It is the middle of the summer, many people, at least those who don’t fish are golfing or home cooling off in front of an air conditioner, those that do are probably out on a boat or working the shoreline with their favorite rod and a good luck hat.
My lawn always looks like a jungle during the heat of summer so what I do is cut the grass, which is a mix of twenty or more weed species that look like grass when cut just above the ground. With some luck, the heat and sun will burn it so more time can be spent, in my case drifting my favorite spots for fluke.
When I first began fishing the ocean, my original target species were the harder fighting and larger stripers and bluefish. As time went on I came to enjoy “fluking” as we called it because it didn’t require early wake-ups or fishing into the night. The tides and winds had to be right to fish my favorite drifts properly, when the conditions were right it was an enjoyable way to catch some fresh frying or baking material. The only things I like better during the summer and early fall are blue crabs. They are the only species that if legal size and in season I have never released even a single one.
I had a friend of a friend whom I called the “Fluke Meister” (fluke master) who was a hardcore rod and reel fluke fisherman whom I had the pleasure of fishing with on a few occasions. On his forearm, he had a tattoo of a fluke with the words “Fluking Beautiful” below. He was a mild-mannered highly skilled angler with whom I enjoyed many days on the water.
I pretty much always drifted for fluke using a jig that was baited with squid and if possible topped with a mummichog or silverside minnow preferably live and fresh out of a mummitrap. About six to ten- inches above the jig was a three-way swivel with a four-foot long leader going back to a large fly that was also baited appropriately. This guy Mike used a double jig rig with a larger jig on the bottom and up a short distance to a lighter smaller jig, which were baited usually with fresh squid he got from the nearby docks at Point Judith which was his home base.
Over the years I changed my preference from running around chasing diving terns and gulls to toss a lure into what was going to be a school of feeding bass or bluefish to preferring the kind of relaxing form of fishing that can be done when drifting for fluke. Though I always enjoy casting into a fray being caused by feeding game fish of any species.
Eventually, a kind of routine developed, based on tides, winds and the weather predicted for a given day. We’d start off drifting for fluke when the tide was right,
then we would often hit a couple of my favorite striper spots later in the afternoon for some action from larger game fish species. I have never fished to fill a freezer so after there were enough fluke in the live well, we would head to a couple of productive striper spots and fish (If I had rookie anglers with me) with a tube and worm rig. This didn’t involve casting where rookies often mess up reels with tangles etc. Plus tube and worm trolling for stripers is a great way to hook up with some quality stripers.
Another friend I did some fishing with in Long Island Sound, was another deepwater angler who specialized in big everything, primarily stripers and fluke. At some point, he learned discreet spots, mostly around wrecks and some underwater ledges where he could load up on black sea bass, a fish that I like to eat better than fluke but never worked hard enough at targeting to catch much more than occasionally.
This guy who had all the proper licenses and permits, fished mostly New York waters caught and sold more than fifty, fifty-pound stripers which he proved to me through sales slips he kept in a folder. I never caught a bonafide fifty though I may have released one back when the limit was one fish, which I had already in the boat.
As I have written many times in this magazine and elsewhere my claim to angling fame is not in any record book. The fact is, I have been skunked fishing for everything in both fresh and saltwater of the northeast USA and southern Canada.
My personal, all-time favorite crustaceans have to get mentioned in a mid-summer article. That is Callinectes sapidus, the blue crab, a fearless, mean-spirited animal that has accounted for many of the scars on my hands and fingers. The scientific name means “most delicious swimmer” which like most is a Latin description of the species.
I have not had enough feedback to even hazard an educated guess as to whether or not crabs are hanging off the rocks, docks and poles anchoring docks at the local marinas and prowling tide creeks for a meal this summer.
A friend of mine who crabs in the Connecticut River promised to let me know when and or if he sees enough to bother making a trip to set traps and scoop them from their hiding places. I am looking forward to some blood loss due to a hard bite from a large, angry blue crab. Soft and paper shells are cooked first. The healthy, hard shells can be kept alive in the vegetable draw in the fridge for quite a while especially if stored standing on their feet, claws folded in so they don’t fight and padded with some seaweed to keep them calm. The chill of the fridge slows them down to some degree so they can be kept, if in good shape for close to a week, though around my kitchen they don’t usually last more than a few days before they are boiled for supper with some fresh corn and a cold beverage.