For many Long Island anglers, Memorial Day weekend is the starting point for serious fishing, especially for fluke. By now most anglers have their boats in the water and the summer flatties should be moving into the shallows where they are close to port and easy to catch on light tackle. Right on cue, reports of fluke on the flats increased dramatically over the past few days.
For bragging-sized summer flatties, Peconic Bay remains unchallenged. Some boats fishing off the Greenlawns and in Greenport Harbor have limited out on recent outings with quite a few flatfish topping the 4-pound mark and most trips finding a couple in the 5 to 8- pound class.
Productive also has been the western flats of Shinnecock Bay where bucktails have accounted for a solid mix of shorts and keepers. Moriches Bay has seen fluke move into shallow water. The best catches there have been taken between Forge River and Radio Point.
Fluke action to the west has been a bit more picky, but better than this time last year throughout Reynolds Channel and in Massapequa Cove. Capt. Steve Kearney of the open boat Super Hawk, out of Point Lookout, has been fishing at the west end of Reynolds Channel for a mix of keepers and shorts with plenty of action on most trips. “Anglers using light-weight spinning gear and bucktails have really had an edge here,” said the skipper, “and the water looks very clean.”
Much of the Captree fleet has been heading west up the State Channel. Capt. Ken Higgins of the Captree Pride said catches are better some days than others, but some really nice fish have come aboard and this week’s action has been “pretty good.”
On Wednesday, his fares took home 40 keepers over two trips with the day’s top flattie weighing 8.5 pounds. Capt. Walt Czekaj of the Fishfinder II echoed Higgins words, adding that 92-year old Ed Friswold of Islip Terrace took the pool on Wednesday with a beautiful 8.5 pound doormat. Friswold, a true fluke sharpie, fishes aboard the Fishfinder three days per week.
Fluke action on Long Island Sound remains best to the west outside of Huntington Harbor where some impressive doormats to 8 pounds have been picked. Over the past three days sea robins moved close to the shore from Mount Sinai east to Truman’s Beach. Once the robins arrive, the fluke are usually days behind.
While fluke fishing is off to a solid start, some captains and anglers are wondering how long that action will stand up along the western South Shore. Normally, some for-hire boats and recreational anglers would be targeting black sea bass by now. This year New York’s sea bass season doesn’t even open until June 27. At that point, anglers can keep three fish with a 15-inch minimum size (the regulations become more liberal come fall.)
“It’s a real problem,” said Kearney. “We’re pounding our fluke without a break while New Jersey boats hammer sea bass three miles off Jones Inlet. Their season started May 15 and they can keep 10 fish at 12.5 inches. Sea bass management in New York is an awful mess. The system couldn’t be more broke. Eventually, something has to give — I just hope it’s the regulations, not the fluke population.”