[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat a difference a letter makes. I called a friend recently to ask if he wanted to go winter floundering with me. Apparently, phone reception was weak, as he replied “Winter FOUNDERING? What’s that…getting sucked into primordial creek mud on the way to one of your ridiculous wading spots? I’ll pass.”
Too bad for my buddy. He missed my meaning, and a chance at flounder that stretch past the fun side of 20 inches. Once southern flounder get to that size, they can test light tackle and heart conditions, showing off with zinging bursts that compare to upper slot redfish runs. On the way to Apalachee Bay to try a new flounder technique, I both witnessed and recalled more instances whereby one missing letter yielded profound changes. Near Tallahassee, a neon Walgreens Pharmacy sign was just one letter short of full function. But would you purchase your meds at a “HARMACY?” I saw worse one evening in Panama City, where a Black Angus Restaurant sign featured an unlit “G.” They are no longer in business.
Similarly, in fishing, a subtle change in presentation can make a ton of difference in outcome. Like many who mostly target inshore redfish and seatrout, I pick up the occasional flounder as bycatch, and view them as a pleasant and tasty bonus. The few times I actually targeted flatties, I’d dutifully trade out my suspending or topwater rigs for weightier terminal tackle. After all, you find flounder on the bottom, yes? Well, yes and no.
Specifically, in water over four feet deep with a brisk current, a weighted hook or lure must be employed to keep your offering from zipping right past those stationary predators. However, great schools of flounder roost throughout the shallows of Stoney Bayou, Big Lagoon, and other nearby inshore waterways, and many of the biggest ones stay hunkered down in one to three feet of water. And guess what? Flounder may be glued to the bottom, but their goofy eyes face upwards, and the doormat-sized specimens are not shy about erupting up from their hiding spots to ambush prey a foot or more above them. I remember watching a video of a strike from a beastly flounder. The assault was snake-like, propelling the attacker upward. Impressive. Obviously, a bait need not be stuck to the bottom to get a big flattie’s attention.
Also, outsized flounder can be comfy setting up for their meals in less than a foot of water. Exploring the edge of a channel at low tide in Stoney Bayou last month, I spooked three bigguns while shufling in calf-deep water. I returned the next day with a tandem so bait rig (an unweighted jerkbait riding 8-10 inches above a partner on a 1/16 oz jig head). Instead of casting into the channel’s trough (which drew blanks the day before), I sent my throws parallel to shore, keeping the lures in shallow water. Quietly walking the length of the channel shallows yielded a half dozen flounder…all of which struck the unweighted fake. Lesson: sometimes the difference between foundering and success comes from not thinking too deeply.