Mansfield Report: April 2023
Greetings from Port Mansfield! Boy, what a winter we had. I absolutely love winter fishing and the more years I spend guiding the more I see the ebbs and flows in the productivity of our bay systems. We’ve seen a substantial recovery of our speckled trout fishery since the freeze of February 2021 as evidenced by the numbers of middle and upper-slot fish coming to hand, along with occasional eight and nine pounders. We have also seen a noticeable increase in flounder numbers, which in a strangely beneficial way can also be attributed to the freeze two years ago. So, winter was good to us and now it’s time to face the coming of spring and what it might offer. One caveat regarding April, it’s not too late to get that personal best trout (heaviest) you may be after. As a matter of fact two years back we caught a 10-pounder. Keep that in the back of your mind if you are thinking about big trout in April.
What can we expect moving forward? Certainly, it goes without saying strong southeast winds that can provide challenging boat rides, wind-driven floating grass lines and chalky water, but it also provides some darn good fishing. During this time of year fish are loving the warming trends in the water temps, pretty much like we respond to those “feel good” springtime days. Those fish are out and about chasing small baitfish, up in the tide swollen back lakes and drains where I will soon be spending a lot of time. I love the knee-deep back lakes where reds will be tailing and busting glass minnows along shorelines. This is the time of year when I like to get out earlier rather than my “wintertime hours” of leaving the dock after sunup. I’ll be tossing the all-new junior-size KWigglers 4-inch Ball Tail Shad at those skinny water fish along with topwaters if the grass isn’t too bad. Keep in mind, while doing this there is a solid chance you will catch that big trout you’ve been hoping for while playing tug of war with the reds.
In addition to working over the back lakes we will be spending some time high on the flats where you will find pods of reds and of course those few big trout cruising the sand and chasing mullet. Generally, there should be less grass in these areas and tossing topwaters will be an excellent choice. Since the water will likely be clear consider a Mansfield Knocker in Glass Minnow or G.O.A.T. colors.
Daily strong winds are to be expected during April and May so plan accordingly. I’ve learned to use the wind to my advantage and am not as discouraged as I used to be dealing with off-colored and perhaps even muddy water. If I find myself in an area where I feel fish are holding but the water is dirty, I’ll resort to ol’ faithful – the KWigglers 4-inch Paddle Tail. This is the only bait that I know of that puts off as much vibration when given short bursts during the retrieve. You will definitely know you are working it correctly when you feel the vibration through the rod.
I’ve recently taken ownership of my new SCB by Shallow Sport Boats and absolutely love it. Many of you may know I’ve been down this road before back in 2019 but reverted back to a 24-Shallow Sport Classic after a year or so. However, after providing input to SCB/Shallow Sport about a few ideas on the SCB and being willing to be a risk taker (aka field tester) I feel confident we’ve made some solid improvements. We will just have to wait and see if SCB incorporates the ideas. Another note and certainly a benefit on the SCB are those long runs in higher wind situations aren’t so long anymore, and the ride is remarkable. Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a lover of the 24-Classic and always will be. So don’t be surprised if you see me back in one again in the future. But for now, the ride in the SCB on those long windy days sure is nice. That said, these spring winds this year won’t slow me down one bit.
In closing I want to thank all of you who came out and visited during the Houston Fishing Show. It was great seeing everyone and I always look forward to renewing friendships and making new ones. If anyone ever has questions about fishing, rods, reels, lures etc…feel free to reach out.
Remember, fresh is always better than frozen!