Mansfield Report: November 2011

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: November 2011

Although Mother Nature continues to be generous to Lower Laguna Madre anglers, I cannot help but daydream of the exciting days lying just ahead. With the north wind season finally upon us, the Laguna will morph herself into yet another of many diverse personalities, with fall being one of her best. As waterfowl start to dominate the crisper air, light jackets and breathable waders will dominate our fishing wardrobe and visions of epic trips will captivate our thoughts. If you haven't already made plans to take advantage of this incredible season I encourage you to get started immediately.

Here lately, our famous bully redfish finally showed up in force. When you found a good group, the action was often as savage as one might expect, although not always long-lasting. As a typical example, some impressive catches were brought to the table during the recent annual Vaughn Construction tournament. This year's Vaughn attracted nearly fifty guided teams. My team was fortunate enough to find a first light topwater bite on a large school. We were able to quickly put together our three weigh-fish stringer while wading waist deep water, and it sure didn't take long to remember how the term violence applies to eight-pound redfish slamming surface plugs. However, as is often the case, the aggressive topwater action didn't hold as long as we would have liked and soft plastics became the higher percentage presentation. Most of our reds have been full of small blue crabs and when they are rooting them up in the grass a Kelly Wiggler paddletail in pumpkin-chartreuse snaked just above the grassbed does a good job of attracting and tricking the hungry predators.

Our trout action has been similar, and during the Vaughn tournament we also caught our best fish using the same basic method, staying with it and loping the same tails just above deeper grass beds. Being most fortunate again, we were blessed with enough weight to win. If any event planner would like some tips on how to run an efficient tournament, Joe Vaughn is an exceptional blueprint.

Back to the trout, I have to say there have been days when the bite has been rather inconsistent. One day we're covered in hundreds of small trout and suddenly we start picking up impressive numbers of solid fish. And then there have been a few days when we couldn't find but a few bites. So that just goes to show you, even with our trout fishery in excellent shape all across the Laguna Madre, not all days are going to be gimmes. Many factors dictate fish activity and we'll never understand them all, but one thing we did notice during some of the slower periods, the larger trout were stuffed full of little whisker and eyeball shrimp. Sometimes their preferred forage can be hard to duplicate. When they take advantage of specific bait events such as a large emergence of juvenile stuff, even the best of us can't always compete well. Some of the better opportunities for larger trout remained over clear sand early to about midday, and other best chance patterns began to migrate closer to the many oilfield cuts later in the day. That will all change soon.

If this November even comes close to last year, and it appears quite probable that it will, we can expect some awesome fishing. Although cooler water will encourage fish to stay more within wading range, fluctuating winds and water levels will be the bigger factors in deciding where to start your day. Strong winds, from either south or north, will drain some areas while flooding others. Moving water should be your first consideration, so the primary question will be what is pushing the fish and where is it taking them? In draining situations, the first drop in bottom contour is usually a hot spot (at least for a while) whereas the fish in areas being flooded will likely be concentrated along windward shorelines. Always trust your baitfish activity to predict which presentation to try first: big or little, high or low, fast or slow. Pelicans will be one of the best indicators of feeding activity if the bait is not giving us clues on the surface. The white pelicans started in early this year and will soon become some of our best fishing allies.