Springtime Flounder Trolling
I've had a number of PM's regarding my trolling spread for springtime Flounder fishing, so I figured I'd do a write up about my technique.
First and most important part of flounder trolling is knowing how a channel runs, and being able to maintain boat position along the channel. I like to zigzag narrow channels on an OUTGOING TIDE, working both edges, and the bottom. Most of the channels I work are around 6-8 ft of water with surrounding flats of 3-4 ft. Early in the spring these shallow flats are the first to warm, and flounder like to stack up along the edges of these shallow channels to pick off baits that are flushed off the flat with the tide. Target water temps are anywhere from 52-60 degrees, and are not isolated to the flats on the seaside if the eastern shore. In fact, you can find similar flats and channels throughout rudee and lynnhaven inlets and will likely hold fish during the he same time.
The second most important factor in successful flounder trolling is speed. I like to troll WITH the tide at around 1.2 kts. And have caught fish anywhere from 0.5-2kts. Usually I can just use my trolling motor to achieve the speed I want, but occasionally during high winds I have to bump troll with the motor to achieve the speed I want. Again, I'm trolling WITH the current, and zigzagging down the channel covering both sides of the flat and the depression in between. Most of my bites will come on the shallow edge of the channel, but the bite usually progresses toward the center of the channel as the tide continues to fall.
As for rods, I usually troll a seven rod spread, but kayakers will find success trolling two to three. Some might say there's success just due to carpeting the bottom with baits, but if that's what it takes, well, I'm catching... My spread is usually two rods in the bow holders with heavy (4-8oz. Depending on current) 3-way rigs that are fished essentially straight down beside the boat baited with squid strips and minnows or simply large cutbait strips if available. The next two rods are double bucktail rigs (1-4oz depending on current lead bucktail followed by a 1/4 oz.) Baited with gulp or strips. They go in my forward stern holders with side riggers to hold them away from the boat and are dropped back 50 and 75 ft. The next two rods basically have mono tied double bottom rigs too leader ~18" and bottom leader ~10" the top always has a bucktail teaser (and left and right with different colors, I like pink and chart. the best) and the bottom is always naked. 2-4oz of lead depending on current and baited with strip combos, gulp, or simply large strips. These go in the rear stern holders and are dropped back one short 25ft and one long 100 ft. The final rod goes shot gun in the console WFB(way far back) 200-300ft and is usually a double bottom right as above, but both hooks with only beads and blades, no teaser. I feel like if I've run over a fish with everything else and haven't gained and interest then this flashy rig gives me a last shot. It is always baited top with a live bait and bottom with a strip.
Last tip is stay connected with the bottom. The bucktail rigs will ride off the bottom, but I will drop them back occasionally to make sure they'll hit when rested. The rest of the rods should be bouncing along the bottom with an even cadence and the lack of that bouncing, or a loading of the rod is your first indication you've got a hungry customer. I almost never drop back to flounder that have hit a trolled bait, and swing as soon as I pick up the rod and feel weight. On my boat swings are free, and I'd rather see someone make an attempt at a hookset than drop back only for the fish to let go or pull off the strip or live bait.
So go find some flats, find an edge, and work that baby for some fat floundas! Get em while they're shallow on light tackle and you'll take them over just about and pup or speck!
Very good article to read.