Another month of fishing fun has flown by and life continues to be good in Port Mansfield. We'd like the fishing to become a little more consistent, though. It will be very soon I'm sure, but in the meantime the best catches of late have come from the most dedicated and patient anglers.
Overall, fishing has been weak these past several weeks, bordering on a great big suck at times for most who have braved the wind. Many have been disappointed as old-school patterns just haven't been producing. High-high water levels and savage winds have made each adventure exactly that - an adventure to find a bite. Yes, we are still catching them and there have been some great catches, but it has taken getting down and dirty to accomplish it most days. Despite having a very healthy fishery, it is all about the prevailing conditions, and always will be.
Consistent SSE winds in the 20 to upper 30 mph range have kept all but the hardest sand or grassiest of bottoms looking like a grass-choked mocha frappé. Somebody said yesterday that the view from the causeway going into South Padre looked like you could plant corn in the waters below. Not normal. And it appears our seagrass meadows still have quite a ways to go in recovery following the great freshwater inundation during the summer of 2010. Extreme freshwater inflow diverted from the Rio Grande after tropical storm floods put a large hurt on vegetation that requires higher salinity to thrive. Many areas have changed, and while waiting for a vibrant re-growth, several "spots" are just not what they used to be. It's not all bad though, and all the more reason to fish with your eyes instead of your pre-programmed GPS.
"Fishing with your eyes" means reading (and taking advantage of) the signs nature is suggesting for the moment. It's not exactly rocket science to see bait and current lines along color changes with perhaps a few birds working the area. By all means, stop and fish! It amazes me how many boats scream past obvious "Stop Here" indicators. I think I mentioned before that a GPS can be either a good tool or a bad "suggester." A good fisherman is always on the hunt so use that GPS to mark hazards instead of fishing spots.
We are riding the crest of a real bull tide and with it came tons of hot jellyfish. Long pants offer protection while wading as do breathable waders, if you can stand them in the heat. Fighting our way through the jellies has given us some great fish lately so be careful and learn to deal with it.
We have been catching most of our better fish deeper than normal for the time of year. Jay Watkins is right. When the water levels go up many fish go deep as opposed to what we would think. Deeper spoils along the ICW have been some of our better spots over the past weeks.
Summer always brings calmer weather patterns. We will probably still have occasional nuisance wind into late June, and as the bull tide recedes we should see the fish returning to the shallows. We look forward to seeing schools of big reds and lots of keeper trout on the flats, along with a few big mamas.
It took some getting used to, but I am really beginning to like FTU's new split-grip Green Rod they call the "McFast." Paired with a 50 or 100 size reel the balance point is so precise that you actually have to back off your presentation - very pleasant relief for tired, sore arms on long days. With its super fast action, the sensitivity is ridiculous with braded line.
Thanks to Chris's Marine in Aransas Pass, I am now enjoying the most pleasant ride I have ever experienced in choppy bay water. My new twenty-three foot Haynie Cat is one sweet ride and my new Mercury Pro XS 225 makes it fly! No longer does a rough bay dictate where I can run in comfort and the shallow water takeoff and planing capability is equally awesome. My back and knees are thanking me as are all my clients. Hopefully they will be able to wade longer and harder now that we aren't getting so beat up during rough bay crossings.
Life is good down here and it will remain that way as long as we keep fishing responsibly. Keep what you need and release the rest. We want to enjoy this for generations to come…agree?