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Fishing For Fluke

Expert tips and where to find them!

Fluke (or summer flounder) is great in Rhode Island. Big fish can be caught all along and off our southern coastal shores and in the lower part of Narragansett Bay around and south of the Jamestown and Newport Bridges.

This year and next year should be good fluke fishing years because according to Jason McNamee of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Marine Fisheries Division 2009 was an outstanding year for new fluke and these fish have now likely grown to legal size.

Fluke is a species regulated by the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission and Rhode Island DEM. The minimum size limit is Rhode Island is 18 inches; this is a liberalization from last year when the minimum size was 18.5 inches. Anglers are allowed to take eight fish/person/day. The season runs from May 1 to December 31.

Power-drifting can yield big fluke

When wind and current are not in line it is difficult to fluke fish. Both of these are needed to establish a good drift for fluke fishing so you drag your bait over the front of the fish first. Fluke (or summer flounder) set-up looking into the current for prey that is drifting by. So if you drag your bait over their back first they will not have enough time to see your bait and go for it as it will drift by too quickly from behind.

For anglers still wanting to fish for fluke when wind and tide are not in the same direction, one possible solution is to power-drift your boat in the same direction as the current. This involves putting the vessel in and out of gear slowly trying to mimic the strength of the current.

Last year, Rhode Island Saltwater Angler Association members Dave Sweet and Craig Picard tried to fish for fluke. Dave said, “Wind and tide made the drift not so great, but we have gotten pretty good at the “power drifting” technique, and it paid off … with my personal best eight pound fluke.”

One day last June I attempted to fluke fish when the wind and current were not in line. So I power-drifted fishing the high/low edges at Austin Hollow an underwater valley off Jamestown and it paid off with a 23” fluke.

So when wind and current are not in line and you want to fish for fluke, consider power-drifting.

Additional fluke tips from the experts

Last year, I interviewed some of the top fluke experts in Rhode Island. I asked them for fluke fishing tips we could pass along to readers. The experts included charter fishing guides and Captains Rick Bellavance, Jim White, John Rainone, Robb Roach, Charlie Donilon, Rich Hittinger, George Cioe, several excellent fluke anglers, and bait and tackle shop owners. Here’s what they had to say:

Fluke fishing tips

  • Drifting with wind and tide going in the same direction is the key to catching fluke.
  • Fluke set up looking into the current to feed which means you have to drag the bait over the fluke from boat or shore.
  • Fish low/high or high/low breaks on the bottom. Fluke like most other fish like structure. The largest fish are often on channel banks, drop offs, etc. So you want to fish these breaks.
  • Match the hatch tipping with squid, blue fish, bass, silversides, mummies, minnows.
  • Jigs and trailer teasers 36” long placed a foot above the jig work well.
  • Once you find the fish, repeat the same pattern… note location and depth you are catching them at and repeat this pattern as the fish are likely in the same spot.
  • Power drift (putting the boat in and out of gear to move slowly) at slack tide.
  • Troll perpendicular when wind and tide are not ideal, you will at least get your bait in front of some of the fish, some of the time.
  • My personal favorite is a big bait… Capt. Monti’s fluke cocktail… a rubber squid rig tipped with squid, fluke belly and horizontal minnow.

Favorite Places to catch fluke

Look for drop offs, structure, the banks of channels, and deep water particularly in the warm weather, in spring time they tend to be in lower depths. Favorite places to catch fluke include:

  • Channel breaks in and around Warwick Neck light.
  • Channel breaks on the northeast side of the Jamestown bridge.
  • Areas off the north west corner of Dutch Island.
  • Underwater valley off the southeast side of Dutch Island.
  • Areas off URI’s Bay Campus.
  • Austin’s Hollow (an underwater valley) off the west side of Jamestown.
  • Beavertail in deep water off the west side.
  • Off southern Rhode Island coastal beaches… Watch Hill, Charlestown, in front of the five cottages, etc.
  • Off the center wall of the Harbor of Refuge.
  • Off Newport at any number of deep water brakes.
  • At the mouth of Hull and Mackerel Coves off Jamestown at the drop-offs.
  • Off Block Island… the North Rip, Cow Cove on the north end, along the State beach on the east side, south side of the Island.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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