When the New York season opened a couple weeks ago, plenty of boats and anglers targeted these flatfish despite the two fish limit at 21 inches per fish. "Fluke fishing out of Shinnecock Inlet was slow for most" said Horst Klein. "After days of tough fishing, we opted to target the plentiful striped bass."
New York and Long Island Sound fishermen should start to see good fishing any day now. In years past, the early season was always productive, especially for those that love to fish bucktail jigs tipped with mackerel strips, squid or Berkley Gulp!
Right now, shallow Back Bay areas of Absecon and Wildwood New Jersey is producing lots of fluke with plenty of four to six pounders thrown in for good measure. Water temperatures are at their warmest on shallow mud flats and at the slack tide. "That is when we are finding the best fluke fishing" according to Cathy Algard at Sterling Harbor Bait and Tackle in Wildwood. Cathy went on to say, "Shop customers are targeting drop offs and sod bank cuts, and fishing under sunny skies. Small bucktail jig heads or New Penny Shrimp made by Berkley Gulp! have been taking plenty of fish."
Fluke seek out eel grass and pilings for the protection they offer, making Back Bay regions key haunts during certain portions of the year. In the summer, small and medium sized adults situate themselves on sandy or muddy bottoms of bays, harbors and along the open coastline. Most of the larger fish are found in deeper water (50 to 60 feet). As fall arrives, fluke migrate to the offshore waters in depths from 150 to more than 500 feet.
Really big fluke feed on a variety of fish, including winter flounder, menhaden, sand lance, red hake, silversides, bluefish and weakfish. In fact, where legal, snapper bluefish are the preferred live bait for giant fluke. Jig anglers that target giant fluke prefer to use 4-6 ounce Spro bucktails tipped with 6 inch Berkley Power Tails or long belly strips of bluefish belly.
A growing trend among fluke aficionados is the use of smaller, freshwater gear on the Back Bay area's all season long. Small boat anglers as well as kayak fishermen have found success in using Rapala X Raps, spoons and various freshwater lures typically used by bass fishermen on sweet-water impoundments. These smaller rods make small boat fish easier while offering a great battle when a true flukasaurus hits. A five pound Fluke will aggressively strike a jerkbait when fished along edges of mud flats or when swimming through deeper, three to four foot holes in Back Bays.
Typical outfits include fishing rods that are 6 ½ feet MH, rods outfitted with 2500 size reels, or low profile bait-casting reels. This outfit is lightweight yet packs a punch for even the biggest of back-bay fluke including schoolie striped bass and the occasional weakfish. Plus, the rod is small enough to land fish. Small boat and kayak anglers that use longer rods can experience difficulties in netting fish.
As the summer progresses and water temperatures remain consistent, fishing from the moving portions of the tide will be the most productive. Targeting holes deeper than the adjacent flats as well as outside bends in the sod banks are great places to start.