Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Use the right bait to fish flounder on the Seacoast

By DICK PINNEY August 04. 2018 6:48PM


COASTAL NEW HAMPSHIRE anglers are very lucky for the amount of opportunities to fish from shore in tidal waters.

From the Maine to Massachusetts borders, if you can't find a good place to toss a bait or lure into salt water, you have many, many places to fish from shore, and you stand a good chance to catch whatever species you choose. The most popular species that are there for the catching are flounder (both fluke and common).

But the two species have distinctly different appetites and there's a need to fish the bait that the species you are after will bite. Our common flounder, often mistakenly called black-backed, like to feed on seaworms and clams or other shellfish. They are what are commonly named bottom feeders.

The generally larger and very much more aggressive flounder are mostly called fluke. Fluke like to feed on suspended baitfish such as sardines and small shiners that also may include other small baitfish and also small gamefish. They are very aggressive and, unlike the common flounders, have a set of teeth that you will immediately find out about if you mistakenly use a finger stuck in their mouth to unhook them! DO NOT DO THIS unless you use a pair of gloves that have protection - usually leather or plastic.

The two catchable flounder species require techniques that are different from each other. The more common and smaller-mouthed common flounders most often don't require using a set of pliers or hook-removal tools unless the hook has penetrated their jawbones.

But those big, toothy fluke will make a very remembered bite if you try to remove the hook with a bare hand. That's one of the many reasons that we always have a plier-type of hook remover right within reach and always use it when removing hooks for most of the saltwater species, with those fluke probably being one of the most dangerous for a too-close nail trimming!

The common flounders are almost always feeding in the inlets and outlets of coves and islands. Our best luck for bait when fishing right on or near bottom is seaworms or bait clams, both of which you can usually purchase at the local bait shops. If you are ambitious and like to gather your own bait, it's really not that hard to find a spot on the muddy bottoms at low tide where both the clams and worms can be harvested. Know that you need a license to harvest your bait.

A walk in shallow water or exposed mudflats at low tide will usually revile the presence of sea worms and the clams will often be found where their telltale breathing and feeding holes come up to the surface. A conventional clam digging fork makes for much easier picking than using a farm or garden type utensil. But both will work.

Personally, at my age and with my aching back, we find it's much easier to dig into our pocket for the few dollars the bait will cost than to pay with that aching back! And, before you try any of the above, you'd better check on the licensing requirements and other rules concerning the gathering of bait, both minnows or shiners and shellfish and marine worms. For the Dickster it's been much easier to fetch a few bucks from my back pocket than to suffer the back pain for what often turns into weeks!

We've found the older we get, the purchase of our bait has become more and more attractive and you'll often get some good tips and advice from you bait dealers as well as any gear that you may need.

"Hey, when the tide's right, get out there and get you some. And if you feel indebted to this old writer for inspiring you, we never have refused a gift of a meal of clams or oysters!"

Drop us an email at doduckinn@aol.com and get out there and get you some!

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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