Striped bass fishing will continue to be hot this week as anglers are catching fish of all sizes.
A number of tactics are working depending on where the fish are in the water column and the bait in the water the striped bass are feeding on. For example, soft plastics are working well on Cape Cod Canal with anglers able to fish them anywhere in the water column. And,many anglers fishing Mount Hope Bay in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as Narragansett Bay, are using Atlantic menhaden (poggies) as bait.
One sure sign that the poggies are plentiful are the Atlantic menhaden commercial bait boats that have been fishing in the bay. They are highly regulated and if they are in the bay fishing, you know the poggies are here in abundance.
If the bio-Mass of Atlantic menhaden falls below the threshold of 1.5 million pounds in Narragansett Bay (assessed by aerial surveillance) the bay is closed to commercial fishing, when it is above the threshold the bay is open. All commercial fishing poggy boats are restricted from fishing north of Conimicut light in the East Passage, and in Greenwich Bay. Vessels must also report when and where they are fishing.
At press time, the state of Rhode Island had closed the Bay as the Atlantic menhaden biomass fell below the threshold. It will open again when it goes above the threshold.
Additionally, worm hatchers are occurring in coves and estuaries which creates a feeding frenzy for this striped bass delicacy.
Here are some popular fishing strategies that anglers will employ this week to catch striped bass.
Trolling with tube and worm: Anglers have great success in the bay using lead-core line weighted with two or three ounces between the line and an eight foot monofilament leader. I find that bubblegum or red colored-tubes work best (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm). The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are.
Casting soft plastics, swimming lures and surface lures: Many anglers have had success with lures this week, even in the Providence River where striped bass are feeding on Atlantic menhaden, often times they are feeding close to the surface so lures are working. There is nothing like seeing and feeling a striped bass of size hit your lure. My favorite swimming casting lure is a grey Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow.
Live-lining or fresh-chunked Atlantic menhaden: Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook, hook the bait through the bridge of the nose (circle hooks required by regulations), find a school of fish and put the live menhaden into the school of bait and let it swim. You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks (cut-up Atlantic menhaden) too. Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass/bluefish: Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick, said, “We have some very large bass in the 30-pound range being caught in the upper reaches of the Providence River, actually all the way up to the Pawtucket, School Street area. Along with the bass bite we have some large bluefish being caught too. Most are using poggies, live lining them or using chucks, however, SP Minnows in bone color are working well and soft plastics lures in the same bone color.” Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Shore anglers fishing from the breachways are catching keeper slot fish (28 inches to less than 35 inches) and fish larger with a good number of school bass mixed in. At Block Island, anglers are starting to catch big fish covered in lice on the southwest side. So things are getting good.” Sam Toland of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, Middletown, said, “All the action with large bass is in the upper bay now. No large fish are being taken off Newport yet. Customers are using poggies with tube and worm working for some too.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “The bite has slowed a bit. We have had so much Atlantic menhaden around that the striped bass are stuffed. What seems to be working are small pieces or chucks of poggies.” “Most of the action is in the East Passage.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick. “Customers are catching striped bass from Bristol all the way up to the Hurricane Barrier in Providence.”
Scup/black sea bass/fluke: The scup and black sea bass bite continues to be good in Buzzards Bay. However, the Rhode Island black sea bass season does not open until June 24. “We have customers catching 14-inch scup all over the Bay, but few are hooking up with summer flounder.” Giddings said. Angler Mark Jacobs reports catching two keeper fluke to 23 inches on the south side of Block Island and then two more off Matunuck. “Fluke fishing along the southern coastal beaches and the south side of Block Island is good when conditions are right, go to deep and the dog fish are there.” Said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait said, “Customers are starting to catch fluke off Prudence and Patience Island along with larger scup around Hope Island and when bottom fishing for fluke.” Angler Keith Turner said, “ Took home two keepers at 20 and 22 inches with some shorts and sea Robins mixed in. All fish caught on Spro jigs in about 40 feet of water when fishing off Patience Island Sunday.” Tolland said, “Customers are catching fluke but there are a lot of shorts at the mouth of the Sakonnet River and out in front of Newport and Second Beach.”
Squeteague (weakfish): The squeteague bite continues to be strong in Greenwich Bay and off Warwick Neck. Tom Giddings said, “Customers are picking up 24-inch squeteague when fluking. We have not seen the squeteague fishing this good in years.” Henault said, “This week the squeteague bite was good in the West Passage from Green River to Calf Pasture Point in North Kingstown.”
Freshwater fishing in ponds stocked for last week’s holiday weekend has been good.