Feature fish of the month…
This month’s feature fish is the fluke (summer flounder). Fluke are sought after more for their table fare than they are for their fight. Their white meat and mild flavor allow fluke to be prepared many different ways that even the pickiest of eaters often ask for seconds. Don’t get me wrong, they are a blast to catch but don’t expect them to fight like a bluefish. Before we discuss where and when to catch fluke, let’s start with what bait will help you catch that double digit sized fish. I’m well aware of the saying “big baits catch big fish.” However many doormats have fallen to nothing bigger than a spearing for bait. In fact, my largest (11.25LBS) fluke that I have ever caught fell to a spearing and squid strip combo. Natural baits such as squid, spearing, live killies and live snappers make for great baits when targeting fluke. In addition, the use of artificial baits has exploded. Most fisherman heading out on the water looking for fluke will more than likely have some type of Gulp product on board. I keep a jar of them on the boat at all times. Besides Gulp, fluke fisherman will also have a variety of bucktails on board as well. When it comes to rigs keep things simple. A hi-lo rig has been around for decades because they work. I can go on and on talking bait and tackle but the when and where are much more important when looking for fluke. I never like telling a person that they shouldn’t fish when they have the time. However, if you have wind against tide you should probably stay home. Fishing is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable. If you fish when you have wind against tide you will be very frustrated. In order to catch fluke, you need a good drift. When wind against tide occurs your boat basically stays in the same spot quite often spinning in circles. When fluke fishing in the bay or ocean, structure is what you should focus on. Structure can also refer to contour changes to the ocean and bay bottoms. Fluke are ambush feeders so focus your attention on drop-offs. Make sure you have a track line on especially when fluking the ocean. Fluke often move in large schools. You want to make sure you can re-drift over the same spot once you find them. If you have trouble identifying contour changes then head towards you nearest reef. If you go to dec.ny.gov you will be able to view coordinates of the closest reef to you. If you don’t want to venture out into the ocean make sure you spend some time fishing around any bridges that may be in your area. There is a good chance that you may catch some sea robins while you are fluke fishing. If you are into trying something new take a few of those “birds” home and enjoy some nice white meat.
Here’s what biting…
As the water warms shark and bluefin tuna will begin to invade our near-shore (20-40 miles) waters. When it comes to shark fishing please make note of some big changes. First, HMS permit holders (which you must be in order to fish for sharks) fishing recreationally must obtain a shark endorsement, which requires completion of an online shark identification and fishing regulation training course. The second big change involves hooks that you will need to use. The use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is now a must, whenever you’re fishing for sharks recreationally off the coast of Long Island. There’s an exception made for anglers fishing with flies or artificial lures, in which case regular hooks are acceptable. Finally, if you plan on keeping a mako the new minimum size is now 83 inches. That’s roughly a 215-240 pound mako. Please use caution when trying to measure the mako alongside your boat.
The month of June is filled with shark tournaments all along the south shore from Rockaway to Montauk. If you are interested in bluefin tuna fishing quite often those that fish these shark tournaments are usually willing to share some information on whether or not they saw any tuna while they were shark fishing. So head down to one of the many weigh-ins and ask around. Once they do show up here are two quick tips. First, if you are looking for big bluefin tuna try trolling at a speed of anywhere from 3 to 5 knots. Second, make sure your way back line is way back. I’m talking 100-200 yards from the boat.
Those fishermen that are looking for yellowfin, bigeye tuna and mahi will need to head deeper. By the end of June places like the Hudson Canyon and The Tails should be holding plenty of bait and those that feed on them.
Besides fluke, inshore fisherman will be on the lookout for stripers and bluefish. June is usually the time when big stripers are found along our ocean beaches “blowing-up” bunker schools. Remember not every bunker school will hold bass so it’s important to bounce from pod to pod until you find what you are looking for. If you run across any bluefish make sure you put away the bass gear. I keep a bunch of old top water plugs with single hooks for when I know the bluefish are thick. Remember treble hooks and bluefish are a recipe for pain. If I’m not looking to bring a fish home for the table I prefer catching bluefish over bass any day. Unlike a bass, bluefish never give up. Pound for pound bluefish are one of the best fighting fish in the ocean.
During the early part of June, weakfish may be found within the bay. These fish are here to spawn. Once they do these fish will move out. Researchers don’t have a whole lot of information on where these big breeders go once they leave the bay. In a couple of months much smaller “summer weaks” will swarm the bay. Look for deep holes. If you find one there are usually many of them.
One of my favorite fish to catch and eat is black seabass. As I type up this column I still have no idea what the regulations for black seabass will be. If they do open the season it won’t be until the end of June. So if you enjoy wreck/reef fishing you have a couple of options. Porgies should be easy to catch on any of the south shore reefs. If the water remains cool through the month you can also catch plenty of ling to fill the cooler. Once again keep things simple with a hi-lo rig with small hooks and clams. If you were hoping to catch some cod you will need to move to some deeper water. Try hitting the Linda, Yankee or Coimbra wrecks.