• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On May 30, 2019
  • Comments
  •  1

Jersey’s fluke season just reopened on May 24th with a 3 fish limit and an 18-inch minimum size, and good thing as the back bays are firing right now.

As fluke harbor up in the backwaters until the first weeks of June, now’s the time to go to light tackle to wrestle up quality keeper class fluke from 2 to 10 pounds.

Opening day I fished with Captain Jim Luoro on the Vicki Lynn and we put a beatdown on fluke in the Manasquan River, all with lighter gear. Generally, I’m dropping Andrus bucktails in 3/8 to ½-ounce sizes in yellow/white, white and white/chartreuse hair colorings. A medium action rod with a moderate to fast action works well to effectively flex and feel the bucktail on the bay bottom as well as drag 2 to 4-ounce bank sinkers if necessary during days of high winds and stiff drifts. Go with a 7-foot Shimano Teramar Rod rated 15 to 30-pound, matched with a Shimano Stradic 5000 reel spooled with 20 to 30-pound Power Pro green braid for ultimate sensitivity and hooksetting power. Luoro and I tipped our bucktails with fresh bluefish strips, doused in FinEssence oil to start, and that combo got pounded by the first keeper of the day. As winds picked up and the last of an outgoing tide brought dirtier water, we switched out the strips for easier to see chartreuse Berkeley Gulp! 3-inch Swimmin Minnows that immediately got pounced upon, adding more keepers up to 5 pounds to the cooler.

However, the most interesting aspect of all the fish we hooked was that most were in extremely shallow water of 2.5 to 5 foot in depth. We marked water temps from 59 to 64 degrees, and generally speaking, early season fluke in that type of cooler water tend to gravitate up onto the flats to sun themselves up. The key to fluke success in the next three or four weeks is to focus on the shallow waters in bay systems, and look for waters in the 63 to 68 degree range, which are usually elevated on outgoing tides as warmer back bay water spills out due to the fact that depths gets skinnier with less water density for the sun to penetrate. By late June, the focus on fluke will be oceanside, but for now in this first shot of fluke, get into the skinny water, bring plenty of scented baits and go with light tackle to properly work the small bucktails.


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