for Flounder in the
Chesapeake Bay and Rivers
By Martin Freed
you are getting bored of drifting around for flounder,
you may want to try trolling. At times it is a lot more
productive than the standard drift and feel.
of the most important considerations in trolling for flatfish
is that one needs an engine that can idle down to a figurative
crawl. Some anglers who use this method and do not have
their engines tuned to the point of being able to move
at a snail's pace, use a simple trick. To slow the boat
down they tie a heavy rope to the handle of a five-gallon
bucket and fasten it to a cleat on the stern. They then
drop the bucket overboard, fill it with water, and the
drag might be enough to slow the boat down to the desired
point. If one bucket isn't enough, some will use a second
one on the opposite side of the vessel.
tasty meal is the greatest reward.
There are three
basic ways to troll for flounder. Everyone knows that
no matter how much we anglers like to think of ourselves
as skillful when we catch fish, much of our expertise
is simply statistics. The first method of trolling involves
just controlled drifting.
On the seaside
of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, flounder fishing is
often done in very narrow channels. Frequently, due to
winds and/or tides, the boat just doesn't stay in the
area where the flatfish are located. So by using controlled
drifting, your vessel will remain in the striking vicinity
for a longer period of time therefore improving your chances
of encountering a hungry fish.
If the drift
is across the channel, run the engine either in forward
or reverse to stay in the channel. It may take a lot of
shifting in and out of gear so make sure your lower unit
oil is fresh and filled to the top.
There are times
when the fish are on the slope where the channel gives
way to the flats. Keeping an eye on your fish finder,
try to make a note of where the flounder are hitting.
ladies love to catch flounder, too.
Then you can
attempt to keep the boat over that depth. When the fish
are spread out over a large range of depths, a good strategy
is to troll across the channel. If the wind is blowing
obliquely to the waterway, the boat could be allowed to
drift in one direction then power trolled back across.
The rigs for
this type of trolling are about the same as those for
simple drifting; a long leadered, 30 to 36 inches, hook
tied an inch or two above the sinker. You may need a little
extra weight for power drifting than non-powered because
there will be a little extra drag.
Some use spinners
of various colors, on the leader above the hook. A bucktail
tied directly to the hook may also entice a flatfish to
take a look at your offering. Soft plastic or rubber grubby
tails and assorted worms may also be of value at times.
Remember, since flounder are basically sight feeders,
keep a variety of colors in your arsenal. If one shade
doesn't work, try another because depending on cloud cover,
inclination of the sun, water clarity, etc., each day
is different. The second flounder trolling method is what
we call Deliberate Trolling. Here you are not just trying
to stay in the channel, but pick your own path.
rigging is just about the same as for the above method,
but we have found the spinner to be far more important.
You can troll with, across or against the current. All
work well at times. However, if you know the fish are
there and they are just not biting, sometimes working
your spinner rig against the tide is more than the flatfish
can handle and they strike it as hard a bluefish.
the first method and unknown to many fishermen and women,
periodically, there are lots of fish on the flats. We
have caught our limit many times, fishing no deeper
than three or four feet.
important to either cast out or drop your line back
10 or 20 yards. Using this method, we seem to get a
lot more hits than if we keep our lines close to the
boat. It appears that the flatfish may be sensitive
to engine noise in the shallow water, whereas in the
deeper channels it doesn't seem to make a difference.
Bay is a great place to do this shallow water trolling,
especially to the south directly before entering the
Gap. We have always found the beginning of the ebb tide
as best, but have also been successful at low tide and
during the flood.
third method is primarily a shallow water, flats strategy
that we have coined Spoon Trolling. When the fish are
relatively thick in the shallows, try trolling spoons.
The ones that we found work well are the thin sheet
metal type that lake trout fishermen use.
lures come in a variety of colors and any may work on
a particular day. We like the fluorescent red and green
as well as silver. If we had to pick our favorite color,
it would be the green.
spoons are tied directly to your mono or perhaps with
a plain or ball bearing swivel to prevent line twisting.
Never troll in depths greater than three or four feet
and only use this method if the water is relatively
clear. We have actually seen flounder, who were waiting
in ambush on the bottom, come shooting up like a missile
to grab one of these spoons then come out of the water
like a large mouth bass.
for flounder is an alternative method of fishing for
these tasty critters. File the method away in that bag
of tricks that is located somewhere in the back of your
brain. Someday when the action is slow, you'll remember
it and may be pleasantly surprised.
of your catch for
CHARTERBOATS in MARYLAND & VIRGINIA