, Port Arthur, Texas


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 You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at

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