Fall Is Flounder Time On The Georgia Coast

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As deer hunters hit the woods and many of the remaining anglers look for reds and trout, flatfish often get overlooked.

As you read this issue of GON, it’s safe to say that the sweltering days of summer are nearly behind us. As the leaves begin to change and temperatures drop, it signals the beginning of fall in our great state.

For south Georgia though, the cold weather will be sporadic at best as we will see many days with highs in the upper 80s to low 90s, depending on weather patterns. I don’t look at the heat as a bad thing, though. In my mind, it gives me at least four more weeks of summertime fishing conditions before Mr. Winter starts to come to town.

The even better news is that as many anglers hang up their rods for the year in anticipation of deer season, boat ramps become ghost towns, and our saltwater estuaries receive very little fishing pressure. The few fishermen you do encounter on the water will likely be anchored up in creek mouths tossing live shrimp under popping corks to hungry redfish and trout.

And that’s just fine with me.

I have a different species on my mind this month, and with the correct weather conditions, the fishing can be downright phenomenal. Whether you call them flounder, flatfish or a host of other nicknames, I think we can all agree to call them dinner.

The Georgia coast offers up some of the finest flounder fishing anywhere, with literally millions of dock posts, oyster beds, jetties and rocks that hold great populations of these flatfish, and some really big door mats at that.

I was fortunate to learn to flounder fish from Jimmy Crews, of Waycross. He’s without doubt one of the greatest flounder fishermen of all time. You can read a story I wrote on Jimmy at www.gon.com/fishing/jigging-artificials-for-georgia-flounder. 

The first thing you have to realize is that in order to catch flounder, you have to target them. A good trout or redfish trip will often yield a few flat fish as by products, but to catch a limit, you’re going to have to go after flounder specifically.

One of the best places I’ve found to target these tasty fish is located in Brunswick and is relatively easy to find.  

The Sidney Lanier Bridge stretches over the Brunswick River, and directly under it is a boat ramp that offers easy access to the river. Within a few miles of the boat ramp in either direction you will find dock posts, jetties and rocks that all harbor flounder and offer up some good fishing this month.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to talk about my three favorite spots and how I like to fish them.

It’s important to note that all three of these locations can be fished during any stage of the tide, but the period from two hours before to two hours after low tide seem to be the very best, day in and day out.

First up and almost directly under the bridge is the dock posts where the Emerald Princess Casino boat is tied up. I’m not normally a betting man, but most days the many dock posts located right next to the gambling boat hold a jackpot of flounder, if you fish them correctly.

 

A pink Gulp! or a Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer Jr. are both excellent choices for flounder fishing.

I use artificials for flounder almost exclusively, as I have found that most days they work as good or better than mud minnows or other live-bait choices.

The key to fishing dock posts is to focus on each post as an individual. It’s really easy to make blind casts to multiple posts, failing to work each post thoroughly.

I like to use a Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer Jr. in the sexy-shad color, fished on a 1/4-oz. GA Boy Lures Bipolar jig head that I designed with flounder in mind. If you’re interested in the jigs, you can find a link on the GA BOY LURES Facebook page.

It sports a 2/0 Owner hook that is currently one of the sharpest hooks available. This comes in handy, as flounder bites are often subtle, making clean hook sets hard to achieve without a razor-sharp hook.

I use the swimbait to make multiple casts from different directions to each dock post, ensuring that I have worked each post thoroughly before moving on to the next post.

I like to use medium baitcasting gear for this type of fishing and have found that the Lew’s Mach Crush works really well for this technique. This high-speed reel enables me to make precision casts to structure. Then, after a few hops, I can bring my lure in quickly for another cast. This enables me to make hundreds more casts a day than I would be able to with traditional spinning tackle.

A flounder will almost always hold right up to the post, so working your lure back to the boat isn’t necessary. Make your cast slightly past the post, letting your jig settle. Once it hits the bottom, I like to give it a quick hop, wait about two seconds and then repeat. It’s important to fish quickly when using artificials, so you can cover a lot of ground and put your offering in front of more fish.

The next location where I like to target flounder is a rock wall slightly upriver from the bridge on the right. This rock wall runs a long stretch up into the creek and can really shine, especially right when the tide starts to come back in.

I like to start at the mouth of the creek, working my way in. I make casts right up to the rocks and then hop my jig back, working it about half way back to the boat. When I catch a fish, I will fish the 50 yards or so around that area since more flounder will almost always be in the vicinity. 

As a bonus, this stretch will often yield a limit of redfish in the 17 inch or so range. These reds are more than willing to fall for a good flounder presentation.

The author’s son Colt, 5, with a flounder he caught.

As the tide continues to come back in, I will continue working the stretch, picking up a few flounder as I go. Very rarely will you catch 10 flounder in a half hour. You have to stay focused and fish hard, as even just two or three flounder an hour will add up to an impressive ice box by the end of the day.

While working this long, rock wall, pay careful attention to little nooks and crannies in the rocks that offer spots with no current or that are creating a whirlpool-type effect. Flounder are ambush predators and will lie in these spots waiting on an easy meal.

The only time that I have found this wall of rocks not to produce is when the tide is high and the rocks are fully submerged. 

Spot number three, the Jekyll Jetties, is a good flounder location 12 months out of the year, and in October, you will likely encounter schools of reds and trout, also.

Though this area offers great fishing, it receives very little pressure from anglers, particularly in the winter months.

To get to the jetties, simply head down river from the bridge, and keep your boat between the main center pilings as you go. It’s about a 4-mile ride, and you will see the rocks running off the tip of Jekyll Island.

I always like to start fishing the jetties at the very end in deeper water.

Use your trolling motor or anchor to position your boat a good distance from the rocks, and make long casts up and work your lure back using hops and short pauses.

I throw the Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer Jrs out here, as well, and have also had luck fishing a Berkley GULP Swimming Mullet in both chartreuse and pink. It seems like some days the extra scent that the GULP lures have tend to make a big difference.

Pay careful attention to your line, as a flounder bite on an artificial is often one thump in the line. When I feel the thump, I count to three and then set the hook. 

I have tried every line on flounder in multitudes of brands, including braid, fluorocarbon and monofilament. They all work well, but I have found that it is hard to beat 15-lb. Berkley Big Game Monofilament for its abrasion resistance, stretch and sensitivity.

After you fish the end of the rocks, start working along the inside edge of the creek, fishing thoroughly, but staying on the move. 

Craig James and his daughter Alexis with some nice flounder caught near the Sidney Lanier Bridge last month. Expect catches like this in October.

It’s important to note that some days a multitude of species of “trash” fish will be stacked up around the rocks and will quickly nip the tail off of your GULP bait. At nearly .50 cents each, it doesn’t take long for that to get expensive. I recommend anytime that happens to switch back to an unscented lure to keep the trash fish at bay.

A really good area I have found, especially within an hour of low tide, is the inside edge about 50 yards out from shore. I don’t know what makes this area special, but there are often flounder here, so make sure to fish everything out to 100 yards or so really well.

When the tide is about 30 minutes from dead low, head back out to the main tip of the rocks and make a few casts as schools of trout will often position there as the tide makes its final pull. If this fails to yield results, then fish 50 yards around the outside edge of the jetties. The water is extremely shallow in places on that edge, so move around slowly until you familiarize yourself with it. 

As I said earlier, the boat ramp is located directly under the Sidney Lanier Bridge and is easy to find. Coming from I-95, jump on Highway 82, go east and drive over the bridge. Once you go over, hang the first left, and that road will lead you around to the boat ramp.

Brunswick is a nice town to spend the weekend and is loaded with restaurants and hotels to suit most any taste.

For those who enjoy camping, nearby Blythe Island Regional Park is a wonderful place to spend the weekend and has both primitive and RV spots available for reasonable rates.

Hopefully you will have the opportunity to take a trip to Brunswick this month and take advantage of some of the best flounder fishing along Georgia’s coast. Whether you have success at one of my three favorites flounder places or find a new honey hole of your own, it’s bound to be a good time for sure.

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