Striped bass fishing has improved, a bit, there are some bluefish, dogfish and scup around but fishing for fluke seems to be steady. Guys casting from shore for stripers are reporting low numbers, few big bass and still some fish feeding in the salt ponds. These are classic head-scratching days, days when you fish churning, oxygen-rich waters, where there seems to be plenty of bait fish and still there’s only a few fish, if any, to show for the effort. If you have a boat, there are plenty of black sea bass to target and they are tasty.
To the south of Block Island, there are bass to be found but just not in those big summertime numbers to which we were accustomed. Southwest Ledge is not jammed up as it was last summer but the fishing certainly can turn on at any time. Peter Vican continues to find the biggest bass, as he did last week, fishing in the Pabst Blue Ribbon tourney, with a 52 lb. 7oz. cow. The man sure has the touch. He also will tell you it’s all about having the correct gear and fresh bait along with an understanding of the bottom and the fish themselves. It’s no coincidence he consistently catches and releases 30-40lb bass while looking for the big ones.
According to the 2013 striped bass benchmark assessment from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, “the resource is not overfished or experiencing overfishing”, but the female spawning stock biomass (SSB), “has continued to decline since 2004 and is estimated at 128 million pounds, just above the SSB threshold of 127 million pounds, and below the SSB target of 159 million pounds.” As a result of a declining overall stock, the Commission, with the help and comments of fishermen all up and down the coast, implemented Addendum IV last October, which aims to reduce the amount of fish mortality by 25%.rom 2013 levels. That’s the short story of why we are working with a one fish per day rule now.
The regs developed for bass followed a similar system to that of other local targeted species. Scientists work with commissioners who work with fishermen, who ultimately have the best feel for the seas. This is a dynamic and far from perfect system and while there can be a lag between what scientists say or the fishermen see and implementing the right quota or bag limit, our system is light years better than in some countries. A portion of that lag time is built in to allow for public hearings and comment. If you think the current regulations for black sea bass do not reflect the size of the biomass or make no sense, email or comment directly to any of our fishery managers. We have a collective voice that doesn’t really work in a blog post, it works when letters and words are delivered to managers. Admittedly, it’s an alphabet soup of commission, councils and committees out there so as an advisory panel member for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Council, I would be pleased to help you find the right person. My email is below.
While Block Island’s south side and north rip seem to be the place to fish eels or troll wire from a boat, there are also some spots on the mainland producing fish. Peter Jenkins at The Saltwater Edge in Middletown sent along a report from Thomas Pelto, who said there are “large bluefish up to 10 pounds in the west passage down to Narragansett feeding on pogeys. Sand eels from the south shore to Newport are offering the shore anglers good chances at schoolies with the occasional larger fish mixed in. Seabass are prevalent and easily found.” If you have a moment, check out The Edge’s FISHswe page, detailing their own unique fishing tournament. Not the drag your fish up to the scale type of contest, this one is all about the experience, the moments of being on the water, searching for fish in different places. It’s a very cool idea from a very cool shop.
Decent size keepers have been reported along the rocks south of Monahan’s Pier in Narragansett. There are several spots that typically hold fish along the beach from the ugly chain link fence up to the mouth of the Narrow River. Tossing chunks of pogie, herring or mackerel can be the trick there to landing bass. As is usually the case, early mornings and late nights usually produce more than under the bright sun. That being said, two of the biggest bass I have seen landed from the beach, one at Black Rock beach years ago on the Fourth of July weekend and the other at Narragansett’s Town Beach, were both taken in broad daylight under the hottest sun you can imagine. That’s fishing.
The rocks all around the river mouth are great places to catch scup on high-low rigs and a few bits of clam, sand worm or squid is all you need. All the land surrounding those rocks is private so the only option is by boat. Fighting a two pound scup on a light rod may not be the same as muscling in a bluefin but it’s a lot of fun and great for kids. Speaking of tuna, there is lots of action at the usual spots, like Coxe’s, the Dump, the Fingers and the Tuna Ridge. Local reports are starting out like this could be an exceptional year for tuna with warming and very clear water.
Fishing for fluke remains strong, especially considering how long the season has been open. 40-50’ seems to still be best depth but given the uncertainty to limiting out, all colors and variations are on the table. The center wall, the beaches along Charlestown and Misquamicut, all the way over in Newport and Sakonnet and all around Block Island are all still producing. Good for fishermen is that numbers of spiny dogfish have decreased. These predators love to tear into eels, clams, squid or just about any other offered bait and can ruin a day’s fishing. Dogfish are members of the Squalas family of sharks possessing two spines with glands at their base containing painful venom which they can pierce you if allowed to arch their backs. The Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Council develop regulations for dogfish in federal waters while the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission handles management in state waters of the Atlantic and they are not considered overfished. For now. Americans have not developed much of a taste for their flesh although they continue to be in demand throughout Europe in fish and chips and some low-grade shark fin soup. If you have a report for the new season or pictures from your catch, please send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. No secret spots or favorite rock piles are given up here.
Todd Corayer is a life-long fisherman who lives not far from the Saugatucket with his wife, who supports his fishing mainly to get him out of the house and a young son who regularly catches more fish than him.