This week’s column is mostly going to be about flounder fishing, covering how to catch them and where to catch them.
To start things off, there are many ways to target these flat fish.
There are three species of flounder in North Carolina, the summer flounder, southern flounder and gulf flounder and all of them feed similar.
We catch a lot of our gulf flounder on the nearshore reefs mostly by fishing live baits on the bottom or vertical jigging soft plastic curly tails, swim baits and metal/lead jigs like diamond jigs or bucktails. One way to increase your chances by jigging nearshore is taking strips of bluefish belly and sliding them on to your bucktail jig. It adds scent and more action to your bucktail, and the belly meat is typically more durable than some peoples favorite scented soft plastic brand.
What you’re looking for when targeting flounder on the reefs is good bottom. Good bottom in my opinion is broke up rocks. A single big rock on the bottom may hold a flounder or two but a pile of scattered rocks is what you want to see. Reason being, if I was a flounder and I wanted to hide from predators and prey I would look for lots of cover not just one rock. I want to have more surroundings to help hide myself.
Flounder are underrated as a predator fish, they may not cruise around looking for a school of bait but when they see a bait fish or something that catches their eye, it turns on their predator senses.
When fishing for flounder on the pier or beach, bucktails, tandem rigs and Carolina rigs are your best friend. You want something you can jig or drag slow through sloughs or around the pier pilings. Dragging live mullet or peanut pogies against pier pilings or tossing them up under the pier is a simple way to catch flounder.
When fishing at night for flounder you want to target the shallow water. Flounder come up super shallow to feed at night on schooling baitfish running the beach.
Inshore flounder fishing is a lot of fun, so many techniques to catch a flatty inshore — from fishing live mullet or pogies on Carolina rigs while flipping docks or bridges, to fishing grass lines and steep bank lines with spinnerbaits and jigging curly tails around oyster beds and trolling for flounder on the bottom with light jigs.
One of my favorite ways to target flounder inshore is with a spinnerbait, and yes, you can fish your favorite bass spinnerbaits for them. Throw them around docks, grass lines and steep bank lines. Flounder sit wherever baitfish travel the most, so watch the creek banks and see where the mullet are swimming because that’s where your flounder will be. Fishing a spinnerbait for flounder is simple, just get on bottom and slowly reel it back toward you. Crank it just quick enough to make your rod tip bend a little and you feel the spinnerbait blade start to bend.
Now get out there and have fun! Only one month to get after them, limit is one per person per day, or five per boat with five people fishing.
Send in your Mr. Big Flatfish pics as the season goes on. Good luck y’all!
Garrett Irwin is the fishing columnist for the Beacon.