I love flounder and huge flounder really intrigue me.
One of the coolest moments of my career as a wildlife journalist was getting to encounter a flounder bigger than the long-standing state record.
The state record of 13 pound was caught by Herbert Endicott of Groves in Sabine Lake in 1976. That’s 40 years of a standing record but I believe it will be beaten now that the regulations of the last eight years give more big flounder a chance to spawn.
In 2009, I got to hold a 13-pound, 11-ounce flounder that was housed at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute the same year the new regs started. That fish was caught when it was in the nine pound class and it was kept in captivity as a brood fish for a couple of more years until its death. That fish had a chance to live and shows that the very coding it takes to allow for the growth of mega flounder is out there.
Again, I did not catch this fish but got to hold it.
The reason I share this is that it shows the genetic potential of the flounder in Texas.
Now onto some strange fall flounder strategies that started with an observation…
The flying flounder cleared the water by a minimum of two feet and sent dozens of smaller shrimp scurrying across the surface. To call this sight awesome would be cliché but I was certainly left in a state of…well…awe.
Yes, flounder do jump and that is just a small part of their behavior that few anglers encounter.
A lifetime of pursuing flounder beyond simply fishing for them has given me incredible opportunities to see things that shatter preconceived notions about these fascinating fish. And I am excited to share these with you as we enter the fall flounder run here in the coming weeks on the Texas coast.
Flounder can be surprisingly acrobatic, especially when they are feeding in frenzy on a specific type of baitfish.
Out of all the fish I have pursued none get tunnel vision so to speak over prey items like flounder. When they are locked on tiny menhaden (shad) they often refuse other offerings and feed with enough enthusiasm to leap for joy.
Six years ago, my father Chester Moore, Sr. and I not only observing flying flatfish but also saw them “rolling”. We would see mud boils all over the particular cut we were fishing and occasionally see a glimpse of brown or a shrimp jumping. Upon closer examination we were able to verify they were flounder feeding on shrimp in an unusual way.
They would rocket from the bottom, sweep through the shrimp and roll back down in a clockwise direction. We saw this dozens of times in the course of a week and each time the strikes were conducted in exact fashion. You had to be close to verify they were flounder and we had that opportunity many times.
An even stranger phenomenon was also recently discovered. I watched several small male flounder gathered around big females in the channel at Sabine Pass. This was the last week of November and there were several egg-laden females with males right on them.
Were these fish spawning in the channel?
We know they spawn in the Gulf but is it possible that a remnant actually spawns in our deep man-made channels?These fish were in three feet of water on the edge of a 30-foot drop-off. Perhaps they were simply staging together to run but the females looked as if they were about to burst.
Even more intriguing was the fact the males would seemingly defend the area around her like a bass does on a bed.
I would pitch a 2.5-inch Sassy Shad from Mr. Twister toward them and the males would hit the lure, swim away with it and drop it. It was really weird and it still has me wondering what is going on.
Something I noticed a lot during that particular day and the next day was that I would get lots of short strikes on the lures I was fishing. I have a feeling there were lots of small male flounder out there around big females. If I run into that again, I plan to break out some live bait and see if I can get the big female with them to hit.
Be ready for anything when it comes to flounder fishing. Like me you might end up flipping to flounder on the beds.
I hope in your case it’s the new state record.
Chester Moore, Jr.