The fall flounder run is on and anglers living in Southeast Texas are luck. That is because Lake Sabine is the best the all-around best flounder-fishing destination on the Gulf Coast .
It produced the Texas state record flounder, a beastly 13-pounder, in 1976 and continues to impress to this day. The eastern shoreline is the best choice with more than 20 cuts that empty more than 100,000 acres of marsh.
"Not very many Louisiana fishermen target Sabine because it is off the beaten path, but I'm telling you the fishing there can be awesome, especially after a nice cold front has blown through in the fall. That really gets the flounder going," said guide Capt. Kent Carlson.
Carlson will search for fish in areas that have shallow water with mud or sand banks, and deeper water nearby. Another characteristic that he looks for is areas with a transition from mud to hard bottom.
"Anywhere that you can find that kind of bottom, just seems to be a magnet for these fish. This stuff will normally grow in the back of marshy cuts and in pockets off the main lake," he said.
According to Carlson, anglers should be very aware of the location of the good fishing areas they find.
"Once you find a good fishing spot, you should write it down or mark it on a map and be mindful of what the conditions were when you caught them. The fish will return to these areas during the some conditions, as long as the area doesn't go through some drastic change," Carlson said.
Carlson's favorite method for catching these fish, is on ultra light spinning tackle. He prefers light, clear monofilament line, and uses small plastic grubs on a 1/4oz. jig head, tipped with a piece of dead shrimp.
"Mud minnows are good bait, but I like to use either soft plastic grubs with shrimp. I guess it is because you can fish a lot more ground more quickly with a lure and the shrimp gives a great added attractant," he said.
He advises spring anglers to target the eastern shoreline, which is actually in Louisiana , is the best choice with more than 20 cuts that empty more than 100,000 acres of marsh.
Flounder expert, Capt. Skip James, said those Louisiana banks are his go-to spots, but they are certainly not the only option.
ìIn fact one of the best areas can be fished from bank. It is the revetment wall at Pleasure Island on the north end. For some reason the baitfish really bunch up at that area, making it kind of a flounder buffet," James said. The revetment wall stretches for several miles and while flounder can be caught anywhere along this rocky stretch, there are key spots that produce consistently.
“There are pipes that trade water from the revetment to the main body of Sabine Lake and those are by far the best spots to catch flounder there. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in fact, catches their broodstock for their future flounder-stocking program there. Those spots can be red hot in spring and fall,” James said.
Although Keith Lake is not part of Sabine Lake , it is part of the Sabine area ecosystem and deserves mention as a legitimate flounder hot spot.
Keith Lake is the first of a long series of small lakes that border the town of Sabine Pass. The area has many sloughs, cuts and marshy shorelines with plenty of roseau cane to attract flounder. One of the best spots here is the spot where Keith Lake Cut empties into the lake. There is a spot there where sand meets a mud bottom and schools of flounder often congregate there.
This cut is manmade and has serious tidal pull, which during spring and fall funnels flounder, in and out like few other areas. In my experience, the flounder at Keith Lake tend to stack together more tightly than in some other areas. In other words, if you catch a flounder in one spot, throw right back there because there is a good chance you will catch another.
For adventurous anglers, Johnson, Fence and Mud Lake offer a bounty of fishing opportunities at the back end of Keith Lake . The key areas to target in here are the canals that connect them. Catching flounder moving from one lake to another can be highly productive and is not something that only happens during spring and fall migration.
Any tidal movement can push these flounder through the canals and into your ice chest.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)
Chester Moore, Jr is the Port Arthur News Outdoors Editor