Mansfield Report: December 2022

Mansfield Report: December 2022

Michelle Lucio brings another hefty Lower Laguna redfish to hand.

Wow, how time flies. It’s hard to believe we are closing out 2022. You may have heard me refer to this time of year as “Nocember,” that’s because the last two months of the year are a blur and soon a distant memory. Years past, during early winter months, the flats were almost void of angling effort. However, fishing for trophy trout has become nearly as popular as looking for a Boone and Crocket buck these days; and surprisingly, some are able to fit both into their holiday schedules. Sure, it’s a little quieter on the water nowadays but not like twenty years ago. Seeing this unfold only reinforces the drive of so many for the outdoors.

As I see our fishery, I would say it is in rather attractive shape considering what it has been through, and I’m eager to see what the next couple of months yield, trout wise. As noted previously I’m betting we see a few heavyweights this season, and you can be assured I will be out there prodding and probing every slight depth change and twitching my soft plastics through every pothole I can see.  

The water has cooled and the fish have responded as expected. I often receive calls asking the best time to catch a big trout, and after fishing the LLM many years, I find myself saying that December can be excellent. I have had some of my best days on the water in December, and after scanning a few brain cells, I come up with this statement. “December usually establishes that wintry weather is here to stay for a while and fish know that. Fish do not have the luxury of hibernating like a bear, so they gorge at every opportunity in order to make it through until the next cold snap, and then they repeat the process all over again. Big mullet, pinfish, and anything else they can swallow (and hopefully your lure) will be the staple diet for trout looking to survive what the next cold front may bring. While the heaviest trout of the year are known to come as they enter spawning season in late March and early April, when they are still winter-fat and full of roe that definitely boosts their weight; I will add that December can also be darn good!

Our water levels should start to fall and stabilize somewhat once we get through the first couple of “flushings” when it will be time to start probing those areas noted above. I will start to downsize jigheads to 3/32 and even 1/16-ounce, depending on water temperature and depth. As far as lures are concerned, I will be working the Wig-A-Los and Willow Tails mostly from now until spring. Some days I will mix in a few Ball Tails and Paddle Tails, but mostly I will be sticking with the larger profile plastics. Topwaters will remain in my wade box, simply because they can be very productive on warming days or stretches of days when the water temperature is steadily holding in the mid-60s to low-70s. Mansfield Knockers in the new Ruby Tuesday color should be great during this early winter period.

I would like to invite everyone out to Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s Gulf Freeway store on Saturday, December 10 for their annual Shallow Water Expo. The program will include a list seminars and I am hearing there will be some impressive deals to take advantage of – Simms apparel, rods and reels, soft plastics and hard baits, everything in between. It is pretty much and all-day event and from what I am seeing in the plans with vendor booths, music, and food trucks on site. Put it on your calendar, you will not want to miss it. Be sure to check social media for more details as we get closer to that date.

As far as my marathon Amazon peacock bass adventure went…it was one for the books, to say the least. Stay tuned for a special Traveling Angler segment coming soon in this magazine.  

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas as we all look forward to what 2023 has to offer. I am always excited to make one more cast in hopes of breaking a previous personal best record, and if you are fishing with me, I am hoping the same for you.

Remember - Fresh Is Always Better Than Frozen!