Spring time flounder fishing in Chincoteague Bay depends highly on two factors, water clarity and water temperature. The generally accepted principle is that flounder start biting when water temperatures reach 50 degrees. Occasionally fish will be caught in water a little cooler, but fishing success certainly picks up as the water temperature goes above 50. The best fishing of the year is usually in water between 60 and 70 degrees.
Water clarity is just as important as temperature. Flounder feed by sight and if the water resembles chocolate milk the fish will have a hard time seeing your bait. Chincoteague Bay is a large bay by coastal standards and the wide open areas cloud up quickly in windy conditions. Usually the creeks and the western shore (in a west wind) retain more clarity. If it’s blowing northeast, that’s time better spent on honey dos, I’ve never done well fishing flounder in a NE wind.
Where should I target flounder? Flounder like to ambush their prey. They prefer to lay disguised on the bottom and wait for there food to come to them. I like to focus my efforts on the edges, anywhere the depth changes. Chincoteague Bay is mostly a series of flats and sloughs, all draining toward the inlet. The edges of the flats are prime areas for a flounder to wait for dinner to come drifting by. Even changes as subtle as 1’ in depth can be good areas.
Queen Sound is a popular area in our waters. The sound is a collection area draining a large part of the bay; hence a large volume of food moves through the area. Queen Sound is a great place to drift for flounder. By looking at a chart of the local waters you can pick out many great places to fish. All of the flats, drains, and collection areas are readily apparent on a chart.
Flounder will be caught up on the flats as well as in the bottom of the channels but the edges are the primary feeding grounds of the flounder. Early in the year the shallow water warms faster making for more active bait and fish. During the summer months the deeper waters will be cooler and more comfortable for the bait and fish.
What’s the best flounder bait? Flounder will eat almost anything. They’ve been caught on eels, shrimp, crabs, silversides, strips of cut bait, and most predominantly live bait. Minnows and squid strips are far and away the most popular baits in our area. There are many flounder rigs available in the local tackle shops. They are available in every color under the rainbow but if you have white, pink, and chartreuse you’ve probably got all you need. Pending the depth and current, you’ll need a selection of sinkers from 1/2 to 3 ounces. I’ve found that trolling sinkers glide over the bottom easily and are less prone to hang ups.
While it’s true that bigger baits catch bigger fish, don’t forget that elephants eat peanuts too. Flounder are notorious for mouthing a bait before they eat it. When you feel a flounder bite, give them a little drop-back. Some people will feed them line for a few seconds. I’ve done fine by pointing the rod at them and when you feel the weight of the fish, lift up the rod tip.Play the fish steady, don’t try to horse him into the boat, and net the fish head first.
These tactics can work in any of Virginia’s coastal bays. There will be as many different ways to catch flounder as there are fisherman. These are simply some guidelines for the beginner in our local waters. Some other tidbits: fish a falling tide in the spring; you’ll have warm water coming off the flats. Fish a rising tide in the summer, cooler water will be coming from the ocean. Flounder fishing is best on a moving tide but, a very wise man once told me that the best time to fish is, when you can.
This article is courtesy of Lance Stitcher. You can find Lance fishing the waters around Chincoteague Virginia or golfing at Captain’s Cove Community.