Mansfield Report: October 2016

Mansfield Report: October 2016

Fall is upon us and we have felt and seen the first signs of northerly breezes, first on our faces as we prep for the morning launch and again in our bays. Boat traffic has tapered off, the yellow flags at bait camps have come down, and the transition from summer to fall is in full play. A fisherman's "Most Wonderful Time of Year" as some may say.

As the transition in seasons continues we have to adjust fishing and navigation strategies. You see, we have grown accustomed to south - southeast winds for many months and now we will be seeing a few light to moderate northers. Water levels will fall and depending how you look at things this could be good or bad. Let's look at this as a good thing...

We now have opportunity to fish areas we may not have been able to work when southerly breezes dominated our bays. Small points, drains and ledges that were mostly out of play through spring and summer will become primary targets. Northerly breezes will play perfectly into plans to catch trout, reds and flounder that are adding girth and prepping for winter. Get the picture? Great!

As northers pass they create a totally different flow in the currents we and the fish are used to. We see everything from seagrass leaning toward the south to currents flowing out of drains and water falling off the flats. As this occurs it's a great idea to set up north of that drain and cast past it, starting on the outside and working your lure in toward the drain from there. From that point you could try throwing closer in to the drain and so on until you have fished the area thoroughly. Don't overlook the opportunity to run lures close to or on the bottom for big flounder, they feed aggressively on falling current. I find paddletails particularly effective in this scenario, and best on 1/4 ounce jigheads.

October can also bring days of little to no wind. At the time of this writing that is exactly what I have seen in Mansfield. Maybe 5 mph from a range of directions with no meteorologist being able to predict them accurately. Under these conditions I find myself fishing what I call "hilltops" or sandbars one in particular has been nicknamed Wayne's Bar. I have found myself here on many recent fishing days. When you fish these areas and the wind can't make up its mind you can simply walk in a large circle as it changes cover it all very well. As you know, we usually can only fish in one direction or another depending on the wind direction. What a great opportunity!

The flats have also been productive, reds are schooling and have come back in a fair to good showing. It seemed we were struggling most of the summer when it came to redfish. Now, while slowly cruising the flats in my 24-foot Shallow Sport Classic I see pods and sometimes schools on the transition line where the sand meets the grass. Reds can often be found within about 50 yards either side. Oh, and those big grey fish you see up on the flats they are big single trout, which under this scenario are not easily tricked into taking a lure. I have however, sight-casted big trout under these conditions but the lure has always been a clear bait. The bait I use is hard for any angler to see in clear water, but rest assured big trout see this bait and they see it well. In the K-Wigglers lineup it is called "Sand" for reasons just mentioned.

In Port Mansfield I am also seeing the flounder making a move in the general direction of the East Cut which leads to the Gulf. They have been found on the sand-grass transition line in the shallows just waiting for a snack. A 4-inch paddle tail in olive red flake with chartreuse tail, Carolina pumpkinseed with chartreuse tail and good ol' red-n-white are good choices for flatties.

In closing, if we are lucky enough to catch those big, fat trout gorging up with a length that breaches the 24 inch mark we should consider CPR (Catch Photograph and Release). These fish are crucial to our bay system and crucial to the future of catching trophy trout. Catch and release can be very rewarding, especially after the fact, and I believe doing so breeds and spreads to fellow anglers to do the same. I personally want to catch 30-inch trout in 20 years and I'm sure you do too, so let's get started.

Be safe and courteous on the water.