Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips How to Catch Larger Flounder in Ocean City, MD
How to Catch Larger Flounder in Ocean City, MD

“All I’m catching is small flounder. I want to catch some larger ones!”

“Bigger bait, bigger fish” is an old adage that often rings true. Of course, sometimes all bigger bait will catch you is more small flounder, but it will certainly increase your odds!

Fish the tide. Fish the last two hours of the incoming and the first hour of the outgoing. It does seem that the bigger flounder will bite best right as the tide is slacking, but still moving just a little. Either the last of the incoming tide or the beginning of the outgoing tide is when anglers often hook the doormats. When the tide is running harder, lots of smaller throwback flounder are biting. Find deep holes that are impossible to fish when the tide is running hard. Big flounder are often lying in wait there.

OK, let’s talk about bait. The traditional flounder bait is live minnows or frozen shiners. Always take them so you will always have bait. Buy more minnows than you need so you can pick out the largest, liveliest minnows. If you use frozen shiners, don’t put just one on the hook, put two or three. Hook them through the eyes. Combine your minnow or shiner bait with a strip of squid, legal flounder belly or a Gulp! Swimming Mullet to make a larger bait.

Try using a bucktail jig such as a Spro bucktail, in the one to two-ounce range, and hook a nice strip of fresh bait or a five or six-inch Gulp! bait. Let the jig go to the bottom and jig it up and down. Then let it sit and jig it some more.

“What kind of fresh bait should I use?”

I use whatever I catch to make fresh bait strips. A legal snapper bluefish, croaker or flounder is great. Always keep the carcass if there is a size and creel limit for the fish that you strip for bait. It will keep you out of trouble if you get boarded by the DNR Police. Spot that is too large to fish whole makes a wonderful strip bait and is one of my favorites. Everyone is complaining this summer that the spot are running too large to make good live baits for flounder! Well, scale and fillet them into nice long strips and let them dangle off your hooks or jigs! Perfect! Flounder love ‘em. Fish that you toss back that you may call junk fish also make great strip baits. Sea robins and lizardfish make especially good strip baits. Cut them up and hook them just like you would a strip of squid. Use them with a minnow, shiner or Gulp! bait, or simply use the strips alone on a jig or a single or double rig. There’s no one set way to use a strip bait. Experiment around and see what works best for you. Just remember that flounder are site feeders so you want the bait to look attractive. Never ball your bait up. Always let it dangle and jig it to attract their attention.

“How about larger live bait?”

Well, just get out the light rods and reels, buy a Sabiki rig or 3-hook spot rig and bait up with little pieces of bloodworm or FishBites bloodworm. Use a small sinker, just enough to hold the bottom. Fish near the Route 90 Bridge in the shallower water (3 to 4 feet) or in any lagoon or marina basin and you will catch spot. You need to keep them in an aerated bucket or live well. Without a lot of oxygen they will die. If you keep them in a five-gallon bucket without aeration, just keep changing the water.

The cast net!!! If you have a boat and own a cast net you should always be able to catch some kind of larger bait for flounder. Two of the most popular are finger mullet, which are just starting to show up, and peanut bunker which have been around most the summer.

You can see these baits in the marina basins, lagoons and in the Commercial Harbor early in the morning before the boat traffic scatters the schools. Look for bait a couple hours before the tide is right for flounder. A little run into Herring Creek will almost always produce some peanut bunker. If you don’t have a boat, then any marsh, boat ramp or the Northside Park at 125th Street will provide you some bait. Avoid canals where there might be debris to ruin your cast net. Any sandbar at low tide in the bay is a good spot to cast net for finger mullet.

Wear polarized sunglasses and you can see the bait better. Peanut bunker flash on the surface in huge schools and are very easy to catch. Just keep enough for fishing and throw the rest back. They are very fragile and almost impossible to keep overnight.

Finger mullet will jump and run really fast. You have to be quick. It’s easier to catch them in shallower water if you’re not a pro with a cast net. Put them in an aerated bucket or live well. They will jump out so make sure you keep them covered.

“How do I hook these larger live baits?”

Under the chin and up through the roof of the mouth is the way I hook them so they won’t fall off. I like to use a single, long-leadered hook with either a fish finder rig or an egg sinker. Drift these baits in the deepest holes that you can find in the bay during the slacking tide and hope for a big one!

If you have a bigger boat, this is the time of year you can catch some big flounder offshore as well. Larger, live baits or long strip baits are great offshore on some of the artificial reefs and wrecks like the African Queen, Bass Grounds, Russell’s Reef and the Great Eastern Reef. Offshore, you have to deal with current rather than tides. When there is no current, fishing can be slow. When there’s too much current, it’s hard to catch flounder without anchoring. When there’s a nice, slow current and not too much swell, you can really catch some nice big fat flounder!

Good fishing….

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 19:56