, Port Arthur, Texas


September 27, 2012

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Flounder comeback picking up steam

PORT ARTHUR — Bill Kinney has been director of CCA’s STAR Tournament for many years.

He has seen it all when it comes to trends in fisheries.

A couple of months ago, he sent out an email to the media congratulating myself and Sea Center Texas director David Abrego for our efforts to restore flounder and in it, he noted some encouraging things about the flounder’s comeback.

“With the singular efforts you and David Abrego have dedicated to our flounder fishery, we just wanted to let you know that we at CCA Texas STAR have never seen such an onslaught of flatties entered in the tournament so soon.  Indeed, flounder entries are outpacing even gafftop, a very rare anomaly.

“Even better the weights recorded for both kids and adults are virtually double the weight we see at this time in a typical year.

“Of course this is not scientific tracking, but there is no question, anecdotally and in our record-keeping, that a healthy resurgence in the fishery is more than underway.

“Several years ago when we all hoped to reverse the long-term decline curve, I would have never believed the comeback, both in numbers and size, would happen so soon.”

Three years ago, officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) enacted special restrictions on flounder during the “run” to protect them as they head out to procreate.

During November, rod and reel anglers are allowed to keep only two fish per person and all gigging and commercial harvest is banned.

So far, it seems to be working as TPWD officials show the best gill net surveys since the late 1990s on top of the anecdotal you read from CCA.

To aid this conservation action, I am in the fourth year of Flounder Revolution ® replica tournaments.

From March-November we have an online catch, photo and release tournament where anglers turn in flounder measuring 20 inches or more. By following our photo, documentation and release guidelines at they have are entered in the tournament and at month’s end the angler with the longest fish gets an awesome replica of their catch produced by The Fish Mount Store.

CCA is the sponsor of the replica program and through their support and our outreach efforts hundreds of prime breeding-sized flounder are being release to produce more of their kind.

While I will never be someone to tell people to release everything they catch, it is important to put back the big, spawning-sized fish of any species. It has worked with largemouth bass and it will work with flounder as well.

Good things are happening with flounder and even better things are ahead.

I truly believe that.

(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 or online 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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