Flounderin’ Around

Flounderin’ Around
The old-fashioned throw net is popular with locals who catch their own bait.

Hi, I'm Cade. I'm just your everyday do it yourself kind of guy with a great passion for the outdoors. Like many of you, I have often found myself a little lost when planning a fishing trip to a new area. Well, break out your Hook-N-Line Fishing map and follow me each month as I travel along the Texas coast, learning the ins and outs of fishing the salt waters along the way.

In this month's edition, I am headed to Port Arthur, TX. Port Arthur is located on Texas' eastern border, separated from Louisiana by Sabine Lake. Port Arthur provides an exceptional amount of fish habitat. My focus for this outing is on Keith Lake and Keith Lake Cut. My target is flounder and redfish from the kayak.

When and Weather

Keith Lake is a decent fishing ground most of the spring, summer, and fall for several species of fish. I was excited about this trip because the first decent cold snap of the year set in just a few days prior, and word on the water is when the weather gets colder the flounder bite gets hotter. Though not truly "cold" the previous night's air temperature reached the low 50s and throughout the day remained a mild 70ish.

Tackle and Gear
Rod: Castaway Go2 7'6" MH
Reel: Shimano Citica
Line: Suffix 15lb monofilament, clear
Lure: White/Gray Berkley GULP Minnow on 1/4 oz chartreuse jighead

I found a really nice tackle shop in Port Arthur - Daley's Hunt-n-Fish Supply. You can get just about all the tackle and gear you need here. Don't be shy to ask about the local fishing reports while you're there.

If you are looking for live bait, fresh dead or frozen, drive south on Hwy 87 from the cut and look for Sportsman's Supply. Or do like some of the locals and bring a throw net to catch your own.

Hitting the water
There are two convenient places to launch your kayak or begin fishing. As you drive south on Hwy 87 and cross the Keith Lake Cut bridge, you will immediately turn right into the gravel parking area to find your first option. A little further south on 87 will lead you to Juniors Landing. I opted to launch at Keith Lake Cut. The cut creates a funnel for fish and bait coming in and out with the tides so this was a primary target area for me. It was literally put in and begin casting.

After a few failed minutes at finding some morning redfish, it was game-on with the flounder attack. Bumping the Gulp minnow across the bottom, somewhat like a Texas rigged worm, proved very enticing to the flat fish.

When launching at the cut, try paddling directly across the channel to the north shore. There is a tower structure in the middle of what is known as "The Pond." I had some of my best luck in this area. At one point I landed keepers back to back.

Also try down at the end of the cut where the lake opens up. There is extreme current in this area so be careful. However, on the edges of the currents you can regularly pull in gamefish.

The north grass line of Keith Lake is supposedly a hot spot for reds when they are on. Similarly, Redfish Pass(the cut from Keith Lake to Johnson Lake) is a prime spot for reds.

Where to eat and where to sleep

In the immediate vicinity of Keith Lake you are not going to find any eateries or hotels. This isn't to say that a few miles back into the heart of Port Arthur you can't find a place to eat and sleep.

I am a big fan of breakfast, so an early morning stop at Waffle House off Hwy 287 started the day off well. It's really a free for all as far as restaurants go. Port Arthur has all of the usual fast food chains as well as the regular sit down establishments. For those of you into BBQ, try Tony's, it's a small local chain I am fond of.

Hotels are also easy to come by. Take your pick from Super 8, Holiday Inn, Ramada, the list goes on. Most of these hotels and restaurants are bunched together on Hwy 287 in the middle of Port Arthur, adding convenience to the trip.

I always try to find something a little more niche to the area I am visiting. Jep's Island Emporium is sort of an all in one spot for the traveler. It is comprised of a grocery store, deli, an RV park, the Cajun Cabin's, and a fuel station. Jep's is located on Pleasure Island, a good home base for getting right into the fishing action.

The Other Angles
Keith Lake and Keith Lake Cut are not just for the boaters or kayakers. I was impressed with the amount of people fishing from the bank along the cut; it's almost as if it's a good fishing area! There is a concrete structure that juts out from the parking lot parallel to the Hwy 87 bridge. A handful of fishermen were perched on their favorite fishing bucket, casting their lines near or under the bridge. I saw them pull several trout and flounder from under the bridge.

I would not advise trying to wade fish the cut. The current that runs through the cut is quite strong. There is a deep channel that drops off to 20+ feet of water, not something that I want to get caught in. If you wish to walk the bank of the cut out to the lake itself, then wading in the shallows is no problem. A couple of times, I parked the kayak and waded around a little in the lake.

Wrap up
All in all I was pleased with the ease of fishing Keith Lake. On some of my fishing trips in other areas, I put in a fair paddle before getting to the desired hot spot. As I mentioned earlier in the article, at Keith Lake and the cut, it is simply a matter of pull up and cast. Of course you can paddle to your arms content to reach some of the farther channels and marshy areas branching off the Lake. For the purpose of an all around fishing hole, Keith Lake has it.

If you would like more information on the Port Arthur area, visit www.portarthur.net

Daley's - daleyshuntnfish.com, 409.736.3999
Jep's Island Emporium - 409.983.3822

For questions regarding this article, I can be reached at 936-776-7028, by email to [email protected], or find me on Facebook to follow along in my outdoor adventures.