Floundering is fun! And we’re getting to the best time of the year for them. The cool fronts that come down at that time of year makes them feed like crazy before they move to the gulf to spawn. Look for them in the flats and then as the water cools, they’ll be in the channels leading to large bodies of water. Best place to find them is in the shallows very early in the morning and the drop offs as the day progresses. A good falling tide is great as they’ll be waiting at the drop offs as bait fish move off the shallows.
Rig with a sliding sinker, swivel and a short length of leader. Silver Johnson Sprite spoons and plastics work well too dragged on the bottom and flipped gently ever so often. Flounder are ambush species so whether you’re using bait or lures the key is to cover water. So casting and slow retrieves works better than a static presentation of casting with bait and wait. Live bait in the form of finger sized mullet work extremely well but are a PITA to deal with (difficult to catch and expensive to buy) so I personally mostly just use a jig head with a wiggly plastic tail like a flapping shad or a scented Berkley Gulp. Many of my friend love the Flounder Pounder and tandem style jigs. Color doesn’t matter but I find the darker colors work well in off colored water and darker days and light colors on bright days. Very often we’ll cut strips of any kind of bait fish like pin perch and tip the jigs with a tiny piece. Basically you will present the flounder with vibration from the lure wiggling, sight from the contrast of the lure against the surface, scent from the piece of cut bait. The only thing left is to find where they are at and give them a chance to jump on your hook!
My favorite technique is fishing on any pier by dropping a rigged mullet or a jig head with Gulp or any kind of plastic lure with lot’s of wiggle action and walking the length of the pier until I get a bump. Then reel up the slack until I am directly on top of the fish before I set the hook.
Some flounder tips:
Think of them as very slow moving landmines in a video game. You have to keep casting till you get a lure within striking range of one. Stop your very slow retrieve ever so often and just jiggle the lure to let them come to it. If you have been gigging you’ll see that flounder do not really move very fast or often (unless you tickle them with a gig then they take off like a rocket!). Casting a bait and waiting is one of the worse ways to fish for flounder.
- At this junction I need to indulge myself in a small rant. Some folks who are just too darn lazy will fish with a baited rod every two feet. Up to 6-7 rods per person. I used to see this happen on 91st Street pier in Galveston. This is not only unproductive but selfish. Especially selfish after they have seen you land a fish in that area. OK rant over.
When you do get a bump, do not set the hook right away. Wait at least 10-15 secs. Pull on it lightly a few times to tease them to swallow the lure (this also lets you know how big a fish you may have on). If you lift it gently you can actually feel how heavy the fish is. Once I actually coaxed a flounder right to the bank just by slowly pulling him in without setting the hook. Sometimes when I feel that I have a really good fish on that I can’t swing up on the bank, I will free spool the reel and go get my net before setting the hook. This shows that once a flounder has a lure, they will almost never let it go. Even if they are gorged, they will still hold a bait a long time because they are so full they are unable to swallow it. If you miss a strike, cast back to the spot again as they will not have wandered far. When setting the hook, my method is to reel the line till tight, drop the rod tip 10-12″ then snap set the hook hard once. 90% of the time, this style of hook set with a jig head will result in a hook point that penetrates right through the top cheek. I have never lost a flounder doing it this way. This is a firm enough hook set that will allow you to swing the flounder up onto the pier or beach without a net.
Another good tip is to walk into a spot that a rookie fisherman has just vacated or has lost a fish. Most folks work the lure too fast and do not cover the area thoroughly. The flounder may have followed their lure but because it is moving too fast are unable to catch it. Or has set the hook too early and lost the fish. The result is that this fisherman has unwittingly lured the flounder to almost at his feet and walked away. I have caught many a good flounder this way, to the chagrin of the fisherman vacating the spot. Also most flounder I have caught have been no more than 5-6 ft in front of me. Good luck and go get them! The big mommas should be around till at least Christmas or till the water gets below 40 degrees.