Mansfield Report: March 2014

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: March 2014
No doubt every saltwater angler in Texas is glad to see winter winding down and, hopefully, soon to be behind us. The mere thought of warm days arriving and hanging up my waders fills me with glee and anticipation for spring fishing. Yes, it is going to be warmer, but let's not forget the probability of a few late-season fronts and those pesky southeast March winds that are sure to be a prominent part of the fishing picture this month. And, as much as we are looking forward to wading wet, that is probably going to be a while in the future, even down here in the good old Mother Lagoon.

We finally had a cold winter, no doubt about that, and finding water temperatures running in the mid-50s was the ticket for steady action the past several months. One good aspect of winter is the extremely low tides, and I hope everybody took notice of bottom changes and contours we do not often get to see. Marking these on your GPS can prove handy for finding fish when the tides bulge up in spring.

I am happy to report many of our grass beds are returning, I got to see it firsthand with the low tides. Hopefully the turbidity we have experienced since Hurricane Dolly will be lessened in many areas with the grass returning. Not saying I don't like a little dirty water, but what we have had to deal with lately has been pretty ugly, especially when one was used to so many miles of heavy grass and potholed bottoms of the past.

Although we had a great winter catching-wise, I still feel that our trout numbers are down. With that, hopefully anglers that are coming to visit will respect this fact and practice C&R accordingly. We believe the five trout limit has improved our fishery down here. If it ever makes it further up through the middle coast I am confident it will improve that fishery as well. But you have to give it time. Maybe in a few years, God willing, we'll see less bay-hopping and the pressure it brings down here. Yes, the Lower Laguna is legendary for bigger trout, but if we don't leave anywell, you know

Late winter in years past, we could catch them way skinny, but the best action this year was typically found knee to mid-thigh deep. I'm thinking the prolonged cold water temperatures played a role.

The region I am describing, easily visible during low winter tides, is exactly where the dark scattered grass begins. Not the heavy grass line we target in warmer months, but the larger sandy zone with smaller, more distinct grass patches. Some very nice fish were using this zone on the east side, especially during the frequent hard norther recoveries. Soft plastics have been our mainstay baits but during warming afternoons topwaters and broken-back Corkys also did very well.

In March we can expect higher water levels and even higher southeast wind. Use your eyes this month instead of methodically fishing your same old spots. One of the most important skills we can acquire is reading what Mother Nature lays in front of us. Try it, you will find yourself a much more successful angler.

As March progresses we should see more frequent feeding for longer periods as mature trout are beginning to develop eggs. Be ready because earliest spawning can begin toward the end of the month, weather permitting. Couple the weight of eggs and the winter bulk they are still carrying to show some real heavyweights the next two months. Another exciting possibility is sight-casting in the clear shallows to my beloved redfish. And don't think large trout can't be there as well. Quite often they are!

Tricia's Tips
-Stock up on all your tackle needs; the Houston Fishing Show is a good place.
-Watch your water depth with reduced clarity. Pushing the boat is not fun.
-Stop burning the shallows and walk in. Win-win for everybody.
-Give waders and drifters a wide birth, at least 200 yards.
-If drifting the flats, use the ICW when you can to set up your next drift. This applies especially on the east side from Benny's Shack down to Duncan House.