Mansfield Report: March 2023

Mansfield Report: March 2023

Chris Irwin – personal best 8-pounder – tagged for Harte Institute and released.

Greetings from Port Mansfield! I am happy to report that trout fishing has been very good lately. Our Laguna continues to provide great habitat and the fishery seems to be thriving. With extensive seagrass meadows anchoring the marine food chain it is no wonder that so many anglers envy what we have down here. We’ve come close in several potentially catastrophic events, yet she seems to rebound and recover to provide a world-class fishery.  

Speaking of a world-class fishery, let me relate what I experienced recently. I had three anglers, two from Alabama and one from San Antonio, and you can bet they were here for big trout. I love fishing my groups from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and even Florida; simply because most of the time all we need to do is catch a five-pounder or better for them to establish a new PB record. We’ve done well recently in landing this class of fish, not to mention literally hundreds of solid two- to four-pounders.  

Our first day, which was also the maiden voyage for my new 2023 SCB Recon, had us working big grass beds and scattered potholes. The winds were not in our favor but one of my guys landed a solid four-pounder. All smiles amongst the group, which kept spirits high. As we continued, I felt like there had to be a better spot; based on the previous week’s weather, plus we were lined up with a perfect lunar period with warming water. I elected to move and our next wade began with some two-to four-pounders. I noticed they were quite plump, which lifted my spirits even more for what a 27-incher might weigh. Easing along and probing every pothole and flicker of bait, the bite was slow on plastics but the angler chunking the topwater was enjoying steadier action. Hardheaded, but not completely dumb, I tied on a Mansfield Knocker and started getting some slaps, swirls, and misses. A few casts later I landed a solid fish and noticed a mullet tail sticking out of the trout’s throat. Thirty minutes later I connect with a good fish, a fat 27-inch seven-pounder. She was tagged for Harte Research and quickly released.

The next day had us lined up on the same spot. In short order Jay Fowler, still tossing the same topwater, connected with a good one, his PB (at the time) coming in at 8 pounds - 28.25 inches, (see photo). Another successful tag and release. Our wade slowed to barely a crawl and we hadn’t moved 30 yards from the boat. We really dialed in to our surroundings and probed what seemed like every blade of grass instead of every grass bed. This continued with solid catches of trout all day, with a good number again having mullet tails sticking out of their throats. Being hardheaded, I guess, I went back to plastics, but again it was slow for me, but not for the others throwing topwaters. We continued, only wading about 300 yards all day, never starting the motor until it was time to go in.

Day three had us back at the spot yet again, only this time we left the dock extremely early, running in pitch black and settling in well before daylight. The day started slowly but as the solunar major approached the guys on topwaters started getting action. Still hardheaded, I stuck with my plastic. It was at this moment I realized the fish were not eating them – period! Heck, they were stuffed with mullet as we noted, and all their bellies were fat and hard. An ah-ha moment…topwaters were the key to drawing reaction strikes…I even tried a Double D but still very few strikes. So, we spent the entire third day having the time of our lives on topwaters. Jay Fowler, who started off and stayed with the same topwater all three days, was the angler to envy. The term “icing on the cake” gifted him on his last fish of the third day, shattering his previous day’s personal best; the photo of which will come later.

So, what’s the moral of the story besides living and walking in a world-class fishery? Listen, and look at what the fish are telling you. If you find fish so full and fat that it would be a miracle that they could swallow anything more, you might consider a topwater to appeal purely to their aggressive predatory nature.

Big news! The FTU G2 Green Spinning Rod is now available in limited supply. Grab one quick because I’m sure they’ll sell out quickly.

Remember, fresh is better than frozen.