Flounder fishing is not as popular as fishing for salmon, tuna, and other saltwater fish species. Many beginning anglers often ignore the humble flounder for its looks (with its mud-like color and having two eyes on one side of its head); nonetheless, the flounder is one fish that many seasoned anglers cherish for its delicate, flaky white meat and delicious taste. Fishing for flounder isn’t really that difficult, but having a few tricks under your hat can certainly give you an edge out in the water. That said, here are some tips on how to catch flounder which you can use during your next outing.
Tip #1: Where to Look
As with fishing for redfish, bass, or any other fish species (whether salt or freshwater), having an idea of where the fish is holding is the best way to start with your flounder fishing expedition. And since flounders are saltwater fish, you’re going to find them distributed or concentrated close to shore, estuaries, creeks and rivers. In any case, these flatfish will be staying in sandy or muddy sea bottoms in order to hide themselves better from both their predators and their prey.
Aside from that, flounders also tend to hold and hide in areas where the current breaks like rocks, reefs, sandbars, and even mouths of creeks. Some flounders even flock around structures like docks and bridges. However, most anglers report having success fishing for flounders near ledges and drop-offs since these places allow them to ambush their prey.
During low tides or when the water clarity in the shallows is most excellent, you can search for flounder tracks (flounders leave tracks in their wake whenever they move across the sandy bottoms) and follow these to determine where the fish are or where they will be once they come back with the high tide.
Tip #2: The Best Time to Fish
Flounder is available for fishing at any time of the year, but where they will be distributed or concentrated will change according to the season. For instance, most anglers will be fishing for anglers during the fall since this is when the fish migrates toward to the ocean. They will be staying there over the winter and will eventually head back to shallow waters when spring comes. When fishing for flounders during winter and spring, expect to catch small-sized flounders most of which won’t even be large enough to take home and cook.
There really isn’t a ‘best time of day’ when it comes to fishing for flounders if you’re using a fishing rod. But if you’re feeling more adventurous and would like to try other flounder fishing techniques like spearfishing (time to get your spearfishing mask and spearfishing wetsuit out), it’s often better to go hunting at night.
Tip #3: Fishing Rods
Unlike other fish species, flounders are generally shy and will not try to gobble up your bait or lure in one gulp. Instead, they will take smaller bites at it and nibble away until they’re finally ready to swallow the whole thing up. This is why you’ll want a sensitive rod that will allow you to feel the slight movement created by flounders as they nibble away at your bait or lure.
That said, you’ll want a fishing rod that has a sensitivity of light to medium, preferably about seven feet long. Fishing rods with these characteristics should provide good sensitivity for feeling the bites. The first attempt at your bait or lure will feel like a light tap, so you want a rod that will allow you to feel that.
Fishing for flounders doesn’t necessarily require a specialized rig, and you can even use a telescoping fishing rod if that’s what you have (provided of course it meets the criteria mentioned above). However, many anglers prefer using either a spinning rod or a baitcasting rod when fishing for these flatties. In any case, look for a light spinning or baitcasting rod with extra-fast action to provide not just sensitivity but a fast, strong, hook-setting as well.
Tip #4: Fishing Reels
In general, you would do well by using a light to medium 10- to 12-pound spinning or baitcasting reel with your fishing rod so that your line doesn’t snap when you happen to hook a large and angry flounder.
Spinning reels are generally the more popular choice when it comes to fishing for flounders. They are pretty easy to use and can also be used for catching a whole other type of fish. What makes them a good choice is that they are versatile and can be used in a variety of environment where flounders are distributed or concentrated. The ease of use makes casting simple and effective especially when you need to throw your lines under mangrove branches or under bridges and docks. They’re also pretty good choices for fishing in more open areas.
However, you may run into trouble with a spinning reel when you find yourself battling with an enormous flounder who decides to run for cover. Spinning reels in general do not have strong leverage like other types of reels, and if you’re not lucky enough you may just end up losing a potential dinner.
When choosing a spinning reel for flounder fishing, you’ll want to go with a medium reel so as not to fatigue your wrists early (you’ll have to do a lot of jigging and dragging). A spinning reel with a low gear ratio is also recommended since it gives you more leverage than usual and allow you to pull flounders out of structures.
Baitcasting reels are also a good choice and some anglers actually prefer using them over spinning reels. They are not as great when it comes to fishing for other species of fish, but for flounder fishing baitcasting reels and tackle work like magic. There are several reasons why this is so.
For one, baitcasting reels provide you with more leverage for pulling out flounders from structures. This works even for the biggest and meanest flounder that may be lurking in that area. Another reason is that using a baitcasting reel and tackle will allow you to cover more ground since you can get a farther cast with it. And when it comes to flounder fishing, you’ll want to cover as much ground as possible. The only drawback to using a baitcasting reel is that it is harder to pitch baits and lures in tight areas like under a dock or along mangrove shorelines.
In any case, you’ll want to look for a medium baitcasting reel suitable for a 12- to 14-pound line. This should be light enough to prevent spooking the flounder away yet strong enough to reel them in.
Tip #5: Fishing Line
Flounders are not the strongest of fish species, but you’ll still want to make sure that your fishing line is adequate for the size of the fish you intend to catch. For the most part, a 10- to 12- pound line is enough for small flounders, while a 14- to 20-pound line may be necessary for the larger ones. Most flounder anglers also favor using fluorocarbon fishing lines. If you’re not sure about the size of flounders generally fished in the area, you can always check with the local anglers or tackle shop.
Tip #6: Hooks
Flounders have a boney mouth, which is why it is better to use circle hooks when fishing for them. Circle hooks are also easier for flounders to bite, especially when you consider that flounders lie sideways on the ground. In any case, you’ll want to use a sinker to help your line and hook reach the bottom and within the reach of these flatties.
Tip #7: Lures and Baits
Both baits and lures are good choices when fishing for flounders. However, you may want to go with live baits first like finger mullets and minnows (which are pretty much what flounders eat in their natural habitat). You can also try live shrimps, croakers and marine worms. Many anglers have had successful fishing trips using these over artificial lures. When considering live baits, it would be better to get them from the same waters where you’ll be fishing for flounders. These will make them more enticing to the fish since they are very familiar with these creatures and won’t be able to resist them.
If you prefer using artificial baits or lures, you’ll want to use those that mimic the appearance and movement of minnows, shrimps and their other prey. Accordingly, flounders seem to be more attracted to artificial lures with shiny and two-toned colors. Furthermore, it seems that lures with color combinations of pink, red, and white work best whereas blue and green ones result to less catch.
If you haven’t had any luck so far with your bait or lure, consider changing them. Flounders can sometimes be very picky and will not attack baits or lures all the time so it is best to have a variety of baits and lures in your tackle box or fishing backpack.
Tip #8: Fishing from a Boat
Fishing for flounders is mostly done from a boat or an ocean fishing kayak which allows anglers to drift slowly and entice the fish with moving bait. When fishing during the warmer seasons, you’ll want to stay in the shallows while during the colder months you’ll need to paddle somewhere deeper. When you decide to go this route, try to find a slow moving current so that the water doesn’t carry you away too quickly and not leave enough time for the flounders to bite.
You can also head to the mouth of a creek, river or inlet and anchor your boat there (use a kayak anchor if you’re in a fishing kayak) since flounders will be flocking here because of the fresh supply of food coming in from the waterways.
Tip #9: Fishing from the Shore
If you prefer fishing from the shore, you’ll need to head to the shallow, muddy waters. Again, you’ll want to keep your bait moving to entice the flounder, so cast your line and move it along with the tide. When fishing for flounders from the shore during summer and spring, you can basically cast your line from the beach since the flounders will be staying pretty close to the shore. And since the water will be pretty shallow at this point, you can check for flounder tracks to help improve your chances of catching them. Sometimes you may need to head out into the water so you may want to bring along your fishing wader.
Tip #10: Using the Drift and Bounce Technique
When fishing for flounders from a boat during the migration season, one technique on how to catch flounder that anglers mostly apply is the drift and bounce. Here, you get on your boat, wait until the slack tide and find a slow moving current. Then switch off the engine and let the boat drift slowly along with the current.
With your fishing tackle ready, cast your line and let it sink to the bottom making sure that it touches the sea floor. Keep your bait or lure moving vertically to attract any hungry flounder lurking nearby.
Once you feel a subtle bite, wait for at least five or ten seconds to give the flounder enough time to completely take in the hook. Afterwards, slowly reel in your line. It may take some time before you catch trophy-sized flounders with this technique, but it will be worth it.
Globo Surf Overview
There are plenty of fish in the sea and the coast, but during those times when redfish and cods are hard to come by anglers can always count on the humble flounder for some action. True, flounders aren’t the most Instagram-worthy catch (which is probably why flounder fishing isn’t that popular), but when you do land a flounder you’ll be rewarded with delicious seafood for dinner.