Capt. Trevor Kucia with a big red caught on Bart’s Sand Ninja Wig-A-Lo.

Capt. Trevor Kucia with a big red caught on Bart’s Sand Ninja Wig-A-Lo.

Greetings from Port Mansfield! Spring is slowly evolving into summer and what I’m seeing daily on the water is pretty close to what I had expected. That is, some trout began spawning during March’s full moon and it seemed another flurry came during April’s full moon period. Our bigger females were still robust but thinner in the belly. Smaller male trout were being caught more consistently in our “big trout” zones and the females were becoming less aggressive. I was pleased to see what I believe was a successful early spawning season and another layer of cement on our platform for a future trophy trout fishery.

I would like to touch on a recent learning opportunity. You could term it unfortunate or fortunate, depending how you value fishing knowledge gained the hard way. A couple of friends and I were fishing in a catch and release tournament and spent days scouting the Lower Laguna. We were taking careful note of water temperatures, tide levels, wind, boat traffic, etc. As tournament day approached we had identified two areas that were holding big trout. We kept a constant vigil on both leading up to the tourney, watching and hoping other anglers would not discover “our” fish. Anticipation was high and we just knew if we could get to “our” spot on tournament day we would be successful.

Tournament day arrived and by a miracle we were the only boat in our secret spot. Worth noting; the water level had dropped several inches and water temperatures had risen about 3°. With this in mind we fished the area and within an hour I landed a trout close to six pounds. We stayed within that three-hundred-yard stretch more than five hours – back and forth. My tournament partners zeroed on landings but with enough strong blow-ups to keep it interesting. Still lacking solid confirmation that winning trout could be caught, my hardheadedness kept us there. Something was off, but I could not or would not allow myself to think more broadly. We made a late day decision to move to our second spot. It did not work out and we came in two trout short of a first day limit.

The second day had us heading right back to what we thought was the perfect game plan. Same spot, no other boats. Three hours and nothing. The fish had obviously moved; but where had they gone? My tournament partners recommended a move, only about five hundred yards, with water about a foot deeper. The move was made and you guessed it, within 45 minutes we had two trout with combined weight greater than fourteen pounds. We did not place in the tournament but the debriefing delivered a poignant reality check.

Sure, hindsight is 20/20, and we should not kill ourselves over it, but I can admit, and as painful as it may be in retrospect, I can recognize a learning opportunity when I see one. The takeaway is simple. When fishing tournaments or just out with friends; be open minded. Stubbornness has its place but be reasonable. Communicate with your fellow anglers and apply what you know based on variables in your fishing equation. It can be a fine line on when to move and when to stay.

Early summer means we will be finding pods of schooling redfish on shallow back-lake flats. A stealthy approach is best for spotting redfish tails wagging at first light. You can catch them best on small plastics with 1/16 ounce jigheads. I typically hold off making a cast until I’m sure there isn’t a big trout trailing the pod of reds. Target the edge of the pod if catching more than one from the school is your goal. Plopping a lure in their midst might mean a sure hook-up but also a guarantee to scatter the others.

There will still be opportunities for big trout in and around pods of reds, and there will also be a few on scattered grass high on the eastside sand flats. Here again, plastics of smaller profile in natural colors such as the Ball Tail Jr. or Wig-A-Lo Jr. would be excellent lure choices. If the water is slick-calm it is imperative to make long, accurate casts to fool these fish, which can be quite challenging when tossing smaller baits on lightweight jigs. Here, I recommend a topwater, such as the Mansfield Knocker in Glass Minnow color, which is basically translucent. Be sure to work it very slowly in the clear, shallow water. Your goal is to gain their interest, not spook them.

Wishing you the very best this summer, and always remember…Fresh Is Better Than Frozen.

 
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