Mansfield Report: November 2006

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: November 2006
Low birds hovering just above the water will pinpoint schools of redfish during northers.
You really have to love what fishing in the Laguna Madre has to offer. November is when Port Mansfield returns to its laid-back atmosphere in town but becomes exciting just past the harbor. We will have a lot of water to ourselves, and who can argue deserted shorelines with nothing but yapping coyotes, curious deer and lure smashing fish as distractions? The fishing here has taken its turn into fall and everything looks to be on schedule for another season of adventure.

As of this writing we are already seeing a lot of what we want. Good groups of redfish are tailing consistently in the early morning shallows and then dropping down predictably into potholes by late morning. There's not much more exciting than sneaking up on a pod of unsuspecting tails waving in the air to make a heart-pounding presentation. Watching an oversized red destroy a topwater rates high on the list as well. It is already going on and will even get better as we go through the month. The first few cold fronts will help.

In most other parts of the coast, a strong push of cool air can shut down fishing while it's blowing through but the Laguna offers some unique opportunity. We have an environment where fishing for shallow redfish can be exceptional even during twenty-five mph winds. Shallow seagrass beds help to hold water clarity, and bulldozing redfish will school and take advantage of shrimp being dislodged by north winds in shin deep water. Low birds, hovering right above the water, will pinpoint these schools. Most will be in very tight circles and can have anywhere from a dozen to thirty fish in them. Often we can see several groups working within wading distance. The key is staying with them and making accurate casts, mostly with tails but topwaters can work as well. Fishing like this takes a certain amount of athleticism as some of the bottoms aren't exactly the easiest to navigate on foot, but the rewards of working hard always give the most satisfaction. As mentioned, however, a major key is making accurate casts. I'd like to address more of that.

We quite often take casting for granted, but that is one skill that has to be perfected to catch fish on a consistent basis. If we don't have distance we are extremely limited and if we can't hit a target or land a lure within a couple of feet, we are relying on blind luck. We see many enthusiastic folks who despite great intentions just can't always do what needs to be done. If you are going to invest in a trip to the Laguna, or anywhere else for that matter, it is important that you have made an investment in casting skill as well. We wouldn't think of playing in a golf tournament without hitting a few buckets of balls, and vacationers serious about a ski trip will start doing exercises to get in shape as best they can. Fishing should be no different if we want a chance at greater enjoyment. Make sure your level-wind is in excellent working order and full to capacity with new line. For those of you preferring spinning reels, practice throwing a lightweight lure at various angles to the wind and hitting a specific target. To enjoy success in sight-casting, the lure has to land directly where the fish are, and these exciting circles of opportunity are usually very tight.

The other opportunities fall will bring are of course a better trout bite. Larger topwaters come more into play near shorelines as the water cools. Loud She Dogs can bring explosive action during feeds and we will see a much better ratio of keeper-sized fish. The better fish we will catch will have good weight on them as they start gorging in preparation for winter. Patterns become more predictable both before and after fronts as water either floods or drains the flats, shorelines, and backwater areas. Down here in the valley, temperature fluctuations usually don't become a major consideration until the latter part of the month.In short, November can be a month to remember. Excellent hunting in South Texas is a major draw and many memories can be made in the water while much of the outdoor crowd moves inland. Speaking of memories, a good camera should always be a part of our essential gear. Pictures and videos last a long time and many others can enjoy your trip for years to come. If we are fortunate enough to land one of the monster trout the Lower Laguna Madre has to offer, if it's not headed the taxidermist, please consider letting it grow for others to enjoy as well. Enjoy what fall has to offer, and remember, practice your casting to a fine art, and we don't need be scared of a little wind. Go for it, and good luck!