Flounder, fluke, doormats… We all have different names for them depending on which region of the country you live in. Either way, we all know that they are a fun, hard fighting, and tasty gamefish that can be targeted in many different scenarios.
In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about how to catch and target flounder (fluke). To better understand these fish, we will start by going into the biological makeup of what a flounder (fluke) is.
After diving into the details of flounder, we will do a deep dive into the areas that they can be found in, and how to target them using live, cut, and artificial baits.
The goal of this article is to make you a better flounder (fluke) fisherman, to increase your success rate the next time that you hit the water in search of flounder (fluke), and ultimately show you how to catch more flounder (fluke).
Luckily, we have done the research and spoken to the experts to help you get the job done. Many people across the country take fishing for flounder very seriously, and it can take years of time spent on the water to get dialed in as a flounder fisherman. We’re hoping to save you some time and trouble, and teach you some things that you might not have known about how to catch flounder and flounder fishing in general.
What Is a Flounder?
Any good angler knows that before learning how to catch flounder, or any species of fish, it is important to understand the fish at a biological level. This will give us key information about the fish’s behavior, where it will be found, and how it will react to certain baits.
When it comes to flounder, it is important to remember that they are bottom dwelling fish, with a highly predatory nature. Flounder tend to hide in sand or mud with just their eyes barely visible, and will change their color to match the environment that they are in making flounder an extremely difficult fish to sight.
Flounder (fluke) are opportunistic feeders, meaning that they are quick to capitalize on any bait or scraps that they see as appetizing. While the eyes of the flounder are small, they are the primary basis that the fish has for finding food. Flounder (fluke) tend to have different appetites depending on the region in which they call home.
In general, a flounder’s diet consists of shrimp, crabs, smaller flounder (fluke), and bait fish such as sardines, shad, mullet, and mud minnows. In the United States, flounder (fluke) can be caught as far north as Maine, all the way down to Southern Florida and as far west as Texas. Now that you know a little more about flounder (fluke), it's time to teach you how to target and catch more flounder.
Targeting Flounder (Fluke): The Basics
When setting out to target and catch flounder it is important that you consider key factors including tide, weather, water temperature, and location.
The first thing to keep in mind is that a feeding flounder (fluke) needs strategic points with good current to feed on prey. Flounder (fluke) tend to hide out on the bottom, rocks, or other structure, and blend into their surroundings. Moving water is critical for flounder (fluke) because it will drive bait fish, shrimp, and crabs, directly over top of the fish and into their strike zone.
Areas with good tide movement such as jetties, creeks, and channels are a great place to start when targeting flounder (fluke). When you have found a spot with good moving water, one thing to remember is that flounder (fluke) will not hold in the fastest part of the current, rather they like to sit near breaks in the current where they can lay comfortably.
The next thing to look at is the weather as this could have a direct effect on the location of the fish, the current or tide, and the location of bait. Water temperature can be very important when targeting flounder (fluke). In general water temperatures below 58 degrees will cause flounder to migrate offshore near wrecks and rock piles. Water temperatures above 60 degrees can be a green light to target flounder inshore.
As we’ve already touched on, location is critical when targeting flounder (fluke). It is important to find a location with a combination of structure, current, and good mud or sandy bottom. Another thing to remember when it comes to fishing for flounder is that once you catch one, make sure to stick around, as flounder tend to travel and hold in groups. Next, we are going to talk about how to catch flounder on artificial lures.
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How to Catch Flounder (Fluke) with Artificial Lures
Artificial lures are extremely popular amongst the best of flounder (fluke) fishermen, and for good reason, as they are extremely efficient and keep the pesky bait stealers to a minimum. When selecting an arsenal of artificial lures to bring flounder (fluke) fishing, it is important to keep a variety of baits, in order to adapt to fishing conditions. Buck tail jigs, spoons, and curly tail grubs are a must when preparing to target flounder (fluke) with artificial lures.
Some of the best artificial baits to target flounder (fluke) are those that are scented, probably the most popular in this category is the Gulp shrimp, however other scented paddle tails, or jerk baits can work great as well. A good rig to start with is a jig head, or weighted weed-less hook, accompanied with a long leader of 20-30 pound fluorocarbon leader.
We highly recommend checking out our Infinity 100% Fluorocarbon Leader for your leader choice while targeting flounder. Many anglers that target flounder (fluke) believe and preach that a slow and steady presentation, dragged or hopped along the bottom is the most effective retrieval for this type of rig.
Many who have fished for flounder (fluke) know that they have a tendency to spit the hook at the boat. To avoid this, reel slowly and keep the line tight after you feel the bite, wait about 5 to 10 seconds and then set the hook. Flounder (fluke) tend to chomp on their prey and return to it to finish it off, and keeping a tight line and being patient will ensure a proper hook set and put an end to those heartbreaking moments.
Next, we will teach you about how to catch flounder (fluke) with live bait.
How to Catch Flounder (Fluke) with Live Bait
Using live bait is essential for many flounder (fluke) fishermen around the country, and can be extremely effective for picky flounder (fluke). Shrimp, crabs, smaller flounder, sardines, shad, mullet, and mud minnows can all be great options for live bait.
One of the most popular live bait rigs for flounder is what many anglers around the country call a Carolina rig. Choose a weight between 1/8-ounce and 1 ounce depending on depth and current you are fishing in and slide it onto the main line. From there, tie on a swivel and attach a leader between 2 and 4 feet in length, and then add on a small circle hook.
Free lining baits or using a float can also be an effective tactic when fishing in areas with good current and actively feeding fish. When fishing with live shrimp, a 1/4 ounce jig head at the end of a 2-3 foot fluorocarbon leader is a great rig to start with. Next, we will be talking about how to catch flounder (fluke) with cut bait.
How to Catch Flounder (Fluke) with Cut Bait
Many serious flounder (fluke) anglers consider cut bait to be a must-have item when targeting flatties. Flounder (fluke) anglers like to use cut baits because of the amount of scent that cut baits put off. Cut bait is also typically easy to acquire year round and can used fresh or frozen.
Cut mullet, herring, and sardines can be very effective depending on what region you live in. Cut baits in general should be about 3 to 6 inches in length and can be rigged using a knocker or Carolina rig with weight selection depending on the depth of water and the current in the area that you choose to target them.
Many anglers will start by fishing with one cut bait, and one live or artificial bait and adjust their rigs according to what is getting the most attention from the flounder (fluke).
Next, we will talk about how to catch flounder (fluke) around structure.
How to Target & Catch Flounder (Fluke) Around Structure
As we’ve mentioned, docks, piers, rocks and pilings are all key areas where flounder (fluke) like to lay and ambush prey. They can hold multiple fish and provide safety from predators such as dolphins, sharks, and larger fish.
When fishing for flounder (fluke) around structure, it is always a good idea to use slightly heavier tackle. This includes bumping up fluorocarbon leader size and potentially using heavier rods and reels to keep them from rubbing against structure and potentially breaking lines.
Once a flounder (fluke) has found your bait it is most likely not going to leave it alone until he has eaten it. One trick used by many great flounder (fluke) anglers is to start gently reeling once you feel the first bite, this way you can get the flounder (fluke) to come out of the structure before setting the hook.
The next thing to look for when targeting flounder (fluke) around structure is breaks or eddies in the current. Flounder will sit down current behind structure in order to conserve energy and ambush prey, so it is critical to be casting in these current breaks around structure. The right mix of current, structure, and bottom composition will result in increased success the next time you go fishing for flounder (fluke). Next, we will teach you about how to catch flounder (fluke) on the flats.
How to Target & Catch Flounder (Fluke) On the Flats
Many anglers target flounder (fluke) on the flats, and it can be very productive with the right conditions. Some of the things to look for when targeting flounder (fluke) on the flats are potholes, transitions on the bottom, and flounder (fluke) tracks.
One piece of advice whether you own a boat or not, is to try to get out and wade these areas when you can. Having a direct connection to the bottom will help to get a better feel of what kind of composition the bottom is made up of and help point out slight drop-offs and changes.
Potholes are key ambush points for flounder (fluke), and can be found on flats across the country. Wearing a good pair of polarized sunglasses is crucial to cut through the glare in the water and find these potholes. When looking for potholes, look for lighter color changes on the bottom, and cast across them, making a slow and steady presentation. Transitions on flats include several scenarios, for instance, a simple change of bottom composition from mud to sand can be a great area for flounder (fluke) to lay, as these areas tend to attract baitfish and other prey items.
Another example of transitions on the bottom include inshore ledges, a small 6 inch drop off in the bottom can be a great area to find flounder. Finally, be sure to look out for flounder (fluke) tracks, on low tides you may notice imprints in the bottom that are circular shaped, these are areas where flounder (fluke) have buried themselves and since moved from the location because of the falling water level. It is key to remember where you see these tracks and cast in the area on a higher tide. Next, we will give you some tips from the pros on how to catch flounder (fluke).
Flounder Pounders: Tips From the Pros
Captain Jeremiah Joost-Miller, of Amelia Fishing Adventures is one of the top inshore guides around Amelia Island and Northeast Florida, and we can attest that he knows a thing or two about how to catch flounder (fluke).
Capt. Jeremiah says that the flounder (fluke) really start to get thick around the 2nd week of April in his area and that he likes to target points on the shoreline with good current as well as structure such as rocks and docks. Particularly, he has had great success around older looking docks with plenty of growth on them which attracts baitfish.
His go-to flounder (fluke) rig is a long leader with a free sliding bullet weight tied to a wide gap finesse hook. He mentioned that he adjusts his rigs if he is not reaching the bottom or if he finds himself getting hung up on rocks or the bottom. Jeremiah mentioned that the key is to find the sweet spot in finding the jig head or weight that is just heavy enough to get to the bottom, but still light enough to feel the slightest bite.
For bait he uses mud minnows, live shrimp, or even small pieces of shrimp. When fishing with artificial luress Jeremiah says that the go-to in his area is a 3” white gulp shrimp. Using these baits, he is catching multiple fish in the 12-14” range with some bigger 16-20” fish mixed in and the occasional monster.
Finally, when fishing around docks, Jeremiah likes to try both the inside pilings and the outside pilings which tend to have a drop-off and once he catches one fish he knows that there are more down there.
We’ve covered everything you need to know before you go out and target that trophy flounder. Our goal at Florida Fishing Products has always been to help you catch more fish and make the best use of your time out on the water.
Hopefully this article will help you learn how to catch more flounder and more importantly impress your buddies with the huge doormats you'll soon be catching. Be sure to send us over a photo too!
For further information, we always recommend that you ask your local tackle shop or captains for more specific tactics for how to catch flounder (fluke) in your area.