Despite a late start to the fluke season that many anglers expected would provide the summer flatties plenty of time to infiltrate the waters of Long Island Sound, action on the North Shore got off to a relatively quiet start. That is until last weekend when action with big fish exploded from Huntington to Mattituck.
"It was one of the best stretches for big fluke I've seen in 30 years," said Capt. James Schneider of the Huntington open boat Capt. James Joseph. "We weren't seeing much bait in the shallows, so we went out to deeper water and found some squid. The doormats were under them and we had fish to 11 pounds, plus over 20 fluke topping 7 pounds. Fish were spitting up whole squid all around the boat, which anglers picked up and used to catch more monsters."
Nor was the action limited to the Huntington area. Captain Amanda Peterson had similar luck aboard her Osprey fleet out of Port Jefferson, decking an 8.75-pound doormat herself. The Celtic Quest, also out of Port Jefferson, drilled some big ones, too, and the Captain Bob fleet out of Mattituck had a pair of 11-pound brutes hit the deck on the same trip.
Of course, the problem with this kind of action is that it can often be short-lived and as the week went on catches of double-digit doormats eventually dropped off. Then on Tuesday, the sand eels moved into the shallower waters of Smithtown Bay, Northport Bay, Mount Misery Shoal and Mattituck, triggering fast action with keepers around the rails. With more bait now present in the shallows, it is likely this bite will stick for a bit.
"We had good fluking in three different spots today, so there seem to be a lot more fish here now that the bait has arrived," said Schneider, who drilled keepers for his fares in and around Northport Bay off Target Rock, Asharoken and the LIPA stacks on Wednesday morning. "It's been solid again today. Young Kim had his limit by 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m. nearly half my boat has their limit. Most other anglers have at least two or three keepers to take home. We also decked a 9.5-pound weakfish -- our first one on the Sound this year. I'm expecting more good action going forward."
Peterson agreed. "Fluke fishing has been getting better with every trip as long as we have good conditions for drifting. Some anglers are catching seven or eight keepers a day -- and now the scup are here, too. Our first evening porgy trip had a 20.5-inch humpbacked pool winner, and the Celtic Quest did a bail job on the scup, too."
While flatfish fans have had their sights set on fluke, this year's regulations allow anglers to creel two winter flounder per day with a minimum size limit of 12 inches. The season closes on May 30. As water temperatures have remained pretty cool, this week might be a good time to give these fish a try just inside any of the South Shore inlets.
Also worth a shot is bottom fishing out of Fire Island and Jones Inlets. The Captree boat Laura Lee and the Capt. Lou Fleet out of Freeport have both enjoyed excellent action with porgy, RSA sea bass, winter flounder and ling.
Fluke fishing has also been very good at Montauk and remains steady with a generous number of keepers in all of the South Shore bays.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story indicated that the flounder season had no end date.)