Since July 1, South Carolina anglers have had to abide by a new set of flounder regulations: a 15-inch size minimum. While estuaries are packed with flounder in the dead of summer, the typical inshore flounder will be hovering around that minimum size.
Anglers looking to consistently catch the bigger, doormat flounder should head to the ocean. The waters just off Garden City Beach are ideal for oversized flounder, packed with prime flounder habitat, including nearshore reefs.
J Baisch of Fishful Thinking Guide Service will take full advantage of the nearshore reefs for his summer flounder seekers because they can be real hot spots when much of the rest of the area is boiling over.
“Our reefs provide deeper water and plenty of good structure,” said Baisch (843-902-0356). “These flounder in the ocean will be more abundant around the very established structure, with old growth and a debris field precipitated from storms.”
Flounder are ambush predators, and the old structure on the sea floor provides baitfish and shrimp a real false sense of security. Unlike the inshore estuaries where submerged vegetation, oyster reefs and man-made features are abundant, the ocean bottom appears as a baron wasteland except in places around natural rock outcrops and man-made reefs. In places where vertical structure is rare, the baitfish, shrimp and crabs gravitate to these aquatic jungle gyms for protection. Plus, the nearshore ocean waters remain cooler down deep.
Baisch likes to position his boat where he can fish a full 360 degrees around the structure.
“The flounder are structure-oriented, and I like to position the boat right on top of the structure and cast away to fish all the sand around the structure,” he said.
Live finger mullet and mud minnows are ideal baits. Baisch will use both a Carolina rig and a jighead.
“I like to use 12 to 16 inches of leader on my Carolina rig to a octopus circle hook or a mosquito hook. And for my jighead method, it’s hard to beat a ½-ounce stand-up style so it stands up on its own. I get better hook ups when the hook is standing on its own,” he said.