BASS BARN banner

461 - 480 of 486 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #461
Overhead reefs. The back bays are loaded with reefs. Just watched a video where someone placed a camera on a crab trap. By the time it hit bottom there were fish all over it. So a crab pot has structure and that offers some protection. A crab pot has bait and that will attract all kinds of attention. Fishing a long time ago up a narrow channel I was handicapped by a long line of commercial crab pots. Couldn't just drift down the channel with floats lining both edges. Thats when I started running the motor to control my position. Could see about where the pot would be by looking where the line went down and I slid the boat as close as possible. After only one drift I found out that just about all my fish came within a few feet of the pots. The flounder were holding real close to the pots because the pots were holding just about everything they wanted to eat. I had about thirty little reefs and chum pots all lined up for me. Perfect. We make the mistake of thinking of reefs as massive underwater structures made up of sunken ships and tire bundles or bridge rubble. Sometimes reefs can be little pinpoint pieces that to many are just something to get their prop wrapped around.

Now for the Overhead Reef. Years ago I helped a friend pull out his floating docks at the end of the summer. He made blocks to suspend them off the ground. We were sitting there about fifteen minutes after pulling the first one when about ten small tog about three inches long just dropped to the ground. I had to check this out. Got under the float and found so many grooves and crevices, holes and gaps for all kinds of life to call home. The foam was covered with plant life and barnacles hung on wherever possible. Not only did the tog drop out but also worms some about a foot long began hanging down searching for the water. Never seen another piece of structure in the back that held this much life. At our dock we have the foam blocks encased in black plastic but the growth still builds up and thousands of critters call it home. I can take our minnow net and drag it against the bottom of the floats and come up with enough life to keep a biology class busy for a year. Lots of things I can't identify but many I can. Baby blueclaws about the size of a quarter. Small minnows and tons of grass shrimp. Everything a flounder would love to eat.

Most fish don't like bright shallow water for a few reasons. They know that in shallow water with bright sunlight can turn the table where they can go from predator to prey. Shallow water holds much more food than deep water. Predators will definitely hold in deep water even if it's just for protection but they know that shallow water will be a better hunting zone. For a fish like a flounder what better place to lurk than under a floating or hard dock. First of all there is shade and shade is not only protection for them but it also allows for better visibility when looking up and the flounders design has them looking up. they can be invisible laying on the bottom under the docks and just look up at the delicatessen above them. At our dock we have about sixty feet between our floating docks. I fish off them as often as possible and it is so neat to see how these floats work. I can take my float with a minnow and toss it out into the open shallow water and do nothing but annoy my minnow. Put it next to the dock and get ready. That minnow is right next to the ultimate shallow water kill box. And don't think of shallow water less than four feet deep as only holding small fish. My largest flounder to date at our floating dock is 24 inches. Striper is 36 inches and weakie is five pounds. All kinds of commotion with party boats and restaurants with music and all kinds of noise and big fish are still there lurking. Floating and stationary docks are the floating reefs of the back bay. Take a shot the next trip and you can put a keeper in the box before you even get on your boat. One thing I have noticed when fishing like this is they seem to prefer very small targets like a tiny bucktail tipped with a very small bait. Never seem to do much with a larger bucktail or even a large baited hook. Think small and you may catch big.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
128 Posts
Ok Fred I'm going to ask the most obvious question because you keep hitting on it and I've never heard this proposed. As you've stated time after time, Fluke love grass shrimp. They are always full of them, all season long. How come no one uses grass shrimp as bait. My first guess is due to their small size. Well I'm not sure about flounder but I will use my experience in duck hunting to propose an idea. When you duck hunt and put out decoys we use some that are very large. Some are 3 or 4 times the size of a normal duck strictly because they are easier to see. Ducks can see VERY well but they lack the ability to distinguish size. So a decoy does not have to be to scale. If the same holds true for a fluke (and I am not sure that it is) why not create a bait that looks like a large grass shrimp? They seem to be a favorite food source and in turn would be the most logical thing to use.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #463
A few do use grass shrimp but they do have one drawback. They are fragile and if you are going to use them on hard or rough bottom you will spend more time re-baiting than catching. I know a lot of fisherman used and still do use grass shrimp for weakies. Some bait wholesalers sell them frozen but frozen are even more fragile than fresh. I have used them with the float rig with some success with only one drawback. Where a shiner or live minnow seems to draw almost all flounder strikes the grass shrimp pulls in all the fish I use the float rig to stay away from. Little seabass will come right up for a few grass shrimp as well as those little pesky sand sharks.

There are many artificial shrimp on the market and some do look like a large grass shrimp. I have tried a few and just wasn't impressed with the results. Gulp makes a good looking shrimp and it seems like they were the hot ticket for a year or two then something else they made took over. I have watched flounder eat grass shrimp when we had our aquariums and it was an easy feed. Could always catch a hundred or so with the drop net whenever we needed them. Flounder ate them at their leisure. When we dropped in a net full of live shiners or spearing the flounder shut down on the shrimp until the shiners were gone. It's almost like they eat them because they are always around but not filling. When another target comes into the game they stop eating the shrimp. Some of the most interesting feeding times where when we watched the flounder feed on the shrimp. The shrimp would always move around and the flounder would just watch. Those independent eyes checking out every shrimp that moved. It seems like the flounder wouldn't move much for the shrimp like one wasn't worth the effort. Eventually a shrimp would move right up to a flounder and that would be it for the shrimp. I don't think there is anything we can do with rod and line that could make an artificial shrimp act and move like a live one.

For me I would rather have a bunch of grass shrimp for chum. Just move up-tide from where you plan on fishing and toss a bunch over. Let them go so they drop down in the current to be near the bottom where you fish. For me and where I fish, grass shrimp make good food for flounder but just not a very good bait. Same thing with small crabs. Find many crabs especially those little mud crabs with the two tone brown claws in flounder stomachs. Mud crabs, blueclaws, green crabs, spider crabs and sand crabs are a big target for flounder. Tried them many times on a hook with zero results. No matter what I try they just seem to spin on the leader.

Now you got me thinking and it is February and maybe I should give the shrimp a more serious try and also with a better attitude. Won't be that long before we are back out there again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
128 Posts
Thanks for the quick response. As I unloaded a few half full packets of gulp new penny shrimp into a container of juice I thought about it and wanted to see what your thoughts were on using them as a bait. I did pretty well with the Gulp new penny shrimp on a teaser above my bucktail last year but I will definitely be focusing some more attention towards minnows this year after reading this post. Thank you again for sharing your wealth of knowledge it helped me catch more fish last year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #465
The best ever big Flounder bait. Without a doubt it's big baits. My favorites are live spot and bluefish alive or dead. More difficult dead but still worth the effort. Remember that big baits will cut down on the number of strikes but those strikes will more than likely be keeper fish. Best time is summer when the back seems to hold nothing but small flounder. There are still big fish down there but the small flounder, sea bass and the so called junk fish are just way to active. In fact the larger flounder are more than likely feeding on those small so called junk fish. So a gulp or minnow may not even make a big flounder blink. (I know Flounder don't blink) :D

During the hot water times in late July and August look for deep water. Bottom will be cooler, quieter and dimmer and for a big flounder looking for that one big meal for the day it's a perfect spot to set up shop. If you can get live spots then think about anchoring up over the deep water. A live spot swimming around on a hook sends out plenty of vibes that a big flounder will pick up. Some like to hook the spot under the dorsal fin. This will make it more active down there but it may also swim around in circles just tangling your line. Plus reeling it in a few times can eventually kill the spot dragging it sideways against the current. I like hooking them in the mouth. Won't be as active but will still bop around enough to alert any flounder around that dinner is close by and in trouble. Don't pin their mouth shut. Spot are oxygen gulpers. Their mouth is working a mile a minute gulping in water. Putting a hook through the bottom lip and out through the top pins it almost shut causing the spot to become lethargic or even die. In through the open mouth and out near it's nostrils will alow the spot to be active until something eats it. A bonus here is that you will also have the most perfect bait for any striper or weakfish that may happen by. My favorite set up is a good old fashioned top and bottom rig with two short leadered hooks so the spot can't tangle with each other. A size 4/0 or 5/0 gammi is a good size hook for this rig.

Bluefish are a little more difficult because it is so much harder to keep them alive. If you have a live well and can catch your own then great but try this. Put some ice in the well to calm them down. Cool water is like a sedative when you catch them in warm water. I hook them the same way through the open mouth. Don't worry about their teeth. They will only be able to chew on the hook when baited this way. Blues up to about ten inches are no problem for a good size flounder but my favorite are around seven to eight inches in length. If you only have dead snappers then forget anchoring and do the slowest drift you can and cover the entire area of deep water. I like to use a big bucktail around four ounces and in the back that is big. this time place the hook through both lower and upper jaws. This will pin the mouth shut reducing the chance of the blue having it's mouth opening up all the way and having it's gill plates flair out. If using live snapper blues I just use a one hook rig to conserve bait. Blues will die faster on the hook than spot so one at a time gives me more time fishing in the deep water.

One thing about flounder fishing is certain. Everything I just typed is wrong on any given day. You may catch or have a buddy who catches the big one with a small bait in shallow water. But deep water, big bait fishing will give you the best shot possible at big flounder in hot weather. Strip baits don't count because even a small flounder will attack a huge strip of anything. when they swallow it the strip will just slide right down and coil up in it's stomach. Big whole baits will usually deter small flounder from messing with it.

It may be the slowest day of fishing you ever had but when it pays off it pays off big time. Fun when you can sit there watching the rod tip bounce around as the spot or blue swims around. Eventually you will notice the rod tip get a lot more active as spot or blue sees death coming at it. Let the flounder take it for about twenty seconds or longer as it lays there using it's jaw to rotate the fish so it will slide right down. Then tighten up and set the hook like you are trying to rip the flounders head off. You need that to make sure the hook penetrates. Good Luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,176 Posts
The best ever big Flounder bait. Without a doubt it's big baits. My favorites are live spot and bluefish alive or dead. More difficult dead but still worth the effort. Remember that big baits will cut down on the number of strikes but those strikes will more than likely be keeper fish. Best time is summer when the back seems to hold nothing but small flounder. There are still big fish down there but the small flounder, sea bass and the so called junk fish are just way to active. In fact the larger flounder are more than likely feeding on those small so called junk fish. So a gulp or minnow may not even make a big flounder blink. (I know Flounder don't blink) :D

During the hot water times in late July and August look for deep water. Bottom will be cooler, quieter and dimmer and for a big flounder looking for that one big meal for the day it's a perfect spot to set up shop. If you can get live spots then think about anchoring up over the deep water. A live spot swimming around on a hook sends out plenty of vibes that a big flounder will pick up. Some like to hook the spot under the dorsal fin. This will make it more active down there but it may also swim around in circles just tangling your line. Plus reeling it in a few times can eventually kill the spot dragging it sideways against the current. I like hooking them in the mouth. Won't be as active but will still bop around enough to alert any flounder around that dinner is close by and in trouble. Don't pin their mouth shut. Spot are oxygen gulpers. Their mouth is working a mile a minute gulping in water. Putting a hook through the bottom lip and out through the top pins it almost shut causing the spot to become lethargic or even die. In through the open mouth and out near it's nostrils will alow the spot to be active until something eats it. A bonus here is that you will also have the most perfect bait for any striper or weakfish that may happen by. My favorite set up is a good old fashioned top and bottom rig with two short leadered hooks so the spot can't tangle with each other. A size 4/0 or 5/0 gammi is a good size hook for this rig.

Bluefish are a little more difficult because it is so much harder to keep them alive. If you have a live well and can catch your own then great but try this. Put some ice in the well to calm them down. Cool water is like a sedative when you catch them in warm water. I hook them the same way through the open mouth. Don't worry about their teeth. They will only be able to chew on the hook when baited this way. Blues up to about ten inches are no problem for a good size flounder but my favorite are around seven to eight inches in length. If you only have dead snappers then forget anchoring and do the slowest drift you can and cover the entire area of deep water. I like to use a big bucktail around four ounces and in the back that is big. this time place the hook through both lower and upper jaws. This will pin the mouth shut reducing the chance of the blue having it's mouth opening up all the way and having it's gill plates flair out. If using live snapper blues I just use a one hook rig to conserve bait. Blues will die faster on the hook than spot so one at a time gives me more time fishing in the deep water.

One thing about flounder fishing is certain. Everything I just typed is wrong on any given day. You may catch or have a buddy who catches the big one with a small bait in shallow water. But deep water, big bait fishing will give you the best shot possible at big flounder in hot weather. Strip baits don't count because even a small flounder will attack a huge strip of anything. when they swallow it the strip will just slide right down and coil up in it's stomach. Big whole baits will usually deter small flounder from messing with it.

It may be the slowest day of fishing you ever had but when it pays off it pays off big time. Fun when you can sit there watching the rod tip bounce around as the spot or blue swims around. Eventually you will notice the rod tip get a lot more active as spot or blue sees death coming at it. Let the flounder take it for about twenty seconds or longer as it lays there using it's jaw to rotate the fish so it will slide right down. Then tighten up and set the hook like you are trying to rip the flounders head off. You need that to make sure the hook penetrates. Good Luck.
Fred this discussion about Big Baits, and that Big Full Moon that kept me awake last night, got me thinking about Moon Tides when fishing Fluke in the back.

Like you whenever possible I try to time my trips to fish the last 2hrs of the Incoming and first two of the Outgoing. At these times Moon Tides tend to narrow the window of fishability mostly because of the grass. Also because it's a harder running tide, and since I only jig soft plastics, I have to use heavier heads than I want in order to stay in the zone. Though I have never kept track of it, it seems to me that generally speaking I also get stronger winds than normal on the moons, especially at tide changes.

I am curious as to your observations, methods, and success when fishing Fluke on the Moons. Thanks, as always I appreciate your insights.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #467
Hate the moons in the back bays. Current is stronger and that also means dirtier water. Rips the weeds right off the bottom and flushes the silt right out of the little feeder creeks. During moon tides I usually cut down my times to the last and first hour. After that it was a lot harder work and the weeds got heavier. I know I mentioned this before but It's worth bring up again. The easiest fix when drifting strong tides is simple. More weights. That is the wrong solution. The surface water is moving the fastest so combine that with any wind and the flounder needs new sneakers to catch up to your bait. I can't even imagine how many hours I have put on my motor slowing the boat down so my drift speed just about matched the bottom current. In a perfect world all the water and us in boats would be moving at the same speed. Surface water has the least resistance so it moves quicker. If you can run your engine and slow the boat down then even on a moon tide you can fish vertically with even a small weight or bucktail. Fishing this way takes a lot of practice otherwise you and the boat will just spin or do circles. When you master it you will open a whole new window to back bay fishing. While others are using three or four ounces you can fish effectively using half or quarter ounce.

Another trick during the strong tide times is anchoring and pinpointing small certain ares that you have confidence are holding fish. Casting and working these areas can produce better results than trying to drift. Just be prepared to pull the hook and move to another area if one isn't producing. Another method especially if the weed is a problem is to use a float. Have fished the float many weedy times and you forget about the weeds almost immediately. Going to have to try something because I just looked at this years tide chart. June- moon tides are Friday the 9th and Friday the 23rd. July is Sunday the 9th and Sunday the 23rd. August is Monday the 7th and Monday the 21st. SUCKS. Watch out for June. The Apogee falls on the 8th and the Perigee falls on the 23rd.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #468 (Edited)
The shallows. Lots of fun and lots of fish. Just need to know where to go. We in South Jersey are blessed with miles and miles of shallow flats. These flats are food pumps for every hungry fish out there. If you haven't spent any time out on these flats then you may never understand how much food these areas produce. When I had my flat bottom aluminum boat I lived out on these flats only leaving only when my small motor started kicking up the bottom. No matter which direction you look there is food on top of food. When you first pull on to one of these flats you will be amazed at their size. Almost like a mirage as you keep moving but don't seem to get closer to the other side. One of these flats is near our dock. It covers about six square miles with a few little islands here and there.

Where and When to Fish. When is simple. Last of the incoming and first of the outgoing. More water equals more area to fish. These flats are just that. Large flat areas where water depth only varies about a foot. Commercial crabbers love these flats at certain times of the year. High tide you can see all the floats. Low tide and you can see the tops of their pots sticking out of the water. Shallow water for sure but get in and out while the tide is high and have some fun. Where is a little more difficult since these flats have a main artery that will concentrate some if not all of the predators especially on the outgoing tide. No matter how big the flat is there will be at least one or even multiple channels. I use the term channel loosely here because the channel may only be no more than a foot deeper than the rest of the flat. Still these channels will hold more food on the outgoing tide than any other. Fish even baitfish have to move to safer water when the tide is low. Every gull and egret will be looking for any fish that made the mistake of hanging too long. When the tide starts out they will migrate to these channel arteries as it directs them to deeper water. Predators know this and will be right there waiting. Our problem is finding these little channels and that is the difficult pert. Depth finders will make you nuts in shallow water. These channels are about as straight as a politician. They will make S turns and almost back up on itself. They will turn so tight that in less than a second you will be heading in the opposite direction that it moves. The only way I was able to find them was to study them at low tide but now it's a little easier if you can pull up an aerial view like from a satellite. Study this and you can make out the little darker artery that will run through the entire flat. Then all you have to do is either remember or make your own map giving you some idea where the channel is.

I took these two shots today of a small flat that is connected to the large flat I mentioned. It was at the start of the incoming tide so there would be some water in it. If it were dead low the narrow channel would have only been about a foot wide. These shots will give you some idea how flats channels have no rhyme or reason why they go in any direction. Find these channels and work them on the high water and with thin line and light tackle and have more fun than you could imagine. It's a blast on the flats.




Her is another shot of the same area today with a blowout tide. Now you can see the drastic difference in bottom and depth and why predators would set up here. It's the I-95 of the shallow flats.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77,117 Posts
The shallows. Lots of fun and lots of fish. Just need to know where to go. We in South Jersey are blessed with miles and miles of shallow flats. These flats are food pumps for every hungry fish out there. If you haven't spent any time out on these flats then you may never understand how much food these areas produce. When I had my flat bottom aluminum boat I lived out on these flats only leaving only when my small motor started kicking up the bottom. No matter which direction you look there is food on top of food. When you first pull on to one of these flats you will be amazed at their size. Almost like a mirage as you keep moving but don't seem to get closer to the other side. One of these flats is near our dock. It covers about six square miles with a few little islands here and there.

Where and When to Fish. When is simple. Last of the incoming and first of the outgoing. More water equals more area to fish. These flats are just that. Large flat areas where water depth only varies about a foot. Commercial crabbers love these flats at certain times of the year. High tide you can see all the floats. Low tide and you can see the tops of their pots sticking out of the water. Shallow water for sure but get in and out while the tide is high and have some fun. Where is a little more difficult since these flats have a main artery that will concentrate some if not all of the predators especially on the outgoing tide. No matter how big the flat is there will be at least one or even multiple channels. I use the term channel loosely here because the channel may only be no more than a foot deeper than the rest of the flat. Still these channels will hold more food on the outgoing tide than any other. Fish even baitfish have to move to safer water when the tide is low. Every gull and egret will be looking for any fish that made the mistake of hanging too long. When the tide starts out they will migrate to these channel arteries as it directs them to deeper water. Predators know this and will be right there waiting. Our problem is finding these little channels and that is the difficult pert. Depth finders will make you nuts in shallow water. These channels are about as straight as a politician. They will make S turns and almost back up on itself. They will turn so tight that in less than a second you will be heading in the opposite direction that it moves. The only way I was able to find them was to study them at low tide but now it's a little easier if you can pull up an aerial view like from a satellite. Study this and you can make out the little darker artery that will run through the entire flat. Then all you have to do is either remember or make your own map giving you some idea where the channel is.

I took these two shots today of a small flat that is connected to the large flat I mentioned. It was at the start of the incoming tide so there would be some water in it. If it were dead low the narrow channel would have only been about a foot wide. These shots will give you some idea how flats channels have no rhyme or reason why they go in any direction. Find these channels and work them on the high water and with thin line and light tackle and have more fun than you could imagine. It's a blast on the flats.



Off topic but I sure wish they would open that section of 47 up. Put a bridge in and let the good times roll between that sound and Pier 47.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #470
Watch fishing shows. Saturday and Sunday mornings are great. I have three channels that air fishing shows. Watch them all but have my favorites. Not about the host but all about the fish. Some of the shows make me wonder. Bunch of young guys all dressed in sharp outfits fishing on big fast boats for fish or from areas that most of us will never be able to afford to chase or visit. Not much teaching on those shows and more like just watch us catch fish. (rant over) There are however a lot of shows where the host explains the tactics used to catch their targets. Many of those shows are freshwater and we can pick up many useful tips by just paying attention. Some of these freshwater shows have more to in common with back bay fishing than any offshore show. Most are in narrow rivers or streams that resemble our intercoastal waterway. Many lakes resemble some of our sounds and bays. Not much difference chunking for stripers than anchoring up and chunking for big catfish The only big difference to me is that they are contained systems that don't have our seasonal visitors that visit from the ocean. Whats in those lakes is all that will ever be in those lakes.

Watched a show this morning that is a perfect example of how freshwater can help fishing saltwater. Fishing a lake up north for small mouth bass. They tried shallow then deeper water trying to locate the fish. When they did finally locate the smallies they were in deeper water down on the bottom. Both anglers quickly tackled up with a drop shot rig. You can just type in drop shot rig on google and numerous sites will come up explaining the rig. I have used this rig for flounder fishing for years and it's a proven catcher. It started working for me way back when I started using the motor to slow the boat down. Then I could use a very small weight and fish this rig vertically and thats where it shines. Keep preaching that flounder are the true bottom fish they feed through the entire water column. Granted it takes something special to get them up near the surface but from bottom up to what I believe is about six feet is their kill zone. If we had cameras around that six foot off the bottom depth you just wouldn't see much in the way of baitfish. They aren't stupid. You swim there and you are dead. Thats why I love the float rig so much. It keeps my bait in the exact spot where no bait wants to be.

The drop shot is a simple rig that when fished vertically will keep your offering in that kill zone. You can use live, cut or artificial baits and score well because you give it all the action you want just by twitching your wrist. Light tackle, light weights and a slow boat is the most deadly combination hands down. Try to imagine a flounder just laying on the bottom looking around for it's next meal. Camouflage coloring so nothing sees you on the bottom. Only moving part is it's gill plate and independent eyes checking it's surrounding. Bits of weeds and other debris moving along the bottom with the current. The eyes of the hunter sorts out the junk from possible food. Then along comes your drop shot rig. Your bait or artificial a few feet above the bottom just jiggling away catching the hunters eye. A few feet off the bottom keeps it right above the confusion of bottom debris. It's in the flounders field of view so much longer than if you were just dragging bait along the bottom. And it's just screaming out, EAT ME.

There are rigs on the market just like the drop shot carried by many tackle shops only instead of a weight on the bottom they have a jig so you have two target for the flounder to see. Even better providing the bottom isn't covered with weeds. A jig will be like a vacuum cleaner if weeds are abundant. A simple weight won't pick up as much and weed on your rig will just act like a parachute lifting your line right off the bottom. For me it's clean water jig head and weedy water, weight. a simple one hook rig that is easy to make yourself. If you want to get fancy you can add a teaser or a bead or two and any kind of bait you want. Strip baits work great since you are giving it all the action it will need. Same with any soft plastic and you don't need to worry about where you pass the hook through. Just pass the hook through the soft plastic and bounce away. It's pulling every trigger the flounder has for feeding. Also it will be in the kill zone for weakies, stripers and blues. They all visit near bottom more than we imagine. There are only so many baitfish swimming around out there. Checking fish stomachs when cleaning you can see how many shrimp and crabs are consumed, These are near bottom dwellers and thats the table most predators feed at.

During the winter watch any fishing show you can. Many of us may not be fresh water fisherman but we can learn many tactics that will catch a few more fish. They are all fish no matter what water they live in. We are all fisherman and just like us those guys are just trying to generate interest at the hook. Watch and learn.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NotAtWork

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #471
Overhead reefs. The back bays are loaded with reefs. Just watched a video where someone placed a camera on a crab trap. By the time it hit bottom there were fish all over it. So a crab pot has structure and that offers some protection. A crab pot has bait and that will attract all kinds of attention. Fishing a long time ago up a narrow channel I was handicapped by a long line of commercial crab pots. Couldn't just drift down the channel with floats lining both edges. Thats when I started running the motor to control my position. Could see about where the pot would be by looking where the line went down and I slid the boat as close as possible. After only one drift I found out that just about all my fish came within a few feet of the pots. The flounder were holding real close to the pots because the pots were holding just about everything they wanted to eat. I had about thirty little reefs and chum pots all lined up for me. Perfect. We make the mistake of thinking of reefs as massive underwater structures made up of sunken ships and tire bundles or bridge rubble. Sometimes reefs can be little pinpoint pieces that to many are just something to get their prop wrapped around.

Now for the Overhead Reef. Years ago I helped a friend pull out his floating docks at the end of the summer. He made blocks to suspend them off the ground. We were sitting there about fifteen minutes after pulling the first one when about ten small tog about three inches long just dropped to the ground. I had to check this out. Got under the float and found so many grooves and crevices, holes and gaps for all kinds of life to call home. The foam was covered with plant life and barnacles hung on wherever possible. Not only did the tog drop out but also worms some about a foot long began hanging down searching for the water. Never seen another piece of structure in the back that held this much life. At our dock we have the foam blocks encased in black plastic but the growth still builds up and thousands of critters call it home. I can take our minnow net and drag it against the bottom of the floats and come up with enough life to keep a biology class busy for a year. Lots of things I can't identify but many I can. Baby blueclaws about the size of a quarter. Small minnows and tons of grass shrimp. Everything a flounder would love to eat.

Most fish don't like bright shallow water for a few reasons. They know that in shallow water with bright sunlight can turn the table where they can go from predator to prey. Shallow water holds much more food than deep water. Predators will definitely hold in deep water even if it's just for protection but they know that shallow water will be a better hunting zone. For a fish like a flounder what better place to lurk than under a floating or hard dock. First of all there is shade and shade is not only protection for them but it also allows for better visibility when looking up and the flounders design has them looking up. they can be invisible laying on the bottom under the docks and just look up at the delicatessen above them. At our dock we have about sixty feet between our floating docks. I fish off them as often as possible and it is so neat to see how these floats work. I can take my float with a minnow and toss it out into the open shallow water and do nothing but annoy my minnow. Put it next to the dock and get ready. That minnow is right next to the ultimate shallow water kill box. And don't think of shallow water less than four feet deep as only holding small fish. My largest flounder to date at our floating dock is 24 inches. Striper is 36 inches and weakie is five pounds. All kinds of commotion with party boats and restaurants with music and all kinds of noise and big fish are still there lurking. Floating and stationary docks are the floating reefs of the back bay. Take a shot the next trip and you can put a keeper in the box before you even get on your boat. One thing I have noticed when fishing like this is they seem to prefer very small targets like a tiny bucktail tipped with a very small bait. Never seem to do much with a larger bucktail or even a large baited hook. Think small and you may catch big.
Here is a pic I took this morning of floating docks pulled for the winter. You can see the growth clinging to them. Now imagine the weeds and algae that will also be there during the warm months. Can't even believe what hides in there and the predators know it.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
128 Posts
While reading and researching I have found that many will "match the hatch" i.e. in the early spring an abundance of squid in some areas may call for a pink bait. For the guys who focus on mainly an artificial presentation what would you say is the most abundant bait in the bays of southern jersey in late may and early june; and how would those colors progress through the season?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #473
While reading and researching I have found that many will "match the hatch" i.e. in the early spring an abundance of squid in some areas may call for a pink bait. For the guys who focus on mainly an artificial presentation what would you say is the most abundant bait in the bays of southern jersey in late may and early june; and how would those colors progress through the season?
Cleaned a lot of summer flounder from the back over the years. Check every stomach to see what they are feeding on and out of curiosity to see some of the things they will eat. Like I said before, the most common item I have found has to be grass shrimp. Second without a doubt is any kind of small crab. It must be like a bank to bank buffet for them down there. Late May and early June is also the time when the shiners or spearing are mating. Tons of large fat females loaded with eggs and horny males saturate the sod banks as they lay and fertilize the eggs in the weed lining but we hardly ever find them in the flounders stomach. One of our most popular baits are live minnows but again we hardly ever find them in their contents. That because the shiners and minnows just don't share the same territory with the flounder. HOWEVER.

A flounder would love to get it's teeth on any small fish that makes a mistake and swims into their kill zone but it just doesn't happen that often. I have found more baby flounder in larger flounder stomachs than any shiners or minnows. That due to the fact that baby flounder share the same territory as the larger flounder. Minnows stay up in the shallow creeks or hug the sod bank at low tide and shiners stay near the surface. Neither presents itself to flounder very often. If one does make a mistake the flounder will make it pay for it. So if you want to try to match the hatch with artificial's then take a close look at the shiner and minnow and get as close as possible to body shape and color. Keep in mind that the way something looks out of the water may be way different than the way it looks in the water. EXAMPLE. One late summer evening along an inlet me and a friend were casting out into about six feet of water along the beach letting the outgoing tide take our offering right down this six foot deep area. We were hitting flounder, blues and weakies. There were thousands and thousands of shiners pinned against the beach as the predators just waited for one to make a mistake. The sun was setting and it was amazing what happened. About two feet of water from the beach out lit up in a neon chartreuse glow as the sun hit the shiners silver stripe and made it change to chartreuse. In hand there is nothing that would make one think that sunlight could make that kind of color change in a shiner.

Try to remember all the little things no matter how trivial that happen when you catch fish. Make a file either mental or written because it can only help you in the future.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #474
Watch Nature. Everything on this planet alive has one thing in common. Food. Living things must consume food to survive. What is interesting is how all living things have evolved certain ways of feeding. Some scavenge while others hunt but all scavengers will hunt and all hunters will scavenge. We don't get to witness fish feeding very often because they live in a world totally alien to us. Sure many of us have witnessed stripers or blues feed on the surface but how often do we actually get to see a flounder feed? I have been lucky to have aquariums over the years with summer flounder in them and spent hours on end watching how, when and what they feed on. Still the most fascinating fish I have ever watched.

One thing I have come to understand is that each fish in the water seems to have a counterpart on land that we can watch and learn from. For me there is no better example of a flounder living in the water than a praying mantis living on land. They have both taken what nature has given them and turned it into probably the most awesome form of effective feeding that keeps them many many steps ahead of their prey. If you want to learn about flounder feeding in your back yard then just watch a praying mantis or google them and see just how incredible these insects are. Watch them and learn how incredible their flounder counterpart is in their unseen world.

Both are assassin's and probably the ultimate assassin's. Nature has given them the ability to blend in so well with their surroundings that their intended targets never even see them before they strike. They are so effective at this that if it was you or me as a target walking down the street it would be like being swallowed by air. No chase, no fight, no chance of being hurt. Just target, strike, game over. When watching a mantis I wonder why nature gave this insect so many advantages over other insects. In the insect world the praying mantis is a giant and that is the only difference I can see between the mantis and the flounder. In it's world the flounder is no giant but in every other aspect it is a mantis.

I have preached this for years that the best and most effective move I ever made in my flounder fishing was to slow my presentation down. Again the mantis. They will sit just about motionless for hours on a branch blending in perfectly with the leaves. a flounder will lay almost motionless on the bottom for hours blending in perfectly with the bottom. IT'S WHAT ASSASSIN'S DO. The mantis will watch everything around it and process what target it will strike and only on rare occasions will it miss because it won't waste time on a target that is moving too fast. They won't waste time revealing themselves when there is a low chance of a kill. A flounder will also watch everything around it and like the mantis won't waste time on a target moving too fast because it won't reveal it's location for a low percentage kill. When they get an attitude they may go crazy and chase a bait towards the surface but it's rare like a sniper standing up and giving away their location. Not a healthy move.

When I watch the mantis or when we had flounder in the aquarium it was almost always the same. Watch everything and focus on the target that seem to linger the longest. As long as the target was close or moving closer the flounder and mantis will continue to watch. Why move to it when it is moving to you. The strike is blinding and over so quick that other targets are startled but don't leave as if they aren't even sure that something actually happened. When you slow your boat or presentation down you put your offering in their strike zone for a longer period of time allowing their brain to process their chance of success. A sniper doesn't need a machine gun they need one deadly accurate shot. A flounder or mantis doesn't need a school of fish or insects in front of them. they need one specific target to zero in on. When you are able to keep your offering in front of a flounder longer than the other guy you will catch more fish. When I go out I just always assume that there are flounder right under me and I want them to see my offering. Also the larger flounder are so much better at the wait and watch game than smaller flounder. Thats why we catch so many more small flounder. They will move on faster moving targets than the big fish because they just haven't honed their skills of hunting. Just like kids will run around all day while us adults tend to take things easier.

The flounder is the mantis and we can learn much from watching this killer and how they hide, hunt and kill.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,563 Posts
Incredible stuff here Fred. Let's fish together this year. Bring cameras too. Fishing trip/nature trip. Share trade secrets. I have always admired your fishing abilities sir. Thanks for posting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,485 Posts
Discussion Starter #476
Good idea buddy. I appreciate all the help you gave me with the camera equipment. Beginning of June and we can get up on the meadow for the laughing gull hatch plus maybe even a mudhen nest. Then we beat up some big flounder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,301 Posts
Chunking, first let me say thanks for all your flounder fishing post. I have read and thought about your post for years and apply them not only to flounder but to all my fishing salt and fresh and it has improved both.
As my fishing friends and I get older we have been fishing piers and bridges more often and I would like to add a few things that have improved our flounder fishing and might help others who fish the piers. I use basically the same rig as on a boat, dropper loop with a bucktail on the 6" inch end with bait ( minnow or gulp ) and a wide gap hook on the 18" end , usually. with a minnow. I try to time my fishing with the first and last couple of hours before and after the tide change, when the current is at a minimum ( when the tide is running at full strength its is hard to hold bottom and it seems less productive ) .
If your familiar with our local piers you will see most fisherman bring their chairs and dead stick the rest of the day. This will result in less fish and the likely hood that what they do catch will be gut hooked. You have to work a pier, steadily lift and drop your rig a foot or so and move slowly along the pier where ever their is room. I was shown this technique a few years ago and it has proved much more productive than I would have believed. Hope this will help
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,108 Posts
Maranvin - chunking no longer particpates on this Board....:thumbsdown:
 
461 - 480 of 486 Posts
Top