Mike Norris of Carolina Beach weighed in his second double digit flounder of 2017 earlier this month. The fish weighed 11 pounds, 3 ounces, surpassing the 10-pound, 14-ounce flatfish he caught on July 26. Both fish were 28 inches long, and they both had girths of 23 inches.
Norris weighed both flounder at Island Tackle and Hardware on their recently certified scales.
This area of the North Carolina coast has long been known as a big flounder hotspot, especially since the current state record, a 20-pound, 8-ounce flounder, was caught here by Harold Auten in 1980.
Needless to say, many fishermen frequent these waters looking for quality-sized flounder, and as big as Auten’s record is, it’s by no means out of reach.
Anglers have multiple options around Carolina Beach. Two hotspots for bank anglers are Snows Cut and Carolina Beach Inlet. Fishermen in boats can also fish these areas, plus reach the numerous holes, banks, rocks and spoil islands in the Cape Fear River, the artificial reefs, and many small "secret" shipwrecks scattered along the nearshore ocean from Cape Fear to Masonboro Inlet.
This area has four feet of tide on an average day and the rise and fall are greater during the full and new moon phases. Flounder lie in wait and let Mother Nature push a buffet by. Fishermen agree that flounder that are aggressively feeding are easiest to catch and flounder in this area can feed often.
The favorite flounder rig for the area is a basic Carolina rig. Anglers have individual preferences on the hooks and amount of weight, but the basics are similar. The favorite hook is on the business end of 12 to 30 inches of monofilament or fluorocarbon and the other end is tied to a 50-100 pound barrel swivel. The line from the reel is usually 20 to 30-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon. An egg sinker and bead are threaded onto it. The bead keeps the sinker from sliding all the way down to the swivel and chafing the knot.
Early and late in the year, mud minnows are sometimes the only bait option. Many fishermen prefer mullet minnows and their size preferences vary from finger mullet to corn cob mullet. Others like using 3 to 6-inch menhaden, locally called pogies. Pinfish, croakers, spots and other small fish are fair game for bait too. Flounder are equal opportunity diners and many flounder fishermen will readily mix bait sizes and species to have the right bait for that day.
Auten's record has stood for 37 years, but fishermen are pretty sure there is a bigger one around. They also believe the waters around Carolina Beach are the premium flounder waters in N.C. and many will readily wager the flounder that tops Auten's record will come from somewhere around Carolina Beach.