Story by Tom Pagliaroli

Last Call for Fluke

At 11:59:59 pm Saturday, the curtain closes on the 2019 fluke season, and today and tomorrow there is sure to be heavy boat drifting traffic over the reefs and wrecks, lumps, hills, shell beds and even open bottom.

Inlets will also see their share of crowds, and more than a few sharpies know those travel route channels in the bays where the fluke are moving to get to the inlets then out front.

These last two weeks are generally when the biggest flatties of the year come to net, and this year has been no exception.

No doubt the bucktail/Gulp! combination has accounted for the majority of the keeper flatfish this season, and expect the same today and tomorrow. The 5 and 6-inch Gulp! Grub (pink shine, chartreuse, nuclear chicken) mated to a white or chartreuse 3 to 6-ounce S&S Rattletail bucktail, teamed with a 4-inch chartreuse, pink or glow Gulp! Swimming Mullet 18-inches up the line as a teaser will put keepers in the box.

Not to be overlooked in the last minute fluke fray is live bait. This can and is deadly and will, at least from this corner, match if not surpass the aforementioned rig when it comes to doormats and area rugs hitting the deck.  Live snapper blues in the 5-8 inch range, and 5-6 inch spot are positively deadly. The ultimate offering is a 5-8 inch (some up to 10-inches) live squid. Tough to get, yes, but lethal on the biggest fluke. These baits are usually swarming around wrecks and structures and, being aggressive feeders, will attack specialized squid jigs (available at most shore tackle shops) worked over said areas. It’s a simple matter of removing from the jig, hooking in the mantle and sending it to the bottom on a drift. If a longer (8-10 inch ) specimen, using a stinger hook will assure a greater percentage of hook ups.

Deer Here

The statewide archery season for deer opens next Saturday, and if you have not been out scouting spots, getting bait on the ground and/or getting the trail cameras up, well, get to it!

Yeah, the early season has been open in 29 select deer management zones (DMZs) around the state, but these were under “Earn a Buck” (read: doe or antlerless, such as a button buck or under 3-inch spike) regulations. Now, it’s wide open on racks.

Review pages 38-41 in the 2019-20 Hunting & Trapping Digest for additional regs such as antler restriction DMZs.

Boat Show

The Jersey Shore Boat Sale & Expo runs today (11 a.m. - 6 p.m.), tomorrow (10 a.m. - 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.- 5 p.m.) at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood. Hundreds of boats, new and pre-owned, will be for sale, and there is a big “Boater’s Marketplace” area for accessories and most anything and everything for boating.

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