, Port Arthur, Texas


August 4, 2012

CHESTER MOORE: Think deep water, high tides for summer flounder

PORT ARTHUR — Flounder fishing slows during summer but contrary to popular belief there are still fish to be caught between the spring and fall runs.

 To consistently bag good numbers of quality-sized flounder during summer, concentrate on the widest and deeper parts of cuts in a bay system. The largest concentrations of flounder are usually in the first 1/8-mile of these cuts during the dog days of summer because they have more tidal water exchange on each tidal movement, which keeps these areas somewhat cooler than the shallow backwater.

 I am not saying these areas hold any more flounder than other cuts, but I have caught more in them than in other locations on bay systems in summer, so that’s where I go to catch them. Cooler water temperatures usually mean a higher content of dissolved oxygen that benefits flounder two-fold. First, it gives them more oxygen, which they need to be effective predators, and secondly it attracts more baitfish.

 Scientists are learning that one of the reasons certain fish species in bay systems do not feed as aggressively during summer as they do in spring and fall is decreased levels of dissolved oxygen. It is important to remember that tides dictate how flounder will be feeding. On a fast falling tide, they move in close to the drainage in tight schools. When it is falling slowly, they might scatter out around the mouth of a drainage or up into the marsh.

 They will do the same thing during the first hour or so of an incoming tide. Then they will usually move into the cuts. I have always had far more success on incoming tides during summer months. In fact, I usually check the tide charts and mark off the days with the highest tides to concentrate on them.

 And when these tides are running high, seek flounder along the main shorelines of bay systems.

 Attacking vast shorelines would be a waste of time and end up in dogged frustration so you have got to have a strategy. Instead of looking over eight miles of shoreline, narrow your search down to an eighth of a mile. You must eliminate water to successfully bag spring flounder. The first step I take while eliminating water on a strange ecosystem is to look for a shoreline that has stands of roseau cane.

 Roseau cane has an intricate system that is somewhat like a smaller version of mangrove and it gives baitfish a place to linger, hide and dodge larger predators. It is best to fish these areas during the first couple of hours of a falling tide.

 As the water recedes, the baitfish are removed from their cover and the predator/prey dynamic begins. This strategy works great until fall when the big cold fronts arrive, pushing flounder out through fish passes into the Gulf of Mexico.

 As noted in my book, Flounder Fever, the key to planning upcoming fall flounder fishing is understanding points of migration.

 A "pass" does not necessarily have to mean a bottleneck area like Sabine or Rollover Pass. A "pass" can also be an historic area of flounder migration. Sea Wolf Park in Galveston Bay is a fine example. Every fall, hundreds of flounder end up ice chests here as they "pass" through the bay toward Gulf waters. There is no physical reason the flounder have to move through this spot, but they are there every year. It's part of their historic migration route.

 When pass fishing there are not as many factors in play as in other spots. A pass is a transitory position for flounder to hold. In other words, either they are there or not and if anglers have the patience, they can usually score by being patient and waiting for the next school to move. Be mindful of outgoing tides because they are what push flounder through.

 This process repeats itself in reverse in the spring when flounder come from the Gulf through the passes back into the bays.

 (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on "Moore Outdoors" Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI. you can find him on Facebook at


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     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 You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at and watch him Saturdays on on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)

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