Lakecaster Online

"PSSSST" The Morone Chrysops Are Running
By Ed Snyder

On The "River of Cypress" -Betwixt- Logansport LA, and Joaquin TX.

"Boy, we got it whupped now, the guide alerted to us as we pulled, pushed, and clawed out way through the entanglement of vines, tree-limbs, and "barbed-wire" brush, "That hidden lake should be just around the next creek-bend fer-sure, he grinned as we dodged and ducked the "whipping switches" of Ma Nature. "Then, as we finally rounded the next bend in the flooded timberline, "Whelp, we sure-nuff got it whupped this time, re-grinned the guide as he alerted us to the fact that the hidden lake would be "just" around the next bend, "fer-sure"......................"Welcome to Sandbar Fever Folks!!"

It's mid-January with the Sabine River above Lake Toledo Bend at full winter flood stage now as a thirty foot high & muddy river cascades its way betwixt the riverside towns of Logansport LA, and Joaguin TX. But, nestled deep within those rampaging river currents are our fishing quest for the day, White Bass, "MILLIONS" of them as they're slowly migrating their way up-river to their ancestral spawning beds. Chasing these fish today with me are "Sabine Fishing Adventures" river-guide, Shane McFadden and Lakecaster field reps, Patty Schaefer and Noe Garcia. A previous phone call from Shane alerted me to the "early" white bass run as he invited us to come along to catch some "sandbar fever" whites from a "secret" fishing hole that he had located.

As we launched out from the Logansport LA, boat-ramp, Shane asked Noe if he didn't mind getting his sleek Stealth bass-rig scratched up as we were going to be heading into some flooded brush. "Nah, no problemo', Noe assured that his boat could handle it as we zipped and throttled up for the 20 mile long trip north................"Little did we know!!"

Finally" emerging from out of the "jungle" and into the "secret" honey hole of Shane's lost lake discovery, I was just amazed after entering into a lake of about 100 yards across to maybe 300 yards long which was completely surrounded by towering, regal Cypress tress which were completely draped with southern moss. As I stared in absolute wonder, my "motley krewe" finally emerged from the jungle behind us with the same awe, and with Noe "grumbling" something about needing some rubbing compound for his boat, we entered into Shane's hidden lake to "hopefully" catch some whites.

With Noe -(still grumbling)- taking to the north shoreline, we headed for the southern banks. The plan was to fish both sides of the lake until one of us managed to locate and catch some whites first. "Man, Shane griped suddenly as we eased into our fishing positions, "The water temp here is a lot colder now then last week when it was in the upper 40's, Shane pointed out, "But It's only 40.2 degrees now, "brrrrr" that's cold he complained as he blamed the chill on the rain runoffs that were causing the flooding conditions. "We'll need to slow our retrieves down quite a bit, he advised, relaying that fishing info over to Noe and Patty who were fishing the opposite bank.

We decided to use ¼ oz chrome/blue Rat-L-Traps, giving the Roadrunner options to Noe and Patty as they fished red/white and chartreuse color patterns. "The Rat-L-Traps and Roadrunners are the top baits for this type of fishing, Shane advised to me as we concentrated on the flooding edges of the lakes buck-brush, "Which, Shane pointed out with a big grin, you have an experts knowledge of.-(Shane was referring to my landing a 2 lb class World Record White on a Roadrunner during a previous trip with him)- "Yep, I remember that well, I responded with a "just as big" grin. And maybe with a little luck we can do that again, I advised to him as pointing to the two fly-rods on deck that were rigged with coiled ultra-lite tippet leaders. "Yeah, hope so, Shane remarked, "But, we'll need to find some water that's a lot warmer than this 40 degree stuff we're fishing in now or the whites will never get active enough to feed on anything!!"

But that was not to be as after 2 hours of searching the entire hidden lake area we only found 40-degree water with zero results. Although the water temp did warm up a bit from the natural warmth of the sun, we still couldn't find anything above the 40.7 degree mark. So the decision was to head back into the river and go south to "hopefully" find some warmer depths to find our fish in. Reluctantly leaving the now re-named "Shangri-La" hole, we "just" as reluctantly begin clawing our way back through the jungle en-tangled vines and tree-top limbs, "Where, after coming eye-ball to eye-ball with some "panicky" squirrels, we finally emerged back into the main river channel with Noe "grumbling" about needing some rubbing compound.

Meandering our way south, betwixt the common border waters of Texas and Louisiana, we were treated to some incredible wildlife scenes of a wintering eagles, hawks, osprey, egrets, and "other critters" which were in the bush eyeballing our unexpected passing. Checking several of the nook and cranny fishing sites from previous "sandbar fever" trips, we still came up with zero catches as our favorite waters of the "Hall of Fame Hole", "Last Chance Sandbar", and "Desperation Cove" record only 40 degree waters and more zero white bass activity. So, we just kept heading further south in our search for warming waters, and some hopefully actively feeding white bass, that had to be somewhere!!

"Not long ago, Shane advised to me as we floated downriver, "We managed to catch over 550 big whites in only a half day of fishing, keeping only a few for eating and releasing the rest. "NOW" folks, this is no wreck-less guide-boast as I have personally seen catches of up to 800 white bass from some of these "sandbar fever" trips. But with the new Texas fishing limits enforced with 12 inch size and 25 fish creels, those days of "slaughter" are over for good -(thank God)- replacing the numbers of yore with the now "improved" quality of fishing with some white bass reaching weights of 5 lbs, or better. Excellent table fare, the whites provide not only some incredible fishing action, but also some delicious fish fries for those family get-to-gathers.

"The water temp here is 42.9 degrees, Shane alerted to me as we eased into a wide, protected cove about 20 miles downriver from "Shangri-La". "Great, I react by grabbing for my casting gear and leaping to the rear casting deck of Shane's Pro-Craft bass-rig. "They are here fer-sure, Shane advised as his electronics imaged some fish holding around some submerged brush. "But, before we could make our first cast in the direction of the possibilities a sudden female "screech" erupted from the "other" boat as Patty's rod quickly bent to our first action of the day -(figures!!)- And as I position my camera to click an image of Patty landing the first white bass of our trip, the Logansport Water Tower "looms" high within the picture frame -(Figures!!). "It's a male Shane advised after inspecting the catch before releasing it, "A BIG MALE" I respond after putting my camera down and grabbing for some fish catching action.

With the "rumble" of heavy trucks passing over the Hwy 84 bridge just behind us, we bracket Patty's fishing area -(which is now forever known as "Patty's Flats")- with ¼ oz chartreuse Roadrunners, where, we manage to catch a dozen more BIG male whites with some actually dripping spawn milt which fertilizes the female eggs. "They're ready to spawn pretty quick, Shane advised to our obvious questions, "And the larger females are probably still "sulking" out in the middle of the river channel waiting for the waters to ebb and warm up some before heading back upriver to continue with their spawning run. "Some of the more hardier white bass will swim as far as 100 miles upriver, Shane incredulated, "But most of them will spawn within the 25 mile section which is located between the Logansport LA, and Carthage TX, before heading back downriver to Lake Toledo Bend.

After taking some more action shots for this story, we decided to call it a day and head for the boat ramp where we first started this morning, which is only 100 yards behind us -(FIGURES!!)- Making quick work of unloading and loading our gear from the boats to Noe's Suburban, I pause for a bit upon grasping my two fly-rods with their coiled ultra-lite tippets and reflect on what might have been if the "River of Cypress" had just been a little more cooperative, "Well, maybe next time I dream after stowing them for the long trip home.

For those of you who crave fishing a wild river during the winter white bass spawning runs, Shane McFadden is now booking Sabine River "sandbar fever" trips and I "highly" recommend that you call (903)-622-4902 -for your trip to Shane's "Shangri-La" ................"Good-luck and Great fishing"......................

The "Motley Krewe" -(left-to-right)-Shane, Patty, Noe, with 2 cures for "sandbar fever"

"Eye-ball to Eye-ball" with the squirrels
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Patty Schaefer laying claim to "Patty's Flats"

The "only" picture of Shane's Shangri-La hole that i was allowed to shoot as coldwater whites hold over frozen Cypress

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