What's hot: When was the last time you actually targeted flounder? Usually they are a pleasant bycatch when fishing for another species. Flounder have made a tremendous comeback in the last few years. A few inches more than legal size (12 inches) used to be the norm in these waters, but recently reports of larger 18- to 20-inch flounder are being taken with even a few in the "doormat" category. Flounder can be caught near rocky bottoms with sandy areas nearby, under bridges with a rough bottom and in the white sandy potholes on your favorite grass flat. This time of year they bunch up on rock piles just off the coast. Use a navigational map to find the more popular close-in reefs, and the rock piles off Indian Rocks Beach and Redington Beach.
Techniques: Use spinning tackle in the 15- to 20-pound class with the same size fluorocarbon leader. Use enough lead weight to keep your bait close to the bottom. For bait, try scaled sardines about 2 to 3 inches in length. If you can only get small ones put more than one on your hook (yes, it works).
Tips: You will feel a hard bite on the line, then nothing; set the hook. It will feel as if you have the bottom until it begins to fight back. No other fish hits like a flounder.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center at (727) 518-7637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.