Where have the red fish gone?

Where have the red fish gone?

Way back in 1999 when I first started my guide service at Sabine Lake, fishing was really good. There were still enough flounder to target them from spring through November. Had I chosen to do so I could have made my living off flounder alone for most of the year. The spotted sea trout fishery was ridiculously good. It was no problem to catch trout twelve months out of the year. However, when the conditions got tough in the dead of winter and the temperature of the water would fall into the middle to upper forties there was always a constant supply of red fish. They were everywhere; up both the Sabine and Neches Rivers, in the vast Louisiana marshes, Taylors Bayou, Keith Lake, mid-Sabine lake, the ship channel from the Neches River to Sabine Pass and into the Gulf of Mexico. They were almost always around and if I really needed a few extra fish in the box, it wasn’t too hard to catch a few of them. At first, they were not so popular with my guests but after a few years they really began to gain in popularity. Now, at least seventy-five percent of my guests love to catch them and at least thirty percent would rather target them exclusively. I could depend on red fish to show up every year at various locations around Sabine lake when there were schools of shrimp. If there were birds working in the lake, I knew that there would be schools of red fish out there with them and in the summer on those hot days with no wind big pods of reds would follow the large pogey schools as they would surface to feed on plankton. In December, red fish would pull out of the marsh and lay in the mud along the entire shoreline of the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake. The one constant that I could depend on was red fish. They were always available; that is until this year. As the lower tides of the winter solstice arrived in late December 2019 the expected, and always consistent arrival of large numbers of red fish along the Louisiana shoreline did not happen. I searched from Coffee Ground Cove and the mouth of the Sabine River all of the way down to Blue Buck Point on the south end of Sabine Lake. Very few red fish appeared at most of my contact points. At times we would stumble upon a few and catch five or six good sized slot reds; just enough to make me think, “Ok, I’ve got this”. “They are just late coming out and soon they will be everywhere”. However, it never really happened and finally I got the message. They are just not there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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