Fall into Flounder

Story & Photos By Captain Galen Pruett

As the weather has started to cool down, so has our water temperature, which means the flounder have started moving out of our bays. Flounders are bottom-dwelling fish that migrate into our shallow waters between September and November.

These fish undergo quite a remarkable metamorphosis from birth to adulthood. They are born looking like most normal fish that we see every day. However, once they reach adulthood, they morph into a more round shaped flat fish. At birth, they are just like any other fish with one eye located at either side of its head, but over time, one eye moves to the other side of the body. It can move either to the left or right side of the body; whichever side faces upward is where it ends up. As the flounder reaches this stage of adulthood, it will relocate to the bottom of its habitat. At this point, it will also undergo a change in color to camouflage itself into its surroundings.

Since they are bottom dwellers, their diets usually consist of fish spawn, crustaceans, certain types of worms and other small fish. You can usually find these fish on sandy bottoms, near pilings, docks or any other type of reef structures. Flounder can grow anywhere from five to over 30 inches and they are usually about half as wide as they are long.

You can catch flounder a variety of ways. If you are using a rod and reel, I would recommend a casting rod with a small bait casting reel. You will want to use line that is small enough to be concealed, but large enough in case a bigger fish catches on to your bait. For bait, you will want to use three- to four- inch finger mullet; anything larger might be too big for the flounder. And for your tackle, you will want to use a weight or a jighead that is heavy enough to stay on the bottom.

Another way to catch flounder is by gigging. This can be done either by a boat made for shallow waters, a kayak or by wading. No bait or tackle is needed for this method, just a gig and a lantern. You will want to move slowly in the shallow water using your lantern to help you find the outline of the flounder in the sand. Once you find one, take your gig and stick it right between the eyes. Push down on the gig once more to make sure it has gone all the way through and you haven’t lost your fish. Then you can sweep him up into your cooler. It is best to go gigging on dark nights as opposed to moonlit nights. You will also want to avoid windy weather and go when there is an incoming tide.

When cooked, flounder are a white, flaky sweet fish. They are delicious baked, broiled, fried or sautéed. Here is one recipe to get you started.

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 lbs. flounder fillets
• 3/4 lb. blue lump crab meat
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
• 6 tbsp. butter
• 3 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
• salt and black pepper – to taste

Wine Sauce

• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 4 tbsp. butter
• 4 tbsp. flour
• Salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Melt butter in fry pan/skillet
3. Sauté onion and garlic
4. Add crab meat, breadcrumbs and parsley
5. Salt and pepper to taste
6. Fold well to mix thoroughly, then remove from heat
7. Spoon stuffing mixture over flounder fillets, then roll fillets up, securing with a toothpick
8. Place seam-side down in a buttered, glass baking dish
9. Melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in flour and salt
10. Add milk and wine and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until thick
11. Pour wine sauce over fillets and bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F (20-30 minutes), or until fish flakes readily when tested with a fork
12. Sprinkle with grated cheese and continue baking a couple more minutes, or until cheese has melted

Captain Galen Pruett has been fishing off the Texas Gulf Coast for over 25 years. To book a fishing trip with him, call 409-457-2339 or visit his website at www.cowboybootsandbathingsuits.com for more information.

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