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Open Bottom Ocean Fluke puzzle

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  Discussion Boards > Inshore Tackle and Techniques with Lep
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Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 394
 posted 07/12/2007 11:18 AM  

I've spent most of my fluking days in the back bays/inlets save for an occasional ocean trip on a party boat. Now that I have a boat at my disposal, I'm trying to relearn the game for deeper water. Thx to Lep and others for all of their tips...I found the new article on Noreast very helpful as well.

My biggest question is: What holds the fish in 40, 50, 60 feet of water?? I guess I had mistakenly always viewed that area as kind of a sandy shelf...more wasteland than oasis except for the areas around the wrecks. I know that there is a decent run of migrating squid in the Spring, but what other baits are the fluke feeding on that hold in these depths? Is the bait simply passing through? If not, what makes the bait stay in those depths where in my mind, it's more apt to be a sitting duck?

Any comments to help me fit the pieces in the puzzle would be greatly appreciated.

This post edited by Leprechaun 08:20 PM 09/20/2013
MakoMike Club Member

Noreast Writer

Joined: 12/28/2000
Posts: 71023
Location: Pt. Judith
 posted 07/12/2007 11:25 AM  

You original view is, in the main, correct, it is a wasteland. But there are pieces of structure out there, rocks, hard bottom, depression in the sand that can and will hold bait and fluke. The difference between a good fluke fisherman and those that just do O.K. is being able to find these relatively small pieces of structure which can and do change over time.


Click here for The Makomania Sportfishing website

Makomania out

Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 394
 posted 07/12/2007 11:26 AM  

Is it the same baits that are on the inside? ie spearing and sand eels? just bigger?
MakoMike Club Member

Noreast Writer

Joined: 12/28/2000
Posts: 71023
Location: Pt. Judith
 posted 07/12/2007 12:18 PM  

Yes, basically the same bait. You can also use whole small squid and smelt or sardines.


Click here for The Makomania Sportfishing website

Makomania out
Leprechaun Club Member

Inshore Tackle and Techniques with Lep
Fishing Rods
Posted Reports

Joined: 08/11/2000
Posts: 9269
Location: Wantagh/Seaford, N.Y.
 posted 07/12/2007 10:04 PM  

I'll address this with particular emphasis on the later part of the Fluke season - which starts right about now - and from a boat captain's perspective

" . . .My biggest question is: What holds the fish in 40, 50, 60 feet of water?? I guess I had mistakenly always viewed that area as kind of a sandy shelf...more wasteland than oasis except for the areas around the wrecks."

You are correct in that it would be a mistake to view the South Shore sand as a featureless void. Setting aside the well known broken-bottom areas that many now fish pretty hard for the better flukies, there are many, MANY places to try for open-bottom fluke off the South Shore, in water greater than 40 feet.

The problem for most bay flukers that are confronted with the vastness of the South Shore for the first time is that they are not conditioned to look for the more productive bottom. After all, there are no channel markers, no marsh islands, and certainly no bridges to use as reference points.

Just open water.

But that open water flows over some VERY productive bottom, not readily apparent, unless you look for it. There are countless dropoffs, depressions, troughs and gentle rises and such that all can and will hold bait, especially squid, during the Summer fluking season.

And its particularly true that it is squid that brings us the big flatfish, late in the season. I have been told that the summer squid run is a different species than what is commonly seen during the Spring run, and I believe it. I think the two types are known as "Long Fin" and "Short Fin" - one of them is called "Loligo." Don't ask me which one that is, I really don't know. Or care either - because I'm pretty sure both types are equally tasty to Mr. Fluke. Just take it as gospel that as long as the squid gets here, the fluke will follow.

And not just the 15"-19.49" peewees either. Off Jones Inlet, my best fish of the year always comes during the month of August. ALWAYS. But there must be squid present to pull those quality fish, in any appreciable quantity to my area. This is the paramount point that I want to impart to you. No squid = no late-season open bottom fluke. Period.

Funny, but the offshore waters from Shinnecock Inlet to just south of F. I. Inlet seem to have fairly consistant action throughout the fluke season. Also to the West, the NY Bight, from the Tin Can/East Reef to Ambrose to Sandy Hook also has good fishing that you can pretty much bank on, if you put in the time and develop a game plan.

Its just my luck that my area, Jones Inlet & points south, a.k.a. "The Dead Sea," has very inconsistant ocean fluke fishing. But again, to be emphatic, on the deep offshore open bottom grounds, especially off Jones Inlet, no squid, no fluke. Find the bait, even here off Jones and you WILL find fish.

To fish this area of mine and do consistantly well is to PAY ATTENTION to what your bottom machine is telling you. of course just recognizing the quality drops is only half of the job. You still need a game plan.

So what does that mean as far as locating fish? Again, you have to find the squid of course. And how to do that? Run slowly along in water over say 45'or so and look hard at your fishfinder. A color machine with excellent bottom expansion abilities is all important here. Pick up the gain to the point that the screen starts to snow up and then back it off a squinch, 'til the snow just disappears. Note that this is NOT the way you would run a bottom machine if you were wreck hunting/fishing.

But of course that is not what you're trying to do here. What you are doing instead is looking for squid hanging just over the bottom. Watch carefully when you see a bottom drop - even if its only a few feet over say a hundred feet of linear boat travel - it could be indicative of a gradual drop-away. If you see any TINY white and light blue scratches suspended above the bottom, most especially from the very bottom to around 6' above it, you are gold. Odds are very, very good that the fluke have also found those same squiddies and are looking up at them hungrily while you are looking down. Pity those squid, because big fluke are VISCIOUS.

What you will need to do is to FIRST PUNCH THE SAVE BUTTON on your GPS, if so equipped, and then start scouting the area. This will establish a datum or "Ground Zero" to begin circling. What did you find? Is it a gradual drop from West to East? A well defined trough that runs parallel to the beach? A shallow depression (Or rise?), maybe surrounded by flat bottom? You need to invest some of your valuable fishing time into scouting.

You could of course just drop in with your rigs and hope for the best, but in my opinion that is certainly not the smart play. You want to completely understand how the bottom lays and then take note of the ambient conditons - tide and wind will determine your plan of attack.

NOW STOP THE DARN BOAT AND THINK FOR A LITTLE BIT - what would be the best way to fish your new found potential honey-hole? Are the conditions such that you can drift parallel to one of the trough or dropoff's slopes? Great, now you're talking. Run upwind or uptide (or, if you're incredibly lucky, both will be together) and drop in. Baiting or bucktailing, whatever you're doing, when you bang a fish, hit the "MOB" button on your GPS to save that spot as well and use it as a reference for fine-tuning your subsequent drifts.

Give the spot a fair chance and if you don't get immediate hits, make multiple drifts - if you see squid. It could well be that the fish are standing (sitting? lying?) pat, waiting for a specific part of the tide to bite.

Personally, I think its temperature related, but I could be wrong, I'm just not well versed enough in fish feeding stimuli to know the real answer, if one even exists. But like I wrote, I think its often a temperature thing. I find that many times the outgoing brings slightly warmer water to the offshore grounds and that turns on our flat friends, for example.

Plus that warmer water tends to back the dogfish off, a super important factor that I haven't yet addressed. There are years, pretty much every year these days, that the dogs will force you inshore to water less than 50' deep. They can be relentless. If you find them particularly viscious on the incoming, then leave the spot and come back on the outgoing - maybe two hours in and you might just be pleasantly surprised that the dogs have backed off. We see this all the time, from early-August on. Its got to be the warmer temp water moving offshore that pushes them back to even deeper water.

I can't begin to relate the number of times I've gone to a pet open bottom spot in the morning, say on the incoming, and caught zip - like there's not a fish in the area - maybe only some doggies. Had to go elsewhere, putz around a bit and then head back for the afternoon turn of the tide, and KA-BOOM!!, fluke slaughter.

Trust me, if you are seeing squid, the fluke are there - but might not be super aggressively feeding.

We could go into all kinds of things at this point - rigs, baits, proper tackle, proper boat technique, especially under less than ideal conditions - these are all components of a VERY complex subject - this ocean fluking.

And its certainly much more difficult than just drifting the various Inlet channel edges and back bay areas. But it CAN be super productive. I find it all to be quite challenging to whatever small skill level that I and my crew possess.

Some seasons off Jones, like last August (2006) for example, the summer squid never did show up. What a freakin' nightmare. It forced us, along with most other decent deep-water flukers in my area to look for the hard-bottom "resident" fish. Talk about a tooth-pull. We did get deep-water fish every trip last late-Summer. Some days I'd rate as "decent," but most were pretty slow.

Run, run, run from one wreck to another, to Cholera, to the Middle Grounds, the Angler Banks and back - burning barrels of fuel, losing tons of rigs to the rough bottom, and many of my cherised TRT lures (TRT = Tommy/Reelteaser) to the hangs . I hate losing lures that someone worked so hard to produce - forget the money, its no more than a cost of doing this type of fishing. Its just that the teasers are so pretty and some days we lose better than a half dozen each. Good for Tommy, bad for me, I guess. Wink

But I've digressed a bit, and the whole subject of broken-bottom fluking could very well command another few thousand words - and I'd still only be scratching the surface.

So, if you have any questions about that, or the original topic - which of course was open-bottom fluking, just go ahead and ask away. I'm always around . . . not to mention some very sharp other flukin' dudes stop by here too.

Best, Lep

"Hi, my name is Pete and I have a fishing gear problem."

This post edited by Leprechaun 11:00 PM 03/13/2012

Joined: 04/11/2005
Posts: 5748
Location: pikerville,new york
 posted 07/12/2007 11:07 PM  

wow....lep.great answer....thats a ton of great information

chief saloon and tavern inspector, pikers


i survived canyfest 2011  

Joined: 09/16/2003
Posts: 2001
Location: California
 posted 07/12/2007 11:32 PM  

Great reply!

What an education in fluking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joined: 07/12/2001
Posts: 2369
Location: Port Washington
 posted 07/13/2007 06:12 AM  

I dont fluke fish in the ocean , but WOW , great reply !!!


Delegate of the New York Coalition for Recreational Fishing

Member Montauk Surfcasters Association, LIBBA

Joined: 09/01/2002
Posts: 812
Location: islip
 posted 07/13/2007 06:19 AM  

lep, great stuff thanks!

"Back home we got a taxidermy man. He gonna have a heart attack when he see what I brung him. "

Joined: 11/19/2003
Posts: 250
Location: Staten Island
 posted 07/13/2007 06:28 AM  


Lep I wish you would have come fihing with me when I had access to a boat I might have caught a few. Now I understand wy 5 percent of fisherman catch 95 percent of the fish. great report!

It is just as important that buisness keep out of goverment as that goverment keeps out of buisness Herbert

Joined: 08/21/2006
Posts: 184
 posted 07/13/2007 08:48 AM  

Ocean fluke

Lep, Fantastic reply!!!!!!!!!

Joined: 11/07/2005
Posts: 878
Location: SouthEast Florida
 posted 07/13/2007 08:52 AM  

Well said Lep, You are truly an asset to this site!!!

Joined: 08/22/2001
Posts: 394
 posted 07/13/2007 09:24 AM  

Thx Lep...
Once again you've gone out of your way and taken the time to really describe your methodology in a way that someone new to the game can understand and use. I just picked up a Garmin GPS 545s combo unit for the boat, hope to have it installed this weekend, and I'm looking forward to using this tool to "learn" the terrain in the manner you described.

Thanks again
Gary Sinestra Club Member

Joined: 08/31/2001
Posts: 588
Location: Westbury
 posted 07/17/2007 08:24 PM  

Ocean Fluke

Lep-s reply really caught my eye since we both fish this area which is essentially 180 degrees or so south of Jones inlet depths in the 68-77' range if memory is correct. His treatise on the subject is a great start because it is an overview and yet steals its way into some excellent micro detail. I will just add a few "commoner" thoughts. I never fished this area until about 7 years ago. Coming back from Cholera and cbassing spotted some interesting terrain, bait marks and voila a quick 6 fish in the 20" range not bad for circa 2000. Before this I generally never fluked in much above 40'why i don't know.

As Lep said last year was tough out there the 3 year's before terrific at times fish to 8 pounds no 10's for me. One thing as you head 180 degrees out of the JI inlet you will see the gradually deepening of the water and then out of the blue maybe 5 -6 miles off the bottom comes abit from the mid 70's depth to maybe 70' not a bad spot to do your exploring. Some days (I am an old Loran user) coming back from Cholera I just keep marking spots -simple to do and then I match them up against existing numbers.

I keep my rigs prehistorically simple beyong child like in substance. Running line (braid or mon) to 3 way swivel dropper loop for sinker and a long almost 4 foot 30-40 lb test leader I sometimes use a circle hook sometimes not I experiement, I guess size 4 the regualr hooks are Gami' baitholders. I love jigging but it is a rare day I can do that in these depths I generally try a little, get frustrated and stop.

For bait you can use the whole squid tandem hook approach or I use very long pennants of Fluke belly 12" or so long two of them: one above the shank of the hook one at the hook barb. I notch a v in them and they flutter nicely, I use the white side I would think the dark side would work. Generally start with 6 oz of led and work my way up I stop at 10 oz. I dead stick 3 poles and wait for the unceremonius tug when I feel weight i drop back and give it a good hook set. I use braid for most of this fishing but I am experimenting with some basic Ande Mono just maybe that stretch isn't so bad afterall. .

I have a Grady Sailfish notorious for living up to its name as it sales in the wind ideal in a lesser wind situation- not so good in the fresh breeze. Very important regardless of what vessel you have is to have your lines running away from the boat in front of you. I am convinced down below in almost 80' drifting akwardly makes for a poor bait presentation. There have been times with 4 rods in the water: they don't look right up they come as fast as they went down. If action is slow I get a little hyper and jig the rods even with the 3 way rigs anything to entice em. Also, I'll turn one OB on give it some juice to move the lines a liitle faster sometimes that gets a few takers.

My favorite breeze is sw out there as you drift logically sw to NE you cover more of the water column that way.

I do fish Choloera and Middle Grounds for the bigger"mats" as Lep aluded to but that is another story and in many ways because of structure a whole different ball game.

Go back and read Lep's thoughts again, start doiing some homework on the bottom, get some numbers, good bait presentation and good luck regards and see you out there. Gary.

Gary korbel

Joined: 11/29/2000
Posts: 1468
 posted 07/17/2007 11:36 PM  

I believe the two types of squid are loligo and ilex.

"It seems the harder I fish the luckier I get"

F/V Emily S
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