In Virginia, flounder fishing is popular from early spring through late fall.
For many anglers, the saltwater fishing season begins on the Eastern Shore of Virginia when the first flounder are caught from seaside inlets and creeks.
Summer flounder enter estuaries in spring as waters warm. Slowly, water temperatures rise until they reach a threshold that triggers flounder to begin feeding.
During spring fishing, tides can be critical for fishing success. Many anglers prefer a high tide around late morning or mid-day.
When the tide begins to recede, warm water from shallow areas flows back into coastal creeks, flounder often start biting suddenly.
In spring, simple baits and rigs are often the most effective. Live minnows, squid strips, and silversides are popular bait choices. Some anglers report success with scented soft plastic lures such as Gulp.
As the season progresses, anglers begin catching flounder farther up the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay.
Summer flounder are one of the most popular recreational fish on the Atlantic coast. Recreational landings were 8.6 million pounds in 2022, according to the NOAA Fisheries recreational fishing landings database.
According to the 2023 stock assessment, summer flounder is not overfished, but is subject to overfishing. Regulations for the recreational fishery are typically adjusted annually. They include an annual harvest limit, closed seasons, a minimum size for landed fish, and possession limits.
In December 2023, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) approved measures intended to achieve a 28% reduction in recreational harvest of summer flounder in 2024-2025.
Virginia and other states will set recreational limits in order to achieve the required reduction. The recreational harvest limits for each state are based on the recreational catch in 1998.