Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Outdoors: A nice catch while adrift, but the 'big one' got away

A file photo of fluke taken on Jan.

A file photo of fluke taken on Jan. 13, 2014. Credit: Chris Ware

With solid reports of fluke, sea bass, porgy, triggerfish and snappers hitting at Montauk, Shinnecock, Moriches and all along the South Shore, my wife Felicia and I were looking forward to getting on the water yesterday. We had tentatively cleared our schedules, researched the bite and were ready to go when things began to unravel.

Some unexpected work deadlines prevented us from being able to get away for a full day of angling, so we opted for a more casual trip.

Five minutes from home, the welcoming waters of eastern Long Island Sound awaited our beat-up old kayak with a midsummer calmness that would make paddling easy. We would catch the second half of outgoing water -- the exact opposite of a perfect tide given the recent heat wave -- and hope for the best.

Pushing out into the 71-degree water, we first drifted parallel to the beach just a long cast from shore. Quickly, we picked up a short fluke, but that was all. Suspecting more and bigger fish might be holding in deeper, cooler depths, we paddled out to the 20-foot range and worked across a small rip just inside a set of lobster pots. As we came up on the roiled water, our rods doubled over with a short fluke, a 19-inch keeper and a huge sea robin. A second drift produced a 21-inch summer flattie.

It was a great start to what would ultimately be a fine but short, two-hour tour. Looking over the gunwale, the reason for the bite seemed obvious: Thick pods of silvery spearing and sand eels were milling about from the surface down as deep as we could view. As we paddled back to the rip for a third drift, 3- to 5-pound bluefish began scattering the bait across the surface while terns and seagulls dive-bombed from above. It was noon on the hottest, muggiest day of the year during the worst possible tide and the waters of Long Island Sound were alive and well.

Passing through the rip again, a 23-inch mini-doormat found my ¾-ounce leadhead and white Berkley Gulp! Swimming Minnow to her liking, but it was the next drift that produced the most excitement. Felicia had just lifted her jig a foot off the bottom when a smashing strike bent her 12-pound test spinning outfit to the water. The big fish pulled with dogged, short spurts, as large fluke tend to do. It took several shots of drag, stemmed our drift against the tide and then began to spin the kayak. Just as it seemed Felicia was finally getting the upper hand, the line went slack.

Somehow, the big fish had slipped the hook.

We took one more quick drift over the same area in case a second monster was lurking nearby before it was time to head for home. There was little doubt a few more passes would provide more keepers, but the Sound had already given us all we needed this day: quality fish, steady action, wonderful companionship and yet another tale of the one that got away.


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