Mansfield Report: August 2015

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: August 2015
The Lyon brothers had another great trip.
Mid-summer fishing can be a hit or miss deal and lately artificial lure folks have been hitting it big or missing it altogether. There are many reasons why we chose fishing as a pastime and the ever-changing challenges that nature presents would not be last on the list. Over the past month exceptionally high tides, tons of floating grass, and overflowing parking lots have presented some tough times. Of course fish will naturally scatter with more water to roam in and unfathomable boat traffic will spread them even further. Each summer season more hopeful anglers arrive in Port Mansfield, so I suggest you had better hit the water early with a good game plan in mind.

During the past month, when targeting trout, focusing on mostly deeper water with heavy grass beds has been the best plan. The greater catches have routinely come from waist-deep or more in areas with good cover, or drop-offs. Finding bait in areas like this with fewer boats has been key. Topwaters with single hooks have worked fairly well early in the day, even in water greater than waist deep. One-Knockers and Skitter Walks are most often the better producers and during calmer periods the junior-size plugs have been more effective.

Although we have been finding some decent topwater action at times, soft plastics are the way to go for anglers seeking more action than size. Shrimp-like colors, pumpkinseed-chartreuse, etc., have been mainstays in clearer water while plum-chartreuse or black are great choices when the water is murky. We have to remember that during late-summer the afternoon water temps will average around 90 in most areas and fish will be found deeper on average. Working plastics low, just above the grass beds in murky waist-deep water (and casting deeper) is usually your best bet.

Redfish can be on the flats some days, great for sight-casting enthusiasts, but most often they seem to have preferred deeper, dirtier waters through much of June. With this said, we started seeing them returning to the shallows after the July 4th weekend, but they are very shallow and require long walks for a shot at them.

As you may have already heard, flounder are making a strong showing and we have been finding them consistently enough to target them specifically. The better areas to target are cleaner bottoms where you can drag a soft plastic without hanging up on grass or other bottom clutter. Edges and small guts along the East Cut and ICW, the old oil well ditches, spoil islands and sandy windswept shorelines are your best choices. The average sizes are running from sixteen to twenty-inches and they are fat and healthy.

Another species to consider is black drum and the Laguna around Port Mansfield certainly has plenty. You can often find drum schools in otherwise clear water by searching for large murky spots during the afternoon and toward evening. GULP pulled slowly across the bottom or fished under corks work well and can be a whole lot of fun when they are feeding. I wish more fisherman and family groups would take advantage of the fun and excellent table fare the black drum offers, and it would certainly take the heat off other gamefish.

August, despite the heat, is often an alluring month. In the first weeks the overall water levels will drop and should put fish in more predictable areas. I hope, and also expect to see more redfish on the shallow flats. With calm August conditions, redfish should be easy to spot during early morning boat rides. Trout should also be easier to pattern. For some reason, every August, we start seeing large trout showing up shallow and becoming "catchable." Silent, stealthy approaches are critical, and that is another reason why we wade, plus it's a rush getting in there with them.

As of this writing the Lower Laguna holds lots of promise and barring a hurricane, brown tide, red tide, etc., I believe we could experience epic late-summer and early-fall fishing. Remember that the Lower Laguna is a very shallow ecosystem and how we manage our boating practices can have a great effect on the marine environment, fish behavior and also our fellow fishermen. Be courteous and get out there earlyAugust is going to be a scorcher!