Be ready and prepared for the fluke opener.
Preparing for the fluke season opener can reduce the stress of being ill-prepared when it’s time to get the lines in the water. More readiness and organization result in maximized effort that puts more keepers in the cooler.
Motors To Maintain
For boaters, the main engine should be started multiple times well before fluke season officially begins. Turning the boat in for repairs during May and June when marine mechanics are at their busiest can cause a huge delay in obtaining flatty fillets.
It’s not just the main engine. Those running trolling motors on fluke missions should do several test runs to ensure the trolling motor and related electronics are in full working order. Rhodan, Minn Kota, Motor Guide and others will do their best to fix issues upon request, but time is of the essence. With product delays on parts and service becoming a regular thing, figuring out what the trolling motor needs, well ahead of time, could make or break your early season runs.
Another important motor for summer flounder season is that of the livewell pump. I’m an unabashed live bait fan and there’s nothing worse than losing the ability to carry loads of frisky offerings with a true raw water exchange. Failing impellers and the fragrance of fried pumps are part of the live bait game. I always have a backup stashed in my garage.
Attack The Tackle
Hopefully everyone used the offseason to repair their reels at home or place them with a reputable company to do just that. For those trying to milk along older, more compromised reels, it may be time to move on, or at least supplement the old workhorses with new editions. Again, it’s best to pick up reels sooner rather than later in case expected delays in distribution continue to come to fruition. Rod tips and guide repair is more of a winter job, but it can be done expeditiously in the weeks leading up to fluke season if needed, as long as you aren’t depending solely on the local tackle shop that is beginning their busiest weeks. Think ahead and get out in the garage to see what needs service.
Inspecting and re-spooling braided line may or may not be necessary depending on the abuse it took during the prior season—newer generations of braid hold up longer. Removing any frayed or worn sections is a must, however.
Bucktails and jigs should be stockpiled from previous seasons or the offseason buying campaign. Having models in all shapes, weights and colors gives anglers full fluke readiness. Additional presentations can be picked up throughout the season, but it’s best to be locked and loaded when the starting gun fires.
What’s more, sinkers, leader line, hooks and swivels should find their home in tackle bags and vessel compartments. For those who fish rigs on a regular basis, it’s great to have them tied and ready as opposed to scrambling the night before. I’ve done it both ways and it sure is nice to have them prepared ahead of time. Berkley Gulp Alive in each length, style and color should already have been bought in enough quantity to get fishermen through numerous outings before needing to replenish. Many serious fluke anglers buy enough for multiple seasons so they only have to purchase the new releases Berkley puts on the market.
Nets & Traps
Anglers need to check the landing net to make sure it’s in top working order. Sometimes the screws and bolts are made of dissimilar metals to the handle causing them to fail and require replacement. The webbing can also tear from abuse or netting toothy fish. If a new net is required, anglers should buy them now.
Likewise, cast nets rip from getting hung up accidentally and will need attention. Minnow traps corrode and become brittle over time. If trappers can push their fingers through the mesh, repairs or replacements should take place.
Sharp Blades & Sticky Points
I have a pile of fillet knives that I sharpen regularly with a stone. I also keep an AccuSharp device around so I can quickly bring back a dull blade. I like to keep several knives on my boat, one in my truck and at least one at home so that I can clean fish wherever necessary in my busy life.
Not everyone sharpens their hooks, but those that do, swear by it. There are a number of hook-sharpening devices and files on the market designed to give jigs and bucktails extra life after they’ve been clunked through structure.
The fluke opener is coming. Be ready and prepared so that you’re not in a bind once the bite gets hot.