Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Fishing for flounders can be funBy DICK PINNEY July 08. 2018 12:07AM
We know we've written quite a bit about our local flounders, but it's hard to ignore them this time of year.
First, many saltwater anglers look down their noses about targeting blackbacked flounders because they see them as dormant fighters and just a good back-up target when nothing else is hitting. We'd just as soon leave it at that as there are a few well-known local flounder grounds that can't stand the constant pounding of fishing pressure.
Let me first settle the argument that they "pull up like an old boot." There's some truth to this as many of these so-called sports fishermen use fishing rods that are more suited to pole vaulting than fishing. When we go after flounder, our gear is very light and quite sensitive, as flounders are nibblers and don't hit the bait with as much gusto as some of the other edible fish species, such as pollock or mackerel.
But when hooked and being played on light gear, they are very sporty and put up quite a strong fight, often doubling up my flounder rod and pulling line of a pretty tightly set drag on my reel!
So if you want to try for flounders and have some fun, try using the same fishing gear you'd use for fishing for freshwater species, such as trout, bass or perch. Many anglers don't like the idea of exposing their expensive rods and reels to the salt water, but a quick spray down, especially with warm water, will wash all that salt from your gear. Don't forget to place this gear in a sunny spot to dry off the moisture that can still cause some corrosion.
Another thing that's important is to put your freshly caught flounders either in a live tank or net bag hanging over into the sea water. Direct sunshine will quickly degrade the flesh and also add an unwanted taste to some of the best eating fish we have here.
Blackbacked flounders are not thought of as a predator, but they certainly are. Instead of feeding on small fish and minnows, they'll concentrate on sea worms or clams that are usually right at the bottom but are vulnerable to the flounder's ability to work that bottom structure.
One great thing about flounders is that they are a great target for kids that are being taught to fish. The use of "hand lines" has kind of gone out of favor, but there's no better way to get kid's attention than to have them use light weights and hand lines. One important thing is to make sure you have the proper lead weights to keep your kid's bait on or near the bottom, but not so heavy that the lines won't transmit the feeling of a flounder grabbing the bait. Hand lines put a real personal approach to catching flounder! Even if it takes several minutes to untangle the mess of lines that hand lines account for, there's nothing more exciting for a "rookie" angler to feel that tug on the end of the line and the give and take of a good-sized flounder that tries to free itself from the hook.
With our Little Bay, Piscataqua River and the various bays and structure of the shore side waters, there is no shortage of prospective flounder spots. We personally like the stretch of water from Peirce Island downriver along the Newcastle shoreline and also have had some great fishing in what's called the "Back Channel."
There's plenty of spots along both the Maine and New Hampshire shorelines that can provide some good fishing, either from shore, pier or boat. We're also seeing more and more anglers fishing with what we call a belly boat - an inflated inner tube-type device that is very effective but not for anyone who is not a skillful swimmer!
Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com. We also never have complained when we arrived at home to see a container of flounder fillets on a bed of ice on our front steps! Don't forget to cover them with a wet towel!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.