The world of flatfish is vast, varied and confusing. There are 11 families, 500 species of flatfish and 130 of them are native to America. Soles, flounders and halibut are familiar to most of us, but there are also dabs, plaice, brill, tonguefish
and turbot. One thing they all have in common are two eyes that will migrate soon after birth to one side of the head, while all other fish have one eye on each side of the head. Other fish swim upright, while Flatfish live and swim horizontally. Throughout their lives, flatfish hug the bottom disguised on one side looking like sand or gravel and their bottom half is white and appears to be ‘sky’ when seen from below. Thus they escape most predators. Flatfish feed by lying in disguise on the bottom, half embedded in the sand from where they ambush passing prey. Also they feed by scavenging ‘bits’ of food that remain after other fish have been attacked by predators. Alive or dead, the teeth of a flounder are razor-sharp. Dangerous to you, the angler, while the fish is alive and dangerous also, to the person who cleans the fish.
Your dilemma, do I match the hatch, or experiment by mixing and matching various baits, natural and artificial to enjoy more and very often fare better?
If you could see the way flatfish feed as they gracefully move along, invisible to predators, agile and fast, their bodies like one big fin capable of quick bursts of speed, if you’ll click the link in this paragraph you’ll see a perfectly adapted fish.
A man hooked a fish. The fish was still in the man’s landing net as he raised it dripping and shining in his hand. It was a fluke and the bait was a ‘cocktail.‘
Match the hatch makes sense to theorizing anglers, but your prey simply reacts to movement, or a scent that seems familiar and says ‘Yum, Yum’, available and ‘Delicious Food’. What do jigs, spoons and spinners imitate? I say worry not about matching the hatch, worry more about learning to fish your baits perfectly and placing them where fish are. For sure you’ll catch more fish by doing that, than by fishing in the wrong place with perfectly painted crank baits or life-like soft plastic minnows.
The variety of frozen fishing baits includes anchovies, clams, coon striped shrimp, crab bait, crawfish, herring, octopus, prawns, sardines, shad, smelt, squid and more. Purveyors are easy to find on-line.
With a drop-shot rig your weight is attached to the very bottom of your line, while your hook lies horizontal and perpendicular to your leader, about 10 inches above the sinker. With a drop-shot rig your bait ‘automatically’ undulates, propelled by water movement, so you n-e-v-e-r have to jiggle anything, just lift to set the hook.
I consider the following video to be an excellent tutorial. Although it fails to specify flatfish, the principle embodied here is valid for virtually all species that feed on the bottom.
BUCKTAILING BIG FLUKE (SUMMER FLOUNDER)
Here are a few tips to catch Big Fluke with Bucktails….
Bucktail Selection: Everyone asks what size bucktail works best. Bigger is better, when conditions warrant. Think 4oz and 8oz., because fluke (all flatfish) feed on the bottom and of course you need to go down to their ‘strike zone’. Deeper water and faster drifts require heavier jigs. We recommend combining lures and live bait. All jig colors produce, but you can’t go wrong with Green/Chartreuse or white/glow.
The recommended 20-30 lb. test braid. Braid cuts through water like a knife with little resistance, letting you hold the bottom better. Braid also lets you feel the structure of the bottom better than mono, in addition because it doesn’t stretch you’ll feel the bites better and then you’ll easily set the hook by simply lifting. A 12 lb. mono shock ‘leader’ should be used.
New Lures Stack the Odds In Your Favor. Over the last few years many new types of lures have come along and a lot of them are ‘real fluke killers’ when combined with bucktails. First one that comes to mind is “GULP”. Gulp Swimming Mullet, Shrimp, Twister tails, and the new belly strip, are what anglers have had the most success with – consistently. Use them right on the bucktail or above, as teasers.
LIVE BAIT – The ‘best’ baits are always changing. What they want today they won’t sniff tomorrow. So if possible take a big selections of fresh baits aboard. Try Big Smelts, Sandeels, Sardines, Whole Squid and Big Strip baits. Some of our favorite strip baits are Bluefish, Mackerel and Squid but the hottest strip baits last year were False Albie, tuna and mahi skins.
The most important tip is KEEP IT BOUNCING, most of the time you will be fishing rough bottom such as rocks and reefs, where there is a higher concentration of keeper fluke. If you just drag your bucktail on the bottom you will spend most of your day stuck and re-rigging. The second essential tip is be in the strike zone. You should feel your bucktail making contact with the bottom as you bounce it.
Go Deeper!!! With higher size restrictions you may have to go deeper than in the past in order to put keeper fluke on ice. In deeper waters from 45-75 ft. around rocks and reefs fluke average a lot bigger. The fish always have been in these areas but when the size limit was smaller we rarely had to go that far to put together a nice catch of keepers. Nobody is happy about the regulations, but we’ll learn to make the best of it. So if next time you’re out and the ‘catchin’ is good, but the keepin’ is slow head, a little deeper, fish around some structure and try bouncing some Bucktails – you won’t be disappointed!
“The Kayoss Rig”
Amazingly simple and very effective
1.- Fin Strike 557 Fluke Rig (With two tied hooks)
The Package Includes…
Shinny Spinner, Red Beads, tri-connector with sinker connector, a 36 inch Leader and two Hi-Lo tied hooks. Simple to use, just tie on to the end of your line and attach a sinker to the connector, then add bait to the 2 hooks and send your rig down to the bottom.
The Fin Strike 557 Fluke Rig is available on-line @ $2.39 – $2.90
2.- Berkley Gulp Swimming Mullet, 4”/10cm chartreuse (this color works well). This is a scented bait that looks, feels and tastes alive. You attach it to the top hook and thread it through the mouth. On the upper hook, your ‘Gulp’ serves as an effective teaser, because it always remains ‘horizontal’ in the water on your line.
3.- Two little ‘spearings’ or ‘sardines’ need to be treaded right through the eye onto the rig’s lower hook.
The weight you attach will vary with conditions and depth. You need to reach the ‘strike zone’ on the bottom which is where flounder feed.
One more thing: whether you fish this rig from a boat or from the shore, to be successful you need MOVEMENT. Either natural MOVEMENT induced by drifting, fostered by REELING or produced by JIGGING.
Now you’re good to go, with a setup fluke just can’t resist, which is your “Kayoss Rig“.
Watch the video (above).
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