Palmetto – Oct 16 – How about the Doormat

How about that Doormat

With cooler weather slowly creeping up on us, the fatter fish will slowly be working their way onto our lines. One of my favorite fall fish is the flounder. Southern flounder are prominent in waters running from North Carolina down through the Gulf of Mexico. Flounder are a flat fish that use their unique bodies and color-changing abilities to adapt to their surroundings and then lie in wait for their prey. These flat fish spend their lives lying and swimming on their sides blending in with their surroundings. A unique aspect of a flounder is its eyes. A flounder begins its life with eyes located on both sides. Over time, as the flounder ages and grows in size, the eyes begin to migrate to one side of the body. Thus, adult flounder have both of their eyes on the upper side of their bodies, allowing the fish to swim sideways and adapt to their surroundings when needed.

The southern flounder can be found along shallow creek mouths and flats where mixed sand and marsh grass or shell bank is prominent. Areas where grass, oysters or other obstructions lie on the bottom offer a good camouflaged arena for these fish to lie in wait for their prey.

Gigging is a growing way to find and take flounder. When gigging, either in a boat or wading flats, always make sure to have a gig and a decent light for spotting the fish. Jerry’s LED lights are great for finding fish lying on the bottom and sometimes even finding old tracks from where the fish was lying. A Sea Striker 5-prong 3/8 inch gig head on an 8- or 9-foot pole is my personal preference. When gigging and a fish is spotted, take everything slow and easy. Putting the gig close to the fish, right behind the eyes, and then proceeding to push down on the fish will more often than not result in getting a good fish on the gig and a good fish in your bag.

Fishing is another fun way to catch this amazing fish. I enjoy fishing for flounder using light tackle which leads to a better fight and a greater chance of landing the fish. Typically, between 10- and 15-pound braided line with an 8- to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader works best. Finding a good shell bank on the incoming tide and drifting with the current is one effective way to produce some good flounder. When taking the artificial route, Gulp! chartreuse swimming mullet or Zman golden boy paddlerz on a 1/8-ounce trout eye jig head are both very productive. Cast the jig head and grub combination and slowly swim it just off the bottom. By using this method, you may also catch either a redfish or a trout in the process. If you prefer live or frozen bait, shrimp or mullet would be the preferred bait of choice. A basic Carolina rig with a 1-ounce egg sinker and an Owner 1/0 live bait hook is a popular rig for drifting with the current, trolling or just relaxing in one spot.

When fishing a spot with less broken bottom and more sand, a different rig and technique can be used to catch a southern flounder. By sliding a 1- to 2-ounce no roll sinker onto your line, you can retrieve your bait more slowly while still letting it settle into the bottom with a greater chance of a strike. Using a mud minnow or finger mullet, cast to the area you wish to fish. Allow the no roll to sink and settle on the bottom, and every few minutes slowly raise the sinker and reel. The rising and falling of the bait will allow the minnow or mullet to be placed directly in the flounder’s face, increasing the chances of an attack and a greater chance for a hook up.

The fall migration offshore of these southern flounder means the cooler weather will bring fatter fish out of hiding and into striking distance. Make sure to go catch or gig a doormat before they move off and then we have to lie and wait for a few months for our prey to come back.

Come check out the fishing departments at the Palmetto State Armory locations in Mount Pleasant and Summerville. We will be glad to help with all your flounder and other fishing needs!

Courtney Downing

Palmetto State Armory

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