Speaking to Ryan on the phone this morning, it became clear quickly that it was too windy. A drift speed of one knot or less necessary for fluke catches kept to standard. So we hope to go out tomorrow morning.
We had an afternoon boogie boarding and body surfing. If Irene comes ashore as a category three later this week, then we'll have waves crashing right over the dunes, let alone cresting just over our heads. Before we went to the beach, Matt placed a fried egg into the minnow pot, photographed above. Later we were pleased to have loads of killies.
Last year we caught lizard fish, croakers, spot, pinfish at the boat ramp dock on shrimp. But what haunted me was the tale I heard of someone catching a 23-inch fluke. Here in North Carolina fluke are much smaller than in New Jersey, so a 23-incher is huge. In the back of my mind, prepared this evening with killies, I wondered about fluke. Speckled trout would be a real thrill too.
We caught plenty lizard fish in the hour we fished, one of them photographed. Matt did catch a small 10-inch fluke. But the excitement rose as Matt could not raise a real good-size fish off bottom, hooked directly under the dock. Finally he got it in view. Sure enough, a fluke, about 18 inches. for North Carolina well beyond the 15-inch minimum length requirement. No way this fish would be hauled up onto the dock, not even had we used heavier rods than our 5 1/2-foot St. Croix medium-power with six-pound test line. I pointed the way for Matt: around the corner of the dock, and up the concrete ramp, telling him to keep steady pressure on the fish as it began to shake its head. Then I turned to get my camera, and when I turned toward my son, he was down in the water, with the fluke literally beginning to tow him out. As he struggled to get back up by grabbing onto a wood piling, the fluke shook that head again, and this time the hook with it, before I could get over to help. Matt's idea was to get as close to the fish as he could as soon as he could, rather than to have stayed up on dry concrete and swing the fish up onto that. He had no idea how slippery the algae-slick ramp would be until he jumped on it and slipped as though it were ice.
No bruised limbs, no scrapes or cuts, no broken bones, and a good struggle with the largest fluke we've encountered here yet. Right at the boat ramp, literally under the dock. So that worked out pretty neat. Got the killies on leftover breakfast and almost finished with a fine dinner.