Capt. Noah Lynk of Harkers Island said the flounder bite is on in the marshes around Cape Lookout and Harkers Island, with fish hungry and being aggressive at times, hitting live baits and artificials.
“We are fortunate to have the marsh system behind Cape Lookout, plus Middle Marsh and the North River Marsh nearby, and all of them are holding flounder," said Lynk, who runs Noah’s Ark Fishing Charters said. "I believe you can go there just about any time and catch a few, but there are times that are better than others. I've been targeting the early part of the rising tide, and they have been biting really well."
Lynk watches the tide move into his favorite places at the end of the falling tide or during the slack water period as the tide changes. He wants to be in place, set up and ready to fish when the tide begins rising.
"There are holes in the marshes that almost become isolated ponds at low tide," Lynk said. "There have been some extreme low tides lately, and some of these holes have been cut off except for a few inches of water in almost dry creeks. The flounder gather in these holes at low tide and will feed a little as the tide falls out, but really go on a tear when the tide begins rising. You have to be there to appreciate it."
Lynk said some of the creeks through the marsh are too shallow to run at low tide, but it is worthwhile to pole through them to get to the holes. He even has to anchor his boat and walk across a sandbar or the edge of the marsh to reach a few spots.
"Some of these holes are serious," Lynk said. "You are standing in ankle-deep water and can reach your rod out and drop a bait into 4 feet of water. There are ledges off the banks and oyster rocks that drop off from dry to several feet deep, and the flounder like to gather right at the base of them. If you get a foot off of the ledge, you're too far out."
Lynk (252-342-6911) has been using Sea Striker Flats Jigs to catch flounder. These jigs are flat with a slightly turned-up nose so they slide across the bottom easily and keep the hook upright. They have a bucktail with some flash strip tied to the hook and come in 1/8- and ¼- ounce sizes with either white or chartreuse body and hair. Lynk adds either a live minnow or a soft plastic on the hook and slowly moves the jig across the bottom. He said scented soft baits, like Gulp, work well, and he sometimes prefers them to live minnows.
Lynk said the most difficult part of catching flounder is waiting to set the hook after you feel the bite. He said the time required is different for soft-plastic baits and live baits. Lynk said flounder grab live baits and then have to turn them to head first to be able to swallow them. With smaller live baits, this might only be a few seconds, but it is longer with larger baits. Soft plastics fold in the flounder's mouth, and the fish tries to swallow them immediately. A pause of a second or two is usually all that is needed with them and more people manage to wait this long.
"Flounder are biting right now," Lynk said. "If you want a bunch of fillets for your freezer, this is a good time. They might not be huge flounder, but many are 18 to 22 inches and thick. Spanish mackerel are also biting well inside and around the Hook at Cape Lookout and if the tide isn't right, we go catch some of them while we're waiting."