Summer is almost in full swing and we are fishing!
When the ocean allows (not often lately), we are targeting sea bass with drop and reel action. Bay fluke fishing has been very good so far this year. We are finding fish as shallow as 2 feet of water. All fluke trips have brought back multiple keepers with consistent action. We had 5 nice keepers on Saturday and 3 keeps on Sunday, including a 28″ and 25″! We found a couple locations out of the wind, and worked our bucktails and Gulp!. Quality fish in the back bay!
We have weekday dates in the upcoming weeks available. We will work the bay for fluke and come July 1st, back to sea bass/fluke combo trips. All tackle, bait, rods, and ice is provided.
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Every spring, fluke make their annual migration from the continental shelf to the inshore waters and back bays. This trip to spawn and feed provides excellent fishing for amateur and avid anglers alike. This natural occurrence coincides with every fisherman’s itch to get back out and bend rods. Part of this “itch” gets me thinking about some familiar questions on Early Season Fluke Fishing.
Five W’s To Early Season Fluke Fishing
Who I am going to bring on my first trip? What baits will I use? When will the season open? Where will the flatties lie in wait? Why will I fish certain rigs, baits, tides, and areas?
As an English teacher, I stress to my students the importance of addressing the 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where and Why) in their writing. What follows are my “5- W’s” to Early Season Fluke Fishing.
Who is going fishing?
I figured I’d start with the easiest one – whomever you want! Kids, siblings, cousins, friends. Just be sure to enjoy the trip, have fun, and be safe. What makes a fishing trip most exciting? Catching fishing… Here’s some tips to help you better your fluke fishing game.
What setups and rigs to use?
My favorite bay fluke fishing rod is a 7′ medium action spinning rod with a comfortable cork grip. While some choose to fish a Ferrari, you’ll get the job done with a number of rod choices in the $50-$100 range. For example the Tsunami Classic Series and the Shimano Talavera Inshore Series.
For leader, I tie a 3 ft. leader of 20lb. fluorocarbon via a double uni knot to the braid. Many believe the difference between mono and fluoro is minimal, but I notice increased hookups with the non-reflective fluoro as my leader. Avoid snap swivels or Tactical Angler Clips and tie a double overhand loop knot to the end of the fluoro. This eliminates all terminal tackle in the rigs and allows increased feel from subtle taps – a trademark of sluggish early season fish. Plus, the double overhand loop knot allows you to easily swap out bucktails or jigs when color and weight changes are required.
Usually, I will tie a dropper knot 18” above the hook to add a bucktail teaser with Gulp!. I thread the dropper knot through the eye of the baitholder hook and present the teaser close to my main leader.
Another presentation variation for the teaser is to make a larger dropper knot, still 18” above the overhand, and cut one of the two lines coming from the knot, which will leave a single strand of line coming from the main leader. Tie a hook to the tag end. This longer teaser will trail about 10-12” from the mainline, sink closer to the bucktail on the bottom, and tempt the most timid fluke to strike.
Overall, a long teaser helps with those apprehensive early season bites. Cold water can lead to lethargic fish, with short strikes or mouthing (just putting the bait in their mouth and not swallowing). It is important to use baitholder hooks on the teaser (not the common octopus, kahle, or circle hooks) because the baitholders’ barbs hold the Gulp! on the shank of the hook to give a better presentation in the water. The Mustad 3400-BN is the perfect hook for this task. Remember, if nothing else is working, the old school “plain Jane” minnow on a 3-way rig, or the squid strip/minnow combo may just do the trick. You can use the octopus, kahle, or circle hooks on the 3-way rig. I prefer 3/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hooks.
If you’re familiar with the “match the hatch” strategy of the freshwater angler, apply it to the early season flatties. Outgoing tides will carry juvenile baitfish which are naturally smaller. So, go small with the baits in early season. Anything from 1/2oz. to 1 1/2oz. max on bucktails or jig heads – usually a white Andrus bucktail. Both will produce early season. Perennial productive colors and sizes, especially early season, are 3” and 4” Gulp! Swimming Mullet colored pink, green, or white. When fishing with other people, rig different color combos of bucktails and teasers until you figure out what the fish are chewing on. Start with green and white and go from there. On some days fluke only want one color and other days multiple colors work. If you are going to fish multiple days in a row, be sure to note the stomach contents when cleaning the day’s catch. Note what’s in their bellies and do your best to replicate it the next day.
When to fish?
Fish whenever you get the chance, but if you can be selective, know that tides, water temperature, and moon phase matter. The first 2 hours and last 2 hours of the outgoing tide typically produce most fish in early season. Those times within the tide stage also help with speed of the drift and water temperature. Take note of speed over ground (sog) on your machine. The most productive speeds for me are between 0.8knts. – 1.3knts. Finicky fluke also feed according to the fluctuating water temperatures. The ocean is usually still cold when fluke season opens, and the incoming tide commonly produces temperature drops ranging from 10-15 degrees compared to outgoing, warmer bay water. In early season, the incoming cold water will almost always shut the bite down. So, try to focus on fishing the outgoing tide when early season fluke fishing.
Many anglers swear by fishing the full moon. However, I’ve found that a couple of days before and after a full moon are not great bites. You may take fish at this time if you work hard enough, buy my logs indicate that it’s less than ideal.
Where to fish?
Fluke are predators. They lie in wait until the tide carries baitfish into their strike zone. Then they attack. For this reason, I will primarily work the channel edges first, which hold these adaptable hunters. Try to position the start of your drifts in shallower water, and allow the outgoing tide to carry the vessel into deeper channels.
Bites often happen as soon as the presentation drops from shallow to deeper water. As mentioned earlier, try to set up your drifts on the outgoing. Even in the bay I will always lay down a trail on my machine. After the first drift, note what, if any, setups were hit or caught fish. Pay attention to color, speed, location – whatever produced the first fish and/or bites. After the drift is done, run back to the start of the previous drift and position the boat for the same drift. Once strikes begin to happen, try your best to mimic exactly the conditions (speed, bait, color, size) to earn more hook ups. Again, take note which setups are producing and then change all rods to the producing rig. If after several drifts, nothing is producing, change locations, change colors, or change rigs.
Why target early season fluke?
I pride myself on keeping detailed logs. One recurring patter I noticed year to year, above all other factors, concerns what stage of the season I am fishing – early, middle, or end of the regulated fishery. I have found the opening 2-3 weeks of the season always has greater, quality hook ups. For the beginning of the season, the fluke have just finished a very long migration and are on the feed. Also, there are increased numbers because the fishery has not undergone much pressure early in the season. All these factors make for great early season fluke.
Early season fluke offer the opportunity for excellent sport and table fare while enjoying time on the water with family and friends. Now is the time to take inventory of your tackle, tie a variety of rigs, an do some maintenance on your gear. Visit your local tackle shops and stock up. Prepare now so when the fluke arrive, you’ll be set with a variety tactics to help load the box with quality flatties.
Fish With Old Barney Charters
Are you looking to get out fishing? Save the date now for your next fishing adventure. You will not only enjoy the day, you’ll learn a lot too. Give Captain Kevin Schmidt at Old Barney Charters a call today! 1-267-918-1746
Happy 4th of July! We are in full swing and so is fishing. The bay and wrecks are loaded with fish and some trips have seen 5 species bending the rods. The main target is bay fluke using bucktails, teasers, Gulp! and a live bait. The fish are abundant and we’ve seen multiple doubles on the teaser and bucktail, even with a keeper on one of them. The fish are starting to favor the incoming for the best bite. Wrecks are loaded with sea bass, ling, and even the occasional tog, which unfortunately doesn’t open again until 8/1. Wreck fishing is perfect for kids, and even the adults, as it is nonstop, immediate action. All 5 trips last week had clients leaving with fillets, including fluke, sea bass, ling, and blowfish. We still have some weekday trips available for the remainder of the summer, but they are becoming increasinly limited. All tackle, rods, bait and ice are included. Call, email, or text and come catch with us. Facebook! Captain Kevin Schmidt www.oldbarneycharters.com 267-918-1746 firstname.lastname@example.org
School is finally out and we are fishing. Before the sea bass closure we had Kyle Smith of Ridley, PA out with Barry, Dave, and Gary. The group had their 50 sea bass limit in a couple hours. In the afternoon, I took my family out to get in on the action before the close. The following day we had return clients Rich Krakowski out with his son Rich and friend Alex for a bay fluking trip. The group worked bucktails with Gulp! and live bait along channel edges. They boated 20 fluke with 2 keeps at 19.5″ and 18″ as well as a 14″ weakfish. We are fishing 7 days a week now. Sea bass opens again July 1 and we will be fishing combo sea bass/fluke trips throughout the summer. Many of our weekend dates are already full, but some weekdays still remain. All tackle, bait, and ice is included. Call or email and come out and catch with us! Old Barney Charters Captain Kevin Schmidt 267-918-1746
Ocean sea bass continues to provide consistent, immediate bent rods for us. All trips have quickly caught their limit of nice sea bass and we will continue to target wrecks for these tasty biscuits. After bending the rods we have been heading to the bay for fluke, working channel ledges, skinny water and deeper holes. Tides are key and outgoing bay water was pushing into the 80s this week with the heat, a bit too warm for the flatties to chew. We had 1 keeper on the last 2 trips and over 50 shorts. Lots of action but need the larger fish to feed. Soon the fluke will be moving out into the ocean and we will target the sea bass and fluke around wrecks and snags. Last year provided phenomenal ocean fluking for us and this year should be no different. We are fishing 7 days a week. Call, email, or text to book a trip. All tackle, bait, rods, and ice provided. Just show up to fish, catch, and have a great time on the water. Captain Kevin Schmidt www.oldbarneycharters.com 267-918-1746
The last few trips have seen many species aboard The Bonnie Anne. Last weekend we were on sea bass with Brian and Jim McGee and their father Jim Sr. on their annual Father’s Day trip. The group was on the sea bass and left with bags of fillets filled with sea bass and ling. Our first stop had throw back after throw back. It was our 3rd stop that was holding nice hump heads for the group. Father’s Day I was out with “The” Bonnie Anne and our 3 boys, ages 8, 6, and 2. We hit sea bass for an hour and the kids put 8 in the box and then we played with cocktail blues using metals at the inlet. Perfect Father’s Day. Sea bass opens again on July 1st.
This weekend I had Janet and Rich Krakowski out with sons Rich and Alex. This was their first time ever bucktailing for fluke and Janet’s first time ever fishing. We hit channel edges on the outgoing at the north end. The group put 3 keepers in the box at 18”, 19”, and 20.5”. The fish didn’t seem to prefer a certain color and all Gulp! colors produced. The group finished with over 20 fish, a couple 3ft. houndfish and a sundial.
School is out and we are fishing weekdays now! We use top quality rods, reels, and tackle, provide all bait, and ice. Just show up and have a great time catching fish! Call or email to book.
Ocean fluke fishing continues to be phenomenal. Working structure with large Gulp! and live bait are producing for us.
Sunday I had return client Mark Harvey of Perkasie, Pa out with his sons Ian and David. We put 5 keeps (22″, 22″, 19″, 18″, 18″) in the boat and had 20 fluke working wrecks for a few hours.
Yesterday, I had Andrew Benson of Glenside, PA, Kyle Scherrer of Chicago, IL, and Kyle Shea of Warminster, PA out for the last fluke trip before I head back to school. They made it count with 6 keepers to 8.5lbs!! The fish measured 26.5″, 26″, 25″, 22″, 20″, and 18″. The 3 biggest were 8.5lbs, 8lbs., and 6.25lbs.!!! With little wind, we were able to fish close to structure.
I head back for school tomorrow and will be back to fish Friday and Saturday (9/1 and 9/2) before the season closes. I’m also booking for fall stripers. I recently picked up our 25 bonus tags for slot stripers, have spot ordered, and looking to use them all. If you want to reserve a date for a striper trip, we will be fishing weekends beginning 10/28.
Fish are stacked in the channels close to the inlet and ready to move out. The ocean fluking has really started to turn on and we have been doing well with the fluke. Fishing structure has been successful for us. Big baits and gulp have been best.
Today I fished with my family and the boys killed it! 8 keeper fluke, a sea bass and cocktail blue. My 11 year old nephew Sean from Boston, MA led the way with a 24.5″ as well as catching his limit! Kids had a blast today!
Monday I had return clients Mark and Tara Harvey of Perkasie, Pa out with their son David for a sea bass/fluke trip. First, we worked a wreck and had 5 keeper sea bass along with many shorts. Mark added a nice 21″ fluke to the cooler to round out their catch.
Friday afternoon I had new client Jamie Dench of Scranton, PA out with his kids Luke (10) and Bella (5). Luke boxed a nice 18.5″ and lead the way with 10+ fish on our quick afternoon trip. Bella helped reel in a fish that just made 18″. The trio had many fish working the bay channels near the inlet.
Friday morning I had return client Mike Pinto from Ridley, PA with friends Dave, Anthony, and newcomer Barry. With the slowed bay bite, we moved to structure in the ocean. We caught 3 keeps in the ocean to 20.5″ along with a single sea bass. Mike added a 4th keep on a few quick bay drifts.
Thursday I had repeat charter Ed McGinnis of Princeton, NJ out with his wife Cheryl and sons Connor and Brock. We had to work a variety of areas in the bay to find feeding fish. We did manage 2 keepers at 18″ and 20.5″.
We have a few openings next week for bay or ocean fishing. All tackle, bait, ice, and fish cleaning provided. Call or email to book.
The fluke fishing is fantastic! After taking a few day vacation with the family we are back on the water. We are hitting the bay, using bucktails in anywhere from 2.5-15ft. of water, and boxing flatties. Our last 3 trips combined had over 100 fish caught with 14 keeper fluke! Action is almost non-stop and now is the time to get out fishing!
Thursday I had Frank Mancini of Abington, PA with his son Dominic (11) and Perry DelRossi, also from Abington, with his sons Luke (11) and Jake (9) out for fluke. The group worked bucktails in the bay and boxed 4 keepers in addition to catching 40+ fish. Perry caught the largest at 21″, but 11-year-old Dominic stole the show with 2 keepers – his first ever! Luke also added a keep to the cooler. Friday was a family fluke day with my kids Eric (7) and Owen (5), nephews Patrick (13) and Sean (11), and my mother in law. Owen stole the show boating 3 keepers up to 21″. 5 years old and limited out on fluke!! Millie added a 4th keeper to the box. We worked some new bucktail color combinations today and it paid off, catching 30+ fish in 3.5 hrs.
Saturday I had out regular charter Kyle Smith of Ridley, PA with friends Mike, Dave, and Gary. Usually, we first hit sea bass, but with the great fluke bite we went straight to the flatties. Good thing we did, because they put 6 in the box up to 21.5″. In previous trips, keeper fluke have eluded Mike, but not today. He added his 1st keeper to the box, followed by a 2nd, and a 3rd! Kyle and Dave added other 3 keeps.
The bay fluke continues to be hot and ocean fluking should just get better from here to the end. We have openings this week. Check us out on Facebook, our website, and call to book a trip.
The fluke fishing in the bay continues to provide excellent action. We have been using gulp and various live baits. The colder incoming ocean water has definitely out-fished the outgoing.
Sunday I had Jim and Linda Henderson of High Bar Harbor, NJ out to celebrate Linda’s birthday. The bay fluke were not cooperating and several spots weren’t producing (2 close at 17.5″). We headed to ocean and Linda reeled in our only keeper at 19″. Jim caught a lot of fluke but his highlight was a very large stargazer!
Monday I had Matt Bailey of Coopersburg, PA with his kids Madison and Jay and their friend Damien Szlachta out for fluke. We found 3-5lb. blues at the inlet and played with them for a while. Matt had a 10+lb. that snapped the line at the boat (we saw it at least). Our first ocean location was terrible. We moved to the bay and after a slow start the bite improved. Madison showed the guys how it was done, catching 2 keeper fluke at 18″ and 18.5″. Damien was high hook with 15+ fish and ended with a 19″ fish on our last drift. Everyone kept the bucktails moving and did a great job!
Wednesday I had John Conzelman of Jamison, PA out with his brother Bob and Uncle Bob for fluke. The crew worked the fish, catching close to 50 fish and 4 keepers ( biggest at 20″) making the trip back to the dock. They had 5 fish very close being over 17.5″ and just shy of 18″.
The ocean fluke bite should start soon and with sea bass there are options to do combo trips. Contact us and come out for a great day on the water fishing! 267-918-1746