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"Flounder

Flounder

Flounder

With a face only a mother could love (assuming the mother is blind) and poop-brown coloration, it’s no surprise that you don’t see more hero photos of anglers holding up a doormat-size flounder.

These fish are hardly arm candy for grip-and-grin pictures. However, fishing lore has it that the humble flounder is the next best thing to a marriage counselor if you happen to be going toe-to-toe with the wife. Hey? There’s absolutely no way to make this sort of stuff up.

“Most guys wait till fall to target flounder, but there’s really no reason you can’t focus on this fish during the spring,” says Capt. Dave Lear, who has fished the Gulf of Mexico for more than 25 years and charters out of the Apalachicola, Florida, area.

“Once the water temperatures drop below 58 degrees, flounder move offshore and hang out near wrecks and reefs until the inshore waters get warm again,” says Lear. “But once March rolls around and the water gets up around 60, you can target flounder with surprising success if you know where to look and what to throw.”

The where-to-look part is pretty easy. Simply focus on areas with moving water and sandy or muddy bottoms.

“I look for creek mouths, cuts, bridges–anywhere current will be pushing bait through a narrow area. Remember, these guys are ambush predators that bury themselves in sand or mud and wait for a passing-by critter to chomp on. When you target these fish, put yourself in their shoes. They want a high-traffic area because they have a small feeding window,” Lear explains.

But don’t cast your offering in the heart of the current. Lear believes flounder hang on the fringe of a current, picking off exhausted baitfish that are looking to get out of the moving water.

“And not just any spot with current will do,” he explains further. “Look for structure within these fringe areas. Maybe it’s a boat dock, maybe it’s a rock pile, maybe it’s a deep pothole. The perfect mix of current, structure, and the right bottom composition will certainly draw the highest concentration of flounder in the area.”

Once you find a likely spot, you don’t have to be suave or offer a creative pickup line to be successful. Flounder aren’t picky.

“I throw artificials 99 percent of the time,” Lear says. “My go-to bait is a ¼-ounce DOA shrimp in the gold glow or rootbeer/gold flake color pattern. The key to getting flounder to bite is moving your bait super slow. You want to just drag it on the bottom.”

If opting for live bait such as mud minnows, don’t set the hook.

“You will miss a lot of flounder on live bait if you don’t wait a solid 10 count once the fish has picked up your minnow,” Lear says. Once you’ve reached 10, reel up the slack until the line is taut, slowly lift your rod tip, and start reeling.

Lear’s live-bait setup is simple. Bass anglers call it a Carolina rig. Simply slide a 3/8-ounce barrel weight on your main line, followed by a swivel, followed by a 2- to 3-foot leader and a 1/0 Khale hook.

And perhaps the most important tip Lear can offer anglers trying to hook up with early-season flounder: “Once you catch one, stay put. These fish normally travel with plenty of friends.”

Yep, the ugly ones always do.