The season for fluke fishing, a.k.a. summer flounder, begins on May 17, and this year the catch is expected to be outstanding after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation relaxed regulations on size and harvest for 2014.
Minimum length for fluke has been lowered to 18 inches, down from 19 inches last year, and the daily catch limit is five fish, up from four.
The 2014 season will continue through September 21. In 2013, the season was a bit longer, lasting from May 1 to September 29.
Those lucky enough to own boats can hit the water anytime after May 17 — for the rest of us, the East End has plenty of available party boats and private fishing charters. See below for a few suggestions to get you started.
Montauk – Captain Burt Prince’s Susie E II (a 48-foot custom sport fisherman) is licensed to carry as many as 33 passengers for private charters — making it one of very few multi-passenger boats on The End. Early fluke fishing out of Montauk can bring some serious doormats, and the Susie E II crew says it’s not uncommon to see fish over 10 pounds in May. Call the captain at 631-523-TUNA or visit susiee.com.
Hampton Bays – Captain Jim Foley’s Hampton Lady is 60-foot, 49-passenger party boat out of Sundays Marina at 369 Dune Road. Foley says fishing will be particularly abundant thanks to the late start this year, but the shorter season is also allowing fewer opportunities to get on the water. Call 631-521-3366 or visit thehamptonlady.com for reservations.
Greenport – Suited for true lovers of the party boat experience, the Peconic Star Fleet includes the North Fork’s largest and fastest modern super-cruisers. Berthed at The Railroad Dock on Greenport’s 3rd Street, Peconic Star II (90 feet) and Peconic Star Express (80 feet) each carry 150 passengers and, come May 17, they’ll be pulling up mountains of fluke, day and night. Call 631-875-2631 or visit peconicstarfleet.com.
Orient – Captain Mike Boccio’s Prime Time III, a 50-foot custom party boat designed to accommodate 35 anglers, has been operating out of Orient (40200 Main Road) since 1981, with day and night fishing sailing daily at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Call 631-323-2618 or visit primetime3.com for info and reservations.
The East End is home to dozens of excellent charters, so look around online and find one that’s suited to your tastes.