By mid-August, flounder fishing is sometimes overlooked, with some of the other species of inshore saltwater fish are getting more attention. But according to guide Clayton Crawford, flounder fishing in the Charleston area is excellent and August is an all-around good month for these great tasting, hard-fighting flatfish.
Crawford said this is one of his favorite times to fish for flounder, especially in the Cooper River and other waters around Charleston.
"There's a great deal of baitfish right now," Crawford said. "The presence of all the baitfish has the flounder feeding actively, and that's one of the two primary keys to success. First, find the baitfish and then fish the right method on the right tide and you'll likely be in the founder-catching business."
On a recent trip in the Cooper River, Crawford (843-209-3086) focused on a long stretch of water in a large creek that was fed by numerous small tributaries.
"Right now, I'm looking for moving water, and the junction of small creeks, ditches or anyplace where water flows in or out of the grass in the larger creeks are prime spots to flounder fish," he said. "If there's baitfish in the area, they'll congregate at the small points and pockets along the edgeline, and that's where we'll catch the flounder."
Crawford using the electric motor to maneuver his boat as he trolls for flounder. He uses a bottom rig with a homemade cord-weight similar to what anglers use when drifting for catfish, using a half-ounce weight because he fishes fairly shallow water. Behind that is an 18-inch leader and hook. His favorite live bait in August is finger mullet, which he catches in a cast net at dawn. He will also troll a couple of rods rigged with soft-plastic Gulp! jerkbaits, which also draw strikes from flounder. He discovered that trick, he said, while targeting redfish.
"Catching my own bait helps in two ways," he said. "First, I cast until I get just the right size bait I prefer for the season I'm fishing. Right now I'm using 2- to 4-inch finger mullet hooked through the lip and top of the head so it will swim naturally behind the sinker. Bigger bait will catch fish, but by using bigger bait right now, you take some legal-sized fish out of the equation in terms of readily biting. Second, I will also know before I start fishing that I'm in an area where baitfish are plentiful. So I use live and artificial baits to ensure I give them a choice .
"The drag sinker I use is much less likely to snag than a barrel sinker," Crawford said. "I use the trolling motor to ease the boat in and out of shallow water to slightly deeper water to cover more depths and to effectively fish an entire area. This is key anytime, but especially during August when the fish can get a bit finicky about where they are located.
"A lot of times, I'll find the fish in water as shallow as 2 or 3 feet deep in August," he said. "That is often shallower than a lot of fishermen using the big motor for trolling will go. I also will work back out into the 5- to 7-foot depth range and sometimes deeper to cover those depths. Usually, when I get on a good pattern, it will hold for a while, but as the depths change as the tide moves in or out, I have to refine the pattern. Sometimes we'll catch several flounder real quick, maybe two or three at the mouth of one creek or ditch junction, then conditions change (and) I'll find them deeper or shallower somewhere else. It's a fun process of searching, because when you get on the right pattern, you can often catch several quickly from the same general area."
Crawford prefers the last couple of hours of the outgoing and first two hours of the incoming tide for best results in August. He uses 20-pound braided line and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader.
"The fluorocarbon leader can be a key element for catching these fish, so I stick with that when fishing for founder throughout the summer," he said.