CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (WFXR) — Spring is here and along Virginia’s eastern shore people are feeling flat, as in flat like a flounder. That is because the tasty fish have moved inshore making them easier to catch. The season has been going strong for a few weeks and should extend into mid-June.

“Flounder fishing has been awesome,” said Jimmy Vasiliou manager of Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle in Chincoteague. “This has been one of the best years we’ve had.”

Jimmy Vasiliou of Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle shows a variety of flounder rigs (Photo: George Noleff)

Flounder can be taken from shore or from a boat. The setup is pretty simple. Anglers usually drift or bottom-fish a weighted flounder rig. That is a baited hook with some sort of flash or spinner attached. The rig is then tipped with a minnow, squid piece, or Gulp. Sometimes a combination of two or three of those baits is used.

In places like Chincoteague or Wachapreague, flounder fishing is part of the way of life.

Captain Matt Mason measures a flounder caught aboard Marshland Charters (Photo: George Noleff)

“The water is a good living,” said Captain Matt Mason of Marshland Charters. “I’ve been doing this for 23 years; we started this business, Marshland Charters. It’s probably what I’ll do until the day they put me in a box.”

Mason took us out one day in late April. Within minutes we were drifting and had hooked up with a flounder.

The typical trip costs $75 per person and includes gear, bait, and fish cleaning.

“Nice fish!” Mason exclaimed as he netted the feisty flatfish and put it in the cooler. “The minimum size is 16 inches, and you can keep four.”

During that four-hour trip, we boated about 20 fish including 10 keepers. The biggest, what is often referred to as a doormat, measured nearly two feet long and weighed close to five pounds.

Captain Matt Mason with a hefty Chincoteague flounder (Photo: George Noleff)

“It was a good day,” said Ron Clark, a Maryland resident who made the trip to fish with Mason.

And, that is exactly what Mason wants to hear: “I enjoy it, I enjoy watching people have fun and catch fish. It makes it an enjoyable day of working for me.”

As a reminder, the flounder seasons in Virginia and neighboring Maryland are open year-round. Four fish may be kept in both states with a minimum size of 16 inches. In neighboring North Carolina the season is usually limited to the late summer or fall. It will be announced later this year.

A fried flounder fillet (Photo: George Noleff)

The tasty fish can be prepared in a variety of ways, but perhaps our favorite way is simply fried. The recipe is below:

Simply Fried Flounder

1 Pound Flounder Fillets

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour

2 Eggs, Beaten

1 Teaspoon Seasoning Salt

1 Lemon

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge fillets in flour, dip in egg, then dredge in flour again. Carefully place the fillets in the heated oil and fry for three minutes per side or until each side is golden brown. Squeeze lemon juice on the fillets. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sliced lemon, tartar sauce, or hot sauce.