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Flounder Fishing Overview

One of the weirdest-looking yet best-tasting fish in the inshore area, flounder are known to be fun to catch and great table fare. Even if you're out on a trout trip, there is a reason people in the boat will jump up and get irrationally excited when there is a surprise flounder on the end of the line. A lot of anglers have specialties, but flounder are exceptional in that not only do they make a great bycatch, but they not only have diehards dedicated to catching only flounder, but also an entire style (and lifestyle) of fishing dedicated to them. The gigging culture is alive and well, and while you might expect to gig a few species come nightfall, flounder are the goal.

Everything You Need to Know About Flounder Fishing

What is a flounder?

Flounder is an extraordinarily unique species. As a flatfish, it lives on the bottom and have adapted to have both of their eyes on the top of their head. They are actually born with their eyes on either side, and as they go through flounder puberty one eye will migrate over and one side of their body will grow darker. This side will face upwards from the ground, and camouflage the flounder with the sea floor.

There are a number of different types of flounder:

Gulf Flounder (Paralichthys albigutta): The gulf flounder is found most commonly on the panhandle of Florida and in nearby waters, although it can be found around the Gulf.

Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma): The southern flounder is a common species on the Atlantic coast and around the Gulf.

Summer Flounder / Fluke (Paralichthys dentatus): The summer flounder is common from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

Winter Flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus): The winter flounder is common from Delaware to Canada, although it can be found further south.

In addition, many types of flatfish span the globe - the Pacific side of the US is home to the olive flounder, starry flounder, and california flounder as well as the related (and much larger) halibut, and other waters around the world are home to various sole, plaice, and turbot.

How big do flounder get?

Among the four species of flounder common to the East and Gulf coasts of the US, flounder can be anywhere from 8 to 20+ inches, and have a width of about half their length. The minimum keeper size is usually around 14 inches or more depending on your location. Males will generally be smaller than females.

Whats the biggest flounder ever caught?

The world record flounder of the Atlantic species above was caught by Charles Nappi in Montauk, NY in 1975 and was a massive 22.7 pound fish. The current Texas state record is a southern flounder at 13 pounds and 28 inches long.

Where is the best place to catch flounder?

Flounder are bottom dwellers, and live on various sea and estuary floors around the world. Different subspecies have different preferences for depth and habitat. Southern flounder will often be found close to shore in shallow waters and intracoastal flats, and make for perfect gigging fare.

When should I catch flounder?

Southern flounder are best caught in the summer and during their migration from October to December. Summer flounder is best in the summer, winter flounder in the winter, and gulf flounder in the spring and summer.

How do you catch flounder?

Flounder are bottom dwellers and tend to stick to the sea floor waiting patiently for a meal to come across, but can actually despite their appearance and build often be seen to swim to the surface in chase of a meal. When you are using light tackle, you'll want to use live bait or small soft plastics with a jig head along the bottom. The unique thing about fishing flounder is patience - some people claim you need to wait literal minutes between the thump you feel and when you set that hook.

While light tackle fishing for flounder can be great, everyone knows the real prize is gigging. Strap your lights on the boat and head out at night for an awesome time. Flats boats help you navigate the shallow waters, and LED lights help you spot the fish better.

Are flounder good to eat? What are the best flounder recipes?

When eating flounder there is no question about style - stuffed flounder is the way to go. When you search flounder recipes that is all you will see. Flounder is most commonly stuffed with crab, maybe some shrimp, some veggies, some crackers - everyone has their own recipe - but it is damn good when it comes out of the oven. Flounder is most often stuffed because its odd body shape encourages this since it is already flattened and ready to be opened up.