Want to catch more fluke? Here are some tips on fishing for summer flounder this spring (2024)

As the spring migration of striped bass starts to slow, anglers begin to focus on catching summer flounder, or fluke. This year, similar to the past three years, has gotten off to a slow start. “The fluke bite is slow but anglers are working to catch large fish," Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown said last week. "We weighed in an 11-pounder caught off the beaches.” So, there are big fish to be caught.

“In the spring, they are in 25 feet of water," said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle in Warren, "but as the water warms, they go down deeper to 45 to 100 feet of water. I am a firm believer to figure out what the fluke are eating and then strip up that as bait. It could be bluefish, black sea bass, fluke bellies, menhaden or sea robins.

“I believe in using light tackle, 20-pound braid, so you can get down with less scope. I like to use squid rigs often with jigs and usually a second stinger hook.”

Want to catch more fluke? Here are some tips on fishing for summer flounder this spring (1)

Mike Wade, owner of Watch Hill Outfitters in Westerly, said: “I like to dead stick with live bait with a rod off the stern. I usually use mummies with a sinker rig. It is amazing how many big fish this rig catches. That said, my favorite rig is an inline swivel to a 12-inch dropper look, a large bean jig and often a Jack Pot Digger Jig with a 30-inch flier with a Tsunami Holographic squid and a mustard hook.”

Angler Peter Johnson of Connecticut once said: “I limited out on fluke in 80 feet of water in the Block Island Wind Farm.” Peter is a firm believer in going light. He uses 15-pound braid, jigs and stingers tipped with gulp and sometimes squid strips. Peter caught one of his personal best at the time, a 28-inch fluke right in front of Warwick Light in Narraganset Bay fishing the banks and deep water in the channel.

In Rhode Island, the fluke regulation this year is a 19-inch minimum size, six fish per person per day with special shore areas where anglers are allowed two 17-inch fish. In Massachusetts, the minimum size is 17.5 inches from a boat and 16.5 inches from shore with a four fish/person/day limit.

Here are some fluke tips from the experts:

Fluke face into the current to feed, so you want to drag your bait over the front of them, drifting with the tide and wind in the same direction when in a boat or slowly pulling your bait over the bottom when on land.

Fish the edges of structures or transition areas near jetties and bridges, channels, banks, underwater valleys, humps and bumps as big fish ambush bait there.

When it comes to fluking, squid is the bait of choice. Some anglers cut it in very fine strips, yet others like to use the whole squid with others using what they catch that day — strips of bluefish, sea robin, scup, etc.

Find the fish and repeat the pattern — drifting over the same location or depth that is yielding fish.

When targeting fluke, do your homework — plan where you will fish first, second, third, etc., the night before based on recent wind forecasts and tides. You will be rewarded with some larger keeper fluke, as well as black sea bass and scup.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing for trout has been good in recently stocked ponds,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle in Providence.

Striped bass and bluefish. “The southeast and southwest sides of Block Island were on fire over the holiday with anglers catching striped bass using topwater lures," Cahill said. "The fish were slot size [28 inches to less than 31 inches] and above. Our salt ponds are good too, with worm hatches still occurring.” This weekend, I fished in the Greenwich Bay area with a friend and hooked up with a keeper and two smaller fish. The fish were caught in 7 to 12 feet of water trolling tube and worm at the bottom. “Anglers are hooking up with large bass in the mid- and upper Bay using pogies and flutter spoons with kayak anglers being successful trolling tube and worm," said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle in Providence. Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle in Charlestown reported: “The bait is getting pushed into the ponds on an incoming tide with small spooks, and bass and blues are being found on rock piles and at breachway outflows, eating anything from top water to live eels. Won’t be long before some of the 30- to 40-pound bass start staging on our local reefs.”

Tautog. The spring tautog season ended on May 31 in Rhode Island for the spawning season and will reopen Aug. 1. In Massachusetts, the catch limit drops to one fish/person/day from June 1 to July 31. In both states, the open season limit changes on Aug. 1 with a three fish/person/day limit, 16- to 21-inch slot with one fish allowed to be more than 21 inches.

Summer flounder [fluke], black sea bass and squid. “Fluke reports are starting to pick up with mostly smaller fish being caught locally and a few bigger fish being caught at the island," O'Donnell said. "Black sea bass are still out in deeper water but are slowly making their way in. There is an abundance of squid out-front.” Cahill reported: “We weighed in an 11-pound fluke over the holiday caught along the southern coastal beaches. Anglers are having some difficulty finding fluke but when they do, they tend to be large. Anglers are also targeting fluke at the East Grounds and in the Block Island Wind Farm area with good results.

“Squid fishing remains strong along the coastal beaches."

Dave Monti holds a master captain’s license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business that focuses on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy and fisheries-related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to dmontifish@verizon.net or visit noflukefishing.com.

Want to catch more fluke? Here are some tips on fishing for summer flounder this spring (2024)


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