PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

January 16, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Local flounder bite in the winter

PORT ARTHUR — Most flounder leave during the fall migration.

    The majority of the population is in deep (well at least compared to bay standards) water spawning right about now.

    Notice I said “most”.

    A sizeable chunk of the population stays behind and in my semi-educated opinion it is probably in the 25 percent category.

    Flounder numbers due to a number of factors, including harvest restrictions put in place a few years ago, are at the highest levels in many years on Sabine Lake. That is according to surveys conducted by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

    If populations have increased overall that means more fish are staying behind and that is what anglers are experiencing right now.

    A variety of locations in the ship channel south of the causeway are producing fair to good numbers of flounder.

    There are a couple of very important things to keep in mind when it comes to winter flounder fishing.

     The first is timing.

     Incoming tides are by far the best for flounder this time of year and they are best when they coincide with a warm, sunny afternoon. Warmer waters push their bite button as does sunlight penetration.

      I have rarely done well on flounder super early in the morning. Even on the best of tidal movements it was not until the sun penetrated the waters that the bite really turned on.

     Something else to keep a watch for is any concentrations of small baitfish around drop-offs, points and mud flats near the channel. This can be a very positive sign that flounder are nearby since small baitfish are a staple of their diet.

     For anglers like me who prefer fishing with artificial lures there may need to be some adjustment in gear.

     The bite tends to be softer so I usually switch from my “pool cue” rig of a medium-heavy spinning rod with 50-pound braided line to a light action spinning rod with 10-pound fluorocarbon.

    This allows me to use tiny (2-inch) curl-tailed grubs and shad imitations and feel those soft bites.

    The fluorocarbon also gives a big advantage when waters are running clear. Unless we have a lot of run-off like we have had lately, winter waters are typically clearer due to less algae in the winter. Flounder are very sensitive to line and lure color so using fluorocarbon line or a fluorocarbon leader if you choose to go with braid will make a big difference.

    Getting back to lures a second, I go with more natural colors in the winter. Shad, smoke and salt and pepper type patterns work best when waters are clear. If it is stained then pink is where it is at.

    Make sure to fish a little more slowly than you would in the fall. That means working you bait a tad slower and also working areas over more intensely than you normally would do.

    If you catch fish at a spot, make a bunch of casts in the same area because there are usually more around although they will be more scattered than during the fall.

    For years people thought flounder were a fall fish only but as more people get turned on to these exciting fish they are seeing opportunities abound even in the winter.

(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. Watch him on his WebTV Series at www.Godsoutdoors.com.)

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