Almost every angler who’s been sea fishing for a while will have caught a few Flounder in his or her day but there are still people out there that rate this fish as hard to find. Once you’ve figured out where they are – catching them is relatively straight forward and doesn’t require any special tackle although if you fish with a the lightest set up you can get away with these usually overlooked flat predators can put up a fait fight that during the spring months will put a smile on any anglers face.
Living in the North West we have a few areas that are very well known for Flounder fishing – probably the most well known is Arnside in Cumbria which lies where the River Kent enters the North East of Morecambe Bay. With ample parking along the promenade the best fishing is about a couple of hundred meters to the left of the car park. Fish here as the tide floods but be very careful as the tide is very, very quick so be prepared to move backwards as it comes in.
Almost on my doorstep is the Ribble Estuary at Lytham, Lancashire. The best fishing I’ve had here has been a couple of hours either side of low water but to get to the mark involves a bit of a trek through some mud so a lot of people fish the area at high water from the safety of the embankment. Again – once the tides start to come in keep an eye out behind you for gulleys filling in and if in doubt move. The mud is very sticky and it would be easy to get stuck as the tide comes in. The area we fish is at the bottom of Fairlawn Road, Lytham.
Going up the River Ribble (if you were in a boat that is) the large tributary to the right is the River Douglas. This really is almost on my doorstep and I do a lot of walking along the River Douglas. During the spring and summer I have had some very pleasant days sat on the river bank, casting ragworm into this river and snaring some nice plump Flounder. The easiest way to get to the river is to drive down Guide Road in Hesketh Bank and take one of the many small tracks to the right – all of which go to the river. For those of you interested in small boat fishing – if you’re in the area Douglas Marine, the manufacturers of the Predator 165 are based on the River Douglas so you could do a spot of fishing then have a look at some boats.
Coming south along the coast, past Formby where Kev got some Bass last year you arrive at the River Alt at Hightown, Merseyside. This is one of our favorite Flounder marks, easy to get to, very close range fishing and a nice sandy beach (if you don’t stand in the mud at low tide). Park along Riverside then walk towards the yatch club (large gate on the West side of the road) – go left past the club and the river is over the dunes. If you walk left for a while you come to a bend in the river – fish just after this bend into the river.
We always fish this from low water up to high, the best sessions always seem to coincide with an early morning start but that’s probably because we’re mad and just like an excuse to fish somewhere easy and have a sausage fry up for breakfast. Here are a couple of reports from a while back regarding the River Alt; one form the end of April using lug as bait and one from June, a BLAS match using crab as bait.
The tackle we use is just the normal beach fishing gear unless it’s within the rivers (Alt or Douglas) in which case I use my light shore / Bass rod as I’m not casting far, as light a lead as I can get away with – usually about 3oz for close in work and that old favorite – a flapper rig armed with 2 size 1 fine wire hooks.
Bait can be almost anything from lugworms to chunks of Mackeral but during the spring the Flounder will be gorging themselves on the moulting crabs, or peelers as anglers call them, and during the latter part of April, May and in to June you’d be hard pressed to find a better bait for Flounder than half a peeler on each hook.
So there you have it, a few Flounder hot spots in the North West. Keep your tackle as light as you can get away with and go out and snare a few ‘bin lids’. You’ll be suprised how much fun can be had flattie bashing…