Fishing & Boating News

Springtime Flounder? - UBETCHA!

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Frank Bunyard with his Springtime saddle blanket 8.5 - 28.5 flounder.
Photo by Ed Snyder
Beaumont TX anglerette Christy Sullivan worked a pink Berkley Gulp along the bottom to catch this nice 17inch flounder.
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Mar. 27, 2014 - Bolivar Peninsula, TX.)

Fishing at Rollover Pass, Tarkington Prairie, TX, angler Frank Bunyard, was hoping to catch something on his finger mullet he just cast out. He soon got his wish when something hit his live bait hard and fast. "The way the fish was fighting, stated Frank, I figured it was a big redfish, but when the redfish suddenly popped up on the surface wildly shaking its head, well, I mean to tell ya I almost had a heart attack! The big redfish he had expected had taken the form of a HUGE flounder!

"That flounder gave me a fight I'll never forget, stated Frank, and after a wild landing that HUGE flounder was finally in my net. What was first thought to be a big redfish was instead a saddle blanket sized flounder measuring 28 1/2 inches and weighing 8 1/2 pounds"!.....WOW!!

Now you would think this fishing action had occurred during the annual Autumn flounder run in October or November, but you would be wrong. This was actually during the Spring run of flounder in March and April of 2013.

In fact, pass anglers saw larger quality flounder coming thru the pass in Spring then October. Now, the run isn't as pronounced as the Fall run, but to some anglers it's just as productive. Just ask Frank Bunyard and he'll gladly show you his cell phone image of that awesome Springtime catch.

What's happening is this, after flounder migrate in the Fall to their deep-water spawning grounds in 100ft depths in the Gulf of Mexico. After spawning they will then return to their shallow water habitats in the Spring. Anglers who are aware of this gather along these Spring time fish passes in hopes of catching some of those flounder.

And, although the Spring flounder run isn't as massive as their Fall runs, they do however provide some pretty good fishing action for the flounder anglers. Consider it a run in spurts when groups, or flights of these post spawn flounder begin swimming thru the passes to get to back their summer haunts.

The year of 2013 provided excellent Spring runs at the pass for anglers which saw several flounder from 5 to7 lbs hit home-bound coolers. But one lucky angler (first paragraph) hit the jack pot by catching a saddle blanket measuring 28 ? inches, weighing in at 8 ? lbs. A great catch for any angler fishing for flounder in the Spring or Fall!

Flounder are favorite catches among anglers, bordering on the fishing occultist who crave fishing for and catching flounder. For when flatfish anglers speak "flounder"..EVERYBODY LISTENS!

With the Spring run just now beginning at rollover pass, choice baits are dead or live shrimp, dead or live finger mullet, dead or live squid, or pearl or chartreuse soft plastic baits such as Berkley Gulp, Mr Twisters, Saltwater Assassins, or soft plastic MirOlures.

Flounder returning from the Gulf are HUNGRY and will hit just about anything during their Spring migrations, which is different from their Fall runs when they can get finicky about what they eat. .

If you're not experienced with dragging jigs and plastics along the bottom for flounder, then you'll need to fish with anglers who know this technique. But once you've learned to develop that sense of feel needed to work these baits properly then you'll eventually be successful with this method of fishing.

I call it "massaging the bottom" and that's just what you're really doing when dragging your jigs along the bottom. You're actually feeling the bottom as it bumps along with the tide. If your jigs can get within 2 to 3 feet of a bottom hugging flounder, it will alert to the vibrations and inhale your jig as it drifts by. This will feel like a sudden "TIC" on your line or just a slight tug. When feeling this set the hook immediately with a quick upward snap of your rod. Then keep your rod high to fight the fish.

But if you really don't care about learning this, then live or dead bait fishing is for you. Best baits, live finger mullet, live shrimp, or live mud minnows. But this also takes a little skill and a lot of patience. Rig your gear for bottom fishing by adjusting your bottom weights as to the amount of current of the tides. Lighter tide movement, lighter bottom weights, swifter tide currents, heavier bottom weights.

My recommendation would be for the "no-roll" type weights of at least 2 ? ozs. These weights allow your line to pass thru a weight that is flat and shaped in such a way as to keep it from rolling in the current. If "no-rolls" aren't available then use the pyramid or barrel type weights.

Most flounder anglers use #8 treble hooks, but I'm against using these small hooks due to the fact that most flounder will swallow this hook, eventually killing the fish. If the flounder is under sized then after releasing it the flounder it will die, ending up crab fodder. I'll use a #6 Aberdeen or circle hook, which will mostly hook the fish in the mouth, and not in the throat, making it releasable.

Even fly rod or ultra-lite anglers can get in on the flounder action. When the water warms up enough for the flatfish to move onto the flats to feed I've had fun fishing flounder with 5wt fly rods, floating lines and 4lb tippets tied with 3inch Mylar streamer. In the early mornings the flounder will often surface feed on swimming baitfish, and you will actually see them pop the surface or leap out of the water chasing baitfish. When seeing this just roll cast to that feeding ripple and you'll often hook up with a feeding flounder. Ultra-Lite angling is basically worked the same way, and I mean to tell you, if you've never set a hook into a 2lb flounder on 5wt or ultra-Lite, you're in for some great fishing action..

The rules set for flounder catches by TP&W are for 14inch minimum size with 5 fish limits per angler. A special regulation for November allows but 2 flounder per angler- But please note as of this writing the flounder limits may change- so please check for any changes in the TP&W rules before fishing.

Flounder are at the top of the anglers menu for those who enjoy eating these succulent flatfish of the saltwater fishery- And with literally hundreds of recipes to choose from, I?ll only mention a few of the most popular recipe's for this readership-

Tempura Flounder- (My Favorite) Filet flounder (skinless) soak filets in milk for 1 hour- cut 4 filets in half- now 8 filets- dust in tempura flour- using a nonstick skillet- add table spoon of olive oil and heat to medium/high- Saute' filets until crispy brown- plate on wilted lettuce with sliced avocado or tomato- Serve with iced tea or your favorite chilled beverage.

Boudain Stuffed Flounder- Clean and descale flounder whole- (minus head) create a pocket on the dark side- using premium Cajun Boudain (rice sausage) stuff pocket- close and wrap flounder in aluminum foil- place on preheated smoker grill- allow one hour cooking- then open aluminum, close cover and continue smoking for 15 minutes to brown- plate and serve with chilled beverage-

Deep-fried Flounder- Soak filets in milk 1 hour- coat filets in Cajun Fish Fry- In HOT peanut oil- deep fry filets until golden brown- remove filets and drain- mix 50/50% self rising flour and cornmeal with water and chopped green onions - spoon into peanut oil and remove when they float to the top- drain- then deep-fry thick sliced potato wedges- remove when golden brown- season with Cajun style seasoning- plate flounder, hush puppies, fries and serve with a chilled beverage-....ENJOY!!

This EdSnyder/Outdoor article sponsored by; Miss Nancy's Bait Shop- Crystalbeachlocalnews - The Beach Triton - Fishing World
One hand shows favorite flounder soft plasticl ures-The other shows noroll, pyramid, and barrell type weights used for flounder fishing baits.
Photo by Ed Snyder
Berkley Gulp claimed this HUGE Spring time saddle blanket flounder.
Photo by Ed Snyder