Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol. 41, No. 2 - Page 6

Y byby Nate Skinner

Spring is Flounder Time Too !

ou ’ re going to need one of these .” I just shook my head and chuckled , turning down the Gulp shrimp that was being offered to me . A scent-free paddle tail remained on the jig head tied to the end of my line , as stubborn actions persevered . This bait would surely work .
Three casts into our wade my counterpart hooked up . Thinking it was purely luck , I continued to slow roll a mullet looking fake along the bottom while he netted a chunky flounder . A few minutes later my thoughts would begin to shift .
After just a mere handful of steps , my comrade ’ s rod bowed again . His hook set brought a second solid flatfish to the surface as I frustratingly hastened my pace . Trying to cover more water , my approach towards the bayou mouth cutting through the shoreline ahead continued .
The swooshing sound of a third , swift jerk of a rod to my left had me yanking my head around so fast it ’ s a wonder my neck didn ’ t snap .
“ Alright , give me one of those ,” I hollered , as I saw
yet another flounder fall victim to a landing net .
“ One second . I ’ m busy catching fish ,” cleverly laughed Captain Ryan Battistoni . “ I thought you were certain they would eat your presentation ?”, he sarcastically questioned .
Battistoni pulled a plastic package from his pocket and quickly tossed me one of the smelly shrimp tails . The bait immediately replaced my run-ofthe-mill soft plastic , and it didn ’ t take long before I was on the board , bringing a quality flounder to hand .
We began to relentlessly fool flatfish as we worked the edges of the shoreline on either side of the drain . With the spring sun rising overhead , it was rapidly becoming a day I would never forget .
“ These flounder are here every year during the spring ,” explained Battistoni . “ They stack up along the mouth of this bayou as they return to bays and marshes from the Gulf . The bite can rival that of the fall ,
and there ’ s not near as many people targeting them .”
We were definitely surrounded by the bottom feeders as we stealthily walked around amongst them . From the looks of our stringers , just about anyone would assume it was fall . Rising water temperatures and a warm breeze proved otherwise . It was springtime and this was flounder fishing at its finest .
Flounder are highly sought after for their exceptional table fare and it is common knowledge along the Gulf Coast that they can easily be caught in numbers during their annual fall fun . However , days like this memorable one provide anglers with a good reason to target them in springtime too .
During the fall months , flounder exit bays to spawn in the Gulf of Mexico in depths of 50 to 100 feet . As Gulf water temperatures increase and spawning is completed , these fish begin a gradual but steady influx back into the estuaries . This return migration towards shallower waters is what makes spring floundering so good , as locations where they will be concentrated become fairly predictable .
The arrival of flounder back into bays during the spring should be approached in reverse order compared to the fall run , when considering fishing locations . Early in the spring , flatfish will be more plentiful around deep channels and passes connecting bays with deeper Gulf waters . As weeks wear on and temperatures continue to warm , the fish can be followed into estuaries and found along main bay shorelines as well as in back
( Continued on page 18 .)
Author with a keeper flatfish . Gigging , and especially bow fishing for flounder , takes the excitement to a whole new level . Photos by author .
6 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N W W W . G U L F F I S H I N G . C O M