by Capt Craig Lambert
Every year the excitement and anticipation for flounder season grows as fall arrives. Come late October, I am already buying gulps and 3/8th oz jigs preparing for my first few trips of the season. I grab the 6'6" heavy action rod that sits in the corner all year long and spray her down with some reel magic. Re-spool the Chronarch with 30 lb braid and I am ready for flounder season.
Every year I become more and more convinced that Gulps will outfish live bait for flounder. The Gulp craze continues to grow and I dont see it stopping anytime soon. Back in the 90's, flounder pounders were the baits of choice I used for flatties. We used to cut a piece of flounder belly off of our first flounder and attached that to our hooks and that would be our scent. It was an ugly looking thing but it caught flounder. Thankfully times have changed and for the better.
The key to using gulps succesfully is to change them often or redip them back in the juice to soak up again. They will lose the heavy smell after 15-20 casts. But I would still try to keep 1 on no more than 30 minutes at most. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to flounder fishing. Anglers such as KVD would have a problem becoming a flounder fishermen because he doesnt have that relaxed and slow paced presentation that is critical for flounder. Very slow 2 to 3 inch hops off the bottom is my favorite technique for catching flounder. Once you get that thump take your time reel down on him and set the hook like you are bass fishing. Making a hard hookset on flounder is critical due to their hard and bony mouths. Which is why I use a heavy action rod. Once you make that good hard hook set there is no way you are going to get that classic flounder "spit it back at you" characteristic. For me Flounder fishing starts the first week of November and ends the 1st or 2nd week of December. If I have any days off during this time you can bet I am probably on the water looking for that classic "flounder thump".
My personal bait of choice for flounder is the 3 inch Gulp shrimp in glow. The smaller gulp definitely seems to work better than the 5 inch version. For leader I like to use 30 lb with a relatively short length of 10-18 inches. Any style jighead will work as long as you are using a jig heavy enough to stay on the bottom. However, I do prefer a wide gap for flounder. As for jighead weight, the general rule is to use 3/8oz if fishing in water deeper than 6ft and if under 6 ft use 1/4oz jigs.
Flounder can be found migrating towards the passes along flats next to the intracoastal, the galveston ship channel, bayous, marsh backlakes, and along the shorelines along all of the bay systems. When targeting flounder make sure your lures are on the bottom and that you are making long fan casts in different directions to cover as much ground area as possible. They often like rock walls and other structure like bulkheads and pylons. They will literally hit just about any lure thrown in front of them. Flounder are an extremely agressive fish and will fight back as hard as you pull on them. If you bring a flounder in slowly they wont fight very hard but if you pull on her and put the rod to her she will make several runs and dives before she hits the net.
Last years flounder season was excellent and I am expecting the same this year. Just remember that the legal limit of 2 per person is in effect until December 1st. Make sure and handle the fish you do release with care. The future of our fishery depends on it.