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May 19, 2014

10 Tips to Catch Flounder

Follow these tips from veteran flounder pros around the country to speed up time between strikes.

5. Up a Creek

According to guide Mark Noble of Brunswick, Georgia, the myriad creeks that feed into bays, bayous, rivers, sounds and the Intracoastal Waterway offer prime, largely untapped flounder action,

"Chasing creek flounder is classic 'spot' angling, meaning that a certain spot will frequently yield several fish in short order," says Mark. "Falling tides are normally best, and almost any creek run-out can hold fish. The best run-outs are often located near deep creek bends. Frequently, a creek bend that has several run-outs pouring in from different directions will hold a particularly large number of flounder.

"If I hook a fish or two, I'll frequently ease over a lightweight anchor or nose the skiff into the marsh until the area is completely and thoroughly worked. But I never fish a place too long. I prefer to keep moving during the falling tide. The key to success is covering the water quickly, quietly and efficiently.

10 Tips for More and Bigger Flounder"The very best creeks are usually narrow and deep. Broad creeks can be red hot, though, during very low tides, which concentrate the flounder. In such creeks, even the tiniest of feeder trickles can hold flounder.

6. Know Your Area

An important key to successful flounder fishing is familiarity with the area, according to top inshore angler Kim Norton, a Mississippi native who now works as a tackle buyer for Cabela's.

"When I first started flounder fishing, I picked a place inside an inlet where I knew other anglers consistently caught flounder," Kim recalls. "I was determined to learn a half-mile section of that inlet shoreline better than anyone else. In time, I learned every foot of it. By fishing jigs and bottom-bumping baits, and by checking the area repeatedly with a very sensitive depthsounder, I got to know that water in just a season of fishing.

"Too many anglers rely solely on their depthsounder to show them the location of rocks and drop-offs where flounder might hold. But by slowly fishing jigs and/or live bait on a standard fish-finder rig, you learn a lot more about the bottom. This is especially true when using low-stretch braided line. With experience, you'll be able to feel whether the bottom consists of mud, sand, oyster shell or rock. This will help you locate the best flounder-holding places.

"It's important to understand that flounder are an ambush-type fish. They hold near structure, and when you find structure by feeling it with bottom-bumping lures and bait rigs, you'll learn where to focus your fishing efforts - and put more fish in the boat as a result."

7. Best Baits

10 Tips for More and Bigger FlounderSerious flounder pros such as guide Mark Dushane of Summerville, South Carolina, say that live baitfish are numero uno for flatfish. Almost any type of small baitfish will work, but flounder can be selective, and you never know what they'll want until you start fishing. For this reason, Mark prefers to catch his own baitfish at low tide from salt creeks and marshes. He'll use a wide variety of baitfish, including mullet, menhaden, croakers, spot and mud minnows (killifish). Shrimp work for flounder, too, according to Mark, but take a back seat to minnows.

Large baits (three to four inches long), which are best for big flounder, are hooked through the lips, smaller baits through the eyes. The bait is cast to the edges of jetties, pilings, bulkheads and other structure before being retrieved ever so slowly.

When it comes to artificial baits, Mark likes white, pink, smoke, silver and yellow grub-tailed jigs, especially curly-tail models. Sometimes tipping a grub jig with a piece of natural bait will tempt a reluctant flounder into striking. Strip baits made from small mullet or other baitfish can be very good on jigs, too.