To catch flounder, it's best to stay in touch

OUTDOORS

September 01, 1992|By PETER BAKER

We had passed more than a few times, the fellow in the red boat and I, while either drifting down tide or running a couple of hundred yards up tide. We were bottom fishing, letting the tide carry us over a hard bottom along the Eastern Shore.

The fellow in the red boat had a rod in every holder and every now and again he could be seen scurrying around to tend his lines. From all appearances, the fishing must have been very good aboard the red boat.

But on the third or fourth pass, the fellow in the red boat cut his engine and called across the water, "Flounder? Where are all the flounder that are supposed to be out here? All I'm getting is spot!"

This fellow had a couple of basic problems. He was setting his drift wrong, and by setting a half-dozen rods in their holders he wasn't in touch with his bait, the bottom or the fish.

We were south of Matapeake on Kent Island, an area known as Brickhouse Bar, where the bottom drops away from 13 or 16 feet to more than 100 feet in the space of a couple of hundred yards.

This summer it has been prime flounder territory, as have the mouths of the Choptank and Patuxent rivers, Cornfield Harbor, the Crisfield area, Thomas Point, Tolley Point, Hackett's Bar and around the six-foot hump along the Wall north of Matapeake.

All those areas have the makings of good flounder fishing -- hard or oyster bottoms, water depths ranging from 10 to 25 feet and, most importantly, edges where the bottom drops away and where flounder lie in wait.

Flounder like the edges because they can settle on the bottom, camouflaged, and rise quickly from ambush to take a bait fish or a bait.

Unlike spot or croaker, for example, flounder have eyes on top of their heads and look up for their food. Spot and croaker have eyes on both sides of their heads and look down to feed.

Spot will bang a bait; flounder are more tentative.

So, the fellow in the red boat may have been defeating himself by not taking up a rod until a fish had been hooked. Had he been holding one rod, he would have been able to feel every take -- although he probably still would not have caught a flounder because he was fishing in the wrong place.

The tide was two hours into ebb. The wind was northeast. Together, the wind and tide made for a quick drift, but with not enough wind to push the boats offshore, hard across the tide.

The fellow in the red boat was starting his drift in 10 or 12 feet of hTC water, out of the flounder zone and among the hordes of spot.

He started his next drift in 18 to 20 feet of water, exchanged his double bottom rigs for one rod with a fish-finder rig and baited up with spot belly.

On the next pass, the fellow in the red boat shrugged his shoulders. Nothing, not even a spot.

On the last pass, the fellow in the red boat waved and smiled -- and held up a pair of flounder.

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