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Fishing a Carolina Rig for Flounder and Redfish- There's a difference.

Mike Caulder

The Carolina Rig is one of the most versatile and widely used bait rigs around. Whether using this for live bait or artificial lures, it consistently catches fish. While it isn’t flashy, it works. This setup is used quite extensively throughout coastal North Carolina by inshore anglers targeting Flounder and Redfish. While the rig can be used to catch both species, there are some differences in the way they are fished.   I won’t go into detail about how to tie this rig and the modifications that can be made to it. You can find that information HERE. What I want to explain are a few simple tricks that can increase your chances of catching Flounder and Redfish with the Carolina Rig.

Capt. Jamie Rushing of Seagate Charters

Capt. Jamie Rushing of Seagate Charters

First, when you look at how flounder and redfish feed, you will find that redfish are cruisers while flounder are a bit more lethargic. Flounder use cover and wait for food to come to them. So when I am using a Carolina rig to target flounder, I keep it on the move. I find cover such as a dock, creek mouth of hump on the bottom to cast to and slowly work my bait back to the boat. This is done much like a bass angler uses the Carolina rig with a plastic worm. First I cast out the rig and allow it to fall all the way to the bottom. Then, I slowly lift my rod tip, dragging the Carolina rig across the bottom. Lower the rod tip and reel up the slack. Then repeat. This slowly drags the rig along the bottom back to the boat. This is how I fish the Carolina rig while casting. In addition, this rig can be fished while drifting. Used by many southern North Carolina flounder anglers, this technique is basically throwing out your Carolina rig behind the boat, putting it in a rod holder and letting the current or outboard, move the boat. This is usually fished parallel to the bank along ledges, inlets or creek mouths. It is a very successful way to catch flounder. I have done this many times with my father along the Intracoastal waterway and have caught many flounder this way. As for baiting this rig, many options are suitable. I prefer live minnows such as mullet or menhaden, but an artificial or a strip of white cut bait can prove just as effective. There are times when you just may not be able to find bait. Often times I have used plastic minnows, worms or even crawfish. All of these baits will catch fish.

When using the Carolina rig to target Redfish and speckled trout, I fish this rig stationary. Redfish and trout cruise around looking for food so why not serve up lunch and let them come to the table? When using this rig I cast several around areas of structure such as a dock or oyster bed. If there are fish in the area they will usually find your bait. Several stressed and excited live baits in the water can really attract some attention. This is a great method to use when trying to locate fish. Usually I will fish this around cover for 10-15 minutes and then move on to another spot. It is fast paced but you cover more ground and increase your chances of locating fish. I do prefer live bait for this rig such as mullet or pogies. Now, that being said, this doesn’t mean that you can’t catch reds or trout on a moving rig. People do it all the time. I often set these stationary Carolina rigs up and then fish an additional one for flounder. So I have some sitting and one moving. I might even fish an artificial lure while letting my Carolina rigs sit around a dock. Ultimately, I have found that setting up 2-3 stationary rigs around a piece of cover is very effective at catching reds or trout, if they are in fact around the cover you are fishing. By using the 10-15 minute rule, you won’t be wasting much time on one particular spot. So there you have it. Give these two methods a try and see if the Carolina rig will produce more fish for you. Also be sure to check our previous post HERE about making your own Carolina rigs.

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