Readers often ask me about my favorite ever flounder catch or moment.
It occurred May 16, 2009 when the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department stocked flounder for the first time and I had the privilege and honor of releasing the first fish.
Here’s the blog I wrote at FlounderRevolution.com that day.
In what I can only describe as a dream come true for myself and many others, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) led by the crew at Sea Center Texas made the first TPWD flounder stocking in history. Releasing 750 fingerlings into Old River Bayou which connects to the extreme northern end of Sabine Lake, they made a huge symbolic step toward flounder recovery, doing for flounder what was done for redfish nearly 30 years ago.
This small but profound stocking speaks volumes about TPWD’s future goals which include large flounder stockings along the coast and taking this beleaguered fishery to levels most have never seen in their lifetime. This will happen in conjunction with the new regulations that take effect this fall. I will be writing at length about this for everyone from the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader newspapers and of course Texas Fish & Game and CCA’s Currents, so I will not do a full news report here. Instead I have chosen to share with you with photos and cutlines of what happened Thursday. All photos are copyright Gerald Burleigh.
Shane Bonnot of Sea Center Texas (left) and Sea Center Manger David Abrego carry an ice chest full of flounder fingerlings to the water’s edge at Old River Bayou on the north end of Sabine Lake nearby the historic Bailey’s Fish Camp site. TPWD Sabine Lake ecosystem leader Jerry Mambretti (far left) wisely selected this site that leads into a vast marsh. The Good Lord blessed the release with a steady incoming tide and a beautiful day.
Now to the real stars of the show, the little flounder which are at this stage perfect miniatures of adults. Notice the calico looking one on the left. This fish has not finished getting its dark pigments. This should not take long as it adjusts to the murky mud bottom in Old River Bayou.
I had the amazing honor of releasing the very first flounder and must admit it was an emotional moment. This has been a dream of mine for many, many years and to see the collaboration of TPWD, CCA and private citizens come together in such a powerful moment is a memory I will carry with me the rest of my life. It took many dedicated people to make this happen.
Can you find the flounder? (Hint: Look to the right of the big white shell) This is the first ever flounder stocked into Sabine Lake as it hit the bottom and did what flounder do. Cool, huh?
Shane Bonnot releases a bunch of the little flounder into the Sabine ecosystem. In a symbolic gesture many of the TPWD workers and anglers who helped in this project got to release fish. TPWD’s Jerry Mambretti named his flounder “Saddle Blanket” and predicted it would be a new state record.