7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

In this post we will feature 7 useful flounder fishing tips. Flounder are a very popular species targeted by anglers all along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They put up a nice little scrap, however they are mostly prized for their incredible fillets. While fishing for flounder is not complicated, there are some specialized techniques that will help anglers be more successful.

flounder fishing tips

The 7 useful flounder fishing tips are;

  • present baits or lures right on the bottom for flounder
  • constantly moving baits or lures will produce more flounder
  • jigs are effective flounder fishing lures
  • minnows and shrimp are the top live baits for flounder
  • flounder are structure oriented fish
  • strips of cut bait are very effective flounder baits
  • understand how tides will affect flounder fishing

Best flounder fishing tackle

light tackle bottom fishing

There is no special tackle required for flounder fishing. The same tackle anglers use for inshore saltwater fishing for species such as redfish and striped bass will work fine when chasing flounder as well. A medium spinning outfit and a light conventional outfit will cover just about every flounder fishing situation.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Anglers can read more about flounder and fluke fishing tackle

Spinning tackle works well when casting lighter lures and baits as well as when fishing in fairly shallow water. Lighter sinkers and lures will be used in these waters and spinning tackle will handle this job just fine. A 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination.

flounder fishing in Florida

Click links to shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional outfits

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Bikini fishing

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Conventional tackle works well when flounder fishing in deeper water or and stronger currents. The heavier rod and more powerful reel will work better when drifting or fishing with weights in excess of several ounces. It is also better when catching larger flounder around heavy cover. A medium light conventional rod between 6 feet long and 7 feet long with a matching reel and 30 pound braided line will get the job done.

Flounder are caught on the bottom

fishing for flounder with jigs

Flounder spend the vast majority of their time on or very near the bottom. They are a very unusual fish in the flatfish family. Flounder begin their life swimming upright like most normal fish with an eye on each side of its head. As it matures, one eye migrates to the other side and the flounder spends the rest of its life swimming on its side looking up. This makes it perfect for lying in the sand and waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.

For these reasons, angling techniques that present the lure or bait on the bottom will be the most successful when fishing for flounder. Anglers using live bait can choose from a variety of bottom fishing rigs. Perhaps the most popular when flounder fishing is the sliding sinker rig or Carolina rig. With this rig an egg sinker is placed on the running line followed by a swivel. A leader between 18 inches and 36 inches long then connects the hook to the swivel.

Saltwater fishing with artificial lures

This rig allows the bait to flutter naturally as the sinker bounces along the bottom. Some anglers even at a spinner in front of the hook to add flash and vibration. This works extremely well on shallow water flats. Anglers fishing in deeper water will often go with a spreader rig or chicken rig. This works well in a vertical presentation, especially in deeper water. Anglers surf fishing for flounder will do well using both rigs.

Moving baits catch more flounder

Since flounder often lie in ambush, waiting on prey, baits that are constantly moving are usually more productive. This includes live baits, cut baits, and artificial lures. A live or cut bait drifting along naturally with the current or slowly trolled by a boat is a very realistic and effective presentation. Flounder will take the bait as it drifts by. Often times, the angler thinks that the bait is snagged when suddenly the snagged comes to life.

flounder fishing tips

Anglers using artificial lures for flounder will take the same approach, whether casting or drifting. Flounder are often found on the shallow flats, and water 23 feet deep and 10 feet deep. A jig is an effective lure to be cast out and bounced along the bottom. In deeper water, a vertical presentation works well.

Jigs are the best flounder fishing lure

The top artificial lure when flounder fishing is unquestionably a jig. The reason for this is that a jig can be presented right on the bottom, which is where flounder’s feed. There are periods when flounder become active in will rise up quite a ways off the bottom to inhale a jig. Anglers are often pleasantly surprised when this occurs as a fish for other species.

saltwater fishing with artificial lures

The most popular jig is a 1 ounce to 2 ounce white buck tail jig. This is an effective lure that will catch flounder, and just about every other species, anywhere and saltwater. In shallow water the jig can be cast out and retrieved along the bottom while in deeper water a vertical presentation works best. Anglers will often sweeten the jig with a strip of squid, or other cut bait.

Soft plastic jigs work well for flounder. A 4 inch paddle tail soft plastic bait on a 1/2 ounce jig head works quite well and water that is fairly shallow. It is easily cast with a spinning rod and anglers can cover a lot of water in search of flounder. Scented soft plastic baits work very well, with the Gulp line of baits being the top choice.

flounder fishing

Live baits are effective for flounder fishing

The two most popular live baits when flounder fishing are minnows and shrimp. Both are extremely effective throughout the range were flounder live. Shrimp are especially popular all along the Gulf Coast and in the southeast part of the United States. Minnows are used for flounder fishing anywhere they are found, as this is a prime forage for them.

Both live minnows and live shrimp are fish in a similar manner. Live minnows are hooked through the lips up from the bottom. Shrimp are hooked under the horn in the head in front of the black spot which is their brain. Both of these methods result in the bait staying alive and looking natural when presented to flounder. Also, both baits are readily available at bait and tackle shops that cater to inshore saltwater anglers. The minnow species will vary depending on geographical location.

bottom fishing

The two best ways to present a live minnow or shrimp is on a Carolina rig or on a jig head. A jig head is handy in that it combines the hook and weight into one tidy little unit. Anglers casting a jig and grub combination can easily remove the grub and place a minnow or shrimp on the hook. It Carolina rig is also an excellent way to present live bait as the leader allows for it to move with the current, resulting in a very natural presentation.

Flounder relate to structure

While flounder can be found on open flats, they almost always prefer to relate to some type of structure. This can be both natural and man-made. The most common natural structure are ledges or areas of rocky or hard bottom. This is true for both flounder inshore and out in the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Often times, flounder will be in the sand right at the edge of the reef or ledge.

Chesapeake Bay fish species

Anglers fishing for flounder on offshore structure can choose to either anchor or drift fish. Anchoring works best on smaller patches of structure while drifting is a good option on larger pieces or in deeper water where anchoring is more troublesome. Even when anchored, it is best to be constantly moving the bait in search of flounder. Artificial reefs are plentiful and some areas and almost all will hold flounder at one time or another.

Much of the structure found in inshore waters will be man-made. This includes boat docks, piers, rip-rap, jetties, and bridges. Structure such as this found in inlets and passes is especially productive as flounder like to lie in wait and let the current bring forage to them. Anglers do need to be careful when the current is strong. The best time to fish is often near the time that the tide switches as the current slackens. Anglers can either anchor close to the structure or drift, depending on conditions.

Cut bait produces flounder

Cut bait is extremely effective for flounder fishing. Just about any type of fish that can be caught and legally used for bait will produce. The white belly section is often the most productive part of the bait fish to use. Anglers can cut the bait fish into chunks, however long slender strips that taper to a point are usually more effective as they undulate naturally in the current.

Fishing for flounder

Anglers can certainly purchase cut bait at bait and tackle shops as well. Squid is a universal cut bait that is readily available, affordable, and productive on just about every saltwater fish that swims. Again, anglers cutting the squid into strips with slowly tapering points are generally the most effective.

Cut bait has several advantages over live bait. It is less expensive generally, and is more convenient as anglers do not have to keep it alive. It is also quite durable it is the top choice in areas where crabs are plentiful and will quickly devour a live bait. Cut bait also stays on the hook longer, which is one reason it is a favorite amongst anglers surf fishing for flounder.

Tides affect flounder movement and locations

It is important to understand how tides affect fish migrations and saltwater, and this is true with flounder fishing as well. In the southeast part of the country around North Florida to the lower Carolinas, tides can range as much is 10 feet. This will drastically affect where flounder will be found given a certain stage of the tide.

flounder fishing tackle

To keep it simple, on the low tide flounder will be found on the deeper edges and in holes. As the tide comes in, fish will move out from these deeper areas and onto the flats to feed. At high tide, the fish will scatter out and may be found anywhere on a flat. As the tide turns to move out, flounder will move with it and often stage in predictable locations. Edges that drop off into deeper water in the mouths of tributary creeks or cuts in a flat are prime spots to catch flounder on an outgoing tide.

In conclusion, this article on seven useful flounder fishing tips will help anglers understand the habits of flounder in the tackle and techniques required to catch more of these delicious saltwater fish!

Flounder fishing in Florida, an Angler’s Guide

Flounder fishing in Florida, an angler’s guide

Flounder are a very popular inshore game fish. Anglers flounder fishing in Florida enjoy both the battle and some delicious fillets! While some flounder are caught while fishing for other species, those targeting flounder in Florida will have success by adapting their techniques to the habits of these unusual game fish species.

florida flounder fishing

Follow Kellie on Instagram

Flounder fishing in Florida is very popular. Flounder are the perfect bottom dwelling ambush predator. They are the most numerous species in the flatfish family, which includes fluke, halibut, soul, and turbot. Flounder lie on their sides in the sand, often times buried with only their eyes looking up. Any bait fish, shrimp, or other prey that comes within range can be instantly devoured. North Florida in particular offers anglers excellent flounder fishing.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Most anglers flounder fishing in Florida will catch the southern Gulf flounder. These are easily identified by the three black spots on the back in a triangular shape. Southern golf flounder are similar to flounder found throughout the world, they just prefer the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic Ocean.

flounder fishing in Florida

Top Florida flounder fishing spots

While southern Gulf flounder are found throughout the entire state of Florida, the northern half of the state does seem to offer better flounder fishing. This is largely due to cooler water which the flounder prefer along with ideal conditions. Tidal creeks and rivers in North Florida are ideal flounder habitat. Tides are also much stronger, increasing the advantage that flounder have over hapless bait fish and crustaceans.

Top 19 Florida flounder fishing spots;

  • Fernandina Beach
  • St Johns River in Jacksonville
  • Pensacola and Escambia Bay Pensacola
  • St Augustine rivers and inlet
  • Indian and Banana Rivers at Cape Canaveral
  • Choctawatchee Bay
  • Ft Pierce Inlet
  • Panama Bay
  • Apalachicola Bay
  • Saint George Sound
  • Apalachee Bay
  • Steinhatchee
  • Stuart
  • Cedar Key
  • Crystal River and Homasassa
  • Jupiter Inlet
  • Tampa Bay
  • Charlotte Harbor
  • Everglades National Park

flounder fishing

Flounder have an interesting life. They are born like most fish and swim vertically with an eye on each side of their body. As they mature, flounder start swimming on their side and the eye that was on the bottom migrates around so that both eyes are now on the top of the fish. It then spends the rest of its life swimming on its side, with both eyes looking up. These are “left sided” flounder, with both eyes on the left side.

flounder fishing in Florida

Florida flounder habits

While flounder do prefer to bury themselves in the sand and lie in ambush, they are also structure oriented. This sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but it really isn’t. Typical structure that Florida anglers fish on a daily basis will hold flounder. These include bridges, rock jetties, docks, oyster bars, rocky ledges, and artificial reefs. The only difference is that flounder will often stage right on the outside edge of these structures were sand is available. Normally, the up-tide side of the structure is best.

Flounder are opportunistic leaders. They prefer live forage including bait fish and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. The most effective baits are live minnows and shrimp along with artificial lures that mimic this forage.

Flounder fishing tackle and rigs

flounder fishing

Anglers flounder fishing in Florida did not purchase any special tackle. The same light to medium action spinning tackle and light bait casting tackle that is used for other forms of inshore fishing will work fine. A 7 foot medium action spinning rod paired with a 3000-4000 series reel is a fine all round combination. Light conventional tackle is a great choice when drifting and strong currents or went fishing around heavy structure.

Click this link to shop Amazon for Penn Battle spinning combo

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Many anglers choose to use braided line due to its sensitivity and zero stretch qualities. However, monofilament line is fine as well, it really just is a personal choice. With both lines, a leader is required. A 2 foot long piece of 30 pound fluorocarbon leader is a good all-around choice. The leader can be attached using a knot such as a blood knot or double Uni Knot or by simply using a number 10 black swivel. The hook or lure can then be attached to the end of the leader.

Anglers can click this link to read a comprehensive article on the best flounder fishing tackle

Flounder fishing rigs

Anglers flounder fishing in Florida will do well with a couple simple rigs. Flounder fishing does not need to be complicated. Flounder are caught in Florida by anglers using both live bait and artificial lures. The number one artificial lure by far is a jig as it can be worked on or close to the bottom where flounder feed.

bottom fishing rigs

Split shot rig

The simplest flounder fishing rig is the basic split shot rig. A # 1/0 live bait hook or a # 3/0 circle hook is tied onto the end of the leader. Split shot is used to get the bait down to the bottom. Obviously, this rig is best used in shallow water or in mid depths with very little current. The required weight can be easily adjusted as it is a simple matter to add or remove split shot as required.

Knocker rig

The knocker rig is a very effective rig for anglers flounder fishing in Florida. A sliding egg sinker is threaded onto the end of the leader. The hook is then tied on. The sinker will slide down and ride right on top of the eye of the hook. This looks a lot like what bass anglers call “Texas rigging” when fishing with plastic worms.

bottom fishing

This rig has several advantages. If the hook snags, the sliding weight can help dislodge the hook, knocking it off of the snag. This is how the rig gets its name. It is very quick and easy to tie into chains weight. Finally, with this rig anglers can be sure that when the weight is on the bottom the bait will be as well.

Sliding sinker/Carolina rig

The sliding sinker rig, also known as a Carolina rig, is a very popular and versatile all round bottom fishing rig. With this rig, the sinker is threaded on ahead of the swivel. The leader is then tied onto the other end of the swivel, followed by the hook. Anglers often times make this leader a bit longer than normal, up to 4 feet long.

flounder

The beauty of this rig is that when a fish picks up the bait, it will not feel the resistance of the weight. Also, with the longer the leader the bait tends to flutter up and move around, making it more naturally appearing. Anglers will even sometimes at a small float a foot above the hook to lift the bait up.

Spreader rig or High/low rig

The spreader rig, also known as a high/low rig is most often used when fishing for other bottom fish. However, it can be effective for flounder as well. This is especially true when flounder are active and feeding a tad off the bottom.

3 Way rig

fishing for river catfish

The 3 way rig is an excellent choice for anglers drift fishing for flounder. It consists of a three-way swivel which is tied to the terminal line. A short dropper is added to the second ring of the swivel which then has the weight tied on. Anglers fishing in areas with a lot of snags often use lighter line so that if the weight does snag the rest of the rig can be saved. A 2 foot to 4 foot leader followed by the hook is tied onto the third ring of the swivel.

Florida flounder fishing with artificial lures

While most anglers associate flounder with live or cut bait, many a Florida flounder has fallen victim to a well presented jig. Jigs are by far the most effective artificial lure for anglers flounder fishing in Florida. The reason is quite simple; the jig can be worked right on or near the bottom, which is the strike zone in which flounder feed.

Florida flounder fishing

Both buck tail jigs and soft plastic grub’s on a jig head are extremely effective on flounder, and just about every other inshore saltwater species. In fact, many flounder are caught by anglers pursuing redfish, speckled trout, and other species on the flats. A white buck tail jig is incredibly effective, particularly when -tipped with a small strip of cut bait or a small piece of fresh shrimp.

Soft plastic grubs on a jig head are very effective as well. A 3 inch to 4 inch shad tail or a shrimp tail bait on a 1/4 ounce jig head is an excellent all round flounder fishing lure. Scented soft plastic baits such as the Gulp line of baits work very well, especially when the bite is a little tough.

Flounder fishing techniques in Florida

Many anglers catch flounder while fishing for other species. However anglers who specifically fish for flounder do change their tactics just a bit. The key difference is understanding how flounder relate to structure and cover. Like most fish species, flounder will generally stage on the up tide side of cover or structure.

Saltwater fishing with artificial lures

As stated earlier, they will generally be in that transition zone where the structure changes from a rocky bottom to a sandy one. This is true on the open grass flats as well. Flounder will most often be found in Sandy potholes as well as on bars where the grass transitions to a sandy bottom.

Bottom fishing for flounder with live and cut bait

Most flounder are landed by anglers fishing with either live or cut bait on the bottom. This is fairly simple fishing, yet very effective. Anglers working a specific piece of structure most often anchor. The best technique is to anchor up current of the structure to be fished. This allows the bait to be floated back naturally to where the fish should be holding.

As with all bottom fishing, the best approach is to use the minimum amount of weight required to reach bottom. If the bait actually moves or drifts a little bit with the current, so much the better. This just results in a more natural presentation. However, anglers do need to be wary of hanging up if the bait drifts too much.

Fishing for flounder

The amount of weight required can vary from just a couple of split shot for anglers fishing a dock in shallow water with little current to several ounces when fishing a bridge or other deep structure in swift tides. The sliding sinker rig and knocker rig are good choices when bottom fishing for flounder in deeper water.

Anglers can also choose to drift fish for flounder. This is an extremely effective method when flounder are scattered over a large area. Generally speaking, the best areas for this type of flounder fishing are sandy flats between 5 feet deep up to 20 feet deep. Patches of grass or hard bottom will increase the odds of success. The three-way rig works best as it offers a natural presentation it allows anglers to quickly and easily change weights to match the conditions.

Flounder fishing lures; jigs are best

Flounder fishing with artificial lures is actually fairly similar to those using live or cut baits. Most anglers pursuing flounder with lures do so while drifting as opposed to anchoring. This allows them to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. Anglers drifting deeper flats or working structure such as bridges will do well vertically fishing, bouncing the jig off the bottom as the boat drifts along.

flounder fishing

Those flounder fishing in Florida in shallower waters will do well by casting their jigs out. Anglers can use a trolling motor to work a row of docks or a shoreline while casting the jig out to likely fish holding spots. Jigs are also effective when cast out in front of the drifting boat on the open grass flats. Depressions, pot holes, and edges of bars are prime spots.

Top flounder fishing baits

Flounder are opportunistic feeders and can be taken on a variety of natural forage. Small bait fish or minnows are top choices. These can include finger mullet, but minnows, threadfin herring, scaled sardines, as well as small pin fish and grunts. In many cases, anglers will have to catch their own live bait fish, though there are some shops that sell them.

Sarasota sheepshead fishing

Live shrimp are a top natural bait for flounder and just about every other saltwater species. One benefit to live shrimp is that they are available year-round at just about every bait and tackle shop. Anglers fishing with live shrimp will have to be prepared for the myriad of other species that will intercept a shrimp meant for a flounder. However, this is not a terrible problem to have!

Cut bait can be extremely effective when flounder fishing as well, particularly off the surf and in deeper areas with a bit of current. A strip of cut bait will move seductively in the current while also emitting sent which will attract the flounder. Just about any legal fish can be cut up and used as bait. The white belly sections are often best. Frozen squid is a top flounder bait and is readily available. The best approach is to use a strip of bait 3 inches to 5 inches long and and inch or so wide that tapers to a point.

Best spots when flounder fishing in Florida

While southern Gulf flounder are found throughout the entire state of Florida, the northern half of the state does seem to offer better flounder fishing. This is largely due to cooler water which the flounder prefer along with ideal conditions. Title creeks and rivers in Northeast Florida are ideal flounder habitat. Expansive shallow water flats in both the Gulf of Mexico and inshore bays provide the perfect place for flounder to flourish.

Tidal creeks

Tidal creeks are outstanding spots to search for flounder and other species. Northeast Florida is well-known for these types of creeks and rivers. Tides are extreme in this area! However, title creeks can produce flounder throughout the state and all year long, with the exception of very warm periods.

The best time to fish for flounder in title creeks is on a high, outgoing tide. On the high tide, flounder and other game fish will move up on the flats to feed. As the tide turns to go out, fish will stage at the mouse of feeder creeks and drains and ambush prey as it washes out with the current.

Both live bait and jigs work well in this situation. Most anglers drift with the current in search of fish. Once a decent concentration of flounder is located, anglers can anchor and work the area thoroughly. It is important to be careful on these outgoing tides so that the boat is not left high and dry. Extreme tides in Northeast Florida can vary as much as 10 feet in a six-hour.

Docks

There are untold numbers of docks in the state of Florida. Docks can be found in backwater canals, passes and inlets, and on flats. Anglers can choose to anchor up current of a dock and pitch live or cut baits back to it. Another effective approach is to cast jigs or live baits while working a row of docks with the trolling motor. This method will help anglers eliminate unproductive water more quickly.

Bridges

Bridges are flounder magnets! They generally have all of the ingredients required to hold fish. Often times, the water is deeper and the tides are swifter and areas were bridges are built. Abundant structure from the pilings and reinforcing rubble below offers perfect fish holding habitat.

Anglers can drift bridges while working jigs or natural baits on or near the bottom. Many anglers also prefer to anchor up current of bridge pilings and float natural baits back with the current. Both of these methods can be quite effective. Those who decide to anchor need to make sure that they are doing so legally, staying out of the main channel and knot tying up to the bridge pilings themselves.

Inlets and passes

Many flounder are caught by anglers fishing inlets and passes. Pass is just another term for an inlet that is used on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Inlets are natural fish highways that connect the open waters of the golf and the ocean with the in land bays. They are natural spots for flounder to congregate and feed.

Many inlets have rock jetties extending along the mouth of the inlet. While anglers fishing these areas will inevitably snag quite often, it is often worth the effort as these are prime fish holding locations. Fishing at periods of low current such as the turn of the tide will help reduce snags. Docks and bridges are often found in inlets and passes as well. Anglers can also drift the open pass or inlet. However, this is discouraged during periods of heavy boat traffic. Also, anglers should never try to anchor in an inlet or pass when strong currents or heavy boat traffic is present!

Flats

Many a flounder has been caught by anglers fishing the flats in Florida. Oyster bars are prime spots to catch a flounder, particularly where they drop off into slightly deeper water. Depressions in grass flats can hold flounder as well. Sand bars that drop off into grass in deeper water are prime spots, particularly on a high outgoing tide.

Anglers can do well catching flounder using live bait on the flats. However, this is a situation that is made for artificial lures. Anglers casting jigs can cover a lot of water and thoroughly work the prime spots. The best approach when using live bait is to free line a live shrimp or bait fish using a small split shot if required.

Flounder for dinner!

While flounder are fun to catch, they are prized just as much or more for their value on the dinner plate. Flounder are considered one of the best eating fish on the planet. They are a very mild fish with white flesh and are quite delicate. Most recipes go light on the spices and breading in order for the taste of the flounder to come through. Flounder can be baked, broiled, or fried. They are not the greatest candidate for grilling due to their delicate nature.

However, flounder are a bit difficult to clean. This is due to their unusual shape. The best approach when cleaning a flounder is to lay it down and make the first cut right along the backbone that goes down the center of the fish. The fillet knife is then worked along the bones from the inside working out towards the edges of the fish. Many anglers make the mistake of discarding the flounder after removing the top fillets. This is a mistake as the underside, or white side, of the flounder has plenty of meat as well. Anglers can find current Florida flounder fishing regulations on the FWC site.

In conclusion, this article on flounder fishing in Florida will help anglers catch more of these hard fighting an incredibly tasty bottom dwellers! It is a favorite species on fishing charters!