Capt. Paul Marcaccio (www.gofishgalveston.com) says if you can successfully catch flounder on hook and line, you have bragging rights and should consider yourself an expert. Setting the hook in the mouth of a flatfish boils down to two items—concentration and experience.
“Flounder have no swim bladders,” says Marcaccio. “This simply means the fish goes through life swimming or lying on the bottom. They are unable to suspend themselves motionless at any depth. Furthermore, it doesn’t have the fin structure nor body shape for fast swimming. It tends to move in short darts that appear to be fast, because when flounder move they raise a lot of silt off the bottom. The fish normally feed from ambush, lying partially hidden on the bottom until food matter moves or drifts close by. The fish quickly rises off the bottom, grabs the food and sinks right back to the bottom.”
Most fish tend to engulf the bait. Flounder instead hold it tightly with its teeth for a few seconds before ingesting. Some marine biologist says the fish does this to kill the bait before taking it deep into its mouth. If you try to set the hook the instant you feel a pick-up odds are excellent you’ll tear the hook out of the bait and give the flounder a free meal. Instead, wait 10 seconds before striking or setting the hook. Marcaccio prefers to palm his reel letting the line run lightly between his thumb and forefinger.
“You would be surprised at what the flounder telegraphs up the taunt line. You can feel the fish working the bait, and you can feel when the fish takes the bait deep into its mouth. That’s the moment of truth to strike and set the hook.”
Fish every foot of the bottom within casting range. Marcaccio says when you feel the line taunt, treat it as if a flounder has grabbed the bait and not as if the hook fouled a snag. Wait 10 seconds before setting the hook.
There are a number of good bottom terminal rigs for flounder. Marcaccio prefers a slip sinker attached to the line followed by a swivel, then 18 to 24 inches of leader line (20 to 30 lbs.) followed by a wide gap (circle hook) either #2 or #3. The best bait is either live mud minnows or finger mullet.
This tackle can be modified to be used with a float in wading depth. Rig the float to hold the bait just a few inches above the bottom. Cast up current and allow the current to carry along the float so a lot of bottom can be covered. When a flounder takes the bait, the float will stop moving and simply lean over in the current. Again, wait 10 seconds, and then set the hook.
The most effective artificial lure is any soft plastic bait. He prefers Bass Assassin shrimp tails or shad tails. Use either 1/8 to 1/4 oz. lead head. “I prefer the Norton lazer screw on hooks or the new Bass Assassin screw on as well. Work the bait right on the bottom with your yo-yo effect on lifting and dropping the rod tip.