Approaching year’s end and looking back, we have enjoyed good fishing through 2017 but it will not go in the books as a record-setter. Fishing has been steady the past several weeks, although it has not always been easy to keep up with patterns when tides run unusually high for weeks and northers begin to arrive more frequently. I sometimes like to use the analogy of laying floor tile to explain fishing.
Successful tiling requires planning and preparation. The sooner you develop a technique or understand a pattern, the quicker you can lay the tile. Then you come to a corner or along an edge where a full tile doesn’t fit and you must stop and figure out what size to cut it. Productivity picks up again when you get past that spot.
So it goes in fishing. To be consistently successful you must do some planning. It is critically important to understand what the weather and water conditions will be. You should study the tide chart, moon phase and solunar table. A game plan should be formulated well ahead of hooking up the trailer and heading to the launch ramp.
The more days you can be on the water, the more recent your knowledge and the better your understanding of fish movements and feeding patterns. The puzzle obviously becomes tougher to solve if you only get to fish one day a week. That’s why I always say you have to do your homework – keeping track of tides, moon phases, water temperatures, and the like.
Just recently, Capt. Wayne Davis and I were discussing fishing patterns. I shared that my son, Capt. Aaron Cisneros, was doing well on shorelines with outflowing drains and potholes, much farther south than Wayne normally fishes. Wayne then applied Aaron’s pattern on his northern end of the Lower Laguna and found it to work very well for him as well.
The point here is understanding and applying patterns – just like when laying tile. You can sometimes apply what works in one place to be successful in another. Every day is different. Do your homework and apply what you’ve already learned to be continuously successful.
Redfish action has improved and should get even better as water temperatures continue to decline. Here recently we are finding better numbers between the Arroyo Colorado and Port Mansfield than on the lower end of the Laguna Madre. Pods and small schools have been working the sand flats during early morning and again in late-afternoon. Bait is currently plentiful and easy to keep track of in warm water but we will soon be relying more on birds to point the way as cooler temperatures push the bait below the surface. Never ignore a hovering gull or swooping osprey when searching for wintertime fish!
As much as I would love to tell you the reds have been crushing topwaters, it just hasn’t been happening. K-Wigglers Ball Tail Shad in Mansfield Margarita and plum-chartreuse have been far more productive for us.
Trout fishing has been very good. They are gaining weight steadily and already we’ve had several that would make any angler proud. Most of our better specimens are currently coming from sandy bottoms in shallow water but I expect they will soon begin showing a preference for softer mud bottom. As always, bait presence will be the primary key. When you see the mullet transitioning from shallow sand to slightly deeper-muddy bottoms, you can bet the trout will be moving with them. From what I’ve been seeing lately, I am predicting a better than average winter trophy season.
If I might be allowed only one lure to fool a trophy wintertime trout, my choice would be a K-Wiggler Willow Tail Shad and my favorite colors are Mansfield Margarita, Bone Diamond, and Plum-Chartreuse. This bait was introduced only a year ago but has already become our most trusted big trout lure.
On the flounder scene, I guess you could say we got a little spoiled during 2015 and 2016. Thus far, 2017 hasn’t quite measured up to those of recent past but we still managed to land our fair share, even if by accident most of the time.
Our snook landings in 2017 were much improved over several previous seasons. I keep hoping and praying that with greater conservation through catch and release angling our snook fishery will to continue to grow and thrive.
In closing I want to thank all my clients and sponsors for the support throughout the year. I also want to encourage greater sportsmanship, courtesy on the water, and conservation of our fisheries. May you all enjoy a very blessed holiday season.Merry Christmas!