Story by Tom Pagliaroli


Actually, going deep is now the way to clean doormats and area rugs, i.e. flatties in the 10-lb. and 12-lb. ranges, respectively.

Sure, keepers in the 18 to 22-inch (2 to 6-lb.) class can still, and will, be caught in the bays, tidal rivers and creeks, ICW and the inlets right to the September 21 season closure. However, when it comes to dragging up the biggest fluke the Jersey shore has to offer, especially during the summer swelter through the cooling winds and waters in September, it’s a matter of heading east to the deeper wrecks, reefs and structures.

“Big baits, big fish,” is the accepted mantra, and it’s basically a split between those opting to drift the longer strip baits (sea robin, whole squid, mackerel or bluefish) or perhaps a live snapper blue or spot, and those who prefer actively working 4 to 6, or even 8-ounce bucktails tipped with 5 and 6-inch Gulp! Baits such as the Grub, Nemesis or Swimming Mullet, or the 6-inch Instigator from KTS Custom Tackle, with a teaser above.

Both tactics will elicit crunching assaults from hungry, heavyweight’s simply a matter of what you are used to presenting.

Opines doormat doyenne Jerry Vessel, owner of Three Girls Skirts & Bucktails Tackle Company, and promoter of the Wildwood Fishing & Boating Expo,  “Drift over the stickiest, most jumbled cover that you can find, because that’s where the bigger fish will be. By all means, be willing to switch baits and bucktails. Color and meat matter. One morning it’s chartreuse and the same afternoon it’s white or pink or bright yellow. One morning it’s whole squid, the same afternoon it’s the Gulp! Grub. And accept the fact that when you’re fishing these types of bottoms, you are going to lose bucktails and rigs.  But when you get that hit, you can be pretty sure it’s from a fluke with a lot of meat on her bones!”

You can listen to Jerry’s tips and tricks for big fluke tomorrow, July 20, on Rack & Fin Radio, from 5-6am on WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM and WPG 1450 AM (, and 7-8am on 97.3 ESPN FM (


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