Time to try strange baits in the Sabine area

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Chester Moore, Jr.

Summer is a tricky time in local waters.

I am not sure what happens exactly but many local fish get lockjaw when it comes to artificial lures. Oh, you can certainly catch trout for example on lures but there is no question the bigger fish respond better to live bait in the summer months. Ditto for numerous other species.

We have discussed a few unusual baits on these pages before but this week I would like to talk about some that get little play in the outdoor media and that can work wonders in both salt and freshwater in the Sabine area.

Fiddler Crabs—The little crabs with one giant pincher and another small one are perhaps the best bait for sheepshead. They are hard to take off a hook and sheepshead will seemingly take them before they will anything else.

Some catch fiddler crabs in dip nets while others set traps. They are not so easy to catch but if its sheepshead you want, fiddlers are the golden ticket. Black drum have a fondness for them too.

Mud Minnows: Mud minnows are not strange to local anglers because they are super popular with flounder fishermen but few realize they can be killer for catching speckled trout. The single best trout I have ever seen hooked in the Sabine area came on a live mud minnow.

My Dad hooked it and fought for five minutes on the reef at Mesquite Point back in 1997 and although it finally broke the line it was easily double digits. Since that day live mud minnows have been part of my trout fishing repertoire, especially when seeking big fish in the summer.

Stingray—Perceptive surf fishermen know that stingray is primo shark bait. In fact, certain species like hammerheads specialize in preying on these potentially dangerous creatures.

The rays about the size of a dinner plate rigged on a large circle hook in the surf or set out behind a chum bag at a rig or wreck is an excellent way to lure in a big shark.

Black Salty: The black salty is a live baitfish grown commercially in Arkansas. It is sold at some bait outlets in Texas but many anglers myself tried it because it can be delivered right to your door via FedEx.

I started using them in 2009 while fishing for largemouth bass on some ponds that had big fish in them that simply did not want to hit any kind of lure. They had been severely pressured.

At first, I tried shiners and caught a few small fish but once I switched to the Salty started catching bigger ones. Rigged on a wide gapped hook placed through the lips and fished on a free line they are killer along grass lines and usually hook the bass in the corner of the mouth.

They are good for bass, catfish and also work good for redfish and flounder.

Cut Ballyhoo: Anglers in South Texas claimed ballyhoo worked as good as the controversial croaker and even had some people wanting to ban its use because of its effectiveness on big fish.

“Oh, ballyhoo works,” said outdoor writer and veteran Lower Laguna Madre angler Cal Gonzalez.

“Other than down here people use it mainly for offshore but it is killer for big trout.”

“Mud cats”—Also known as “mud cats”, are arguable the best bait for large flathead catfish. A good portion of the big flathead photos submitted to this magazine over the years have noted being caught on these small catfish.

Popular, especially with jug and limb line fishermen, the big flatheads cannot seem to resist them.

Marshmallows—No one knows why but it seems rainbow trout have a sweet tooth.  Some anglers who catch the ones stocked by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department do best with marshmallows.

In California me and my Lisa caught rainbow trout up to seven pounds on a marshmallow/earthworm combo. They are reportedly good for catfish in ponds as well.

Give some of these strange baits a try. You might just discover the key to catching more and bigger fish in your favorite Sabine area fishing hole.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com and watch him Saturdays on GETV.org on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.