Flounder on the Reefs

Some of the best flounder early in the fall are on the reeds on southern end of Texas bays.

Reefs are difficult to fish for something that lives on the bottom but they can be fruitful for anglers seeking really big flounder.

Flounder fishing in these shell-studded locales involves a totally different method than in the marshes for example. Oyster reefs have pretty much the same depth throughout, and as such, drifting while fishing a bait on the bottom is the prime way to locate the fish.

Live bait like large mud minnows rigged on a jighead are usually best, but plastics are also good. The Norton Sand Eel and Gulp eel imitations are good options. Keep the jighead moving and never let it drag on the bottom. Keep it hopping or you will spend more time hung up than fishing.

And yes you will get hung up anyway.

Another piece of equipment that is a big help to drifting anglers is a wind or drift sock. These are parachute-like bags that are put into the water and used to slow down your drift, and it can mean the difference between catching fish and not catching fish especially if the current is extra-strong. I have used a homemade drift sock, but again, there are several quality commercial drift socks.

The section of ship channel between a bay system and the Gulf is another great spot for big flounder and is the key spot to target once November arrives.

Targeting these deep-water flatfish requires electronics. There are, after all, no openly visible markers to go by. Underwater, however, there are plenty of signs that point to possible flounder “holds” or areas in which the fish congregate.

The ideal flounder hold is a small spot or shelf on the edge of a steep drop-off. This hold might be a 20-square-foot area in 15 feet of water that borders a 30-foot drop-off. In most situations the 15-foot zone will gradually get shallower as you move toward the bank, but then drop off suddenly into the main channel.

Such shallow-to-deep scenarios provide a specific zone in which flounder can feed on baitfish that might also be attracted to this spot. Furthermore, such an area provides the flatfish a place in which to trade between the deeper main channel and the shallower shoreline.

After locating such a spot, fishing it is the second challenge. Position the boat so the anchor is right on the edge of the hold and you can fish straight up-and-down.

Tackle-wise, I usually recommend a good spinning combo for flounder fishing, but in this situation a stout casting rod and a trout-caliber baitcasting reel spooled to the brim with a “superline” like Berkley Fireline, Fusion, or SpiderWire braid is best.

The terminal rig is simple. It consists of only a 1/2-ounce jig head. On this jig head I use live mullet or mud minnow. There are very few small flounder in these spots, so don’t be afraid to use a big bait.

Once you’ve baited the jig head, simply lower it down over the spot, allow it to sink to the bottom and start jigging it up and down. If the flounder are there they usually hit pretty fast, so if you don’t get a bite within 10 minutes move elsewhere.

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