Fluke - a Very Civilized Fish

In the northeast we call them fluke but from southern NJ south they’re known as flounder. Another name here is summer flounder, that’s because we also have true flounder. Using a kayak to go fluke fishing is about as easy as it can get. I have to admit I hadn’t done much of it and most of my fluking was via party boats out of Montauk or rental skiff also on the east end of Long Island. Lots of the local kayak guys would regularly go out fluking and I started joining them this year. Let’s face it while fluke are an aggressive predator it’s not about the fight. As my buddy Bill says his favorite part of fluke fishing is eating them. I have to admit, I don’t let keepers go either. They’re just too yummy.

Ken, Peter and Paul with some great eats

My first trip this season was a day we arranged on the forums at KFM. All totaled 16 of us launched at various times from Port Monmouth, NJ on Raritan Bay. Turns out a storm took out half the parking lot so the county cut a kayak launch opening. It makes it one of the better launches along the bay. What’s nice is it gives access to a variety of spots. Just to the east is the Belford channel. About a mile or so straight out is the main Raritan Bay channel. To the west just off of Port Monmouth jetty is a deep area called the ‘Sock’. That’s because it looks like a sock on the charts. There are a couple deeper areas just west of there too.

All the bays hold fluke until they leave in the fall for their offshore wintering. My buddy Kayakjohn fishes Manasquan Bay regularly and my buddies down south fish the various bays and inlets all the way to Cape May. What’s especially nice is usually the fluke grounds are very close to the launch. At Port Monmouth we catch fish about a half mile from the launch on average and some days they’re only a hundred yards out.

Fluking from a kayak is great especially when fishing shallower water like we were in Port Monmouth. Our average depth was less than 10 feet. Everyone is using Gulp! these days and sometimes color matters but often it doesn’t. You can’t go wrong with chartreuse, pink or white in sand eel or 4” mullet styles. The easiest way to go about it is to use a jig tipped with Gulp! The weight jig you use depends on the wind and how heavy line you’re using. It usually takes at least 1/2 oz. and you may have to go as heavy as 1-1/2 oz. The other way to go is with a sinker and hook set up. Use some means to attach a sinker clip a couple feet above anywhere from one to 3 hooks. Use at least a 2/0. I’ve used a two hook rig with a 3/0 circle hooks and it works well. What’s nice about this rig is you can use different types and colors of Gulp! You also have the ability to easily change weights for changing conditions too.

I recall several years back when I convinced my buddy Jimmy to get a pedal drive kayak. One of his first trips was fluking in the ocean when tide and wind weren’t cooperating. He called me afterwards and said the ability to easily troll made all the difference and he hammered the fish. He said it was one of the best day’s fluking he could recall and he felt he would not have had that kind of success in his old paddle kayak or a boat. Pedal driven kayaks offer a great advantage in wind and other trying conditions. Even better are electric kayaks. Many days we slow troll (1 mph) the entire time we’re on the water fluking.

Fluke are notorious for coming off the hook. A soft rod works great. I take two out with me. One is the lightest TFO conventional rod and I’ve got a Cabo 20 spooled with 20# Fireline. My leader is 15# fluorocarbon. The other outfit is a spinner. It’s a fiberglass rod that I built in the 70s. The softness of the rod is perfect for this type of fishing. I have a bait runner on it. One must have item is a large net. So many fish escape at the kayak. Keep the fish in the water and scoop them up.

Getting back to the group assault, some of use ended up over by the sock. I was in that group. We caught a bunch of fish to 5 pounds. One of the guys even hooked a sea turtle. It was a lot of fun and being in a big group you got to see what worked and didn’t and we were able to cover more water. The other group hit the Belford channel. They did even better. Capt Krav got a true doormat. When we put it on the scale it went over 10 pounds! Shipwreck had a 5 and as I said earlier there were lots of keepers. Everyone seemed to have one or two. Ironically I didn’t land a keeper but friends who had full freezers sent me home with 4 fish. Since that first trip I’ve gone several times and I’ve always come home with a keeper or two.

If you’re like me and you haven’t given kayak fluking a shot you’re missing a good time on the water. It’s so easy and I think after you try it you’ll be hooked.


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