Mansfield Report: May 2009

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: May 2009
Mike Duncan (age seven)… “We don’t need no stinkin’ bait!”
Spring brought not only higher winds and water levels, but much higher demands for parking spaces near ramps as well, (despite a five trout limit). It seems that regardless of other news, fishing continues to be a popular sport and rightfully so. We continue to be "blessed with the best" down here in the Lower Laguna, so with a little luck and a lot of care, the best may only get better.

Seemingly overnight tides rose more than a foot and virtually changed everything as the entire system seemed to explode with new creatures. Skipjacks started destroying lures and fraying leaders almost everywhere you went, and our stingray friends came out in force making wade fishing much more interesting. While there have still been a few areas of dirty-green water to contend with, clarity has been excellent overall.

Trout taping longer than twenty-nine inches have been evading our efforts but, the numbers of fish over five pounds have been impressive. The average size seems up as well, and while we are still full of juvenile fish, the "Check It" stick has become less important. Most of our fish are still coming from shallow grass as they have been all winter except for the coldest of days. It seems that it never stayed cold long enough to run them onto the really bad mud. While topwaters and suspending lures have had their days the best lures on my boat have been tails. I remain convinced that as far as lures go; "where and how" means more than "what."

Despite the pleasure we derive from grinding it out with the hardcores, one recent trip might help summarize not only how fishing has been, but also remind us all of lessons so easily forgotten. Robert Duncan brought his six boys ranging from seven years to a freshman in college. It would have been easy to discount this "kid" crew as not being ready or willing to fish the only way I know how, which is getting in the water and getting dirty. However, they looked game enough and accepted the challenge. We handed them Fishing Tackle Unlimited rods with U.S. Reel spinners, Sufix braid and plastics on light jigs. We chose an area of off-colored water full of bait and shallow enough for the youngest. The results of wading for two days were impressive.

As they thrashed around with limits of heavy reds and a twenty-nine inch trout, we learned several things. Technically speaking- Soft plastics are consistent producers; braided line helps, and when most of the surrounding water is clear, off-colored areas holding baitfish will usually hold other fish too. Also, bigger trout can often be found with the reds. Personally speaking- We are reminded how wonderful this fishery is and to never discount the willingness of kids to work for the rewards of doing things for themselves. If only adults might have the same drive, and if only other fathers might retire those Snoopy poles at an earlier age.

Outlook for May includes wind and more wind. However, as often mentioned, that is normal here and our seagrasses keep things relatively clear in anything but a full gale. Topwaters will become more consistent; smaller numbers during calm periods and full-sized clunkers when it's blowing. Spoil banks and shorelines will provide excellent trout action and the flats should be full of redfish roaming in packs. Start shallow early and follow the fish as they move down with the sun and heat. Throw a tail and throw it well if you want consistent results but, if you'll only be happy to catch them your way, catching a few on topwaters is as fun as anything.

There are many bottom changes associated with last year's hurricane and we find more each trip. Without getting out of the boat and mapping these areas with your feet some new prime country may go undetected. The new dredge project in Port Mansfield's East Cut seems to be helping with water quality, so it will be interesting to see if additional flow helps the fishery even more. It should, and we even have earlier shark sightings this year. Of course, slow days will always exist in any bay, but at least when they happen here, we can assume it's our fault and not the fishery's... for now at least. Pray for a little luck, but demand a lot of continuing care.