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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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  #106  
Old 05-15-2020, 10:31 PM
SALMONMEISTER SALMONMEISTER is offline
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Default Re: Boat Fishing With Jason

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Originally Posted by fishinglsister View Post
Hi Scott-

You asked a pretty good question that I will try to clarify and answer for you.
First off, there is no "best rig" all the time. For winter flounder, "in general", they like the same type of rig as summer flounder except that their mouth is smaller and their choice of food is different. Having said that, for practicality sake, with winter flounder I like to have two hooks on the bottom as opposed to the standard "one hook on a long leader" for fluke (AKA: summer flounder). If you have two hooks and very long leaders you will have loads of tangles and a basically unmanageable mess. SO, shorten up the leaders and tie two hooks together so one is a little apart from the other and you have a flounder rig.
A lot of people, including myself, grew up using the typical "flounder hooks" which are long shanked Chesterton's that flounder seem to ingest to their anus. The SOP (standard operating procedure) in the day was to pull the hook straight out until it popped out of the fish'es mouth, with or without guts attached. If the fish was small it was probably released to die. I now use much larger hooks, starting around size #2 and often go as large as 1/0's. That keeps the fish from ingesting the hook past the mouth and fish hooked only in the mouth have a pretty good chance at survival. When the fishing is good, we do a lot of "catch and release" and we couldn't do that (and still sleep at night) if the releases were going to die.
What you see in the picture is a hook, already tied that I purchase from Bass Pro Shops called "Bear Paw Flicker size 2". I use these early in the season as the flounder tend to be smaller (on average) and as the season progresses I change to hooks I tie myself which are size 2 Mustad Bronze Forged Streamer Hooks (see photo). I tie these up over the winter on 20#leader material cut to 12 inch pieces. After snelling 100 hooks/leaders I add spinner blades, glow beads, buzzers, doo-dads, disco lights, grubby tails and anything else that I think will get a flounder's attention!
Flounder are very curious and will actively investigate anything that is of the right size to eat that gets near it. Adding all the hardware can only add to the effectiveness of the rig and when "less is more", it does not take anything away.
Also, when the water is dirty/cloudy I found that florescent glow beads will catch significantly better than un adorned hooks. The most major key to all the "extras" is water temps. When the water is "too cold" as it often is in the early part of the season the fish are simply not aggressive enough to respond to all the crap on the hooks so a simpler rig is probably better then. When the water warms up (say over 54F) the fish go nuts and want to eat almost anything that can fit into their mouths. Being visual feeders, the more you can get them to see/notice your bait, the better off you are....
We used to use those wire flounder spreaders which separated the two snelled hooks. It had a clip in the center for a 2-3 oz weight. We'd paint the weights red, and also had those fluorescent beads on the leaders. We'd also jig the weight on the bottom every so often to attract attention. We used bloodworms, or clams that were dyed red(!) for bait. On L.I. we started fishing around St. Patrick's Day when the water was in the low 40s...and fish until mid May. We'd fish again in the fall for a few weeks around Halloween.
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  #107  
Old 05-16-2020, 03:08 PM
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fishinglsister fishinglsister is offline
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Default Re: Boat Fishing With Jason

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Originally Posted by SALMONMEISTER View Post
We used to use those wire flounder spreaders which separated the two snelled hooks. It had a clip in the center for a 2-3 oz weight. We'd paint the weights red, and also had those fluorescent beads on the leaders. We'd also jig the weight on the bottom every so often to attract attention. We used bloodworms, or clams that were dyed red(!) for bait. On L.I. we started fishing around St. Patrick's Day when the water was in the low 40s...and fish until mid May. We'd fish again in the fall for a few weeks around Halloween.
Flounder actively feed inshore after they spawn and then move offshore into cooler water for the summer. When populations are "healthy", we would have a fall run. We have not had a fall run in almost 30 years (here, LI, NJ, anywhere) and that will never happen again unless the dragging is STOPPED!
Here in The Gulf Of Maine, the entire quota of The GOM is about 800 tons and they have been catching about 16-18% of that. They do not consider that the reason they only catch that small amount is because there are not enough fish to justify an 800 ton quota. In their (The idiot fishery managers) own words: "it must be something else"....
Worse is that 18% of the GOM quota is mostly coming from the Boston Harbor stock which is the last viable, inshore breeding population of winter flounder left on the planet and the draggers are allowed to pound them into oblivion. Then, after the last flounder is killed and they are extinct the fishery managers, all in the pockets of the commercial industry, will look around, shrug and say "gee, we never could have seen that coming".....


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  #108  
Old 05-19-2020, 08:00 AM
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fishinglsister fishinglsister is offline
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Default Re: Boat Fishing With Jason

According to all the information I was given, the "For Hire Fishing Ban" (in Massachusetts) was supposed to end yesterday and so "I thought" I was good to go for taking people out.
"IF" I did go, that would have been a mistake on my part as it was made clear to me yesterday when I (my have) came in from fishing, "possibly" with customers aboard, that such a thing was not kosher yet.
"IF" I did go fishing, I "might have had" 5 guys plus myself out who "may have" caught a total of 48 keeper flounder (8/person) including the biggest one of the year so far.......
Also, while I am (allegedly) confessing of my (alleged) crimes, I also "may have" exceeded the speed limit on my way home yesterday....
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:02 AM
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fishinglsister fishinglsister is offline
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Default Re: Boat Fishing With Jason

When I came to Quincy in 1998 there were said to be "no flounder". The place where I bought a house is called "Hough's Neck", a part of Quincy that was on the south side of Quincy Bay and was famous in the day" for being "The Flounder Capitol of the World". In fact, when I moved there the signs that said just that were still up.
But no one was fishing for flounder and even the once mighty boat rental places were all closed up and out of business. Everyone I spoke to said it was a combination of over fishing and pollution that did them in and perhaps they were right, to an extent (I have a somewhat different theory).
In any case, I got a Mass. commercial striped bass license for 1999 and while chumming clams for bass in early July of that year my baits on the bottom were getting harassed by small bites that I suspected were flounder so I set a scup rig out behind my chum pot and was immediately rewarded with an instant double header of keeper flounder! The next drop and another double header but this time it was two small cod.
I was both excited and very interested in what was happening, so much so that when a couple of my bass rods folded over I ignored them until after I caught the next set of flounder (or cod). I already had the spot marked on my GPS so it was simply a matter of playing with the spot to see where the most flounder were. Better, for the next 13 years the flounder fishing got stronger and stronger until 2013 came along.
You see while the flounder were basically being left alone by the draggers for all those years (they were so depleted in the early to mid 1990's that the draggers all but forgot them while they were busy decimating the cod) while they "worked on" the cod. At the end of 2012 though, the fishery manager Menza candidates of The Gulf of Maine New England Fishery Management Council (GOMNEFMS-they love acronyms) decided that because a study showed that GOM cod were at 4% of a healthy bio mass that they would cut the cod quota by 77% for 2013. They dragger lobbys went apechit! so the fishery managers told them they should "work on" flounder instead. To sweeten the pot, they more than quadrupled the flounder quota's over the next few years, even though the advisory panels and scientists voted against it.
The government even gave them "grants" (recreational fishermen tax dollars that they do not have to pay back. Effectively using our own money against us) to get $50K nets that target flounder and catch less cod.
The problem is that the flounder population had never really recovered to a point yet that any additional pressure was justified because except for two patches of fish, one centered in Boston Harbor and the other centered in southern Cape Cod Bay, there were NO inshore bodies of winter flounder left anywhere along their traditional range (Labrador to Delaware).
So these past 7 years the GOM commercial flounder quota has gone up from 270 MT to 480 MT to 670MT and now 810 MT. In spite of their best efforts, at their best they have destroyed what was there by only catching 18% of the GOM quota in 2017 and they have been going downhill from there ever since.
All that time I have been "discussing" (AKA: "arguing") with the fishery managers and NOAA scientists that the excessive dragging is destroying the Boston Harbor stock of flounder and that virtually all of The GOM quota is coming from fish that "used to be" in and around Boston Harbor. They were very consistent in telling me that I "don't know what I'm talking about", "I am imagining things", "if the flounder are disappearing from Boston Harbor, it couldn't be because of the draggers, it must be something else" (like climate change).
"Net rash" is a condition on a fish that shows that it had interaction with a net and if you catch one that shows these markings you can assume that the fish survived said interaction. If the fish was on the deck and got shoveled overboard because it was too small or if the net simply scraped over it's back while it was tight to the bottom you can't know. I've even caught them with net rash AND pick holes in their heads! In the years before 2013 I used to complain if I saw net rash one or two times a season. As of last year I was seeing it on as much as 40% of all the fish we were catching in May and early June (they heal pretty quickly).
Another (related) issue is that prior to 2013 we had a growing population of tog and sea bass in Boston Harbor getting stronger and stronger each year. By last year the sea bass were all but gone and my boat had 3 tog for the spring flounder season as opposed to the 30-40 we would get incidental to flounder fishing before 2013. You see each spring, the flounder are moving inshore to spawn and the tog and sea bass are moving with them. We have had about a 90% reduction in all three species as of 2019 as compared to 2012.
This year we have an "unexpected consequence" of the covid19 issue and that is the draggers stayed tied up for most of March and April. The consequence is a good one as this year we easily have at least three times the flounder numbers of last year and I have personally caught 3 tog myself already (I always release them in the spring as they are usually full of eggs.).
I recently brought up the correlation between the increased numbers of flounder being reported by every tackle shop around Boston Harbor to the state fishery managers and one state biologist skeptically responded that he will "wait until he sees the actual catch stats before he can agree". The problem I see with that is the catch stats were saying that there were "loads of flounder being caught (recreational)" in Massachusetts while my friend and I had signed statements from virtually every tackle shop from Plymouth to New Hampshire stating that rec flounder fishing is headed down the toilet and there is lack of effort for them and lack of business as a result. We were ignored.
OK, I'v blown off some steam. Below are two pictures, one is the only case of net rash I have seen this year (05/20/20) and a 18 inch blackfish I caught/released yesterday (05/22/20), full of eggs.
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  #110  
Old 05-27-2020, 09:06 PM
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Montauk Surf Montauk Surf is offline
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Default Re: Boat Fishing With Jason

Jason, where do all these flounder in the supermarkets and fish markets come from ? I know you talked about Massachusetts draggers..but millions and millions of people are being fed flounder.
I suspect the larger fillets are fluke in the 14 " range that are sold as "flounder".

I was recently told that allot of them are sold as flounder but are actually sole or yellowtail flounder which have a very small mouth and reside is very deep water; therefore recrational fisherman can't/don't target them. Actually, blackback flounder fillets are gray in color and have striated blood vessels or something through the flesh.
I do see allot of very white fillets sold advertised as flounder.

My out of state, and certainly my international, fishing is limited to what I view on the internet. And it seems to me sole is not very abundant in New England and is more of a European fish. And yellowtail flounder is never caught by Long Island offshore recreational fisherman.

Please enlighten me..
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