March 04, 2022
By Rick Ryals
I’d love to be able to list the top flounder baits for everywhere in Florida, and then we could all fish the number one bait forever and save lots of time and money, not to mention keeping our freezers full of tasty filets. The problem is, I’ve caught flounder in 8 inches of water 40 miles from the ocean, and I’ve caught them in 140 feet of water 40 miles offshore. I’m going to try and give you eight of the best flounder baits, in no particular order, and when and where you need to fish them.
1. Live Mullet on a Fishfinder Rig
There’s no denying it. More big flounder have been caught on a live mullet than any other rig. You can use ¼ oz. weight and fish it in 12” of water, or a 3 oz egg sinker and drop it forty feet. Slowly drag it across the bottom until a sharp thump stops it in its tracks. Then WAIT. Give it a little slack and wait some more. The biggest mistake most people make is using too long a leader. Flounder lay on the bottom. Mullet will swim straight up to avoid them. An 8” leader is plenty.
2. Mud Minnow on Jighead
#1 producer and easy way to fish. For the most part junk fish such as pinfish, and tiny croakers will not hit them nearly as fast as they will chew up live shrimp. Regardless of what you might think, I have found very little benefit to picking out the biggest minnows. The bigger ones die faster and the flounder are more than happy to pile on the little ones. There is no reason to wait for a flounder to swallow a mud minnow like you would a mullet.
3. D.O.A. 3-Inch Shrimp
This bait is fantastic IF you fish it in the right conditions. Everybody knows flounder lay up shallow at night. Well, they don’t all leave at daylight, but they are very spooky when it comes to lures or sinkers crashing into their area. Walk a D.O.A. shrimp in front of a flounder in inches of quiet, barely moving water, and he’ll pile on it.
4. New Concept Mitey-Mite & Gulp Mullet
New Concept Mitey-Mite spinner bait 3/8 oz jighead with willow blade. There’s no doubt that scented baits have changed fishing plastics forever. Give me gold spinner blades and a white Gulp 3” swimming mullet and I’ll terrorize docks and rockpiles in 4’ to 10’ of water.
5. Mitey-Mite Spinner & Dirty Boxer
Mitey-Mite gold spinner, with Colorado blades and 1/4oz. jighead. With this rig I’ll fish a Fishbites white Dirty Boxer. Find an area with long grass lines in 2-5 feet of water with the tide falling out, and you’re bound to score if there’s any flounder around.
6. Jighead & Dirty Boxer
¼-1/2 oz chartreuse jighead with 5” white Fishbites Dirty Boxer. As much as I love casting for flounder, walking a dock while slowly jigging a bait along the bottom is deadly. Flounder love dock pilings, because just about everything they eat love them too.
7. Jighead with Flounder Belly
¼ to ½ oz chartreuse jighead with strip of flounder belly meat. This is a “Yankee” specialty, but I’ve used it here very effectively. I’ve done best walking a dock slowly jigging the strip in front of their faces.
No, I didn’t carry this over from a largemouth article. If you’re faced with a shallow water grass line in less than 4 feet of water, flounder can’t stand the sound and flash of a gold Rat-L-Trap. Let it hit the water and sink to the bottom. Pay attention to your retrieve, and try and keep your bait in the lower third of the water you're fishing.
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