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Topsail Angler

Flounder Tips & a catching report

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Awarded by , 08-28-2007 at 07:46 PM (1587 Views)
This column is the first of a two-part series containing some of my favorite tips for catching flounder. I published this article last year and it is back by popular demand.

Flounder are one of my favorite inshore fish -- they are fun to catch and they taste great! However, catching them with any consistency takes practice and patience.

There are probably as many thoughts on how to fish for flounder as there are fishermen, but Iíll be sharing some of my favorite techniques learned and practiced over the many years Iíve been flounder fishing.

Letís start with their habitat. Flounders are predators and their favorite tactic is the ambush. They have a great camouflage in their flat body and spotted topside -- even their eyes are hard to detect. The shade of their skin can change depending on the environment. They lie on the bottom and wait for a potential meal to get close and then attack. They usually do not chase a meal very far, preferring to wait for their prey to come to them. This means you will need to put bait "on top" of them. Both pattern casting and drift fishing work well. You want your bait to be on or close to the bottom.

If casting: after you cast and tighten your line, let it set on the bottom for a five count then just pick up the rod tip and let it drop back down. Wait another five count, then retrieve a few feet of line and pick up the rod tip again, repeating this until time to cast again. Another technique is the slow retrieve -- just use a steady but slow retrieve with an occasional pause. With either of these techniques, donít be surprised to get a "pick-up" on the downward or slack movement of the bait.

Drift fishing for flounder is similar to casting, but you just leave the line out. Be sure to hold the rod -- the flounder usually will not run with bait, so if you set the rod down you may not know if a flounder gets on until too late. A flounder will often turn a live fish in its mouth before completely swallowing it, so patience is required or you risk pulling the bait from its mouth. If you are using live bait, when you feel him pick up your bait, let out a little bit of line to keep him from sensing the weight of the sinker. Then after a 20 count, gently tighten the line and set the hook.

Flounder are likely to spread out over a wide area, so donít anchor in one spot for hours on end. When the tide is falling, try drifting around the mouths of inlets, rivers and the edges of a channel rather than anchoring. On rising tide, work the pilings around piers, docks and other hard structures.

Often youíll find them on the flats, when there is enough water, or up against the oyster rocks (little fish hang out there so flounder hide nearby waiting for a meal). Flounder use structures such as sloughs, channels, deep holes, ledges and man-made things like piers and bridges to ambush their prey.

When the water turns colder, look for them to move into deeper water and up on the mud bottoms instead of the sand (mud holds heat longer). Where small creeks and tidal ditches connect to bigger channels and creeks can also be productive places.

Remember, think ambush... Where would be a good underwater spot for an ambush? Thatís where youíll find the flounder. More on flounder fishing next week.

Catching report

Inshore and offshore fishing has been a mixed bag lately. The catching is starting to pick back up with some days being better than others. Drum, a few speckled trout, flounder and sheepshead are being caught in the waterway, creeks and marshes. The grey trout bite is picking up on the nearshore ledges and reefs.

Red drum, a few pompano and some croakers are being caught in the surf. The surf at Lea Island is producing some nice red drum, a few lady fish and some spinner sharks.
The piers are reporting some nice flounder being caught. Early mornings are producing a few Spanish depending on the winds. Small blues, a few spots and croakers round out the catching.

The Kings have moved closer back offshore but will return to the inshore waters as the temperatures cool off. Bottom fishing is picking up with some nice grouper being caught from 12 miles and out.

Tight lines to all!
Inshore Fishing


  1. NCangler's Avatar
    Excellent information Mike. Thank you!
  2. Dave B.'s Avatar
    Thanx Mike
  3. tcfisherman's Avatar
  4. H2Otherapy's Avatar
    Thanks, will give it a try this weekend.
  5. backlash's Avatar
    Great In fo. Thanks