CERTAIN LIMITATIONS exist for anyone fishing without a boat.
This does not however mean bank anglers cannot have consistent, productive fishing action whether they wade in or fish from a pier, especially when you are talking about flounder fishing.
The majority of flounder fishing from the coast is done from the bank due to the fish’s habit of staying near shorelines and this month we bring you some off the wall tips for catching them from land.
Tides: Paying special attention to water levels and movement is crucial for anglers fishing from the bank. By virtue of fishing from shore, you are fishing across the very shallowest areas and that can be a problem.
Coastal anglers should pay special attention to tide charts and focus on the last half of an incoming tide through the first couple of hours of a falling tide. Tidal movement is essential in getting flounder to bite and in my opinion the incoming tide is always best.
Bank Friendly Line: This one might seem so important, but it can save you lots of time and frustration in the field.
Avoid using fluorocarbon and braided lines that sink while fishing from the bank. Shorelines are typically lined with vegetation, trash and other obstacles and if you are making long casts and using a sinking lure or fishing dead bait on the bottom, a fluorocarbon or other sinking line will get you snagged all over the place.
Most braided line floats (there are exceptions) and it also gives you a strength advantage. With flounder hookset is key with their extremely bony mouth and braid can help get the job done. Just make sure it does not sink.
Ground Baiting: While chasing flounder from the bank is not an option, you can make them chase you. Chumming is an underrated method of luring in flounder and it works-bit time.
While fishing for Wels catfish in Europe, I learned about “ground baiting” where anglers use soured grain and prepared chum from the bank. They use slingshots to shoot it far into the water and also use a plastid device that rests above their leader. I have not seen these for sale in America but know of a homemade remedy.
If you can find an old 35 mm film canister or one of the soft sided plastic aspirin bottles, remove the labels and poke holes all over it. Strategically poke aligning holes in the top and bottom. Using a Carolina rig, slide the rig above your weight and leader. Open the lid, fill with fish oil or shrimp and cast.
Stay Off The Bottom: In northern states, floats are considered precision bait and lure delivering instruments. In Texas we often look at them as child’s play, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Using floats while fishing from the bank gives you some wonderful advantages. For starters if you have a good idea of the depth you will be casting toward it will allow you to fish above any cover or on the bottom that can get you snagged.
Some anglers shy away from floats for flounder due to the fact they are a bottom fish, but I have caught many on floats. Figure out your depth and allow the float to keep you just far enough from the bottom to avoid getting snagged and close enough to entice a flounder bite.
LIFE STORY OF THE FLOUNDER
THE SOUTHERN FLOUNDER is wonderfully adapted for its way of life. Both eyes in adults are on the “up” side of the head and the pigmentation of the upper side of the body can be varied to match the surrounding environment. A small body cavity and the absence of air bladder aid the flounder in maintaining its position on the bottom.
Adult southern flounder leave the bays during the fall for spawning in the Gulf of Mexico. They spawn for the first time when two years old at depths of 50 to 100 feet. The eggs are buoyant. After hatching, the larval fish swim in an upright position and the eyes are located on opposite sides of the head. As the young fish grows, the right eye begins to “migrate” to the left side of the head. When body length of about one-half inch has been attained, the eye migration is complete and the fish assumes its left-side-up position for life.
The young fish enter the bays during late winter and early spring. At this time they are about one-half inch in length and seek shallow grassy areas near the Gulf passes. As growth continues, some will move farther into bays. Some will enter coastal rivers and bayous. Juvenile flounder feed mainly on crustaceans, but as they grow fish become more important in their diet. Adult flounder enter shallow water at night where they lie, often partially buried, and wait for prey. Empty depressions where flounder have lain are called “beds.”
Although most of the adults leave the bays and enter the Gulf for spawning during the winter, some remain behind and spend winter in the bays. Those in the Gulf will reenter the bays in the spring. The spring influx is gradual and does not occur with large concentrations that characterize the fall emigration.
—story by CHESTER MOORE