Take a horse-carriage tour through Wilmington and you'll learn that no Civil War battles took place in the city; the battle for this town happened on the ocean. For Capt. Dennis Barbour of Island Tackle & Hardware, the war is still there, but instead of North vs. South, it's man vs. flounder.
Barbour has a few tips that can help anglers land more flounder in these waters, which are littered with civil war wrecks, the remnants of mostly Yankee ships that sunk while blockading or bombarding Fort Fisher. These remnants are what the flounder come for, and it's what keeps Barbour and other anglers coming back too. A few tips from Barbour can help other anglers land their share of these flatfish.
Barbour's number one tip for flounder fishing here is to find the bait. "Especially after the recent rainfalls we've had, the freshwater has pushed the bait out of the inlets, and the fish follow the bait. So you've got to find the bait to find the fish," said Barbour.
Number two on Barbour's tip list is to anchor properly over the structure you're fishing. This comes with a good understanding of your electronics to know what you're looking at. Some of the structure that offers excellent flounder fishing is very subtle when looking on your depthfinder, so you need a good understanding of what it is you're seeing.
This really comes into play around the old wrecks off Wilmington's beaches; some of these 150-year old wrecks have been blended into the bottom structure quite well, and what looks like a simple line to the unexperienced observer can be the main hull of an old warship that flounder love to hang around.
Factoring in the wind, current, and water depth can all add to the challenge, and Barbour said while anchoring can sometimes seem like a painstakingly slow process, it is necessary to get it right. "You can be a great fisherman, but if you aren't fishing in the right place, it's going to do you no good," he said.
Having plenty of anchor line is a plus. Barbour (910-470-5041) will often anchor down in a good spot, then as the bite tapers off with the changing tide and current, he can adjust his position without having to actually raise the anchor. "Letting out more anchor rope and changing the tie-off point to a different cleat can allow you to stay on the fish longer without having to re-anchor," he said.
Barbour's third tip is to keep the bait moving. "Flounder like to hunker down and don't move around very much unless they fell vibrations that tell them food is around. You improve your chance of catching flounder if you move the bait to them, because they aren't likely to move to your bait if it's just sitting still on the bottom," he said.
Tip number four from Barbour: don't be afraid to get hung up. "Nobody likes to get hung up while fishing, but flounder love to hang around the type of structure that is easy to get hung up in. If you're not getting hung up occasionally, then you just aren't fishing close enough to that structure," he said.
For more information on booking a trip with Barbour, visit his website.