Let’s go,” said Capt. Marco DeStefano urgently as I hopped aboard the charter vessel Krystyna Maria (@mistydawnfishing), a 25-foot Parker based out of the Montauk Anglers Club and Marina. “We’ve got a pair of small windows to catch some big fish and I don’t want to miss the tide.”
DeStefano and his charters have been working fluke south and east of Montauk Point over the past two weeks. While the catch numbers haven’t been spectacular, the size of the fish have been in the 4- to 6-pound class, and a few even bigger.
“It’s definitely been quality over quantity,” noted the skipper as we made our way out to 90-foot depths, "but there’s been enough action between the big fluke and keeper sea bass to keep the rods bending and send everyone home with a nice bag of fillets.
"From now through August, every day at Montauk provides a good opportunity to catch a doormat — perhaps the biggest fluke of your life. We should get a good one here,” he said as we pulled to a stop.
With a crew of fluke sharpies consisting of Mike Owen, 72, from St. James, Warren Dennington, 58, of Miller Place and Jimmy Chylinski, 59, of Bayville, the odds certainly seemed in our favor as we began drifting along a deep-water ledge and the fish finder lit up with baitfish on the screen.
“Right now we have squid, sand eels and all sorts of baitfish swimming around here,” said the skipper as our six- to eight-ounce bucktails hit the bottom. “We’ll fish here for two hours until we lose the flood tide and then head to another spot.”
It didn’t take long before a couple of sea bass hit the deck but the fluke needed more time — or perhaps a little less current — to get cranking. When they did, the bite was definitely of the quality kind.
Several shorts came aboard before Chylinski drilled a fat 6-pounder. A half hour later, Owen’s rod tip arched downward. Despite the heavy bucktails needed to hold bottom at such depth, he had chosen to jig with 10-pound test braid in order to present a slightly lighter, home-tied jig. With a steady retrieve and plenty of patience, he eased the big fish smoothly to the surface. At 9 pounds, it proved his personal best.
“The tide’s about done here,” said our skipper after another drift or two, “so let’s head to that second spot. We’ll have about an hour to ice another nice one.”
Like DeStefano’s earlier prediction, this one was right on the money — only it was the captain who stuck the big one. Fishing a fluke spoon, he drilled 9.2-pound brute, his largest fluke of the year. The key to using spoons for flatfish, he explained while slipping his doormat into the cooler, is to work them actively on the bottom. The more you jig, the better you’ll score.
“Not a bad day at all,” quipped our skipper as we headed for home a half hour later. “Warren took a real big sea bass, Mike had a fluke limit plus his personal best, Jimmy drilled a 6-pounder and I got my biggest doormat of the year. I’ll take that every time out.”
So will I, even if just to witness more big flatties hitting the deck.