Flounder Fishing in Texas: All You Need to Know
Jun 10, 2019 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Flounder fishing in Texas really lets you take things to the next level, no matter whether you’re a native Texan or just visiting “The Lone Star State.” This peculiar-looking fish is one of the top three targets here, thanks to its delicious taste and brag-worthy angling opportunities.

If you’re more familiar with ordering Flounder from a menu than catching it, you’ll be blissfully unaware of its interesting aesthetic qualities: Namely, that it has two eyes on one side of its face, and a mouth twisted into a permanent snarl. It may not be the most visually appealing of sea creatures, but when it comes to Flounder fishing in Texas, looks don’t matter! It’s all about the experience.

So, what does “Flounder” mean in Texas?

Man and two children holding a huge Flounder
A Flounder caught in Rockport, TX

“Flounder” means many different things to many different people. If you’re not really an angling aficionado, chances are it conjures up images of the cute, cuddly Disney character. Do you hail from one of the USA’s northeastern states? You probably know it as “Fluke.”

This is because the name is often used as a generic title to describe a whole host of Flatfish species. This can definitely muddy the waters when it comes to knowing what, exactly, you’ll be catching – or eating!

In Texas, the species of Flatfish you’ll be targeting is actually Southern Flounder. It’s widely considered to be the best-tasting variety, and also reaches seriously impressive sizes. Females can grow up to 25 inches in Texas! Since it’s the only Flounder species that is targeted here, it gets to keep that prestigious, standalone name, too.

Where do Flounder like to hang out, and what do they eat?

Basically, the clue is in the family name, “Flatfish”! Owing to their shape and size, Flounder prefer to dwell at the bottom of shallow waters. They like warmer waters, which is why Texas’s Gulf Coast is the perfect location for them. Particularly muddy or sandy coastal floors are extremely desirable to these sneaky fish – they often bury and camouflage themselves in order to ambush their favorite sea snacks.

A Flounder camouflaging itself against the sea floor
A Flounder shows off its ability to camouflage itself!

Speaking of sea snacks, what do Flounder like to feast on? Small fish such as shrimp and mullet are popular, but their favorite prey has to be the mud minnow. This bait fish loves the grassy flats, marshes, and brackish estuaries found along the Texas coast!

One thing you need to know: Flounder aren’t about high-speed chases through the waters to catch their food. Instead, they lie in wait until they spot a tasty morsel, when they quickly propel themselves upwards and outwards to attack. This is when having two eyes on the same side of their body becomes a serious advantage!

Where can I catch them?

Why should Texas be your go-to location when it comes to hooking these Flatfish? Because no matter whether you’re so far north you’re almost in Louisiana, so far south you’re almost in Mexico, or somewhere in the middle, you won’t have to travel far to get to a Flounder-fishing hotspot.  

As this state is known for its intimidating size, we’ve divided our recommended fishing areas depending on where you’re located.

North Texas

Galveston skyline
Galveston, TX

With access to parts of the Northern Gulf of Mexico’s seriously shallow (and Flounder-filled!) waters, you’re in for a treat if you’re fishing in North Texas. There’s a plethora of jetties, outlets, shorelines, bayous, marsh drains, and bays that Flounder love to flock to. The waters up here tend to be pretty muddy, too – great for Flounder, but less so for anglers looking to try out gigging (read more about this below). Here are our recommended departure points:

Map of recommended fishing spots in North Texas
  • Sabine Lake. This shallow water system is where the famous “fall Flounder run” takes place. Visit in November to really take advantage of it!
  • Galveston Bay. This collection of bays is perhaps the most famous fishing location in North Texas, thanks to its impressive size – and you’ll find plenty of Flounder on offer here.
  • Matagorda Bay. This estuary bay leads directly into the Gulf of Mexico, and has a shallow shoreline that makes the perfect home for an abundance of Flounder.

Central Texas

The inshore waters that Flounder love so much take on a whole new personality here. Rather than the murky muddiness of North Texas’s fishing grounds, you’ll get to explore some crystal clear, shallow fishing grounds. Head to one of these destination points, and get those gigs ready!

Map of recommended fishing locations in Central Texas
  • Port O’Connor. Want to catch Flounder like a native Texan? This small fishing village is Rockport’s lesser-known neighbor and offers up local-style angling on quiet, clear waters.
  • Rockport. This Coastal Bend location has direct access to an enviable variety of warm flats and bays – Flounder can’t resist these waters, and neither should you!
  • Port Aransas. This Central Texas staple is surrounded by bays, flats, oyster clusters, and plenty of other fishing grounds that huge Flounder love to lurk in.

South Texas

Aerial shot of Laguna Madre
Laguna Madre

When it comes to Flounder fishing in South Texas, there’s one area that takes the cake. Spreading from Baffin Bay to Boca Chica, Laguna Madre is the only name you need to know when it comes to inshore fishing down here!

Think Florida’s famous flats, but on a much larger scale (everything is bigger in Texas, after all), and you’ll get an idea of how plentiful these waters are. Here are some of the hottest Flounder spots that “Mother Lagoon” has to offer:

  • Upper Laguna Madre. The best access points are around Baffin Bay, as well as the surrounding tributaries.
  • Lower Laguna Madre. Port Mansfield is a particularly productive starting point, as well as the Arroyo Colorado.

How can I catch them?

If you’ve always considered giving angling a go, but are put off by the much-circulated stereotype of a lonely fisherman with just his rod for company, then Flounder fishing in Texas will give you a whole different perspective on the matter.

Here’s a quick guide to the various ways that you can hook yourself a delicious dinner – without a rod and line in sight, if you so choose.

Rods and Reels

Man with Flounder on the end of a rod and line
Flounder fishing, the conventional way!

There’s a reason why this type of fishing has remained so popular! It’s a classic, and some would argue that there’s nothing better than sticking to tried-and-true techniques capable of standing the test of time.

If you’re a traditionalist at heart, then chances are you’ll appreciate the art-form of selecting the right bait, preparing your hook, and casting off into the shallows – if so, you’ll fit right in with North Texan fishermen.

When you’re trying to hook a Flounder this way, most anglers recommend mimicking your target’s favorite meal, which means getting your hands on mud minnows or small shrimp and mullet.

Soft plastic jig heads can also get the job done, especially when scented like your Flounder’s prey. Flounder have seriously sharp teeth, so you’ll want to use a heavy braided line to stop them from biting through.

Gigging

Two men holding a gigging spear with a Flounder attached

Looking for something a little bit different? Luckily, you’re about to discover that Flounder fishing in Texas isn’t just limited to sitting on a boat, armed with conventional fishing tackle. Despite the seemingly placid nature of this fish, there are some pretty exciting ways to catch it!

If you mention “Flounder” to a native Texan fisherman, especially along the central coast, there’s one technique that will usually get a big mention: gigging.

Imagine cruising along the notoriously clear and shallow waters of Central Texas, on the hunt for some delicious Flounder – but you’re traveling under the cover of darkness, armed with a torchlight and a gigging spear, rather than a rod and line.

Three men gigging at night on a lighted boat
What gigging from a boat can look like!

You’re intently watching the waters, looking out for any movements or strange shapes that could hint at a cleverly-camouflaged Flounder. And when you see one? You pounce, driving the spear into your target.

It might sound dramatic, but this is actually a very common way of targeting Flounder in Texas, and yields plentiful results. These trips are action-packed but relatively simple to get to grips with, making them the perfect choice for those who want an exciting and truly Texan Flounder-fishing experience!

Bowfishing

Always been interested in archery? Well, how about firing off a bow and arrow from the water? Bowfishing for Flounder is a technique that’s guaranteed to amp up the action for even the most discerning of thrill-seekers!

Fisherman aiming bowfishing gear at water
An example of bowfishing

Although less popular than conventional casting and gigging techniques, some Flounder hunters swear by bowfishing when it comes to filling their freezer with this tasty fish.

Armed with special archery equipment, bowfishing will see you heading out to your chosen fishing grounds once the sun has set. You’ll be keeping a careful watch for your tasty target and once it’s in your sights, it’s just a case of ready, aim, and…fire!

It might sound simple, but there’s a special challenge to conquering this technique. As water refracts light, it creates the illusion that your Flounder is in a different location than where it really is. Because of this, you’ll have to really focus on your target. It’s the perfect technique if you want to learn a new skill, or test your precision!

Seasonality

Technically Flounder are a year-round fish in Texas, but the best time to target them is during their fall migration to the Gulf. This usually takes place between October and December, and is also known as the “Flounder Run.”

Family posing behind a table of Flounder
Visit during the Fall Flounder run, and leave with a bounty like this!

If you want to gig for Flounder like a true Texan, be aware that this technique is not allowed all throughout November, in order to protect spawning female fish. For the rest of the year, you can gig to your heart’s content!

What should I bring?

Luckily, it’s a pretty simple process! If you’re age 17 or older, you’ll need to purchase a license from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. This can be done online, and we recommend that out-of-state guests purchase a single day All-Water license.

Generally, you can expect top-quality gear to be provided for you if you choose to fish with a local charter or guide, including gigging equipment. The only exception is bowfishing, which is usually only available via special request.

Whether you want to imagine yourself as an intrepid explorer whose survival depends on gigging a tasty meal, or simply feel like exploring incredible fishing grounds the old-fashioned way, Flounder fishing in Texas is as exciting and diverse as the Lone Star State itself. Come discover it for yourself!


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