Mansfield Report: September 2014

Capt. Tricia
Mansfield Report: September 2014
Despite the heat and near-relentless wind, the fishing patterns have not changed significantly over the past month. The Lower Laguna water conditions have remained surprising clear, given that the tide levels are amazingly low. The persistence of stifling, broiler-like wind has been hitting us right around noon most days. Mornings, of course, have been giving us the best feeding activity.

You need to hit it early and you want to be right on the edges of color as the wind stirs the water. The shallow flats are staying relatively clear early but after the coolness of morning passes most of the better fish have retreated to waist-deep potholes and grass beds. Topwaters early, for as long as conditions allow, have been the best baits, and then tails for the remainder of the day has been the plan. Although the system is full of juvenile trout, we are still occasionally catching some nice ones. We are seeing larger trout on the flats so we know they are there, and if you stick with it, catching a trophy is a reality.

For whatever reason, miles and miles of super-clear knee-deep water are not showing the iconic schools of redfish from years past. There are some, and most days we find a good sprinkling of scattered singles and small wolf packs. We are seeing quite a few in the backwaters and some tailing action. Unfortunately, this usually occurs very late in the day, the last hour or so of daylight, when most fisherman are at home eating supper. I blame increased boat traffic on the flats. Come to think of it, I have trouble remembering the last time I saw a large group of reds tailing during "normal" fishing hours.

We understand there are up and down cycles in fishing. We see the parking lots filled with trucks and empty boat trailers and we see the bait docks bustling every morning. The trawl boats are hard at it every morning desperately trying to keep those yellow bait flags snapping in the breeze. So, what do we do? We adapt.

Traditional summer areas, such as the Saucer, Rattlesnake, Gladys' Hole, and Greens are packed daily, and for the most part not producing as in yesteryear. Leave in the dark, rethink areas and try new things. Until the relief of fall, we just need to manage our expectations and keep on fishing. Staying diligent in areas with a few flipping baitfish and a bird or two have paid off. When I have been lucky enough to have those signs and little boat traffic, walking into a group of scattered fish smacking topwaters has been a consistent reward for me. The keyword is diligence. Floating grass is still an issue. I know it is becoming redundant but single hooks can turn a so-so day into a good one.

Except perhaps when the first cool fronts push through, September is going to be hot. Hopefully though, higher tides and decreased boat traffic may usher in better fishing. Going skinny is part of the Mansfield experience, and I always start there following a good nighttime cool down, especially later in the month. If the bait is there, be confident, the fish will be there too. Last September and October the shallow sand with scattered grass patches were holding trout of our dreams. Redfish too.

Going off topic a bit, I'd like to brag a little. We just finished the 40th Annual Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament. A new division called Team Trout was created and quite a few artificial anglers were delighted with the rules and conservative format. It consists of a two-angler team weighing two trout both days, length less than 25 inches. There were enough entries to make it exciting and challenging, and Mike Jones, my partner and I won it. I also won 1st Place Redfish and 2nd Place Heavy Stringer in the Ladies Open Division. With this said, I would like to encourage all my artificial-enthusiast friends to think about signing up next year. Another awesome contribution to the Tournament was the beautiful mosaic that the recently formed Port Mansfield Art League created for the pavilion. All the ladies are amazing artists and I would like to honor them, and the gracious sponsors. Thank you Linda Sterling, my sis Pam Whitley, Karen Skidmore, Kim Johnson and Laurie Glaze.

In closing, let's all hope September brings great fishing opportunity. Get out there and adapt!