"Cookie Cutter Fluke." August 15, 2006
My sister Cheryl and I have worked at Shaffer's our entire lives, and just when I thought I've heard every slang word to describe a fish, I hear the words, "cookie cutter fluke." Jim Sullivan of Lords Point was describing the countless number of throwbacks, or short fluke, he and his two buddies returned to the sea. Just about every fisherman we spoke to in the past weeks have reported the same. There has been some tremendous fluke catches by numbers this season, but only a very small percentage of those measure up to the new 18" length.
Capt. Allen Fee of Sea Dog Charter's in Mystic offers his anglers a multi-specie trip, most often targeting bass, blues, and fluke. "After the morning top water bite is over, we usually switch over, and rig for fluke. Most people find it to be quite relaxing after all the early excitement." After some forty trips this season, I have found a few things to be fairly consistent, when going after keeper fluke.
Go early. Often we are fluke fishing by 8 or 9am. Recently, the good bite is between the first light and 10 am. After that time, the rest of the sleeping beauties will be showing up, and the ability to keep your spot becomes quite competitive. You can stay if you like, but you'll soon gain many friends when others notice you frequently netting your catch.
Fresh bait. Change your bait if not lost, consumed, or stolen within 20 minutes or so. Appearance is key. Your squid should lay out nice and flat. Don't glob it on as if you are porgy fishing. Remove all grass and bottom debris and untangle your rig. You've gone through the trouble and expense to get out here, don't give up now by using the same piece of weed-covered bait.
Big bait. Big fish, as the saying goes. As unethical as it may seem, a fluke has the ability to catch and consume prey such as large squid and whole herring. The Peruvian spearing we stock at Shaffer's is perfect for this. One of my favorites is a nice fillet of mackerel or bluefish.
Let 'em eat! The term goes without explanation. In the natural world, the fish would sight it's prey, grab it, and slowly consume it in the same location on the bottom. So here we are at the surface, drifting at a knot or so over the ground. The fish spots it's prey, this time your baited hook, and grabs it. Do you think he will take that meal to go, or dine in? When you get the first hit, drop back to him. All the fish knows is that it has caught it's meal. Don't drift off and pull it away. I often let line out a few times while carefully verifying that the fish is still there. When you imagine the hook is in, let 'em have it by setting it.
This year there seems to be fluke just about everywhere. The majority of the fishermen choose to either go to Misquamicut Beach or the south side of Fishers Island. Popular water depths are between 40 - 55 feet deep, while using a combination of squid and spearing. If you're just getting started, a fluke rig is the easiest approach as the amount of weight needed can be changed. A lead buck tail jig also can be used but requires a little more feel for the bottom and more frequent jigging.
Over the weekend many blues and striped bass were caught near Watch Hill Reef and in The Race at sunset. The recent full moon brought some strong tides but great fishing to the area. Many anglers are looking forward to the tides returning to normal for the coming weekend. Others are still hopeful to find some bonito and albies, but none in sight as of yet. As for the cookie cutter fluke, keep trying, your doormat will eventually come.
Catch em up!
Capt. Allen Fee
Shaffer's Bait and Tackle / Sea Dog Charters