Please check with the “Regulations Digest” or the “Division of Marine Fisheries” to insure you have the right rules before you fish. Harvest data indicates that these combined limits are working to some degree but not fully.
Experienced Flounder Guides and fishermen are expecting year 2003 to be good. Southern Flounder are more gentle in nature and must be fished with great patience.
Summer Flounder are more aggressive in nature and will strike and hold a hook with much greater abandon. This would include the dog days of summer and the colder times of winter.
They will feed in the shallows at night and move off to deeper water where the bait fish go to hide with the sun out. They like to hide in oyster-shell beds, grassy areas, or sandy bottoms where they can kick sand on top of themselves.
My better successes have come from dragging live mullet minnows across a shell pile or grass bed. I often put minnows on a flounder rig and cast them well over the pile (whatever) and slowly back it in.
Flounder gigging, while not discussed here, is a very productive and popular method of taking them also. Anything that emulates minnows or shrimp will attract them including grubs, Mirrors, and stripped meat off a bait fish.
Many anglers start with mod minnows in the spring and progress to small mullet and then to full size menhaden late in the year. Productive anglers will change their live bait every 15 to 30 minutes to keep Flounder interested.
One effective and straightforward rig can be made with a 1/0, plus or minus, circle hook connected to a swivel by 12 pound test with an appropriately sized egg sinker freely sliding on the leader between hook and swivel. Enjoy catching flounder and help preserve this great fishery whenever you get a chance.
This reef is home to a huge variety of fish, and lots of them are catchable and good table fare. That reef can be as deep as 100 feet in places and can be out of the water at low tide in other areas.
It’s easy to take the lower unit of your engine out on a shallow reef outcropping. When the animals die, the apartment houses remain and act as cover for fish and other marine growth.
Some coral formations look like fans growing up from the ocean floor. When you check out your chart, you will see that the water depth increases along the Florida Keys and Southeast coast as you move east.
That deeper water running inside the reef goes from Key West all the way north to Fort Lauderdale and beyond. It’s a great, mile-wide, protected pathway because, on a strong easterly flow of weather, the shallow reef protects the water and allows vessels to navigate in comparative calm.
Over the years numerous smaller cargo vessels used the Hawk Channel and in WWII, it was protection from German submarines. It’s these patches that hold the bigger sport fish that recreational and commercial anglers alike seek.
Black, gag and Nassau grouper, a variety of snapper, including mutton and yellowtail, porgies, and dogfish are all good to eat, fun to catch and live on the patch reefs. The bottom in the Hawk Channel is mostly sand or turtle grass, and it’s mostly flat.
This round, up-cropping is full of nooks, crannies, and holes and is a perfect home for grouper and other bottom species. I judge the current and wind, and then move up alongside the patch.
I cast the rig with a live shrimp for bait so that it is on the bottom as close to the edge of the patch as I can get it. When the ballyhoo show up in the chum, I catch some of them with a small cane poll and use them for bait.
I’ll put a live ballyhoo on the bottom next to the patch reef. Keep what you plan to eat without freezing, and come back another day when you run out.