A master of camouflage and ambush, the flounder is one of the oddest-looking fish that swims our local waters. Flat with both eyes on one side of its body, it has the capability of altering its coloration to match the bottom of the ocean floor where it lies in wait for its prey. Jaws full of sharp teeth expand to facilitate the lightning-quick strike, which is usually followed by its return to the bottom to savor its catch. This behavior can puzzle an angler who is fortunate enough to hook a flounder.
When fishing, if drifting bait on a cork, the cork will often stop as if it were snagged on the bottom. When casting an artificial, the flounder bite feels like a snag. As you reel the flounder in, it may feel like dead weight initially until the fish starts to battle; then hold on! Using its flatness and muscle, the flounder can put up a great fight.
They are not born with both eyes on one side of their body. Flounder go through a process, metamorphosis, which occurs when they go from the larval state to the juvenile state. The top side, where the eyes are, is dark while the bottom side is white. I have seen some flounder that were partially dark on the bottom, but it’s rare. One thing is for sure – few people do not know how delicious the flounder is; it is widely sought commercially and highly valuable.
Locally, it is often a surprise to anglers chasing the more available speckled trout and redfish. To our north, from Myrtle Beach to New York, anglers are blessed with better flounder fishing as a target species, as they tend to school up more so than here. Occasionally large numbers can be caught at the offshore reefs, but inshore gigging is a more efficient method of procuring better numbers of flounder.
The weather has cooled and so has the water, offering better clarity. November through January is a great season for artificial baits such as the soft plastic Gulp variety and the screwtail and paddle tail plastic jigs. There should be an abundance of speckled trout and redfish around and if you are lucky, that snag may be a bonus flounder!
Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years of experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the Finatic boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour. Contact Capt. Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.