Flounder Fishing Basics

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Summer Flounder inhabit coastal and estuarine waters during the spring, summer and fall months, then they move to offshore waters during the winter.  Most summer flounder are between 2 – 4 pounds, although 15 – 20 pound fish are not uncommon.  Winter Flounder spend the summer offshore in deeper waters, then they come back into the shallow coastal estuaries, rivers and bays during the winter.

How to Catch Flounder

A single hook bottom rig is really all you need to catch flounder.  They are bottom feeders so a heavy sinker is a must for fishing deeper water.  In shallower water, you can get away with lighter weights, but you should still keep your baits on or near the bottom for the best results.  Many flounder are caught offshore anywhere from 20 to 60 feet of water, but most anglers target flounder inshore in the bays, lagoons, passes, tidal creeks, around piers, bridges, docks and even on the beaches.  Live baits are the way to go if you want to consistently put flounder in the boat.  Bull minnows, pinfish, finger mullet and live shrimp work well for flounder.

Recommended Tackle

Flounder are not nearly as strong as some of the other popular fish that are targeted inshore such as snook, redfish and trout.  They may pull hard when they are first hooked, but they do tire out quickly compared to the other species of fish.  You can usually get away with a medium spinning rod and reel and 12 to 14 pound test line.  You could catch them with lighter line, but we don’t recommend it.  There are so many other species of fish that you may catch while fishing for flounder, so 14 to 20 pound line is preferred on spinning gear or your favorite baitcaster.  Use a medium to medium heavy rod and if you want to go heavier, you can.

Eating Flounder

Flounder are some of the finest tasting fish in the sea.  They are easy to fillet and the meat holds its flavor for a long time while frozen.

Inshore Fishing for Flounder

Flounder are targeted in the bays near oyster beds, around piers & bridges, in tidal creeks, in canals around docks and many other areas that you can fish inshore.  Anglers fish for them on the bottom with mud minnows, finger mullet, small pinfish and live shrimp.

You will often see anglers fishing for flounder around the oyster beds.  The oysters beds are great places to fish for them, however, there are many spots to fish for flounder that are overlooked by many anglers.  Flounder relate to so many types of cover and structure that you can fish for them similarly to how you would fish for freshwater bass.  If you fish enough docks, poles, pilings, sea walls and any other type of cover and structure that you can find inshore, you should be able to put several flounder in the livewell.

Trolling for flounder is another popular method that works well for catching flounder.  You can use the trolling motor to slowly troll with mud minnows, pinfish, finger mullet and live shrimp.  This technique allows you to cover some more water with multiple fishing lines in the water.  Tidal creeks are great spots to slow troll for flounder during a tidal change.

Offshore Fishing for Flounder

Good numbers of adult-sized summer flounder will move out of the inshore areas during the fall and winter months.  Winter Flounder spend the summer offshore in deeper waters. Flounder can be found offshore around the reefs, wrecks and other types of natural structure.  Some anglers will target them offshore on the bottom with live bait such as finger mullet, shrimp and mud minnows.

How the Tides Affect Flounder Fishing

Just like most fish that are caught inshore, the tides will play a big role in where, when and how flounder will feed.  Moving water is key, so make sure to fish during the tidal changes. The incoming and outgoing tides are both productive and the bite tends to be better during the morning and evening for flounder.  During the low tide, you will find more flounder in the channels and at the mouths of the inlets and tidal creeks.  During the high tides, flounder will move into the shallow water cover and structure such as docks, poles, sea walls and oyster beds.

How the Time of Day Affects Flounder Fishing

Flounder can be caught throughout the day and at night.  Some of the best times to fish are during the tidal changes in the mornings and evenings.  During the middle of the day, you can still catch plenty of flounder as long as there is some moving water, but the middle of the day usually provides a slower bite than the morning and evening.  Flounder are also active at night.  Some of the best places to fish for them at night is near the lights around the piers, bridges and docks.

How the Time of Year Affects Flounder Fishing

Flounder move into the bays and estuaries in the spring and summer.  These fish can be found throughout the bays, in canals, in tidal creeks and around all types of cover and structure.  During the fall, adult flounder migrate back out into the waters offshore where they will spawn during the winter.  The fall months provide some of the best fishing in the channels and passes that lead to the open seas.  Anglers will congregate in the passes during the fall and the fishing can be very good during the tidal changes.


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