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John Skinner

John Skinner is the author of Fishing the Bucktail and A Season on the Edge. He’s the creator of the fishing log software FishersLog. He’s a consistent producer of trophy striped bass and holds the current New York State false albacore record.

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July 05, 2015

Leaving Fish to Find (Bigger) Fish

by John Skinner

I'm a pretty firm believer in the "Don't leave fish to find fish" philosophy, but if I stuck to that this fluke season in Long Island Sound, my freezer wouldn't be as comfortably packed as it is with vacuum-sealed fillets. From the time the fish arrived in mid to late May, they seemed to have been on the move. Where you find them one day is not where they are the next, and what was barren yesterday is stacked today. Keep in mind that I'm not considering long distances here, but fish moving around in sub-spots in a few square-mile area. This is particularly true with keeper-sized fluke. Searobins are as thick as I've ever seen them this year, and we're at that point in the season where you could catch 50 fluke in an area and not break 16 inches. On top of this are large areas of sandeels with terns attacking from above and small bluefish from below. "Lock-and-load" fishing is common, but in many areas it can be almost entirely sea robins and short fluke. The strategy of staying on these fish with hopes of putting a few in the cooler just doesn't work well. The key is to keep making moves. These might be as small as a hundred yards in or out, to maybe moving a half-mile off what seems like the main concentration of fish. When you see your size jump from 14-inch fluke to 17+ inches, that's a good place to start concentrating efforts. It's also important to keep in mind the old investing disclaimer - "Past results do not guarantee future performance." I saw this last Thursday when I spent 90 minutes without a keeper while beating on a spot that had given me a limit the previous day. On my way there I had run through some birds that were in what I thought was an unusual spot, so I decided to make the 1/2-mile run back to check it out. In less than 90 minutes I was headed back to the ramp with another limit of keepers, none of which needed to be measured. Of course I'll probably start there the next time out, but if it's not happening, I'll be even quicker to make a move this time.
Here's my most recent fluke video, this one focused on the tackle specifics before I demonstrate the techniques on last Thursday's trip. My logs show that keeper-sized fluke will be getting tougher to come by in the Sound over the next couple of weeks, so now's the time to get out and take advantage of the good fishing.

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