The Blackbacks are Back: Flounder Fishing Boston Harbor

Up until last weekend, I hadn’t caught a winter flounder in 29 years. As a child growing up near Boston, I was a boy-wonder flounder-catching kid, and I spent countless summer days on my father’s boat drifting around and filling buckets full of these tasty little flatfish.

But my father died when I was 11 years old, his boat was traded in for a swimming pool, the flounder stocks collapsed, and I would enter a decades-long flounderless funk.

The winter flounder have made a miraculous revival in Boston Harbor, and last weekend I received an invitation I simply couldn’t refuse. Captain Jason Colby had an open spot, and extended an invitation out to the On The Water crew. I was all over it. I joined up with On The Water contributing writers John D. Silva and Ron Powers, and we spent the morning prowling Boston Harbor in search of my old friends.

It was a cool, dank and foggy morning. We cruised out of Quincy Yacht Club and ran through a series of islands, channels and bridges until we ended up near the Deer Island Flats. It had been a long time since I’d ventured into Boston Harbor, and I have a newfound respect for the beauty of the harbor, and the miraculous clean up that has occurred since my last visit.

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I didn’t take long to hook up the first flattie. Russ Eastman of Monahan’s Marine was also aboard for the trip, and he was the first one to hook up. We were all using light conventional combos, which made the fishing a whole lot more fun than I had remembered. As a child, we always used heavy, clunky boat rods and dacron line, and sometimes you couldn’t even tell when a fish had taken the bait. Drifting in shallow water with light tackle makes the whole experience more enjoyable.

Captain Jason Colby’s boat is a Gold Line hull, it has plenty of a deck space, and it’s an “all business” kind of boat. We could easily fish 5 guys on the rail as we drifted. I especially like the fact that Jason has added rodholders in just about every conceivable location on the boat.

The Captain with a keeper flounder that would join the “varsity team” in the cooler. Once the tide began moving, the bite picked up dramatically. We began a steady pick of keeper-sized flounder. We didn’t get any whoppers, but we had very few throw-backs.

Despite it being a Sunday morning, there was not much of a crowd on the harbor. Fishing on Mother’s Day is always a good idea if you’re looking to get away from the crowds.

Over the rail, into the pail!

Although we did catch a few fish on clam strips, sea worms were the bait of choice for most of the flounder we sampled. Simply putting half a worm on the hook is all you need. Ron was kind enough to share a few of his homemade Zobo rigs with me, and they worked very well.

The final tally was 29 keepers in about 4 hours of fishing. Not bad for a drizzly Mother’s Day morning. I would surprise my Mom later that day with some tasty flounder fillets, freshly plucked from the sea.

I fried some up. They came out delicate and crispy, nicely browned. They tasted like I remembered… simple and delicious. I ate them with ketchup, for old-time’s sake.

Special thanks to Captain Jason Colby of Little Sister Charters. If you’re hankering to catch some flounder, I highly recommend him, you will not regret it. He’ll be running open boat trips on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for the next month, which is a good affordable way to get in on the flounder fun.
www.littlesister1.com

Ron Power’s homemade flounder rigs use wide-gap hooks instead of traditional Chestertown (Virginia-style) hooks. They don’t bend out as easily, and they don’t tend to gut-hook fish. Ron swears that the painted sinker and Esca light help attract fish... I can not disagree.

Ron Power’s homemade flounder rigs use wide-gap hooks instead of traditional Chestertown (Virginia-style) hooks. They don’t bend out as easily, and they don’t tend to gut-hook fish. Ron swears that the painted sinker and Esca light help attract fish… I can not disagree.

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