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I haven't caught any in the surf, but I have caught quite a few fishing from shore. I just pull them up onto the sand. I don't think I've ever lost one when doing that.

If you haven't caught flounder before, they tend to grab a bait, move off with it, stop and then chew/swallow it. If you try to set the hook when you first feel them, you will probably pull the bait from their mouths.

When fishing with live bait I would let them swim off with it, and then I'd wait for a good bit after they stopped. Come to think of it, I don't remember ever setting the hook - I would just start reeling them in.
 
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