Michael Hall of Carolina Beach catches a lot of Cape Fear River flounder, including some nice citation flatfish. However, his idea of a really nice flounder was upgraded with his most recent catch, when his fishing trip ended with Hall's personal best flounder, a 9-pound, 2-ounce doormat.

"We started the day like many others," said Hall. "We took a little time to catch some nice finger mullet and headed though Snows Cut to the Cape Fear River. Looking at the tide, we decided to head downriver and to fish the edges of the spoil islands between Snows Cut and Southport."

These islands are beside the channel and the tide runs by them pretty strong. The moving tide carries a lot of bait and that's why the flounder gather there.

"We had been fishing a while and had moved several times before catching the big flounder," Hall said. "Lots of places looked good and we had caught several nice but smaller fish. After about 2 1/2 hours, we came to a stretch of grassy bank on the Carolina Beach side of one of the islands and I thought this would be a good place to catch a few flounder."

Little did Hall know what was waiting for his bait. He got the boat positioned just right and made a few casts, then boom! 

"He hit hard and ran with it," Hall said. "I had cast a minnow to the bank and slowly reeled it back out a few feet and he grabbed it. It hit and took off so hard I was thinking it was a drum. There are lots of drum in this area and it wouldn't have been a surprise. There was no pausing to let him swallow it like you always hear. He grabbed it and immediately took off, taking line. It wasn't like any flounder I had ever caught before."

Hall said his son stepped up on the boat's deck to try and get a look and that's when they realized it was a flounder, not a drum. He said his son yelled that it was a huge flounder and not to lose it. 

It still had some energy left and fought another minute or two before allowing Hall to lead it to the waiting net. When his son lifted it into the boat, it really set in just how big this flounder was. He took it to the official scales at Island Tackle and Hardware.

Hall's big flounder ate a 5-inch mullet and didn't pause to swallow it. He said that's the difference between a big flounder, with a big mouth, and an average flounder. Hall said finger mullet are his favorite flounder bait and big ones, like this one, are better.

Hall fishes a Carolina rig like most flounder fishermen, but his is a little different. Hall keeps the leader length at about six inches from the swivel to the hook. His reasoning is the water in the Cape fear River is usually pretty dirty and the short leader keeps his bait close enough to the bottom for flounder to easily see it. He uses a 1 to 1 1/2-ounce egg sinker to be sure to hold the bottom when the tide is moving stronger. He gets more hits with the short leader and heavier sinker.

The 9-pound, 2-ounce fish measured 27 1/4 inches long and 23 inches in girth. Hall said this is a good time of the year to catch big flounder in the Cape Fear River and is now hoping for a 10 pounder.