Mansfield Report: July 2013

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: July 2013
Gavin Corbett nailed this red with a gold spoon.
Another month has zoomed past and all things are good in Port Mansfield, including the fishing. It has been rather sporting for artificial wade fishing enthusiasts; some days working much harder than others for quantity yet quality fish have been my target throughout June and we have not been disappointed most days. Deep summer patterns are in full swing and we certainly have had to adjust our tactics a little bit, but not too much.

Refreshing cool mornings in the shallows can still work on less-trafficked weekdays, especially on the north and southeast flats. We like to start with small topwaters, simply to take advantage of the excitement that accompanies gigantic explosions in ankle to knee deep water...really nothing much better than that! As the bite wanes in the shallows we systematically drift toward the first drop and switch to plastics worked over waist deep grass patches, and sand pockets where the grass coverage is more constant. We sometimes begin our days in similar depths along our beloved west shoreline but even weekday traffic dictates the quieter east side of the bay most of the time. Weekend traffic has been almost ridiculous this past month, bordering on scary at times.

I am very happy to report the Laguna's water quality could not be any better as of this writing. I have written several times previously that the big seagrass die-off following the mid-summer floods of 2010 created near-constant water clarity issues, and while the grass is far from fully recovered, the calmer wind patterns of late have certainly yielded much better clarity on average and let's just pray that it continues. Being able to see and point out structure to clients sure helps to improve the bite ratio and also their understanding of the lessons we present. Nothing like being able to see what you're doing!

We are still catching great trout up to eight pounds and quite a few in the four to six pound range, however, I'm afraid the days of the heavy weights are about done for the season as spawning activity is at full tilt and the longer and harder they do it the skinnier they'll be on the Boga. We are finding fish on all types of structure, from early morning sand with scattered grass to spoil banks and larger grass breaks and bars. A good assortment of lures has made it fun, smaller tops in the mornings and mid-size to even larger (when they're aggressive) as the day progresses. Soft plastic paddletails and Kelley Wiggler Ball Tail Shads are still my top choice day in and day out. We will be field testing some new "glittery" colors from Kelley soon and I cannot wait to get my hands on them.
Inside every diehard angler there is a certain amount of lure junky but it is a real mistake to turn our backs on the tried and true numbers that have produced over the years. One of these is the good old 1/4 ounce weedless gold spoon. Redfish love them so as they say don't leave home without 'em! Line twist can be a problem though, especially if your retrieve is fast enough to cause the spoon to twirl part of the time. So if your spoon does come not factory-rigged with a split ring and barrel swivel attached, you'll do well to add these unless you want a horribly twisted line.

While on the subject of rigging, I'm amazed at the number of fairly accomplished anglers that have not yet learned to tie a loop knot on their lures or a uni-to-uni joining knot to attach a leader. There are some excellent websites that feature animated tutorials and they're only a couple of clicks from your fingertips even on a Smartphone. Sit down for a few minutes before your next trip and master these simple knots if you haven't already; you'll be glad you did.

Here's a few newsy tidbits I'd like to include before I close:
  • Floating grass is becoming an issue topwaters are working best with single hooks.
  • The Lower Laguna is crowded practice your best on-the-water etiquette and safety.
  • The marina on the north side of the Mansfield harbor is selling gasoline but they ran out last weekend, and the Exxon on TX 186 at the edge of town still has no fuel.
  • Hopeful STAR anglers should invest in a good digital scale. There's already a 10lb-2oz trout leading the Lower Coast and 5th place is currently 8lb-6oz. Please practice Catch-Photo-Release if your fish won't make the board.