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Fluke Fishing Techniques
The Rhode Island coastal and Block Island shorelines are very productive for fluke at certain times of the year. Since fluke spend winters on the continental shelf, the first productive area during the month of May is typically in the 45 to75 foot depths near Block Island’s south coast. Unfortunately, during the early part of the season the spiny dogfish are abundant as well around Block Island. Anglers may have to move a few times to get away from the concentrations of Dogfish during this time of the year. Fluke continue to migrate towards the Rhode Island Coastline from Newport to Watch Hill, including Narragansett Bay in May before heading back out to offshore waters in late September and October.
Other productive fluke fishing areas include the center wall in Point Judith, Misquamicut Beach and the edge of the channels at the Jamestown and Newport Bridge. The typical productive depths range from 35-60 feet in these areas.
The 2010 fluke season was very productive near Clayhead, Block Island for a few weeks in the 35- 65 foot depths. Block Island’s Old Harbor Channel and shoreline south of Old Harbor is a very productive spot as well. Block Island’s North Rip is another productive area for fluke. The key here is getting the proper drift pattern and or speed of drift. Fluke can found in depths up to 100 feet in this rip.
Another key component to productive fluke fishing in the Rhode Island Shoreline is knowing where the commercial fluke draggers have been fishing as well. It is common to have great fishing in an area one day only to find out it is extremely difficult the next because that area has been fished commercially. It may take a couple days for fluke to move back into those areas.
To effectively catch fluke there must be tidal flow and a good drift pattern of your vessel. If the wind and tide are opposing each other or the wind is moving the vessel too fast, fishing will be unproductive. Some fluke sharpies utilize a sea anchor to control the drift for an optimum drift pattern. If the drift is too slow, you can cast and retrieve your fluke rigs or slow troll, bumping the engine in and out of gear to get some forward motion. Fluking can be productive anytime during daylight hours.
The fluke’s diet consists of numerous baits. The most common is squid. They will also eat small fish, sand eels, shrimp and crustaceans.
Live bait such as mummies, small mackerels and snapper blues hooked to a fluke rig or jig is very productive for these predators. Cut bait such as squid strips, fluke belly, bluefish and skate work as well. Fluke rigs tipped with spearing is another good option as well.
The fishing rod and reel utilized for fluke is considered light tackle. Conventional rods are preferred. The rod length should be 7.0 to 7.5 feet in length with a medium to fast tip. The rod should be rated for lines of 15-25 lb. test. When choosing a rod, keep in mind that you will be utilizing weight of 3 to10 ounces depending on the current and depth with the average weight being 4-6 ounces.
The reels utilized are bait casting reels or small level winds that hold up to 20-25 lb. test. Some anglers prefer utilizing braided line for sensitivity. If utilizing braided line, I would recommend several feet of monofilament top shot to create some stretch in the line. The hook sets on fluke can be accomplished with a solid quick lift of the rod tip. Keep in mind that the style of hook utilized also determines the hook set required. I personally utilize two fishing line options. The first is 20 lb. test monofilament and the other is Power Pro Spectra braided line with 15-20 feet of 20 lb. monofilament as a top shot. The braided line with mono top shot provides added sensitivity with a little line stretch and line abrasion resistance. The other advantage is the ability to untangle lines with the larger diameter monofilament provided with the top shot when fishing with several anglers aboard, especially when chartering.
The fishing tackle utilized for fluke are effective for seabass and scup which may be in the same areas as the fluke.
The most typical and productive method for catching fluke is to jig the fluke rig. This means snapping your rod tip upward and then maintaining contact with the fishing line as you follow the rig back to the bottom. The key here is to find the pattern the fish wants. You can vary the speed of how fast you snap the rod tip up and how far you jig your rod tip upward. Fluke will typically hit the rig with this technique. In some cases the fish may also bite when the rig is baited with no jigging action at all by the angler or even Dead-sticked in a rod holder. Vary the jigging pattern until you find what the fish responds to.
The typical rigs utilized, consist of three way squid type jigs with khale style hooks. The other common rig is bucktails tipped with strip baits. Color can make a difference, so utilize different colors until you find what the fish want. The most common colors are white, chartreuse and pink. When fluke fishing, big baits can attract big fish, so utilize big strips of bait or live bait to catch big doormat fluke.
Good luck and tight lines!