June 2008


Flounder Fishing Tips
By Keith Kaufman

At right: Using heavy sinkers and fishing practically straight down from the boat
provide a bottom rig with the most natural
and productive presentation. Trolling often out-produces drifting. Trolling provides for better baits in the strike zone.


I’m very fortunate in that I’ve had many opportunities over the years to fish with, and learn from, flounder experts. They have shared with me their techniques that consistently produce limit catches and doormat flounder. Here are a couple of them:

Get the Lead Out. Don’t be sinker shy. Use enough weight to keep the rig straight down from the boat, or at least as straight down as possible. Often, eight or 10 ounces are needed to keep the rig straight down and in contact with the bottom. When fishing deep structure or drifting in a strong current, it may be necessary to use 18- or even 20-ounce sinkers. When rigs are fished nearly straight down, they move through the water with optimum performance.

Avoid light sinkers that frequently lose contact with the bottom, requiring additional line to be let out. The extra line means the rig will be farther from the boat, increasing the chances the rig will spin, foul, drag across the bottom or somehow provide an unnatural appearance to flounder.

Big sinkers also “ring the dinner bell” for flounder. As they bounce along the bottom they kick up puffs of sand or mud, and create vibrations in the bottom that nearby flounder detect. This will put flounder on alert – just in time to see and devour the rig and bait as they pass by.

Try Trolling. Keeping the boat positioned over bottom structure or in the most productive depth is a top priority when flounder fishing. The longer the baits are in front of the­­ fish, the greater the chances of hooking up. While drifting is a popular technique for flounder, it isn’t always the most productive. Wind, current and other factors may make it difficult to keep the boat and baits exactly where they need to be.

Trolling provides for much better boat control, and often makes it easier to put moving, tempting baits directly in front of flounder. Use heavy sinkers to keep the rigs on the bottom, put the rods in rod holders, and run the boat while keeping a close
eye on the depthfinder so boat positioning can be maintained over the most productive depth or structure.

Troll over and around shoals, channel edges, rockpiles and other flounder structure. Less boat speed is usually needed with trolling with the current and/or wind. Trolling against the wind and current slows the boat, so more gas will be needed to keep the baits bouncing along the bottom.

Trolling works well even in shallow-water locations like the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal in Delaware and the channels at Wachapreague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Flounder are not spooked by motor noise or by the sight of a boat passing overhead. I’ve seen flounder caught on baits trolled in the prop wash.

Mark the Hot Spot. When a nice flounder is caught, there are probably several others of the same size in that vicinity. Return to the location where it was hooked so the hot spot can be fished thoroughly; there’s no need to keep drifting or trolling
along when you’re already aware of a particular hot spot that may hold several more big flounder.

Someone on board needs to be in charge of immediately entering the location into the GPS when a flounder is hooked. Or, come prepared with a marker buoy or two. Make your own marker buoy out of empty orange or yellow detergent bottles. Rinse out a bottle and securely screw the lid back on. Tie one end of a light rope to the handle on the bottle. Then wrap the rope around the bottle. At the other end of the rope, tie on several heavy sinkers, and store it on your boat.

When a fish is hooked, toss the detergent bottle over. As the sinkers fall toward the bottom, they’ll pull line off the bottle, causing it to spin on the surface. When the bottle stops spinning, the sinkers are on the bottom. The bottle floating on the surface makes it real easy to return to the exact spot where the flounder was hooked so it can be thoroughly fished. Retrieve the buoy when you’re finished so it can be used again at the next hot spot.


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