Mansfield Report: November 2019

Mansfield Report: November 2019
Erica Rae Hirsch with a fine Lower Laguna redfish on a calm morning.

Greetings from Port Mansfield.  All is alive and well here in South Texas and, based on what I have seen while on the water the last several weeks, I would say summer never ended.  There are tons of anglers hitting the water every weekend and a surprising number on weekdays as well. I’ve said for years you can tell how well the economy is doing by observing the number of boats on the water. Evidently it is doing very well.

Since my last report our flats have come alive with baitfish and gamefish alike. Tide levels have been extremely high and many backwater areas are now readily accessible.  Fish are somewhat scattered due to tide levels but usually eager to eat when we find them. Good numbers of trout, reds and flounder are being found daily. I’ve been relying on the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad, specifically in Bone Diamond and Padre Punch, rigged on the 2/0 – 1/8oz short shank jigs. The trick has been tickling the top of the seagrass and letting it flutter down into potholes.     

This has been a banner year for snook. As of this writing my clients have logged more than fifty landings and many more jumped but not landed and a few broken lines. Snook have a special talent for coming unbuttoned. I have been fortunate this year to have “somewhat patterned” the linesiders and many clients landed what I would call lifetime specimens. We encountered few small fish, mostly 28- to 32-inchers, the largest taped 35 and almost 13 pounds.  We had a few days with zero snook bites but only a few. As I book trips for this type of fishing I always remind clients that even though we’ve been catching them regularly I cannot guarantee a snook. We still get trout, reds, and quite often flounder when trying to focus on snook but they can be very stubborn…even when you’re on them. I truly hope the trend continues and this past summer’s success was not a flash in the pan. 

Cool fronts are due any day now and the opportunity for better catching will certainly improve. There is no finer fishing weather than November. Morning temperatures usually run in the low and mid-70s and by afternoon it’ll likely be somewhere in the 80s. Greatly reduced humidity is one of the month’s greatest blessings. With wader season soon upon us I urge anglers to give their waders and jackets a careful inspection. Check for leaks, especially in obvious wear points. It might not be a bad idea to slip over to your local Simms and AFTCO dealer such as Fishing Tackle Unlimited and see what is new this season.  You can bet there will be some lighter, thinner, and warmer apparel coming out.  The most important thing in winter fishing is comfort.  If you have ever been miserable on a cold, wet winter day you can relate. 

Last month I was invited to attend Slack Tide 2019 at Jensen Beach, Florida.  This event is basically a coalition of fishing guides from around the world who gather to share and compare experiences and offer guidance as it relates to our occupation. The main focus of the event is to develop relationships and gain further education into conservation of habitat and fisheries-related natural resources. Without these key ingredients we will soon be unemployed, along with many others from the various support industries. The concern for keeping our bays clean, habitats healthy, and fisheries viable is crucial to not only our future but also that of all who will follow us.  Parts of Florida are struggling in the habitat category.  They are working hard to bring the habitat back (mainly seagrass) so their fishery can recover.  I want to stress to all who enjoy fishing, how critical it is to protect and conserve resources.  Anglers can sometimes be guilty of abusing resources. Additionally, we must be mindful of natural and environmental events out of our control that can also contribute greatly to decline of habitats and the fisheries they support. We need to all do our part daily by keeping only the fish we will eat while they are fresh and release those genetically gifted females (trophies) so others can enjoy the sport for years to come. 

I would also like to announce that on Saturday, December 14, 2019, Fishing Tackle Unlimited will be hosting a seminar where Captain Ernest Cisneros and I will be guest speakers.  We will be focusing on Trophy Fishing Tactics with a Conservation-Minded Approach.  Stay tuned for more details coming soon via social media outlets.