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Pensacola Fall Flounder Quick Start by Aaron Sago

Locations & Tides


During the Fall run, Flounder leave the bayous and rivers and head for the Gulf to spawn in mass numbers. During this time most of the Flounder will be traveling through the bay channels heading towards the passes where they will often be found in mass waiting for the next front or outgoing tide to make the push out to the Gulf. While Flounder will typically not swim long distances without resting, their frequent short swims from spot to spot on their way to spawn causes them to expend large amounts of energy that must be recouped by voracious feeding.

As Flounder are ambush predators, as an angler, you'll want to look for them in spots where ambush is most likely. As the Flounder makes its way to the Gulf, it will stop to feed in areas with the following attributes:
  • Areas with radical depth changes (such as channel ledges, humps, drop-offs)
  • Areas with structure (attracts baitfish and provides cover for ambush)
  • Areas with current (Flounder can hold in strong current expending little energy and ambush prey as it swims by)
  • Areas with mixed/transitional bottom (A rock jetty that transitions to mud is an excellent ambush point)
The two maps below of Pensacola Bay and Pensacola Pass demonstrate typical Flounder holding areas. While there are many many more holding areas, these maps are marked with areas that have historically held high numbers of Flounder during the Fall run. Areas marked with "GFA" are classified as good fishing areas and "EFA" as excellent fishing areas.1

Escambia and East Bay

Escambia and East Bay

Pensacola Pass

Pensacola Pass


In general, the first part of the outgoing tide is thought to be the best tide for fishing the Fall run. Many times a strong outgoing tide will trigger the Flounder to move to the next leg of their journey to the pass. For anglers gigging Flounder, one of the best strategies during an outgoing tide is to fish a line along a shallow beach with the wind, snatching the moving, migrating fish as you drift. Once the drift is over, motor back and run the same line again - you're likely to see a fresh pod of fish along the same line during an outgoing tide when the Flounder are moving.

1The representation here is an estimate made by the author.

Special thanks to Chris Phillips, Writer, Flounder Expert, and Owner of Hot Spots Bait and Tackle in Gulf Breeze for much of the information in this Quick Start.

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