Category Archives: Flounder

Flat Fish on a Fly Rod.

The Flats at Cape Henlopen offer excellent late-season flounder fishing.

Just before the storm interrupted regularly scheduled fishing, I had been showing off a picture of a few keeper flounder I’d landed on the Cape Henlopen flats. Of all the people I boasted to, a few expressed their surprise that a flounder could be caught with a fly rod. As it happens, they can be among the most challenging and hard fighting inshore fish to tackle.

The flounder will often lie on the bottom, disguising itself in silt, sand or mud, and ambush it’s prey from below. They can live on crabs, crustaceans and the like, but upon examination of a flounders jaw you will find several razor sharp teeth which it puts to good use when catching and eating bait fish. A flounder is not a lazy fish – they will attack prey vigorously, and high in the water column when so enticed.

The key to catching flounder, beyond selecting a fly, is knowing where to look. A drop off in the sea floor, no matter how subtle, can hold flounder, though the steeper the better. They like to travel and rest along near-shore depressions, and wait for food to pass by in the current.  Look for changes in color or current on the surface of a body of water to locate these areas. A steep depression that contains sea grass is another great place to look. Often, you will find a larger area of shoreline with a significant depression and sea grass, much like my local flats. In this case, it is simply a matter of fishing as much water as you can to locate buried flounder. If you manage to hook up and land one, you can get a good idea of where that fish was hiding. Because a flounder can adapt  it’s appearance to mimic that of the sea floor, a look at a freshly caught flounder is an indication of exactly where the fish was resting. If the coloration is light and sandy, it was likely nestled in the sand. Dark spots and patches could indicate the fish was on or amongst sea grass.

Flounder will chase a number of flies. Some favorites are Clouser minnows and other bait fish imitations in a variety of colors, but for my money, a Clouser of about a size 4 in white is about as good as it gets, with solid black a close second. A little flash never hurts, either. The fly must be sufficiently weighted to come close to the bottom, with either barbell eyes or tungsten cone, or the like. This simply ensures that best chance of the fish seeing the fly.

Tips for Flounder on the Fly

  • A 6 to 8 weight rod is ideal.
  • Sharp hooks are a must. Flounder are notorious for spitting hooks. A day of losing fish at your feet would be learning this the hard way.
  • Retrieves are subject to conditions and what the fish “want”, however, a series of slow, long strips is effective.
  • Set your hook with a sideways motion. If you miss the fish on the first try, the aggressive flounder may well take another swipe at it. The sideways hook set ensures that your fly remains in the water.
  • If you DO miss the fish completely, cast back to the same spot. It may well still be there.
  • Floating lines with at least a 9 foot leader are best in waters up to 7-8 feet. Beyond that, or in surf, a sinking line will be necessary.

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Catching Up.

 

Could it really be three weeks since I last posted here? I frown on other regular writers when they do that. But perhaps I can be forgiven. Things have been hurried, real life has been engaging, and I forgot the amount of work that spring requires.

Beach Trash

After Trout season was in bloom, I’d landed some nice freshwater fish, and was content to do some other things. The Henbit, after all, had arrived. This purple flower shows up on roadsides and turns the local fields purple each spring, and it’s always a solid bet that, with the arrival of the Henbit, the first flounder in the back bays will be caught. And so it was this year, on schedule.  The spring striper run was fair, and the fish are lingering with the warmer temperatures. That’s what I hear, anyway. When I shelved the fly rod and took out my beach rods last week, I caught absolutely nothing. Instead, I used up my time by collecting a stack of Mylar balloons off of the beach, and one large trash bag that had washed ashore that made me cross my fingers and hope I would find trash in it, and not something more gruesome. If the crime shows my girlfriend watches are any indication, one of these is going to be stuffed with a guy with a questionable background and some recognizable tattoos. Any day now….

 

Roadside Henbit

 

 

Praying Mantis Hatch

Yes, spring is all around and in full swing. Along with the appearance of the usual plants, I’ve almost tripped over a couple of turtles, and the other day, I had the rare opportunity to watch a Praying Mantis hatch in my back yard. I was just in the right place at the right time. The new-born mantis are almost tan in color at birth, but are very recognizable by the all the familiar atributes; the “praying” appendages, the large eyes. They emerge from what is called an ootheca, basically a frothy mess that an adult mantis deposits, in this case, in my shrubs. This hardens, and protects the growing young until they emerge.

So, in the mad dash between stringing up salt water rods one morning, and then grabbing my fly rod the next day, and with intervals of playing nature photographer, and the annual dusting off of the lawn mower, rakes and water hoses, there just hasn’t been a lot of time for fishing and writing. I caught a nice bass the other day on a brief local trip. He bit an olive and brown woolly bugger and was cruising shallow water. Carp are appearing in the shallows, too. On an impromptu trip out to Las Vegas last week to visit my girlfriend’s family and celebrate her birthday, the chance to fish did not arise, but I did sneak off to Bass Pro and pick up some flies and tying material for the coming saltwater expeditions. Crab imitations, shrimp and baitfish, and my old favorites, the Clouser. I think I’m ready to go. Time to catch some fish….

 

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Filed under Bass, Carp, Clouser, Fishing, Flounder, Fly, Fly Tying, Freshwater, Largemouth Bass, Saltwater, Scenery, Seasons, Spring, Striped Bass, Sussex County Ponds

The Last Fish of the Year.

New Years Day, and the wind is gusting upwards of 20mph, which does not bode well for the fly caster. None the less, knowing my chances of getting out on the water tomorrow, after I’ve gone twelve rounds with the impending festivities that lie ahead, I went to the water anyway. I could use the practice while I can still feel my legs.

 

The wind did make my casting life a little more difficult, and it was the icy cold kind of wind that slips up your sleeve, but when the gusts would let up, and I could find a second to feel the sun, it was another unseasonably warm day, especially for the last day of the year. The water was capped and frothing from being whipped up by the westerlies, but most of the fish were indifferent. The Bass stayed out of sight, and eventually out of mind, but my Zap Bug was in the water only briefly before the little bluegills started eating it at regular intervals. This is not abnormal,not surprising. The surprises of the day were that the Calico were nowhere to be found. They are usually abundant here, and it was them I was fishing for. Also of surprise was that I was also catching a good number of Golden Shiners, basically a big minnow, but to describe it like that does it a disservice. It glitters in a silvery gold, it’s red dorsal fin in stark contrast, and it fights a lot harder than calico, bluegill, and sometimes, even bass. I only learned this now, having caught a grand total of one of these fish in all my time fishing here, and today, I find five. They are a heavily schooling fish, and I can only assume the school was in shallows and therefore in reach of my cast; an unusual phenomenon here, but a welcome one.

 

 

I hadn’t set out to have a day of reflection; a mental log book of a fisherman’s year, but thats the way it goes sometimes. I thought of all the memories made on the water this year, all those willing fish. The Bluefish blitzes off of Fenwick Island over summer, where we reeled them in one after the other. The big flounder I caught from the beach at the state park. The countless bass, pickerel, bluegill, and calico from my local grounds. The occasional trout from Newtons Pond. No Striped Bass, so far. They are late. But this is another reason for optimism for the coming year, as if a fisherman approaching spring needs such a thing. My bet is that the striper will arrive early on in the new year, and if I’m right, it could be a January to remember. I plan on spending some parts of that month knee -deep in trout streams, too. So much ahead.

 

 

As the afternoon drew to a close, all too early as we often complain at this time of year, a final tug on the line produced a tiny calico, among the smallest I’ve seen. I admired him briefly, let him know he would never be a big fish if he let clumsy fisherman like me catch him so easily, and sent him back to the deep. And that is how the reliable calico, savior of winter, become the last fish of this fisherman’s year.

 

My Best wishes for a Happy New Year!!

-Neil @ Fly & Gin

 

 

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Filed under Bluefish, Bluegill, Calico Bass, Crappie, Fishing, Fishy Water, Flounder, Fly, Freshwater, Largemouth Bass, Panfish, Pickerel, Seasons, Striped Bass, Sussex County Ponds, Winter

Good News for Local Bay Fisherman. (Me.)

Local news reports that, under an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the nearby Indian River power plant will be retiring it’s three most ancient generating units; dinosaurs that drink copious amounts of bay water for the purposes of cooling. They will rely on only the remaining generator, which is equipped with a self contained cooling system, requiring significantly less water top operate.

According DNREC officials, the reduced water intake at the plant should have a significant effect on crab and fish populations.

“The decrease in water intake is expected to save an estimated 300,000 blue crabs and Atlantic croaker, 40,000 winter flounder, 1.6 million bay anchovy and 60,000 Atlantic menhaden, said John R. DeFriece, program manager for DNREC’s Discharge Permits Program.”

I had absolutely no idea that the power plant was a massive fish eating machine, but now we know, and things are clearly improving. If there are 1.6 million bait fish for striped bass and blue fish, and an additional 40,000 winter flounder to chase, the locals will surely approve.

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Filed under Bay Fishing, Bluefish, Conservation, Fishy Water, Flounder, Places, Saltwater, Striped Bass, Surf Fishing, Water Watch

Good Problems.

The biggest dilemma that confronts me on a daily basis is the decision on where to fish, and for what.

In a world of economic woes, high unemployment and a touch of civil unrest, this dilemma should be filed under “A Good Problem to Have”.

My home state is frequently snubbed, or at least not mentioned, as a quality fishing ground, but quite erroneously so. It’s true that I don’t have any Blue Ribbon trout streams within a days drive, and the states to the north tend to get the bulk of the saltwater game fish that pass off-shore during migration, but I tend to be the type to prefer the case of good liquor over the bottle of great liquor.

I live on a tidal creek that floods or falls when the tides of the Atlantic Ocean traverse the inland bays.  Here, I can fish for a wide variety of saltwater species from flounder and bluefish to perch and croaker, to the migratory striped bass that if, had you’d read certain fishing books, you’d think never swim south of New Jersey.

By boat, you can drift the Indian River Inlet, or Massey’s Ditch, or explore the hundreds of sandbars, coves, creeks and canals that make up the Rehoboth and Indian River bays.

By land, I can drive my 4×4 onto the soft sand of picturesque coastal beaches, and, with a surf rod, or a fly rod, cast for all mid-Atlantic inshore species. The majority of the coastline here is without a significant sandbar as with other east coast beaches. This denies you the simplicity of tossing some meat onto a sandbar and waiting for fish to bite, and encourages the

dedicated fisherman to learn to read the water, fishing rips and eddies, and learning to identify good water, and a good place to toss a fly.

Close to home, when I want to approach freshwater species, I have panfish, bass, pickeral, perch , carp and trout within twenty minutes drive, and in a range of settings, each with it’s own mood and character. A little further away, I can find wooded trout streams, some designated for fly fisherman only, where rainbow and brown trout appear in deep pools.

A wide variety of species, a variety of water and endless, year-round opportunities to catch fish. Yet, my state and it’s significant number of fisherman remain largely ignored.

If it sounds as if I have a chip on my shoulder, you may have a point. But it’s not without reason. Orvis has a fly fishing application that reports from Belize and Brazil, but not Delaware. The aforementioned book, and several like it,  ignore this state as they write their way down the striper coast. And yes, naturally, I’d complain just as loud if my local grounds were suddenly fished out by shoulder-to-shoulder fisherman in designer shirts an $400 sunglasses. So, perhaps I should take some solace in the fact that the fertile waters of home remain below the radar. Instead, I’ll continue to wake early, go out to the garage, stare at the saltwater and freshwater rods and flies, and wonder….

“Where will I fish today”?

A good problem to have.

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Filed under Bluefish, Bluegill, Books, Carp, Crappie, Croaker, Fishing, Fishy Water, Flounder, Largemouth Bass, Panfish, Pickerel, Places, Striped Bass, White Perch