This year, the Shinnecock Shores Fluke Tournament was held on Saturday July 20th, from 7am to 3pm with weigh-in from 3-4pm. It's a small local tournament fished by amateurs like me from the community. This year we had 18 boats entered, and their captains each paid a $50 entry fee. The rules are very simple: the heaviest legal-sized Fluke (not the longest) wins the grand prize. It must be caught that day, after 7am, by an angler on a registered boat, and it must be presented at weigh-in before 4pm. There's also a "consolation prize" for the heaviest Sea Robin, a nuisance fish that feeds on the bottom and steals bait and isn't considered to be as tasty. The prize for the biggest Fluke this year was $850, and for the biggest Sea Robin just $50.
It has been an odd year for Fluke fishing for a few reasons. First, there are more Fluke around than in most years, so we've been catching a lot, but the vast majority are "shorts" or fish that are below the legal limit of 19". Second, there are far fewer Sea Robins around this year than in the last few, which is great since it allows the focus to be on Fluke. Third, the usual spot for the largest local Fluke, the Shinnecock Reef three miles off shore in the Ocean has been holding lots of Sea Bass and even Mackerel, but not many Fluke. With all of that as context we had a strange fishing day. We fished the morning incoming tide for several hours, came home for a quick lunch and to regroup and freshen up our bait, and then fished a few more hours of the outgoing tide before hustling our best fish over to weigh-in. We caught 50 Fluke over the course of the day, and weren't very bothered by the usual brigade of Sea Robins. We chose to fish in Shinnecock Bay for most of the day, rather than the Ocean, because we knew that the Ocean seemed to have fewer Fluke lately. In the end, though, we caught our only keeper for the day, a mere 19.25", in the Ocean.
At weigh-in, only 5 boats presented fish. Most apparently had only shorts all day. We ended up having one of two fish just over 2.2 lbs, tied for 4th. The other fish were obviously larger, but the winner won by a long-shot, weighing in at over 7 lbs. We hear the angler took his boat to Montauk to fish for bigger fish. That's a big time and fuel commitment, and more than most of us would be willing to do, but his investment paid off.
After the tournament and weigh in were over, Shinnecock Shores held a great $25/person Lobster Fest that many fishermen and non-fishermen enjoyed together. My family brought along a cooler of beer and feasted on lobster, corn, coleslaw, and more and it was a great end to a fun day.
Next year, we're going to win the Fluke Tournament! At least, we'll try hard - as we always do.
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