Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Catching Keeper Flounder Offshore the coast of Ocean City, MD
Catching Keeper Flounder Offshore the coast of Ocean City, MD
Drifting Easy Article by Sue Foster
Catching Keeper Flounder Offshore the coast of Ocean City, MD

Anglers ask how to catch keeper flounder all the time. Well, this time of year, now until sometime into November, you can go offshore and have a good chance to catch one. Buy a ticket on one of the party boats, preferably the full day boats to get you out there far enough to get to the offshore wrecks and reef sites where the larger flounder are hiding. A full day boat also gives you more time to fish, which helps when you are first learning the art of catching flounder offshore.

If you have your own boat, buy an Ocean City Reef Foundation Chart and drift around any of the reef sites with your favorite flounder baits and rigs that you use in the bay. The only difference is that the water is deeper and you will need more sinker weight, usually in the 3 to 5-ounce range. Since you are fishing in deeper water, you want your rig tied with at least 40-pound test leader so it doesn’t tangle when you pull it up. I like the Aqua-Clear Tangle-less flounder brand of rigs when fishing out of our own boat. On a party boat, I try to use their basic high/low set up and dress it up a bit.

“What is it that they use?”

Basically, a 40-pound test leader is tied on to the line with a uni-knot. Most people use Power Pro or some other brand of braided line so you can feel the fish better. If you can’t tie that knot use a black barrel swivel. Make the leader several feet long and tie two dropper loops for the hooks and a dropper loop at the bottom for the sinker. I make the bottom dropper loop longer, maybe 6 or 8 inches. To this loop you can slip on a bucktail skirt on the brass with Mylar, preferably in some sort of white or chartreuse color and then slip on a 3/0 to 4/0 Kayle styled hook. Some people like to use Gulp as well as real bait. I like to slide the 4-inch chartreuse Gulp Swimming Mullet up on the line just past the hole in the hook. That way it dangles above the bait without obstructing the hook. Add a strip of cut bait such as flounder, bluefish, spot, croaker or sea robin belly. (in other words, any kind of fresh bait you can come up with.) I also like to add a couple shiners on the large hook and let them dangle next to the strip bait. Some people simply like to use a strip of marinated squid.

“What to do with the top hook?”

Well, you can clam it up and fish for sea bass, or you can dress it up like the bottom hook and fish for strictly flounder. You can also use a single hook and fish for only flounder. (A single hook is easier to cast on a party boat.)

The trick to flounder fishing verses sea bass fishing is that for sea bass fishing you want to keep your line very still. In fact, when sea bass are biting funny, you want to fish with slack. For flounder, you want to twitch your rod up and down a little, then let it sit for a minute, then twitch it again. Twitch, twitch, twitch, stop…. twitch, twitch, twitch, stop. Fishing with a slightly lighter rod than you would for sea bass also helps a lot. So does using Power Pro braided line!
When you feel a bite, let the flounder take it for a minute, then WHAM! Set the hook. It’s a lot of fun and more finesse than sea bass fishing. Some people cast out from the boat, then slowly twitch it back in towards you. Just watch out for snags in the wrecks.

If you are on your own boat, you can drift along. If you are drifting fast, be sure to let out line to the flounder when you get a bite. Then set the hook. You can also take out live peanut bunker in a live well or small live finger mullet. These would be an almost “guarantee” for keeper flounder on a pretty day.

Some anglers use a bucktail in the 2 to 4-ounce range such as the Spro bucktail. These have very sharp hooks and make an easy, quick flounder rig. Simply tie some fluorocarbon leader in the 30 to 40 pound test range into your Spectra Line. Slap on a big slab of cut bait or Gulp! (and both) and cast it up-current and let it bounce back with the ocean current. You can catch a big sea bass this way as well.

“Can’t I use the long leadered flounder rigs like I use in the bay?”

The boats in the Delaware Bay are notorious for catching flounder and Capt. Rick Yakimowicz explains a good method in one of his reports: “Jigging continues to be our best method for catching these structured bottom fish on a daily basis; the traditional long leaders will score some fish but these flounder are definitely jumping up after the jigging rigs and somewhat staying clear of the long leader fluke killers just being dragged through the rocks.”

Yes, when you are fishing around wrecks, rocks and obstructions flounder fishing can be slightly different. Jigging and twitching seems to be a must. Shorter leaders with lots of dressings such as bucktail skirts, Gulp, and bead seem to be helpful when you are around structure. But if you are out there in your own boat, just drifting around on the outskirts of the wrecks, long leaders are fine.

Don’t be afraid to use a big bait offshore. Long strip baits, 4 to 6 inches long, will catch the big ones. Gulp! baits, six and eight inches long are not uncommon baits. There’s 5 to 9 pounders lurking around out there, and one of them could be in your cooler!

Good fishing…

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 10:19