By Captain John Curry
As a general rule I don’t use much live bait on my charters on Cape Cod. Sure there’s times like when we have kids out that a bag of squid comes in handy, but unless I’m drifting crabs for Tarpon or chumming for Sharks down here on Boca Grande once I’m back on the Cape its mainly Flies and artificial baits. As most of you know I love soft plastics and I have developed techniques that in most cases will out produce live bait without all the hassle and mess. One such species that I have found to take soft plastics is our Summer Flounder or Fluke as their better known. Fluke are more aggressive than your typical Winter Flounder and as ambush feeders knowing the right conditions and bait that they are feeding on is the first step in
changing your tactics to include soft plastics in your arsenal. Once you try this technique you will find out like I did the fish coming over the rail are generally much bigger than fish caught on live bait. Gear you’ll need: I use 7’ medium action spinning rods with good backbone and a light tip flex. Paired with a 4000 series reel spooled with 15-20lb braid is all you’ll need. I use 20lb fluorocarbon leader of about 3.5’ in length. Since I’m mainly fishing over 15-30’ of water I don’t need a heavy jig and most of what I use is in the 1/8 ounce to ¼ ounce size. I feel a slower sink rate actually helps in this application. I like soft plastics in 4”-6” sizes and ha
ve found that the color of Joyce for big Fluke is pink. However, white and new penny colors also work well. I like the Hogy 6” skinny as my go to bait, but have also done well with Bill Hurley sand eel baits. Have an assortment and even include a pack of Gulp shrimp handy if they get finicky. These baits can mimic a variety of forage species from squid, sand eels, silversides and mantas shrimp. Location, location, location: I’m not talking prime real estate here, but rather prime bottom structure that Fluke prefer. First of all a moving tide is a must. I like to fish the last half of the incoming tide and the first half of a dropping tide. I look for contour breaks were the tide will be moving up and over a hump that is between 20’-25’ deep. Fluke like to hang on the front edge of a hump as the tide brings bait to them for a quick ambush meal. Another factor that comes into play is the time of day and cloud cover. Fluke are more active as the sun get’s higher and a bright cloudless day is perfect. Find 58- 75 degree water temp and you’re in business. This is not an early morning bite and in most cases and if your tide is moving mid day that’s best. The presentation: The technique is rather simple and there’s no long casting involved. No need to anchor as this is a drift over short runs approach. I like to start off many yards up current from the likely target zone. I like to stem the tide a little with my Minn Kota trolling motor to keep our lines more vertical through the drift. If you don’t have that luxury a drift sock also works well. I instruct my clients to simply drop their baits to the bottom. Keep an eye on your line in the event of any slight changes or “taps” indicating a fluke has grabbed it before the lure hits bottom. If not then it’s a simple raising and lowering of the rod tip in slow sweeps to make the bait move up off the bottom and then settle back down as we drift. The take is more subtle than expected and often it feels like your dragging weeds when it’s actually a fish swimming with your lure in its mouth. Set the hook firmly and keep your drag pretty tight. Fluke are notorious for shaking the hook on the surface so I ask my clients to keep them under the surface until I’m ready to land them. This artificial strategy paid off big many times over the past few seasons when I have clients that want to target big Fluke. We even limited out with 3 guys last June on fish all over 20”. Who know what the Fluke regulations will be in 2017, but I know one thing big Fluke love soft plastics.
Capt. John Curry can be reached at www.capefishing.net or firstname.lastname@example.org.