PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

June 15, 2013

Chester Moore column: Find shad to find the flounder

PORT ARTHUR —  “Throw right there.”

     That is what I told my wife Lisa as we trolled up toward a point coming of the northern shoreline of Willow Bayou.

    She quickly flipped a smoke-colored Gulp! Swimming Mullet into the fracas and after dragging it a few feet, the line instantly went from stiff to slack.

    A few seconds later she was battling a big southern flounder and I was already hooked after flipping a Swimming Mullet under the tiny ripples. Those ripples were made by tens of thousands of juvenile menhaden, the baitfish I call the flounder’s Achille’s heel.

    While shrimp, croaker and other baitfish are all important component of the flounder’s diet, menhaden often call pogies or shad in Texas are the prey source I focus most of my flounder fishing efforts.

    And at times the results are stunning.

    Three years ago, my father, Chester Moore, Sr. and I watched flounder literally jumping out of the water feeding on menhaden as millions congregated in a Sabine Lake cut during the storm tides spawned by Hurricane Alex.

     Another time I caught over a dozen flounder in a spot the size of my desk because it was inundated with menhaden.

    Why are these fish so desired by flounder?

    It all boils down to opportunity. Of all of Texas’s bay dwelling sport fish, flounder are the most opportunistic.

    Due to their flat design, these fish are best suited as ambush predators and menhaden are easy to ambush.

    These fish spawn numerous times from late fall through spring, producing numerous classes of juveniles that gather in schools sometimes number millions. These tiny fish often cannot swim well so they are blown against leeward shorelines, which was the case with the example at the beginning of this story.

    Anyone who has attended my flounder seminars or one of my Flatfish University events has heard me talk about the importance of finding eddies (areas of slack water) in the bayous winding into our bays and along ship channels.

    The reason is the tiny menhaden we most frequently encounter in the spring cannot negotiate strong tides well and will often congregate in eddies.

    Flounder, being the consummate ambush predator, gather there as well and feed aggressively. The first spots I target are bayous, sloughs and other drains where I find concentrations of menhaden and the first thing I look for is eddies.

    And when these tides are running extra high, I 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 is to once again 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 menhaden 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 menhaden removed from their cover and the predator/prey dynamic begins.

    There is something about menhaden they cannot resist and the angler that learns this will usually catch the most flounder.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)

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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 cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)

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From the Fieldhouse blog