Big flounder are being caught around Morehead City-Beaufort and Atlantic Beach right now. In fact, it may be the best time to head to the Crystal Coast if doormats trip your fishing trigger.

"This (big flounder bite) has been going on since June," said veteran guide Dave Dietzler (Cape Lookout Charters, 252-240-2850).

Recent reports of 8- to 11-pounders have been surfacing at several venues in the area.

"You can catch really big fish at the (Turning Basin) front-facing (to Beaufort Inlet) wall, but you can only fish during about 50 minutes, just before and after slack tide," Dietzler said. "The current's too fast, and they're too deep the rest of the time."

When the tides are running hard, the deep current rushes too quickly underneath the high-rise bridge opening between Morehead City and Beaufort. The opening is the main access to the Newport River and inland marshes behind Beaufort and Morehead City. So much water moves through this channel daily, it's almost impossible to keep baits on the bottom where flounder can find them -- except near slack tide periods.

However, Dietzler said other places in the region offer lesser tide flows and longer periods of flounder fishing for doormats.

"The bridge between Atlantic Beach and Morehead City is a good spot," he said. "Other bridges are good too. All you really need is a map of Taylor's Creek, and you also can fish the docks off Front Street in Beaufort. You can fish those places as long as you want."

Taylor's Creek runs between Beaufort and Carrot Island and leads to the North River. It's filled with docks and piers and other good, protected flounder habitat.   "We have an abundance of baitfish in the water now, too, so that's bringing in flounder, reds and specks," Dietzler said.

The many docks and piers at Atlantic Beach, plus the creeks in the marshes behind Atlantic Beach, are good places to find founder, along with Back Sound, Bogue Sound and the water surrounding Harkers Island.

Dietzler said fishing isn't restricted to flounder.

"I had a buddy who wanted to go fishing in his boat the other day," he said. "I rigged up three king mackerel rigs out of tackle he had. We went out to the mouth of (Beaufort) Inlet, and while he was putting out the first bait (menhaden), a 31-pound king mackerel jumped on it. The Tackle Box was holding a king tournament that day but we didn't enter and later found out the winning fish weighed 31 pounds. So we might have won something, but we were just fishing for fun."

Puppy drum, speckled trout and Spanish mackerel also are being caught in the marshes and creeks of the Crystal Coast, Dietzler said.