Fishing Facts and Tips

by Capt. Carl of Wet Dreams Sportfishing

 

 

Sandy Hook FlukeFluke (summer flounder) inhabit our New Jersey waters from May through October and are in the top 4 of New Jersey’s most sought after game fish.

Habitat
Coastal & near shore during the warmer months in New Jersey. Fall & winter migration offshore to depths of 500 ft.

Growth & Spawning
Sexual maturity at 3 yrs of age and spawning occurs on the fall migration offshore. The number of eggs produced in females are directly related to the size of the fish….a 14 inch female produces about 460,000 eggs where as a 27-28 inch female produces in excess of 4 million eggs.
Juvenile fluke can grow to 12 inches in their first year with a 15-16 inch fish being 3 years old and sexually mature.

Fluke start to spawn when the water temperature drops between 53 and 65 degrees F in the fall. The eggs hatch approximately 72 hours after being laid and float to the inshore estuaries and 
nursing grounds from May thru Oct.

Females may live up to 20 years, with males typically having a 7-8 year life span. New York/New Jersey waters are the center spawning grounds for the entire east coast fluke populations.

Tackle
My preferred rod is a 7-7 ½ foot conventional or spinning . I fish strictly from a boat and prefer a conventional outfit with enough backbone to drag up to 10 ounces of lead at depths up to75 feet at times. To accomplish this I use an Avet SX reel with 30lb power pro and a topshot of 20lb test matched to a 7 foot custom Star Rod blank. Sinkers range from 2oz-10oz depending on where I am fishing. In my tackle bag you will find 3 way 
swivels, fish finder sinker slides, Fluorocarbon leader material(15-30lb),assortment of circle and octopus style hooks from 2/0-5/0, 2/0-4/0 stinger assist hooks,1/2-6 oz Spro jigs in assorted colors and clouser minnow style teaser flies.

The 3 main rigs fished on my boat are the 3 way fluke rig, the fish finder rig (which I usually deploy with a large strip bait or a whole 5-7 inch squid with stinger hook attached) and a spro jig set up either alone or with a 1/2-3/4 oz smaller Spro tipped with squid as a teaser .

Basic Fluke Baits
Fluke enjoy a variety of baits, which is indeed an advantage for us! We can bring an arsenal of baits without breaking the bank and a lot of baits we can catch on our own. Some of my favorites are killies, squid(stripped or whole)clam belly, sand worms, bunker chunks and strips, live or fresh dead peanut bunker, live snapper bluefish or fished dead with the back bone taken out, spearing , smelts, mullet, sand eels, fluke ribbon and belly, and if lucky enough while drifting some rocks…a live baby ling up to 10 inches makes a great doormat bait! Many types of bait are fished in combination with a squid strip for added flutter action. 
During a slack tide or wind against tide, I prefer a live bait over a strip or dead bait, and have to determine when power drifting is necessary to produce a bite.

Fishing for Fluke
Fluke fishing is primarily drift fishing and although many fluke are caught from the surf and jetties, piers, etc. this article is covering mostly fluke fishing from a boat…but the methods are the same either way….KEEP THE BAIT MOVING!!!!
My method while fluking with bait is dropping my rig to the bottom and gently bouncing 5-6 times then letting it sit for 5-10 seconds. Repeat the bounce gently lifting the rod tip a little higher and slower on the first lift. If a fluke has taken the bait, you will feel resistance a little heavier than the weight feels or you will feel a sudden resistance after you have felt your sinker come off the bottom. At this point, I give about a 10 second count of line to the fish in free spool. Engage your reel and let the line come tight to the fish….then I set the hook…or start reeling if using circle hooks. You have just allowed the fluke to turn the bait in its mouth without feeling the pressure of your sinker.

STRUCTURE STRUCTURE STRUCTURE !!!! I CAN’T STRESS HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS! 
Fluke are an ambush predator and lie in wait of a tasty meal….this usually occurs on the down current side of any structure….some excellent areas to fish such structure are: Channels and channel edges, lumps and dredge holes, drop offs, wreck edges, reefs , rock piles, clam beds, sand bars , piers and pilings, bridges and jetties

TIDES AND CURRENTS 
I personally prefer the last 2 hours of the ebb tide, although the first 2 hours of the flood can also be productive. During slack tide, I definitely favor any live bait over dead or artificials if no live bait is available. It is very important to keep the bait moving. In this case, cast away from the boat and slowly retrieve the bait or lure back to the boat.
Sometimes, we have a drift that is too fast due to wind and current together. In this case, a drift sock can be deployed to slow you down or you can move to another area where the tide is not running as heavy. In Raritan and Sandy Hook Bay, the tide at the point of the hook can be an hour different from spots back in the Morgan Creek area….this can help when searching for spots to fish with less or more current. Know your tide times….this can help you out and could be the difference in having a productive day on the water in tough conditions!

Know when to do short drifts and when to do longer drifts and visa versa….I generally start with a long drift over an area and mark each fish on the plotter…this will give me a map of sorts and I can then switch to a shorter drift over the most productive areas.
Don’t be afraid to leave the fleet and find a patch of structure of your own. Just because there are 25 boats on a spot, doesn’t mean they are catching…..many times I am out early and am the first boat on a spot….1 hour later there are 10 boats next to me because they assumed I am catching….this is not always the case.

Fluke fishing is an enjoyable day on the water and an excellent way to spend the day with family and friends….the weather is generally nice, the seas are usually calm…..take your wife and kids or friends out for the day….jump on one of the many excellent party or charter boats that New Jersey has to offer and have at it!


Capt. Carl DiMenna
www.wetdreamssportfishing.com