, Port Arthur, Texas


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 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

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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (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 or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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