Greetings from Port Mansfield. As you can be assured the hottest topics right now are the issues we are experiencing with COVID-19. From the economic impact to thousands of people hospitalized, to the daily mad rush on grocery stores nationwide, this pandemic has potential to change our world for many months to come.
With regards to the fishing community, we have seen fishing retailers and suppliers closed, boat ramps shut down, and fishing tournaments canceled or postponed. Additionally, authorities are enforcing travel restrictions (temporary check stations at the entry to Port Mansfield) and the only anglers who can fish here are the ones who have boat slips, and only then with immediate household members. I pray we can bounce back and reposition ourselves soon.
As far as fishing – I would say it is good – very good at times. Trout are steady and most females have begun to spawn. Male trout are in abundance ranging from undersized to 17 inches. Our redfish bite remains strong and we are even picking up a few flounder. Water levels are on the rise and shrimp are starting to make an appearance, popping up out of the water as we wade through grass patches and potholes.
With the current water levels I can cruise the back lakes looking for reds and trout. This is the time of year when these areas can be very productive. You can spend half a day working shorelines and small points in knee-deep water with very little boat traffic on week days. I’ll be tossing small to midsize topwaters if the floating grass isn’t too bad, and soft plastics such as the KWigglers Willow Tails and Ball Tails on light jigheads.
When not working back lakes I’ll be focusing on shallow flats with off-colored or stained water. I prefer off-colored water conditions as I believe the gamefish are less spooky and I have a better shot at getting a big trout to accept a lure. However, if I’m cruising a pristine, clear flat and start to see fish darting from grassbeds you can bet I’ll back off the throttle and give it a go. This was just the case on a recent trip with some friends. I had been so focused on dirty, shallow water that I was just passing by the clear stuff. A colleague, Captain Josh Garza, was sitting co-pilot and mentioned he saw a big trout dart from a grassbed. We shut down and within a few minutes the group had a couple five pounders, some keepers, and some bigger ones coming unbuttoned at the net. Never pass up an opportunity when it presents itself.
Just before it warmed enough to ditch our waders I was fortunate to fish good friend and client Tim Rosenburg and one of his customers. They came down hoping for a shot at a trophy trout. The conditions were horrible, wind gusting to 30-plus created extremely dirty water. Which, if you have read previous articles, you know I do not mind these conditions at all. However, these tough conditions do weigh heavily on the confidence of paying clients. I do my best to build confidence in the fact that if you keep at it you can still have a shot at a good one. As luck would have it both Tim and Blake were able to land trophy fish.
What I found most interesting about their catch was how different these fish looked. They weighed within a quarter-pound of each other and less than one half inch in length. Blakes fish appeared clean and healthy as a show horse while Tim’s looked worn, beaten up, and tired. I wondered at the vastly different appearances. I have no definitive answer other than one had a harder life than the other, (see for yourself in the photos). Nonetheless, both were great fish and were released to hopefully pass on their fine genes.
We continue to fish shallow, less than thigh-deep in most cases, and will continue at this depth until water temps rise and force another strategy. When the water temperature reaches 85° I will slip out a little deeper and work my lure a little slower, near bottom where it’s cooler. This pattern should produce good catches and remain steady until fall.
Since we are officially wet-wading, I would recommend giving your Simms waders a wash and an application of ReviveX before storing in a climate-controlled environment. If you cannot get out on the water, this might be a good time to reorganize your tackle bag and replace rusty hooks.Here’s wishing everyone remains healthy and safe during this time of uncertainty.