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Flounder Tips II & Topsail fishing report

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Awarded by , 09-04-2007 at 08:15 PM (1370 Views)
This column is the second 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.

As I mentioned last week, there are probably as many thoughts on how to fish for flounder as there are fisherman. In this column, Iíve been sharing some of my favorite techniques -- but there are many others.

Flounder are not picky eaters -- if it looks appealing they will eat it. Fishing with live bait is a favorite of many fishermen. Finger mullet (finger sized pop-eye mullet), mud minnows, small menhaden and pin fish are all good choices to use for flounder bait. When using a pin fish, I usually cut off the dorsal fins to make the fish easier to swallow -- if you have ever been stuck by the fins of a pin fish, you know how it got its name!

One of the most popular ways to rig live bait for flounder fishing is called a Carolina rig. Letís start from the bottom of a piece of 25- to 40-pound leader material (I like to use fluorocarbon). Tie on a 2/0 or 3/0 circle style hook; above that you can add beads and a spinner if you want; and then about 18 to 24 inches above the hook tie a barrel swivel. Tie on another piece of leader material about 12 to 15 inches long. Add an egg sinker to the line with a colored bead on either side. Finish the rig tie with another barrel swivel at the end of the line.

This rig allows the line to move freely through the sinker, which will keep the flounder from feeling the weight when it picks up the bait in its mouth. Also, the live bait is free to swim around in a natural way. Make up a variety of these rigs in advance using different size weights, from a half ounce and up, and using a couple of different hook sizes. Then when you are ready to fish, you can match the rig to the fishing conditions. Just select the appropriate rig and tie it directly to your line. A variation to this rig is to add the sinker directly to your main line and tie the line directly to the barrel swivel above the hook.

Other popular natural baits are shrimp (both dead and alive), cut mullet pieces, pork rind strips or squid strips. These are often tied to a standard two-hook bottom rig or to a lead jighead.

On the artificial bait side of things are bucktails and soft plastic baits. Bucktails are often tipped with a pork rind or piece of cut bait. A variety of soft plastic baits are available, many of them pre-rigged. My favorite artificial bait for flounder is a lead jighead loaded with a Berkley Gulp! shrimp or pogy.

No matter which bait you choose, remember that flounder are opportunistic feeders, not hunters. They wait for food to come to them, and then they pounce. They use their great natural camouflage to blend into the bottom, wait for a meal to pass nearby and then attack.

However, once they take the fish, they often settle back down on the bottom to enjoy the meal; they usually do not run. This is where it can get tricky, especially if you are using live bait. If you try to set the hook before the flounder has swallowed the bait completely, you will pull the fish out of his mouth and not set the hook. When the flounder first takes the fish, you will sometimes only feel a slight tension on the line or a light tug.

At this point, keep the rod still, or play out line if needed and count to 20 or so; then take up any slack in the line and set the hook with a smooth short snap (not too hard). I think more flounder bites are lost because the hook set is attempted too soon than just about any other reason. It takes patience and attention to the line, but itís well worth the extra effort and patience.

Catching report

The recent slightly cooler temperatures has many anglers anticipating the great fishing that fall weather produces. While fall weather hasnít quite arrived yet, the recent northeast winds have produced a slight cooling of the inshore water. This seems to have stimulated the bite!

Inshore there have been some excellent catches of red and black drum, flounder and sheepshead. A few speckled trout are being reported, I even saw a few caught in the surf on Labor Day. Some nice pompano are also being caught in the surf.

From the piers and near shore boat fishing anglers are seeing large schools of mostly small Spanish mackerel with some nice size ones from time to time. The blue fish, croakers, spots and specks are being reported also. The nearshore gray trout bite has been strong with many anglers catching them by vertically jigging silver or gold diamond jigs.

The kings are still spread out but are biting anywhere from 50 feet of water on out. Mahi are still in the 15 mile and out range as are the grouper.

Tight lines to all!
Inshore Fishing


  1. NCangler's Avatar
    Excellent information Mike. Thanks!
  2. bigdaddy82's Avatar
    thanks for the info