All is well in Port Mansfield and the fishing remains very good as we head into August. If you like it hot, well, I’d say you’re in luck…I believe it’s gonna be a scorcher. We have had a few good rain showers, which helps the bay, and the Port Mansfield resident deer herd. There is a large group of bucks in velvet hanging out in the shade behind my house, just waiting for me to slip up and leave the gate open. Last week they got a bit anxious and knocked the back fence down and ate my jalapeños, Thai peppers, mandevilla and even some of my plumeria!
I noticed water temps last week above 90⁰ in a back cove I was fishing and, in my opinion, that is just too hot. The only fish we encountered were mullet and a few skipjacks. Trout and redfish are definitely changing their patterns to compensate for the heat as well.
I recently ran twelve consecutive charters with different clients throughout. During a run like this, when you think you know all there is to know about summertime catching, you better think again. We enjoyed good days for the most part, and even some great days. But what I noticed most was how things can change rapidly from one day to the next.
Example: We caught more than 100 keeper trout one day, (an Empty Stringers C&R outing), and the next day went to that exact spot and worked hard for only ten. The wind and tide were slightly different but that second day’s catching alone confirms that staying on a steady bite in summertime heat is tougher than some might think. It certainly helps by being on the water every day or at least three to four days a week, but those fish can sure leave you scratching your head.
We have seen our tides rise very high and, what is more important, we have seen them fluctuate up to eight inches overnight. In Port Mansfield that makes a HUGE difference. The best advice I can give in this scenario is simply pull back and fish a little deeper, if your geographical layout allows for it.
As we head into August expect the fish to adjust for the hot days. This means you will have a short window of opportunity to fish ultra-shallow for about an hour at first light, maybe two if you are lucky. Your next move will need to be toward deeper and cooler water.
I recently sight-casted a 28-plus trout in less than a foot of water at about 9:00am. Come 10:00am the flat was barren of fish, except a few mullet. There are exceptions to this observation, but in general this is what we find.
Something worth mentioning; that 28-plus put up a fair fight, was handled gently, and quickly photographed and released. Still, it took great effort to revive her. I am confident she recovered as I remained in the area for another hour sight-fishing reds and never saw her again. Keep this in mind when releasing trout – they struggle to recover during hot weather and elevated water temperatures. Please do not give up. Hold them upright and gently swish forward and backward to move water through their gills.
During dog day heat, never pass an opportunity to fish a cooler rainy day. While others cancel for prettier weather, some of my all-time best summertime trips have occurred on rainy days. Take a light rain jacket such as Simms or AFTCO; you’ll appreciate the comfort in the event of a sudden hard downpour. AND, keep an eye on the sky at all times for thunder and lightning. Do not be fool enough to think it cannot happen to you. Vacate ASAP from anything that appears even remotely dangerous.
Topwater action continues to be very good when the floating grass situation doesn’t get too far out of hand for them to be fished effectively. Favorites at present are Heddon One Knockers and Super Spooks.
In the soft plastic department, we are still using KWigglers products such as the new Bone Diamond and Padre Punch colors in the Willow Tail Shad. Later in the day, when we head out deeper, we usually switch to the Ball Tail Shad in Flo Mingo, Mansfield Margarita and Plum Chartreuse. If the water is cloudy or dirty, we are using the 4-inch paddletails in Olive Red Metal Flake-Chartreuse and Carolina Pumpkinseed-Chartreuse. The vibration from the tails is often very helpful in attracting strikes when other lures go unnoticed.Enjoy the summer and remember to stay hydrated. Practice safe boating and be courteous.