Howdy from Port Mansfield. I hope everyone is doing well as we head into “Nocember” – my reference to the two-month period of November and December that seem so much alike and seem to blend together naturally down here on the Lower Laguna Madre. This is the time of year when time flies, mainly because of busy holiday schedules and the similar fishing patterns that dominate this season.
We start by hoping our waders and cold weather gear are still in good shape. I can say from experience that you’re in luck if your waders and jacket are Simms. Especially if you cleaned and prepped everything properly before storing over the spring and summer months.
Boat traffic tapers off this time of year. Many fishermen are also hunters, and hunters love to hunt. The highways are currently filled with vehicles loaded with game feeders, deer blinds, and ATVs headed to hunting camps. I selfishly smile with enthusiasm at the caravans, knowing that’s one less angler on the water, in a spot I want to fish.
Very little hunting on this angler’s part. Maybe a few duck hunts or an afternoon dove shoot, but for the most part I’m fishing. You never know when the epic moment of all the stars aligning will occur and a school of 30-inch-plus trout are all around you. The truth is, I think I like fishing more than hunting.
Anyway, for the record, November was the month I landed five trout over 27 inches in a scant 20-minute span. The largest made the 32-inch mark. Yep, 32-inches, but only eight pounds. The fish had the body, just didn’t have the girth. That was seven years ago, on the last stop on the way back to Port.What a great day!
By the time this article makes print I will have completed my second CCA seminar. This time with the San Antonio Chapter, and again with Empty Stringers Catch and Release Program as a main talking point. Keeping my ear to the ground regarding conservation, I realize we have a long way to go. Large corporate entertainment groups do not seem to embrace the catch and release concept as readily as others. But let’s not rush to judgment. Having visited with the owners of several companies that host such events, I have learned that many invitees are participating in the only fishing trip they will make during a calendar year. And they want to keep fish. Understandable.
Realizing this, I suggested we might reduce the number and size of fish that anglers could submit for the company fishing tournament. Maybe a compromise? So far, one very large corporate client has agreed and are modifying their tournament size and bag format to assist in the conservation effort. Wow! We made a difference.
As of this writing, the tides have risen and fishing has ranged from decent to great. Reds have been moving toward passes and can be taken with topwaters and soft plastics in generally thigh-deep water. Weather conditions continue to improve as far as the temperature and it has been very pleasant most of the day. We have been running both north and south of Port and finding fish in most places we stop, keying on bait concentrations in a bit less than waist-deep water.
Some days the fish are aggressive and will take surface lures readily. Other days they want plastics, slow-rolled near bottom. We still have not figured that part out, but fish are hard to figure out sometimes, so we keep trying. I have noticed that fish are either in the potholes surrounded by very thick grass or, the opposite, isolated grassbeds surrounded by bare sand. One or the other will hold fish, but it has not been both in the same day. Keep that in my mind as you unravel your own fishing puzzles.
A pleasant surprise is the snook we are seeing. We landed two very nice ones on a recent trip. The 4-inch KWigglers Paddletails and Willow Tails produced the snook that particular day. What a treat!
Consistent soft baits in shallow water have been KWigglers Willow Tail and the 4-inch Paddletails, while the Ball Tail Shad definitely dominates the waist-deep stuff. Best success with all three plastics has been with 1/8-ounce, 2/0 black nickel jigheads. Field testing is still underway for our weedless rig – stay tuned.Until next month, good luck out there and always remember to practice conservation and be courteous on the water.