Mansfield Report: July 2009

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: July 2009
We are still catching quite a few larger trout with a sprinkling pushing 30 inches.
Fishing remains consistent here in the Lower Laguna Madre. The area offers everything a fisherman could ask for, but predictably, a whole lot of people have been asking for it lately. Everything seems more prolific this season and boaters have been no exception. Regardless, if everybody continues to behave kindly toward their fellow anglers there are good times available for all this summer.

Our trout are still stealing the show with good numbers of fish showing just about every place you might expect them to be. The 22nd annual Griffon Memorial Tournament held during mid-May provides strong testament to our good fortune this year. Historic weights were brought in across the board and my crew was fortunate enough to be granted top honors. The weigh-in, although extremely impressive, was shocking to many long time visitors here. Perhaps we can talk more in depth next month about tournaments in general, and how excellent goals might still be achieved but perhaps with a little lighter hand.

Deeper grass beds have been producing excellent catches, especially during low-wind conditions such as we have been enjoying thus far in June. The setting was more August-like with calm winds early and soaring temperatures late under clear skies. Lack of strong current flow and clear water makes deeper structures attractive, and although we enjoyed several days of serious topwater action, soft plastics on 1/8 ounce jigs have been the best baits. As is usually the case, lure color has been taking a back seat to location, depth and speed of retrieve.

We are still catching quite a few large trout with several per week going between twenty-five and twenty-eight inches with an occasional thirty. As a reminder, TPWD regs allow only one trout per day over twenty-five inches. The CCA STAR Tournament is underway and with these 30-class trout showing it would be prudent to consider keeping that spot in your bag limit open. You never know when a STAR winner might show up. Keeping an eye on the leader board and an accurate digital scale on your boat is another good idea. Each year a fair number of fish are submitted which unfortunately, despite high hopes, will not meet the minimum eight pounds or otherwise have no chance at recognition. With as many good "eating" size trout we have, it just seems a shame to retire some of these coveted larger fish only to the cleaning table. Let's all enjoy our current prosperity, but let's remember that good stewardship by all of us will help it all continue.

As exciting as the trout have been our redfish aren't taking second place without a fight. We've started seeing schooling activity with several groups running in the hundreds. If you are fortunate to run across such a school, the key to success is a low impact approach. Unfortunately it doesn't take many "eager" approaches to bust them up or drive them to deep water. Run past the school and circle wide back into their path. You can then drift, pole, troll or wade back into them.

July is always a fun month offering lots opportunity. An early start means you can beat the crowd and take advantage of fish that have moved way shallow during the night. Behind the grass line at first light can feel downright cold in this desert-like environment, and if the trout and reds are using it they can be as aggressive as any other time of year. Small topwaters can be a blast early on the sand flats, and traditionally, just follow the fish as they ease deeper with the rising sun and temperatures.

It goes without further mention that the Lower Laguna Madre is enjoying a terrific cycle of both numbers and quality of fish. It also goes without saying that it is no secret, and the missing masses from last year have returned and brought their friends with them. It's all good but it's up to us to keep it that way. Miles and miles of open flats can make for some interesting crossing situations where numerous boaters are concerned, so it's important to remember rules of the road as far as rights of way go. Many new boaters either don't know or disregard who is supposed to give way when passing closely, so the prudent operator needs to maintain a wide berth from others whenever possible. With plenty of fish and plenty of water, there is no reason to encroach upon others or create dangerous situations. The object in all of this is to enjoy life to the fullest, so remembering to respect the fish as much as our fellow fishermen will go a long way towards enhancing that enjoyment for all of us. Good luck and safe fishing!