Mansfield Report: July 2015

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: July 2015
Marisol Delagarza is crazy for flounder… and darned good at catching them!
Port Mansfield anglers have been blessed to enjoy very consistent fishing over the past several weeks. The Laguna offers pretty much everything fishermen could ask for and, here lately, a whole bunch of people have been asking. Plenty of everything–boats on the flats being no exception. Fishing tournaments are quite the rage, apparently, so expect a lot of company on the water on Fridays and weekends. Regardless–if everybody behaves kindly there are good times and great fishing ahead for us all.

Trout have been very thick in many areas and this also includes a great number of small fish. We are seeing lots of small shrimp and crabs are all over the flats, very good signs that our bay system is healthy, thanks to the recent abundance of rain. In the areas with smaller fish, good fish are also there with them in most cases but dedication and patience are required to find them. Let's all remember to be careful unhooking and releasing the small ones as they are our future.

There has been a good topwater bite early in the shallows, unfortunately though, the summertime armada of boats running shorelines and skinny water can push them down and out in a hurry. I recommend getting out very early if you enjoy fishing in knee deep or less. If you have a whole day to fish, deeper grass beds have been producing excellent trout catches during low wind conditions such as we have been enjoying thus far in June. Weather has been almost August-like; near zero wind early and soaring afternoon heat under clear skies.

Lack of strong current and clear water makes deeper structures attractive, and although we have had some great shallow 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. Straight or "rat-tail" plastics can often be more effective than paddle-tails over deeper grass structure, due to the dive and dart they provide through the water column. I also believe they appear more shrimp-like with certain "deep-hop" retrieves.

Last month I mentioned the filamentous algal bloom and, as predicted, it is still flourishing. Floating strands of shoal grass are now becoming an equal nuisance. Mornings following light overnight winds have been relatively grass-free but as the heat and winds increase many areas become virtually unfishable toward afternoon. (Another reason to get out there early.)

Your topwaters can still work with accurate casting between "lanes" of floating grass; swapping treble hooks for singles helps greatly. When fish want a topwater the hookup ratio with singles is just as high as with trebles, which is a surprise to many who haven't tried.

Besides the floating grass issues, sea nettle jellyfish are beginning to make barelegged wading interesting, especially north of the East Cut. Bull and blacktip shark sightings have been interesting as well. I personally have seen many, and it seems there are more each summer. It is certainly something we all need to be aware of while wade fishing, especially when trailing a stringer of fish. I've had a few close encounters and let me tell you they can be pretty scary.

Redfish continue to be somewhat scattered and holding deeper than normal. I wholeheartedly agree with what Capt. Ernest Cisneros said in his report last month; increased shallow-running boat traffic is changing the Laguna's historic redfish patterns. Think smart and focus on deeper grass-edged potholes and "streaked" water versus clear during high traffic times.

An early start to beat the traffic (to take advantage of fish that may have moved shallow overnight) is a good plan. Quite often in this desert-like environment, water in the shallows can be amazingly cool at daybreak. If the fish are there they can be as aggressive as they are in cooler seasons.

In closing, the Lower Laguna is a unique and wonderful ecosystem. Last summer's legion of anglers have returned, and they've brought their friends with them. That's greatwe just have to be extra cautious and courteous. Many boaters new to the region seem not to grasp that endless buzzing and burning will not improve fishinghopefully they'll catch on soon. The objective is enjoying the gift of nature the Laguna provides, so please respect the fish as much as our fellow fisherman. It's going to stay nuts down here until Labor Day, so let's just all keep our cool. There's plenty fun stuff here for everyone.