Nantucket Shoals: Home Of The Doormats!

“Jimmy the Greek” from On Time Sportfishing charters in Yarmouth, Massachusetts shows off a nice summer flattie taken earlier this year at Nantucket Shoals. Photo courtesy of On Time Sportfishing.


By Tom Schlichter

“For anglers looking to hook-up with the fluke of a lifetime, there’s no spot more likely to bring success these days than Nantucket Shoals, Massachusetts. Action for summer flounder has absolutely sizzled here for the last several years, with many anglers drilling doormats weighing 8, 10 or 12 pounds and heavier.

“This truly is an amazing place when it comes to catching outlandish summer flatties,” said Capt. Demetrios Koutalakis, also known as “Jimmy the Greek.” He runs On Time Sportfishing ( out of Yarmouth, Massachusetts and launches from various local ramps based on weather conditions.

“The action is generally fast-paced with typical keepers running 20 to 24 inches long and a disproportionate number of bigger fish in daily catches,” said Koutalakis. “It’s not unusual to see a double-digit doormat hit the deck in these waters. We had a 14.4-pounder yesterday, released a 14.9-pounder last week, and had two over 15 pounds last year.”

Nantucket Island is roughly 16 to 17 miles from Koutalakis’ typical departure sites in the Bass River area. From there, the fish can be anywhere southwest of the island from up tight to 7 or 8 miles out and beyond. The entire area features a hilly bottom that’s more gravel than sand or rock. In the spring, squid and mackerel get swept through the shoal waters by strong currents and the big fish show up in hot pursuit. By mid-summer, sand eels dominate the baitfish scene and the fluke fishing settles in to a steady, consistent pattern that runs right through August and into September.

“It’s the combination of the hills, currents and baitfish that give this place big fish appeal,” explained Koutalakis. “The biggest fluke, especially, like to settle into the gullies and wait for the current to bring the bait right across their noses. The water depths where I like to fish typically vary from 30 to 60 feet deep, and the best action moves around from day to day based on bait movements. So it really helps to have a skipper who is out working this area on a daily basis. It also helps a lot that the waters here are slow to change temperature, so small cold fronts or a couple of hot days generally don’t dampen the bite. I think the big fish really like that.”

Koutalakis favors a hi-low rig with 6- and 8-ounce Berkeley bucktails tipped with 5- or 6-inch Berkley Gulp! Grubs or Swimming Mullets. He’ll spool up with 20- to 30-pound test Berkley X9 braided line on a fast retrieve reel. Typically, white, chartreuse and Nuclear Chicken color grubs work best but this year pink shine seems to have an edge. “More important than color choice,” he advised, “is keeping your rig active and bouncing all the time. Big fluke will follow a bait being dragged smoothly across the bottom—but they’ll absolutely SMASH a jig with exaggerated action.”

If you’d like to give this super fluking a shot, you are best off using a professional skipper to reach the grounds. For those traveling overnight, Koutalakis suggests staying at the Wind Drift Hotel ( in Yarmouth. If you’d like to sample these waters via a party boat, the Helen H Fishing Fleet in Hyannis ( offers both one- and two-day trips.

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