River flounder fishing heating up in Sabine, Niches

Published 8:41 am Saturday, June 18, 2016

By Chester Moore, Jr.


This is the time of year river fishing for flounder starts heating up.

And although freshwater runoff has been extreme in the Sabine and Neches systems, flounder are abundant in both and anglers can tap into excellent fishing action right about now.

While shrimp, croaker and other baitfish are all important component of the flounder’s diet, menhaden often call pogies or (shad) in Texas are the prey source I focus most of my flounder fishing efforts, especially in the rivers.

Find shad and you will find flounder.

Once I caught over a dozen flounder in a spot the size of the desk I am writing this story on because it was inundated with shad.

Why are these fish so desired by flounder?

It all boils down to opportunity. Of all of Texas’s bay dwelling sport fish, flounder are the most opportunistic.

Due to their flat design, these fish are best suited as ambush predators and menhaden are easy to ambush.

These fish spawn numerous times from late fall through spring, producing numerous classes of juveniles that gather in schools sometimes number millions. These tiny fish often cannot swim well so they are blown against leeward shorelines, which was the case with the example at the beginning of this story.

Anyone who has attended my flounder seminars has heard me talk about the importance of finding eddies (areas of slack water) in the bayous winding into our bays and along ship channels.

The reason is the tiny menhaden we most frequently encounter in the spring cannot negotiate strong tides well and will often congregate in eddies. There are eddies that form along the edges of river bends and in the bayous in the Bessie Heights Marsh area as well as in the Sabine River like Cow, Old Cow and Burton’s Ditch.

Throwing a small, shad imitating lure tipped with shrimp and bouncing it along the bottom in these eddies can be a great way to score on flounder. An angler can move from eddie to eddie at different locations throughout the day and catch fish. Flounder tend to move in and out of these zones.

Something I have noticed in the river fishing for flounder is they seem to be a bit more mobile. Whereas an angler can fish the same spot in Johnson Bayou on the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake days in a row and catch fish, this is not always true of the river systems.

As the shad in the river move up and down, flounder will follow, so make sure and scout out the shad to find the greatest concentrations of flounder.

And when you do find shad, you will need clear water, at least by Southeast Texas standards.

If you can see a pink colored soft plastic down about a foot then the water is clear enough to fish for flounder. If you can see 18 inches or better chances are the fishing can be really good.

Chocolate-colored water is a no-go for flounder fishing so keep that in mind as you are traversing the river systems this time of year.

Someone asked me how far up the river I would fish for flounder and my answer is the Interstate 10 area. That is the legal saltwater line and it is is a good barrier for flounder action.

Most of the best spots will be well south of there both on the Neches and Sabine but there have been times when flounder stack up close to the bridges on the Sabine in particular.

I like river flounder fishing because the wind is rarely strong enough to stop it from being productive and any angler in a small aluminum boat or kayak can do it.

Get out there and find some flounder. Your next dinner awaits you.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingddomzoo.com You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)