PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

June 14, 2014

Chester Moore column: Alligators tip off when flounder on the move

PORT ARTHUR —   In the Thursday edition, we covered techniques for catching flounder in Sabine Lake and surrounding marshes. Now, we will delve into what to look for in the ship channels and river systems.

  While fishing in the Sabine River near the Dupont Outfall Canal I noticed a big alligator with half of its body out of the water, inches from the rocks and facing the bank.

  It would strike at the water every once in a while and then move on. At the same time there were fish busting the millions (and I do mean millions) of tiny shad that covered the Sabine's shorelines from the outfall basically to Sabine Lake and then north up the Intracoastal Canal.

  In the past, other anglers and I have noticed when gators act this way and there are fishing busting on the tiny shad right on the rocks flounder are on the move. Egrets and herons are another indicator, especially when they are feeding just a few feet away from the alligators with seemingly no fear and the big lizards are paying them no attention.

  I call this a "communal feeding". In other words, a variety of predators are all focused on a very particular source of food without bothering each other and in this case it is tiny shad.

  The problem for anglers in these situations is the flounder will sometimes only hit tiny shad floated under a cork or very small curl-tailed grubs tipped with a little piece of shrimp. I was not rigged for either as the target was redfish that day but I did manage to get one to hit a Gulp Swimming mullet in the smoke color and got lots of bumps that felt like small flounder.

  There are many riprap and bulkhead structures in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana and they can be thick with flounder. This is especially true when the shad are holding along the shorelines. Be prepared to match the hatch and keep an eye on the alligators.

  And don’t worry about salinity levels.

  Unlike speckled trout which can only tolerate moderate levels of freshwater, flounder can live with super low salinity and can be caught right alongside crappie and largemouth bass. These flounder receive very little pressure so they have chances to grow very large.

  I guarantee there are big flounder just below the saltwater barrier on the Neches River and I know for a fact there are lots of flounder on the southern end of the Blue Elbow Swamp o the Sabine.

 The very biggest flounder tend to hang out in close proximity to deep water. Target a large percentage of efforts toward deep water access points in ship channels and in areas where passes and channels intersect with bays no matter where you fish.

 Locally, the entire stretch from the jetties up to Keith Lake has incredible numbers of flounder and there are plenty of fish up the Sabine-Neches Waterway north of there.

 Tagging studies have shown flounder are at least semi territorial and this author believes they stay in a small area throughout their tenure in the bays. If you have lost a big flounder in a certain spot keeping going back there. Chances are the fish is still close by.

 (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on "Moore Outdoors" Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and watch him Saturdays at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” on GETV.org.)

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Outdoors
  • Chester Moore column: Give summer crappie a chance

    July 8, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Alligators tip off when flounder on the move

    June 14, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: The East half of Texas is catfish country

    May 31, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Bank fishing good approach on catfish

     Summer is one of the best times to seek catfish in Southeast Texas and thankfully, for local anglers without a boat, there are catfish in just about every canal, drainage ditch and bayou in the area.
      Fishing from the bank has its disadvantages but there is a way around it. This involves making the fish come to you.
      European catfish and carp anglers who typically fish exclusively from the bank use a system called “ground baiting,” which involves putting chum out with the bait. They attach a small cylindrical device above their swivel, which holds chum and dispenses it as the water rushes by. The problem is these rigs are not readily available in our marketplace.
      However, with a little ingenuity, taking a 35-millimeter film canister, punching a hole in the bottom and on the lid and then punching more holes along the side can make a similar device. This acts as a perfect chumming device and is very inexpensive.
      Not everyone has film canisters these days so the softer plastic aspirin bottles will also get the job done.
      Rig this above your swivel and weight, and then fill it with your favorite chum. Now you will not only be chumming the area you fish in but also bringing fish directly to your bait.
      Any kind of chum will work, but a mixture I have had some success with was menhaden oil (available through many mail order offshore supply catalogs) mixed with soured milo. The oil creates a huge chum slick and when it mixes with the milo, the smell is almost unbearable, which means catfish love it. The best part is that a little bit goes a long way.
     Something else to consider is using jack mackerel as bait.
     This oily fish is available in larger supermarkets in a can for less than $1, and I can attest it will bring in fish. While fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and tagging sharks for the Mote Marine Laboratory, my partners and I were able to chum in and catch nearly 40 sharks while using less than two cans of the stuff. It is oily and stinks to high heaven, so catfish should love it.
      For anglers interested in using film canisters to chum their bait, something else to consider is the use of a popping cork. Even if your bait is on the bottom, you can rig a popping cork above it and attach a baited film canister below. This will allow you to do some extra chumming and use the cork to “pop” the chum out whenever you want to release more.
     Another great tip for land bound anglers is to use braided line. In talking with several anglers who pursue brackish blues from the bank, I have learned that loosing striking fish can be a problem.
      I am not sure as to the reason but a definitely solution is using a braided line because they have no stretch. When making long casts with monofilament from the bank you have the potential for lots of line stretch when can make a poor hookset.
     Sixty yards of line might have five or six feet of stretch and that is plenty for a big blue to undo. When using a braid like Fireline, Gorilla Braid or Spiderwire you can forego these problems and greatly enhance your chances of putting some catfish in the frying pan.
     (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com and watch him Saturdays on GETV.org on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)
     

    May 24, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Hogs in Texas a complex issue

    May 3, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Sabine Lake getting artificial reef

    April 30, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: It's time for bowfishing

    April 26, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Whistlers, snook and ballyhoo, oh my!

    April 19, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Bank hot spots have great value

    April 12, 2014

  • Chester Moore column: Go deep, fish jigs to catch truly big bass

    April 5, 2014