What's hot: Flounder have made a tremendous comeback from the devastating Red Tide of a few years back. There are numerous reports of doormat-sized flounder caught just off the beaches where rock and bridge rubble have been placed. Pinellas County beaches have quite a few piles of rock and rubble from torn down bridges and seawalls at the swim buoy lines from John's Pass to Clearwater Pass. Also reporting flounder catches: Public fishing piers along beaches and smaller bridges like the Central Avenue Bridge.
Techniques: Flounder tend to strike hard, then it feels like you are hung on the bottom; but once they know they are hooked they fight like a fish. Sometimes your line feels heavy; that's usually flounder. Sandy bottoms near rock or rubble are the best to try. A good bottom reader on your boat will help find these small rocky areas just off the swim buoys along our beaches.
Tip: Use small, soft plastic-bodied jigs, no more than quarter-ounce lead, and bounce along the bottom, puffing up the sand. Artificial baits can be scented with sprays, or a pinch of fresh shrimp will entice flounder. If you use live shrimp, a 1/0 hook with enough weight to get it to the bottom and bounce it along. The best bait for flounder is a fiddler crab.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 518-7637.