I think a lot of people knew about flounder fishing in South Carolina when they were growing up but most kids don’t put much stock into their parents’ advice. But I have to say, my father was right. Flounder are fun. Not only do you catch them on beds in the early spring and summer months, but you can also find them in pods on river bottoms or even riverbanks throughout the year. And if you know what you’re doing and where to look, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll fill your cooler with plenty of delicious filets to take home for dinner!
My favorite place to flounder fish is the Savannah River, which originates in North Carolina and meanders southward through Georgia before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean a little over 100 miles away at Savannah, GA. The portion of the river I like best is from where it enters South Carolina (near Walterboro) all the way down to Hilton Head Island/Bluffton. It’s not uncommon for anglers to catch flounder on beds in early spring or late fall months when temperatures are just right–as well as during summer.
What is the best time of year to catch flounder?
Flounder are inshore fish, which means they spend most of their time in shallow water near the coastline. As you can imagine, flounders love mud! They dig burrows into the riverbed and lay their eggs on the bottom. While in these areas, they eat small fish and shrimp living in that same muddy area.
To catch flounder you need to find a healthy population of them. That’s pretty much what I do when fishing for this delicious freshwater fish – find places with good populations of native flounder than look for signs that those populations are thriving. You’ll see lots of empty shells where they’ve eaten shrimps or other prey items and maybe even some discarded shells from predators.
Can you keep flounder in SC?
Yes! It’s a mild-flavored freshwater fish that’s perfect for frying in some butter and garlic. Flounder is considered an “inshore” species which means you can keep one from 5 to 9 inches long, but any longer than that and it must be thrown back into the river to grow larger.
Most of my flounder fishing success comes from using light tackle (6–10 lb test) with a spinning rod or bait caster reel spooled with a 6lb mono line. For bait, I opt for night crawlers, bloodworms (fresh/chilled), squid bodies, cut mullet or shrimp. Hook size depends on the type of bait you’re using.
How many flounder can you keep in SC?
You’re allowed to keep two flounder per person in SC, but only one of them can be longer than 5 inches.
I fish for trout on the Savannah River and often catch flounder while doing so. However, in situations like this, I count the flounder as part of my trout limit because they are not native to Georgia – just South Carolina!
When it comes to fishing for flounder there’s really no “best” time or tide that works all the time. It depends more on water temperature and clarity (at least in my experience).
Where is the best place to catch flounder?
I’ve had good success fishing for flounder in just about every river and lake, along both banks, from the deepest spot to the shallowest. The closer you can get to a population of spawning flounder the better your chances of catching them.
How many can you keep per trip?
You are allowed two flounder per person but only one longer than 5 inches must be thrown back into the river.
What bait works best for flounder fishing?
I like nightcrawlers, fresh or frozen bloodworms (which can be purchased at bait shops along with shrimp), cut mullet (tied on with either a clinch knot or rubber band), and squid bodies (no arms) all work very well.
The best time of year to catch flounder is in spring and early summer—when the baitfish are swarming around spawning and there’s an abundance of them for the flounder to feast on. Outside of these months, I sometimes find flounder in small pods along river beds or sandy ocean banks.
Right now (early November) we’re entering prime season where you can find some very large male flounder around Hilton Head Island during low tide hunting for dominant females with which they’ll fertilize later this month! It’s actually been a little cooler than usual so far (60-70ºF water temp instead of 70-80ºF).