The inshore creeks and inlets between Little River and Sunset Beach are hot spots for flounder this time of year, and one trick to catching them is finding isolated pockets of water at dead low tide.
Finding those holes can be a little bit scary, depending on the size of your boat, because you don’t want to get stranded. But for those anglers who take the risk, the rewards are worth it. In some spots along this part of the coast, dead low tide means huge sandbars with very little water connecting one deep pool from the next. But those deep pools are gold mines for flounder anglers.
While most anglers like a little movement to the tide to get the fish active, finding fish stuck in a pocket surrounded by dry land is just as good. And if the bite doesn’t happen at dead low, you’ll be there once the tide just begins moving, but before enough water is present for the fish to flee.
Finding these holes on the outgoing tide is a good bet, since you’ll have enough water to get you there, and you’ll be able to identify some likely flounder pockets. Just make sure you have time to get stranded once the tide is out, and some water to fish.
Once you’re in place, the whole “fish in a barrel” thing comes into play. Every time you toss a lure into those pockets, it’s got the attention of every fish in there. Casting a live mullet or mud minnow is always a good move, but many diehard flounder anglers opt for artificial baits like grubs or soft plastic shrimp.
“An angler using artificial lures is going to out fish a natural bait angler every time,” said veteran flounder angler Capt. Jimmy Price of Oak Island.
The reason, said Price, is because flounder will do everything they can to avoid swallowing scales.
“When a flounder bites your bait, he’s basically going to scale that fish as it brings it into its mouth. That takes time. When he grabs an artificial bait like a Shrimposter or a jig, he doesn’t feel any scales. If you’ve got it dipped in some scent, he’s going to inhale that thing. Live bait catches flounder, but it doesn’t catch it as fast as artificial bait does,” he said.
And when fishing in these small pockets, catching one flounder quickly means you can more quickly weed through the smaller fish to get to the keepers, because a lot of the flounder that anglers are catching here are undersized. Luckily, there are also plenty of 19-inchers in these waters as well.
It never hurts to get out of the boat and walk along the sandbars or wade quietly in the isolated pools, which helps some anglers to slow their presentations and cover the water more thoroughly.