Mansfield Report: December 2013

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: December 2013
Port Mansfield-Lower Laguna fishing continues to be fantastic. The long-needed rain finally came and has livened up all things, big and small. Trout are abundant and a few trophy-class fish have shown in places that made sense for the conditions. We have been seeing signs for months now, indicating good potential for another "big-trout" winter season.

We do not always know the reasons why, but both reds and trout are already showing good weights earlier than normal, especially the trout. Most any outing with good water clarity revealed numbers of large fish still cruising the shallows and shorelines. Days with little to light progression of wind leaves the Laguna wide open in the north as well as the southern regions, and just about everywhere in between.

We've been starting our days in pretty much standard fashion for this time of year high sand and spotty grassbeds early, then slowly moving to heavier grass and potholes right about thigh deep. Good starting points have differed during pre-front and post-front conditions, and these events present a whole new game plan, which we will be experiencing more and more as the fronts become more frequent.

As December rolls along, shorelines near sloughs and back-bay areas will be our daily targets. Shallow and slightly soft bottoms should pay off consistently on the not-so-cold of blows. When we say shallow it can mean anywhere from knee to waist deep and, during colder blows, deeper "feeder" guts near the shallows are definitely worth a look. We trust December will live up to recent history and bring us fairly mild winter conditions, low tides, and plenty of fish stack-ups.

Hopefully, the combination of currently abundant forage and the advent of winter's "gorging season" will keep the trout heavy and trophy-worthy. Redfish are always game for me, and they too should be pulling our lines tight in December. The theory that all the big reds leave the bay in the winter must come from those who don't fish in the winter. It is not at all uncommon to find pods and even small schools that will average thirty inches and a few as long as thirty-two. It's game-on when one of these bruisers crashes a topwater!

As wide open as the Laguna is now, our lure choices are too. I often stick to my favorites...Kelly Wigglers' Ball-Tail Shad and Paddletails, and of course my beloved Skitter Walks but, I will also use MirrOlure's Corky Fat Boys and their brand new Soft Dine that I am really taking a liking to. MirrOlure also has some new scented soft plastics that will be in my winter arsenal. Why not?

It's very easy to get stuck with what you know, yet winter is a good time to learn new methods for multiple reasons very little floating grass, excellent clarity, and when it gets colder we'll see a big reduction in mullet and other baitfish which usually means hungrier predators. The combination of these can really help speed the learning process, especially the suspending baits and floating plugs. And while you can't beat the versatile soft plastic rattails and paddletails most of the time, you simply cannot discount the efficiency of the aforementioned plugs in learned hands.

Again, the outlook for December looks very promising. We have already been catching some heavyweights, and many of our clients typically catch their personal best late-December through April. But don't wait; if a trophy fish is your goal you should think about the whole month of December as prime time it's already good!
You can bet I will be out there everyday the weather will let me.

May you all have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

Tricia's Tips
-Expect early morning and late afternoon fog the next few months. Caution is advised.
-Extra clothes and blanket in boat at all times. Hypothermia happens quickly.
-Winter bays can find you out there with very few other boaters. Fully charged cell phone and VHF can turn a bad day around faster.
-Check those waders before you go, no other option except being cold and wet once you're out there.