Date updated: September 2013
Season: all year
Socio-economic Importance: Seen as an important sport fish for recreational anglers especially for beginners.
Ecological Importance: Flounder are known to have limited ranges for each population resulting in high dependence on sufficient quantity and quality of estuarine and mudflat habitats for them to inhabit. However in these habitats, larval and juvenile flounder are thought to be a key prey for other small fish and crustaceans such as brown shrimp.
Legal Minimum Size: N/A
Average Breeding Size: 30cm
Where and when to catch them:
Flounder can be encountered virtually anywhere, but are most commonly caught in estuaries. They will swim a surprisingly long way up-river into brackish water and sometimes surprise coarse anglers who may catch them in the upper river. They leave the estuaries to spawn between January and March and arrive back as spent fish in March through to June. Spent fish are best returned rather than being taken for the pot.
What tackle to use:
An estuary rod is ideal, used with a simple wishbone rig. Flounder are inquisitive and a string of multi-coloured beads or a flounder spoon added to the trace can increase catches. Long shank hooks size 2 or 4 are best and a light trace line.
What bait is best to use:
Lugworm is the best bait for flounder, but they will also take garden earthworms in the rivers, especially if there has been heavy rain. Flounders are very keen on peeler and soft crab during May/June. Cut the crab in half. Some anglers will hook on just the legs and ‘work’ the bait slowly up and down on the bottom.
Best conditions for catching them:
Flounder in season will feed under most conditions. Features such as shellfish beds will find them looking for food. They will often follow the tide in, and can be caught in inches-deep water as the tide creeps in across the mud.
Flounder are tough, and will return well making them a great stock fish for youngsters starting out and for match fishermen. However, although they have suffered a bit in recent years, good numbers of juvenile fish can be found in the upper reaches of rivers and it is hoped these fish will help aid recovery.