catching rockfish3

Catching rockfish in southern california

catching rockfish1The January and February ban on catching rockfish produced a nice surprise for Southern California anglers. Traditionally the winter months has sent the sportfishing industry out onto the deepwater banks in search of the tasty rockfish mainly because there was nothing else to fish for. Apparently, the ever abundant rockfish are in a state of decline so the moratorium was enacted. The new law states that anglers cannot catch or possess rockfish during the months of January and February. This really bent the sportfishing industry out of shape. Rockfish has always been the winter time savior for the sportboats and many landings thought they would go broke. Not so! Somebody found the halibut biting with reckless abandon.

Halibut have always disappeared in the winter time.At least that’s what everybody thought. A sportboat skipper took a group of anglers into deeper waters for a fishing trip and found the halibut biting like crazy. The rest is history as every sportboat in the area is now drifting across the areas in search of the flatties. One of the clues to this discovery was the endless line of gill nets that spread for miles in the 10 to 20 fathom stretches. We all knew they were netting some halibut but really had no idea as to how many. Anglers are catching and releasing hundreds of halibut a day. One fish in 20 will stretch the 22 inches necessary by law and the fishermen are literally wading through them. But the new fishery has answered some interesting questions about the halibut habitat and introduced some new tackle techniques.

topwater fishing

Topwater fishing

The topwater plug has got to rate right at the top when it comes to the different baits and the kind of reaction they draw when they are presented just right.

From the subtle” tap tap “on a Texas rig worm, to the solid “thump” we feel on a deep diving crank bait, each bait has own characteristics as far as how the bass “feels” on the strike.

But Topwaters, oh the mighty topwaters. I guess you could say I cut my teeth on a Tiny Torpedo, and yes, it was clear, on the stock ponds around East Texas and the big pond, Toledo Bend.

I want to share a few secrets with you about this kind of fishing and a bait that very few anglers use. Therefore, if your one of the inquisitive minds that search for new and useful information, then this is payday for you.

Let me cut right to the chase on this awesome, but rarely used topwater bait {Heddon doesn’t sponsor me so lets get that out of the way}

Fishing in Sabine Lake

We had decided to meet around six by the Pleasure Island Restaurant on Sabine Lake. Today I was going to be filming a segment called KTBS Outdoors, in Shreveport Louisiana. I was fishing with some friends of mine for big specks and I could not have picked a better angling team.

First, I had Brett Crawford, president of All Star Rods, a great guy and heck of an angler. Then there was Jim Franklin, he won the Troutmasters that year and was as fine an angler as I had ever met, and topping off my team for the day was Dickie Colburn, 30-year veteran Pro guide on Sabine.

I had waded the oyster reefs on Sabine in the past, I had waded the surf and on the jetties, but what was in store for me that day I will never forget.

It was overcast and the air temperature was a chilly 50 degrees. The water on this 90,000-acre lake looked stained and rough as Tony, Ted and I walked down the ramp. We loaded up in two boats and headed out.

big fish

One more cast

When I left for the lake on that chilly Thursday afternoon, I knew that a storm was brewing just west of Nacogdoches about 35 miles away. It was late November and was, in my book, and maybe yours, a perfect day to go bass fishing in East Texas.

Upper 50s, overcast skies, water temps had been falling and I had been catching solid bass to 7 lbs. first of the week.

Lake Pinkston was only 15 minutes from my house and I had seen storms come and go many times over the years on the lake, so it was not a major concern, a factor yes, but not a concern. As small as Pinkston was I could be off the lake in less than 5 minutes. I hooked up my boat and headed out .

On the way I wondered how much time I would have on the water before Mother Nature had her say. I will fish in any kind of weather from 30 degrees and drizzle to 100 degrees and roasting, but lighting had no place in my fishing plans.

snake charmer

Snake charmer

I guess it was back in the early eighties when Billy Palmer decided to drain his lake and dig out around the banks. It was a classic East Texas farm pond, with one exception, the cows didn’t have access to the whole lake.

It had all the classic features. Stumps, blow downs, mossy edge and an old dock. You could make it out about half way but the rest was rotted boards and a few poles. Great for dragging a big worm by or speeding a spinner bait through.

I had fished this lake for the last thirteen years. My big bass was an 8 something, we didn’t have scales back then, but we were usually pretty close. I had tangled with some bigger bass than that on this old pond.

I remember when Billy asked if I wanted to help him drain the lake, with his son Dirk and Kyle, I was all over it. I asked if I could bring a fishing buddy along that had been on the lake before, and he said sure. I knew Doug Flatley, one of my best friends, would kill to see what came out of this old pond.

Essential Backpacking Check List

  • Pack and Pack Cover (or strong trash bag)
  • Tent and Groundcloth
  • Sleeping Bag – 20 degree rated
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Stove and Repair Kit
  • Fuel for Stove: approx. 16 oz/week
  • Cook Kit: w/pot lifter & stir spoon
  • Eating Utensils: bowl, spoon & mug
  • Biodegradable Soap & Scrubbie
  • Water Bottles, minimum 2 liters/quarts or “bladder” style container
  • Water Purification System; Pump, Iodine Tablets or Crystals
orvis-fly-fishing-school

Weekend Trip: Beginners Orvis Fly Fishing School

orvis-fly-fishing-schoolSagamore has teamed up with expert instructors endorsed by JP Ross Fly Rods of Utica. They have worked for such respected companies as Remington Arms & the Orvis Company and have been featured on EPSN and the Outdoor Life network. This program covers the skills of casting, reading water, determining trout lies, observing trout feeding patterns & identifying insects. Learn to tie your own flies, then test your skills on Sagamore Lake.

July 22-24, 2005
Sept 23-25, 2005
Instructor: Rising Trout Outfitters
Fee: $425 per person; includes accommodations, meals, equipment, instruction

Classic Cedar Canvas Canoe Restoration Workshop

This restoration program offers instruction in restoring an old canoe to its previous splendor. Each student may bring their own canoe, or one will be provided. The instructor will assess each canoe and students will proceed to restore or replace the needed parts. By end of the week the canoe will be re-canvassed and ready to take home for the finishing work. The instructor must have a prior conversation with the canoe owner to determine the materials needed and the feasibility of restoration in the allotted time. If a canoe is provided by Sagamore for restoration, it will remain as part of the Sagamore fleet for use in their educational programs. (Minimum two boats)

September 16-23, 2005
Instructor: Pam Wedd
Fee: tba; includes accommodations, meals, instruction, most materials