Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: There's more than one way to catch flounder

By DICK PINNEY May 26. 2018 10:36PM


A lot of our coastal anglers don't know that our local waters contain two different strains of flounder. The main and largest influx of flounder doesn't show up until around now, but there's been smaller schools of flounder that are "early birds" that have been here for two or three weeks now.

The early run of flounder are often found right at the mouth of the bays and streams and spend most of the time feeding there, while the later runs of flounder will usually run farther up the streams and rivers and into Little and Great Bay.

The fish in the Piscataqua River and Little Bay love to find "structure" to set up a feeding lane with less current to endure. The structure is almost always a big rock or rock piles but it also can include man-made things such as bridge or dock pilings or current sheers.

Don't make the mistake of fishing Great Bay for flounder, unless you've scouted out some fish that are feeding around the mouths of the rivers that dump into Great and Little Bay. Not that there aren't flounder in Great Bay because there are. But they are apt to be so spread out that you'd have to cover a lot of territory to catch a bunch. Also you need to keep a memory log book of where you've caught flounder in the past and note what the tide was when there was flounder catching activity.

Flounder, like most of the fish that use the Piscataqua River and Little Bay for their feeding and resting areas, don't hang out in just any place - they need structure to provide a break from the currents so they can just school-up out there without using up a lot of their stamina. They choose places to feed where the natural currents funnel the baitfish up and down the tidal area structure.

One great example of this is the tidal rips off Fox Point in Little Bay. The schools of feeding flounder and often stripers that utilize these areas because the baitfish need the structure to hide in and break up strong currents. The backwaters that are caused by structure often have the sandy or muddy bottom that will hold seaworms - one of flounder' fondest meals.

Know that flounder are often called "bottom feeders" for a good reason. Mother Nature has provided them with the ideal body shape for working the clam flats. Their eyes are situated to help them in their search for worms and small minnows as well as small shellfish that they can eat, shell and all.

Other great places to make a good flounder catch are the mouth of the Piscataqua River and the mouths of all the creeks and bays that feed the big river.

Outgoing tides are the best times to fish these river and bay mouths as the tides concentrate the flounder as the tide drops.

We have no doubt that live seaworms are the best bet for attracting a bite but there's a price to pay, not counting that if you buy them, they are not cheap. The worms are not hardy and will not take much abuse and often don't hold up to multiple bites. Real clam pieces, especially the tough parts at their neck and rim, work well and hold up much better than the clam bellies when hooked. But we think that clam bellies attract more action than the necks and rims but don't have any real proof of that, except when you've had several fish take the bait, the bellies are usually ripped off.

Some of the most dedicated flounder anglers will anchor in a good spot and spread a chum mixture of ground clamshells and the wasted parts that are left on the clams after shucking. This works! But it does entail more expense if you buy your chum and it does take up a lot of time to keep a chum line productive and still have time to tend to your fishing. Some of the real dedicated chum users will just put their ground-up clam waste into small mesh net bags and let the current create a chumline as they hang there tied onto the boat's stern. Some swear that adding ground corn to their chum is effective.

We feel that, whatever your methods are, if it's worked in the past why change it?

Drop us an email at doduckinn@aol.com and get out there and get you some!

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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