"We've had a real good late spring, and that is carrying over into the summer," said Capt. Rick Bennett of Rod Man Charters. "The trout bit well, the reds bit well, but what has been most impressive is the early flounder bite. With the mild winter and hot spring, they moved in early and stayed. I believe the bite may even be getting better."
Bennett (910-520-7661) said everyone has been catching fish, and even trips targeting other inshore species rarely return without at least one flounder.
"With the mild winter, we had baitfish early, and the food attracted the fish and then kept them here," Bennett said. "Flounder are in the sloughs and on the edges of sandbars in the inlets, along the jetties at Masonboro Inlet, in the structure at Snows Cut and holding under many docks in creeks and along the Intracoastal Waterway. They are also on the nearshore ocean wrecks and artificial reefs. With all the baitfish they've been eating, many flounder are pretty fat too."
Bennett is an admitted bait fisherman who prefers to use small menhaden or finger mullet on Carolina rigs, but he's caught flounder several times on soft plastics fished very slowly across the bottom. He had a trip last week on which a fisherman even caught a flounder on a gold spoon while casting for red drum. The flounder haven't been huge, but enough 3- and 4-pounders are being caught to keep things interesting.
"The key is to have moving water," Bennett said. "We have a good tidal flow, so about the only time catching a flounder should be a surprise is during the 15 minutes or so of slack tide at each change. Flounder don't swim around to feed but wait to ambush unsuspecting bait that gets too close.
"We have had a lot of bait so far this year, and most days, the bait pours out of cuts in the marsh into larger creeks and the (Intracoastal) Waterway. Setting up to intercept this flow of bait will all but guarantee strikes. There is one creek I anchor right in the middle of the mouth, and we catch flounder off both points when the tide is falling."
Bennett said Fluke shapes and paddletails are usually better for catching flounder on artificials, but this year the flounder have been hungry and are hitting shrimp shapes and curlytails, too. He said to fish the lightest jighead that will carry to the bottom to help avoid hanging up. Flounder like to lay on and hide in structure and you have to get a bait close to get their attention