Let's talk FLUKE...
Updated: Feb 27, 2019
This blog is going to be your introduction to Summer Flounder aka Fluke!
With the doldrums of winter now a distant and faded memory, our bays and river systems are coming alive warming up to the magic 62 degree mark. It is finally time to target one of the most beloved and sought after species on the eastern seaboard, the almighty Fluke! Early season Fluking is a completely different game than deep water ocean Fluking. This game is defined by small bucktails, smaller presentations, and shallow water.
You will find that when the water reaches roughly 60 degrees the Fluke will invade our rivers and bays by the masses! These fish spent their winter in the deep and have had an exceptionally long commute back to the shallows. They are flat out hungry! The Fluke will slide into mud flats and shallow areas because the water is typically much warmer in these areas. Work your mud flats,find ledges, channel edges and slopes and you will locate your fluke. Utilize your tides and water temperatures when finding a “flukey” area to fish. The warm temperature breaks and shallower muddy bottoms will produce Fluke that are sunning themselves along these flats. Make sure to not neglect the deeper channel edges and drop offs on a tide change. Tide changes can transform your fishing especially when targeting the larger class Doormats that have populated your bay.
Tides and Temperatures
All fish have a specific ideal temperature range they prefer to be in. Quite often that range varies rather considerably from species to species. The angler who is arrmed with the knowledge of these different temperature ranges has a superior edge on his target species. During the spring using the tides to your advantage is paramount! Work that bucktail on an outgoing tide along a muddy and shallow bottom and watch your success rate shoot up dramatically. You are on the search for 62-68 degree water. That is the most ideal temperature for Fluke to live in and also when you will find them most aggressive and active. Outgoing tides are crucial and your hot spots will be on mud flats and naturally shallow areas scattered and peppered with rocks and ledges.You will find that some of your most memorable and successful days of fluking will come on warm and sunny days on outgoing tides. If the only time you have to fish is during an incoming I would recommend fishing the channel edges.More often than not you can find some of the larger, lazier fish that are pushing Doormat status sitting on the channel edges during an incoming tide. The larger class of fish will be in areas where they can ambush prey easily by using the tides and not having to expend much energy.
When choosing a bucktail keep in mind your drift speed and bottom type. Your drift speed will dictate how heavy you have to go and knowing your bottom type will help you choose a color. I always use White bucktails from 1-3ozs when fishing my home waters of the Raritan bay. Rarely will I need to go heavier than a 3oz bucktail. Why white? Much of the area I am fishing is littered with mud bottoms and dark debris filled areas. White will always stand out. Whether I’m fishing sand,mud,wrecks or rocks a white bucktail tipped with a large profile white or pearl soft plastic will always stick out like a sore thumb. And in nature what sticks out will become prey!
Soft Plastics and Bait
Now when choosing your bait or soft plastic it’s very important to know what the fluke are feeding on in your bay or river. Usually they are feeding on Killies, minnows, small crabs, baby sea robins and essentially all small sized forage. Try to tip your bucktail with a soft plastic in the 3-6 inch size that most closely represents what they are feeding on. I always have some large minnows and larger spearing on hand if the fluke are appetizing fresh or live bait over soft plastics. Arm yourself with a variety of live and fresh baits and if you're using soft plastics make sure you have a variety of colors that will stand out in contrast to the bottom you are fishing.