Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41; No. 4 - FALL 2017 - Page 7

by Danno Wise WESTERN GULF F LOUNDER R UN F all and flounder are virtually synonymous thanks to the legendary fall flounder run. This year, Texas anglers are anxiously anticipating this annual event much more than they have for nearly a decade due to higher than average catches of flatfish during the spring and summer months. Some attribute this increase to recent regulation changes by Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW). Still others say Mother Nature has turned generous with flatfish numbers. Others still see this as a normal uptick in a population cycle. In any event, this fall promises to be a memorable one for those seeking flatfish along the Texas coastal curve. Port Mansfield guide, Capt. Steve Ellis, of Get-A-Way Adventures Lodge, is a flounder fan and says he’s been extremely encouraged by the increased catches as of late. “There are a lot more flounder in the Lower Laguna Madre than there used to be,” said Ellis. “We’re catching a lot more than we did a few years ago. You still have to work at it and need to know when and where they are – but there are a whole lot more fish now than there were. “The new (TPW) regulations have got to help. You know, we’re also catching a lot more big flounder. Most keeper flounder are female so letting them do their egg thing and give birth to all those little flounder (because of tighter regulations) has got to help. And, I think there is less trawling going on as well, which absolutely destroys young flounder populations. So, less trawling means more flounder.” A little further to the south, Port Isabel guide Capt. Mike Mahl has been seeing the same increase in flounder catches . “We don’t target flounder all year long, but we catch them all year while we’re fishing for trout and reds,” said Mahl. “And, we’ve been catching more over the last two or three years. It used to be a fluke if you got one in the Lower Laguna Madre, but now it’s pretty regular to catch them while fishing for reds and trout – we even catch some on topwaters on the shallow flats. In fact, some of the bigger flounder are caught on topwaters. And, bait fishermen are catching lots of them all year long. But, during the fall, we’ll actually target them.” Another popular big trout destination has also begun establishing itself as a flounder fishery in recent years. “There were more flounder in Baffin Bay this spring than I’ve seen in 10 years,” said Capt. Aubrey Black of Baffin Rod & Gun. “May was tremendous. And, it seems like it’s just been getting better. We’re actually targeting them again, which we hadn’t really done for years. As they start ganging up in the fall, we should have some really good flounder fishing.” And, of course, that is what everyone is hoping for. As summer fades to fall, the biological clocks of flounder begin to tick louder. The mature fish group up and begin to funnel out of the bays and estuaries in mass migrations toward the Gulf to spawn. This happens, to varying degrees, in every bay system along the Gulf Coast. (Continued on page 14.) Capt. Steve Ellis shows off a near saddle blanket flounder. A variety of soft plastics will take flounder as well as hard baits, including topwater lures in shallow water. Flounder are notorious for spitting out a bait just as it’s about to be landed. Photos by author. OCTOBER • NOVEMBER • DECEMBER 2 0 1 7 7