Brackish Water Nuances

Today my friend Thad Daly and I went out to the Sabine River and surrounding marshes in search of flounder and redfish.

We caught a few in one of the big bayous on the Louisiana side and then stopped on the way home at the Dupont Outfall Canal on the Texas side of the Sabine.

There were shad everywhere and something had it severely nervous. It looked like trout feeding but at first we thought it was a tad early for trout in that area. As soon as we saw needlefish however, it became obvious the salinity was plenty high enough for trout.

Some of the strikes looked like bass feeding and after a few minutes I caught a really nice one on a Gulp! Swimming Mullet. It hit so hard, I thought it was a red.

Thad caught a big redfish on a soft plastic tipped with shrimp and after that we got a bunch of bumps and short strikes but that was it.

With the kind of activity we saw there should have been more much catching involved.

Over the years I have learned brackish water can make fish act strangely. I have seen bass super aggressive and destroying shad but refusing to hit anything you threw at them unless you matched the hatch down to the exact size and color.

Today there were a few big shad in the bunch which is why I think I caught the one bass. The smoke-colored lure has a similar hue to shad and the added metal flakes give it great visibility. Perhaps if we had some of the same lure at about 1.5-inches, we would have caught more.

Something else we noticed is there were lots of small specks under the shad. I am talking five and six inch fish and probably some sand trout mixed with them. These small trout get thick in the river systems and drive the shad crazy and if you are not aware of what is going, it could cause you go to batty as well.

The shad act the same way as they do when big trout are on them but instead of catching nice fish, you get little bumps and taps on your lure like we did today.

A combination of bass and tiny trout created the illusion of a school of keeper trout preying on the shad.

When you move into brackish river systems you have to keep in mind things can be quite different than in the bay and adjust your approaching accordingly.

Bringing rods ranging from medium-light to ultralight and a tackle box loaded with everything from micro to standard-sized lures might make the difference between success and failure.

Chester Moore
Executive Editor
Texas Fish & Game

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Largemouth bass in brackish waters can be finicky.
(Photo by Thad Daly)

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Thad Daly caught this big red and bested the author in the fish size department (by a big margin as you can see).
(Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)