psssst_0By Ed/Snyder Outdoors
Rollover on Bolivar Peninsula, TX.
Incoming currents carried seasonal changes from Summer to Fall. With each flush the tidal waters began cooling the sand and mud where strange looking fish were hidden. With eyes on top sporting ratchet like jaws beneath, these weird looking dwellers of the flats looked more like creatures from horror films then the highly prized fish they were. Cooling waters soon alerted these unusual looking critters, slowly alerting to the seasonal changes, which began unstoppable urges for reproduction. One at first, then two, three, now four, until hundreds, then thousands of these weird looking fish began moving from the cooling shallows to the warmer depths of the bays and passes; movements that would eventually cause a stampede towards the hundred foot depths of their birthing.

Slithering along the sandy bottom one of the flattened critters swims up on a skittering minnow and quickly gobbles it up, which immediately unleashes a series of frightful events as the fish attempts to free itself from whatever had latched on to it. After frantic struggles to free itself a meshed object suddenly dips it out of the wader. A grungy looking creature peering down at the netted trophy quietly whispers to his fishing buddy…………………“Pssst, the flounder are running!!

Annual Flounder runs at Rollover Pass draw anglers from all over the country, offering great family fishing fun

Annual Flounder runs at Rollover Pass draw anglers from all over the country, offering great family fishing fun

Usually the beginning of the flounder run occurs at a casual pace, with the smaller males making their migrations from September through October. In late September the males (10 to 14 inches) are joined by much larger females from 14 to 22 inches, with some reaching 28 to 30 inches. The 20 to 24 females are referred to as doormats with the larger 25 to 30 inchers branded as saddle blankets. By mid October the run increases in numbers and sizes. Daytime runs are very noticeable as numbers of fish increase, but night-time runs are increased as well with migrating flounder moving through the passes at night.

The grungy looking creatures migrating flounder encounter during their run are possibly the most dedicated anglers in the world. These anglers have waited all year for just this moment, to catch, what they claim as being the most delicious fish that swim the seas. And THEY’RE RIGHT!!

My Favorite Flounder Rig- tandem quarter-oz jigs with Berkely Gulp

My Favorite Flounder Rig- tandem quarter-oz jigs with Berkely Gulp

My favorite way to fish for, and catch flounder is to double rig (tandem) ¼ oz jigs with Berkley Gulp using white or pearl 3 inch swimming minnow on one and a chartreuse 3 inch swimming minnow on the other. I’ll then cast out to the sandbar in the middle of the pass and just let the tides current roll them along the bottom. We call that massaging the bottom here. You’ll feel little tic tic bites that are mostly croaker, sand trout, or yellow tail. The flounder will mostly hit the jig with a THUMP! When you feel this SET THE HOOK! If you’re in doubt about what’s hitting your jig SET THE HOOK! Eventually you’ll experience enough from the bites to tell the difference between the critters and the flounder.

With each cold front the shallows where the flounder hunt at night will chill off, eventually dropping below the comfort zone of the flatfish. This in turn will drive them to the deeper water of the bays and passes. As the waters chill off further, the flounder will obligate to their maternal urges and start migrating through the bays and passes towards their deep-water spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

The number (1) bait for flounder is the mud minnow, a hardy 2 inch minnow found in the brackish water ditches along our Texas coastal areas. The number (2) bait is the finger mullet, a 2 to 3 inch mullet found in the passes and salt marshes of the coast. The number (3) bait is live shrimp, a crustacean found in bays and Gulf coastal waters. All three baits are best fished on bottom rigs. Carolina style slip rigs are much preferred for flounder fishing.

Most popular among flounder anglers- No Roll slip sinkers with #8 treble hooks and live minnow

Most popular among flounder anglers- No Roll slip sinkers with #8 treble hooks and live minnow

A 2 oz barrel, no-roll, or bell sinker is used with line drawn through the weight, beaded, and rigged with #8 treble hooks. Hook minnows through the lips and live shrimp through the horn on the head Experienced anglers recommend to allow the flounder to mouth the bait before setting the hook. After the flounder swallows the bait it will then start to swim off, when this happens just slowly raise your rod until you feel the fish before setting the hook with a quick upswing.

A variety of soft plastic lures are available for flounder fishing, and most will catch flounder, but one soft plastic really stands out above all others. The Berkley Gulp is fast becoming the #1 plastic for flounder fishing today. And I can vouch for that. When the flounder start their Spring or Fall runs, I’ll immediately switch to Berkely Gulp, mainly the 3 inch pearl or chartreuse swimming minnows rigged on 1/4 oz jig-heads. Best tackle for me are medium lite 6.5 or 7ft action rods with fast retrieve 10 ball bearing casting reels spooled with 12 lb test mono.

When working gulp tandems cast upcurrent and allow to sink to bottom, preferably a sandbar, the just hold your rod at high noon allowing the jigs to bounce over the bottom, twitching your rod every now and then. You’ll actually feel a sharp “tick” when the flounder latches on. Immediately set the hook!

This annual massive migration of flounder occurs every Autumn when flounder swim the gauntlet of fishermen who’re anxiously awaiting the flounder to leave the bays, passes, and cuts to reach their ancestral spawning grounds in the Gulf Mexico. This annual Fall run of millions of flounder ensures that enough will get through the maze of fishing lines to enable the species to reproduce.

Saddle Blanket Flounder such as this 8-plus pounder are caught at Rollover

Saddle Blanket Flounder such as this 8-plus pounder are caught at Rollover

Spawning occurs in 100 ft depths, with the flounder hatchlings eyes separated at first, looking much like normal fish, begin their massive homecoming to the warming spring bays. There, they transform with eyes rotating to one side, developing into flounder like features as we know them. After only one year of ravenously feeding in the shallow bays and sloughs these new born flounder can grow from 8 to 10 inches. Then in their 2nd year of life will grow from 12- to- 15 inches. Flounder that grow above 12 inches become females while those holding at, or below 12 inches remain males.

Legal catches in Texas are 14 inches minimum with a 5 fish creel limit from January to October. During the month of November through the first two weeks of December, Texas Parks & Wildlife, as a conservation effort, resets limits to two fish a day, and a possession limit of two flounder per day. In mid December, the regular limit of five fish per day is reinstated. All anglers must comply with Texas rules and regulations with a state fishing license and a saltwater stamp. Failure to do so can result in stiff fines, loss of fishing tackle, loss of vehicle, or all three.

Flounder provide exceptional flavors to the palate and can be prepared in a wide variety of ways from cultured cuisines to the basic deep-fried recipes. Whichever way your palate prefers it is assured to become a delectable pleasure to your taste-buds. My absolute favorite is grilled flounder stuffed with Cajun Boudin (Rice Sausage) grilled to a crispy brown and served with a favorite chilled beverage. Mmmmm Good! ………..”Bon Appetit!!

(published 10/28/2014)

This Ed Snyder/Outdoors Article Sponsored By- Miss Nancy’s Bait Shop,, and The Beach Triton.

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One Response to “Psssst………”

  1. Richard Miller says:

    Thanks Ed. This article is helpful to me as a North Texan with limited saltwater experience.

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