Summer may be nearly over, but that hasn't slowed the bite when it comes to big fluke. In what has arguably been the best season in recent memory for doormats weighing 10 pounds or more, you can add Dominic Galgano's 15-pound behemoth to the whopper list.
"I still can't believe it," said the 26-year-old Massapequa resident after weighing the brute at Comb's Bait and Tackle in Amityville on Sunday night. "If anyone ever truly earned a fish, this guy did," said proprietor Bill Witchey, who put the fluke on the scales. "He's a real die-hard fisherman."
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No doubt about it. Galgano and his fishing partner, Rich Link, had planned on a night of clam chumming near the Meadowbrook Bridge. When they got to Galgano's 14-foot Carolina Skiff, however, they discovered that someone had stolen the batteries.
"That was tough," said the lucky angler, "but we weren't going to let it stop us. We jerry-rigged the lights and used the engine's pull start to get up and running."
Back in the game, the two began fishing whole skimmer clam around the bridge. It wasn't long before an eel ate Galgano's clam. Hoping for a cow bass, he put it on the hook and sent it back into the current. That's when the big fluke struck.
"That fish really fought hard," recalled Galgano. "It started with a surprisingly strong pickup and then took drag when it felt the hook. As it got close to the boat we slipped it into the net and tried to lift it aboard -- but the net shaft broke in half so I had to hang over the side and grab the rim with one hand to wrestle it aboard. The whole experience was simply unbelievable."
While you might not call fluke fishing around Long Island "unbelievable" in general, there are a few hot spots where it's certainly "darn good." One is Montauk, where private vessel anglers have had quite a few keepers and open boat pool winners are consistently running 7 to 9 pounds. Another is Great South Bay where the Captree Fleet has enjoyed hot action in terms of quantity, enough keepers to spread some fillets around the boat, and doormats weighing 5 to 7 pounds winning the pool. The open boat Laura Lee had an 8.5-pounder on Wednesday morning.
Farther west, decent action can be found with bottom species on the ocean reefs. Capt. Steve Kearney, of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk, has focused on a mix of sea bass, porgies, fluke and triggerfish with a side order of puffers. "It's fun stuff on these half-day trips," he said. "Perfect for getting the family out before the kids head back to school."
Deeper inside the West End bays, mixed bags that include cocktail blues, fluke and some very nice weakfish have been the rule. Joey Leggio of East Rockaway was drifting on Reynolds Channel Thursdaywhen he came across the weakfish "big time."