Although many Carolina flounder anglers still rely on live bait, more and more local fishermen each year are realizing that it is often more effective and more fun to target them with today’s soft lures. These synthetic scented baits have become so effective that they now will many times out-fish live bait. Another benefit is that when fishing them you don’t have to wait so long to set the hook on a flounder but can hit him almost immediately upon the strike.
Gulp makes some of the best scented baits, and the saltwater jerk shad body is perfect for pulling flounder off of structure. It’s erratic, darting motion imitates a struggling baitfish running around the pilings or rocks. You can work it slowly just off the bottom and flounder will rise to hit it. Dark green, chartreuse and Nuclear Chicken are great colors in stained or darker water. In clear water or in the surf Pearl White is a great choice.
The Gulp Alive saltwater shrimp is another powerfully scented lure that can be used just like live shrimp for flounder, and sometimes they’ll strike it quicker. Fish it around pilings, rocks, and over oyster beds or along grassy creeks. You can use the small 2-inch sizes when flounder are feeding on small shrimp and baitfish or go up in size to the 3 and-4 inch to especially target larger, keeper flounder.
This super-charged bait really disperses the scent, but if you fish it too fast that won’t help you. Hop it very slowly off the bottom for flounder. Remember that in the winter and early spring the shrimp and baitfish flounder are feeding upon will not be darting around quickly, but hovering slowly around structure and in shallow water, moving fast only periodically to avoid predators. This is the reason you will often get a hit from a flounder (or trout) when your lure has been lying on the bottom for awhile and you suddenly hop it a step.
My other favorite scented baits are made by Fishbites, a company that makes extremely effective substitutes for cut bait and bloodworms and got go into the soft bait market after the success of the Gulp line. Like the fluke-style Gulp the Fishbites jerk bait is terrific for pulling flounder off of structure.
Cast your fluke Fishbites lure right up against pilings or under bridges and docks and work it slowly off the bottom in short hops using the rod tip. The powerful Fishbites flavor and scent works as well on flounder (and trout and redfish) as the Gulp scent does. Rootbeer and Electric Candy are good stained water colors, while Chartreuse and especially Pearl White are good for the surf or clear water days inshore.
For tons more information on catching and cooking flounder and other fish check out my book Surf and Saltwater Fishing in the Carolinas.