May 20 2023

Cape Cod Winter Flounder Fishing 101

by Charlie Lewis

Here on Cape Cod, when fishermen think about flatfish, the first species most think about are fluke. Fluke are also known as summer flounder, and they definitely reign supreme in the flatfish world here in New England. 

However, for me personally, winter flounder are my favorite flatfish to catch. Winter flounder are predominantly found in cooler waters, hence their name. What they lack in size and allure, they make up for in fighting ability and table fare!

In this article I'll share with you my simple approach to flounder fishing in the waters surrounding Cape Cod, including:

  • What gear to use
  • What bait to use
  • Where and how to fish for flounder

Flounder Fishing Gear

When targeting winter flounder it is important to have the right setup. For flounder fishing, it's as easy as hook, line, and sinker. You do not need a heavy duty or intricate setup.

I generally fish with a light or medium light rod paired with a small conventional or spinning reel. I prefer conventional because of its better ability to stay in contact with the bottom.

Pictured above is my classic flounder setup - a light conventional rod and reel with a snelled hook and yellow bead attached to a 3-5 ounce sinker with a sliding swivel. 

Next, depending on how swift the current is moving, you’ll want between 3-6 ounces of lead on a sliding swivel. Flounder tend to be attracted to the color yellow so I always use a snelled hook with a yellow bead

Flounder Fishing Bait

Winter flounder are bottom feeders and they feed on all sorts of prey. The bait that I find works best are sea worms. Other baits such as clam strips, bellies, and fish strips can be effective, but sea worms are my first choice.

It is important to rig your worm or clam strip in a way that presents a flickering tail. Just like a grub style soft plastic tail creates action, so does the fluttering motion of the worm tail or clam strip as it bounces up and down off the bottom. 

This creates a predatory response from the flounder, making it want to eat your bait.

About the author 

Charlie Lewis

Charlie grew up on the water and along the beach. He does it all whether it be lobstering, striper fishing or freshwater fishing, and he enjoys sharing the experience with others. Charlie has been a member of My Fishing Cape Cod since 2018.

  • Great introduction to flounder fishing and that is a serious haul of flounder you’ve inspired us with! Must have been delicious!

    I’ve had luck fishing in the CCB not far from Sesuit near a small dragger (but outside of their working area). I’ve read that when they stir up the bottom it brings out all sorts of morsels for the flounder, kind of like chumming. I need to get out and do it again.

  • Are winter flounder seasonal as we approach June do they move further offshore into deeper cooler water?

    • Hey Cameron, I’m not a flounder expert by any means, but it seems that May and June are prime months. However I have caught them throughout the summer in Cape Cod Bay so don’t think you can’t catch them during July and August. Maybe some guys who have more experience will chime in with their thoughts.

      • Thanks Ryan. Hoping to get my son out on the boat next weekend and this is a good way to introduce him to fishing. Was just hoping I didn’t miss my window but sounds more like I’m hitting it perfect. Thanks for the post.

    • I’ve caught them all throughout the summer time but yes what Ryan said May and June are the better months but I’ve done well in July and August !

  • Charlie, great post … thanks

    Any general locations for kayak fishing these guys? Maybe a bit more specific than Cape Cod Bay … How about using bucktails with gulp; any chance that this presentation would work?

    • Hey Jeff, I think the bucktails with Gulp would work well for fluke, but for flounder I think you’re better of using bait like sea worms, clams and mussels. I think you mentioned in the past that you’ve kayak fished Plymouth Bay? I think the deep channels in the bay could be worth a try in the kayak, although I have not personally tried it before. Aside from that I think you’ll want to do drifts out deep in Cape Cod Bay in 30 or more feet of water, which is do-able but definitely a little far offshore for kayak fishing. If you want to discuss things more in detail then feel free to send me a message. 🎣

    • Hey Jeff I generally fish for them south of manomet point in Plymouth, there’s lots of good deep areas with mud and sand flats, just keep drifting and eventually you’ll run into an area that holds good populations of flounder. I also know lots of people target them near Billingsgate shoals out of Dennis. And as for gulp I’ve never really tried that out but have used small curly grub tails in yellow that produce very well! Some bait shops even carry rigs that already have it setup for you. Hope this was helpful.

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