Flounder fishing is on fire
“The trout are biting good over here, but no one gives a hoot right now,” answered Greg Meaux when I asked him about the state of fishing on Big Lake. “All anybody cares about right now is cast netting shrimp at the weirs or catching flounder and neither could get much better!”
Greg was also quick to point out that timing and location were the two keys to how quickly you can catch your five gallon bucket limit of shrimp. “If you are a little late you might have to wait in line and you can be ten feet away from another cast netter who is just loading up with big white shrimp while you are only catching five or six each cast.”
The biggest draw, however, is the annual flounder run and at the risk of adding yet a few more boats and more bank fishermen to the crowd, it is unlike anything you have ever seen. For years, very few fishermen outside of the locals and the guides knew anything about this annual bite.
Now retired, Dr. Fred Bessell of Beaumont, has fished the fall run for years and just shakes his head every time the subject comes up. “Twenty years ago we would drive down to Cameron, catch our limits of big flounder at a leisurely pace and see very few other fishermen in October and November. I think the bite is probably still just as good, but you aren’t alone anymore!”
The more liberal Louisiana limits have little to do with the reason fishermen wedge into the armada of boats anchored along the ship channel nearly every day. They are there because the catching is incredibly easy and the average flounder is a healthy two to three pound fish.
The fact that Texas anglers are limited to two flounder per trip during the month of November also contributes to the pre-dawn caravan crossing the Causeway each morning with their headlights pointed eastward. Louisiana Game Wardens are not unaware of the fact that at least a few folks exploiting this bite tend to get a little greedy and they are usually on hand to help you count your fish. Woe be unto the angler that opts to exceed the limit or not have a valid license and gets checked as it can be a very expensive mistake.
Over the past six or seven years, I make that trip only two or three times and have fished with nothing other than a Gulp shrimp on a jig head. You will see other fishermen doing just as well with finger mullet or even fresh dead shrimp, but why make it any more difficult than it has to be. I have never found color to be important, but I always carry a pack of new penny and a pack of white just in case there is a first time.
I have no doubt that the new Target-X scented baits that we have been experimenting with lately will work also, but I don’t know that for a fact. They have worked really well on Sabine thus far and they passed one more test with a nine-year old client last week that indicated that the smell of the new scented bait must be on the money.
While his dad and uncle were wearing the trout out on top waters and tails in the front of the boat, he sat in the back and more or less trolled a shad colored paddle tail Target-X rigged on a Carolina rig. All but unattended most of the time, the bait still caught croaker, sand trout and his limit of slot reds. It had to be all about the scent because more often than not he wasn’t even holding his rod when a strike would occur!
The wind was a limiting factor only a couple of days last week, but the last front pushed more shrimp into the open lake and the bite continues to improve all the way from East Pass to Blue Buck Point. Almost without exception, the anglers that caught not only the most, but the largest trout as well were the ones that targeted shrimp on the surface rather than flocks of opportunistic gulls.
We have been catching trout up to five pounds on topwaters when the lake flattens out and discovered that we could do the same thing with a Crazy Croaker when it was windy. Remember to fish that lure with an in-line swivel and short leader or a speed clip with a swivel as it will quickly twist your line otherwise.
The flounder bite is still very strong both in the lake and in the river right now and the average size fish has just been over the top. We caught only three while fishing crankbaits for reds and trout Tuesday, but all of them were over the three pound mark. Lamar Belcher returned to the dock with a sure enough saddle blanket Monday.
“I don’t remember exactly what I was doing at the time, but I had stopped retrieving my bait” said Belcher, “We were catching trout under the gulls and my lure was just lying on the bottom when the big fish picked it up.” That big fish was a behemoth flounder that measured 24-inches in length and weighed 5 1/2 –pounds!