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How to use a drag net for catching flounder | Category: Fishing Talk

markt 7 years ago

I love to eat flounder, pan fried with a little flour. Probably my all time favorite table fish.
So far I've been spearing them at night on an incoming tide - actually a very exciting fishing style.

But with the recent cold water temperatures and getting up in the middle of the night, it has become a little bothersome. So I've been looking for alternative ways to catch them.

Using a small drag net seems to be quite promising and can be done without a dinghy or kayak. Another advantage is that it can be used during the day.
Since a drag net is fished actively it will also ensure to catch healthy and fresh flounders and undersized flounders can be released immediately.

Surprisingly there is not so much information available on how to setup and deploy drag nets.

What have I found out so far:

  • There are set nets, drag nets and dual purpose nets available from fishing shops.
  • Set nets are better used with a boat and you additionally need anchors, floats and recovery robes
  • Drag nets can be purchased in a large plastic container. They are ready to use.
  • Two people are needed for fishing with a drag net.
  • First they need to wade out into deep water with the net folded up.
  • Then each person takes one end of the drag net.
  • Second they walk away from each other until the net is unfolded.
  • And finally the net is dragged through the water towards the beach.
  • Flounders between the shore and the net will be caught in the belly of the net.

Seems quite easy so far, right?

I can see quite a few potential problems though:
Obstacles like rocks, osters, logs on the sea floor.
Then we got seaweed, rubbish and other stuff in the water.
Or what would happen if a sting ray is caught in the net?

Anyhow, I will give it a try soon hopefully get myself some nice flounders.

Not 100% sure about the time though. I would guess its best to wade out either half way incoming or outgoing tide.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
markt 7 years ago

hmm - just went to smart marine shop down the road and of course they only sell set nets
So maybe not as easy as I initially though to buy a drag net.

Being a complete noob at net fishing I can't really tell the difference between a drag and a set net when I see one.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
Bocephus 7 years ago

We call those types of nets a "Seine" down here on the Texas coast. I've seen lot's of people use them to catch bait fish, but never for Flounder. A Flounder, especially a mature Flounder would be able to swim to fast and allude the net. You couldn't wade through the water pulling a seine net fast enough to catch Flounder.

markt 7 years ago

thanks for the infos Bocephus

There seems to be more info available on seine nets then on drag nets.
Thats perhaps the common name for those nets.

Most people over here in New Zealand use so called "set nets" to catch flounder with good success. And everywhere I look, I see those kind of nets in shops, ranging from 30 to 60 meter in length.
But I'm not so 100% sure yet, how they manage to prevent the flounders from escaping the net.

I think I have to do more research on the different flounder species. You guys seem to have quite big ones over there in Texas. Maybe they are harder to catch with nets.

I would really like to try and catch them with rod and reel - but no one over here seems to do so. Wonder why. I know that you guys also catch them with bait or lures.


If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
Bocephus 7 years ago

Thanks for the reply Markt !

We catch Flounder on rod & reel using a Carolina rig, below I have included a picture. Flounder are bottom dwellers so this rig works well to catch them. I prefer a small live shad, or similar bait fish to use as bait. I usually have a trailing line of 12-18 inches.

We cast out and slowly drag the Carolina rig along the bottom. The weight stays on the bottom and the bait is able to swim and struggle which draws a strike from the Flounder. I have done very well in the past with this method.


Bocephus 7 years ago


Here's a shot of a few fish that include a nice Flounder I caught. This is Redfish, Speckled Trout (or also called Spotted Sea Trout), and of course Flounder.

jonboat315 7 years ago

Looks to me like Bocephus has pretty much covered it.

As for the "set nets", they're probably what we call "gill nets" around here. The fish get their gill covers and fins entangled in the net and can't get away.

I grew up using a 10' seine to catch minnows, worked great in <2 feet of water working back to the shore, but like Bocephus said, unless you're using a 50 foot seine, an adult flounder (or pretty much any game fish) will be gone before you get to the beach.

The Carolina rig above is a great all-around bottom fishing rig. You can use bullet sinkers like the picture, or if you're in surf and need more weight, egg sinkers work well. I like to put a plastic bead between the weight and the swivel to protect my knots too. a lead sinker can damage a knot in short order.

Tight lines!

markt 7 years ago

Hi Guys

Thanks for the great infos.
What size and kind of hook would you recommend for flounders?
I'd guess circle hooks would work and rather small sizes?
I'm very intrigued now to try and catch them with rod and reel.
Either wading in the shallows or from my kayak.

I was looking at my favorite online shop and they sell specific flounder nets over here. They have floats on top and a lead core at the bottom.

should be quite difficult for the flounder to get away if you drag those nets through a shallow sandy estuary, I guess.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
dagaps 7 years ago

hi mate a bit of bread rolled up on a hook is all that is required

markt 7 years ago

thanks for the tip. how do you get the bread to stick onto the hook though?
Wont it come of straight away in the saltwater?

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
James1516 6 years ago

Hello Markt, I rate your fishing times/ tides for the East Coast around Auckland. I find it extremely versatile to have tide bite and moon sun movements in one easy to read info-graphic.

The areas I have used your bite times for are:
From shore Music Point, north to Mangwhai Heads.
From boat The Noisies out to the top end of Kawau.

I don't write on these things at all, but the topic of netting interests m, it's a dying art, well doing it right is dying.

Don't listen to the advice coming from overseas our flounder don't behave like that, they are able to be netted. When I was young the old fellas taught me how to pull nets by hand. I can't remember what nets were used, I don't think it matters much as long as they don't breach length and mesh size restrictions. They used the same nets they set out off the beach overnight. You may not bait the net. A sandy bottom is required and a snorkel exploration of the water beforehand, on a separate day, does the trick. Netting should not be done in swell, or in hazardous water where rips and currents are strong.

Nets for success: have weights along bottom and floats at top. you keep the net open by using a piece of timber tied between the top and bottom ropes at each end. The longer the net the more hands required to pull. Two people will just be able to pull a net, but they better be two strong people. If the netting is been done in the presence of seaweed (in the water not still on the bottom) you will need four or more. Trial your net though, take it for a spin, and you will find out how many hands you need. 4 is ideal.

You do not walk out, go separate ways and drag towards shore, you will scare the fish away and you are dragging such a small area you won't get much at all. Drag down the beach. One person holds the nett in knee deep water the other drags the net out near chest height. Person in deeper water walks straight out from on shore hand, walks down beach to get a lead on the shore hand, about 5 metres. Both hands drag down beach. How far you go depends on how far you have checked the bottom, how much stamina the water hand has and how heavy the net gets. When it's time the shore hand stops and the water hand continues on, looping back towards shore, with a slight curve in net. The curve should increase as it gets close to the beach. Do not muck about getting the flounder as you pull in the net, walk it straight up the beach keeping tension on net, if the net falls slack you will lose fish. While dragging it is important the sticks at the end are held straight up and down and kept on the bottom, if the water hand can't manage they are not strong enough and need to come in closer to the beach, failing that they are the wrong person for the job or need another person to aid them.

This is also a good method for free bait with a smaller mesh net.Obviously the smaller mesh for bait fish will be too small to be legal for bigger fish species and you will need to return those to the water immediately.

When you have finished for the day get any seaweed out of the nett while it is wet, once it's dry it's a nightmare. Also wash the nett in fresh water and put it somewhere to dry if it is made of that green string stuff. If it is synthetic (I've never used synthetic nets) I imagine it is best to keep it out of the sun to stop it degrading. Orewa is pretty populated now it may be fished out, up Nth around Taipa I can vouch for piper netting and around Kawhia they still set net flounder in and around the mud flats. I imagine clear sections of calm bays will yield results, particularly muddy or silty ones. Have Fun.

AllFish 6 years ago

Hi Markt,
Allfish here .. yes a drag net needs two people and you could catch anything "Stingray Worsed" and would destroy your net. My experience for what it is worth, a set net would be better for you and Kayak, yes anchors, bouys with ropes attached to your anchors attached to your float and lead lines. make your lead line longer than your float line so when your net is set the float line leeds your lead line once set between your anchors ( I made small spider anchors from 25mm steel water pipe with loops to tie net and bouy ropes to and four 5 mm steel rods welded in the other then bent in semi-circle) - hence 'spider' so it grips the bottom, To work the net lift one anchor and feed the net over your kayak emptying the flounder out as you work your way cross your net, allow enough rope from the ends of your net and anchor so as you don't lift too much of your net off the bottom whilst working it. Of course you have to pick your spots to fish, best in river mouth at low tide and work the incoming tide as the flounder come in on incoming tide to feed... you can work the outgoing tide too BUT tend to get more rubbish in your net. Hope this is clear enough explanation on how to set your net. P.S. You can tie your float and lead line around the back of your net at three meter intervals, not too short though with a piece of light rope or fishing line to make semi bags so the flounder don't escape. Best you set this up on dry land before you roll up your net ready to go netting. Much easier to set up too. Best of luck Allfish.
When I fished for flounder with a liecense as semi commercial for flounder fishing, it was in the Tauranga Harbour, in the mouth of the Wairoa River BUT not ascross it completely, only in the semi channels which at low tide can be accessed on foot or by paddling up and them, set your net across a channel and sit in your kayak as the tide comes in so you are not in any depth of water, maybe only the depth of the tide rise at full tide say 2 - 3 meters, so is easy fishing - opps netting !!!!!!
P.P.S. Check the NZ fishing regulations re:- flounder netting and size too, other wise if by any chance you are inspected by the 'Fisheries Inspectors' you could loose everything including your kayak. The Regs are leanient BUT the 'Fisheries' aren't !!!!
Also a good word of advise is to obtain your 'fish scale measure' from the Fisheries Dept which has their 'Crown Seal' on the scale for size of fish and stick it to the outside of your Kayak in a convenient place so you can check your catches as you work your net, then they can't argue with you if in any off chance you are checked, be careful of the charts you buy at your fishing tackle store.. the "Fisheries Dept" don't recognise them as true.

markt 6 years ago

Hey James and Al

Thanks for the great infos on flounder netting.
I have a much better understanding of the process now. Great explanation from both of you.
Now I only need to get a flounder net and find a good spot.
I have only haver caught flounder at the Awhitu Regional Park (Manukau Heads) with a flounder spear and light. Problem it's such a long drive out there.

Someone told me that the beach near Miranda down south has some good flounders.

Wondering if they can be caught during winter as well - or is season only in summer?

Cheers and tight lines to you all.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
AllFish 6 years ago

Hi Markt .. Hope you take me up on my offer of helping you set up your flounder net after you purchase.. it will be set up BUT lets check it as the one I had was set up when I purchase BUT wasn't good and after I changed it WOW man FLOUNDER GALOR NUN got away .. first catch two of us in a 12foot dingy caught 144 dozen flounder how I know is we strung them as we caught them and as we had a fishing liecense we had to be correct !!!
Contact me 0211363010 OR land line 2977437 as I'm in Papakura quite often .. Cheers and good fishing Al

AllFish 6 years ago

Markt .. yes just past Kaiaua going South from Auck there is a Motor Home stop over called 'Rays Rest' you can catch flounder there too the little creek at the Southern end .. lots of good food there for flounder !!!! I am also a 'Motor Homer' 9 meter Beddy Bus..
Cheers and good fishing .. Al

markt 6 years ago

Hi Al

O cool - maybe we can try to catch some flounder at the camping area sometime.
I stayed there before - got a small campervan. Never fished there though

I just need to get myself a flounder net first.
Do you think its gonna be possible to catch any flounder during winter? My ph: 021 236 3074


If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
fisho-24 6 years ago

Hi guys,hope you don't mind me eves dropping,I have found the information here on flounder fishing/netting quite helpful as well...Only wish the waters down this way were as productive as they are up your way,might have to make another trip to New Plymouth,love the fishing up there...
Karl K...

markt 6 years ago

Hi Karl - Glad you found the infos helpful, I learned a lot as well
A while ago I read somewhere on another forum, that it's possible to catch freshwater flounders in Lake Taupo. It that is true, then I guess they must taste sensationally good and wouldn't be too far from you. Not 100% sure if it's true though

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
Tone 6 years ago

Hi All
I live in Taupo. I can tell you there are no flounder here. I regularly surfcast in the Bay of Plenty, but am very interessted in catching some flounder, well my missus is interested for me! I have a set net system, just looking for some onsite tuition.

AllFish 6 years ago

I have done a lot of fishing in Taupo in the past with my 'X' father in law and we were not aware there were any flounder in Taupo Lake, and we have trolled and fly fished most of the lake at some time including most river inlets .. NEVER EVER seen 'Fresh Water Flounder' !!!!!!

AllFish 6 years ago

Who started this rumor anyway ?????????

markt 6 years ago

Hi there

Thanks for clearing that up. I thought it sounds a bit strange that there would be flounders in lake Taupo. I read it on another forum. Can't remember were it was.

I know that there is a freshwater flounder species around.

But seems they live only in rivers and not too far inland.


If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
AllFish 6 years ago

Yes they would be the sea type they will live in fresh water too, and the ones we catch as they move up the tidal rivers quite some distance but fast flowing water seems to stop them, they don't negotiate rapids as far as I know.. good posting the NIWA site.. they have some good reliable information ... I have seen some of their work associated with Massey University Ocean Research Palmerston North when I worked there. Cheers Al

AllFish 6 years ago

Hi Tone,
I'd love to see one ... I guess they would taste like 'Trout' which as an 'ole' timer do know my stuff on preparing a GOOD baked Trout !!! Yum .. mouth waters just talking about it.. I challenge you Tone to put up a photo of a 'Taupo Flounder' ....... Cheers Al.

AllFish 6 years ago

Hi jonboat315,
The nets we use in New Zealand are not gill nets BUT are set nets and strung in a special way with lead line the lower part of the net well weighted and when the net is set lays behind the top float line, thus as the flounder swim into the net if they detect the lead line will lift slightly but the float line which holds the net ahead of the lead line stops them from swimming over the net and guides them into the net. the net is tide about every 3 metres interval to form bags this stops the flounder from swimming out around the ends and contains them altogether. The mesh size is set by our Ministry of Fisheries a Government Department whom also sets the rules for ALL fishing. Limits & Sizes here in NZ. The rules are you not allowed to leave the net sight and you have to work it whilst the tide comes in or out as the flounder swim in with the tide and also out with the tide. Fishing an incoming tide you do not end up with lots of rubbish in the net so is better fishing ... Cheers Good Fishing Al.

AllFish 6 years ago

Hi Bocephus,
That one in the middle of the photo looks like a 'Sole', it is a relation to the Flounder .. We catch them here to in the set nets and also in a drag net.. Drag netting is hard work as set netting is more a 'Gentleman's' way of netting, you have time to relax whilst fishing ! Good Fishing!!!! Cheers Al.

Rex Ursus 6 years ago

Right now is my flounder season. (May). They are in abundance at about 30ft and down. I just use a 2, 4, and 6oz jigheads to get to the bottom and then tie a small curlytail grub about two feet up and feel them go nuts down there. Small hooks of course.
I like flounder because they are overlooked as garbage fish and are so plentiful. It is easy to catch 10 in an hour and bite no matter the conditions out there. I have caught 10inch flounder on five inch buzz bombs even. They seem to egg each other on.
The nice thing is, you don't always get a flounder. I have caught large salmon and last year a 40pound Lingcod. So you never know what you will get.

AndyS 5 years ago

Why don't you try hook and line fishing for them. I caught beach flounder almost every morning living in FL. I caught most on A DOA Night Glow Shrimp. We eat flounder anytime we wanted them. I also gave my friends flounder. I got pretty good at catching beach flounder for about 6 or7 years. Here is just a few pictures of beach fishing. Flounder love to hang around rocks and sand bars.

AndyS 5 years ago

I think I might have posted on the wrong place. Sounds like you guys are all net fisherman.

Mark Totzke 5 years ago

Hi Andy

thanks for the post and tips.
I would actually prefer catching flounder with a rod rather then a net.
It seems like nobody in New Zealand is doing that. Mostly I see people only using nets for flounders.
But I will give it a go with rod and reel.

I'm a kayak fisherman. So I think perhaps drifting around in the shallows at high tide with a small hook and some softbaits might do the trick on flounders. It's just a matter of finding the right spot.

I know a few spots where I've been spearing them at night time.
Maybe I try these spots a daytime with a rod.

What type and size of hooks do you use?
I was thinking maybe small circle hooks.

happy fishing

a snapper a day keeps the doctor away
AndyS 5 years ago

Hi Mark, I don't use real bait, but I watch my Brother in-law use cut strips of little baitfish he catches on a #1 or#2 hook and a split shot, and moves it slow across the bottom. I use a DOA Night Glow 1/4 OZ. Shrimp. They glow in the dark, and come already rigged up. I sometimes use a Gotcha white 4" curl tail on a 1/4 OZ jig head. I will try to send a picture of the lures. Yes give it a try. Thanks for the reply. Hope this helps you Mark.