Flounder gorge themselves on anything they can get inside their bellies from shrimp, mud minnows and finger mullet to small spots and croakers. But what is the best bait to use? While any of these options will tempt a flounder into eating, finger mullet are the most abundant in the estuaries during the late fall. 

Before the waters cool down, estuaries are chock full of mullet from 4 to 5 inches all the way to more than a foot long. And flounder feed heavily on mullet, which makes them as an ideal bait choice. But the bait size can make a huge difference in the number of bites and the number of fish brought over the gunnels. 

Larger baits can be tempting, according to guide Greer Hughes of Oak Island, N.C., but they’re not always the best choice.

“Flounder can eat very large baits — half the length of their body — but I prefer smaller bait because it is easier for them to get the hook,” Hughes said. “I like to use live mullet 4 to 5 inches long.”

While live mullet and live shrimp are tough to beat, flounder are on edge, ready to eat anything that looks tasty. That makes brightly-colored artificial lures perfect options in the fall. Any type of baitfish or shrimp imitation fished along the bottom can work, along with swimbaits or shad-tail soft plastics fished on jigheads.

In addition, a 5- to 8-inch plastic worm fished on a Carolina rig can be deadly around structure or grass edges. The slow fall of the worm will simulate a slow-moving baitfish that a flounder can’t live without. Anglers should use white, chartreuse and other combinations of bright colors for the best results.