Flounder fishermen are putting on a show in the marshes and waterways on both sides of the North Carolina-South Carolina border, with peanut-sized menhaden the bait that’s been putting fish in the cooler.
Capt. Kyle Hughes of Speckulator Inshore Fishing Charters has logging plenty of extra hours on the water lately and is having no trouble finding plenty of flounder. Hughes said that flounder, which typically show up inshore in good numbers in late May and early June are right on schedule.
“The flounder bite has been pretty decent lately,” says Hughes (910-840-7186). “Anywhere from Cherry Grove to Ocean Isle Beach has been producing good numbers of fish and some bigger fish, too.”
Hughes attributes the exceptional bite to a huge influx of small menhaden – his bait of choice when he wants to target flounder.
“Mud minnows are still catching fish, but we are catching better quality fish on menhaden. The menhaden are the way to go right now,” he said.
There are not too many bad places to look for flounder, either. Marsh flats, holes, creek channels and structure along the ICW will all hold flounder, which are ambush feeders by nature and will set up along any type of irregularity that breaks the current and attracts baitfish.
Hughes will target specific spots where he normally catches plenty of fish.
“I usually anchor and cast to docks along the waterway and deep holes in creek bends, but trolling along creek channels is another way to find fish that can be a very productive method of finding a group of fish,” he said.
Hughes is relying on a flounder-fishing standard, a simple Carolina rig with a small egg sinker, 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and a No. 2 or No. 4 hook.
For Hughes, the real secret is the painful waiting period after the initial bite.
“It really depends on the size of the bait, but as a rule of thumb, I will wait 30 seconds to a minute for the fish to hold it before I tighten and set the hook,” he said.
When using live bait, flounder can be tricky to get on the hook, and a mandatory waiting period will generally insure that a fish is hooked and comes to the boat.
The June flounder bite typically stays strong until the water heats up toward summertime highs. Hughes feels like the bite will stay good, with a possible rush of bigger fish showing up inshore.
“The bite should remain steady through the end of June, and some real doormats should show up in the lines in the coming weeks,” he said.