My (Almost) State Record Fluke

On a late-season trip with buddies for bluefin and cod, Spencer Faucher dropped a fluke rig on a whim and ended up netting the fish of a lifetime.

Spencer Faucher with 16.38-pound (almost) state-record fluke
The author (middle), visibly excited, at the capture of this 33-inch, 16.38-pound doormat. The near state-record fluke just missed the mark in Rhode Island, where the record has stood for 61 years, by about a pound.

On Saturday, October 14, I joined my buddies Austin, Justin, and Dan aboard Austin’s 2900 Hydra-Sports, On the Pins. Our plan was to fish The Dump in hopes of a late-season bluefin before switching over to cod fishing in the afternoon on the way home after giving tuna the ol’ college try.

Once at the cod spot, we set up to drift and deployed our baits. Rain began to pour and the seas picked up—it felt like classic cod-fishing weather. I was last to get a bait in the water as the boys started sorting through a bycatch of bergalls. On the second drift, Austin released a short fluke, and I suggested, “Maybe someone should throw down a fluke rig.”

• Learn More: 6 Rigs to Know for Fluke Season

After switching, not 3 minutes had passed when my fluke jig was hit. Initially, I thought it might be a dogfish, but the persistent “fluke-like” headshakes kept me focused. “It’s either a dogfish or a massive fluke,” I announced.

I asked for the net and, of course, it was in the forward hatch I was standing on. The mammoth, brown-spotted carpet appeared, tangled in Justin’s line, as Austin attempted to retrieve the net.

I passed my rod around Justin’s twice to free the lines, all while trying to maintain tension and keep the fluke underwater. Austin, finally equipped with his 29-inch-diameter net, quickly realized that this fish made the net seem insufficient when it flexed off its rim on the first attempt. Austin’s net skills were too advanced for the beast, though, and he managed to fold it in, hoisting it over the gunwale and onto the deck.

The crew and I erupted in excitement because we knew immediately that this was the fish of a lifetime. A possible state-record fluke. The sheer size was amazing—especially the thickness and the height of its shoulders off the diamond-plate deck. Its tail was larger than my hand and the coloration was pure beauty. The fish’s top side displayed a variety of brown and gold shades in polka-dot formations, with the underside white as fresh snowfall.

Cod Fishing

Over the next couple hours, we landed seven cod, bled them, and tossed them in the salt/ice slurry alongside the giant fluke. Although, what great adventure is had without some hardship? About 15 minutes into our run home, the port engine spun a drive and our cold, rainy fishing day was extended by another 2 hours, thanks to the 9-knot boat ride back into Point Jude Harbor. Still, the stoke levels were high and we made the most out of our situation, trading jokes over cold Narragansetts on the ride in.

Back at the dock, tackle shops and nearby certified-scale locations had closed. I had lost all hope of obtaining an accurate weight of the fluke until I heard some commotion coming from the Snug Harbor breakfast building and went to investigate. I walked into a birthday party and found Elisa Cahill, manager at Snug Harbor Marina. I asked her if we could weigh a really big fluke and she agreed. The entire birthday party gasped as I took the fish from the cooler and placed it on the scale. The scale revealed its weight to be 16.38-pounds, just 1.1 pounds short of becoming the next Rhode Island state-record fluke.

I am beyond grateful for this fish of 10 lifetimes and treated it with the respect and care that such a flatfish deserves. The size of the fillets were enormous, and four families enjoyed the flaky, white meat for several meals. I prepared a refreshing fluke ceviche one night and a fluke francese the next.

Spencer Faucher started boating, fishing, and diving in New England waters at the age of 5. Whether it’s spearfishing the canyons, exploring hard-to-get-to places by small boat, or cooking freshly-harvested seafood with friends, he loves every aspect of being on the water.

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