Greetings from Port Mansfield. As eager as we are to put the February freeze behind us I must say that these are challenging times for our trout fishery. Please do not misunderstand, this not a doom and gloom report, simply a snapshot of reality. I started fishing here in the early 90s and fishing was excellent. Keep in mind we were still in recovery of the twin ’89 freezes at that time and there were fish to be caught. So, the fishery rebounded then and it can and will again, especially if we do our part as anglers. One fact I did not know was that our fishery prior to the most recent event was more robust than it was in the early 90s. Actually, it was more robust pre-freeze than ever before, even with all the present-day angling pressure. This was an eye-opener for sure.
There are some morsels of opportunity as we dig out of the post-freeze rut. Redfish are keeping our lines tight and flounder are evidently returning from spawning in the gulf. Trout fishing is gradually coming back, up to about three and sometimes a few more per outing, but very few of nice size. It is my opinion the trout we are starting to see around Port Mansfield are coming up from the south. Trout fishing is better closer to South Padre; not on fire, but relatively better. As summer rolls in and with the increased tidal flow from our recently dredged East Cut, I expect there will be a few more trout caught in and around Mansfield.
So, having said all that, it is evident I have been fishing south more than north. About every four to five trips I will mix it up and work the northern part of the LLM just to spot check the area. My fishing state of mind is to be the first to find good fishing instead of playing catch up and fish an area that has been producing for a couple weeks. Exercising this tactic can be a little risky but as I fish more I feel I have been able to chip away at the risk part. If you are the first to stumble upon an area that is holding fish it can be epic, so it is a strategy I use and deploy when variables in my fishing equation align.
With water levels on the rise and winds on the increase I have been working back bay flats consistently. One thing that boggles my mind is how many baitfish I am seeing in the back bays. I never would have imagined that many could have survived the freeze but they did. With the bait we are finding plenty of redfish to keep our lines tight as noted earlier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with standing knee-deep and catching big reds.
I have been setting up on windblown shorelines with small, flooded drains and starting about 100 yards shy of the drain inlet. This scenario has been working for us for years, especially this time of year. If we have an outgoing flow from a drain you can bet, more often than not, there will be some action. If it is blowing greater than 15mph and the water is murky I am using a full-size topwater and/or a KWigglers Willow Tail Shad in Red Shad Pro or the KW 4-inch Paddle Tail in Strawberry Cool Tip. Redfish have also been liking Rootbeer Metal Flake with chartreuse tip. When the winds are calm I am tossing either a Spook Jr or a KW Willow Tail in the new Truth color. Another new Willow Tail from KWigglers is the Naked Margarita – Mansfield Margarita without the chartreuse tail. A very natural color that is effective when the fish are finicky.
With wader season soon behind us, remember to prep and condition your waders and jackets before storing them. Check out my latest video via the QR code below to see what I do at the end of every winter season. I’m all about taking care of the little things so the bigger things can take care of themselves.
Thanks to all who dropped by the KWigglers booth at the Houston Fishing Show. We always enjoy meeting and greeting, making new friends, and renewing old friendships. It was encouraging to see folks are still engaged and looking forward to a good summertime fishing season.
Until next time; stay safe and remember to Catch and Release as much as you can. The more we release to continue spawning the sooner we can get back on those big seven-plus pounders.
Capt. Wayne Davis Recommends NIKWAX For GORE-TEX Waders