PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 14, 2014

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

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

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.)