Newsletter Signup | Subscribe to Magazine

What’s fresh in October?

Flounder

Story + Photos by Collins Doughtie

Local fisherman Collins Doughtie caught several and kept these three flounder on a recent trip. October is when doormat flounder begin to show up. With the beautiful weather, it’s a great time to get a pole in the water. Purchase a fishing license online at dnrlicensing.sc.gov.

If I was asked what type of fish a non-fish eater might enjoy, flounder would instantly come to mind. Firm white meat with a mild flavor, flounder is one fish I can eat day after day. Fried, broiled, baked or cooked whole, these flatfish are hard to beat.

Around here at least, catching them on hook and line is sort of rare. Unlike the Outer Banks in North Carolina or further up north, catching multiple flounder in a day is pretty common. So why not here? If you think the answer might be that there aren’t as many in our waters, then let me tell you, there are more flatties here than you can shake a stick at. Having gone gigging flounder at night, they are everywhere. But go to that same spot using a rod and reel and nine out of 10 times, you’ll come home flounder-less.

Trial and error

I guess it was about seven or so years ago that I went on a sort of mission from God to try and figure out how to catch flounder regularly in our waters. I researched techniques used elsewhere and not one of them worked. I might catch one or two every once in a while, but that was it. With that said, each one I did land taught me more about these fish which, in turn, added to my bag of tricks until I finally started catching these delicious fish regularly.   

When, where and how

I am reluctant to divulge everything I have learned about flounder that have taken me years to discover, but I will throw you a bone or two. I will tell you they love live finger mullet, small live menhaden and in the artificial department, anything white (GULP! shrimp, etc.). Most importantly, if you lack patience, then go play golf or something. When flounder hit a live bait, you’ll feel one “thump!” and then nothing. Wait a minute or so and slowly lift up your rod. If you feel weight, stop and do nothing. Sometimes I’ll let them chew on the bait for a few minutes, lift the rod again until there is a slight bend toward the rod tip and hold it there until the flounder gets agitated and starts moving off. That’s when you get him. Lastly, you had better have a landing net because a greased pig ain’t got nothing on a flounder. By the way, October is when doormat flounder begin to show up.

Cooking flounder: You can’t go wrong!

By far, fried flounder wins. I use McCormick Golden Dipt “Beer Batter” mix with a healthy dose of Paul Prudhomme’s Redfish Magic spice added in. A tempura-style batter, the fish and batter together come out light and fluffy. Ditch tartar sauce and use remoulade sauce instead. Most grocery stores carry Louisiana brand remoulade sauce in a bottle. For smaller flounder, I score the fish making shallow cuts every inch or so from top to bottom on the brown side of the flounder. In a large skillet, add an inch or so of oil and cook the fish whole (sans it’s head, of course) flipping it once. First dredge the flounder in egg/milk mix, then shake it in a bag with a mix of flour, finely ground Italian breadcrumbs, Redfish Magic spice and a touch of salt. Any way you cook flounder, you really can’t go wrong unless you overcook it.


LOCAL Life Test Kitchen

Pan-Fried Flounder

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds fresh flounder fillets

1 cup McCormick Golden Dipt Beer Batter mix

1 tablespoon Paul Prudhomme’s Redfish Magic spice

2/3 cup of cold beer

Vegetable oil

Directions [1] Pour vegetable oil into a large heavy skillet, filling no more than 1/3 full. Heat oil to 375 degrees. [2] Stir batter mix, beer and spice into a medium bowl until smooth. [3] Dip flounder fillets into batter. Shake off excess. Add fish to hot oil. [4] Fry 3 to 5 minutes, turning once to brown evenly until the fish is golden brown and flakes easily with a fork. Drain on paper towels. Serve with French fries, salad and Louisiana brand remoulade sauce on the side.


Wine pairing

Schloss GobelsbuRg Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz 2017

As a general rule, the lighter and flakier the fish, the more zesty and acidic your wine should be. Flounder is almost strictly paired with white wines. Here is a wonderful bottle you can pick up for $33 at Rollers.

Tasting notes: Exceptionally focused fragrance, smoke and char andnettle, leading to a palate much juicier and richer than you’d expect, and then again to an urgently spicy finish; the 2nd sip emphasizes the secret-sweetness and juice again, and the tertiary finish is a dialogue of nettles and stones.