Mansfield Report: April 2014

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: April 2014
Julian had a great day!
Has this winter been a lingering nightmare from Hell or what? The weatherman says they had sleet and snow flurries just north of Houston in the Conroe and Woodlands area yesterday. As much as I hate to say it, this crazy weather isn't doing us any favors down here on the Lower Laguna and it's anybody's guess what other weird weather surprises might await us. However, even considering the harsh conditions, heartier anglers with the stamina to try have been managing some excellent fishing days. Larger trout have been included!

As often expected during late-February and early-March, the late afternoon bite has the most prolific in Port Mansfield. We spent many mornings clearly seeing fish, some you might spend a lifetime trying to catch, either not respond at all or just half-heartedly short striking your best presentation. Who knows truly why, but as in many things in life, sometimes we just have to wait for it. What worked for us was staying put when we knew good fish were present, then waiting for the afternoon warming and the wind to move some water to trigger the feed.

As many experienced fishermen already know, here in the Lower Laguna, we NEED wind to move the water, and evidently they wanted that warming as well. My opinion is that very few of our fish have ever seen water temperatures this cold for this long. Patterns were strange, but figuring things out is what fishing is supposed to be all about anyway.

Redfish numbers have rebounded in the areas we've been fishing lately and we are happy to see them. They went from basically scarce to pleasingly predictable, and have saved many recent days. Some bigger trout encounters have been mixed in there as well, and although none of our people have hit the ten pound mark yet, some of the weight versus length trend we are seeing make the possibility very real.

Just like the weather, fishing at times can be either highly predictable or nowhere close to what we might have expected. It will be interesting to see how this spring comes together in the aftermath of a real winter. Some of the old timers around Port say when they had a really cold winter season many years ago the spring fishing was always very good.

When we think we have everything just about figured out something else pops up to change the game. We have had some changes in recent weeks; the most significant being a new brown tide event in the Laguna, the most unfavorable we have seen in many yearsin my opinion. Pair that with seasonally strong wind that March and April always bring us and finding what we think is "good water" anywhere within decent running distance may turn out to be a real challenge. We'll just have to wait and see.

The old timers have an opinion on this brown tide situation, too. A sure bet they say, will be the big influx of clean-emerald water rushing in from the Gulf, hastened by the seasonally higher tide patterns and also the usually strong prevailing south and southeast winds of April that will dilute the brown algae concentration and restore our water.

No doubt higher water levels will scatter our fish when they first arrive but I'll take that any day, especially when the higher tides will also be delivering seasonal baitfish migrations. We'll see the mullet in much greater number, and of course the ladyfish and jack crevalle, and those dreaded stingrays, too. But all things consideredif the brown tide disappears and the sun can penetrate the water column to assist our seagrass recoveryI will gladly accept the challenge of locating "scattered" fish for a few weeks.

If the dreaded brown stuff is still an issue in April, lure choices can make all the difference. It may be time to pull out loud She Dogs, Super Spooks, and X-Raps when it's topwater time. Darker silhouetted soft plastics can help, and so will inserting glass rattles. I don't use them but loud rattling corks or that old time-tested Mansfield Mauler can help as well.

Structure types that I will be concentrating on in the coming weeks will be spoil banks, recently flooded backcountry areas and, as always, shoreline points and dropoff ledges. The east side flats, both north and south, will be flooded high onto the sand and should usher in many sunny day sight-casting opportunities.

I am excited at the possibilities spring will bring, when it finally arrives.