Greetings from Port Mansfield! With July upon us we are staring summer’s heat dead in the face. No worries though, lots of fishing opportunities lie ahead, we just need to adjust our game plans and execute accordingly.
Fishing has been good and thank goodness the fierce winds we have dealt with all spring have begun to diminish. I heard recently that April’s wind was the third highest on record. That may be true but I cannot imagine anything worse.
A big surprise recently has been the sudden increase in our flounder population. We have been averaging two and more flatties per trip working the flats for trout and reds, without even targeting them.
I wondered why the surge in the flounder population and what makes one year stellar and the other poor. I reached out to Dr. Greg Stunz over at Harte Research Institute and posed that very question. Without getting into the weeds, generally speaking, flounder do better during cold winters, the colder the better. We should note the last two winters (especially 2021) got extremely cold and may have been contributing factors. The recent enactment of regulations that closed the fishery during the spawning run between November 1 and December 14 may have contributed as well.
Summer is definitely fishing tournament season and nearly every coastal community will be hosting one or more events each weekend. Looking back at where we were and how far the fishing community in general has evolved in the past few years, I tip my cap to the event organizers and promoters that have adopted more conservation-minded formats.
On that note, the 47th Annual Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament is being billed as a “Catch 22” in reference to the maximum length of two redfish and one flounder that each boat team can submit to the weigh team. Live weigh-in is strongly encouraged and being incentivized with 1/4-pound bonus per fish weighed alive. I will be participating again this year and you can bet I will be doing my best to weigh my team’s fish in the healthiest condition possible. I would like to invite all readers to come down and have a go at it. Talk about a level playing field, this is about the fairest and most challenging tournament format I have ever been involved in.
Back to fishing during summertime heat. I will be evaluating my outings and executing them with a four-pronged approach. One – Go early. Two – Schedule your outings according to best solunar and tide days. Three – Fish weekdays whenever possible. Four – Consider fishing during late afternoon and evening. I will do my best to utilize at least two of the strategies mentioned for each trip the rest of summer, while giving the best solunar days highest priority. This does not always work based on folks’ schedules, but I believe if you follow these guidelines you can improve your odds for success.
Bait is plentiful throughout our bay system and we continue to have strong tide exchanges through the recently dredged East Cut. Our trout population is still in recovery mode and daily landings include a wide range of sizes, which is very encouraging. Elevated water temps have most mid-slot trout coming from deeper water with a few still showing shallow. I do not target the deeper bite trout based on my preferred fishing style, but reds are keeping me plenty busy with the occasional big trout as seen in the accompanying photo.
When winds are light my primary summertime target areas will be humps, spoil islands, and ledges. On breezy days I concentrate my efforts in back bays early in the day or close to the ICW. Floating grass is in play, meaning that single hooks on topwaters are not only suggested but required. Mansfield Knockers continue to be steady producers when fish are feeding actively on the surface and can be worked almost effortlessly when paired with Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s G2 Green Rod Classic model. I’m still a soft plastic guy at heart, with Willow Tails and the Wig-A-Lo worked just above grassbeds and fluttered through potholes being steady money on my charters.
I will be slipping away to Florida this month to attend ICAST where I’ll be checking out all the latest gear, swag, and everything under the sun fishing related. We also have the Hunters and Sportsman Expo in McAllen July 22-24. Swing by the KWigglers booth and check out the new items being presented.