Snaggin’ Flatfish from Noah’s Ark
There’s more than one pair of flounder allowed on this ark…
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver
Capt. Noah Lynk leads his clients to a bunch of nice flounder in the waters around Harkers Island. He fishes from the nearshore ocean at Cape Lookout to the waters of Back Sound, Middle Marsh, North River Marshes and North River. With this variety of fishing locations, he can usually find hungry flatfish for his clients to invite home for dinner.
The first thing that Capt. Lynk points out is that not many flounder bite when the water isn’t moving. He said the regular tides in his area are a blessing, because using the tide tables allows him to plan flounder fishing trips in advance.
“Flounder don’t swim around a lot like most other species,” Capt. Lynk said. “They move into an area and will stay there as long as the current is washing bait by. Tidal current are pretty regular. They might vary a little, but they’re going to be pretty close to what the tide table says.”
Capt. Lynk (www.noahsarkfishingcharters.com, 252- 342-6911) said that once fishermen understand the tides in his area are on an approximate 12 1/2 hour schedule, they can begin to fine tune their fishing to target flounder. He said the tide takes approximately 6 1/4 hours to rise and 6 1/4 hours to fall, so the tide will be at the same stage approximately every 12 1/2 hours. Plotting this on a daily basis shows two high tides and two low tides in a 25 hour period. It might be a oversimplification, but a reasonably correct rule of thumb is that the same stage of the tide will be an hour later each day.
Capt. Lynk said in addition to knowing the stage of the tide, it was also important to know the strength of the flow. The tide moves slower at the beginning and end of a tide change and fastest in the middle. There are some places that fish best on a certain stage of the tide and some that fish best on the slower or faster flow. Drawing on years of experience, Capt. Lynk puts together a series of spots to fish during the rise or fall of the tide.
During a recent flounder fishing trip, Capt. Lynk began at a wide spot in the marsh where a pair of smaller creeks merged. The tide was high and he said this spot would fish well the first hour or so of the falling tide. As he predicted, the fishing was slow until the tide flow turned and began moving the other way, then the flounder started biting.
Capt Lynk slipped a fat minnow on a Salty Bay Bait Head and cast it to just beside the rip where the two creeks blended into the larger one. He said he was going to let the tide push it into the larger creek as if it was injured. The first few casts and drifts didn’t attract any attention, but on the fourth cast, something thumped the bait hard and sat down with it.
The fish bounced the rod tip hard one time when it grabbed the bait. The bait stopped moving with the current and Capt. Lynk dipped his rod tip to give the fish some slack to get the bait in its mouth.
“That felt like a flounder,” Capt. Lynk said. “It has to turn the bait until it’s head first to be able to swallow it, so I’m going to give it a few seconds to do that.”
After about 10 seconds, Capt. Lynk reeled the line tight and reared back to set the hook. The rod bent deeply and began pulsing. The little spinning reel squealed as it gave up line. The flounder didn’t like the sting of the hook and was trying to get away from whatever caused its pain. It pulled hard, but the line held strong. In a few minutes, Capt. Lynk led the flounder to boat side and deftly scooped it up with his landing net.
A few minutes later this repeated itself. Capt. Lynk was lightly twitching a minnow across the bottom when a fish hit hard and immediately bent his rod over while taking line. He thought it might be a drum, but in about a minute the broad tail of a flounder swept across the surface sending it down again.
As he scooped the flounder up in his landing net, Capt. Lynk said, “Flounder don’t hit like that very often. It must have been hungry. Flounder usually grab a bait and settle back on the bottom to turn and swallow it. That must have gone in just right for the flounder to have sucked it in so quickly.”
After a while the tide began running strong and the action slowed. Capt. Lynk said it was time to relocate and headed away from the inlet. He said moving inland would put us at the next place with the tide just beginning to fall.
Arriving at this spot, Capt. Lynk had to work around some oyster rocks to get in position. He baited hooks and instructed where the shallow water ended, dropping off an oyster rock into the channel and said to cast as close to that edge as possible. He said he was going to fish this spot with a Salty Bay shrimp to see if it might do better. He tied the shrimp on with a loop so it would move as freely as possible in the water and then smeared it liberally with Pro-Cure Scent Gel. He said the scent works really well and often convinces a fish to take a bait it wouldn’t otherwise.
Once again it took Capt. Lynk about 4 casts before his rod was bent sharply and dancing. The fish ran out a bit and then let the tug of the hook in its jaw turn it back to the boat. In a few minutes he led it into his landing net and lifted it aboard to join the others already in the cooler.
Casting back out, Capt. Lynk said, “Catching flounder on artificials allows covering more bottom, but you still have to make the bait look and act correctly so they won’t turn it down. You move it forward really slowly, but twitch it up off the bottom and let it flutter back down to get the fish’s attention. You’ll often catch other fish this way too. If there are hungry reds or specks in the area, this slow action usually convinces them to bite too.”
Capt Lynk said flounder will usually bite soft plastics about as well as they will live baits. Many fishermen like to let live baits sit and swim around, but he likes to move them a little. Sometimes he creeps them slowly all the time and sometimes he only moves them a foot or so and lets them swim around for a minute or so. With soft plastics, he lightly twitches the rod tip upwards occasionally to lift them up off the bottom and then flutter back down as they move naturally with the tide flow.
Combine Capt. Lynk’s knowledge of baits and how they work with knowing the productive stages of the tide in places the tide moves shrimp and baitfish though and you’ve got a potent combination for catching flatfish. Capt. Lynk has years of experience and does it well. To book a flounder catching expedition with Capt. Lynk, give him a call at 252-342-6911 or contact him through his website at www.noahsarkfishingcharters.com.
NOTE: Capt. Lynk is endorsed by Star Fishing Tackle and uses their rods and reels exclusively. He fishes for flounder using 7 foot Star Plasma rods rated 6 to 14 and/or 8 to 17 pounds and 3000 size Star Aerial Reels loaded with Fins Windtamer and 40 G superbraid line in 12 pound test.