Greetings from Port Mansfield! As I write, the winds are steady out of the north and the air is crisp. Long range forecast shows this may be the front that settles in and keeps our average temperature inline for late-November and December. For those wondering, it’s pretty much wader season now, so if you haven’t already checked for leaks you might get to it ASAP.
Fishing during October through early-November has been exceptional. Our tides have remained higher than average and the water is in great shape. Fish seem to be in most areas I stop, and the bait, well that’s another chapter all of its own. In short, we have an abundance of bait and it clearly shows in the gamefish we are catching. Trout, reds and even flounder are so plump that some look to have swallowed a football just slightly smaller than their own body. This is awesome to see.
A quick update on the snook front; while we got a late start it turned out to be an exceptional year. Things seemed to explode within a matter of just a couple weeks. For the record, we caught them through mid-October and I likely could have picked up one or two more closer to November. Since my relationship with Harte Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies began back in June, I have successfully tagged 28 snook out of about 50 landed. Unfortunately, I ran out of tags twice and the delay in resupply did not allow some to be tagged and documented. I was not about to wait for tags to arrive; when you are on them you better stay on them. They can vanish overnight with no sign they were ever there. Please report any tagged snook (or any fish species for that matter) you may run across.
As we move further into December, efforts will shift to trophy trout and redfish. Truth be told it is really a mindset and effort of a targeted species rather than just a day of fishing. Snook and trophy trout have a lot in common. You fish slow, you fish strategically, you concentrate, you focus and execute when opportunity knocks. My philosophy in targeting any trophy fish is simple and I have come up with this phrase that you might consider if and when targeting trophies: Fish Big, Think Small, Right Time.
Fish big simply means you are on the quest for trophies. Think small means you have identified a finite area that is holding fish and you are going to work the area thoroughly. Right time means you will set up at the best time possible considering a few if not all the following – lunar phase, day of week, time of day, tides, boat traffic and wind. Keep in mind my “Fishing Equation” consists of many variables as previously noted and I consider them prior to and during each outing.
That said, and while it’s fresh on my mind, Captain Ernest Cisneros and I will be presenting a seminar at Fishing Tackle Unlimited (Katy location) Saturday December 12, 2020 at approximately 12:00pm. I will be discussing my “Fish Big, Think Small, Right Time” theory and my “Fishing Equation.” Come by if you have time for FTU’s Annual Inshore Expo.
Our best baits remain the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad rigged on 3/32-ounce 2/0 jigheads. This has proven to be an excellent weight of jighead for thigh deep (or less) water. The topwater bite has also picked up recently with the water temps steadily dropping and holding in the low-70s. On a recent trip we enjoyed catching big reds on small topwaters as they cruised a shallow shoreline in ankle deep water. This was one of those days when they turned away from plastics but could not resist topwaters. We gave them what they wanted, not what we wanted to throw at them.
I have high hopes for this coming winter season and here is why. We had COVID-19 which basically shut down our bay for more than a month. We had Hurricane Hanna that gave the Lower Laguna Madre an exceptional flushing. We had several storms in the Gulf that provided additional flushing. All of this is a recipe for exceptional fall and winter trout fishing. In my opinion the year ahead will also be exceptional, barring any unexpected environmental issues.