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Flounder Fishing Tips From Flounder Pounder Lures

October 4th, 2017

Advice from Phil and Joe Ortiz of Flounder Pounder Lures

By Capt. Joe Kent

ortiz Flounder Fishing Tips From Flounder Pounder Lures

Phil Ortiz with a big Galveston flounder.

November is by far the best month for flounder fishing along the upper Texas Coast.  It stands out so much that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department set special rules for that month that include a reduction in the daily bag limit from five to two and the limitation of hook and line (rod and reel) as the only means of catching flatfish.  With that restriction, flounder gigging is prohibited during November.

The main reason for the great fishing in November is the annual flounder migration to the Gulf of Mexico reaching its peak and flounder stacking up in such numbers around the passageways to the Gulf that they are easy picking for anglers.

Prior to the changes in the rules, anglers had a daily bag limit of 10 with a two-day possession limit.  This allowed the gigging crowd to take 10 before midnight and another 10 per person after the clock struck 12 a.m.

When the two-day limit was eliminated and the bag limit reduced to five per day, along with the November rules, flounder stocks began to rebound.

With the flatfish now back to good numbers, let’s take a look at some tips from an expert on how, where and when to fish for flounder.

Phil Ortiz, inventor and manufacturer of the popular Flounder Pounder artificial bait, is one of the noted experts on flounder and flounder fishing.  Ortiz has fished commercially for flounder and for over 20 years has devoted his time to producing one of the most prolific flounder baits on the market, the Flounder Pounder.

Recently, I interviewed Ortiz along with his brother Joe who assists him in manufacturing the baits.  We started out with what I considered the most important question and proceeded from there.

pounderlure Flounder Fishing Tips From Flounder Pounder Lures

Kent: What would you say is the most important single factor in fishing for flounder?

Ortiz: When the periods of sunlight fall, meaning shorter days, signals go off in flounder to start moving.  The shorter days translate into cooler water and give rise to frontal systems making their way to the coast.  This has a snowballing effect in that the fronts move the water out of the marshes and back bays thus telling flounder to prepare for their move.

Kent: Now that we see the flounder beginning to move, what are other factors that affect fishing?

Ortiz: The next most important is atmospheric pressure.  A drop in pressure alerts flounder that change is on the way and the movement begins.

Kent: What about tides and moon?

Ortiz: Tidal flow, whether incoming or outgoing, is 99% necessary. The moon phases are not as important; however, the better action will be during major and minor periods.

Kent: What about the actual fishing?  What color is your favorite and how do you fish for flounder?

Ortiz: Color makes no difference; in fact the bait itself is not that important.  It is all in the presentation.  I once hooked a cigarette butt to one of my jigs and caught flounder by making the bait resemble a running shad.

Kent: I recall you telling me that noise, if anything, helps flounder fishing.  Is that still true?

Ortiz: Absolutely.  Think about it, flounder lie on the bottom and any loud noise nearby will spook bait into running away.  During the exit, the spooked bait will run past an awaiting flatfish and an easy meal results.

Kent: Is November the best month to catch that big “saddle blanket” flounder?

ortiz2

Phil with another flatfish fooled by the Flounder Pounder.

Ortiz: There are a lot of large flounder caught during November; however, my experience has shown June through August to be the best time.

Kent: It is pretty well known that the smaller male flounder make an appearance first during the flounder run.  Why is that?

Ortiz: It is because they move slower than the larger females.

Kent: In closing, do you have any advice or recommendations to pass on to other fishermen?

Ortiz: Yes, I encourage fishermen to support regulations to increase the minimum size for flounder to 17 inches.  Why? Because most of the males are under 17 inches and it takes approximately four to six males to fertilize the eggs of one female.  Before recent research on this topic, it was thought that a one to one ratio was satisfactory.  Today we know otherwise.

For more on Flounder Pounder Lures, please visit www.flounderpounder.net




Tips For Catching More Fish

October 31st, 2016

redflounderstring Tips For Catching More Fish

By Capt. Joe Kent

There is an old adage that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. Well, while not statistically proven, the odds are that the old adage has a lot of merit.

If you are one of those anglers who comes away feeling like everyone around you is catching fish while you are left with an empty or sparse stringer, hopefully some of these tips will help you join that exclusive 10% group that takes 90% of the fish.

While actively guiding fishing trips, there were a number of things I observed that definitely handicapped my guests from catching many fish.

Most likely the biggest obstacle was in casting skills.  Other fishing guides agreed with me that if there was one big fault it was in the lack of being able to cast a bait to a target and at the same time avoid another big problem, backlashes.

fancast 300x240 Tips For Catching More Fish

Good casting skills are imperative for fan casting or placing your bait precisely near structure or jetties.

Line Control

There are a number of other skills anglers need to address; however, accurate casting and controlling the line is at the top of the list.

Casting skills take practice and the time not to practice is when on a fishing trip with others.

Choosing a rod and reel you are comfortable using and is appropriate for where you are fishing is the first step.

Practice, practice and more practice is the key to developing your skills in the art of casting.

Once you have become comfortable with your choice of rod and reel and have developed control over where and how far you can cast, then attention can be given to a number of other problems that tend to plague those not bringing home stringers of game fish.

liveshrimphook

Hook live shrimp under the horn.

Bait & Tackle

While space does not allow an elaboration on each of the following, using the wrong bait for the occasion, hook size and hooking live bait, especially shrimp, are key issues.

For newcomers and those not seasoned at saltwater fishing, I always recommend using live bait, especially shrimp when fishing.

Hooking live shrimp involves practice and experience.  There is a small area under the horn on the shrimp’s head that is the appropriate spot to hook the bait.  Using too large a hook or hooking the shrimp anywhere else is going to kill the bait and render it in the same category as dead bait. Use a number 6 or 8 treble hook or a small live bait or kahle hook.

Once you have become comfortable with your casting skills and can hook live bait properly, then you are ready for the easier parts of this lesson.

sewind

A light southeast breeze is usually best on the upper coast.

Learn to Read the Water

Tide movement and water clarity are of utmost importance in triggering feeding among schools of fish.  Once you see those elements come together then you can start looking at the wind direction.

Along the Texas Gulf Coast, the southeast wind is called the fishermen’s breeze as it brings clear Gulf water into the bays and along the beachfront.  This is a big plus when choosing a time to go fishing.

The so called 10% group takes time to plan their trips and, based on the forecast, they know what the odds are for a productive excursion.

Hold Steady

Most of the seasoned anglers limit their fishing to given areas that they tend to get to know well and learn where the fish will be at a given time. Concentrating on a particular bay, the jetties or surf can do wonders for your confidence.

Patience is a major key to success.  Guides and other experienced fishermen choose a spot and will stay there knowing that the fish have appeared there regularly while often having to fight boredom themselves and the impatience of their guests.

There is no way anyone can expect to take home a big stringer of fish on each trip; however, following the steps mentioned above you should greatly enhance your chances of increasing your odds of catching fish when hitting the water.

Galveston Fall Fishing

August 31st, 2015

redfishfly Galveston Fall Fishing

Look for redfish to become more active as the weather cools.

By Capt. Joe Kent

Autumn, especially during the months of October and November, is the favorite time of year for fishing for the majority of anglers who focus on the Saltwater Big 3, flounder, reds and trout.

While our fall fishing patterns have changed a little over the last decade or two, mid-October through mid-December is prime time for action on all of the Big 3, especially flounder.

Prior to the 1980’s, our fall fishing began earlier in the season and generally was about over by December.  During September, flounder action around Pelican Island at the old Quarantine Station, now Seawolf Park, would get well under way by mid-September.

Today, the catches do not show considerable increases until sometime in early to mid-October and the annual flounder run does get going until close to November 1.

Redfish action picks up all over the Galveston Bay Complex, with the bull red run at the jetties and in the surf being the highlight of the season.

troutplaag Galveston Fall Fishing

James and Cameron Plaag with a stringer of trout.

Trout start moving into shallower waters and schooling, with shallower bays and back bays offering their best fishing of the year.

While all of the Big 3 are frantically feeding to put on extra layers of fat for the winter, the highlight of the season for most anglers is the fall flounder migration from the bays to the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  This event is most commonly referred to as the fall flounder run.

It is undisputed that November is the best month for flounder fishing, as the run is in full swing and anglers limit out quickly on flatfish during this time.  One well-known flounder guide, who has been fishing the annual run for almost 60 years, gave his observation of how the fall fishing pattern has been delayed.  Capt. Mike William’s experience showed that for years the peak of the flounder run took place between the full moons of October and November.  Today he says that the action is peaking between the November and December full moons.

During November, bait camps strive to keep a good inventory of fingerling mullet and mud minnows, as they are the top baits for the migrating fish.  While mullet tend to have an edge over mud minnows in popularity with anglers, live shrimp fall into the ranks as the number three choice.

Many anglers will opt for live shrimp as they are more universal as bait and attract trout and reds as well.

Savvy anglers know that once the flounder run starts being publicized that certain tackle and artificial baits are in short supply and they should stock up ahead of time.  Among the baits that are the more popular choices are Flounder Pounders, Chickenboys and Gulp soft plastics.  Pre-rigged flounder leaders, especially those including the egg weight, and size eight and ten treble hooks tend to quickly leave the shelves of tackle stores and bait shops.

One of the best times to find flounder on the move is right after a cold front blows through.  From Mid-October until sometime in December, each passing cold front triggers increased movement.

Toward the end of the run, usually beginning around Thanksgiving, the larger sow flounder bring up the rear of the migration and seasoned flounder fishermen focus a lot of their fishing time from the end of November through early December.

Fall is in the air, so head out and enjoy some nice weather and good fishing!

Fall Fishing Offshore TEXAS

September 9th, 2013

by Capt. Joe Kent

ling Fall Fishing Offshore TEXAS

Capt. Joe Kent and Gulf Coast Mariner’s Director of Art, Brandon Rowan with a 65-pound ling. This big fish was found on a small, sparse patch of weed 50 miles out of Galveston.

We often read about the prolific offshore fishing Texas offers during the prime months of July and August; however, not much is mentioned about the fall fishing offshore Texas, especially in September and October.

One reason fishing articles no longer mention much about offshore fishing during the fall is because red snapper are one of the prime targets, or at least they were before Federal regulations limited the fishing season to just a few weeks beginning June 1 each year.

This year, deep-sea anglers may have an opportunity to fish for the prized table fare during October if the Gulf Council of the National Marine Fisheries Council has its way.  The council was to make its formal recommendation in Mid-August, after press time for this article.

If the recommendation is approved and added days are set for October, this will be a bonus for offshore fishermen in Federal Waters.  Regardless, red snapper fishing is open year-round in state waters. Fall is prime time for this species to be found in the shallower waters controlled by the State of Texas within nine Nautical Miles of shore.

The populations of snapper have increased dramatically over the past five years with the quality and quantity of the fish resembling what I recall from 20 years ago.

One of the advantages of fall snapper fishing is that the distances needed to travel are much less than in the summer. During the warm summer months, most of the better snapper fishing takes place beyond 40 miles out of Galveston, while during the cooler months decent-sized fish can be found in state waters and in the near Federal waters nine to 20 miles out.

Even though we talk about the virtues of fall red snapper fishing, the pelagic fish still are around.  While perhaps not in the concentrations as in July and August, king mackerel, ling, dorado, bonito, sharks and others continue to roam the near shore waters of the Gulf.

mangrove1 300x179 Fall Fishing Offshore TEXAS

Tasty mangrove snapper make an excellent subsitute when red snapper is not in season.

One of my best days ever for dorado came in late September of 2000 while fishing approximately 30 miles out of San Luis Pass.  At the time, red snapper season ran from June 1 until September 28.  While anchored near an offshore platform, a weed line drifted by and behind it was a large school of dorado in the 10 to 18-pound category.  Every line on our boat had a fish on it and the dorado stayed around until we had boated 12.

Other species of reef fish including vermilion snapper, mangroves, grouper and others are in close preparing for winter and are easy targets for anglers fishing the bottom.

One pattern that I have observed is an inverse relationship between pelagic fish and reef fish with each passing cold front, less pelagic fish are around yet the populations of reef fish tend to increase.

By now most of you have thought of another big plus for fall fishing offshore and that is the pleasant conditions in which to fish.  The extreme heat of summer is behind us and pleasant temperatures are usually the norm.

Offshore anglers are encouraged to brush up on the Federal Regulations before making a trip as they do differ from the well-published state rules.  For example, there is a two-fish bag limit on red snapper in Federal Waters compared to a four-fish limit in state waters.

Snapper Slappers are effective for a variety of species found in the Gulf. Try a brightly colored 1 oz. lure tipped with squid for dorado on weedlines, or drop a big 5 oz. slapper with a sardine on the circle assist hook for that sow snapper.

Snapper Slappers are effective for a variety of species found in the Gulf. Try a brightly colored 1 oz. lure tipped with squid for dorado on weedlines, or drop a big 5 oz. slapper with a sardine on the circle assist hook for that sow snapper.

Recently, the Federal Government removed the requirement for having a deflating device on board and reduced the bag limit for vermilion snapper from 20 to 10 per day. Circle hooks are required for fishing for reef fish in both Federal and State Waters

In the fall, there is less boat traffic offshore which is good for fishing but a problem if you get stranded. This time of year it is especially important to leave a float plan with someone onshore who would be one of the first to be aware if you were not back on time.

Take advantage of our great fall weather and make it out to one of the wells and platforms out of Galveston, you might be surprised at what is waiting for your bait.

Your First Offshore Fishing Trip

July 17th, 2013

by Capt. Joe Kent

doradofish Your First Offshore Fishing Trip

July and August are the top months for offshore fishing off of the Texas Coast and each year when calm conditions set in during the Dog Days of Summer, the urge hits to try offshore fishing.

With the numerous days with high pressure settling in resulting in light winds and low probabilities of severe weather, small boaters give-in to the urge to venture beyond the jetties.

This time of year varieties of pelagic fish are roaming the waters of the Gulf of Mexico within easy reach of the “Mosquito Fleet” of smaller sea-worthy boats.  If you are one of the many newcomers to offshore fishing in this manner, let’s discuss some of the most common mistakes made by those new to the scene.

While this might not be one of the common mistakes, the Cardinal Rule for all captains is to check the weather forecast before departing and to keep monitoring it.

A book easily could be written on all of this; however, for purposes of our discussion, we will divide this topic into two segments, the boat and the fishing and address some of the key mistakes.

snapper1 300x200 Your First Offshore Fishing TripPreparing Your Boat

Fuel: Fuel use for an offshore trip is going to be much greater than for most bay and other inshore trips.  Carry at least 30% more fuel than you estimate you will use.

Float Plan: Before leaving dock have a float plan, meaning a compass course from the jetties, an estimate of how far you will travel, the estimated time of return to dock and leave it with someone who will be the first to realize you are late returning.  Most of all stick with your plan.

Communication: Carry your cell phone fully charged with the number of the marina or bait camp you departed from, the coast guard and sheriff’s offices. If possible have a VHF or Citizens Band Radio with you.

Navigation equipment: A good quality compass is a must.  A GPS system, either hand held or permanently mounted, is close behind in the pecking order.

Shade: Shade is important on the open water.  The length of the trips is usually much longer which means longer exposure to the overhead sun.  Any shade will be welcomed after a few hours of the sun beating down upon you.

Extra provisions: Take along much more water than you estimate you will drink.  If mechanical problems crop up, it likely will take a good length of time before help arrives.  Often disabled boats float overnight before being located and towed to shore.  For the same reason, a more complete first aid kit is needed.

Flares: Flares are not required for many inshore boats; however, for running offshore they not only are necessary, but required by the regulations.

Life jackets: Life jackets called PFD’s (personal flotation devices) are required.  While lesser grade PFD’s are allowed by law, offshore boats should carry type I PFD’s.  They are the best and keep an unconscious person’s head above water.  Along with the life jackets should be some light rope to use in the event the boat capsizes and several people are afloat in PFD’s.  Tying each together with several feet of rope will prevent the group from separating.  One of the rules in rescue is “bigger is better” meaning a cluster of life jackets are easier to spot than just one.

Fishing Offshore

(equipment and techniques)

The Penn 309 and Shimano TLD25 are both sturdy, affordable reel options for first timers offshore.

The Penn 309 and Shimano TLD25 are both sturdy, affordable reel options for first timers offshore.

The biggest mistakes made by newcomers offshore are in the size of equipment, the lack of proper accessories and poor knowledge of Federal Fishing Regulations.

Too light and too heavy describe most of the problems with rod and reels.  The equipment should be designed for the type of fish you are after.

Medium weight tackle is normally plenty for the pelagic fish, which are king mackerel, ling, Dorado, shark, barracuda and others.  Heavier tackle is needed for bottom fishing for reef fish such as snapper, grouper, triggerfish and others.  Normally when fishing bottom, it is necessary to bring the fish to surface quickly and heavier tackle is required.

For surface fish, the drag on your reel is a key element to a successful landing.  Twenty- pound test line and a little heavier are all that is normally needed for runs up to 40 miles out.

Wire and coated wire leaders are necessary for the pelagic fish while heavy monofilament is suitable for bottom rigs. Circle hooks are required while fishing for reef fish.

A gaff and club are vital equipment.  Most pelagic fish are gaffed and then clubbed (hit hard on the head) before bringing them into the boat.  Landing nets are fine for smaller fish; however, for the really large ones, a gaff is required. Recently added to the list of required items in a boat fishing offshore are venting and hook-releasing devices.

Larger hooks and weights are required offshore.  Trout tackle (except for possibly the rod and reel with heavier line) will not be enough.

The preference of size of hook varies among fisherman however for the conventional J-hooks, the size is usually within the 5/0 to 8/0 range for drifting and trolling and  circle hooks in the 6/0 to 12/0 range for reef and bottom fishing.

The size of weights are determined by the strength of the current.  The idea is to use the smallest weight necessary to get the bait to the bottom quickly.  A ¾ ounce weight might work one day while the next it could take six ounces or greater.  All of this will develop with experience.

Techniques differ from inshore fishing when fishing for pelagic fish.  Drifting baits along the surface or just below and trolling both artificials and natural baits are the two main techniques for the pelagics.  Watch the setting on your drag, as most newcomers set it too strong and the sudden strike is more than the line strength can handle.

The Federal Fishing Rules are more complex and confusing than state rules.  Know the bag and size limits for the fish you are after and also if the season is open or closed.  If you catch a fish you cannot identify or you are not familiar with the rules governing it, best to release it.

Have fun on your first voyage offshore and be safe.