Flounder are one of the most popular gamefish along the coast of both Carolinas, and many anglers overlook some of the most abundant flounder spots in either state, but those who fish for them catch plenty on live bait and artificial lures. Saltwater ponds hold a number of different species, including flounder. Many of these fish find their way into saltwater ponds when they are small and can easily swim through the tiny culverts that often handle the incoming and outgoing tide, and once they get in, they never feel the need to leave.
These fish are relatively free from predators once they reach maturity, and the fishing pressure is usually very light in comparison to the well-known fishing holes up and down the coast. They are not particularly difficult to catch, but most anglers pass right by them to get to one of the boat landings in hopes of catching flounder elsewhere.
David Williams, originally of Seneca, makes his living traveling up and down both coasts. He stays in resorts and hotels throughout the year for extended periods of time in all seasons, and said his favorite past-time while on the road is fishing these saltwater ponds. “I used to overlook them like everyone else, and was always frustrated that my job kept me so close to saltwater, but never gave me any time to fish. Whether you’re surf fishing, chartering a fishing boat, or fishing from a pier, you are always pressed for time when you’re juggling a crazy work schedule,” said Williams, who works in the promotional business.
“I was staying in Ocean Isle one week, and with just about an hour of daylight, I walked around the resort, which had a big pond in the middle. I saw a few people fishing there and stopped to see how they were doing, and I was floored when they opened their cooler to show me a handful of the biggest flounder I’d ever seen,” said Williams, who vowed to never again leave the fishing rods at home when traveling the coast.
Williams took one pointer from those anglers, and he said that one pointer works in pretty much any saltwater pond. “Some have unique characteristics, so you’ll make some adjustments along the way, but that’s true with all forms of fishing ponds,” he said.
Most of these ponds have walkways around them and seawalls to help keep erosion down. Williams likes to drag live mud minnows slowly down the side of these walls. He said he watches most anglers cast to the middle of the pond over and over, but running a baitfish parallel to these walls is far more effective, he said.
“People troll from boats for flounder, and I troll for them on foot in these ponds,” said Williams. He makes a cast down the edge of the wall, closes the bail on his reel, then instead of reeling, he simply walks slowly down the wall, dragging his bait along.
“There really isn’t much to it other than that,” he said. “I don’t make many casts, because the only time I reel is when I have a fish on. I use 2000-series spinning reels on medium rods with fast tips, and I think one of the biggest mistakes many anglers make is using tackle that is way to big for this. You don’t need surf rods in these ponds. It only makes it difficult for you to detect bites,” he said.
When he feels a bite, Williams usually stops walking and just slowly moves the bait by moving the rod slightly. “Flounder take a little while to get the bait in their mouth, so I don’t rush to set the hook. Once he’s got it, I have the most luck with a steady, sidearm hook-set,” said Williams, who uses fairly light weight on a Carolina rig with a 14-inch fluorocarbon leader. “I try not to go over 1/4-ounce, but sometimes I have to bump it up to 1/2-ounce on moving tides in certain ponds,” he said.