Mansfield Report: March 2018

Mansfield Report: March 2018

Howdy from Port Mansfield! First and foremost, I want to discuss the fishery regarding the frigid temperatures we have witnessed twice this year.Although we did see a few gamefish perish, we definitely dodged a huge bullet. The coldest water temperature I noticed was 38⁰ at the northern end of the bay.I wonder how close we were to a major fish kill? Too close for comfort, if you ask me.

I believe our fishery is stronger for the experience. Our fish persevered and, hopefully, became “healthier” in general. If we think about it, Mother Nature has a way to both challenge and balance the environment.During this cold snap was the most challenging time to pattern fish, probably because they did not know what to do or when to do it.Were they supposed to go shallow at the first sign of sun to warm up…only to get hit hard again in a few days with another frigid norther? Or, would it be better to remain hunkered down in deeper water? See the challenge?

Progressing toward the final weeks of winter, I am convinced our speckled trout and red drum fishery is about as healthy as it can be. The availability of rich forage makes it rare to catch a pencil-thin trout or red. I describe them as fitting one of three categories: very healthy – fat – obese. Either is fine with me…I love piggies.

The water levels here on the Lower Laguna remain relatively low and the prevailing clarity is generally excellent. Even on windier days the water holds up well.Of course, a strong norther can muddy it up but as soon as the wind backs down it starts to clear up within a few hours. I thank our seagrass for the quick recovery of water clarity after a norther.

Moving on to recent fishing results: Warm days find us sticking to the flats with fish either staging in potholes or grassbeds, which means it is important to target both types of structure. Their preference seems to vary by area and by day so, once you discover a pattern you need to focus on it. Many times, the bait presence alone will provide the clues you need to refine your tactics. Even when you think you’re dialed in, I recommend probing all likely structure that lies within your casting range – big trout are tricky like that.

We have been fortunate on days when the fish are on a feeding frenzy. When this happens even the best angler can’t pull his lure away from those big trout and redfish. I bring this up because we experienced it recently and improved a fair day of fishing to a stellar day. It was getting late in the day and I was cruising the flats looking for signs of “fishing consistency” when I noticed the tide rushing out of the East Cut, the water was muddy and running hard. Just the day prior the water was blue-green, and the tide was slack or barely moving.I saw this and hoped I was making the right call.We arrived to a flat with a slight ridge in the bay floor created by a nearby drain from the mainland.The bottom consistency was spongy and sandy with scattered grassbeds.As we set up for a wade we immediately saw bait flickering and darting just below the surface. Those mullet were not “fun” jumping.

Within minutes we knew we made the right call and had multiple hook-ups with trout going over seven pounds and pushing toward thirty inches.Redfish were mixed in, but trout ruled the nearly two full hours of catching. New clients standing on either side of me with a double hook-up revealed a little over 14 pounds of trout, combined.That would make anyone’s day.It made mine and all I did was video the event.

Best baits for these fish have been Corkys and KWigglers Willow Tail Shads on either a 1/16 or 1/8-ounce, short shank jig heads.We have not really thrown many topwaters, but on occasion we try a cast or two, but it is tough to stick with a topwater when your partner is catching good fish on plastics.

I will be at the Houston Fishing Show in the George R. Brown, Wednesday February 28 through Sunday March 4, working in the Fishing Tackle Unlimited booth each day. In addition, Captain Ernest Cisneros and I will present a seminar at 4:30 pm Saturday, during which we will announce the winners of our Empty Stringers Catch and Release Program contest. Hope to see you there!