Flounder Taking Up The Slack
“To tell you the truth, I was just trying to get my two nephews on a few fish and now they think their uncle is Bill Dance,” laughed Clegg Breaux.” “I didn’t have anything but those big ol’ popping corks so I tied them on the kid’s rod with about a foot of line below them and a treble hook and started fishing.”
Clegg said he caught a mixture of small shad and finger mullet and they just started drifting down the east shoreline of the ICW north of the DuPont Outfall Canal.
“I never see anyone fishing that side so I figured I wouldn’t get in any body’s way. Darby and Kale caught three or four rat reds pretty quickly so my day was made early,” he added.
As the incoming tide strengthened, he and the boys noticed that some kind of fish kept blowing up in the balls of small shad, swimming just outside the flooded grass.
“Kale threw right in the middle of all of that bait,” said Clegg, “and caught the biggest flounder I had ever seen, but I haven’t caught that many flounder fishing Toledo Bend!”
By the time they decided swimming at the sand bar was more appealing than any more fishing, they had one keeper red, two big croaker, and fourteen flounder in the cooler. Clegg later added that his neighbor said their giant flounder weighed about three pounds, but every fish was over 16 inches long. Not a bad morning for fishing in a 25 mph wind.
Breaux’s neighbor fished basically the same program, a little closer to Cow Bayou, the following two days and was limited by eight o’clock each day. He was fishing mud minnows on a short leader under a Mansfield Mauler. He also told Clegg that he started catching flounder in the shallow water long before he ever saw the first balls of shad.
The flounder bite has been really strong for well over a month now, but too few local anglers are taking advantage of it. The redfish and trout just went nuts in the lake for about a ten day stretch and regardless of how productive the flounder bite may have been at the time, it was relegated to the back burner.
Ironically enough, for most folks it is not a matter of not knowing how to catch flounder, it is just viewed as a less than exciting tactic. There is no running and gunning, no chasing birds, no top water feeding frenzy, just a slow methodical bite that can result in a five fish limit that is hard to beat at the supper table.
The flounder bite that Clegg and his nephews found is really about as fast and exciting as flounder fishing can get. Being able to see the shad explode into the air and expecting a bite when you make an accurate cast is not the norm for the veteran flounder enthusiast. They are more accustomed to setting up around the mouth of a drain or bayou and patiently crawling live bait across the bottom on a Carolina rig.
For my money, the more enjoyable approach is to work the shoreline with small curly tail jig or tube jigs tipped with shrimp. That set up will not only fool flounder, but virtually every other species of fish in the area as well. When working the brackish waters of the river we have also caught bass, redfish, trout, stripers, and even a Spanish mackerel without ever changing lures.
As a rule, drains and any structure that creates a current break are key areas to target rather than just blind casting long stretches of shoreline. Clegg and his nephews had great success making long drifts, but they admittedly found most of their fish under shad that they could see just beneath the surface.
Areas like Black’s bayou, Bridge, and Willow and Johnson’s are perhaps even better areas to fish this technique simply because you have so many outside bends to fish as well. It is not at all unusual to catch several flounder in a single bend as they pile up in anticipation of their next meal getting washed around the corner. As a rule, the more favorable tide when fishing the bayous is an outgoing tide. When fishing the shoreline of the lake, a good incoming tide is usually best as it will push the bait up into the roots of the cane.
Make no mistake about it, flounder are not the most athletic of fish but they are aggressive and will ambush everything from a spinner bait to a half ounce Hoginar when they decide to eat. I still question the long term value of the 14 inch minimum length regulation, but there is no denying that a two pound flounder stuffed with crab meat dressing and served with a baked potato is hard to top when it comes to eating fish!
Last Tuesday’s Sabine River bass tournament may well have been the toughest challenge thus far. The wind was howling and a big incoming tide had the water stacked up in the cuts and the bayous. Some of the stronger patterns of the past several weeks were literally flooded out and the larger bass were scattered.
The team of Melvin Dunn and Jesse Borel apparently did the best job of solving the tough bite as they took home first place money and the big bass check as well. Their winning total was 4.56 pounds and their big bass was a solid 3.02 pound fish. Mike Chargois and Kevin Blanchard cashed the second place check with 4.00 pounds of bass and Jonathan Simon and Kevin Vaughn finished third with 2.96 pounds.
The next Triangle Tail Chasers tournament will be held in conjunction with the Hooter’s fund raiser on July 9th. The prize money will be even better and any weights recorded by members of the Tail Chasers Club will count towards year end totals. The tournament will be held out of Ancelet’s Marina.