Mansfield Report: January 2014

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: January 2014
A serene view of the Lower Laguna from the bay front at North Port.
If I was allowed only one word; different would probably best describe the fishing in the Port Mansfield through late-November and early-December.

There seems to be a lot of fish in the system right now, albeit countless small ones, and a few very large ones. What's different is that we are finding very few mid-slot fish to speak of, both redfish and trout; and one can only speculate many reasons why. This one wishes she could hypothesize, but you will have to come fish with me to hear. But, let's not let this discourage, as early December fishing improved dramatically of late and, hopefully will get even better.

As December rolled in the higher water levels finally receded, a couple of really good blows and less boat traffic seemed to help fishing overall. After these events, redfish became easier to target and, the deeper trout holding on grass beds became wade-able again, meaning we could reach them. While not as crazy-good as past years, Mansfield is still a place like no other for artificial wade fishing enthusiasts.

It's a New Year full of promise for both big trout hunters and the future fishery. As a whole, January can be one of the most illustrious months of the year for a real likelihood to catch a giant trout in Port Mansfield. It can be one of the bitterest months too, but if you keep in mind the probability, it is certainly worth going.

During this month the water temperatures should be the coldest we will see so you can bet the big trout will be seeking the warmest spots available. These should also be the winter home for good supplies of baitfish.

Pre-Norther days can find us on lee sides of grass flats, wind-pushed backwater areas, and shorelines. Shorelines are also a sensible place to begin on calm mornings both pre and post blows because of bank heating. Find spots on the bank with thigh to waist deep drops nearby and you can bet there are some giants soaking up the heat in this structure. Another bonus is not having to dwell in boot sucking mud for a while, maybe the entire day if we are lucky.

Trophy trout fishing in traditional areas is always good but, more and more folks are crowding smaller spaces. This winter will find me in areas off the beaten path, less traveled, and often overlooked. This takes time and, for those willing, I think you may end up being pleasantly surprised with the results.

I have been doing this exact thing a long time and, I continue to surprise myself with the water I have passed up. The key to big results is to have many areas to choose from year to year, not just two or three. Try to remember grassy and muddy wintertime areas that had only smaller fish in years past; dinks occupying prime habitat grow to big ones. A guide's career depends on these methods and, if you too give it time and a few good shots, you will be personally rewarded for your extra efforts.

In a nutshell For best January results, search for scattered grass in generally muddy areas that are also holding bait. Utilize shorelines on the coldest of days, and be aware of boats burning shorelines ahead of you. Try to get out there first and work promising areas thoroughly. You will often see me fishing an area all day waiting for the big bite. Slow sinking baits will come more into play and so will our steps. When not waiting it out, redfish with big ol' bellies and strong shoulders are always fun. Never discount the possibly of a truly giant trout hanging in a school of reds.

Wishing you and yours a Joyous and Memorable 2014!

Tricia's Tips:
-Always run at least 200 yards off shorelines; don't ruin it for other fishermen.
-Try on wading boots with new waders. When your feet hurt; everything hurts!
-Good fitting neoprene gloves are a lifesaver.
-Rain-X on your windshield and sunglasses really helps.
-Don't bring a buddy that does not have the same expectations as the rest of the group.