Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tour of Texas: Sabine River White Bass

The only body of water in Texas that was known to hold white bass prior to 1932 was Caddo Lake. Texas Parks and Wildlife teamed up with the Oyster Commission and transplanted 13 brood fish from Caddo Lake into old Lake Dallas which is now Lake Lewisville. By 1938 the following lakes were stocked with white bass: Kemp, Buchanan, Medina, Eagle Mountain, Waco and Wichita. Today there hardly isn't a body of water across Texas that doesn't have white bass found in it.

The Sabine River has a reputation for producing one of the best runs of white bass the state can offer. You see beginning in late winter and early spring white bass leave Toledo Bend and run up the Sabine to spawn. Toledo Bend Reservoir is 185,000 acre and is the fifth largest man made reservoir in the United States. Toledo Bend is pretty much an inland sea and has an incredible amount of biomass that helps these fish grow to Texas size proportions. White bass also known as sandbass or sandies can grow to 10 inches or better in one growing season within Toledo Bend. The current state record white bass on a fly rod is 3.36lbs and I can guarantee there are plenty of white bass that will break this record in the Sabine River.  

Just south of Carthage Texas there is a campground that offers access to the Sabine. River Ridge Fishing and Camping ran by Jane and her husband Tom who is a Texas Game Warden. They offer camping, RV hook ups, cabin rentals, guided fishing trips and hog hunting during the off season. There is a boat ramp on the property for you to launch your boat from our you can just launch kayaks and canoes from the sandy beach your camped on.

So a group of us where headed out to the Sabine for our yearly trip this weekend. One of my buddies wife went into labor a little earlier than expected so that put a end to his weekend fishing plans. My other buddy wussed out because the weather man said there was some rain in the forecast. The run would be over before I had another weekend to make it down to the Sabine so I went ahead with the plan and made a quick solo trip. I arrived at the river midday Friday and immediately hit some of the sandbars that we caught fish on last year. With no bites and things just not feeling right after a few hours and no fish to show for my efforts I decided to move on. As I was making my way up river to a creek I was flagged over by a bank fisherman in a kayak. Low and behold it was an old buddy that I haven't seen in years. Its a small world some times. Needless to say he wasn't having much luck either and everyone we had talk to on the river was reporting the same slow conditions. I continued my run up the river to the mouth of a creek. I set up anchor and fished the water color change where the clearer water from the creek mixes with the turbidity of the Sabine. With only a little light left I was able to pick up several small males and a couple fat females in short order. Light was fading fast and I had to make a 5 mile run to get back to camp so I pulled up anchor. On the ride back to camp I formulated my game plan for the next morning. There are a number of creeks that run into the Sabine South of camp so at first light in the morning I was going to head that way.

Getting on the water and heading down river around 6:30am I was passed by several boats heading the same direction. I felt confident I made the right choice relying on the assumption that these other boats had fish located.  As I neared these creeks I saw what I didn't want to see, half a dozen boats in a few hundred yards of the river. They were anchored up casting to sandbars picking up a fish here and there. After a slow 30 minutes and no fish for me and another 3 boats showing up I decided this isn't going to work for me. I don't mind fishing with a few people, but one of the reasons I go fishing is to get away from the crowds. Defiantly to many boats for my liking so I pulled the anchor and headed back up river to the creek I finished at the nightbefore. After getting anchored up and my line stripped out it wasn't long before I started catching fish. The fishing was never really on today but I was catching 5-6 fish per hour. Defiantly not the back to back red hot fishing that sandbass fishing can be. Picking through some small males I was still able to pick up a good 20 or so big females. I did catch a 2lb 9 oz female and then on the next cast I caught a 2lb 12 oz fish, then a small male came on the third cast. And I didn't have any other fisherman around me all day. Overall it was a good day fishing and look forward to doing it again next year.

Fish of the trip; 
2lb 12 oz White Bass

Average size female from the Sabine River is
typically going to run 15-16".

These Sabine River fish are fatties.

Once you catch some Sabine River Sandies it will be hard not to turn into a Sand Bass Snob and expect all your sand bass to average close to 2lbs. This is the average size fish in the DFW creeks. Fun but not a Sabine Sandy.

Rods, Leaders, and Flies
Rods: 3wt, 4wt and 5wt fly rods will make for some fun white bass fishing.
Leaders : The water is muddy in the sabine. I use 4ft of 15-20lb fluorocarbon for the sole purpose of being able to pull free flies that have found a snag on the bottom of the river. The fish aren't line shy and the water is to muddy for them to see the line. It sure save some flies at the end of the day by using the heavier leaders/tippit.  
Flies: Chartreuse, chartreuse, chartreuse is the color for white bass. 2" clousers will keep you hooked up all day.

Conservation Tip: The limit on white bass is 25 fish per day with a 10" minimum. Just because the limit is 25 doesn't mean you have to keep 25. Please only keep what you will eat and release the rest to continue spawning.

1 comment:

  1. Casey
    That had to be a blast, on the fly---the white bass is a worthy opponent on the fly rod. I have only landed a few on the fly, and it was worth the fight. thanks for sharing