By Captain Ray Kelly
Many anglers are still out there that do not know what kind of fish it is when you say "I caught some fluke". Fluke are also known as Summer Flounder. They are bigger than winter flounder. Around Long Island, they really start to bite in May. However, it is important to note that the Department of Conservation regulations have changed this year with the new size limit being 15 inches and a creel limit of 8 fish. It is no longer a secret that Peconic Bay is one of the best fluke fishing locations around Long Island. Giant fluke come to Peconic Bay during May and June, and when I say giant fluke, I really mean it. Last year a fluke weighing over 15 pounds was caught on the Orient Star, an excellent charter boat based at the Orient by the Sea Marina in Orient, NY. The vessel's Captain is Bill Russo. He is one of the most knowledgeable and personable captains that I have had the pleasure to fish with and film for our TV show, ADVENTURES IN FISHING WITH CAPT. RAY KELLY.
I booked a number of trips with Captain Bill last year. One of the most memorable was sponsored by SAVE THE PECONIC BAYS, INC. Gayle Mariner-Smith, the Director of SAVE THE PECONIC BAYS, INC. telephoned me last May and said she had a group of Riverhead High School and Middle School students that were involved with their Peconic Bay Estuary Program. We agreed that a fishing trip in Peconic Bay would be an educational experience for the group. I immediately called Capt. Bill and we scheduled the trip. (Capt. Bill is a retired school teacher himself and I knew he would want to take the time to assist me in explaining fundamental fishing practices such as Catch & Release and the best baits and the top techniques used to catch fluke.
Catch & Release is so important today. Striped Bass and Fluke have made a tremendous recovery and I believe much of it has to do with C&R. The regulations implemented and enforced by the Department of Conservation has also helped. The days of taking garbage cans full of fish home and then throwing them in the garbage because you can't even give them to your neighbors are gone. People now know to take what they know they will eat and release the rest. The fish that are released will spawn and help regenerate the fishery for generations.
The best bait to use when you are fluke fishing is strips of squid, sand eels or a combination of both. You can also use spearing and squid combinations as well as live killies. Bucktails and soft plastics will work well as well. My personal favorite is a rig made by Loves Lures. It consists of a tandem soft plastic rig with an 1/8 oz jig head tipped with strips of squid and a sandeel. Drifting is the most common method to use to locate and catch fluke. Your bait should be drifted along the bottom, lifting the rod occasionally to provoke the fluke into biting. Tides are also important. Slack tide is not that productive. I prefer an incoming tide.
The students were excited. Some were nervous because it was their first time on a boat. For some it was their first time fishing.
It brought me right back to the first time I went fishing. These students will remember this particular fishing trip for the rest of their lives. I must commend Gayle Mariner-Smith and SAVE THE PECONIC BAYS, INC. for giving them this memorable experience.
Capt. Bill sailed to one of his favorite fluke locations right off of Greenport in Little Peconic Bay. The fluke had been biting there solidly the day before. Sure enough, on the first drift, four students hooked up. Two landed fluke and two landed sea robins. Sea Robins are always fun for children to catch. They look like fish with wings and legs and are edible. You could see the kids were happy and proud. The other students started catching fish. The mate, John, Capt. Bill and myself had a hard time keeping up with the kids as they landed one fish after another. There also were a number of teachers from the Riverhead Schools who were acting as chaperones and they were having a great time as well. But I have to say the students were definitely outfishing their teachers.
To me, this is what fishing is all about. Getting kids involved in fishing is a great thing to do. Don't get me wrong, I enjoying catching fish, myself, but to see kids that have never caught a fish before land one is really better than catching one yourself. The fishing continued throughout the day. The fluke were getting bigger and bigger. They were averaging between 3 and 4 pounds. One young girl hooked into a shark and landed it. Another girl caught a big skate (skates look like sting rays).
One fish after another came over the rails. The variety of fish made it very interesting for the children. With about an hour left, one of the students who had never been fishing before caught the biggest fluke of the day - a nice five pounder. He won the ADVENTURES IN FISHING hat that I had said would go to the student who caught the biggest fish.
The trip was a total success and a great time was had by all. I am glad to report that SAVE THE PECONIC BAYS, INC. will be sponsoring another trip for some lucky students this year. Also, Capt. Bill purchased a larger boat over the winter, so this year we will be on the 50' Orient Star II. Maybe one of the students will even catch a 15 pounder! I'll let you know in a future ADVENTURES IN FISHING article.
If you want to experience some great fluke fishing, give ADVENTURES IN FISHING a call at (516) 929-6711 or call Capt. Bill Russo at (516) 785-6149.
And remember- "Let's get kids hooked on Fishing...NOT on drugs!"
Visit Capt. Ray at his website http://www.adventure-fishing.com or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org