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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.facebook.com/extremewildlife.)