Mansfield Report: June 2017

Mansfield Report: June 2017
One of my Empty Stringers groups. They caught lots of fish…but somehow they all got away!

All is well in Port Mansfield and catching is in full swing as we head into summer. Weather patterns should stabilize soon – as in steady decrease of the strong southerly flows we’ve been fighting. Temperatures are creeping up and the days are getting longer. It’s time to plan early starts. That just about sums up what you can expect in June regarding catching and weather.

Let’s talk fishing. The relaxed starts of winter and early-spring are now a thing of the past. I am having my clients meet me twenty minutes before sunrise and I like to be at my first spot as the sun peeks over the horizon. Wading knee-deep and twitching a topwater as the sun rises is a big part of the Lower Laguna experience. How many times do average folks get to enjoy this in a year’s time? Whatever your answer; I don’t think it’s enough. I cannot tell you how often I hear anglers commenting on the beauty of the sunrise.

Tides continue to run on the high side, which allows us to glide through the back-bays and settle down near a shoreline and wade small drains and guts. I cannot stress enough the importance of wading quietly in these areas.Too often I see anglers tossing lures straight downwind, over and over, walking as though they have an appointment somewhere, straight past fish they should have been catching. A much better approach is to methodically fan a series of casts from 9-o’clock left to 3-o’clock right – and then take a few steps forward. You might be surprised to learn how many fish you’ve been missing.

Oh, before I forget, bring a jacket. We’ve been out of waders for a couple of weeks but a light jacket still feels good on early morning boat rides. Depending the temperatures and wind, we are sometimes continuing to wear our jackets during our first wades.

Tournament season hits full stride in June. Lately we are seeing many adopting more conservative formats than in the past and I would like to tell about one that is particularly fun and very challenging.

Dr. Ken Ellis, AKA, Doc, who is also president of the Galveston CCA chapter, runs what he calls a Blackjack tournament. I am privileged to be one of the guides participating and I want you to know this is one fine event. Here’s the format:

Anglers are challenged to catch one each per day; trout, red and flounder. The maximum length allowed at weigh-in for each species is 21-inches, hence the blackjack reference, and a perfect 21-incher is awarded 21 points. A perfect score for the day is 63 points – 126 points possible over the two days of competition. The challenge is in attaining that perfect length without going over. The more fish you catch, the better your chance of winning. How awesome is that?

I believe Doc’s tourney format makes a great conservation statement and a positive contribution to the future sustainability of our fishery.

Fishing has been very good and as I write this we are enjoying a run of solid five- to seven-pound trout. Most of our time is spent wading waist-deep and shallower and the majority of these fish are on scattered grass and sand. Occasionally we find fish scattered on the sand flats, but not far from the grass line. Flounder continue to make regular appearances, some reaching three and four pounds.

One Knockers have been steady producers but, a word to the wise, change your hooks when they get rusty. There is a very large trout swimming somewhere with a single barb of a rusted treble in her mouth. KWigglers Willow Tails and 4-inch Paddletails continue to produce. Red Shad Pro, Mansfield Margarita and Plum-Blue Metal Flake-Chartreuse have been hot numbers. We are running these on 2/0 1/16-ounce spring locks and also the 2/0 1/8-ounce black nickel jigs.

In closing, I would like to mention the Empty Stingers Catch and Release Program that I am part of. Since the first of the year my clients have released 315 keeper-class fish. This does not include my personal releases. You don’t realize how many fish you are saving until you run the numbers. I am proud to be part of this and so thankful for the sponsors that support it: Shallow Sport Boats, Fishing Tackle Unlimited, Simms, AFTCO, Costa Del Mar and Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. Like the Empty Stringers Catch and Release Program on Facebook and be part of the team.

Until next time, be safe and courteous on the water.