Two white circles of light moved across the calm water guided by figures barely distinguishable against the dark horizon. The only sound was an occasional car driving down Beach Boulevard in Pascagoula until... a loud WOOHOO! broke the silence. The once calm water was now a well-lit froth as the flounder was lifted out of the surf and placed into a mesh fish bag attached to a D ring on David Chamberlain's backpack.
When Glenn Clark and David Chamberlain of Paddle Punks Quality Kayaking and Fishing Equipment and Accessories (http://www.paddlepunks.com) started floundering about two years ago they couldn't find a flounder light that fit the bill so they made their own.
"I borrowed a gas lantern but I didn't know how to put the mantles on," Chamberlain explained. "I burned the mantles out but was able to get some light out of it.
"So then I go out by myself, I don't have a bag or anything. I have an old single-tip smooth gig and I gig one but I don't know what to do with my light. If I pick my gig up the fish will get away. I can't put my light down because it'll get wet or I'll burn myself trying to hold it. So that didn't work very well."
Chamberlain set out to find a battery operated option. After spending close to $200 on parts and several hours in his garage he still didn't have a light that fit the bill.
Enter Glenn Clark and his mad scientist skills.
Clark built a submersible, battery operated, all PVC handheld that features two LED bulbs for hours of plentiful light. The light has a shoulder strap to make it easy to carry and keep your hands free when it's time to deal with a flounder.
“It’s a complete floundering package, minus the gig," Clark said. “It even comes with a fully charged battery, charger and a couple of backpack options for carrying the battery.”
"Flounder gigging is starting to get hot," Chamberlain said, "and will stay hot until November."
Once the sun sets, flounder start slowly moving into the shallows. The Punks, as they call themselves, often gig flounder in ankle deep water, so start shallow and work your way out.
A flounder will swim 20 to 30-feet and stop, attempting to camouflage itself by fluttering and burying up in the sand or silt on the bottom. When the flounder moves on it leaves an imprint or "track" on the bottom.
"What we like to do," Chamberlain pointed out, "is to find the tracks since we illuminate them so well with our lights. You can tell if it's a new one or an old one and what direction they're going. If they're facing in and it's a pretty fresh track you can almost follow it right up to the flounder, especially if you go 10 or 15-feet and see another track you know he is maybe three of four more tracks out."
It’s a process the Punks like to call a Walk-N-Stalk.
When tracks are facing in and getting closer together be sure to scan 180-degrees as you approach the beach. A flounder may not make a beeline for the beach but may move to the right or left as he gets shallower.
If you're following fresh tracks, odds are the flounder will appear as a brown high spot on the bottom. If the tracks are older and not as well defined, the flounder may have had time to camouflage itself and you may only see a faint outline or just its eyes.
Clark likes to use a modified Hawaiian Sling Spear and double barb tip.
“It easily captures the flounder,“ he said. “The barbs extend out allowing me to pull the flounder out of the water without having to reach in to make sure the fish doesn’t come off the end of the gig. It also allows me to easily remove the flounder for less damage to the meat."
“When I see a flounder laying on the bottom,” Chamberlain said with a grin, “It’s his worst day. He thinks to himself, I’m just going to lay still and that Punk won’t see me; he couldn’t be more wrong.”
Floundering is hot right now and will remain so until Thanksgiving. Drop by Sea 2 Swamp in Gautier or Reel Local in Pascagoula to pick up a WooHoo! Flounder Light and the next one shouting WOOHOO! will be you.