Regarded by many as the tastiest inshore saltwater species in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas waters is the southern flounder, Paralichthys lethostigma. Flounder are a flatfish that spend most of their time lying or swimming along the bottom. Both eyes in adults are on the upper or left side of their bodies.
Growing rapidly over the first year, young flounder may reach 12 inches quickly. Females far exceed their male counterparts in growth, reaching 25 inches or even longer; males rarely exceed 12 inches. With the arrival of fall, adult flounder will begin their migration out of Sabine Lake and Calcasieu Lake and the surrounding estuary to enter the Gulf of Mexico, where fish 2 years and older will spawn. Flounder are easiest to catch during this massive migration that takes place from November into December, depending on the weather.
When it comes to catching flounder, the saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” is true. One of the most popular is to use 3- or 4-inch Gulp! shrimp and a 3-inch Gulp! swimming mullet rigged on a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jighead. Many anglers will use mud minnows or finger mullet to catch their share of fish. My preferred method during the fall run — or any time, for that matter — is a white Mister Twister curlytail grub. A single-tail or double-tail both work great. I rig the grub on a jighead, the weight depending on the depth of the water I am fishing and the speed of the current, typically either a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce. I always tip the grub with a small piece of dead shrimp when fishing for flounder. For me, this is the best way to catch both numbers and quality fish.
During their exodus from the lakes, fishing the channels that lead to the Gulf most easily targets them. Since flounder follow the contour of the bottom to a large degree, fishing bulkheads, points and edges of the channel are key areas. Anglers will line the banks, either in their boats or wading, casting over and over to essentially the same spot hoping to entice a flounder to bite while it makes its way out to the spawning grounds.
If you are planning on fishing Texas waters for the flounder run this year or leaving from a Texas landing, you may want to check the new regulations. In an effort to increase the number of female flounder reaching the Gulf of Mexico to spawn, the Texas Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has closed the harvest of flounder from Nov. 1. to Dec. 15.
Two things are for certain, no matter which side of the debate you are on for the new regulation: there will be more flounder that make it to the Gulf to spawn, and there will be more Texas boats leaving out of Louisiana to fill an ice chest.
Capt. Adam Jaynes guides on Sabine Lake, Lake Calcasieu and surrounding waters. He specializes in light tackle with artificial lures in the year-around pursuit of speckled trout and redfish. He can be reached at (409) 988-3901 and on Facebook at Just Fish Guide Service.