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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just think. Somewhere offshore the summer flounder are already getting ready to make their turn inshore. In about six weeks we can expect them to start moving into our southern back bays.

I'm here at the dock every day tieing rigs and pulling my nets and watching the waters. I'm lucky because I never feel that far removed from the salt. This was my rough time when I lived back in Philly. Felt so far away and disconnected. The one thing that got me through the end of winter was reading about fishing and trying to pick up a few tidbits of information that could help me when it finally started. Thats whats great about the Barn. Gives us the perfect platform to recharge the batteries. Lets go.

Probably the best place to start when talking about flounder is to examine the fish itself. Strange dude all flat with bulgy eyes and white side on dirty bottom and darkside under clear water. Sometimes it makes you wonder what Mother Nature was thinking when she knocked the flounder out into the oceans. I think it was to make the nastiest predator to prowl our waters.

I consider myself very lucky to have had summer flounder in my saltwater aquariums every year since 1979. Over thirty years of watching them and to this day they still impress the hell out of me and teach me somthing new every year. Of all the fish I have had none have shown me the ability to set up and feed like the flounder. No bluefish, weakie or striper have the ability to make the attack that a flounder can generate. Hands down they are simply the best I have ever seen.

Most fish are school fish. Sure there are some big fish that prefer to travel alone but for the most part they school up to chase and overwhelm schools of baitfish and also for protection. No matter how big they are they have been programmed since hatching that there is safety in numbers. But not the flounder. They travel a different path.

Sure they will school up when migrating out or when it's time to mate but for the most part they do better alone. A large food supply will produce schools but even then it's because of the amount of food. Not because large numbers gives them an advantage. Flounder are the ultimate underwater sniper and snipers work alone.

Think of a large school of fish as an army. To feed that army you need an army of smaller fish. The army has to travel to find that source of food and stay with it to keep eating or find another. A thousand blues, weakies or stripers need numbers of targets to attack. A single fish or shrimp isn't going to do that army any good in it's search for food. Enter the flounder.

So perfect in design. Unmatched in camouflage ability. Equal to the most aggressive predator and a mouth full of some of the sharpest teeth in our waters. The end result is the simple fact that the summer flounder is the perfect predator. Thirty years of aquariums and nothing I have seen from other fish can sway my opinion.

Camouflage. They don't do it on purpose. They can't decide what markings they need to blend in with their surroundings. They aren't that smart. It's a natural ability triggered by eye to brain that automatically changes cells in the skin to mimic their surroundings. Once they settle down they look like nothing more than a slight bump on the bottom. So well does this tactic work that crabs, shrimp and even baitfish will walk, crawl and swim right up to their mouth. No sense of danger at all until it's too late. Where a thousand fish won't look at a single grass shrimp a flounder is more than happy to open it's mouth and inhale it. A baby crab, snack. A baitfish, lunch and the flounder may never have had to move anything more than it's mouth. If you want to talk about fuel economy then tip your cap to the flounder. Not many fish can get so much out of so little with even less effort.

God it feels good to be writing about flounder again. Get into some more interesting stuff tomorrow. Right now I have to go to our front door and shake my fish at the snow.:D
 

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Fred, I'm glad to see you working on another flounder post. I just got done reading all of the last one again while I was snowed in. I don't know what it is about flounder fishing that gets the excitement going. I think it might be that it's a harbinger of spring. Once we start talking flounder again we know summer is right around the corner. It's especially nice now for me since my 6 year old daughter will be going into her 3rd flounder season. She has moved up from her Disney Princess - Zebco to a more substantial rod and can't wait to use it. She was able to pull in a few 20+ inch fish with that Princess rod and it reminded me of the show that you did where you showed how easy it was to catch flounder with the Danny Dinosaur rod.

Anyway, I have also had small flounder in tanks a couple of times and they are interesting predators. One of the things that first struck me when I had them in there was how high their eyes will stick up. When they come into the boat, they tend to recess back into the skull but under water they are on stalks. By the shape of the iris it and the orientation of the eyes, I would bet they have close to 360 degrees of vision. They also seem to move those eyes independently. They are great stalkers. I used to like to put a piece of clam on monofilament (no hook - just tied on) and a splilt shot and drag it around the bottom of the tank. They would creep up to it by rippling those long fins on the side with the head arched up ever so slightly. I felt like I was taking them for a walk. You really get an idea of how they hit a bait by watching them attack in a tank. Finally, you never realize how big of a bait they will go after until you see other fish in the tank disappear. Come in and check on the tank in the morning sometimes to find one or two small minnows missing that are now a bulge in the belly of the flounder. They can get unbelievable amounts of food down in one piece.

Man I can't wait for it now
 

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Fred, we've never met but I just had to take a minute and reply, and thank you for your great postings. Not only is the information that you so generously provide to this website outstanding, but your writing is definitely some of the best I've ever come across. Not to embarass myself with my own ignorance, but I can't believe that you haven't written outdoor articles professionally, and if you haven't you damn well should consider doing so. The details, professionalism and prose (even when your joking around with someone!) in your postings are terrific. Believe me, it's one thing to be able to organize facts into sentences and make them logical and coherent; but it's all together something else to "tell a story" that makes the reader want for more.

Congratulations on another fine piece, and keep them coming! I love my flounder fishing (which I do almost exclusively now in the OC, MD area).
 

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THE WATER TEMPERATURE RANGED FROM 58-68 DEGREES TODAY.
You have me looking forward to your annual opening day tournament. Speaking with a few dudes at the moment that are interested in fishing it. Would you consider adding a heaviest stringer category? If not, would you consider increasing the amount of flounder to be weighed to at lest 6?
 

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Fred

Makes me wish opening day of the 2010 season was here!! Another good post!! You need to compile all these and publish, it would quickly achieve best seller status!

I hope to head down to check on the house in a couple weeks, i'm going to see if i can stop in and check out some of those rigs you've been tying.

Take care and keep these posts coming!

Vince
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Fred, we've never met but I just had to take a minute and reply, and thank you for your great postings. Not only is the information that you so generously provide to this website outstanding, but your writing is definitely some of the best I've ever come across. Not to embarass myself with my own ignorance, but I can't believe that you haven't written outdoor articles professionally, and if you haven't you damn well should consider doing so. The details, professionalism and prose (even when your joking around with someone!) in your postings are terrific. Believe me, it's one thing to be able to organize facts into sentences and make them logical and coherent; but it's all together something else to "tell a story" that makes the reader want for more.

Congratulations on another fine piece, and keep them coming! I love my flounder fishing (which I do almost exclusively now in the OC, MD area).
Thanks for the kind words. Did write for different papers and mags for ten years. Just got tired of editors who needed to change things and when the last one changed it to the point where I didn't recognize it I knew it was time to hang it up. Besides, places like the Barn make for more contact with fisherman and can have a lot of fun at the same time.

Thanks to everyone for their very nice comments.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·


THE WATER TEMPERATURE RANGED FROM 58-68 DEGREES TODAY.
You have me looking forward to your annual opening day tournament. Speaking with a few dudes at the moment that are interested in fishing it. Would you consider adding a heaviest stringer category? If not, would you consider increasing the amount of flounder to be weighed to at lest 6?
Will spin it past Mike but I doubt it. We try to gear this to cover everyone and some guys like to fish alone or with one other person. It's been working well so far but will let Mike make the final decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Want to get an idea how a flounder hunts and feeds? Watch a cat. If a summer flounder had a long tail you could see it waggle back and forth with excitement.

Most other fish see their target and attack. Big fish usually has the advantage by attacking with speed. The only problem is that small fish can usually see the bigger fish and try to protect itself. Hide in cover or move to shallow water or just make one good move to make the bigger fish miss and loose sight. Enter the flounder.

What could be more effective than looking like the bottom spending little energy other than breathing and being able to choose just about any meal you want as it walks, crawls or swims right by you. That is how the flounder has an advantage over just about any other predator in our waters. If you understand how the flounder hunts and attacks you can understand just how much presentation can mean when fishing for them.

Again to the cat. Ever watch one hunt. Sneaky and calculating. You can see in their eyes that they are processing all they need to do to make the kill. Not very often you will see a cat just charge in. Get as close as possible to eliminate the chance of a miss and attack when the target isn't expecting. Same as a flounder. I will say that in our aquarium that whatever a flounder decides to attack has no idea what is happening about 90% of the time and maybe even higher than that. It is so lopsided that it makes me wonder why nature has given one fish such an advantage.

A flounder has both eyes on top of it's head. A flounder spends most of it's time laying on the bottom. However a flounder isn't that well suited to hunt directly on the bottom. Picking up a target on the bottom is like us trying to focus on the ends of our nose. Eyes almost cross and vision blurs. For a flounder to hunt efectively on the bottom it needs to keep it's target about six inches in front of it. Closer than that gives the advantage to the target. I've seen flounder actually back up from grass shrimp to try to get them at their lethal strike distance. Perfect hunting for a flounder is if it's target is moving a few inches to a few feet off the bottom. You will get more strikes lifting your bait up and down off the bottom. Just dragging you rigs across the bottom will result in fewer strikes.

With it's camouflage ability the flounder has the ability of actually being able to move very close to a target and check it out before deciding to attack. Ever see a cat move in and get all ready to strike then change it's posture. Relaxes and curls it's tail around it's body. Decision was made not to attck. Same with a flounder. Strike position looking like it's ready then will just lay flat and let the target pass by. When you can have anything you want there isn't a need to have everything. If something doesn't look right the flounder just won't budge.

Ever fish an area that you swear should have lounder but you can't get a bite? We hear it all. Water was cold or hot and better yet the flounder just weren't there. Rethink the problem and include, my presentation wasn't good enough. Flounder never have to go hungry. They can eat all day long if they want to. So much food in their kitchen that they can grow fat hardly ever having to move very far. If we remember that the bottom of most of our waters especially back bays are saturated with just about everything a lounder eats. I believe their major diet consists of grass shrimp and small crabs. Will jump all over a small fish if it happens into their range but grass shrimp and crabs make up the main source. Just look at the bottom of your cooler at the end of a day of flounder fishing. Most time flounder will regurgatate their stomach contents after being caught. Coolers can be covered with grass shrimp.


Always remember that we could be fishing or a flounder that just isn't all that hungry. We need to do everything possible to not only make a good presentation but to also make our bait look like the easiest meal the flounder has ever gone after. We want a happy meal right on the table in front of it. Speaking of happy meals. I'm heading up to Sam's Pizza on the Boardwalk in about five minutes for a slice. Next will be what is a happy meal for a flounder.:D
 

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Fred I've never recalled you writing about fishing (for fluke ) with crab or segmented pieces. Do you think that a live small crab floating under a bobber would work. I realize it's easier to use a minow, but with you inquizsative nature wonder if you tried it. Also wonder what size crab is to much, I would think it would elimate the short fish bite, plus probably not the first choice on the menu. But then again they eat mantis shrimp and their meaner than crabs plus have a shell to digest. I guess they would target the crabs when thier molting, I understand they give off a scent at that time. From your previous writings (thank you) I know your not a fan of the dead stick, I would have to try a second bait on a ds, if the drift and traffic allowed it. I'm all over the place here, thinking out loud on line. I have more questions for another time. Thanks :bow:
 

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Dude I want to live next to you so I can watch and study you and try to learn what you have in the pass. If I could only have quarter of the wisdome you have, it would make a better fisherman and a better person. The man who has the wisdome to share has the gold and that is better then money.
 

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Thanks again Fred:thumbsup: I read your previous thread and applied what I learned from it last year and had my best Flounder season ever...by far.
It's really cool in this, What Have You Done For Me Lately, world that somebody give so generously of thieir knowlegde. All he ask if your around stop in and talk fishing, and I have. No Bones has changed my outlook on B&T's, I was really sour on them, sell you crappy bait and give you worthless information. Another thing thats really neat about N/B's is you know how you walk into a tackle shop and all the local hanger outers turn and look like why are you interrupting. Never got that feeling even when I first started stopping in, prior to being local hanger outer. :razz: P/S their are other good B&T's who aren't sponsors so I can't mention their names.
 

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Fred... still need to get that okuma avenger baitfeeder 35 or 40 from you. Do you carry 6'6" MH Shamano Compre's? My buddy needs one, figured I would try and give you some business. He also needs a small baitfeeder as well. Also, please freeze some grass shrimp for me if possible and I will pick them up when we come get the rods/reels.

Dave
 

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Wont be long Now

Another great post Fred, I can relate to your pain living in PA, maybe I'll be fortunate enough to retire closer to the salt when the kids grow up.:thumbsup:

I have been reading your posts for close to 10 years now and have learned alot of your tips and tricks that have really improved my flounder fishing abilities. As you continue to observe and learn about the habits and hunting style of flounder, we keep learning from your insights you share with us at the barn. Thanks for sharing:wave:

Even though I still have prob a foot of snow in the front yard, I know spring is right around the corner with the stronger February sun and longer days are sure signs of spring:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
And what is a flounders happy meal?

With the ability to move in and eyeball any piece of food it wants a flounder can be very selective. Is it worth the effort? Can this thing turn around and hurt me? Just guessing but there has to be some kind of process that either triggers, delays or totally stops a stike. I know I've seen it many times in our aquarium where the flounder moves in ready to strike then just slowly turns away only to strike something else.

There isn't anything that I can see that causes this becaus sometimes it turns away from one shrimp to attack another. I do however see what will at least get the flounders attention and start it stalking. Slow movement. Drop small baitfish in the aquarium that take off real fast and the flounder may arch it's back and make like it's ready to stike but looses interest almost immedietly. Unless they are on a massive feeding frenzy that they will go on once in a while a flounder just doesn't want to expend much energy on a meal. A sniper isn't going to get up and run after a target. Not only a waste of time but also reveals their location and thats not how it works for a sniper.

While we think of flounder as motionless bottom dwellers they aren't. Their eyes are always moving. Positioned on top of the head they give it almost 360 degrees of visiblity. Eyes never seem to stop moving. Knowing whats around them is their greatest advantage not only for feeding but also for spotting potential predators. They know what is going on around them. Just like a good sniper.

Flounder are geared to see and hone in on anything that moves. On and near the bottom that can be anything and everything. A bait dragged across the bottom will get SOME attention. If it is dragged very close to a flounder waiting in ambush. A bait bounced or lifted up and sown off the bottom will draw much more attention from a greater distance. More flounder will see and actively moved bait. Not speed wise but vertically.

Nothing will make a flounder happier than seeing a bait nearby, bouncing up and down about two feet off the bottom. It's like a butterfly fluttering around right in front of a cat. Flounder and cat will trip over themselves jumping all over it. While baitfish dart around in the water and flounder try to decide if it's worth the chase here comes your bouncing bait. The only thing that will make it happier is if it's almost moving in slow motion. Sometimes flounder need time to decide. If they are hungry that may only take a split second. When they aren't hungry and that is often just because of the amount of food available they can stalk for incredibly long periods of time. It's almost like a game. A lot like a cat toying with something when it isn't in need of a meal. They almost seem to enjoy stalking without striking as if practicing for the next hunt. Enjoying the fine art of pursuit with being noticed. Flounder do however have a trigger that can be pulled by effective fisherman that will trigger the killer even when a kill isn't called for.

You keep anything baitwise actively moving in front of a flounder long enough and it will not be able to stop or turn away. It will strike no matter how full it's stomach is. Even a fat cat will go for a kill if the target insists on teasing it. There is no better tool fisherman can imploy to improve their catch than to almost stop the boat in a productive area. No secret bait or rig will outfish a super slow presentation. I don't believe in many certainties when fishing but this is one and it's number one. By slowing your boats drift by running the motor or using a sea anchor and working you bait up and down you will outfish every other boat around you every time.

We have murkey waters with all kinds of debris moving along with the current. Weeds, rotting straw grass and god only knows what else moving across the bottom with the tide. Here comes your bait bouncing up and down like it doesn't have a care in the world and it's moving along so slow that flounder even when full will just have to go attack. Simple fact of taking the flounders feeding habbits and turning the tables on it. Give the perfect sniper the perfect bullseye and you can pull it's trigger. The happy meal for the flounder is the slow bouncing bait that has come and get me written all over it.
 

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