Mansfield Report: October 2013

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: October 2013
Exceptional sunrises over a calm Laguna are part of October’s beauty.
A most refreshing season is upon us and we are certainly ready for it. The Lower Laguna is in its signature pristine shape and, barring any unforeseen setbacks coming out of the tropics, will remain so throughout the months of fall. Catches of late truly have us "fishy" folks keen for what October should bring. Crispy mornings and hungry fish should be on the menu.

As of this writing I have been noticing huge aggregations of mullet forming and let me tell you; when you find them it's definitely game on. Mullet migrate in great number to the Gulf surf for spawning each fall and I presume that's what this is all about. We began seeing these in late August and the first days of September, one along the King Ranch shoreline and another along the edges of the skinny grass of the East Flats.

Super-calm late-summer mornings found us on the King Ranch shoreline with a trout bite from the olden days. Every cast was a hookup and more times than not the topwater bite was phenomenal. The downside this summer was the size ratio; ten to one smaller fish was the norm most days. The entire Laguna bay system is presently full of juvenile trout, and while that is exciting for the future, our mid-range twenty to twenty-four inchers are just not as abundant as they once were. We can speculate on the cause of the decline but that would be another story.

Windier mornings found us high on the east side fishing enormous schools of mullet in calf to knee deep water. The reds were certainly there and occasionally so were the trout of sizes dreams are made of. On more than a few occasions the feeding and aggressive nature of these fish kept us entertained late into the morning.

In years past when this pattern was working we mostly threw smaller plugs such as Super Spook Jr, "baby" Skitter Walks (size 08), She Pups, Top Pup and Top Dog Jr. We have found this season that, with the larger mullet and skipjack schools present, the heftier presentations were usually more effective. She Dogs, full-size Skitter Walks (size 11), and Heddon One Knockers have ruled.

When the sun climbs higher and the fish became less aggressive on top, the Kelley Wiggler Ball Tail Shad and Paddle Tails in the natural "sand" color have worked very well in the ultra-clear water. Sightcasting to trout longer than the water depth kept us enthused and a few of my clients were blessed with personal best specimens. The brown pelicans have been numerous working along the mullet schools and are really helpful locating them. Another worthy mention, along with every other form of marine life, numerous also are the stingrays in the vicinity of the mullet rafts. In fact, if you are not seeing them you are probably not where you need to be.

Our crowds are thinning and will soon be gone and the water level should rise to its seasonal peak by the end of this month. Redfish should form into larger schools and the trout will be more aggressive in the cooler waters.

We can expect the flooded grassy shallows to hold increasing numbers of fish as the month wears on. Being diligent with topwaters should pay big dividends, but sometimes you have to drop down when surface plugs are ignored.

Late summer is ending with outstanding wading sessions and October should be epic. Hope to see you out there, and please remember you don't have to keep them all.

Tricia's Tips
1. New seagrass rule is in effect. Stop deeper and walk to the shallower areas.
2. Piscavore Sportswear has new ladies' fishing shorts and I'm loving them.
3. Watch the weather this month, squalls develop quickly.
4. Lots of trash in the water this summer; please don't be a Bay Litter Bug!