Friday, May 13, 2011

Targeting Flounder on the Georgia Coast



Flounder is usually not the first species that comes to mind when you are specifically targeting one type of fish.  But make no mistake, it can be done and on many days with huge success.  I am sure almost every one of us has been inshore fishing for “whatever bites” or even targeting Reds or Trout and come up with a nice Flounder. This happens quite frequently, as Flounder hold in many different places.   When targeting Flounder around St Simons Island, we look for areas that will hold more than just one or two.  As with all species, if you catch a Flounder throw back in and work the area thoroughly, because you may have just found a gathering spot-they will congregate in pretty big numbers--just like Reds and Trout.  
You must be prepared to lose some jig heads if you are going to become a Flounder pounder.  Our favorite areas usually have one thing in common: structure.   This structure is usually pretty gnarly and manmade.  One of the most commonly shared tips on Flounder fishing is to drag a mud minnow in the mouth of a small creek or run out--and this does work.  BUT, for numbers and size, fishing the nasty stuff will pay big dividends.  Flounder like docks, rocks, jetties, rip rap, pilings, bridge rubble, bulkheads, wrecks or any obstruction a Flounder can lie next to and ambush bait.  Finding this kind of structure is no problem on inshore waters of the Golden Isles.
Clean water also helps when Flounder fishing.  Although Flounder have a very pronounced lateral line that picks up movement and vibration, they rely on sight very heavily-- and their sight range is less than that of other fish due to their eye placement.
The technique is very simple.  I personally like to use artificial bait when targeting Flounder.  My favorite is a Gulp! 4” swimming mullet, although I recently fished a tournament where a 16 pounder was caught on the Gulp! 5” jerk shad.  I pin the swimming mullet on a jig head and slowly hop or drag it across the bottom.  Naturally I try to get as close to the structure without hanging up, but sometimes this is unavoidable.  I just re-tie.  Most of my bites come within 10 ft or less from the boat.  I purposely fish very close to or on top of the spots.  The Flounder don’t mind, and it seems the vertical presentation actually gets more bites and definitely less snags.  This technique will work in water from 1 foot on up to twenty.  
These same techniques apply to live bait as well-the only difference in being when to set the hook. When I am fishing a jig and plastic I set the hook immediately.  However, when fishing with mullet or mud minnows we wait at least five seconds before setting the hook.  We have a theory that because of the Flounder’s thin throat, he likes to turn his bait head first—making it easier to swallow.  Baitfish can be pinned on a jig head or fished with the traditional fish finder rig.  In all cases go as light as possible, but still allowing you to keep in contact with your bait.  Furthermore, in both cases set the hook hard!  Flounder have a bony mouth—plenty of Flounder are lost right at the boat because the hook never went through the fish’s face.    When netting a Flounder, try to keep his head just under the water as he will go ballistic when his eyes break the water and often dislodge even a pretty good hook set. 


I started writing this blog yesterday, and decided to try a little Flounder fishing today, in order to practice what I preach.  I caught 6 flatties in a little over an hour, but only had the cell phone for pictures!   These flatties from today were all caught on Gulp! 4” Swimming Mullet pinned to a ¼ oz chartreuse jig head. 

Today’s tip of the blog pertains to a popping cork.  When fishing shallow, a cork will allow you to cast to a good potential Flounder lair, and drag your presentation slowly back to the boat. This rig keeps the vertical presentation and cuts down on snags. Both the Gulp! and live bait work well.  As always, hope this helps and you won’t know unless you go.
Capt. Tim Cutting
Coastal Georgia Inshore Charters

3 comments:

  1. Capt Tim:

    I really enjoy your blog and posts on Coastal Outdoors Forum. As soon as I pay off the IRS, I'd like to retain you to take me fishing. In the meantime, I am landlocked and would love to slay some flounder.

    What time of day or best tide is best to catch flounder? Also, any suggestions on good places in Glynn County to fish that are accessible via foot?

    Thanks a lot!

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  2. By foot, Gould's Inlet, or the old bridge under the new Sidney Lanier bridge are good. A Gulp swimming mullet pinned on a 1/4 oz jighead, worked slowly works for us. We like clean, incomming water, if at all possible. Good luck!

    Capt. Tim

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  3. Gould's is a great spot on the incoming tide!!!

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