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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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June 01, 2012

Fluke Lure, Lore and Technique

by Bob Banfelder

For some of the best fluking along the North Fork from May to September, set your sights on the Southold Bay area. The Green Lawns (literally two huge lawns not indicated on the charts) mark a hot location on the west side of Shelter Island in Southold Bay. Many of us know the area. A good many of us know the standard baits to employ for good results. Far too few fishing folks seeking serious-sized flatties are aware of the lure and bait combination with which to rig so as to give you the added edge.

Donna and I learned this so-called secret one Fourth of July weekend while fishing aboard an acquaintance's vessel. The space that Donna occupied from sun to sun, with an occasional break from hauling in fluke after keeper fluke, was at the stern of the captain's Baha Cruiser. Donna found her own little corner off to starboard across the eleven-and-a-half foot beam and was having the time of her life, learning, for the first time, how to really nail big fluke. It wasn't her first time fluke fishing, mind you. Nor was it mine. However, what we learned that day proved invaluable. The occasional luck we had was gradually being transformed into lore. Donna was pulling in flatties hand over fist, mastering the art under the tutelage of our patient, personable and knowledgeable captain.

Both Donna and I were sworn to secrecy. Secrecy as to the so-called secret weapons we employed. Secrecy as to how the rig was fashioned. Secrecy with regard to technique. And especially secrecy with respect to the spots we fished. Donna and I take secrets very seriously. We can be trusted. We'll take those confidences that are entrusted to us to the grave. We have a few fishing secrets of our own.

Occasionally, we share a secret. Our very own. Case in point. During last month's blog, I wrote about upping your score for striped bass by way of tying mantis shrimp imitations. This month I'll share how to catch fluke ranging from respectable keepers to doormats if you'll employ lore, lure and bait that may not be familiar to you.

So, why am I about to reveal such clandestine information for annihilating fluke, especially after both Donna and I were sworn to keep those secrets under wraps? Apart from the captain's sacred fishing ground, I can openly divulge this furtive matter for two reasons:

One reason is that as a past member of the board of directors for the New York Sportfishing Federation, Donna and I had attended seminars on fluke fishing at our annual forum at the Freeport Recreation Center on Long Island. During one particular seminar, presented by two brothers, Pete and Tom Mikoleski, both highly respected Montauk charter boat captains, Donna and I learned that our own captain's so-called secret rig and technique for fishing was no secret any longer. The second and most important reason as to why I'm imparting this invaluable information is that I have the captain's permission to do so.

Although it's no longer a secret, few fluke fishermen I've come to know utilize this deadly lure, bait and technique, limiting themselves to the more traditional approach of using a squid and spearing combination.

For openers, part of the magic lies with Steve Sekora's Glow-Squid Lure, a green glow bead fixed above it. Purchase a few packages from your local tackle store then go home and fashion your own according to specific requirements. We'll cover that momentarily. You'll find the bodies and beads you'll need sold separately in most well-stocked tackle shops. Be sure that both the lures and beads are the fluorescent type. In lieu of monofilament, pick up a spool of fluorocarbon for tying the rig. The line offers the advantage of virtual invisibility within the water column, so whether you're fishing in crystal clear conditions, the suds, or murky waters, you're covered.

The nice part about rigging your own terminal tackle is that you get to select what you wish, such as the type of hook. There are many on the market. Gamakatsu in Octopus-Red in #1 to 2/0 is a favorite of mine, along with Owner, Mustad or Eagle Claw.

Besides bringing a boatload of confidence aboard, knowing what bait to take along is of paramount importance, too. Take the squid along; leave the spearing in the freezer at home. More on bait, too, in a moment. Your new presentation will be deadly when rigged properly. Just how deadly? Let's examine one scenario that occurred on that July 4th weekend:

Plying their local trade along the waters off Moriches, several veteran charter boat captains who our own captain knows personally and spoke with in code via VHF radio during the course of the day, as well as immediately afterward—all having fished the same waters as our captain, Donna and me—were nowhere near as productive as the three of us. Whereas we had caught and released scores of fat nineteen- to twenty-four- inch fluke, the other boats were averaging two and three keepers—not per man—per boat. Not one customer in their parties was rigged with the secrets of success.

One of your best baits for fluke is, of course, fresh squid, if you can get it. Not unlike us humans, those flatfish love fresh calamari—hold the sauce. Live mummichogs (killies) is to be your second hat trick. Coupled with the squid and the Glow Squid combination, you are in for a surprise. For fresh killies instead of frozen spearing, a killie trap is the ticket. Set one overboard from your boat or dockside with the head, tail or remains of any fish you've cleaned. If killies are in the area, you'll have enough for a day's outing within minutes. Hook on a half-inch wide by approximately four-inch long strip of squid (pennant shaped but not pointed at its end). Cut the strip three-quarters of the way up the middle in order to create a nice undulating action in the water column. When threading the strip, avoid creating a crease near the top of the flesh. Nice and flat for that flatfish, I remind myself. Hook the live mummichog through the eye and out its mouth.

In setting up your terminal tackle, you don't need barrel swivels, three-way swivels, or fancy hi-lo spinner rigs with a multitude of beads. A single hook with a single fluorescent bead will suffice. However, I do prefer a bead above and below the Glow Squid: one on the bottom to prevent the lure from working itself down along the shank of the hook, thereby thwarting the skirt from fluttering freely. The other is placed atop the artificial, serving as an attractor.

A forty-inch length of 20- to 30-pound test fluorocarbon leader with a single or double knotted surgeon's loop on one end and a large dropper loop to accommodate sizable sinkers tied just above middle will work well. When you've finished snelling, looping and knotting the rig, approximately four inches will have been taken up, leaving you with a perfect three-foot leader. Snell a #1 to 2/0 fluke hook utilizing a Uni-knot, or use an expeditious Palomar knot, and you're good to go.

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