How to Catch Flounder – An informational guide on 3 Steps that Work
The answer to how to catch flounder lies in learning more about this fish species.
Knowing the best season to catch them, where they are found, their behaviour and feeding patterns, and the right gears to use are all essential if you want to catch this species.
I like eating this fish especially when they are filleted, sautéed, and served with lemon. Yum! They are simply the best tasting fish among the species caught in lagoons and estuaries of the Florida coast.
Catching them is equally as good if you know here to find them. This species migrate on a regular basis to deeper water. They like to settle 25 – 30 miles on the sandy bottom offshore.
They especially like to hang around structures, wrecks, or reefs. I have seen spear fishermen catch huge flounders near wrecks during the winter season.
Things You Need to Catch Flounder
To catch this awesome fish, there are three things you need to equip yourself with:
- Knowledge of flounder’s behaviour
- The right tackle
- The right baits or lures
Knowledge of how flounders behave is everything when it comes to catching this fish. You will understand which tackle and bait or lures to use if you know the fish you are catching.
Learning where they are at certain times of the year and what gets them fired up are among the essential information as well.
My style is to target them when they are migrating around September until the end of November. This is when they start leaving rivers and creeks to move to the ocean.
This is the perfect time because they have finished spawning during the spring and summer months. At the same time, the crop from last year is now big enough to migrate with the older brood.
Inshore, this fish is usually found buried in mud or sand where they wait patiently for their prey.
This is why they like to sit near structures particularly oyster reefs, channel edges and sandbars. They are also found around inlets during the fall, and along jetties in the winter months.
As a rule, the best tackle for flounder fishing is light.
I suggest you start by using reel that is light to medium and is capable of handling 10 – 12 lbs. of fluorocarbon line that is tied to 20 lbs. fluorocarbon leader.
Get rods that are light and sensitive as well since you want to feel the bites the moment they come. It is common for flounder to run like other fish and not swallow the whole bait.
With sensitive rods, you are more likely to feel small taps than heavier gears. These taps are important since you want to instantly set the hook 5-10 seconds after you feel the bite.
You can use either spinning or bait casting tackles, and each one has its own benefits. Spinning tackles, for one, are effective for open areas.
Using the drag system in this case is useful to tire the fish easily.
Bait casting tackle, on the other hand, provides more leverage in terms of pulling fish out of a structure. This tackle also covers more ground as they are great at casting far distances.
More importantly, use this tackle if you are certain or aiming for bigger flounders.
Baits or Lures
A flounder’s diet consists of crustaceans and fish, but the best bait is Mummichog or mud minnow. These tiny species are very common in muddy backwaters and estuaries.
Other good bait alternatives include shrimp and finger mullet. You can also use panfish, sardines, and menhaden.
Go for baits that are 3-4 inches long. This size is just enough to hook the bait and for the flounder to easily get a hold of.
In terms of lures, you need to understand that flounders ambush their prey.
They like to sit and wait for their food to come within striking distance before they attack. This makes many artificial lures highly effective.
I personally prefer using lures over baits since there is a lot of casting and dragging involved in catching flounder. I find baits tedious since they have to be replaced in almost every cast.
I like using lures that look absolutely like shrimp or fish. The best way to work these lures is to cast them the same way you would with any live bait.
You can go gently bouncing or dragging the jig to catch the flounder’s attention.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Catching Flounder
Now that you are well equipped with knowledge of a flounder’s behaviour, the perfect tackle, and the right baits or lures; you are now ready to go fishing!
Find the Right Location
This depends on a variety of factors like time of the year and fishing places. You can refer to your local fishing guide with regards to when it’s the best time to fish for flounder.
They also have a wide habitat variety so you may refer to your local tackle shop where they are usually found.
Generally, however, they like to sit near structures. Aim for pilings of piers, bridges, and docks.
There is also a high possibility they are buried somewhere sandy or muddy along channel edges, oyster reefs, or sandbars.
Since I have talked about the tackle and baits or lures earlier, I want to expound on choosing the right hook to catch flounder. Using your light tackle gear, attach your live bait on a circle hook.
This type of hook is great since it allows the flounder to swallow the bait.
The hook is also great for pulling right out to the corner of the fish’s mouth. In this case, all you have to do really is to slowly reel and increase your speed as you go.
The speed sets the hook and does all the work for you.
When using lures, on the other hand, you should go for those that look almost exactly the same as the flounder’s natural diet.
As mentioned earlier, I like using fake shrimps and it’s amazing how they are manufactured to look so real these days!
Feel the Bite and Retrieve Properly
Flounders are not aggressive when striking a bait or lure. They are subtle that they feel like added pressure on the line. My advice is to stay patient. The trick is to not strike right away.
When you feel that added pressure, the flounder already has the bait in its mouth. They will swim away for about 10 feet before swallowing the bait.
Hence, striking the moment you feel the bite will leave you with half of your bait.
Hopefully, this how to catch flounder guide helps you set up to win and catch the fish. I personally like catching flounder because it requires patience and knowledge about the fish.
Of course, all fishing is like that – and that’s probably why I like fishing in general!
Next time you are out in Northeast Florida, find time to go to the harbour entrance particularly that of the Mayport Naval Station. There are shallow areas there that have rocks where flounders like to hang out.
Using the steps and the knowledge you have learned, hopefully you get a good size flounder to take home for dinner.
If you enjoy this guide, feel free to write your comments or additional tips to help other anglers.