Mansfield Report: December 2021

Mansfield Report: December 2021
Here’s Caleb Moeller, one of my lucky anglers with his first-ever snook recently.

Greetings from Port Mansfield! First, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (although my January 2022 article will likely arrive prior to year’s end.) We have seen so much this year and here’s to hoping we will never see the worst of it again. On the flipside, we also saw some great things I hope to see over and over again in the future.  

I hope I will never again see piles of dead trophy-class trout along the banks of the Lower Laguna. We could also do without some of the anglers who took a strong stand for conserving that fishery right after the freeze, only to suffer a case of amnesia that led to hypocrisy at its highest level. We could have used a few less full stringer and boat deck shots, not to mention those slow-motion stringer videos. But I digress. So, on to the bright side… 

We are happy to see some anglers, albeit few, who stayed the course and quite possibly may have influenced others to recognize the importance of a balanced conservation approach toward this fragile resource.

I am personally thrilled to have been able to hook more than fifty snook between myself and clients, and tag close to twenty-five for Harte Research Institute.

I am more than thrilled to have been part of the winning team in this year’s Shallow Sport Owner’s Tournament – and the only team to weigh and release all their fish alive.

I am also very pleased to have been able to see and catch several trout over 30 inches, one being a 10-pounder.

You might ask; where do we currently stand regarding the health of this fishery? I would say, if this winter is kind the scale is leaning in the direction of sustainable hope. Let’s keep doing our part.

Success on redfish this year has been one for the books. The reds hung in there and took an enormous amount of pressure to the likes I have not seen. Our redfish gave up limits day in and day out for months, and as of this writing they are still filling coolers. I said months ago, if it were not for our redfish filling the huge void for trout it would have been one tough year for fishing guides. You see, we also had a very slow year for flounder. We might tip our hats to the redfish and keep just enough for dinner and release the rest.

We had unusually high water levels most of late-summer and fall. Finally though, with fronts becoming more frequent the tides have begun to recede, along with the water temperatures. There are still some trout out there, just fewer good ones than we like to see. Amongst all the trout enthusiasts that come to Port Mansfield during winter I think there will be a few that might touch 30-inches or so, but I’m not expecting a full-blown “big trout” season for everyone. I bet if we do our part as anglers, and barring any further natural disasters, we could see trophy numbers rebounding in 2024. We will just have to wait and see.

Having spent a lot of time exploring for snook throughout summer, I have also stumbled upon some outstanding big trout habitat and I cannot wait to see how that unfolds when the conditions align this winter. I am strikingly confident in the areas I have found and excited to say the least. You see, snook fishing is just like trophy trout fishing; except it’s harder and you must fish much slower. I have spent countless hours working hundred-yard square areas across our bay system, and each time I find something new – stumps, crab traps covered in crustations, deep indentations in the bottom, and also muddy holes surrounded by hard bottom. I have also discovered grass lines and points that I never knew existed. Just writing about it gets me excited, hoping to be one of those guys able to locate and catch one of the few “true 30s” that are left.

I would like to invite everybody to Fishing Tackle Unlimited on Saturday December 11, 2021. I will be conducting a seminar about trophy trout and snook fishing, covering my Fishing Equation in great detail explaining its application and potential. Joe Meyer, owner of FTU, will donate one of the new G2 FTU Green Rods for some lucky attendee. Stay tuned to FTU social media outlets for details.

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