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April 26, 2013

Northeast Fluke Fishing

A guidebook to the East Coast's top summer flounder haunts.

Fat and flat. Those two attributes might not seem desirable to the average man, but come summertime, anglers absolutely go nuts for the ­saltwater fish that claims those characteristics: summer flounder, aka fluke. Along the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast, the aggressive predator is the definitive inshore money fish pursued with a passion by anglers for both its fightability and palatability, and even moreso when learned technique and know-how can put scores of doormat-class 8- to 15-pound-caliber trophies into the cooler. Trouble finding the flatties? Don’t fret: Here’s the high-time hit list to put a poundin’ on trophy flounder this spring and summer season. 

Delaware Coast

Delaware’s artificial-reef ­program is a boon to marine life by creating structure along a mostly sandy and flat coast.  Fourteen separate reef sites exist, nine of which lie inside ­Delaware Bay, highlighted by Reef Site No. 11, which hosts a whopping 714 Redbird subway cars that provide low-profile structure for fluke to take shelter in and around. Early-season fluke stack up in the shallow waters of the flats in Delaware Bay, especially around Brown Shoal, and the recycled concrete dumps and tugboat wrecks in the 20- to 30-foot depths of the bay, but then move out to the 60- to 80-foot depths of Reef Site No. 10 and No. 11 as well as inside the Delaware Bay in the 45-foot depths of the ­Anchorage. Serious fluke pros work the area of the B Buoy between the two reef sites to bounce bucktails and top/bottom rigs over the myriad ballast-rock piles dumped by sailing ships of the past, while others set up near the A Buoy in the lower Anchorage to pluck fat flatties. 

Top Technique: Drifting top/bottom rigs lanced with killies and bluefish/sea-robin strip baits, bumping lone bucktails tipped with large live killies

Hot Spots: Reef Site No. 11, Brown Shoal, B Buoy, Reef Site No. 10, Lower Anchorage 

Who: Capt. Pete Haines, 302-245-4222, topfincharters.com

Captain's Tip: Work the area of the B Buoy between Reef Site No. 10 and Reef Site No. 11 in springtime as flounder make their move into the Delaware Bay.