Greg Vespe was tired, and his reflexes were slow. He and his cousin James Manzo had striper fished through Narragansett Bay until 1:30 am. Perhaps that was one factor that led to his landing a 15-pound-plus Rhode Island fluke.
“I let her eat it instead of pulling it out of her mouth,” Vespe said.
Vespe and his cousin had slept only three hours before Captain BJ Silvia rang them out of bed.
“Meet me at my dock by 6am, we are going fluking,” he said. Capt. Silvia knew some predicted wind and a big moon tide would align for good drifts for big summer flounder on his Flippin Out Charters 25’ Parker.
“Through the fog and light rain, we headed out past Castle Hill and Brenton Reef,” Vespe recalled. “There was a large swell, but the wind wasn’t too strong to prevent a nice drift.”
Vespe chose a Deep Purple squid body Flippin’ Out fluke rig made by Captain Silvia with a 6-inch Berkley Gulp grub, light pink and purple Dominic Lamon Backwater Custom Baits Poison Tail teaser, and a 10-ounce sinker.
“My rod just got heavy,” Vespe said. “No nibble or classic kind of tap, tap. Just the whole thing loaded up. For a second, I thought I had a pot line.”
Vespe thought if he wasn’t snagged, he must have hooked a cod.
“You know with fluke, you’ve got to give them a little bit of time,” he said. His lightly frazzled touch was perfect. “I could tell it was definitely something alive, and it came up relatively easily the first forty feet. Then it decided to fight, and what a fight. Despite my drag being tight, she dumped my reel all the way back down to the bottom and bulldozed for a bit before finally starting to come back up. I’ve never in my life had a fluke dump me like that. I really was convinced I had a cod. BJ, however seemed more certain it was a fluke.
“When we saw it, BJ was ready with the net, and he didn’t miss: one scoop and she was in the boat. There is no one I would rather have had net that fish than BJ.
“We didn’t realize just how big she was until we tried to lift her. First we thought 11 pounds, then we guessed 12 to 13, and when BJ told me he could see the 15-pound line on the Boga, we just all started celebrating,” Vespe laughed.
“It was total luck on my part, but I did have the right gear.”
Only the first part of that is true. Vespe has spent countless days aboard his pretty 20’ Swan Point center console, the Miss Colleen, catching and releasing giant stripers around Newport and upper Bay, and Captain Silvia has fished those areas since childhood. This epic catch came from a combination of seasoned fishermen and reliable tackle. She was hauled in with a Ted Zach custom built MHX 70 carbon fiber rod holding a Daiwa Saltist 40 spooled with 40-pound braid and a 30-pound mono top shot.
“It was epic. It was insanity,” Vespe said with a smile. “I never seen one near ten pounds that didn’t have a couple of battle scars. She looked like she came out of an aquarium,” he said.
The 1962 Rhode Island state record weighed 17.8 pounds. Greg’s fish was 31.5 inches long and weighed 15.26 pounds. It’s one of the largest fluke ever caught in Rhode Island.