Evening “Flatboys”


By: Capt. Lawren McCaghren

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or most of October we will see high tides during evening and early morning hours. The best conditions for shore diving in our area are found at high tide.

Low to no current in the passes and the clearer gulf waters are pushed in close, improving visibility. Add to this formula, a nighttime high tide and you have the perfect conditions for spearing flounder at night.

Swimming in the gulf at night brings visions of monsters and sea serpents to the minds of the uninitiated. It reminds me of walking out of the woods after an afternoon hunt as a kid. Every little twig snap had me gasping my last breath before a mountain lion ravaged me. After a few stressful hikes, common sense prevailed over imagination and I realized how loud a squirrel could be in the woods. A new night diver wrestles with the same imaginings until they can relax, let their common sense kick in and start hunting for the faint outline of the fall flounder.

Flounder are beginning their fall migration to deeper water this time of year. It isn’t uncommon to hit the water at our preferred night dive sites and see flounder carpeting the bottom. We have to move slowly and deliberately when they are this plentiful because every time you spear one, you will spook three. If you see a flounder 6 feet way and swim quickly to him, it is likely that you’ve looked over the bigger one lying in wait directly under you.

Instead of wading in knee-deep water and squinting for the outline of these ambush predators, we drift along the bottom with powerful dive lights. The southern flounder is a master of camouflage, but our bright LED dive lights will make their outline standout against the bottom. We use a pole spear instead of a speargun. It is similar to a gig pole, but relies on a rubber band for power instead of arm strength.

Many flounder hunters use only mask, snorkel, fins, light and pole spear to stack ‘em up. Slipping along the beach in the surf zone, they can efficiently cover a lot a ground from the shallows down to about 5-6’ deep. This depth is out of the range of the waders. Still others don full scuba gear and scour the deeper depths for these nocturnal predators.

During daylight hours, a flounder stays mostly buried in the sand. But at night, they sit on top of the sand waiting for a shrimp or bull minnow to swim along, then attacking from underneath. Even if his main target species is scamp and gag grouper, a wary hunter is always scanning the sand around the site for his limit of “flat boys.”

With a minimal investment in a set of snorkeling gear, good underwater light and pole spear, you too can arrive late for work telling co-workers stories of adventures chasing flounder in the surf zone, at night! Call Gulf Coast Divers at (251) 342-2970 and ask about dive training and spearfishing.

Call Gulf Coast Divers at (251) 342-2970 and ask about dive training, spearfishing and underwater videography. Training can be completed in a couple weeks and you can be geared up and ready sooner than you think. Then you can grab your Sealife camera and be uploading You Tube videos after your first trip.