“Everyone can fish for fluke,” is how Bill Proulx explains the social media fervor stirred up by his 15.3-pound pending Connecticut State Record summer flounder. The everyman fish is one of the most popular and prolific target species for inshore anglers from New England to the mid-Atlantic. When Hillyer’s Tackle Shop released photos of Proulx’s fish on Facebook, the post received 366 likes, 164 shares and 74 comments. “I’m not technically savvy, but the story went on a website and my phone has been ringing off the hook!” explains Proulx.
Proulx, a retired police officer from Ashford, Connecticut, was fishing with friend Ed Pyle in the Atlantic Ocean out of Four Mile River Marina in Lyme. Proulx is an accomplished angler and diver who targets a wide variety of fish, but flounder fishing is one of his favorite pursuits.
The guys left the marina at 4:45 in the morning and had been fishing half a day before catching the big flounder. “We had a limit of sea bass and two 23-inch flounder,” he adds.
Proulx and Pyle were drifting rocky structure and patches of sand in 80 feet of water one mile offshore. “The current was slow, so I was using a 100-gram Daiwa Rock Rover with a strip of squid and a fresh spearing.”
Proulx works the jig by lifting the rod tip in five to six quick jerks and then letting the lure fall. He varies the speed of the jigging adding in longer pauses. “A lot of times the fish hits on the pause.”
While Proulx was fishing, his son Ryan, who runs Blue Runner Charters out of Westerly, Rhode Island, was also flounder fishing 100 miles away on Nantucket Shoals. “All day he was sending me photos of the fluke he was catching.” Proulx had just put down the phone after receiving another flounder photo when the big fish hit.
Proulx measured the fish and weighed it with a hand scale. “I threw it in the cooler and kept fishing.” After he returned to the dock, Proulx used a more accurate scale and realized the fish weighed 15.3 pounds, making it a potential state record.
Local tackle shops were closed, so Proulx stored the fish in brine and tried to sleep. He laughs, “I was up until 1 am researching the process for registering a record.”
The next morning, he took the fish to Hillyer’s Tackle Shop. He was relieved the fish still weighed 15.3 pounds. If approved, it will break the current Connecticut state record of 14 pounds, 13.76 ounces caught by Michael Maffuci off Fishers Island in 2019.
Proulx says flounder fishing comes down to little details. He uses 50-pound fluorocarbon with his flounder rigs. “Not only is fluoro more difficult for the fish to see, but I like the abrasion resistance.”
He uses a soft action rod. “With a spongy rod, the flounder doesn’t feel pressure when it bites,” he explains.
Fresh bait is another key. When the squid are running, Proulx spends a night catching squid. “We caught 150 squid in one night,” he says. To prepare for flounder season, he freezes the squid in vacuum sealed bags.
When the current or wind are strong, Proulx uses a drift sock to slow his drift. “We had the drift sock out when I caught the big flounder,” he says. The drift sock allows him to use the lightest jig or sinker to hold the bottom.
Despite all his experience and preparation, Proulx attributes his trophy catch to luck. “I just put in my time and had my bait in the right place,” he says.