Early Spring and late Winter Flounders put on the feed bag here in the NJ coastal area bays and rivers. They are one of the best tasting fish in our waters and a great way to begin and end the fishing season. In the spring it usually starts off in the end of March and lasts though mid May and in the winter December through February. If had to choose only season to Flounder fish it would be spring and one month it would be April. Once the water temps get in their comfort range of high 40ís low 50ís is when they will be most active.
The early bird doesnít always get the wormÖ.
One of the things I like most about fishing for Flounder in the Spring is that you donít have to wake up at 0: Dark 30 to get in on the hot bite. The fishing is usually the best mid day on when the sun has had an opportunity to warm the water. I also tend to try and concentrate my spring fishing during an outgoing ebbing tide rather then an incoming flood tide. Hereís my reasoningÖ. Incoming ocean water is typically much cooler. As that cooler water floods the bays and rivers it often times turns the fish off. Once that water gets back in the shallow bays and rivers it has a chance to be warmed by the sun. The warmer water flowing back out on the ebb is often times what triggers them to feed. Another thing to look for when Floundering in the spring is dark or muddy bottom. The sun has a greater warming affect on darker colored objects then it does lighter so it stands to reason areas with darker bottom will be warmer and warmer water triggers feeding. The opposite is true in the fall since your looking for cooler water to put them into their comfort range and get on the feed.
As far as rigs simple is better in my book. A single hook and sinker will do. If youíre using corn to chum add a yellow bead above the hook. Store bought pre tied rigs work well here so no need to tie your own unless itís something you like to do or want to save a few bucks. For bait I prefer bloodworms or clams. I will usually bring both and see what works best. If you donít intend to chum I would lean towards clams since they leave a better scent trial in the water and are more likely to draw the Flounder in.
A few tips to remember when fishing for Winter Flounder on an anchored boat:
Chum heavily. Frozen Chum logs and Chum Pots can be purchased at most any tackle store. I like to use 2. Cut some slits in the side of the plastic bag containing the chum log, place it in the pot and send it down to the bottom. If the tide is rushing you may have to add some weight to keep the pot on the bottom. Don't forget to tie a hook and a leader off your chum pot. This is a sure way to bring a few extra fish over the side.
In addition to Chumming break some fresh clams over and throw them up tide to lure the fish in. Some people also do this with cat food or canned corn.
The fish usually hang out in a small area rather then being spread out all over the bay so if your not catching move. Once you find a spot that produces and it slows down either let out or take in some anchor rode so your boat moves position slightly. This is often times enough to get the bite going again.
If youíre fishing in shallow waters and have something that can reach the bottom like an oar stir up the bottom a bit. This will often draw fish in looking for an easy meal.
Bounce your sinker off the bottom. The puff of mud it creates is often enough to draw fish in.
I hope this helps some people new to Flounder fishing this spring!