Flounder fish can be considered a particularly challenging to catch species, due to its amazing ability to disguise itself as part of the ocean floor. As you can learn from our recent article on fish finders, there are many methods an angler can employ to catch even the most elusive fish.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or seasoned angler. This fish is a lot of fun to catch, and its white meat is absolutely delicious. To catch flounder fish, you need a bit of information on this species, the tackle that works best to catch it, and the tried and tested methods other fishers swear by.
What are flounder fish?
When you want to catch a type of fish you’ve never dealt with before, the rule of thumb is to get to know it a little first. The information provided here will educate you on what this fish looks like, what environment it prefers, and what habits it might have that could help you in your endeavor to catch it.
In a nutshell, flounder fish are a species of flatfish that prefer to lie on the seabed, where they hunt for small fish and shrimps that make the most of their diet. Maybe to say that they hunt their food is a stretch since their technique involves camouflaging to resemble the seabed and catch the unaware fish that swims in their vicinity.
Flounders can change their skin color and pattern, and they can even hide in the sand or mud on the seafloor. That is why they are so smart; while this technique works for catching food, it also keeps them safe from predators. Both their eyes are located on one side, and that is why they can scout the vast expanse of water above them more keenly than any other species.
However, while such habits make flounders smarter than other fish, they can work to an angler’s advantage, which is the most critical aspect.
There are four types of flounders you should know about. The winter flounder prefers the shallow waters close to the coast. If you ever heard of lemon soles, that’s just another name for winter flounders. They can end up weighing 8 pounds, so there will be plenty of meat to cook if you catch one of them.
The summer flounder is also known as a fluke, and it is a bit different than other flounder fish. They don’t wait for food to swim to them, and they are quite good hunters. Because they can live up to 20 years, their weight goes up to 26 pounds.
The Southern flounder can be found along the Gulf coast, and it is often preferred by anglers, as it can reach 25 inches in length. Last but not least, the Gulf flounder is another type to learn about; bear in mind that the heaviest specimens don’t weigh more than 5 pounds, so they’re not precisely trophy fish.
What’s their preferred environment? Flounder fish prefer saltwater environments and can be found along the coast. However, they’re not that an uncommon occurrence in rivers, creeks, and estuaries. They swim to the ocean in winter and return in spring.
If you want to know when you should go fishing for flounder, here’s the good news. You can fish for it all year long. Their migration period is a favorite time of the year. That happens from September to November, when you have the best chance to catch some.
Where to fish for flounder
From Maine to Texas, and all along the Pacific coast, you will find plenty of spots where the flounders are in abundance. Observe the bottom of the ocean for signs of flounder tracks. Flounders prefer clear waters because they need to use their eyes to spot their prey. That, in turn, helps you notice if there are flounders around.
During tide shifts, flounders tend to change their location to get a better chance of catching food. That also works to your advantage, as you can notice when they are on the move. At low tide, go through the shallow muddy waters and sand flats in your search for flounder. In fall, when the flounders reach their peak weight, it is ideal to go fishing, as you will get some pretty satisfying results.
What fishing equipment do you need to catch flounder?
Regardless of your chosen location for your fishing adventure, you must get the right equipment for catching flounder. For instance, you can go for the classic rod and reel, as flounders are not good fighters. However, you should know that they are pretty shy, and that means that they will try to taste the bait at first.
Preferably, you should get a sensitive rod that will tell you when the flounders bite. Get a 7-foot rod and a 12-pound reel to ensure that you have the right equipment for catching this fish. Make sure that you invest in a type of line that can handle heavy specimens. Depending on what flounder you want to capture, you will know which line weight is the most indicated.
Circle hooks are a good idea for fishing flounder. Also recommended is the use of a sinker since the bait needs to get close to the fish that lie on the ocean floor. Don’t forget that flounder fish have better eyesight than others. Get a reflective spinner rig to draw their attention and have them bite.
Live bait, such as minnows, works for flounder. Live shrimps, or marine worms, are just as good. However, if you instead want to use artificial lures, opt for those painted in pink, red and white, as they resemble the shrimp flounders feast on.
In your search for flounder, you most likely need a boat. Even though they prefer shallow waters, flounders can still be lying on the ocean floor at a fair distance from the shore. Flat-bottomed boats are a good idea because they allow you to reel in the fish you catch without any problems.
Tried and tested techniques for catching flounder
Anglers with a bit of experience under their belts are well aware of the two primary methods used for capturing this elusive fish; one involves a gig, and the other a rod. There are also variations to these methods, as you will learn right away.
Rod and reel is a powerful combination if you want to catch flounder fish. The method is called drift and bounce, and it goes as follows. When the tide withdraws, you will have to hop on your boat and find a current that moves slowly. Once you find this sweet spot, you can kill off the engine and allow the boat to start drifting.
Use weights to help your bait reach the ocean floor. Cast the line, and help the bait move slowly up and down so that the flounders can see it. Don’t hurry to pull your line at the sign of the first bite. What’s important here is to let the flounder take a larger bite. After a few seconds, you’re ready to pull the line, hopefully, with a flounder hanging from your hook.
A variation of this method involves anchoring your boat at the exit of a creek, or a river. This is where flounder fish usually feed. Choose your bait carefully and bounce it slightly after casting your line so that the fish notice it.
While you should get a boat to fish for flounder properly, you can also fish from the shore. In spring and summer, flounder comes closer to enjoy the shallow waters filled with food. Cast your line and help it move with the tide, to make the bait move.
Gigging is considered by many anglers the easiest way to catch flounder. Just as with a rod and reel combo, you can fish from a boat or the shore. This is also a method you should employ at nighttime, but don’t go fishing when it’s a full moon, as the flounders will spot you easily. Use a lamp to help you see the flounders’ eyes in the water.
Spearing and gigging requires a precise aim. It’s a lot of fun, but make sure you have proper training before fishing. There is no need to torture the fish by aiming badly. Remember that water can distort the distance you might perceive, so thrust deeper to reach the fish.