By most accounts, the last few years have been tougher than usual for fluke. There could be any number of reasons why that might be, but the early part of the season can be a reliable producer because of the influx of spring baitfish. Fluke show a particularly deep love for squid. Fishing beneath, what many seasoned anglers refer to as, ‘squid clouds’ is a tried, true and accepted practice for hooking those first few flatties of the season, but not everyone knows where to start, let’s allow some experts to steer us in the right direction.
Capt. TJ Karbowski from Rock and Roll Charters running out of Clinton said that the spring fluke bite has been way off for more than a decade in his area, but if he had to catch a fluke in May he would make the run to Mattituck and look for clouds of bait on the screen.
Kerry Douton from J&B Tackle in Niantic suggests fishing a spot in Peconic Bay called ‘The Lawns’ it’s just on the inside of Shelter Island and produces good numbers of early season fluke.
Capt. Greg Dubrule from The Black Hawk running out of Niantic said they see some really nice fluke coming out of Niantic Bay every spring. He said it can be a grind catching them sometimes, but there are a lot of really nice fish inside the bay in the early part of the season.
Andrew from Fishin’ Factory 3 in Middletown said it depends heavily on the arrival of squid, but you can’t go wrong fishing off of Isabella Beach in May and finding the bait is always going to increase your odds.
Harrison from Watch Hill Outfitters in Westerly said the first fluke they see almost always come from Misquamicut. He went on to say that the guys that target the deep water behind some of the reefs—80 plus feet of water—often come out with the biggest fish of the spring. He also said blue jigs work best and recommends the Jackpot Digger Jigs which are made by a family-owned business in Westerly and are available at the shop.
The new owners at Breachway Bait and Tackle in Charlestown said they like to fish dropoff from Nebraska Shoal during the early season, focusing specifically on the transitions between bottom types.
Over at Snug Harbor Marina Elisa says that the first spot to find a keeper fluke is inside the East Wall, near the fish trap. She said there are a lot of shorts there and the bite doesn’t always last a long time, but it’s reliable spot to try for that first keeper fluke of the season
Ralph Craft from Crafty One Customs in Portsmouth said fluking hasn’t been as good the last few years but if he had to find one early season he’d find some of the sand patches south of Elbow Ledge and fish there. He recommends being prepared for tog too, because if the fluke aren’t there, you can motor up into the rocks drop a few crabs and save the day with some tog.
AJ from Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay said they don’t see many fluke up close to the Canal until a little later in the season but he said there are a few ledges off of New Bedford, Wilkes Ledge and North Ledge that will produce some good catches right after the Massachusetts season opens in late May. One of the shop guys had a 10-pounder there a few years ago during the first week of the season.
The guys from Dick’s Bait and Tackle on Martha’s Vineyard said they don’t usually see fluke until Memorial Day Weekend, but said that the place where they usually show up first is around Lucas Shoal or Middle Ground. Look for schools of sand eels and fish near the bait.
The guys from Falmouth Bait and Tackle in Falmouth said they usually hear about the first big ones coming from Davis Shoal behind Nantucket, they said that area typically gets really hot in early June, but said the fish are there much sooner. Shore guys should try Minot Beach.