Flounder Fishing: Floundering Inlets

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Flounder fishing the inlets this summer won’t leave you floundering!

Summer will soon be here and the temps will be right for floundering in the inlets. The warmer temperatures of summer send flounder into the inlet waters of the coast. Find the mouth of a river, or any other inlet in June through late August and you'll have a time reeling in fish while flounder fishing.

You won't need a big boat nor will you need a lot of equipment for flounder fishing in inlets. A mid to large sized Jon boat or skiff, a live-bait bucket, some bait, and some rods and reels will do ya. The best live baits for flounder is mullet, mud minnows, killifish, and menhaden. Most people that fish for flounder in inlets agree that live bait is the way to go, and knowing where to fish is the key to catching the big flounder.

Drifting while flounder fishing is the most widely used technique, but fishing at anchor and trolling can also be effective at times. Unlike other fish, flounder will not swim over large areas in schools. Flounder will move and form schools but not in the same manner as the other fish. Temperature, salinity, and baitfish availability effect the founder's movement from inshore to offshore. Once in a place where conditions are right, they stay put till those conditions change. This is why drifting is such a successful method of fishing for flounder in inlets.

Drifting for flounder is best done on the rising tide, as flounder leave inlets as the tide goes out, positioning themselves outside of the inlet bars following the baitfish as they are swept out with the tide. And return as the tide rises and the baitfish come back into inshore inlets.

Flounder will be found around depressions, downstream sides of bars, and around channel drops. They bury themselves in sand and wait in these low areas for passing baitfish. The flounder will thrust itself from the bottom and ambush them.

When drifting or trolling use an egg sinker to take the bait to the bottom. A monofilament leader with a wide bend hook. This flounder rig is also known to bass fishermen as the Carolina rig. You'll find your own variation to the flounder rig, but in general use between a ½ to 2 ounce sinker depending on water depth and current, on 15 to 30 pound test line, and no.2 hooks. If needed, use a float to keep the bait off the bottom. Some flounder fishermen use a spinner blade, this adds a little enticement.

You'll have to practice feeling the flounder bite while drifting or trolling. The sinker will tap the bottom of the inlet with a rhythm; any interruption to that rhythm is either a bite or a fouled hook. Its best when you feel a strike to feed line out, flip to free-spool until you think the flounder has swallowed the bait. Then set the hook. If the rod is in a holder, watch the tip. If the tip bends down then straightens with little to no movement it is likely the fish is following the bait. When the rod tip shakes, the flounder has likely hooked itself.

If you are planning on going for the big flounder, you'll have to make a trade-off and use bigger bait. A 6 to 9 inch mullet or menhaden works well for the larger fish. But, doing this will result in fewer flounder as the smaller flounder will not strike the larger bait. Also give the bigger flounder a little extra time to swallow the bait before setting the hook.

As with any type of fishing, you may have to fish the inlet a few times to find the hot spots, and discover the best fishing pattern to use for successful flounder fishing in inlets. Make several drifts to familiarize yourself with the inlet and it's bottom, finding all the nuances where flounder may be waiting in ambush. A depth finder comes in handy for finding the drops and channels that likely hold the big flounder.

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