Before we begin I want to offer some insights regarding how and why I break the season down into these moon periods. I look at each period as 15 days which is, roughly, half of a month—it’s the seven days before, the day of the new or full moon and the seven days following. The moons have great influence on the ocean and the fish. The moons drive the tide timings and the strength of the current, they also drive the measurable height of the tide. For nighttime fishing the moon phases dictate how dark the night will be if there is no cloud cover. My own observations over 20-plus years fishing for striped bass from the surf, tell me that there is no denying the fact that these periods of stronger currents are usually the times when bodies of fish make a move, into or out of a bay, from one region to another or even just a few miles down the beach. These 15-day cycles are a manageable chunk of time that I feel we can offer enough insights to help you find the fish you’re looking for.
Earl Evans Photo
Right now, freshwater fishing is pretty much the only fishing going on in Rhode Island and, with trout season still closed in the Ocean State most anglers are chasing largemouth bass. March and April are phenomenal times to hunt largies and, because March was on the colder side for the most part, many local waters are just starting to give up reliable fish. Suspending jerkbaits are one of the best options for cold water bassing and the Vision 110 seriesfrom Megabass are Cadillacs of the genre. I like to fish shallow flats the dive over an edge into deeper water at this time of year, and I prefer afternoon fishing over morning and evening. Jerkbaits are designed to suspend when paused and most anglers employ an erratic cadence of violent jerks and long pauses. If you’re fishing from a boat, the Vision 110 +1 series is a good choice because these baits get deeper and can be fished over deep structure or swam down to suspended fish showing on your screen. We’re still about a month from the first spawners which means this a also a great time to throw big baits for a giant. One of the best for getting it done in March is the Huddleston 68 Special, this 6-inch bait features the meatier tail of its bigger cousin (the 8-inch Huddleston Deluxe) and it throws some serious vibration off from a more compact silhouette. For best results these baits should be fished deep, right along the bottom, but great results can be had swimming them along known structure too. Whatever the case may be, don’t drag your feet, this excellent stretch of bass fishing doesn’t last long, so get on it!
Predictions: With several warm days this week and more in the forecast I expect the bass fishing to really catch fire over the next 5 to 7 days. Any pond with a herring run is a great spot to try your luck with larger baits and the herring should start to run with some urgency on this next moon—in some places they already are. If you can’t fish multiple times per week, plan your trips around weather changes, especially on a warm day before a rainy cold front is forecast to push through.
Chris Lawton Photo
Striped Bass Fishing Forecast
Migratory stripers are being reported from central New Jersey now, but I haven’t heard any reports from anywhere north of there. Word from Housatonic River tells of some amazing early spring action for holdover bass. The most popular baits there seem to be Housy Minnows – the smaller sizes for bites and the large ones if you want to target bigger fish and the big ones seem to be biting well right now. Other baits that work well for holdover bass are Tsunami Swim Shads in 4- and 5-inch sizes, Cocahoe Minnows, Bass Assassin Sea Shads and SP Minnows. These fisheries are often feast or famine, the dedicated angler always has the best shot.
Predictions: I think we’re still 18 to 25 days from migratory bass showing in Rhode Island waters, so we’ll have to sit tight for now. If you’re feeling the need to scratch your striper itch, poke around the backwaters of Narragansett Bay with small soft plastics or make a run to the Housy.
Blackfish season opens April 1, but if history is an indicator, we won’t see any togs coming over the rails just yet. Typically, the bite doesn’t fire up until the last week of April, but if we have a warm month, they could turn on sooner. Trout season will open on the second Saturday in April, be ready for that (or be ready to get on some of those previously closed trout ponds and hunt for a giant largemouth). It’s only the beginning of fishing here in Rhode Island, let’s make it count!