Mansfield Report: October 2015

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: October 2015
I cannot wait for back-bay wading trips this fall.
Although September fishing here in the Lower Laguna-Port Mansfield area has been pretty much the same as last month (pattern and strategy-wise); October should usher in cooler breezes, more aggressive feeding activity, and bigger trout staging and holding shallow for longer periods. I am super fired up for the exciting changes this month will bring, and you should be too.

Most fishing days over the past month began with shallow wades and inspiring sunrises. Leaving early remained critical for any chance to beat boat traffic in the shallows. Seeing wakes of redfish and trout sure gets the blood pumping, but unfortunately we had a few days ruined by uncaring boaters, burning the flats and weaving through waders and drifters. Shallow-water fish are naturally spooky enough on calm mornings when the water is air-clear; all it takes is one boat running too close to shut down the whole experience.

Saying that, seeing them is never a guarantee the catching will be easy, traffic or no traffic. Sometimes it is just too calm or the fish are just too shallow. Other times the floating grass is too thick, hindering chances of good lure presentation. Making the most of sunrise shallow wades is one of the most challenging angling games in the world, so get there early and pick your fish and area accordingly.

Swimming plastics and small spoons have always been my shallow water go-to lures but small surface plugs can also be a great tool. Lately, some of the feeding activity has been so aggressive that even full-sized plugs worked up in the skinny. It often took a slow twitch and they often did not hit hard enough to stick but, let me tell you, a "hump of water" chasing your lure is an experience all its own.

The most fun of it is the challenge of inducing a strike and the shallow fishing has been exciting the last several weeks, but these have not been our biggest fish. Most of the better ones have come from pulling plastics and surface plugs through waist to chest-deep depressions, even during the earlier morning hours some days. You tell me why they are that deep so early in the day.

The decision to start shallow or deep has not been easy and, as always, the real test comes down to understanding patterns and identifying new ones as they emerge. Our trout are still on the smaller side on average, and unless you happen on an unusual situation the keeper ratio is still rather low. The standard summertime tactics are still effective as of this writing and most of the better trout have been found on deeper grass with soft plastics.

However, floating plugs fished along structure breaks have been bringing some nice fish to the surface and I expect this to continue and improve going into October. If the rainfall we have been receiving the past couple months continues into October, the already abundant forage such as crabs and shrimp could just explode, and this is good news for fisherman. As these forage species make their way from the back-bays and sloughs, the trout and redfish will be there to take advantage of the bounty and we will be there too. Be aware of this pattern following rainy periods. We don't have all that many areas like this near Port so please remember to be courteous to those who arrived on the scene ahead of you.

Heading into fall I am eager and more than willing to trade summer's deep wades for more shallow water opportunity. As overall water levels rise, shorelines and back-bay areas will be back in play after months of little or no water. Larger trout will move shallower where lures will get to them more consistently. Somewhere around mid-to-late month usually marks the end of trout spawning activity and fish begin to gain weight rapidly. As rich as the forage prospects are at present I'm expecting to see a better-than-average batch of 10+ pounders this winter!

October will bring a wide range of favorable circumstances and good anglers come prepared. Start dusting off your Corkys and other mullet imitators now. Have a good assortment of surface plugs with sharp, single hooks ready to go. My personal assortment includes a variety of sizes and rattle tones as fish preference can vary day-to-day and you never know if it will be a Skitter Walk, She Dog, or Super Spook Jr that'll light 'em up. I will be here doing what I do, and if you haven't been to Port Mansfield yet, there is a little bit of paradise at the end of Highway 186!