Fall. October. Wind. Striper migrations, salt ponds on fire, piles of mullet and a hurricane? It’s good to live in New England. This new month with it’s black moon and drenching rains quenching a season-long drought just may be a most perfect month to go fishing.
We know wind will be a steady factor, especially given how calm and dry of a summer we all enjoyed. Old timers know you’re going to pay for all that sunshine. What we really need to focus on is bait. “I believe the albie bite could be over but it really depends on the bait”, said Captain Rene Letourneau of On The Rocks Charters.
Bait drives the car and steers the boat.
Nine hours of sunlight means gas money gets spent carefully so it’s all about finding bait.
“We have large bait around, bunker and mullet along the south lying beaches. Big stripers are moving in from the the canal. October is always good, with loads of bait and stripers of all sizes” he told me. Find the bait find the fish. Bunker are menhaden, known to Native Americans as “munnawhatteaug” or fertilizer are oily bony forage fishes which once supported hundreds of shore-side businesses. Their oils and fats are critical to superior members of the food chain, including stripers for dinner and humans for bait and cat food. Because of purse seining and advancements in the technology to find fish, we fished them to the brink of populations collapse so most companies went overboard. Really, there is little we humans haven’t taken to the point of collapse.
Mullets, on the other hand, are found behind heads of aging Scituate High School alumni and those who feel a long knot of twisty graying hair stuck in their WalMart t-shirt tag is attractive in some social situations. Mullet are also Mugiliformes, lean fishes with rayed fins and opportunistic appetites who will feed on small plants, detritus or some tiny fishes. One to three feet is their size range and while stripers down south, some folks fish just for them for sport and the plate up here we Yankees find them more to catch the stripers feeding below them.
Speaking of up north, Dave Henault at Providence’s Ocean State Tackle has reported more stripers in the lower Seekonk River and recommended fishing near the Red Bridge during daylight hours or at the Gano Street boat launch. Best bait bets are chunks of bunker or live lining pogies you’ve snagged. Dave also mentioned tossing shallow diving plugs to attract bass, like broken back Rapalas and Bomber Magnums. Considering how much he fishes and the number of fishermen who pass through his shop, his advice should always be heeded.
Even closer to the water, Brian Hall of the Ocean State Kayak Fishing group wisely observed how weather might likely change our fishing. “I have little hope of this wind dissipating, knowing the dwindling fishing window left for us on shore and the fast moving fish.” Kayak fishermen are a rugged bunch who, while recognizing safety trumps the jones, log countless hours in the dark, on the bay and off the beaches, precariously close to water. They see everything while hauling tautog, sea bass and stripers over the low rails. Brian also noticed an explosion of mullet along Newport’s Ocean Drive, hopefully signaling a big fall striper run. Peter Jenkins from the Saltwater Edge thinks all that north breeze will keep the bass happy as well as the fly fishermen who need to make the most of a fleeting season.
Most river herring have left fresh water ponds through local rivers and migrated south but with our unusually warm waters, which I know is not associated with global warming or climate change because Donald Trump assured us it’s just weather and is all caused by China, there certainly can be a few schools holding back. All these bait factors point to potential for a very strong fall striper run.
For the freshwater folks, our state has again stocked several local ponds with brook trout and nonnative rainbows and browns. Some 6,000 hatchery raised fish will be set free in Coventry’s Carbuncle Pond, Olney Pond in Lincoln; Silver Spring Pond in North Kingstown; South Kingstown’s Barber Pond, Round Top Pond in Burrillville, Tiverton’s Stafford Pond and the Wood and Pawcatuck River in Richmond. Purists will cast 3 or 4 weights, traditional spin fishermen will pitch Al’s Goldfish and Mepps Spinners and millennials will dunk sebaceous balls of green gum to mimic the twice-daily feed they received before being set “free”.
Whichever method you choose, this stocking is done in anticipation of fine fall days and the impending ice fishing season. This being just the beginning of October, there’s really no need yet to discuss that frozen pastime. For now, in the words of Captain Rene Letourneau, “The fly and light tackle fishermen will have some of the best fishing ahead”. Let’s hope so
This piece originally appeared in the Southern RI Newspapers. © 2017 todd corayer