MORE OR LESS FLOUNDER?
Last updated 12/10/2019 at Noon
On Thursday we were in shorts and T-Shirts catching a flounder now and then while watching several nearby fishermen also doing more fishing than catching.I really didn’t care if we got the first bite……I just wanted to question an old friend and one of the best flounder fishermen I know.
The following morning it was cold, wet and windy and we weren’t nearly as mad at the fish as we were the day before. I wasn’t at all disappointed when my old friend pulled into a local donut shop rather than the boat launch!
It took way too many cups of coffee and bathroom breaks to catch up on old times, but the conversation eventually turned to the state of the flounder fishing.
He qualified his perspective by first pointing out that he had no idea what the bite was like on Sabine.“You know where I have fished for the past fifty years,” he stated.“My two boys and their kids fish the same water.We fish everything between the Cameron Ferry and Prien Lake and we all fish out of flat bottom aluminum boats.”
“I never bought a Bay Boat because I like fishing more than boat riding and no one in my family eats trout.They will occasionally eat a redfish, but we prefer flounder and bream and we know how to catch them!”
“I don’t know about all the scientific explanations, but our flounder catching has gotten worse for the past three years.It’s not fishing pressure because we fish areas that no one else even knows about, but it has gotten harder for some reason.”
After pointing out that he didn’t think the incredible number of Texas anglers that fish the Cameron area because they can keep more and smaller fish really hurt that much, he casually tossed out a number that blew me away.
“So far this year, my family is still two hundred fish short of the worst year we ever had and we are not going to make that up in three weeks!”
Initially I tried to grasp even catching two hundred flounder in a single year and entertained no desire to know their usual average total.“You have to remember,” he reminded me, “we fish only for flounder from January through December save a little perch jerking in the bayou.”
“We have had some decent days recently, but I think even your Texas buddies will tell you that the average size is down as well.If a flounder is legal we keep it, but I’m just saying…..!”
Because little else has change other than the glut of fresh water that inundated Calcasieu as well as Sabine, my old team mate lent some credence to the theory that three warm winters in a row really hurt.“We have known for years that the first month or so is critical for those baby flounder and they do best when the Gulf temperature is in the mid-sixties.”
Everything I have read about the flounder decline mentions that factor, but there isn’t a heck of a lot we can do about that.That problem is compounded by the fact that flounder are saddled with relatively short life spans and females don’t even spawn for the first two years.
While urging me to take one more kolache for the road, I was instructed not to mention his name in one of my columns or even infer that anything he had shared was based on scientific fact.“That’s just what I see and I’m just one fisherman,” he reminded me.
I haven’t heard how the Parks and Wildlife scoping meeting on flounder went, but past meetings regarding other species didn’t seem to be looking for imput….positive or negative.They generally explain their findings and data and suggest that a reduction in limits will be coming in the near future.
While I don’t recall any meetings proposing increasing limits, I am now satisfied with any changes that simply ensure the future of fishing.The number one beef that I usually hear is, “Two flounder or three redfish or five flounder are not even worth buying a boat.”
There are no limits that could possibly justify the money spent on boats, trucks, tackle, etc. You can buy a lot of fish dinners for a $60,000 to $100,000 investment.At the same time, I think sharing time on the water with a friend or one of the kids while anticipating the magic of the next bite is worth every penny spent.
Over the years, I have done far more fishing than catching and I eagerly anticipate giving it another shot tomorrow!