Mansfield Report: May 2016

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: May 2016

Every season is unique and spring brings its own magic to the Laguna Madre. Friendly temperatures above and below the water's surface, gangs of baitfish exploding above active trout and reds, blooming yuccas, with clients and me all achieving milestone fish. What a great time to be on the water!

Since my last report our water clarity is still excellent except during the stronger blows. With that said, much of the Laguna can almost be too clear during low wind periods, so concentrate on rafting mullet and heavy grass until the wind creates color changes and a little chop on the surface.

Also worth mentioning is the seasonal nuisance of filamentous algae (see also: soggy, neon-green Easter basket grass.) It is in full bloom! This icky-stringy stuff is in many prime areas and often dominates the entire water column. Breezy, intensely sunny days are the worst when it begins to float. It is often so bad that even topwaters with single hooks and weedless-rigged soft plastics are useless. The good news is that it is on the west side of the bay system and the east is clear of it. The bad news is it takes the west side out of the picture more days than not. Dealing with it is distressing and I cannot wait until it is gone.

Fortunately, several trips of late have bordered on epic in the skinny, some of us blessed with lifetime fish, both trout and reds. I recently achieved a career highpoint in water less than a foot deep. It came the day after the last full moon and waiting for the moonset was almost torture for us. We endured four hours of slaps, swirls, and "almosts" when right on cue Mother Nature rang the dinner bell. The next forty-five minutes was anything and everything a trophy trout hunter wants to experience and we were truly in the land of giants.

Four- to seven pound trout were slamming and slurping topwaters for all of us. I spied two huge wakes out of the corner of my eye and I made the cast. Both fish rushed the bone-silver One-Knocker and what I believe was the smaller of the two took my plug. I was blessed with my all-time personal best–all eleven pounds and thirty-two inches of her. I still cannot help but wonder how big the other one was.

Although we enjoyed many great days recently, I can honestly say opportunities like this are becoming fewer each year. Sadly, I do not see this pattern changing given the continuously increasing throng enjoying saltwater fishing on the Lower Laguna. I will continue to encourage catch and release with all my clients and everybody that will listen. I cannot describe how truly beautiful it felt releasing her so another may have the same opportunity.

No doubt, the magic of spring is here on the Lower Laguna, and a classic trout bite has emerged in most of the traditional areas. Topwaters have been steady producers of two to seven-pound fish on the flats. Lately, nearly every trip has yielded more than one trout over five pounds and better.

Yes, spring is here and summer will be here before long. This means we will all have to be tolerant, and start sharing the water more patiently. Education is the key and leading by example is the best teacher. I enjoy listening to Peter Frampton, but that does not mean that fish or everyone within earshot on the water does. Even though we seem to be enjoying a great fishery we still need to practice conservation, stewardship and good citizenship.

Who doesn't love a fresh fish dinner? But please, take only enough for a good meal or two and be extra careful when handling and releasing the rest. A memory and a photo will last forever and, just maybe, dead fish lying on the deck of a boat or hanging on a bragging board will become a thing of the past.