GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Ray Markham.
A recent influx of flounder has kept anglers busy catching them aboard my Action Craft flats boat. These odd-shaped fish with both eyes on the same side of the body are the epitome of camouflage in the world of fish.
They have a chameleon-like ability to change color with the bottom terrain they inhabit. Most are darker brown but range from almost solid black to light tan, with spots and broken color patterns that provide stealth attacks for these ambush predators.
Most flounder will be found on changes where sand meets hard bottom, shell meets grass, or sloping sandy bottom areas on the edges of channels or passes. Because they settle on the bottom and take on the appearance of the structure they are on, they are nearly invisible to prey. They depend on moving water and currents to bring baitfish, crabs and shrimp over where they lay, waiting to attack.
On recent trips on lower Tampa Bay we targeted flounder for dinner, scoring a half-dozen fish to 18 inches. A variety of lures can be used to catch these flat fish. Some of our most productive lures and how we use them effectively have a common thread.
All lures must be worked slowly on the bottom. Maintaining contact with the bottom and twitching the rod tip produces a puff of sand when the lure hops off the bottom or is dragged, usually triggering strikes. Jigs such as the DOA CAL Shad and Curly tails, and the MirrOlure Lil’ John have been my go-to lures for this species.
A new soft plastic offering from MirrOlure called the Marsh Minnow has been an exceptionally good producer as well. This 4-inch paddle tail has a minnow profile similar to a killifish, one of the flounder’s top prey. Flatties find baits such as these nearly irresistible when presented properly.
Your next time out, give these lures a try and make your next dinner presentation a flats flattie.
Captain Ray Markham specializes in fishing with artificial lures and can be reached for charter through his Web site at
www.CaptainRayMarkham.com, via email at [email protected], or at (941) 723-2655.