Mansfield Report: October 2022

Mansfield Report: October 2022
First Assistant US Attorney Matt Quinn with a great flounder while wading the flats.

Greetings from Port Mansfield! October kicks off some of the best fishing anybody could ask for. Very soon the caress of cooler weather will be felt all along the Texas coast. The flats of the Lower Laguna Madre will be teeming with baitfish and gamefish alike, and if you like that “knee deep” stuff as I do you will be in the right place at the right time.

Bait has been very plentiful all year and if you fish this month you will see what I’m talking about. Flats will be inundated with schools of mullet being crushed by angry reds and trout, and most will be easy to catch. If you are a topwater angler now is the time to tie one on. I’d suggest you work the outside edges of any pod of baitfish you find instead of throwing smack dab in the middle of them. Likewise, I would recommend the same strategy if you happen upon a school of redfish. Quite often, by working the edges you can easily pull a limit or more from a pod of 15 to 20 without busting them up too badly. The trick is to hook one from the edge and pull it away from the school. They might scatter a bit but soon enough you will see those coppery flags waving again as they resume their feeding. Heading into fall, this tailing and feeding activity is not just an early morning thing; we can expect it anytime during the day. With cooler temperatures and increased schooling tendency this time of year it seems they prefer to remain together as opposed to scattering. So, when you catch one or two, stick around a while. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.

In addition to good redfish action I am also very pleased with the recovery of the trout fishery in general, and the shape many of these fish are in here in late summer. Traditionally, during late August and throughout September our trout become pencil-thin, but not so much this year. I am impressed to see so many football-shaped trout coming to hand. This leads me to believe we could be in for a late fall and winter season with lots of trout weighing heavier than normal for length. We will just have to wait to see but that’s my prediction as of now.

I have been mentioning flounder regularly, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record I feel that I need to touch on it yet again. Just about every trip continues to produce at least a few flounder, most are running 17 to 19 inches, with the occasional kicker of about four pounds. Excellent to see and I hope we have another cold winter (not too cold) so we can watch our flounder population carry over to next season.

Moving on to snook…what can I say? We started super strong in early summer but faded after a few weeks, and then struggled for about a month. This had me scratching my head but I remained determined to continue plugging away. Sure enough things started coming together on locating and hooking them, but landing them was another story. My groups and I landed only four out of twenty-four hookups. Pretty crummy ratio but that’s the way it goes. I have even received a few remarks from my buddies over at Harte Research Institute about my landing ratio as I still have yet to tag ten this year. But being stubborn like a snook, we stayed the course and our luck improved dramatically. Two great fish came to hand recently, both over 10 pounds and 31 inches. No surprise, both came on Mansfield Knockers and both were tagged for my buddies at Harte.

Boat traffic will continue to diminish this month and I expect to see more girth on our trout and reds. Flounder season will be closed November 1 through December 14 and snook will have moved on, so my focus will shift toward locating and patterning larger trout for the upcoming winter season.  

On another topic, God willing, I will be back in Brazil on another Amazon peacock bass adventure for most of October as I have back-to-back trips with two separate outfitters. Can’t wait to show pics and provide reports on this. Stay tuned to both Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine social media outlets and mine for updates during my Brazilian adventure.

Until next time stay safe out there and remember – Fresh is better than frozen!