For the past few weeks we have written about cooler weather and the migratory species that it brings to our coast. The talk has been largely about pompano and bluefish, which are popular targets in the surf this time of year; but, there’s more yet coming to be excited about this season, such as one of my personal favorite species: flounder.
When the weather cools this time of year, flounder begin to migrate from inter-coastal waters to their offshore breeding grounds. This migratory path takes them through our local inlets — which is precisely where we go to catch these odd-looking but delicious-tasting flatties. Sebastian Inlet, in particular, is a famed hot spot for fishing the annual migration. When the flounder start running, you may see a dozen boats anchored out there all gunning for these fish. Having the mobility of a boat is a great luxury, but plenty of anglers also do well targeting flounder from shore.
To target flounder, equip your rod with the tried and true fish finder rig. This is a very simple rig which consists of an egg sinker placed on your main line, followed by a barrel swivel. The sinker should be just heavy enough to hold bottom, which will fluctuate depending on the strength of the current. Tie on 12 to 18 inches of 30lb. mono finished off with a 1/0-2/0 j-hook. I personally prefer a short shank j-hook.
When using this rig, live bait typically works best. The two most productive baits tend to be mud minnows and small finger mullet (approximately 3 to 6 inches in size). Hook them through the lips. If you cannot find mud minnows or finger mullet, a live shrimp hooked through the tail will work, too. To help trigger a strike from these ambush predators, bump your bait across the bottom, either with the current or during retrieval.
Flounder are fun to catch and great to eat. You can take home as many as ten per day that are at least 12″ in total length — and you may even get lucky and score one of the big doormats! If you go out flounder fishing, be sure to let us know how you did. We’d love to hear about it whether you crushed it or struck out.