This means that the flounder fishing is currently outstanding! The relatively warm water is slowing their migration out of the inlets, and they seem to be stacked up waiting for a little cooler water before moving on. That means that big flounder and fluke are still catchable in good numbers.
Where We FishedWe went looking for flounder recently, and we found them under and around almost every dock we fished. They have pretty much moved out of the creeks off the ICW, and have stationed themselves closer to the inlet mouths. So, we concentrated on fishing the docks along the shores of the inlets.
We fished the St Augustine inlet, the St Johns River inlet, and the St Marys River inlet over a two day period. They span an area along the coast of about 60 miles, and the fish were reacting almost identically in all three locations.
Reaction Bite or Feeding Bite?I’m not sure which bite we had, because the way we fished it could have been either. Flounder will lie camouflaged on the bottom with their head pointed into the current. They like to situate behind some type of structure that breaks the current flow – and dock pilings do just that. Whether they were feeding or simply reacting to the lure invading their space, I don’t know. What I do know is that they were eating almost anything we put in front of them.
Our TackleWe fished with light action spinning and bait casting gear. We used twelve pound test mono line and a two foot fluorocarbon leader tied to the line with a surgeon’s knot. There was no swivel because the baits we used track so good, and I firmly believe that in clear water – which we had – the fish see that swivel and it tends to turn the larger fish off. They did not get to be that big by accident.
Live Bait vs. ArtificialWe spent some time looking for finger mullet. There are still loads of mullet in and around these inlets. We caught some nice four inch mullet and put them in the live well. These are considered by most flounder aficionados to be the ultimate flounder bait.
But, what we found was that the artificial lures we used produced just as many fish as the mullet. And, it did not seem to matter which color we tried. We used swim tail grubs on jig heads and switched colors often. We also switched between swim tails that come in their own fish attractant liquid – like Gulp -and those that were simply made from soft plastic. It did not matter what we used, we caught fish on everything we threw.
The TechniqueRemember, I said that the flounder liked to get behind those pilings in the current? Well, knowing that, we fished each piling as if there were ea flounder behind each one. We would throw up current and work the lure or the mullet along the bottom so as to bring it as close top the piling as possible. If the flounder was there, wham, he nailed the bait.
I watch people fishing pilings for flounder and they make a big mistake. They seem to want to either fish their bait the wrong direction – something that is totally unnatural – or they want to drop a bait straight down behind a piling. Those flounder face into the current so they can ambush bait coming at them. That’s the natural direction for the baitfish to travel – with the current. Anything moving against the current will usually be ignored because it does not fit the norm for food. And, dropping a bait straight down on top of a fish usually spooks more fish off than it does anything else.
Bottom LineThis is slow, tedious fishing. Most docks can have upwards of twenty pilings, and trying to position the boat to make a bait presentation on every piling can be tough work. But, which piling do you skip? You may fish ten pilings and give up to go to the next dock, when that eleventh piling is the one holding that 10 pound flounder!
Fishing is all about patience, and flounder fishing with this method takes just that – lots of patience. But, if you take your time and make natural bait presentations, you can bring home a limit of flounder in short order!