Salute to Southern Flounder

Texas coastal anglers are enjoying an outstanding run on flounder – months ahead of the flounder run!

It wasn't too many years ago, except perhaps during the peak of the annual fall spawning migration, flatfish landings in some bay systems had declined to the point that targeting them was almost a waste of time. Thankfully this is no longer the case.

Through spring and summer 2015, catching flounder on rod and reel "without hardly trying" has become a most-welcomed shallow-water bonus. Fishing in and around sloughs that connect backwaters to main bays is almost a guarantee. I am convinced this is no twist of fate, neither is it an accident.

For nearly twenty years, flounder had been on Texas Parks and Wildlife's regulatory radar, but a succession of changes enacted in both commercial and recreational daily bag limits and increasing minimum legal lengths failed to produce the desired effect of improving the fishery.

Finally a solution – though hardly popular at the time – was found in allowing a greater number of adult fish to the find their way to gulf spawning grounds!

Dr. Mark Fisher, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Science Director, says 2014's fall gill net population sampling yielded a 2x increase in flounder captures over historic numbers. 2015's spring bag seine studies produced a 3x rise in juvenile numbers, a solid indicator that 2009's reduction of rod and reel daily limit to two fish and implementing a coastwide gigging ban during the spawning migration was evidently the boost the fishery had been needing all along.

Texas has long been a leader in marine fisheries management, and thanks to overwhelming support from recreational anglers, CCA Texas and other organizations, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to declare this the year of the flounder. We have all contributed and this feather should be proudly worn in our caps.

To mark the rise in this unique fishery through excellent management and angler conservation efforts, we have dedicated an eight page section in this issue to flounder angling. Ten members of TSFMag's writing team have willingly shared flounder secrets gained through literally hundreds of years of on-the-water experience.

Being blessed to enjoy many days teaching grandkids to love and respect the great Texas outdoors, I cannot begin to describe their excitement for fishing. This past Sunday, while mom, dad and I wade-fished nearby, seven-year-old Sydney Mae remained in the boat casting in hope of landing her favorite piggy perch and blue crabs. When she hooked and landed a ten inch flounder on a GULP bait, we were not only surprised, we jumped for joy.

I pray your days on the water have been and will continue as successfully as ours and I further pray every parent and adult angler reading this will make a point to take a kid fishing!