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Spring Flounder Tips
By Rich Johnson

Well, spring officially opens her doors this month and before you know it the waterways will be full of life with boaters and fishermen using their spare time to relax on the tri-state area’s waters. For fishermen I have a news flash! Flounder fishing is not as depressing as some writers would make you believe it to be! There can be some decent action if you know how to approach your quarry, tease their appetite and figure out a winter flatties temperature range.

POUND THE BOTTOM. Flounder are a curious fish by nature, always investigating a source of disturbance or puff of mud on the lookout for an easy meal. Ever wonder why a fisherman might be poking the mud flats with a long pole or painter’s extension handle? Smart anglers feed a flounder’s curiosity by poking and disrupting the mud bottom, releasing all sorts of tasty morsels into the current, thus attracting flounder from down tide.

Other methods of reaching the same result could be using an old fashioned sash weight from a window. This 5-pound lead weight tied to a line or rope can be used to “pound the bottom” as we call it. While fishing for flounder, every few minutes pound the bottom and you can see the results almost immediately. A plumber’s plunger added to a long pole is also a prime way of pounding up flounder when fishing the flats. Since mussels are one of the favorite items of the spring flounder’s menu, the use of these “pounding” techniques when fishing mussel beds is a great idea too!

THE MENU. Spring flounder can be a little fussy when it comes to feeding at the dinner bell. The normal perception has been bloodworms on the South Shore of Long Island and sandworms on the North Shore and in Connecticut. One thing for sure…flounder fishing is never predictable. If you could predict what flounder want for dinner, you would be a Lotto winner every week.

The one best piece of advice I could pass along to readers would be; take along a variety of baits when you go flounder fishing! Don’t be cheap when it comes to bait. For a normal day on the water, I would take along a dozen each of blood & sandworms, a package of clams and a bushel of mussels. The mussels can be cracked and tossed over the side for a natural chum line and used on the hook along with the other baits.

If you intend on using mussels, gently steam them with salt the night before and allow to cool in the refrigerator over night. This will make them tough and enable them to stay on the hook much longer. However, to be a successful spring flounder fishermen, you have to spread the bait.

CHUMMING. Chumming has become an integral part of flounder fishing over the last 20 years. Many old timers have used this technique much longer than this, but it’s the novice fisherman who has primarily benefited from chumming over the last decade or so. Chumming is the method in which a controlled release of scent and bait into the water attracts and teases the targeted species appetite, increasing their desire to feed while lowering their inhibition.

The most popular chum is either clam or mussel chum and a combination chum of both will also work. Most chum purchased has been ground without the shells, packaged into quart or half gallon containers and then frozen. When you purchase this chum from your tackle dealer, it is then placed in a chum pot and lowered over the side while still frozen to slowly thaw, releasing the scent and bits of bait into the current which in turn attract flounder.

Some of the sharper flounder fishermen will “seed” an area first. Using a large five-gallon chum pot and an equal size container of clam chum, place the chum in the pot, lower over the side and leave it in your favorite flounder hole for several tides and sometimes days. This will attract flounder from both up and down tide as the change of tide disperses scent & bait in all directions. When you come back to the spot, most of the area’s flounder will be near or at the chum pot looking for an easy meal.

COMFORT ZONE. Flounder, like every other animal or fish on the planet, has its own comfort zone. Knowing what it is can help you in the for tasty flounder fillets. Most flounder will become active once water temperatures pass 42 degrees or so. As the temperatures rise, so does their activity and feeding response. On bright sunny days, look to fish the mud flats on high tides, particularly where the mud is dark.

Dark mud holds more heat longer and more importantly, flounder looking to catch some “rays.” As the tide drops, slowly move off the flats with the tide and the moving flounder. Remember, spring flounder fishing on flats can take place in a very shallow water. I’ve caught flounder in as little as two or three-foot of water. Once the tide has completely dropped out, fish the normal holes where the temperature is more their liking. Following some of these tips should and will improve your spring flounder catch. Till then, I’ll see you on the water.


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