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April 14, 2014

How-To Find Gulf of Mexico Flounder

Use advanced tactics to score big on Gulf of Mexico flounder.

Carolina Style

There are many ways to fish jigs. The easiest method is to tie one on, cast it out, and slowly reel it in. That’s a good way to cover lots of water. A lot of flounder pros stake out their boat on a likely spot, and fan-cast a jig, swimming them along the bottom. If they catch a couple of flounder, they switch to a slower retrieve, in order to precisely and thoroughly work all the water within casting range.

A Carolina rig — best known for catching bass — doubles as a good flounder rig. I like to rig them with a ¼-ounce bullet weight so the rig moves with the current as it bounces along the bottom. This is also a good option on days with weak tides when flounder are on a soft bite. With the Carolina rig, flounder eat the jig and feel little or no tension. That allows them to solidly take the bait, which allows the angler to get a better hook-set.

The Carolina rig duplicates one of the most successful live-bait rigs ever put together for catching flounder. It’s basically a weight rigged above a swivel, with a leader and hook or jig. The components for this rig include a ¼-ounce barrel or bullet weight, a 20-pound-class black swivel, an   18- to 20-inch section of fluorocarbon leader, and a 2/0 live-bait hook or jig head.

To assemble the rig, thread the running line through the weight, and tie it off to the swivel. Next, tie one end of the leader to the bottom of the swivel and the other end to the hook or jig. That’s it. This rig can be used with live baits and jigs. It’s especially effective when used on points, at the mouths of drains, and in a pass when you have enough tide to move the rig along the bottom.

Flounder hold on and around all types of structure. Some of the best are drains, bulkheads, barges, points and passes.

Flounder Highway

Flounder use drains as thoroughfares. Not only will they use a drain to access a backwater estuary lake, but they also set up in them to feed on incoming and outgoing tides. Keep in mind that some of the best drains are just a few feet wide. The confluence of a drain and the bay is where flounder ambush baitfish.

Flounder also stage around bulkheads found in a pass or where shrimp and work boats dock. Prime depths measure between 5 to 10 feet. Ease along the bulkhead with the current or trolling motor while vertically jigging a small soft-plastic; or you can position the boat next to the bulkhead and work a jig along the bottom parallel to the structure.

During moving tides, putting a focus around points pays big dividends. Some of the best points for staging flounder are on either side of bayous or drains feeding into bays. Anchor or use a Power Pole to set your position off the tip of a point; from there, fish lures from the bank and back out to deeper water. 

A pass that links a bay to the Gulf is a big-time hot spot for flounder, especially during the spring and fall ­migrations. To cover the most water, cast a live-bait rig and let the tide move the bait along bottom.