In the fall, when temperatures in inshore waters start to cool off, flounder are among the species that migrate to the deeper waters of offshore. Many years ago, on a February snapper trip to the Tenneco Rigs, 18 miles out of Freeport, Rene Morales and I found more black drum, “rat” redfish, sheepshead, and flounder than red snapper. These fish were on or near the bottom in 90 feet of water, instead of being in the bay or around the jetties where we might have expected them. However, not all flounder seem to migrate, as some will be found in the Intracoastal Waterway all though the winter. Most of the evidence of inshore winter flounder comes from fish caught in shrimp nets, and some of the biggest flounder I’ve ever seen – 9 pounds or better – were pulled from winter shrimp trawls in “the ditch”. I have also seen porpoises playing with small flounder in the ICW, tossing them high in the air with a flip of their heads, then pouncing on them as they hit the water. Right now, flounder are also showing up on industrial intake water screens that feed from the ICW, so they must be thick and moving slowly.
The new flounder regulations dropped the daily bag limit from 10 per person to 5, with a 14″ minimum length requirement. In the month of November, it gets even better, with the bag limit going to two fish person per day, possession limit the same. During this period fishing must be by hook and line only, no gigging allowed. Were I looking for a two fish limit like the one in the photo above, I’d fish the bank near a drop off, and use live shrimp or mud minnows, or cut dead bait if that was all I could get. Once the fish are located in an area, soft plastics can also produce.