Flounder Time!

October 22, 2016 by Kristopher Kell

Trip Info

The Catch
Jack Crevalle
Snapper (Mangrove)
Spotted Seatrout

22 October 2016 Northeast Florida Fishing Report – Capt Kris Kell, Fish Whisperer Charters

Due to Hurricane Matthew and the week-long Nor’easter preceding it, fishing has changed quite a bit for me. Capt Kirk Waltz explained the debris issue, “super” tides,  and dirty water the best in his report so I won’t rehash that; however, it is worth mentioning that the water temps have dropped about 10 in the last 2 ½ weeks. Oct 2nd, I had 84 surface temps and post-Matthew, had 75 or less depending on tides. This shift has brought about my favorite time of year when flounder really start migrating offshore and trout fire up. This past week was very productive for flounder with an occasional trout thrown in but lacking the size I like to see. It’s still early!
We were able to get out around the jetties once without the 4-5ft waves beating us up and did manage to catch a bull red and a large slot, but didn’t find redfish anywhere else. The success has been the flounder around the docks and rocks of the Northern St. John’s river bank from the Mayport boat ramp to Blount Island. I’ve always liked the high to low tide shift for these fish but with the extreme tides, it’s just been too swift in some of my favorite haunts so I’ve waited for the last of the low tide for best results in more manageable currents. In my opinion, the flounder are just beginning to push out to sea and the best places to fish for them are going to be chokepoints that they have to travel through to get to the ocean. 

(TTPs - Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures)

I get so excited about fishing for flounder that I’ll spend hours researching their feeding habits and try to replicate that regardless of the bait I’m using. With artificials, my “go-to” is Berkley Gulp!® and anything with a curly or paddle tail. Sometimes flounder prefer one over the other but it’s the movement plus scent that triggers the bite. I rig these using a 2ft piece of 30 or 40 pound fluorocarbon leader to a spinner and chartreuse jig. Cast it right up against rock walls and docks or edges of grass beds and let them settle for a few seconds before any retrieval. I’ve had some of my best strikes as soon as the bait hit the water and settled. With the spinner rig, slowly raise the rod tip and feel the spinner doing its job and let it settle back down while you retrieve the slack. A slow movement along the bottom is best.

If fishing live bait, my best baits are mullet, mud minnows, or shrimp. An adult flounder’s diet is about two-thirds fish and a third shrimp, so I always try fish first. When rigging for these, I use a Carolina rig with the appropriate bullet weight because the bullet shape tends to prevent snags when pulling along the bottom. Make sure the pointed side of the weight is facing the rod and then slide that up the main line followed by a small bead to protect the knot, then a small swivel. I then attach a 14” 30 or 40 pound flouro leader to the swivel and a 1/0 kahle hook on the other end using an offshore knot to give the live bait “wiggle” capability. When struck on either the artificial or live bait, ALWAYS give it 3-7 seconds before setting the hook unless you know the fish is solidly hooked in. So many times people either jerk the rod too quickly or do it so hard that the bait is taken right out of the fish’s mouth. Remember, flounder usually grab and hold the bait a second before sucking it completely down.
(What to Expect)

Lots of flounder, trout, and redfish action are expected throughout the next few weeks as water clarity improves and tides regain normality. The best days to fish, in my opinion, are going to be October 27th – 31st,, November 1st & 2nd, 8th –  10th, 15th – 17th, & 28th – 30th. 
Until next time!   
Fair Winds & Following Seas, Capt Kris Kell

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