Most of the year, flounder may be considered a sporadic, yet valued by-catch species for many saltwater anglers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
But once the Autumn Equinox sets in and water temperatures begin to fall, flounder fever soars as coastal anglers target these flatties for quick, easy catches.
On Saturday, September 14, Craig Vidrine of Opelousas and I started a Saturday morning catching bass and a few speckled trout north of the Saltwater Barrier near Lake Charles, La.
“Let’s go to Cameron for some flounder,” Vidrine said.
We knew it was a gamble as it was a little early for flatties, but the tides were moving well and were forecast to continue for most of the day. So we trailered the boat and headed south on Hwy. 27 to the Cameron Ferry landing in hopes of finding a few of these
Upon reaching our fishing location on the Calcasieu Ship Channel, it didn’t take long.
“I have one now,” Vidrine said as he was reeling the fish in, his rod arching a little.
Just a little while later, my rod too was bending as I had hooked another flatty definitely headed to the cooler.
“They’re here already,” I said.
“Yes, but when we caught our limits each day for three days last year, that was only two weeks from now,” Vidrine said. “I figured some must be here.”
But the word “some” in his remark was an understatement.
In just two hours, we each caught a limit (10 flounder in Louisiana). Also included in the catch were a few speckled trout that just happened to be cruising by.
Very particularly, the flatties we caught were very interested in our pearl/chartreuse VuDu Shrimp by Egret Baits and Berkley Gulp! Shrimp of the same color.
The flounder were biting with subtlety, so Vidrine and I both used medium/light spinning rods with fast-action tips at 7- feet in length with low profile spinning reels.
Of importance was the fact that we moved at less than drifting speed, thus allowing the bottom bumping baits to be worked slowly and meticulously.
“They’re kinda like just loading up on the VuDus,” Vidrine said.
“Yah, I noticed the same,” I replied. “Very much like crappie . . . the bite is so subtle.”
Two weeks later, Lake Charles’ Ken Chaumont and a buddy were fishing south of the Grand Bayou Boat Bay in Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge (before the government shutdown).
“We got into the flounder too,” Chaumont said. “We caught them by slowly working Egret Baits’ 3.5- inch green chili pepper Wedgetail Mullets on 1/8 oz. Beer Belly jigs. “We were able to keep the Wedgetails upright when slowly moving them on the mud flats to where the flats met deeper water with our Beer Belly jig.
“One more cool front and these flounder are going to stack in quick and thick,” he said.
Certainly, it is well known that all along the coastline the fall flounder migration is nearly here. Sometimes in mid-October through Mid-November, flounder in marshes, bays and estuaries will begin a mass migration to Gulf of Mexico waters to spawn.
But before that, they’ll stage in grand numbers on the southern end of the estuaries and choose shell- and hard-packed bottoms to lay flat and ambush prey to fatten up before the rigors of the spawn.
Therefore, if you’re in the game for these flatty delicacies – now’s the time to go get them.