Flounder caught on a DOA shrimp
By: Jeff Dennis
Part of the allure of saltwater fishing is the diversity of species that anglers can catch. But when there are flounder to be caught, many anglers can’t resist the lure of trying to catch a limit of this tasty flat fish.
Experienced anglers know that you can work a lure too fast for a flounder, but you can never work a lure too slow for them. Keeping your lure down on the bottom where the flounder are means bumping every oyster shell and depth change along the way.
Therein lies one of the great challenges of saltwater fishing, knowing the difference when you have a subtle fish strike, or just a chance encounter with a bump on the bottom. An old adage when fishing for flounder is to count to ten after you feel the telltale thump, and give the flounder time to clamp down on the bait before reeling again.
Don’t overlook marsh grass edges that front deeper water, since flounder can hang up right against the face of the grass waiting on bait to ambush. Flounder will face into the current so retrieve your lure with the current for best results.
If you find a spot that is holding flounder, be sure to fish it on both the incoming and ebb tides to see which is more productive. The flounder will reposition themselves when the tide changes, so anglers might only need to let the boat swing during the tidal switch and simply keep fishing.
Artificial baits like a Jerk shad rigged with a 1/4-ounce jighead or a Carolina rig can work well on flounder, but often the simple offering of a mud minnow can be deadly on flounder. Mud minnows can be caught in a cast net, or purchased at a tackle shop, and they are easy to keep alive even during a full day of fishing.
Besides inshore estuaries, flounder can be found at ocean inlets when bait concentrations like menhaden garner their attention. Later in summer the mullet run can turn on a number of fish species, including mature flounder who gorge on the mullet and then swim into nearshore waters for their annual spawn in Fall.
Keeping the flounder fishery sustainable is proving to be a challenge since they are targeted by both recreational anglers and commercial operations because of their fine table fare. Daily catch limits and size restrictions on legal to keep flounder are the best bets for preserving this part of our outdoor heritage.
Gigging, or graining, of flounder at night is also a popular pursuit but the drawback is if anglers wound undersized fish on their hunt to keep a few flounder for supper. Catch and release tactics using conventional rod and hook with hook and tackle is likely a better way to conserve and safeguard flounder populations.
Surf anglers and pier fisherman can count on flounder as a reliable species to find in the surf zone. It would be hard to image a mixed bag of saltwater species at the beach without a flounder among them.
Just off the coast, the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) is showing a decline in flounder numbers. The goal of this project is to monitor the status and trends of coastal species in the South Atlantic Bight, where flounder are listed as a priority species.
A thin filet of fried flounder is a mainstay of many seafood restaurants. Anglers like the fact that flounder are easy to clean, and are quickly converted from the cooler to the oven. Flounder fishing presents a fun way to find one’s supper.
The author’s Lowcountry Outdoors blog is celebrating a tenth anniversary in 2019.
(h/t Great American Widlife)