are spooked. Spoons that weigh an ounce or more, along with plastics rigged on ¾- to 1-ounce jigheads, work perfectly. If you want to see some incredible blow-ups, a Super Spook will elicit an awe-inspiring assault; however, I would recommend removing the middle treble hook.
Where to go
Check the areas from Long Point towards mid-lake on Calcasieu, south towards the washout. Over on Sabine, the area from the Causeway Reef to just north of Blue Buck point is most consistent all the way up to mid-lake. The beachfront from Cameron east towards Grand Chenier can be the ticket when conditions are right, as well as the Texas side of the Sabine jetties. Keep your eyes peeled for tripletail any time you are searching for schooling redfish along the beach, as you definitely do not want to pass up one of those tasty critters.
Capt. Adam Jaynes can be found at justfishsabine.com.
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