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Montauk Monster Fluking
By Rich Johnson

Fluking has always been one of my favorite types of fishing. They fight hard, are usually easy to catch and you can catch them a variety of ways. Whether you bucktail, drift live, wpe16.jpg (5963 bytes)dead or strip baits or fly fish, fluke offer fantastic action from the time they start in the spring till they depart in the fall. It’s rare that anybody goes fluking and doesn’t catch anything that’s how reliable fluke can be. When we go fishing, the image of a real trophy fish dances through everybody’s mind. Fluke fishermen are no different and everyone including myself is looking the doormat of a lifetime. Doormats are fluke that run over 10 pounds, although as their numbers decrease, many folks have started to call fluke of only 6 to 7 pounds doormats. I still believe a fluke has to be over 10 pounds to qualify.

The best and more dependable places for BIG fluke or what we call "doormat country" is the twin forks of Long Island. During the month of May and June, some of the largest fluke on the East Coast are caught in Montauk or out of Orient Point on the North Fork of Long Island. With this in mind it was off to Montauk with the television crew in tow to film what I hoped would be my first true doormat.

For the last five years I always fished on the North Fork of Long Island with the late Bob wpe15.jpg (8619 bytes)Wassuta of We Go Fishing B&T in search of my doormat for TV. This year with Bob not with us anymore, I decided to try and change my luck and head to Montauk so I met Capt. Joe McBride and co-captain Mark Marose of the My Mate charter boat at their berth in the Montauk Yacht Club. It was 6 a.m., the sun was up and the wind a gentle (for Montauk) northwesterly at 10 knots. Today’s trip would be off the south side of Montauk from the middle of town or the "trailer park" area along the cottages and to the Point itself in anywhere from 40 to 65 foot of water. This was a deepwater excursion for big fluke and the bait would be large as well. Today’s bait was six to eight-inch bluefish or bunker strips about two inches wide and split at the tail for more action in the water.

The tackle included Abu-Garcia Ambassdeur reels of 6500UC with 20-pound Fireline and the 7000 model spooled with 30-pound Big Game line. On the 30-pound mono I needed 10 to 12 ounces to hold bottom and the Fireline only six to eight ounces. The rod for the larger 7000 Ambassadeur was a Seeker BA85-7 that handled beautifully and for the 6500UC I used a heavy freshwater musky rod.

I now use Daiichi hooks model D18Z in offset style in the 5/0 to 7/0 size, tied to a two-foot length of mono leader to the baited hook. In other words we tied a standard wpe18.jpg (7848 bytes)fluke rig but you can use a pre-packaged fluke rig if you prefer and for that I use Dolphin/FJ Neil Tackle for all my rigs. When on the drift we used strip baits with live killies to add a little movement, but I had my doubts as I don’t think a killie could move these strip baits because they were huge. When we reached the fishing grounds it was time to send the lines to the bottom and immediately we started to hook up. The fish were all keepers of 17 to 22 inches and probably weighed in the neighborhood of 2 to 3-1/2 pounds. Very good fishing and the action relegated to short and repeated drifts over the one small area we were working. Once we caught a dozen fish or so and I had enough to make a good television program, we the started to concentrate on larger fluke.

To do so, Captain Mark Marose showed me an interesting technique; very similar to jigging bluefish except we were not using diamond jigs. This jigging technique is quite simple yet very unorthodox for fluke fishermen using baited hooks. Using our bluefish strips without live killies for this technique, we lowered the baits to the bottom, made sure our lines were tight and the reels engaged in gear. It was then started jigging the entire rig off the bottom in hard upsweeps of the rod causing the bait and rig to jerk off the bottom. This was an amazing technique and even the smaller fluke hit the baits harder than they would on the drift. It was if the baits were alive and jumping off the bottom, the fluke couldn’t resist and the hit it with the intent of eating the whole bait, not just hanging on the back as they do with large strip baits on the drift.

The technique of jigging the fluke rigs paid off big time and while I did not get my doormat, we did manage a couple of fluke over 5-1/2 pounds and several between 3 and 4 pounds. All in all we totaled 35 fluke to 5-1/2 pounds in just five hours and that doesn’t include the shorts we threw back. This action for big fluke is best between May and the end of June so I would suggest getting in the car and heading east to either Montauk or the North Fork. If you want to fish Montauk, call Capt. Joe McBride at 631-329-0973 or Capt. Mark Marose at 631-668-6773. On the North Fork call Capt. Dave Lawrence of the Celtic Horizon at 631-734-4295 (www.celtichorizon.com). For big fluke party boat style call the Viking Fleet at 631-668-5700 or www.vikingfleet.com.

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