Nearly all flounders landed by anglers around Amelia Island are southern flounder or gulf flounder. Gulf flounder are the only species to range along the entire Florida coast. Southern flounder are generally only found north of the Loxahatchee River in Juniper, FL. Southern flounder are found on silt and mud, and gulf flounder are found mostly on sand. Studies have shown that female southern flounder reach about 28″ and 7 years of age while female gulf flounder reach only about 18″ and 3 years of age Males of both species do not get as large as females. Female southern flounder mature at age 3 or 4, and female gulf flounder mature at age 1. Both species spawn in offshore waters during late fall & winter in 65 to 200 feet.
During late fall and early winter, adult flounder migrate offshore to breed. The offshore migration can lead to large numbers of adult fish all moving through the inlets and passes at the same time, this is the migration that most Flounder anglers target.
Live bait is the most productive for big flounder. Finger Mullet, mullet strip, shrimps, and mud minnows all work. Most fish imitation lures will take flounder when fished close to the bottom. Jigs are the most productive lure with a minnow hooked through the lips or a strip of cut bait to mimic a minnow in size and shape. For cut bait run the jig hook from the skin side through the cut bait then twist the hook and run it back up through the flesh side of the bait. Several inches of bait should hang from the jig. Make sure to center the hook so the bait runs straight. When the jig is retrieved the skin should face up. Hook a mud minnow or finger mullet through the lips so that it sits upright. Make your presentations pulsating and slow. Flounder are ambush predators so they like unaware victims. However, I’ve seen videos of flounder following lures some distance before sticking so keep fishing into shallow water. See Tackle.
The best locations around Amelia Island are creek mouths during falling tides and the St. Mary’s inlet at Ft. Clinch. The jetties at Ft Clinch are another great location. I find that continually moving a bait is the most efficient method because flounder are ambush predators that are stationary waiting for bait to swim by.
12″ total length
10 fish per day