Surf: Dock Fluke - The Fisherman

Surf: Dock Fluke

dock-fluke
Add docks and piers to your list of shore fishing spots and you’ll catch more fluke.

Fluke fishing from docks and piers doesn’t get the respect it deserves!

As water temperatures continue to rise, I divert my efforts away from stripers in search of my favorite bottom-dwelling species, fluke (or summer flounder, if you prefer). With a robust fluke fishery throughout our coverage area, there are ample opportunities to target fluke from shore. While the warmer weather might persuade you to wet wade or hop on a charter boat, don’t neglect the docks and piers that line our coast. Dock fishing has proven to be an easy and accessible way to catch numbers of fluke.

Dock fishing for fluke is all about timing. While I successfully target fluke from the docks and piers on opening day, I prefer waiting until late-May or June since the action is much more consistent at that time. I personally love to make a day of fluke fishing by hopping from spot to spot. In my search for prime fluking areas, I use Google satellite images to pinpoint town piers and hidden marina docks. That said, there are a few qualities I look for in a dock or pier that help me decide if it’s worth my effort.

The first factor I look for is the presence of a sandy bottom and structure. Fluke thrive in areas where they can easily camouflage themselves and ambush bait. The second factor I search for is depth changes. Typically the best fluke docks will have a steep drop-off. These areas will hold numbers of fluke and potentially larger fish as well. The third factor I look for is areas of high current, this is crucial because current allows you to swing your jig across the bottom; covering more water and catching more fish. If you can find an area with all three of these factors you’ll certainly be in for a treat.

For gear, I prefer a medium-light spinning rod in the 7- to 8-foot range with a 5000 size reel and 15-pound braid. As for the leader, I use 25-pound fluorocarbon tied to a 50-pound Tactical Anglers clip. The clip allows me to change the weight of my jig quickly in order to accommodate different depths or current speeds. As for fluke jigs, I fish small bucktails as well as jigheads. That said, when choosing the right jig I always look for a wide-gap hook. The larger hook gap helps keep fluke pinned when they begin to head-shake or thrash on the surface. My favorite brand jig heads are the BKK Silent Chaser, Berkeley Half-Head Jigs, Gamakatsu Round jigheads, and the glow ball jig heads from Long Island Jigs and Flies. As for bucktails, I prefer Smiling Bill, S&S, and Long Island Jigs and Flies. In terms of bait, I exclusively fish Berkely Gulp due to its potent scent and durability. My most trusted Gulp baits are the 5- and 6-inch swimming mullet in pearl white, chartreuse, and glow white. Additionally, I love the 3- and 4-inch saltwater shrimp in sugar and spice glow, nuclear chicken, and root beer gold. In order to ensure that the bait remains scented, I also carry Gulp spray.

There are three cadences I practice when fishing jigs off the dock for fluke. The first method I use is the ‘jig and swing’: I simply cast up the current and bounce the jig a few times as it moves laterally with the current. Fluke can’t refuse the quick meal moving by and often hit the jig on the pause. It’s important to note that this is only effective in stronger currents. The second retrieve that I use is a steady jig across the bottom. This involves simply bouncing the rod tip the entire retrieve. One benefit of the fast retrieve is that it prevents sea robins from pouncing on the jig. The final method I practice when fishing the docks is jigging directly off the dock next to the pilings, the wooden support beams often create the perfect habitat for small fish like bergal which is a perfect meal for a giant fluke.

Although docks and piers do produce some sizeable fish, landing a giant can be a bit problematic, so it’s important to bring the right tools for the job. I always carry a proper pier net that is 8- to 10-feet in length. The last thing I want to do is swing a potential personal best up over the pier. Not everyone associates fluke fishing with docks and piers, but trust me, these spots put out fish and if you stick with it, you’ll catch your share of really nice ones!

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