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Spring Showers Bring May Flounder
By Rich Johnson

Cold winds and lots of rain have resulted in short tempers and a serious urge to get on the water as boat repairs; launches as well as the fishing have been delayed weeks because of it. I mentioned in a past column how many of the area’s party boats from Captree to Sheepshead Bay struggled to catch flounder this spring. When they get a good bite, it’s followed by a week of terrible weather and poor fishing. As a matter of fact the following boats in Captree have switched to fluke.

The Capt Rod (631-587-7316) is a full day boat sailing at 8 a.m. from the left side of the Captree dock returning around 3 p.m. The Island Princess (631-587-4054) or sails half days at 7 a.m. and noon. The JIB VI (631-587-1194) sails half days at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Susan Ann (631-758-0756) sails half-day trips at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. However over the last decade the best winter flounder fishing has occurred in late April or the month of May and this season will be no different.

However boats like the Jib VI and the Captree Princess (631-859-8799 / have a habit of sailing afternoon flounder trips after their morning fluke trip is complete. Why? Because winter flounder stack up in the Sore Thumb awaiting the next moon to usher them out of Fire Island Inlet into cooler ocean waters. If you saw the spring flounder television show I did with Joe Gullo of West End Bait and Tackle (516-889-4393) in Long Beach in May of the 2002 season, you saw us wailing away at flounder with a total catch of 25 flounder in 2-1/2 hours. Using a 5-gallon chum put filled with clam chum and clam bellies, we ambushed flounder around a back bay point leading to the deeper water of the channel.

This is a typical spring migration route for flounder. If you can find their exit point from the bay, you can stay with them for the week to two-week period it takes for them to move out of the bay. Each couple of days they moved another 100 yards or so down the channel. To the west that would be Reynolds Channel from the Long Beach Trestle to Duck Point, to the Atlantic Beach Bridge and the dock pilings along the south side of the channel.

According to Capt. Chuck Adams, on staff at Causeway Bait and Tackle (516-785-3223 / in Wantagh, this starts right about now on the southeast side the 3rd Wantagh Bridge as these fish exit the Zach’s Bay area of the state boat channel right on that turn into the bridge. “Winter flatties will stage at this area of the bridge for a few days to a week, then move through the bridge and stay a few days on the southwest side of this bridge, before moving along the south side of the bay to the Jones Beach Piers, Squaw Island and eventually the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station,” Capt. Adams says.

Flounder seem to prefer the firmer, sandy bottom areas, as opposed to the mud they seek in the early spring and 12 to 15-foot of water is about the norm with the exception of the 5-foot depths of Squaw Island where for some reason, they like that too. Water temps are normalized and more stable and flounder are more intent on feeding and moving rather than spawning, so the bite can be fast and furious at times,”

A call to Amity Harbor also gave us similar info. “These flounder are stacked up in certain staging areas with the 3rd Wantagh Bridge and the Sore Thumb two of the best places I know of to ambush flatties on their way out. The afternoon outgoing tides seem to produce best, although when flounder put the feedbag on they can bite through both tides and there is no such thing as too much chumming for flounder as they will constantly eat their way through it like termites through wood. There is no stopping them at times. They will lay back in a hard running current with larger fish coming to the pot at this time while the smaller fish will move to the pot on the slower running part of the tide,” Bob added.

Back to the west, Joe Gullo at West End Bait and Tackle agreed. “Here we see a definite move along the sandy bottom as they aggressively feed and concentrate on migrating to the cooler ocean, although these feeding patterns can change from tide to tide and day to day. It may be incoming one day on sandworms, and outgoing the next day or tide with bloodworms. Look for fish in either area to be in 10 to 15-foot of water or deeper in the holes they pass along the way, but again for a short periods of time. Stay with them and move with them and you can have this terrific flounder action for two weeks or more while everyone else is fluking. Either way bring plenty of bait and a 5-gallon chum pot and you will be in flounder heaven as April Showers do indeed bring May Flounder!


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