It has been an interesting last couple of years with all the storms we’ve had here in the Lower Laguna. For the last two years flounder were hard to come by. None of the old flounder haunts were producing anything in the way of flatties. What few were caught were big ones though. We caught one last year that almost made the six pound mark. However, it was the only one I caught that year. There were several caught in and around the Lower Laguna but for the most part they were not anywhere to be found on a regular basis.
Hurricane Alex which actually missed us and went into the coast of Mexico about a hundred miles south of us, dumped 25” of rain in the mountainous region around Monterrey. The runoff from that storm flooded the lakes of Amistad and Zapata. This caused a massive run off down the Rio Grande and on down into the valley. Once here, it had to go somewhere and was diverted through the Arroyo Colorado and then through the man made spillway through the Valley. Both of which emptied into the Lower Laguna Madre just south of Port Mansfield. All this fresh water reduced the hyper salinity to nothing which in turn killed off almost all of the grass beds in the Lower Laguna. My guess is about 60 to 70% of our grass beds are gone.
What does this have to do with the flounder making a comeback? Well, without the grass and all the decaying dead grass it has produced a lot of nutrients for the bait to flourish. Crabs are more abundant now than I’ve seen in 15 to 20 years. Shrimp can now find hiding places in the muddy bottom, mullet which are vegetarians have lots to forage on. Couple this with the really cold winter we had last year which the flounder need to spawn, and you have a scenario that will be a blast. We are already catching more than the past two years combined just out in the flats fishing for trout and reds. When the tides fall out this summer, I expect the flounder to head for the ICW where we usually catch them and probably be more prevalent that the trout.
Couple this too with the reduced bag limits, and we should see a lot better fishery that ever before, and not only the flounder, but also the trout and reds as they too enjoy these same baits. Bally hoo and mud minnows are more prolific this year too, which just ads more baitfish for just about any predator.
Fishing for flounder is really pretty simple and a lot of people fish them in different ways. My preferred method is with a fly, but my second choice is with a Norton bull minnow on a ¼ ounce jig head. Gulp and most any other small plastic will work just fine if you just work it on or very close to the bottom. Along the edges of the ICW or any other channel where the water will drop off the flats and into the channel will be your best place to target the flatties.
I can hardly wait to stuff one and chow down.
Skipper Ray is a veteran guide and freelance writer in South Padre Island where he also owns and operates Island Outfitters.