Mansfield Report: April 2012

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: April 2012

I have been very busy on the water lately, a wonderful thing, but quite demanding physically and mentally. The saving grace of long busy stretches is that the fishery of the Lower Laguna remains so generous. Even when I'm dead-dog-tired Mother Nature continues to bless us with so much opportunity in so many places. Just knowing that the next cast could bring a lifetime fish for a client, or for me, is a big part of what keeps me going.

Given an unusually mild winter, our spring patterns are coming into play about a full month ahead of schedule. Knowing where the fish are is always a big leg up but, no matter how many fish might be available, the catching is always highly dependent on weather and the way in which it affects their feeding behavior. You should probably also throw in some good planning and a bit of luck to insure consistent success.

Speaking of planning, doing your homework to develop a game plan before launching is always the best place to start. This time of year, wind direction, wind velocity, atmospheric pressure and temperature must all be considered. Down here we live and die by the wind, and when the forecast says "10 to 15 mph" we pretty well know to just add them together to get an idea of what to expect. Picking an area that might hold good water longer will save a lot of running around and help maximize fish time. The seagrasses have changed since the flood of 2010, so if you haven't been here in a while there may be a few surprises awaiting. There are plenty of productive acres out there though that can hold decent clarity despite strong winds, but there is a huge difference between south, southeast, and a south-southeast blow. Just a few degrees difference on the compass can wreck a lot of areas, so we need to choose areas wisely unless we simply like to burn fuel.

Surface plugs have been producing here and there and I'm sure this will improve steadily as we make our way into spring but for now my Kelly Wigglers and Texas Tackle Factory plastics are still the money baits. Having a few MirrOlure Die Dappers in your pocket is also a good idea. Speaking of Kelly Wigglers, owner Wayne Davis has re-introduced some quality tail dips and dies and it's been fun tweaking lures with personalized color.

April usually means small craft advisory flags flying daily. No doubt this keeps some folks in port but we take these into consideration and we go anyway. We can also expect to see higher water levels, which gives us many more areas to fish, but also gives the fish more places to hide so it works both ways.

Redfish have already started their concentrated move to the clear shallow sandy zones and we have also seen large trout using the extreme shallows under the right conditions. Small, natural colored topwaters worked very gently can be effective here and, as always, slow-rolled paddletails are also top performers for us.

April will offer challenges with higher winds and water but can also offer some of the heaviest fish of the year. Many fish will still be sporting their winter girth along with newly developing roe, and a twenty-eight inch trout here can often push nine pounds. It's not uncommon to see a legal red threaten the ten-pound mark during April, so it's certainly an exciting time to get in the water.

Let me tell you another reason I'm excited. By the time this issue hits the newsstands I will be sporting a beautiful new custom boat-motor-trailer rig. After much personal debate and lots of research I pulled the triggered on a deal with Chris's Marine in Aransas Pass and will be burning up the water with an awesome 23' Haynie Cat, reliably pushed by a Mercury Pro XS 225. The catamaran technology makes perfect sense for our waters where we have to do it all to the extreme. Not only do we need to work ridiculously shallow, but we often have to get there with long runs and rough conditions. I think this rig is going to be a real game changer for me and my clients.

Here's hoping your April will be as fun and productive as your wildest dreams. Good Luck! And as David Rowsey says, "Set 'em loose!"