Mansfield Report: November 2022

Mansfield Report: November 2022
Bobby Walker… the old man and the snook!

Greetings from Port Mansfield! I am super excited to be headed into fall and the coming of deer season in Texas. No longer much of a deer hunter myself, what I enjoy viewing through my Leupold binoculars nowadays is greatly reduced boat traffic on the Lower Laguna. Perhaps not all will agree but that’s how I see it.

We have been blessed recently with some of the best early-morning views any angler could ask for – thunderheads with flickers of lightning blocking the sunrise tell me the fish will be biting. Water temperatures have declined to a pleasant level and topwaters are on the menu. There are often days when, if I don’t catch myself, I can end up throwing topwaters all day long, even though a switch to plastics might have produced more strikes. If you like watching trashcan-size swirls, slurps and explosions in knee deep water, now is the time.

Fishing is currently strong, having recovered nicely from a slow spell several weeks ago. That said, I would say that we have enjoyed an excellent early-fall season with all species thus far. Redfish are beginning to school predictably and football-shaped trout are being caught on a somewhat regular basis. Flounder action is so good that you can catch them on topwaters, (see video via QR code). Snook, some that qualify as giants, are showing themselves after going radio silent for about a month. The bottom line is this: after fishing many different bodies of water, the best fishery I have ever experienced is right here in the Lower Laguna Madre. There are few places anywhere in the world where you can catch multiple species of trophy-sized fish within a hundred yard stretch of shoreline…yet here we are.

We can use what I have just described as a foundation for moving forward and reminding ourselves we do not need to keep every fish that is legal by statute. We might keep one occasionally for a fresh fish dinner; but I encourage that you should also consider whether you already have fish in the freezer. If you do, release today’s catch until you use them up. Just a thought; not meaning to preach, and no offense intended.

I am always eager for success and at the same time reminded that it is never easy to catch a snook wading the flats of the Texas Laguna Madre. My clients and I have landed quite a few and I am always mindful of the dedication of time and effort that is required on average to get it done. Bobby Walker has been on the snook quest with me for quite a while and has been remarkably successful over the years; to the extent that he was featured on the cover of this magazine a while back with a great one that weighed more than ten pounds.

There have been times when Bobby threatened to never fish for snook again, that’s how many times we’ve struck out completely after working our tails off all day. But like Hemmingway’s character, Santiago, he keeps coming back. So, there we were, eight trips into the snook mission this year, and it finally happened. The Old Man’s efforts were finally rewarded. So here’s take-away: It’s what you put into it that makes it rewarding. We all want the big ones, but always consider the ratio/percentage of your targeted species before you consider admitting defeat.

On a side note, I am happy to report we’ve had one of the trout we tagged recaptured recently. Back in late July I caught and tagged a 26.75-inch trout and a few weeks ago a local angler caught it again. This is the first official recapture I have had on a trout although I have had several on snook. This trout was reported to have grown almost two inches and was released again with the tag intact. Very interestingly, the recapture and second release was accomplished fewer than five hundred yards from the original capture and release location. So, it either stayed around the same area or traveled and returned to the same area to be caught again. Either way its data for my friends over at Harte Research Institute. Very cool!

Looking ahead, now is the time to check your Simms waders for leaks in the swimming pool. Don’t be that guy that waits until that first cold winter morning. I have a feeling we will see a few good ones this year.

Till next time…Fresh is always better than frozen!