Tight Spots: Successful Solo Fluking - The Fisherman

Tight Spots: Successful Solo Fluking

Break away from the well-known spots to cash in on unpressured fish.

Break away from the fleet and find your own secret fluke hotspots.

To be a successful fluke fisherman, there’s a long list of things to consider, even before you launch your boat or leave the dock. Pregame preparation can be just as important as having the correct tackle. During the offseason, or whenever you have some downtime, take some time to study a depth chart. My personal favorite is Navionics because, not only can you pregame at home, you can also use your maps on your cell phone while out on the water. Using this, in conjunction with your boat electronics, you’ll be able to pinpoint specific areas.

What To Look For?

There are four key elements I rely upon when prospecting for new fluke spots: structure, depth, water temperature, and bait. Sure, there are dozens of well-known, “go-to” locations that everyone is willing to share, many of which can easily be found online or on YouTube these days. However, those locations get absolutely hammered and you are now trying to catch a fish that has already seen it all. Worse yet, you catch a solid fish and the bumper boat wars begin with other boats jumping your drift leaving you a mile out with no way to get back into the party.

Concentrating on structure and paying attention to water temperature will help you find these off-the-beaten path hot zones.

If you ask me, there’s no greater reward than finding a fluke fest when you are the only person fishing that area. Many anglers have the misconception that the easiest and fastest way to catch fluke is to hit those well-known hot spots; but with minimal effort, you can find areas which no one else even knows exists. Single structures, such as an isolated rock, small reefs, small wrecks, and even lobster pots can, and will hold fish. Fish the edges of reefs and around these solo obstacles and you may be surprised at how many more fish you can catch. Sandy bottoms are great, but they do not always offer a great ambush point for those bigger and smarter doormats. If you can locate a few spots on a map where there are inside turns adjacent to points, and then find natural or manmade structures on those locations, you may have just located a hidden gem that everyone overlooks.

Drop-offs and water temperature are just as important. Fluke also use drop offs as ambush points. Depending on the conditions and temperature, they can be on top of the drop off to warm up, or even at the bottom to stay cool. Quick transitioning drop-offs are best. For example, if you can locate an area that is 30 feet deep and drops off to 50 or 60 feet in a distance of 100 feet or less, it is an area worth trying. Find an area like this with water temps in that 64- to 68-degree sweet spot, and you may be spending more time unhooking fish than actually jigging. Lastly, baits. If you are on a boat and mark bait, such as squid, bunker, or sand eels, odds are – if the depth or structure is also there – fluke will be there, too.

How Fast?

I personally like a faster drift, but find that 1 to 2.2 knots is perfect. I prefer 2 knots because bites at this speed almost always produce better hookups with fish that are hungry and willing to chase down your presentation. If you miss a hookset, let your bait back down quickly and be ready for follow up bites. Fluke are notorious for second chances, so make sure you take the time to check if they’re willing to give you another try.

There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a great fishing spot that no one else knows about.

It’s no secret that when the wind and tide are working together, your drift will be far more productive. If the drift is a bit fast, deploying a drift sock will usually save the day. If you target fluke off of a boat, invest in a good drift sock, I use a Drift Control sock made by Sea Anchor and it is perfect for my center console. Be sure to match the correct size sock to the size of your boat when purchasing a sock via the diagram on the website. During slack tide and slow winds, you can keep the bite going by power drifting. This method relies on the captain of the boat to bump the boat in and out of gear to maintain a slow drift during a slack tide, and when the bite is on, you can often keep catching until the tide picks back and resumes your natural drift. It can be a bit of a task, but it’s often worth the effort.

For a successful power drift during slack tide, you must first realize that the fish are beginning to rotate their bodies to put their heads into the current so they can ambush prey coming from in front of them with the moving water. The goal during slack tide is to actually drift perpendicular to the current. Start your power drift so that you are dragging your bait towards the face of the fish, and not from behind. You can determine which way they are turning based on nearby structure and water flow, if any. If that does not exist, try drifting both ways until an actual current is reestablished.

Big numbers can sometimes be found in these ‘unchartered’ waters.

What To Use?

I like to rig fairly light for fluking, which reduces drag on the line and helps me keep my bait or lure in the strike zone longer. My goal is to always use the least amount of weight to hold the bottom without scoping way out behind the boat. Staying vertical while jigging is ideal for hookup rates as well as proper lure and bait presentation. For slow current or shallower drifts, my go-to rod and reel combo is the Daiwa Harrier in MH with a Lexa-HD300 HSL-P.  When the drift is slow, a solo jig with just enough weight to hold bottom, paired with 15- or 20-pound braid tied to a 10-foot leader of 20-pound test mono, is perfect. For heavier current or deeper water, I switch over to Daiwa Harrier in XH, which has a beefier back bone. The Reel is still a Daiwa Lexa-HD300 HSL-P and this rig will be spooled with 30-pound braid and a 25-pound mono leader.

Digital recon, using the Navionics App, can reveal potential fluke hot zones like this steep edge.

I like to tell everyone that wants to get into this, that fluking is a lot like freshwater bass fishing. Having an array of different styles of baits, colors and sizes, and a few rods to present them correctly can equal the difference between a good day and a day you’ll never forget. Some of my favorite colors include white, pink, and bright green. These can represent squid and a few baitfish. Two other colors that should not be overlooked are blue and orange. These colors can represent mackerel, herring, and even sea robins.  Bucktail Jigs are a popular choice among fluke fishermen, and one of my personal favorites is the Charlie’s Bucktails Fluke teaser in 3/8-ounce as well as their quarter-ounce bucktail teaser. These are great choices for popcorn rigs especially in slower moving water.

When fishing solo jigs, the Charlies Bucktails Ultra Minnow and Big Eye Jigs get the job done and are available from 1 to 10 ounces. I also really like small spoons like the Al’s Goldfish Wicked Wec Hi-Lo rig and the M3 Tackle 3-inch fully-rigged spoons in gold, silver and glow. Larger spoons, such as the M3 Tackle 5.5-inch fully-rigged spoons are great for faster water, and homemade popcorn rigs, are just a few items I will never leave home without.

On those days when the bite isn’t on fire, a smart game plan is to work together with the guys on your boat, fishing different colors and styles until you can dial in the bite. Adding some scent to your rigs with squid strips, fluke bellies, or artificials such as Gulp, Fishbites, or Stinky Balls, is always recommended.

Fluke fishing can be a great way to spend a beautiful summer day, but it can be frustrating at times, so laying out a game plan with multiple options is huge. Having the right tackle, bait, and mastering boat control can be the difference from a single fluke sandwich to a family fry fest. Do your homework and dig into those local charts, be prepared to try a bunch of methods and colors until you find the one that’s working well, and remember, have fun!

Staying off the popular spots will ensure that you’re fishing less-pressured fish and you’ll find it way more satisfying, because you figured it all out for yourself—and that’s no small achievement.


Inshore: Fluke Of The Month

Tips and tricks for landing the biggest fluke of July for the Dreamboat Challenge.

A Shore Score: Land-Based Fluking

Leave the boat tied up at dock, the shoreline is the place to score with flatties!

Montauk Southside: Doing Cartwheels At Cartwright

A fluke spot that should be on any serious fluke fisherman’s hit list.