Duck Season! Rabbit Season! Duck Season! No, it’s Flounder Season! Yes, It’s Here! Flounder Season runs August 16th through September 30, 2020 for recreational fishermen in North Carolina. On our Facebook Group Page, Surf Fishing North Carolina, you can tell there is a lot of pent up desire to catch and keep flounder. It’s a highly popular game fish in North Carolina. Flounder fishing is an active form of fishing. Fun to catch and good to eat. If you seriously want flounder, you don’t just cast your bait, set your pole in a sand spike and wait. The surf fisherman seeking flounder, hunts his quarry. Walking the beach, reading the surf, pole in hand, casting his rig into water, working it just right to entice a bite. If their fishing skills are up to the job and there’s a little luck as well; then fresh caught flounder served up for dinner can be the reward. During this flounder season, a surf fisherman in North Carolina can keep any flounder 15 inches long or longer and the creel limit for that angler is four fish per day.
When surf fishing for small game like whiting or spot or even fishing for something larger like a Red Drum, you might accidentally catch a flounder every once in awhile, however if you want flounder in your cooler, it is best to target the fish with proven flounder fishing techniques.
To start, light saltwater baitcasting or spinning equipment is best for flounder fishing – with the possible exception of flounder fishing around jetties or similar structures – for that go with a heavier action combo. The fish is thought of as an ambush hunter. Laying in wait, camouflaged and surprising their prey as it swims overhead. That is true, however don’t discount their ability to get up and chase game. They can and will chase down a moving artificial lure as well as a piece of soaking bait rolling in the surf by their ambush spot. Tying flounder rigs is not too difficult and a lot of times I’ll make one on the spot if the notion to flounder fish strikes me. When I buy factory made rigs, I tend to go with the Sea Striker Flounder Rigs (Sea Striker are the same guys that make the ubiquitous GOT-CHA Plug), to me it’s mostly about a quality rig at a low cost. A quick glance in my tackle box and I saw that I had two Sea Striker F1-Red Flounder Rigs and one of the Sea Striker F4-34 with the chartreuse spinner.
Flounder are primarily fish eaters – yes they will take the occassional bloodworm, shrimp or crab, however their teeth are made for grabbing Finger Mullet and other small bait fish. Fresh Finger mullet is my bait of choice, if that’s not available – I will purchase some popeye mullet at the tackle shop. The white, belly section of the popeye mullet, cut into irregular strips makes for a fine enhancer to a jig or spoon. There’s a lot of commercially made flounder rigs to choose from, it seems to me most are some form or another of the “Sneaky Pete Rig”. Basically a rig with a rounded weight to the front, followed by a length of line dressed up with a small spinner, some beads and ending in one or two hooks. I like to modify store bought rigs with a trailer hook snelled to the main hook if only one hook is on the rig.
Fishing for flounder is really just a matter of casting out your lure and/or bait to just inside first offshore break, sweep the the rig forward with your rod tip and reel up the slack. Repeat this action through the slough keeping the rig close to the bottom. There’s a lot of anglers that like to cast their rig and just let their bait drift. This is a good technique as well and can cover a lot of water if the current is strong enough to move your rig along. When the flounder takes the bait, it will feel a lot like you’ve hit a snag on the bottom. Resist the urge to set the hook. Slack up just a little and then go back to slowly and steadily reeling your line. After a few seconds of this, go ahead and set the hook.
Flounder populations have declined for the past several years. Hopefully with careful management, North Carolina’s stocks will revive and the restrictions we are experiencing now will be relaxed in the future.