A few days after the Clyde trip the east wind had dropped so it was time to check out the local harbours. I pretty much had only one fish in mind and that was Flounders. Throughout the winter the flounders tend to thin out and move out the harbours, however spring sees them return and boy have I missed them!

Now I must admit to being completely in love with catching flatties on lures, even though I have caught hundreds of them I still find their predatory behaviour fascinating. Add to the fact that I spend most of the time actually sight fishing for them and it becomes very exciting indeed. So it was on with the Costas and down to the harbour to catch the first few hours of the flood.

This tide state is my most productive time for catching flatties. Flounders in particular are the first fish to take advantage of the flooding tide. Being flat and well camouflaged they can hunt in very shallow water to feed on the creatures that the flooding tide uncovers. Sand eels, crabs and ragworm start to emerge as the tide comes in and the flatties are in full hunting mode ready to take advantage of them.

I arrived at the harbour on a crisp spring day the tide had just started to flood and the water was very clear. I was geared up with my LRF tackle which comprised of a HTO Rockfish T 0.5-7g  Tubular tipped rod, 2500 size reel , PE0.6 braid to an 8lb leader. On the business end I favour a drop-shot rig for flatties with a size 8 long shank hook tied with a Palomar knot a foot from the bottom of the trace. A 7 gram drop-shot lead is clipped on and a 4″ Gulp sand worm completes the set up.

The clear water conditions allowed me to see into the harbour, small patches of weed and the odd traffic cone punctuated an otherwise clean sandy sea bed. These small areas of cover are a good place to target as the flounders will lurk along the edge of the weed and there is always the chance of a fat scorpionfish as well.  I worked a lure around the weed patches as I made my way along the harbour but it wasn’t until I had reached where the trawlers unload before the action started. During low tide the big trawlers  rest with their keel on the sea bed. This leaves a small trench in the muddy bottom and these areas of change in otherwise featureless ground are a great place to try.

My standard flounder tactic with a drop-shot rig is to firstly cast out, then with the rod tip pointed down begin a slow steady retrieve, whilst all the time twitching the rod. This keeps the lure working about a foot from the bottom and by keeping the lead trundling along the deck it throws up puffs of sand. These puffs of sand from the lead help attract the flatties and they quickly home in on the lure twitching seductively above them. Flatties are very bold when in hunting mode and they are happy to come off the bottom to snaffle a lure.

I made a cast along the length of the shallow depression and as the lure rolled into the trench I saw a puff of sand and felt a “dunk” down the rod. I paused for a couple of seconds before striking into the fish and was rewarded with the rod bending into a nice spring flounder. The fish kited towards me and  before turning and trying to reach the safety of the sea bed with some tail thumping dives. With a big grin on my face I managed to slip the net under the fish and welcome the first flattie of the season, a nice fat fish of about a pound. A quick pic or two and the fish was released and I carried on stalking around the harbour.

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As I made my way around I managed a few more smaller flatties from various spots in the harbour. These smaller fish tend to pluck at the lure more, where as a bigger fish will engulf the lure with one bite. To hook these smaller flatties I drop the rod tip when I feel them plucking. This gives a small amount of slack line and allows the fish to suck the lure into their mouths. It always pays to wait a couple of seconds before striking when using this set up to ensure that the fish are well hooked.

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A couple of hours fishing saw me catch and release half a dozen fish and whilst it was not really a red letter day, it signals the start of the sport to come and that is very exciting indeed!

Tight Lines

Jake

 

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