Mansfield Report: January 2017

Mansfield Report: January 2017
Double hook-up produced two heavy-fives for two lovely lady anglers!

Slowly navigating the Port Mansfield harbor on my Shallow Sport Classic, I asked Capt. Ernest Cisneros the most important question of the day, "Spot X or Spot Y?" He grinned, leaned over, and stuck his finger in the water. "Let's go to X." We all chuckled and off we went.

Anticipation was high, you see. Ernest and I had been on really solid trout for a couple of weeks, and we had the A-Team onboard. And after all the banter they were expecting big trout.

Ernest and I were a tad apprehensive, though. Five days earlier we had water temps at 80 and the big trout were aggressive. The reason we were nervous was because our first strong cold front had dropped the water temp 15 degrees. I had fished two days prior and struggled. Plenty of "keeper-size" but no big ones.

While the water temp had risen a few degrees, and stabilized under a low ceiling of dark clouds, the forecast called for rain all day. More apprehension. Light rain could spell big trout opportunity. Too much rain could chase us back to port. No matter, everyone onboard was wrapped head to toe in Simms's finest.

Running in drizzle, I stopped about 150 yards from our spot, laying out the game plan carefully for a slow and quiet wade to the structure ahead. We all piled out and lined up. Within minutes we were hooking up and it was only the beginning. We stayed in the water for eight hours with only a few short breaks for snacks and drinks. This was the trip we all hope for or read about.

Fortunately, the wind never bothered us although it rained all day. And the big fish ate all day. No doubt finally adjusting to the passage of the front and drop in water temperature. The day netted a dozen or more trout over five pounds and even more redfish, with a bonus flattie.

I never cranked my Yamaha 250 SHO until we were ready to head in. We stayed in the zone more than six hours, catching steadily. During a sandwich break, a member of the group commented, "Maybe we should repeat that wade." I replied, "We're still in 'em. I say we keep moving forward." So, forward we went, until everyone had had enough.

We decided to call it quits late afternoon and had a smooth boat ride back to Port with all anticipating a good hot meal at a local restaurant. Everyone was grinning and some even complaining about how tired their legs were from wading all day, with no "boat ride" break.

The next day had us back on the mark and another epic day on the big trout. The action started off hot and at one point two casts produced two trout totaling nearly twelve pounds. Lovely lady anglers, to boot. Throughout those two epic days we experienced a couple brief periods of topwater action. Ball Tails Shads in Mansfield Margarita and Bone Diamond on 1/8 jigs fooled the rest.

Heading deeper into winter, as water temps settle into the low-60s and high-50s, finding steady trout action will require a slower retrieve with lighter jigs. I experienced this recently when the water temp dropped 15 degrees in two days. The fish were on the bottom and were not aggressive at all. I slowly bounced a Ball Tail Shad under their noses and the bite was barely a tap on the line. Deeper guts and potholes along deep channels are always good bets when the northers blow the tides out.

As the water warms following a cold snap, the fish will become more aggressive. Late of the second day and, definitely by the third, fishing should improve significantly and you may find some topwater action.

In closing I want to remind folks to release those fish that simply just need to be released. I urge clients to release trout over 20 inches and any fish that looks to have good genetics. A trout over 25 inches almost always has a great chance at swimming away if caught on my boat.

Quick reminder make sure all your gear is in good working order, not just your rods and reels. I cannot stress enough the importance of fishing dry and warm rather than wet and cold. We all may have been the wet and cold guy in the group at one point in our fishing career and if you were, you hopefully won't be again. See your Simms dealer for the most reliable wet and cold weather gear available.

Stay safe and be courteous on the water.