Flounder are gregarious fish. If they bit like redfish, you’d regularly see a lot more flounder in magazines and on social media.
The problem with flounder is the way they attack prey by latching onto it and then turning or positioning it to go down their throats. That makes them more difficult to hook and often leads novice anglers to believe that flounder won’t take large baits. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“It takes patience to consistently hook flounder,” said guide Wilson Hanna. “My rule of thumb is, the larger the bait, the longer the wait.”
Hanna said for the average, shallow-water, legal-sized flounder he is targeting with a 2- to 3-inch baitfish, he will start counting as soon as he feels the bite and wait anywhere form 10 to 30 seconds before setting the hook.
If he’s fishing a deeper drop-off for doormats, he’s more inclined to use a 5- to 6-inch bait. Under those circumstances, he’s going to wait anywhere from a minute to two.
“After the initial bite, I’ll bring the rod tip up just to make sure there’s still something live on the end of the line,” he said. “I don’t want to aggravate the fish, just confirm he’s still down there chewing.”
Two things tell him when it’s time to set the hook. The first is the fish turning and starting to swim away. The second is reaching the appointed time.
“I don’t really set the hook in a conventional sense,” he said. “The Kahle hooks I prefer act sort of like a circle hook, and to set the hook, I just start cranking the reel handle and let the hook sink in.”
Hanna said setting the hook when fishing artificials is totally different.
“The bite on an artificial is a reaction bite, like a bass,” he said. “The fish on the other end is not going to hold on, so you set the hook and hope the hook finds it’s mark.”