There are two distinct species of flounder roaming the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The southern flounder is the larger, more common species inhabiting inshore estuaries. The Gulf flounder can be distinguished by three dots in a triangle pattern their top side. Also, Gulf flounder prefer sandy bottom while the southern flounder likes harder structure. For most kayak anglers, the southern flounder will be the more common catch.
How to Catch Gulf Coast Flounder
Before learning to catch flounder, a short biology lesson is in order. First, flounder are flat fish with chameleon-like skin and both eyes sticking up from one side of their body. They spend their life lying on the bottom buried in the substrate.
Due to their unique body shape, flounder are ambush feeders. The flat fish position themselves in a good hiding place and wait for prey. When dinner is served, the flounder’s mouth extends and grabs prey.
Where to Find Gulf Coast Flounder
To find flounder on the Gulf Coast, a few things need to line up. Flounder season is best starting in late November when large, breeding flounder migrate offshore to spawn. As the fish return to the estuaries between February and April, fishing improves. The best action is in summer, but the fish can be caught year-round.
To find flounder, first look for moving water. As ambush feeders, flounder wait for current to bring a meal to them.
The second key is structure. Flat fish don’t need much to hide behind. An oyster bed, drop-off, sand ripple, marsh edge, piling, rocks, jetty or point is all it takes to attract a flounder.
Flounder Fishing Strategies
Putting the lure in the strike zone is the hard part, I practically have to hit the fish in the head with my lure. The answer is to use a ¼-ounce jighead to keep the lure close to the bottom. Go heavier in water deeper than eight feet. If you can’t feel bottom, the flounder cannot see your lure.
My two favorite rigs to use for flounder are a Texas-Eye jighead paired with a Down South Lures Super Model swimbait on a med-heavy baitcasting rod. Or, I like a Trout Eye jighead paired with a Gulp! Alive Swimming mullet on a medium-action spinning rod.
I like to cast in a grid pattern so I don’t miss potential flounder haunts. Flounder strike like Mike Tyson works a heavy bag, there is no mistaking a flounder bite. The hookset has to be fast and hard to beat the fish to the punch. Because of the flounder’s unique shape, I hold the rod horizontally while I fight the flat fish. Too many flounder shake the hook when I hold the rod vertically.
Tasty Flounder are Fun to Fish
Flounder are flat-out fun to catch. And they are even more fun to eat deep fried or stuffed with crab meat. When the flounder are in season, it’s time to get out the heavy jigs and head to the marsh. Dinner is served.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 45. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Dinner is served when Gulf Coast flounder are in season. | Feature photo: Jeff Jones