Swansboro flounder

North Carolina anglers are eager for the start of the 2022 flounder season.

NC’s central coast flounder are ready for season

During North Carolina’s one-fish-per-day, Sept. 1-30, 2022 season, guides such as Capt. Jeff Cronk (336-558-5697) and Capt. Mike Taylor (252-725-2623) of Swansboro’s Fish ‘N 4 Life Charters will help anglers catch their limit at central-coast venues.

Favorite local spots include docks at Morehead City, the Beaufort Waterfront, Taylor’s Creek, the big-ship ports, Morehead City sea wall and rock piles along the Intracoastal Waterway.

“The three main places to look for flounder in summer are channels, boat docks and bridge pilings,” Cronk said.

Best flounder docks have crab traps (suspended and tied to docks) and those with fish-cleaning tables.

“People drop scraps off into the water and a lot of times they’ll draw flounder, bluefish and ladyfish. But flounder will be on the bottom beneath them, waiting for food,” he said.

Cronk and Taylor mainly use live 3- to 5-inch finger mullets, impaled on Kahle hooks as baits. They employ ½- to ¼-ounce barrel weights, depending on tide strength tied to a 2- to 2½-foot long leader above the hooks.

“It helps when water is moving during tide changes, especially when it falls out,” Taylor said.

“When the tide falls, the fish stage behind docks and bridge supports where the current makes holes (in the bottom). When the tide’s coming in, you reverse where you fish because the tide makes holes on the other side of structure.”

Flounder, ambush bottom-feeders, aren’t easy to catch with a hook and line. It’s somewhere north of trying to detect a sheepshead’s bite.

“A flounder will grab a bait and lock down tight,” Cronk said. “I give ’em 10 seconds before I set the hook. I put my reel in free spool or flip the bail. You don’t set the hook because as soon as he feels you, he’ll spit it out. He’ll swim after he locks down on the leader. But if he feels something’s not right, he’ll open his mouth and expel the hook and bait.

“That’s when his teeth will scale a mullet when you pull the bait through his teeth. Flounders do not scale mullets in their mouths.”

North Carolina’s one-fish per person daily creel limit has a 15-inch minimum size limit.

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.

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