If you heard a strange sound rolling across the bays and harbors last Sunday, it was probably the collective sigh of relief from anglers giving thanks that fluke season has finally arrived. Many made their initial forays this week and, although the summer flatties are now present in all Long Island waters, results varied widely based primarily on location.

With water temperatures still hovering at a chilly 53 degrees in most areas, the initial action has been generally sluggish but improving day to day. So far, three fluke-producing patterns have been clearly established.

First, catches have been best at the top of outgoing tide when waters are the warmest. Second, anglers have scored well by moving around and picking one or two aggressive fish on each drift. Third, the beasts have come from the east.

"The action here has actually been very good," said Capt. Mike Boccio of the Orient Point charter fleet Prime Time. "We've had plenty of limits and a lot of 4-pound keepers, but our top fish have been outstanding this week. Kevin Chen of Flushing used a squid and spearing combo to drill a 12.45-pound brute in 65 feet of water off Shelter Island while Vinny Marano nailed a 10.5-pound doormat. The Jim Ryan charter on Wednesday saw a dozen anglers limit out with fluke to 6 pounds and had two bushels of giant, 3-pound scup coming over the rail, two at a time."

Capt. Dave Brennan has also seen some fast action, plenty of limits and great catches to start the fluke season aboard his Peconic Star fleet in Greenport. A 10-pounder came over the rail on Sunday, followed by several 7- to 8-pound pool winners through the week, and a 9.2-pound doormat for Brian Lett of Yorktown Heights Thursday. Brian Quigley had a limit of fluke to 6 pounds Thursday.

"We've been catching keepers and doormats right in Greenport Harbor just two minutes from the dock," Brennan said. "The big fish in particular have favored a strip of sea robin belly paired with squid."

For veteran porgy fans, even more amazing than the big fluke coming out of Peconics have been the giant porgies around Shelter and Robins islands. Many have topped 3 pounds with ease. Yesterday, one of the scup on the Peconic Star weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces -- after being gutted and bled! That's a beast.

Over at Montauk, Sharon Quaresimo of the open boat Miss Montauk said that doormat fluke are in the rips at Montauk, too. Boat regular Mr. Cho proved it when he used a white teaser tipped with spearing and squid to drill a 10-pounder during the week.

"The fluke here are still a bit scattered," said Quaresimo, "but we are picking a few on each stop in 40- to 60-foot depths and some anglers are filling their five-fish limit."

While fluke action along the North Shore and in most of the West End bays ranged from decent to fair, anglers fishing deep inside South Oyster Bay did score well aboard the Freeport Capt. Lou Fleet. Capt. Mike Wasserman called yesterday's action in Reynolds Channel "the best of the year" as 18 fares tallied five limits and 45 keepers to 6 pounds. His fares bucked the trend and scored best on outgoing water.

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