An Angler's Guide to Florida Flounder

    By Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish

    A Florida fishing expert shares his tips and tools for catching flounder.

    Best known for their unusual flat shape, Florida flounder remain one of the tastiest fish species that can be pulled from Florida's fertile waters. Their sweet, mild taste and firm texture make for an amazing meal whether stuffed or baked. Flounder are found in abundance in cooler waters along the muddy, sandy bottoms of Florida's coastline. With a state record of 20 pounds, five-pound flounder are fairly common, particularly in areas where skilled fishermen know how to reel them in.

    Though they aren't exactly sportfish, flounder have a few tricks up their sleeves to keep anglers on their toes with reels at the ready. Flounder tend to hit the bait with a gentle tap-tap or thump, requiring an angler to pay close attention to the line after getting the bait into position. And, once a fish is boatside, larger flounder are notorious for shaking hooks free and escaping safely back to the bottom.

    Flounder like to bury themselves in sandy bottom areas, often near structures that attract smaller fish, and wait for a meal to swim past. Live minnows, live shrimp and shrimp-shaped jigs are popular bait because they mimic the flounder's natural diet.

    Many people are surprised to learn that as hatchlings, Florida flounder have an eye on each side of their head and swim upright, much like other fish. As they age, one eye migrates across the body. Eventually, the fish assumes its flat position with both eyes on one side of its body — perfectly developed to lie in wait on the ocean floor for unsuspecting prey.