"Optimistic." That's the description anglers have been using as they prepare for the opening of fluke season Saturday. For many, the feeling is based on new, less restrictive summer flounder regulations that call for an 18-inch minimum size limit and five-fish creel limit. But there are other reasons for optimism as well.
"I can't wait to start fluking,'' said Capt. Dave Brennan of the Peconic Star Fishing Fleet in Greenport. "Sure, the new regs will help, but we've already thrown back some nice fluke while porgy fishing, so we know the summer flatties are here. With the late start to the season this year, those fluke might be stacked pretty good.''
Brennan plans to start his fluke trips Saturday, but he'll also continue the porgy trips. Peconic Bay's tasty scup have been in a feeding mood. A steady pick adding up to a full bucket has been the rule, with many fish topping 2 pounds.
"I'm sure we'll get off to a good start, too,'' said Capt. James Russo of the Center Moriches open boat Rosie. "We've been using our RSA [Research Set Aside] permits and doing well on bucktails tipped with spearing. The action should only improve as water temperatures continue to climb.''
Over at Captree, most of the open boat fleet has already christened the summer flatfish season with good results courtesy of RSA permits. "We've stayed inside Great South Bay and fishing has been solid,'' said Patrick Gillen of the open vessel Capt. Gillen. "The new 18-inch size limit should certainly result in more fillets going home.''
Capt. Walter Czekaj of the Captree Fishfinder II will begin fluke trips Saturday. "We've been using Bass Assassins around Robert Moses Bridge on our evening trips to score with weakfish to 5 pounds plus plenty of blues,'' he said. ''We've also drilled a bunch of accidental fluke.''
Capt. Steve Kearney from the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk was also optimistic about the fluke fishing, but right now he has such a terrific bite of ling underway at 17 Fathoms that he's sticking with the bottom action. "Our fares are averaging 25 fat ling apiece, with a few winter flounder and whiting in the mix,'' he said. "I'm sure fluking will be fine, but this ling thing is just too good to pass up.''
Fluke action should also get off to a fast start along the North Shore, according to Mark McGowan at Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle in Northport. He said local anglers have already begun playing catch and release with summer flatties inside Northport Bay. A bit farther east, Capt. Desi O'Sullivan from the Port Jefferson open boat Celtic Quest was chomping at the bit to start fishing. "Local commercial anglers are finding fluke,'' he said, "and we have plenty of porgies here already. We'll target both come Saturday.''
O'Sullivan suggested that North Shore anglers kick off their fluke search by using bucktails. "Those are usually best right out of the gate,'' he explained. "But don't stay married to one color. Experiment throughout the day to see what works best.''