Last week in this column, I loudly lamented about another poor outing in pursuit of fluke aboard my Rock Water at Gardiner’s Island.
Skunked once again on the trip, I have tried to summon the energy and verve to venture out once more, but it hasn’t worked. I have self-diagnosed myself with an acute case of procrastination, mixed with solid indifference. Is there a cure?
Better fishing for the popular flatfish has been occurring to the south and east of Montauk. But that’s too long a ride from Sag Harbor for my boat, which rarely motors at more than 12 knots. If anything, I’d probably fall asleep at the helm well before we reached our destination.
If I truly wanted to catch a fluke, for all practical purposes I would need to hop aboard one of the several fine party boats that set sail from Montauk, which are significantly closer to the more productive fishing grounds. So I began to ponder a day on the ocean to finally break my personal long-term dearth of fluke.
And then, last Thursday morning, while lazily lying on the couch watching the first round of the British Open, I received a text message out of the blue from my friend Anthony Caputo, who lives in Miller Place. We’ve fished together on and off for nearly 30 years.
“I have an open slot on the Simple Life on Saturday for fluke and sea bass,” the text read. “Want to go?” I’ve fished on the boat several times and have always done well with its young skipper, Capt. Tyler Quaresimo.
By background, Quaresimo has a natural way of dealing with people with his broad, bearded smile and warm demeanor. He has quickly built a fine reputation in Montauk since commencing his charter boat business only five years ago. His father, Jamie, another fabulous finder of fish, runs the Miss Montauk II, an 85-foot party boat that’s also on the hunt for fluke. The apple did not fall far from the tree.
It only took me a few seconds to type out a positive response. The boat was to set sail at 6 a.m. and the weather forecast looked perfect. I was ready to finally (and hopefully) catch a fluke.
“Glad to have you aboard again,” smiled Capt. Quaresimo as I boarded the stern deck of his 42-foot Bruno & Stillman boat in the early morning darkness. The dark blue hull of the classic craft that was originally designed by famed marine architect Royal Lowell was constructed in New Hampshire about 45 years ago. She still looks great on the water.
The five other anglers gathered on the stern deck made small talk, preparing their tackle requirements for the day ahead. All were seasoned anglers who were well versed in both inshore and offshore fishing. No novices here. Throwing off the dock lines, Quaresimo said we had about an hour’s ride to the fluke grounds south of Montauk.
When we arrived, the conditions were indeed perfect, with bright sunshine, low humidity, and a nice, gentle breeze that emanated off the land out of the northwest. But would the fluke cooperate?
“Okay, drop ‘em in,” said Quaresimo from his helm station as we lowered our various rigs and jigs into the 80 feet of clear blue water below. Unfortunately, the action was slow. It was not the start we anticipated.
After an hour, Quaresimo decided to take us on a 30-minute ride closer to the ocean beach. His move proved correct as our baits were attacked almost instantly by hungry fluke in the 68-degree water. After struggling to catch a single fluke the past two years, I felt like I had regained my fluke mojo.
About 15 minutes later, Quaresimo’s father cruised up next to us with his own boatload of fares anxious to take advantage of the excellent action.
That day, I ended up catching seven keeper-size fluke, but retaining only my legal limit of four fish over 18.5 inches. I probably had at least three dozen short fish. The action was consistent for the next five hours. We rarely went a minute or two without one of us having a fluke on the line.
By noon, we had easily retained our full boat limit of fish and continued to play catch-and-release until we called it a day at 2 p.m. All of us were tired yet satisfied with our day on the water. It could not have been better.
“That was my best day of fluke this season,” Quaresimo said on the ride back to his berth at the Montauk Marine Basin. “That was a lot of fun.”
I could not agree more: The curse was broken.
Elsewhere, Ken Morse at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor said that fishing is in midsummer mode. “Small bluefish are still at Jessup’s Neck on diamond jigs, while weakfish are still in and around buoy 16 in Noyac Bay,” he reported. “Porgies are around in the usual haunts, and bluefish and some striped bass can still be had at Plum Gut and The Race.”
If whale watching is your thing, you stand a very good shot of witnessing humpback whales feasting on bunkers at many of our local ocean beaches. On Sunday at Sagg Main Beach, we took in a Sea World-like show of a single humpback hurling itself skyward out of the water dozens of times while on the feed. It was a grand spectacle of nature in action. Take it in while you can.
Fishing tips, observations, and photographs can be sent to [email protected].