Fishing & Boating News

Nuts and Bolts of Flounder Fishing

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Ed Snyder fished Berkley Gulp shrimp for this 22 and 20 inchers.
Photo by Ed Snyder
Henri Fontenot of Dallas fished Gulp swim baits to catch this 5 flounder limit.
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Dec. 05, 2012 - Gilchrist on Bolivar, TX)

Tedious, skittish, and wary at times, flounder fishing can be difficult but rewarding if you know what to do. Whether you're a live bait enthusiast or hard corps jig angler there are many methods to use for enjoying catching flounder.

Bottom Rigging: Common ways of fishing for flounder is bottom rigging your baits with live mud minnows, shrimp, or finger mullet, etc. This is due to the flounder being bottom hugging fish who mainly feed on bottom. This is mostly true but there are times when the flatfish will rise to the occasion by ambushing bait on the surface. But the best choice is to rig your tackle for bottom fishing according to the situation of the waters current.

In non or light current such as sloughs or coves rig light with small weights but in high current tidal areas, such as a pass, 2 to 3 ounce weights are needed to keep your baits on the bottom. The light weights can be split-shots or light bell sinkers but when heavy current is involved 2 to 3oz (non-roll) type weights are best. We rig these non-roll weights Carolina style, which is when the flounder hits your bait it won't feel the weight of the sinker as the line slips thru the weight and the fish won?t become alarmed. Thread your line thru the weight from the wide end thru the small end- allow at least 2ft below the weight- slip a plastic bead or split shot below the weight to keep the weight from sliding down the line- then tie on the hook with a fishing (Snell) knot. NEAT TRICK-Anglers sometimes will thread a small piece of chartreuse plastic above the bait hook to attract flounder. Berkley soft plastics such as Crappie Candy are excellent to use for this.

Hook types are important here. Most anglers prefer the #8 treble hook, and they will catch flounder for you, BUT, the #8 treble is probably the most lethal hook to use as the small hook allows fish to swallow it. And here lies the problem! If the fish are undersized and must be released the angler usually plies the treble out of the fishes throat before releasing it. When this happens the fish will end up dying. But one thing can be done to avoid this.

According to TP&W rules it is illegal to cut or rip the hook from the gullet of the fish. The line must be cut near its mouth instead then released where the swallowed hook will eventually dissolve allowing the fish to survive. But most anglers ignore this law and are willing to kill the fish in order to save a 10cent hook. I grimace whenever I see this and it happens more often than not! I do believe that the popular #8 treble is responsible for more fish kills than all other fish kill reasons.

I quit using treble hooks a long time ago and much prefer the Aberdeen wire hook, croaker hook, or circle hook when bait fishing. These style hooks, especially the circle, usually hooks the fish in the side of its mouth where it's easily extracted from the undersized fish which then can then be released safely.

Artificial Rigs: A favorite method of fishing for some anglers is the use of artificial baits and lures for catching whatever they choose to catch. And with the flounder the top choice are Berkley Gulps, a soft plastic lure saturated with a scent attraction fluid. These specially scented soft plastic lures are incredible and DO WORK, especially on flounder. Oh I've fished with all the rest and have had very successful fishing trips with most of them, but Berkley's Gulp is really one for the books The Saltwater Assassin, Mirror lure, Sassy shad, etc; etc, have all seen the inside of my tackle-pack, but the Gulp is my top choice for catching flounder.

Different styles and colors are marketed by Berkley, such as swimming finger mullet, shrimp, crab, and swimming shad in chartreuse, molting, new penny, or nuclear chicken just name a few, but it's best to try many different styles and colors until you find the one that works for you. Watch to see what's swimming or crawling in your fishing area then choose the type of Gulp and color that'll closely match what you see.

Shrimp Jigs are what you'll need for rigging either single drop or tandem rigs. Normally the 1/4 oz jig-head is used in normal flow waters with 5/8th oz jigs for faster flow waters.

The soft plastic lure is threaded onto the jig from the point of the barb over the hub keepers being sure that the lure is in the right position(back up/belly down). These are usually cast out then retrieved in a smooth bottom bumping style or jigged near the surface in such a fashion making it look like a fleeing bait to the trout or red or whatever you're fishing for.

Tandem rigs are used mainly to seem like several baitfish swimming thru the water. Such as speck rigs. About 2ft up your line make a 2inch loop and tie it off where it won't slip. Tie and secure a 1/4 oz jig head to the loop. Then on the bottom tag tie an 1/8th oz jig. Thread a chartreuse soft plastic to the upper 1/4 oz jig and thread a white or bone color to the bottom 8th oz jig. When casting and retrieving the 1/8 oz jig will drop below the 1/4 oz.

Cajun Rigging Cajun style rigging is very simple- Using a 1/4 oz shrimp tail jig-head- cut a 3inch by 1inch strip of flounder belly (white side)- then hook thru skin side and allow hook to bare out- Drag the jig along the bottom setting the hook as soon as you feel the bite. This also works with live minnows when hooked thru the head. These are called jig n'minnow rigs. And they are deadly on flounder.

Fly Casting or Ultra-Lite Fishing For you Sport-fishing anglers only- Using a 5 weight fly casting rig with at least a 6-lb test tippet- tie on a 2 or 3inch streamer fly that resembles a finger mullet or shad. Wading the flats, look for flounder feeding swirls and cast to them stripping quickly. You'll actually see flounder leaping out of the water when chasing baitfish. Or, if you're not into fly fishing gear then try Ultra-lite. My favorite ultra gear is a Browning Gold Medallion Ultra-Lite spinning rod with a Shakespeare Ultra-Lite spinning reel spooled with 4lb test mono or 10lb test braid. This method of flounder madness will fulfill your every need for you extreme anglers. You haven't lived until you've hooked with a 2 lb flounder on a fly or ultra-lite rig. I've tangled with tarpon, bass, salmon, redfish, and peacock bass on fly or ultra-lite gear, and hooking flounder on this type of tackle is a real challenge.

Rods, Reels, and Line Any fishing rod or reel you have on hand will catch fish, but those rods designed more for sensitivity and balance will work much better, especially when fishing for flounder. My preference is bait-casting gear. Now there are anglers who prefer spinning or spin cast and I have no problems with this type of gear. But for me bait casting offers better casting and fishing controls when working lures and landing fish.

My preferences are 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 ft light to medium action Kistler, All Star, or Castaway bait casting rods rigged with Pinnacle PM/100 reels spooled with 10 to 12lb test high grade mono. Now, the new braided lines offer superb casting qualities but you should stick to the 15 to 20-lb braids that have 6 to 8-lb test diameters. I'm an old school angler so I'll stick to the high grade mono's which I'm used to. These mentioned rods are super sensitive to the feel of the fish bite and will pass on that unique sense of feel to you after you've become more experienced fishing with them. But, in the end you fish with what you're most comfortable with but try other gear and methods to suit your style of fishing.

The name of the game is having fun fishing for, and catching flounder, and these methods mentioned just a few ways to enjoy that pleasure....Go Gettum!!
Dennis Frazier of Hampshire TX took this 20inch flounder fishing a Cajun rig.
Photo by Ed Snyder
George Parkman of Cypress TX took this 24 and 20inch flounder on a jig n'minnow rig.
Photo by Ed Snyder