Mark Anthony, Jr and myself were very excited for the first offshore trip off this season. As we loaded my boat at 2:30am the talk was about eating raw tuna and barbecuing the fresh tuna steaks. As usual the forecast was way off and I needed the radar for the fog, all 65 miles on the ride out. We still managed to get to the grounds before light. There we found some life and set the lines. After awhile it became apparent that it was not going to happen where we are. So we picked up and made the move another 12miles east. Working the edge and seeing some life the guys put the spread back out. Again a whole lot of nothing!! Then we could see through the thick fog a few Scallop boats with on of them hauling. Out of now where a dozen boats appeared and starting fishing right next to the Scallop boat. We continued to troll until the fish finder started showing some fish near the bottom in the 200’depth. Since it was not happening for us on the troll, the choice was easy. I did not cozy up to the trawler but elected to work the marks on the outside of the fleet with jigs. It took less then 2 minutes before Anthony bent his rod, by time he settled in for the fight, Erwin Jr hooked up and we had a double on. The guys did a great job in keeping the fish separated and when it was obvious that JR’s fish would make the over, killed that fish. Anthony’s fish was close, but fell just short of the over line and we had our boat limit!! We went back to the spot on another drift and Mark hooked up with another decent fish. This fish was released as it was another over fish around 60lbs!! When this bite was over we went in search of a larger BFT on the troll with the same results, nothing!!! No troll bite for us today, so we headed to the pots in the hopes of bringing home some Mahi. That too did not provide us with any fish, but we did see some decent fish. Back at the dock, with the weather much better then it was off shore, was the time to crack open some beers and celebrate another real good fishing trip. These trips are long and tiring, but always rewarding, can’t wait for the next one……………
More then5-10 nw, and a incoming moon tide means super fast drift along the edges. Throw in the short and steep waves and we do not ideal conditions for the spots I would like to fish. We tried, Frank and his father Paul, gave it 2 drifts before I made the move to find some easier water to enjoy the day on. Fluking was not fast at first, and the fish were all shorts to start. The beautiful sunshine made for a super day on the water. In the lee of Sandy Hook provided just enough to keep the sea conditions very comfortable. After a few hours, Frank elected to try my bucktail setup. The action was immediate, fluke pounded the hard bait as well as the soft plastic teaser. Paul gave up dragging strips and made the switch as well. Action was just enough before Frank put the first keeper in the Fluke Hotel!! Paul gave that fish some company a short time later, and the men picked away at the fish for the duration of the trip. By days end there were plenty of white meat to go around. A real change of pace from the last few Fluke trips, with no fish over 19″, but another great day on the water with a couple of gentlemen that just wanted to escape from their daily grind for a few hours and to have some fun……………..Quality time between a father and a son!!!!! it does not get better then that…………
As we rounded the hook, Zempe was asked a question by me if we are looking for numbers or big fish. Without hesitation he made the choice to go for Big fish! I would take him and his crew, Uncle Lou, Eddie the animal, Anthony M, and Mark (newbie) to a area that I believed held big fish. They worked it hard and had some decent fish up to Anthony 8-1/2 lber. The hotel had a few dozen quality keepers, Uncle Lou had a 6, Eddie a 7lb fish among the 3-5lb fish that made up the rest of the catch. The weather was beautiful again, and that hurts us alittle when the drift really slowed down. However, this let me keep the guys in the trench longer then usual. While there, they banged away, working hard and picking away at the white meat!! Anthony at one point had a fluke hit him 3 times so hard, that the 2nd time it almost took his rod out of his hand. He ended up hooking this fish only to have his “knot” come undone. I told him he should leave the tying to the Pros, and he was determined to get that bucktail back!! On the next drift, as luck would have it another boat came in and stopped to fish on the exact spot that I needed to be. Not wanting to crowd this guy, nor short drift him, I made a few circles around him until he drifted off this spot. We did not mind, the female in the orange bikini on that boat was a very pleasant sight on this Friday afternoon. Finally setting up on the spot, little did I know what this drift was going to produce. Eddie put another decent fish in the hotel when Anthony got the bite. When he came tight, the rod bent right to the water. At first glance you would have thought he was stuck! Thats when the first thump came, thats when the hair on my neck stood up. At this point he still could not wind on this fish and the thumping began. Little by little he started to gain on the fluke. Jr was at the ready with the net and when we all saw the fluke for the first time, not a word was uttered. Erwin jr got the net under her while she was still deep, before she reacted to surface, while she was still civil. She went nuts once she made it into my boat. This was the biggest fluke that I have ever been involved with. Over 40 year of fluke fishing and at last a giant is laying in my boat. I knew the fish was big, near 12lbs was my guess. After a few high fives, back slapping and fist banging, we got her on the scale. It read 12.6lbs. Anthony was almost speechless and it was decided right there that this fish needed to be weighed on a official scale. I want a exact weight on her. Anthony would also like to enter her in the Fisherman’s Dream boat contest. It was decided to call it a day after the drift was over. However, Zempe and Eddie were tied for the most keepers and Eddie had told me that all he needed was 5 more minutes and he would put Zempe to sleep. It was on now and I was anxious to see how this day would end. Eddie backed up his words as he put a nice 3lber in the boat in short order followed by a nice sea bass to end the day and keep his track record of 2 years fluke fishing and always limiting out on the Scales n Tales. Zempe took the loss hard and hit the swill heavy for the ride back to the dock. Back at the dock, Anthony took his fish to Twin Lights for the official weight. There it pulled the certified scale down to 12.9lbs!!!!!!! 33” long, what a fish. So now after a few years of just going along with the guys on these fluke trips, he is a believer, Bucktailing is where it is at… Congratulations to him on a great, great fluke!!!!! this was his day…..
After the pressure the fluke grounds got over the weekend, I was not expecting much. Heading to the deep knowing that it got pounded, almost had me 2nd guessing my choice of area. With the tide and wind direction, this was their only chance to put some white meat in the fluke hotel. On the first 3 drifts. TIm, Paul, Sam C and Sam G and Joe G a dozen beautiful fluke in the box with Joe G catching his biggest at 6lbs. Was I surprised? sure but again the men fished hard and were rewarded for their efforts. Lots of laughs to go along with a little ball breaking. Joe had his son Sam who elected to bang a bucktail. He stayed with it all day too. We ended the day watching a school of Porpoises feeding in the Sandy Hook Channel. Another decent trip for Joe and his crew, this time catching Fluke……..
My crew was very excited to get started, we are on good fish, but not good enough but you never know when you drop your lines in. We are not looking for numbers of keepers, but decent size fish. The guys grinded and fish hard for 2 days, with Sal catching a 7lber on Saturday and Erwin Jr catching a 7.6 on Sunday. Not good enough to make the board. Plenty of white meat mixed in with 4-5lb being the common fish found. My guys never gave up, fishing hard even when it was slow at times on both days. Weather was super, and the beer tasted great when we got back to the dock. A super weekend with good friends, banging bucktails…..
Do doubt about where I will start out, have not fished since their last trip a week ago. Anthony was expecting a dud because of the exceptional numbers these guys have put up on the last 2 trips. How long will this bite last? The first few drifts found only a few small keepers and a few small shorts. So I made the choice to try another ditch. Zempe and Eddie fish harder then anyone I know and their hard work pays off. They hooked fluke after fluke, some of them made it into the hotel, others were released to grow. Anthony hooked his share as well, and Uncle Lou rebounded after his last trip with his limit. Many decent fish between 3 and 5lbs. When one area dried up, I moved to another and thats how the day went. On the way back to the marina, all on board was curious as to how many we have in the hotel. Of course they are looking for the numbers that they posted on the previous trips. When we laid them out, and counted, they were 1 fluke away from a 6 man limit, 47 fluke! So in 3 trips Zempe and his crew have caught 136 keeper Fluke to almost 10lbs. What can I say………….
45 keepers on Tuesday, how could we even come close to that catch again. Rearmed with bucktails we started right where I left them biting on Tuesday. Eddie and Matt got us off to a quick start. Keeper size fluke on the first few drifts when Eddie put a real nice 7 change in the boat!! WIth fishing like this, the hotel fills up fast, if the fishing only holds up. Thats when Zempe with his jaws working overtime, sets the hook on what looks like a snag. When the snag starts head shaking I grabbed the net and waited. Peering into the murky green sea, I saw the DOORMAT that I was hoping to see. High fives were in order as Zempe held up his near 10lber!! This fish will get a room all to herself. The pick continued until the drift got too fast. A move put the guys right back on the white meat as Eddie, Matt, Zempe and “B” plus Sal kept adding to the total with quality fish. Sal boxed a 7, his best yet. Uncle Lou had a tough day catching, his first slow day of the year. Again the weather was great, blues skies, no humidity and great fishing. By days end the men had boxed up 44 keep fluke with 3 real good fish. What else can I say, this is what happens when the men fish hard, real hard. Banging bucktails all day long is not easy, but the men were rewarded once again, 89 keepers in 2 trips says it all………. look at the pics, they tell the story…..
Filleting Rob’s fluke and looking out towards the Hook, I could not get over how beautiful the weather is today. Then it hit me, my Striper season is over!!!!! That’s when Caesar and his crew arrive for a trip this afternoon. They had a super trip a few weeks ago and with that on their minds were hoping to repeat. These guys are all about fun, so at first when I had told them about how poor my bass fishing has been, and I cannot take them out targeting Stripers just for the sake of taking them out, where going to spend the afternoon at the beach. That’s when Caesar, David and George came to me and asked if we could do something else besides bass. At this point we were going fluking. The energy was overflowing as the men loaded their gear and before long we were heading north with the smell of cigars and something else that I could not put my finger on. (help me out Dave) The current was ripping and it took awhile before Caesar took off his shoes and hung his feet over the side, I netted the fish that floated to the surface and we had some white in the box!The guys fished hard in very tough drift conditions with Rich putting on a clinic. All on board got fish and by time the fishing part of this trip was over, had enough white meat in the fluke hotel to have the OYSTER prepare the feast. These men, and I say it after every trip, just want to have fun, and fun they have. AS hard as they work, look forward to just getting out, catching is a bonus, not the priority. George never stops taking care of business, and Caesar’s phone never stops. They never complain! The men take care of business and get right back to fishing. With the sun low in the horizon, a perfect day was quickly coming to a end. Back at the dock, it was time to sit and break bread, surrounded by good friends and good memories. We are making this into a tradition, I love traditions……..Thanks Caesar for fishing with me again…
With a stiff NW the choice of where 2 fish was easy. With 4 young boys on board, being comfortable is high on my list. Rob and Mike fished the stearn, Hernan and the boys fished the bow. The fluke were there and waiting as the crew starting catching. Every drift we had fish, and some decent keepers to boot! The weather was great as we fished within the NYC skyline. How can it get better then this, 3 fathers and their sons all enjoying a great day on the water. Of course the bite died at the change of tide and I could never get it going again. It did not matter to Rob as they had some good fluke in the fluke hotel and we took a slow ride back to the dock… I perfect day in many ways….
The news was not what Brian wanted to hear regarding the bass bite for me. I told him that I feel our best chances for catching a bass was to anchor and chunk. Of course we could drift live ones and roll the dice. That was the choice and thats what we did. Sure the action was good, but nary a bass bite. Everyone got tired of catching the slammer blues. Finally at the end of the evening bait schools started moving through out the deep and Mike got bit by what appeared to be a shark. We will never know, however this was another trip where we did not get 1 bass bite again, after the great season we had, it hurts to end it on a day like this…….