Some waters have warmed and some fishing has cooled. Stripers have started their expected travels from the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay towards Newport, South County and Block Island. There are still fluke in plenty of regular spots and the sea bass season has so far been very strong. For many of these same spots and in tight from Watch Hill to the top of the Bay, scup fishing is a hot ticket right now.
Look for ospreys hunting them in the shallows on clear days near Narragansett Beach. Ospreys have a fabulous adaptation where their outer toe is reversible, giving them a better grip on fish. They also have pads on their foot bottoms to keep better hold of slippery fish. Even better, they have a small piece of flesh on their nostril which can close before making impact with water, which they do feet first. These weeks now are typically when young ospreys leave their nests for flying and feeding lessons. It’s quite a site not only to see a mature osprey dive into the water but it’s quite another to see young birds learning how to feed themselves in preparation for a long winters migration.
Scup, Stenotomus chrysops, known in some areas as porgy, are a favorite food source for many animals. Despite being mild and flaky when cooked, many people overlook eating scup as they are also quite bony but their size makes them perfect candidates for being baked whole. When fully cooked, meat and bone separate easily. Like many other species in our Atlantic, scup populations fell dramatically in the 1990’s. Today’s levels are much stronger and they are classified as “officially rebuilt”. RIDEM regulations include a ten inch minimum size and a limit of 30 fish per day. One of the big payouts of successful species management after a crash, is a return to strong population numbers. One of the big jobs now is to ensure fishermen are held to new harvest limits to ensure species health. Thirty fish should be more than plenty for a big fish fry. As mentioned in previousl columns, regulations do vary for some popular fishing locations in and around Narragansett Bay so be sure to double check with RIDEM before casting. All that information is available on their website, http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/mfsizes.htm#recre.
On the freshwater side, local angler Eric Wallin landed a personal best largemouth at his top-secret, relatively close farm pond. Weighing in a nearly eight pounds, it was fooled by a classic rubber worm pattern of purple sparkle on a slow retrieve across the bottom. This time of year, bass tend to search for food more in low to no light conditions and with the sun high overhead for these long days of summer, sunset and later will often produce more strikes. During the daylight, tall grasses provide cover and camouflage for bass of all sizes so getting your jigs and and trailers down low into grass piles will help. That erratic jerking motion will increase chances for a strike as well.
Bluefish are being caught near Monahan’s and the Towers with many measuring 24 inches and larger. Schools have been seen smashing the surface right in close all the way to the sand bank at the Narrow River. Fluke continue to be landed in strong numbers along that magical 40-60 foot depth. Spots along the Jamestown and Newport bridges, out front of Newport, all along our south facing beaches and, of course, the edges of Block Island, all continue to be productive. Speaking of, isn’t it time to stop calling the island “block”? ‘Nuff said. The first annual Block Island Giant Shark Tournament is scheduled for July 17 through 19. Captains and crews will fish for daily prize money as well as largest shark and largest mako overall. The big winner will take home five thousand dollars.
This coincides with the ongoing Pabst Blue Ribbon Striped Bass Bluefish Fluke Tournament, in which many participants are circling the island looking for all three. This contest began on June 1 and runs through September 14, with a highlight of this three year old event, in addition to the cash payouts, being a new association with The New England Lions Club to support the groups’ Visually Impaired Fishing Tournaments. Massachusetts Lions held their tournament for bass and blues while the Rhode Island Lions had a day on the Frances Fleet jigging for fluke.
Stripers will hang along the south side of the island for many months now. The rock piles, wrecks, boulders and coves are all target areas for both boat and shore fishermen. As the sun fades and bass get more daring, those many curves from Skate Bay all the way to The Church at Southwest Point will produce. Remember those great decades-old stories of giant bass pulled from the night with just a few early-generation lures and a bait caster? Keep that frame of mind when packing as the proven lures will serve you well here. Black pencil poppers, red and white swimmers, Danny’s, dark green mackerel pattern broken backs, Kastmasters and soft baits. Lure weight is something to keep in mind since you may find yourself in a wind, needing a Hopkins or similar heavy artificial to get out beyond any breaking waves or to overcome a stiff, right in your face wind. Bass often lurk in the slower swells near the bottom, saving energy while looking for food so you will need a few lures capable of sinking down amongst the rocks to attract them.
It’s a good month overall to fish fresh and salt, from shore and boat, inshore and off. Offshore waters are prime for shark and tuna fishing with temperatures running from 60-70 degrees with some spots south of Long Island getting even warmer. Cool evenings will be just right for largemouth bass and even better for stripers looking for a shore dinner along our rocky coastline.