Match the hatch and follow the gators (seriously)

Have you ever seen fish hitting with your own eyes but they were keyed in on something VERY specific. They weren’t just hitting shrimp, they were hitting a certain size shrimp, etc.

I have found this recently while flounder fishing in the Sabine River. The catching has been thin because the baby menhaden (aka shad, pogey) are incredibly thick. For us this has been true from the Sabine River to the bayous on the eastern side of Sabine Lake.

My friend Thad Daly and I were out and we kept snagging the shad as we worked our jigs. With each pop of the line you could feel the millions of tiny baitfish bumping up against it.

Name:  shadhooking.jpg Views: 266 Size:  40.0 KB
(Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)
Thad Daly with one of several shad hooked while fishing.

I have been starting off with a smoke-colored Gulp! Swimming Mullet because it is amazing for flounder and the color matches the shad in our off-colored water. If that doesn’t work I use the albino shad colored crappie grub from Southern Pro grubs tipped with a small piece of shrimp. Both I use rigged on an 1/8-ounce jighead.

To see some of the bigger fish out there in a little deeper water live bait has been good. I used the Mr. Crappie Troll Tech Double Swivel egg weight and a seven inch long live mullet to catch this big flatfish last week. These weights are great for flounder because with the moving swivels they help avoid line twist. It helps make a more efficient Carolina rig.

Name:  shadflounder500.jpg Views: 266 Size:  31.0 KB
(Photo courtesy Chester Moore)

A final note is that a good way to look for flounder feeding along riprap is look for alligators. I have found when the gators are in the shallows with their heads (and most of their body) out of the water pointed toward the shore, there are lots of shad. The gators just open their mouths when a bunch come by and gulp. Typically this shows flounder are feeding and interestingly also signals a serious “match the hatch” situation. At times there will be gators lined along with herons and egrets all eating the shad and the big lizards totally avoiding attacking the birds.

That is matching the hatch to the extreme!

Name:  shadgator.jpg Views: 269 Size:  97.2 KB
(Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)
When alligators are thick along riprap in places like the Intracoastal Canal and are in the shallows pointed toward the shoreline, there tend to be lots of shad present and flounder feeding.