Any summer flounder, aka fluke, over the 10-pound mark is bestowed the descriptor name of “doormat”. Doormats don’t achieve that status from being stupid. To go after the fattest of flatfish, two techniques always seem to produce.
HIT THE STRUCTURE
First, find the fish. Fluking revolves around drifting over humps, bumps and ledges, but true doormat hunters know the sticky stuff holds huge flatbacks that lay in wait to ambush prey. Low lying structure such as rockpiles, concrete rubble, barges, tire units and army tanks that are found on most reef sites are prime hunting territory. Both bucktails and strip bait rigs work well in these areas, but you have to be vigilant and reel up quickly if you feel a snag, lest you will be losing a lot of rigs. The risk /reward ratio is worth the loss of rigs in many cases as the largest of fluke in the 10 to 15-pound range gravitate around the hardscrabble structures.
Bottom bouncing bucktails for fluke is an art form. Fluke hone in on the profile that mimics an injured baitfish scuttling along the sea floor. Using 30-inch section of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader, tie a 1 to 4-ounce Spro bucktail in white or white/green color patterns. Anything over 4 ounces tends to just become a stagnant sinker weight and doesn’t flutter as properly as it should. About 18 inches above the big buck, tie on a smaller ½-ounce bucktail on a dropper loop for the teaser. Tip the big bucktail with a 4 to 6-inch tapered strip of bluefish or fluke belly or 6-inch Berkeley Gulp! Grub. The teaser bucktail can also be tipped with some fresh spearing or a sand eel. Bounce the bucktail with the most vertical approach you can, and if you reach a 45 degree angle, you’ll just be dragging the bait, so reel up and start over.
Big fluke follow the mantra - feed big and feed once. That means using long bait strips. A fishfinder slide rig works best, starting with a braid friendly slide clip and a 3 to 6 ounce bank sinker, then a 26-inch section of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader, to which a size 3/0 Gamakatsu hook is snelled on with another sliding snell 2/0 Octopus hook about 3 inches down from the first hook. Once again, fluke belly works great here for a strip bait, but go big with a 7 to 10-inch slice of the white side or ribbon alone. Doormats will hang on the bait many times, and when you feel the first strike, put the reel in freespool and feed it back to him so he completely engulfs the strip bait.
Photo by Roban Kramer