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Before we know it the 2007 summer flounder season will be here. More than likely is the fact that we will be looking at a larger keeper. I hear all the moans and groans at the dock from anglers who fear what many think will be a 17.5 inch keeper. Even if we do end up with that size limit remember one thing. A 17.5 inch summer flounder is a nice fish but it's not a big fish.

There are many things we can do to improve our odds with these fish. Some we can do before we even get in the boat and others are when we are right over them. I have enjoyed many years of fishing for flounder and have refined my tackle and more importantly my technique for them. Now flounder fishing has become my most favorite fishing trip because it has become a finess game. Every area in our back bays holds good size fish and big fish. It's sorting through the smaller ones to get to them that makes it so much fun for me.

If you don't fish the back or are just starting then find someone in your area who does and pick their brain. You can gain years of knowledge in a short time by talking to the few who have fished an area and know it well. I was lucky that my fathers love for back bay fishing and his patience gave me a great advantage. He was a master and I couldn't have had a better teacher.

I hope this thread goes on and we get lots of feedback so we can all pick up valuable information. The tip today may make your trip tomorrow. I'm starting with what has worked for me. Like I said. After many years I have refined my trips to be productive for larger flounder.

Prepare your bait for battle. I can't tell you how many anglers come into the store and say. Give me some squid and a pint of minnows. Not a bad way to start but they are going to be one of thousands dragging squid and a minnow across the bottom. Truthfully I haven't used squid in about 20 years. Never liked the way it attracts dirt. The packages of precut are often way to long and most run through it with a hook about three times until it looks like a knot. Wad of bait that often spends it's time on the bottom spinning and wrapping the leader around the rest of the rig. On any strip bait I pass the hook through once. Now you have stopped the spinning and have a slender fluttering strip that will entice a flounder.

Minnows are without a doubt my favorite flounder bait. Sometimes the bigger the better but not always. When the bite is slow I go with small minnows. Sometimes it's the tiny baits that get the big hits. Even when I lived in the city I caught my own minnows. Started with a pint from the dock but was ready to catch my own. I always have at least one minnow trap in the boat. One bunker will bait two traps. I have about fifty feet of line on each one. When I start fishing an area I nose the boat up to one of the small feeder creeks and toss them in. Distance depends on how much water. Just need enough to caover the trap. Half hour later and you should have a new supply of healthy minnows. They will put the ones from the dock to shame because they haven't been crammed into a bait box or tank all week. I also poke both ends through with a broom handle. Traps off the shelf have small holes that don't let the jumbo minnows in.

Bait buckets are fine if you want to kill or distress your minnows. Ever find a bunch of minnows dead in your bucket with their mouths wide open and gills flared open? They sufficated. Just like a plastic bag over your head. A pint of minnows can suck the oxygen out of the water in minutes. First they are at the surface gulping for oxygen and then they die. My standard yellow and white bucket has been modified. Just took my drill and ran about thirty 1/4 inch holes through the bottom. When the bucket is in the water it will allow a better flow through of clean oxygenated water. When it is out it will allow the water to drain out. Minnows will do better damp than in dead water. You will also find healthier minnows if you leave them for the next trip. A week at the dock with holes through the bottom is the ideal way to go. Some like to keep them on wet paper over a tray of ice in a cooler. This will keep them alive for a long time but can put them into deep shock or kill them when you drop them into the warm water. The damp iced paper works for many but I don't use it. Minnows can lighten and darken to their surroundings. Covered in a cool place makes the darkest of all minnows. I use the bait bucket but will also have a whits bucket with about three inches of water in it. I always try to keep about six minnows in it while fishing. Also I keep the bucket in the bright sunlight. These minnows will be at their lightest. It takes a few minutes for them to darken and a bright visable minnow on a dark muddy bottom just screams EAT ME. Every once in a while I change the water in the white bucket to keep it cool and fresh.

For strip bait preporation I have a set way that seems to work. No matter what kind of strip you use try keeping kosher salt close by. I take a piece of aluminum foil and lay two pieces of paper towel on it. My strips are cut before I even reach the dock and I lay them out straight on the towels. Cover each with kosher salt and stack more strips on top with more salt. The salt will keep pulling the liquids out of the strip and the paper towels will absorb them. This method will keep the strips firm and on mackerel and bluefish this is important. Take the time to trim off as much of the flesh as possible from your strip bait. Flounder aren't looking for a quarter pounder. A thin strip that flutters in the current looks better than a hunk of bait. Plus by thinning the strip you have much less peal back of flesh from the skin. Every time I grab a strip I just fold the foil back over and keep them out of the sun. Salt will draw off the water but not the oil. A dry looking strip will still leave a good scent in the water.

Now I have two excellent baits ready for my trip. The only thing left is to find a third. SHINERS. Either fresh or frozen. They both work fine so I usually use frozen Easire to just buy a pack at the dock but ask to see them first. Small shiners don't work as well as the larger ones. Small tend to fall off the hook faster. If you are using a minnow trap you can usually catch some fresh. They move into the shallow feeder creeks after the minnows. If you aren't catching minnows then you should be catching shiners. Best to keep these guys cold. Don't waste time trying to keep them alive. Look at them the wrong way and they go belly up. If left in warm sunlight they become soft and mushy real fast. Cold keeps them firm and bright colored. You can hook them through the eyes for good results. If the shiners are fresh or good size frozen I try running the hook through the bottom lip and out the top just like a minnow. Takes a little time to get the nack but it can be done.

Thats my bait prep for a day of flounder fishing. Not big on the gulps and other packaged baits. With strips, minnows and shiners I have enough to play with. Not saying that they don't work but natural has always worked for me. I know BIGGESTJACK has the attention span of a gnat so I'll stop here. This is fun and still have line, rigs, rods, reels, depth, drift and wind to talk about...............Thanks Dad.;)
 

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Thanks for the info .. Can't wait for the rest.. I've watched your DVD about 10x already and my favorite episode is the one where you fish for fluke .. I take this advice very seriously because I believe preparation is the key to a great fishing trip..We have all winter to prepare and learn more about the sport...I have learned alot from all the posts on the BB, this informative site is a valuable resource to all fisherman and boaters who are willing to ask questions and learn...Thanks..
 

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Thanks fred I am making a new folder and taking notes. This is good stuff.:)
 

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Very very very good post Fred!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I enjoy fishing the backwaters myself. I learned alot from the guys at my marina that fish alot back there. We have caught fish as big in the backwaters as we do out on the offshore sites where I take my fluke charters. Some years the fishing is outstanding in the back waters. We have caught fluke up to 29 inches in water so shallow you can see the bottom. The guys that are good at it know every edge and hole that hold fish. They also know which wind and tide make those areas most fishable. When I fish back there I use 20 lb fluorocarbon leaders with just minnows. It is so beautiful to fish in the skinny water with the sun rising and the local wildlife awakening.
 

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Fred, great post,. very informative. Caught my personnel best flounder last year, a 7 lber. with the last minnow in the minnow bucket. He was small and very light colored, probally from being in the bucket so long. Keep the good info coming.:)
 

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As always very informative Fred, thanks. I do many things you mentioned and have for a long time. As most who back bay flounder a lot I've had mixed results through the yrs. and am always looking for ways to improve.

I especially liked the tip about opening the minnow trap holes. Never really thought about them being too small for the bigger minnows. Also gonna give the white bucket to lighten the colr a try. Can't wait for the other info. I'm sure this post will bring:)

Grab
 

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Great Info, keep it coming

Thanks for all of the tips Fred, I like your idea of drilling holes in the minnow bucket to keep the water circulation to keep the minnows nice & lively. I like you had a great teacher in my dad and fish with him all the time in the back and enjoy talking with him to come up with a game plan depending on the conditions of the day. Keep the ideas coming Fred, all good tips:)
 

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Great post Fred, thanks. I really think you should give Gulp an honest shot though, I will always have them in my fluke arsenal now. Put them in the hands of an angler like yourself and who knows what can happen.

RyanF
 

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Great post Fred...keep 'em coming...too many guys ignore the back when fishing. I learned a long time ago, not to run over fish to get to fish...my best in the back last year went 6.5 lbs...my neighbor's best was 8 lbs...and both came out of the same WW hole....there plenty of bigun's in the back,,,:D
 
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