Want to take your kids fishing for something easy enough for them to catch? When I take my niece out to the dock, it’s more fun to watch her excitement reeling in a fish than it is for me to catch a big one. Catching flounder is simple enough that kids often have better luck than adults.
The Gulf flounder has a light, brown-green body, a white underside, eyes on the same side – actually their top – with three spots resembling eyes to confuse predators. The usual catch is about 1 to 3 pounds, with a current world record of 6 pounds, 4 ounces (although a potential record-breaking 7-pound, 2-ounce flounder was caught in October in North Carolina, but hasn’t been certified as of November). They can be found in coastal saltwater inshore or near a calm surf. This is a perfect funny looking fish to teach the youngins how to plan a catch.
When fishing for flounder, I use a quarter- or half-ounce weight, a swivel, a 12- to 18-inch leader and a circle hook. For bait, I recommend live baitfish (shrimp, mullet or mud minnows), but jigs and lifelike lures will do the job. Flounders will sit and wait for food instead of searching for it, so you have to cover ground by fan casting; move your cast over a few feet after each one. Slowly drag on the bottom and try to hit the flounder on the head with your bait.
It’s important to be patient. When a flounder hits your bait, it usually waits a few seconds before taking a second and third bite. After you’ve let it swallow, make sure you set the hook. Do it about 15 to 30 seconds after you think the bait was taken. If the hook isn’t set, the flounder might swim all the way in with the bait, and as soon as it sees the dock or boat, it’ll spit out the bait and swim off.
One reason kids have better luck with flounder is that they do not realize a fish took the bait. When they are ready to cast again, they jerk in the line and, surprisingly, find a fish on the hook. My niece put me to shame by catching more than I, and did it using a tiny pink rod and reel set.
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