Fishing for Flounder

Fishing for Flounder
The European Flounder is one of the most common species of Flatfish found in our coastal waters. It ranges from the White Sea in the far north to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in the south and is especially prevalent in inshore waters around the UK, where beach anglers widely target them. They are also an excellent species to target when fishing sheltered estuaries and harbours, especially during winter and early spring.

The colour of a Flounder varies considerably and should never be used as a positive means of identification. As a rule, the back of a Flounder is a fawn, olive-green or pale brown, usually with spots and larger patches of darker brown.

Occasionally, some random reddish spots are present, and these can result in the fish being wrongly identified as a Plaice. The lateral line of a Flounder is nearly straight and runs along the middle of the upper surface, curving around the short pectoral fins, while the belly side is opaque pearly white.

The average size of this species caught around the UK is between 1lb-2lb, but much bigger fish are caught each year. Due to Flounder's preferred distribution, it is one of just a few species that shore anglers regularly catch to a larger size than those fishing afloat. The British boat-caught record is a fish of 5lb 11oz, which was caught at Fowey in Cornwall in 1956.

The species is distributed all around the coast of the British Isles, but are frequently targeted in or in the very near estuaries and some of our larger harbours. These Flatfish are mostly found in both clean sand and soft mud, and everything in between, but rarely over rock.

Flounders are far more abundant in many areas than a lot of anglers realise, and a little experimentation inshore on those days when the weather restricts options elsewhere might throw up a few surprises.

Shallow muddy estuaries are the standard habitat for Flounders, although they are also caught from beaches outside the estuaries in the open sea. Long expanses of sand or mud usually fish best during the flooding tide, and groundbaiting with used bait can help to lay a trail towards your baited hooks as you retreat the flooding tide.

Greys Flapper Rig 3HK
There is no real need for distance when fishing an estuary. The fish could be only a matter of a few feet in front of you. As a result a two or three hook flapping rigs in size 2 or 4 will do the job. Remember that fish can be caught at ridiculously short range; a gentle lob will often be enough.

Many anglers jazz up their Flatfish rigs with spoons and a colourful assortment of beads and sequins, and these undoubtedly prove effective for Flounders.

Whenever fishing for Flounders in estuaries, it will be preferable to use the lightest possible tackle, and lighter sea rods around 1-3oz are perfect. These type of rods are more than strong enough to handle the conditions within estuaries and also offer better bite detection due to their balance and lightness. Additionally, bass rods are not as heavy as full sized beachcasters, meaning that they are easier to transport from place to place if anglers are on the move around an estuary during a fishing session.

Greys GR75S Bass & Flattie Rod
Peeler Crab is a proven bait for estuary Flatfish, and a good choice when crabs are quickly stripping softer baits. Always ensure your bait is fishing hard on the seabed, which is where the fish feed. As water depth and the run of tide increases, it will probably be necessary to upgrade your tackle accordingly.

If targeting Flounders from the beach you will need more substantial gear. A good beachcaster can get you past the surf regularly and reach the deeper, calmer water.
Vercelli Oxygen Uccello
Flounder living just beyond the surf will snap up small fish baits such as Sandeels, Bluey and Mackerel. It's worth noting that Lug and Ragworm will also do the trick.

Penn Surfblaster II Fixed Spool
Finding a reel to match your rod again depends on where you are fishing. As mentioned the protective nature of estuaries means that the tackle used should be scaled down as it is rarely necessary to cast long distances or use heavy weights to hold the seabed in strong tides. When fishing from the beach, there are a number of casting multiplier and fixed spool reels that will do the job.

Team Vass 700 Chest Wader

If you are planning on a visit to your nearest estuary buying yourself a pair of chest waders would be a wise investment as you are more than likely to be fishing in the mud. Waders will not only keep you dry but they will, for the most part, keep you clean.

It's also worth considering a few other lures and baits for Flounder such as, Imitation Ragworms. They are renowned for catching fish in large numbers. Flounder and other Flatfish will happily grab a wide range of soft plastics, so it is also worthwhile carrying a selection of these.

Always have few mini metal lures too. These are mostly slim-profile types that mimic Sandeels, and it also pays to carry a couple of spoons as well. Stock up on dropshot leads from 3.5g to 7g and a selection of hooks from sizes 4-8, along with some jigheads from 1-5g in the same hook size.

Savage Gear Mini Casting Jigs

You should try and let the lure sink to the bottom and then retrieve the lure so that it skims across the seabed. Fishing the lure with little twitches within 6 inches of the bottom should make your lure touch the seabed now and again, which throws up little puffs of sand. It also pays to add some pauses into the retrieve as well; stop retrieving and let your lure rest on the seabed for a couple of seconds, as Flounders are curious fish and will investigate your lure. When you start to retrieve again, they will chase and, hopefully, grab the lure.

Flounder play a big part in an angler's learning. They are a fish that nearly every fisherman in the UK has caught at one time or another, and they are often the first species that a young angler will catch. Building rigs to fish for them provides you with a robust platform and will enable you to build more complicated rigs and target bigger fish.  This is an invaluable lesson. Especially to those who are new to fishing.

If you would like anymore information regarding Flounder fishing visit us in store at either the Glasgow Angling Centre or the Edinburgh Angling Centre. Or call us on 0141 212 8880 and our expert staff will be happy to help.

This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler magazine.