Flounder Bait and Techniques – Part One

Flounder season is here and they should be biting all over Nova Scotia in harbours and estuaries along the coast.  I’m getting ready for my first flounder trip of many this year and prepping some bait.  We get mostly winter flounder here which are the smaller of the two main species, but they fight extremely hard for their size and are one of the best eating fish we have available to us.  Here are some loose guidelines if you haven’t fished them before and are looking for some information.

I’ll start with the bait and chum because this is one of the most important aspect of catching them.  I usually catch most of my flounder in about 20-30′ of water on a sandy or gravel bottom that is often quite featureless.  Due to this fact, just dropping baits in the open isn’t always very productive.  That is why most people who really want to be successful end up using chum:
For chum you will want a “chum pot”, this can be any container that will allow some of its contents to spill out over time.  Some people create their own out of PVC tube, some use pantyhose, I like these small bird feeder seed holders.  You can get them at home depot for about $4 and they will hold a bundle of cracked mussels or clams just perfectly:

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I tie a 6oz lead sinker into the cage to keep it on bottom, use as much or as little weight as the tides and current dictate in your location.  The door flips open and has just enough room to fit a bundle of cracked mussels, which is my go to chum.  Mussels are readily available along much of the Nova Scotia coastline, or you can just pick them up at the grocery store.  If you live near the water and want to try gathering them yourself, it is very easy:

Just go to the shore at low tide, somewhere you know there is a lot of rocks and a lot of seaweed.  The mussels will be tucked up under the seaweed, near the low water mark on the rocks.  You can just pull them off the rocks and toss them in a bucket, simple as that.

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Once you have collected enough – or bought them at the store, bring them home and begin shucking them.  You will be mostly using these as chum, and for that they can stay intact, but you also want to tip your other bait, be it squid or mackerel strips, with some of the mussel.  You don’t want the fish getting a taste for the mussel in the pot and then present them a totally foreign bait.

I usually shuck a handful of them for tipping my squid (this is a great cocktail for cod and other fish as well) and throw them in the freezer.  They will be snotty but that is good, because you will attach them to the other bait and hook with bait elastic, which will keep everything in a neat tasty package.

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Once they come out of the  freezer you can take them off the sheet and throw them in a ziploc, doing it this way prevents them from all freezing together.  Once you go to use them they thaw quickly and will become soft after being exposed to air for a few minutes.

Now that you have a few baggies of mussels for baiting, you just need to throw a few handfuls of the shell-in mussels in some bags as well and freeze those.  I usually package just as much as will fit in my chum pot into individual bags.  When you hit the water you can just grab a baggie and dump it in the chum pot once you get on the water.  You can either crush them up with a rock on shore, but I usually just slam them with the butt of my knife while in the kayak and that does the trick.

Part 2 will entail using this bait on the water and tactics for targeting the fish…

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