Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips How to Catch Bigger Flounder
How to Catch Bigger Flounder

Ocean City has much to offer when it comes to fishing, but there is nothing
that locals and vacationers like better than fishing for flounder. Since
the minimum size limit for flounder has increased over the years, anglers
have had to change some of their "flounder catching" tactics. Even though
we do not yet know what the size limit for the next season will be, we
should be prepared to learn the secrets of "catching bigger flounder."

I have learned over the years that the fishing rod is a very important
factor when fishing for larger fish. When bottom fishing with bait you
need a rod that is sensitive, yet strong. You need a rod with a good amount
of backbone to set the hook on these larger flounder. If the rod has too
much "bend" in it, when you try to set the hook, you may only be bending the
rod way over without properly setting the hook! That's OK for greedy little
fish such as croaker and small flounder. But big flounder are wary; they go
after bigger baits and may only mouth the bait at first. You need a good
"hook set" to consistently catch them.

High-quality graphite, graphite-composite or one of the new Star Nickelite
rods in the 6 to 7 foot range is good from a boat. You may want to buy a
longer rod if you are fishing from the shore. Do not go lighter than a rod
rated for 6 to 12 pound test line. An 8 to 15 or 17 pound test is probably
the best. A 12 to 20 pound test rod is fine if you plan to target stripers
as well. The rod can feel light in the hand (which is what graphite and
Nickelite fibers can do for you) and even have a light, fast-tapered tip.
But you want the rod to be strong and not bend much between the butt and the
mid-section. This will help you set the hook with less effort! When
looking at the description of a good quality rod, they will call this "fast
action" or "fast taper."

In the old days of catching lots of smaller flounder, anglers would spool
their reels with 8 to 10 pound test. Now that "larger flounder" are the
prize, anglers are going a little heavier on the pound test and fishing in
the 10 to 15 pound test range. A good quality monofilament is a must when
fishing for flounder. You want a line without a tremendous amount of
stretch or "memory." This will help when "setting the hook." I like Stren
(regular or X-tra Strength) or Trilene (XL or Big Game.) If you bought your
rod and reel in a discount store, the very first thing I would do is strip
the line and put on some good quality monofilament. If your line has been on
your reel for more than two years, change it. If you don't remember when
you last changed your line, it is more than likely that it has been on your
spool too long. Old or bargain basement line is the weak link between you
and that "big flounder."

"What about the "super lines" like Berkley Fire line and Spider wire

If you have a good quality rod and reel it is worth a try. Some anglers
like the line, while others do not. There is no "stretch" in these lines,
so you get a totally different feel. They are wonderful when setting the
hook and for sensitivity. They are not wonderful when you get snagged in
the bottom however. I would try it on one of your better reels and see how
you like it before loading all your reels.

The most important part of fishing for "and catching" larger flounder is
the bait and rigs. First, we'll talk about the rigs. I have noticed that
there was a big switch from two-hook rigs to single, long-leadered rigs when
the minimum size for flounder increased. When using a 30 to 36 inch leader,
anglers found that the sinker stayed further away from the hook, thus not
spooking the flounder. As we've already said, larger flounder are wary.

Anglers make a rig with a 3-way swivel and a snap for the sinker. They
attach a long-leadered hook to one eye of the 3-way swivel, a sinker to the
snap on the second eye of the 3-way swivel, and attach the third eye of the
3-way swivel to a snap swivel at the end of their fishing line. Some
anglers tie a six to eight inch piece of monofilament leader to the eye of
the 3-way swivel instead of using a sinker snap and attach the sinker to it.
This is what we call a "Chesapeake Bay" flounder rig.

Anglers generally use a wide gap or wide bend hook in the #1/0 to #2/0
range. If you tie your own hooks, there are many good quality "laser sharp"
hooks on the market that will increase your chances of catching more
flounder. Gamakatsu, Owner, and Eagle Claw all make these laser sharp
hooks. Sharper hooks help you set the hook with less effort. Some people
also think that the red, gold or black hooks are less visible to the fish
than the nickel colored hooks.

Anglers will often add what we call "jewelry" to their rigs. These are
bucktail on a brass sleeve, spinner blades, plastic squids, beads, and Spin
N' Glows. These all help attract the flounder and sometimes they really
make the difference. The most popular and most consistently effective
"jewelry" items are: the white bucktail on the brass with a little bit of
Mylar mixed in, the chartreuse spinner blade, red beads, and white plastic
squids. When we fish ourselves, we either use a plain hook or a hook with
three red beads and one chartreuse spinner blade. Certain times of year,
pink blades or squids can be very hot. Sometimes white beads with a white
squid and/or white spinner blade is the ticket. You just have to
experiment; be careful not to make the rig so wild that you scare the
flounder away! A color combination that works one day, may not work another

Leader material is another factor when fishing for big flounder. If you
make your own rigs, you should consider using Fluorocarbon leader material.
It is totally invisible in the water and it also makes your rigs lay in the
water more naturally. Use the 20, 25, or 30 pound test. It is slightly
expensive, but a spool will last you half the summer. If you do not use
Fluorocarbon, use a clear monofilament leader material in the same weight.

To order spinner blades and beads or Fluorocarbon leader stop into our shops
or Order Online.

Many anglers find that they like to use a conventional type rod and reel to
fish for flounder. These anglers are usually quite successful. Because the
reel is situated on top of the rod rather than beneath the rod, and because
the angler can keep his or her thumb on the line, the angler can feel the
fish bite immediately and can instantly control the line.
When a big flounder touches the bait the first time, it may only mouth the
bait and then let go. If the current is running strong, this is even more
likely to happen. With a conventional type reel, the angler can quickly put
the reel in free spool and let out more line without getting "slack" or a
"bow" in the line. When you are fishing with a spinning reel, you have to
flip over the bail and there is a short period of time that your line
becomes slack and you can't feel what's going on! With a conventional type
reel you are in control at all times!

After "dropping back" to the flounder, the angler can put the reel in gear
and wait for the heavy feel of the flounder. This is when you want to set
the hook. Set the hook with authority and then start reeling.

When fishing with a conventional type flounder outfit, you may want to try
an egg sinker flounder rig. This is made with the same 30-inch leadered
hook with whatever "jewelry" you would like to add. Instead of using a 3-way
swivel, attach a barrel swivel to the end of the leadered hook. Tie an
eight-inch piece of monofilament leader to the barrel swivel, slide on a 1 ½
to 2-ounce egg sinker, and then attach another barrel swivel to the end of
the eight-inch piece of leader material. Attach this barrel swivel to the
end of your line. Now you have a rig with a sliding egg sinker. This is a
great rig for "dropping back" to big flounder and works especially well with
conventional type tackle. It also helps eliminate "line twist" which is
helpful when fishing with live bait or large dead bait such as finger

The bait is ever so important. In the spring and early summer a plumb live
minnow or frozen shiner hanging on the hook with a strip of squid will work.
As the season turns into late August and early Fall, the angler wants to
"match the hatch" and start using the natural baits that are schooling up in
the local waters. This means learning how to use a cast net and setting up
a "live well" in your boat. Live alewives, finger mullet, large striped
minnows, live spot, and even small live lizard fish will catch you big
flounder when everyone around you is doing nothing. If you can't catch live
bait try filleted lizardfish and fresh or frozen finger mullet.

In the spring, fish the deeper holes at first, and then progress to the
upper areas of the bays. Try fishing as far north as the Rt. 90 Bridge
and as far south as buoy #13 in the bay behind Assateague. . Later in the
season fish the deeper holes such as the main channel near the draw of the
Rt. 50 Bridge, the inlet, the Thorofare, and the deep hole off 32nd Street.
Fish with one eye on your depth finder and fish the slopes, drop-offs, and
changes of bottom depth.

Always fish two or three hours before and after high tide in the heat of
the summer. But in the spring and fall you can also fish either side of low
tide as well.

The best advice to catching larger flounder is to read the "Coastal
Fisherman" every week and see "where" the big flounder are biting and on

Good fishing..

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 18:20