The Case of the Surface Feeding Flounder
Through a vast of amount of fieldwork and the blessing of being in the right place at the right time I am on the edge of unlocking a mystery. It involves the rarely noticed but I believe fairly common occurrence of flounder feeding in the middle and upper reaches of the water column in very specific habitat types.
Look for locations where you have a steep drop from a shallow flat off into deeper water. Watch very closely on high tides for menhaden (shad) lined along the shoreline (or shrimp) and watch for any signs of fish feeding. We often pass this kind of bait along the shores but if you look closely you may see flounder smacking the top of the water or even totally breaching.
Here’s the gear I am using
#7’6 Abu Garcia Veritas spinning rod
#Penn Battle Spinning Reel
#Spiderwire Stealth Moss Green Braid line (30-pound)
#40-pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader (2.5 feet long)
#4-inch Gulp! Swimming Mullet
#Paradise Popper X-Treme popping cork from Bomber Saltwater Grade
Position yourself so that you can throw parallel to the shoreline. Start making casts a few feet off the shore and then start working it out toward the drop-off. I am giving the cork a couple of good pops and then letting it sit 5-10 seconds.
This popping cork makes a very specific sound that very closely mimics a fish smacking the surface. (In fact is a dead ringer for a trout’s strike.) It has a titanium shaft, which allows it to stand up to lots of punishment, and it is weighed for long casts. In fact, the long casts are a very important part of this.
Upon first discovering this phenomenon I watched my late father catch a 20 plus incher when he saw the beast come up and strike at shad 45 yards out. He threw right on top of the fish and got a reaction strike.
I normally go with light corks for flounder for the few instance I use them but this is NOT the typical situation.
These fish are feeding in a very aggressive fashion and are responding to different stimuli than most of the flounder we catch. I have my theories about what is going on but I am not ready to publish them yet as I need to spend more time on the water testing this out and also do some observations of captive fish in different situations.
Some of these flounder are taking the cork under immediately but others slowly pull it under. If you get what seems like a crab pulling it under, feed it some line and if it starts swimming away you know you have flounder. Knowing when to set the hook can be challenging but I recommend waiting until you feel the weight of the fish or the float stays under for a while.
This tactic works when the shad start schooling together along deeper shorelines and should be viable beginning any time. Keep the right gear with you and when you see the above described conditions, break out the popping cork and start catching some flounder.
Email Chester Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org