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Right now the fish being targeted the most by Brunswick County inshore anglers is the flounder. That is because during the heat of summer, flounder can often be caught during the day, unlike many fish such as speckled trout or redfish, which stage more of a morning or nighttime bite, if they bite at all.
You can catch flounder in the early morning or at night, but anglers casting to structures and points can score during the middle of hot days as well. On some hot summer days in the Carolinas, flounder fishing will be the only thing going on.
Of course you can drift or troll places like Tubbs Inlet for flounder, but I have always preferred anchoring up and casting to them. The docks on the Intracoastal Waterway and areas like our bridges may not hold a ton of flounder right now, but they usually hold some of the biggest of the year. An 11-pound flounder got caught recently around a dock in the Wilmington area.
When casting live bait or even scented soft baits to flounder, many anglers know to give the fish some time to take the bait after the hit. What many do not know is that if you strike too soon and miss the flounder, you have not necessarily lost your shot at the fish. Flounder will follow a bait jerked away from them and often hit a second time if you don’t quickly reel the bait away from them.
Instead of reeling in after you miss a flounder, drop your rig or lure right back to them and let it sit. The bait will still be moving a little bit with the current and may appear to be stunned to the flounder. I have often caught flounder that I missed the first time on a second strike.
During a hot day, creek and inlet mouths can become flounder motels on a lowering tide. That is because in the summer there is a ton of bait in the water such as mud minnows, other small fish, shrimp and crabs. All this bait hides from predators (not just fish like flounder but birds as well) back in the creeks during high tide.
As low tide comes around and the current starts draining from the creeks heavily, the bait is washed out. Flounder will stack around the creek mouths, sometimes in still water next to a rising current but also in the current itself at the bottom. Points on either side of the creek will produce.
Flounder will wait for the food to be brought to them, so it is best to cast into the creek and let the current tumble your bait or lure to the flounder. Use just enough weight or just the right size jig head to stay on or right at the bottom, but no more.
Live bait anglers who can find hardy baits that live a long time in the hot water under the sun will be rewarded. Some baits, like peanut pogies, are normally good flounder baits that die almost immediately on a very hot day. Mud minnows, the tiger-sided mud minnows you can catch in your cast net, and frisky finger mullet are all good hot-day choices.
Hook the live bait through the lips or, as with finger mullet, through the eyes or just above. Don’t retrieve your bait very fast on a hot summer day.
Besides flounder, there are some big sheepshead and nice black drum around the pilings if you can get past the pinfish. The inshore waters are holding some small to mid-size spot and croaker along with the flounder and lots of pinfish. Pier and surf fishing is generally slow, with some flounder, some rare but occasionally large redfish, small spot, sea mullet, some occasional nice pompano in the surf and snapper bluefish. If you are pier or surf fishing, you’ll be better off going early in the morning or at night.