Greetings from Port Mansfield! Summer patterns arrived right on time but we also experienced exceptional rainfall. In mid-June we received almost 15-inches over a period of three days or so. I will admit we needed the rain but that much runoff in a short period of time created a challenge for fishermen. The heavy rains will help our waters over time; we just had to work through it for a short period, relatively speaking. I capitalized on this opportunity to gain knowledge on how to fish under these conditions in hopes it would pay dividends in the future as both a fisherman and guide.In short, I call it “creating wisdom” that will come into play somewhere down the road.
Let’s touch on what the heavy rains did for the bay, but first we need to look at where we were prior to the flooding. Our tide levels were extremely low and we had been experiencing very weak daily tides. Once the rain hit we had water flowing in from the mainland in a big way. The Arroyo Colorado was flat out gushing tons of water into our bay system. The creeks south of Port Mansfield were also running bankfull, and fresh water was pouring from every small drain up and down the Lower Laguna Madre.
If you happened to be fishing during this period you saw the bay transform; water levels rose a foot or more, distinct color changes were spattered throughout the bay, and marine life could be found along these color changes. Albeit, it was challenging to catch fish from time to time, but if you remained persistent you would find the fish and eventually figure out the bite. I found three distinct color changes while fishing during this period. We had a clean/clear water line against murky water that was next to a brackish/runoff water line.
Our best fish came in the murky water and fish were concentrated near either line (murky/brackish or murky/clean).We figured out this pattern and managed to catch some great fish, even a couple personal bests for a few lucky anglers.
As of this writing our bays are beginning to stabilize, water levels are getting back to normal, but our winds have been certainly holding their own. During these windy days we are having to deal with floating grass and we are having to learn to work through it because the fish are there. With this scenario in play I instantly reach for the KWigglers Willow Maker Jighead (1/16thoz) and pair it up with a Willow Tail Shad, (rigged weedless). With this setup you can stay in the fish, work through the grass, and have a shot at catching fish when you normally would not. A recent trip kept us in the spot while others would fish for about twenty minutes and then leave to look for “more fishable” water.
Summer patterns should continue to stabilize, pending no unusual tropical weather events. This means fish will be found shallow early in the morning, cruising grass lines, and then retreating to deeper water after the temperature rises a few degrees. The fish out deep will hold along ledges near the Intracoastal and deeper potholes off deep flats. Locating bait is key and, once you do, try tossing small- to mid-sized topwaters to check willingness of trout to feed on the surface.
If that works, stay with it. If not, switch to soft plastics such as the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad or 4-inch Paddle Tail with a light jighead, if shallow. Best colors in the Willow Tail have been Bone Diamond, Texas Roach and Red Shad Pro.In the 4-inch Paddle Tail, give Honey Gold, Strawberry/cool and Olive Red Metal Flake a try.As we move out deeper the KWigglers Ball Tail Shad in Laguna Pearl, Honey Gold and Pearl Hot have been solid fish-catching colors.
If you are looking for a great rod that is light, sensitive and can be used with any lure, consider the Fishing Tackle Unlimited Green Rod. My favorite is the 6’-6” light action with a split grip and recoil guides. It’s super sensitive, light, and has enough backbone to wrangle any big bay fish to hand.
In closing, we need to consider conservation on every front. A good friend gave me a little piece of advice that can be applied in a variety of life’s situations. “Short term gratification can often lead to long term consequences.”Something to consider the next time you think about tossing a 25-plus trout in the ice chest rather than back in the water.Until next time, stay safe and be courteous on the water.