Fishing Forecast: April Full Moon Period
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.
Chris Lawton Photo
Striped Bass Forecast
A lot has happened since our last forecast and the big one is the return of migratory striped bass. It has been a slow burn, but the fish are here. One oddity is that these fish have not made their annual—and momentous—landfall at the West Wall yet. This year, the first fish showed up in Newport in the corners of First and Second Beach. The reason I called it a ‘slow burn’ is that these fish showed up over a week ago and the action has not really intensified or spread out. It’s hard to come up with a reason why this might be—but sometimes you just have to chalk it up to the fact that fish are fish and fish do what fish want. The most reliable striper action is over in Connecticut, anywhere west of the Connecticut River has fish and areas well west have fish up to 35 inches. Back in Rhody, just about every river and salt pond—along with many upper Bay locations—have holdovers and these fish are feeding heavily on herring as they enter their natal rivers, it should go without saying that your best shot at hooking up will be at the entrance to a herring stream. Massachusetts still hasn’t offered any concrete reports with the exception of a few popup schoolies in some of the rivers that empty into Buzzards Bay. But fresh schoolies have also made landfall on Marthas Vineyard—but I don’t think it’s worth hopping a ferry just yet.
So what has been working? If you’re looking for some of these fresh-run schoolies in the beach corners think small. A Casting Egg is always a good bet for schoolie fishing, pair it with a Rhody Flatwing or a Surf Candy —cast and reel. You can also run a very light jig below the egg maybe a 1/4-ounce jighead with a 2.8-inch Keitech Swimbait or a 3-inch Cocaohoe threaded onto the hook. If you’re dead-set on that topwater smash, a Jumpin’ Minnow is must-have equipment for any schoolie mission. Just remember that these are the baby trophies of tomorrow so swap out those trebles for #3 Zo-Wire Inlines and have some fun. If you’re going to head up into the backwaters in search of some herring-fed holdovers, don’t downsize. First of all, fish in the dark or during periods of low light and make sure you’re throwing lures that can play in the water you’re fishing too. Many of these herring run approaches are shallow so you’ll need to have a selection of lures that can cover several depths. One long-standing herring run crusher is the Red Fin, make sure to bring Loaded and Unloaded; in those shallow approaches a waking unloaded ‘Fin will often draw huge strikes. Another must-have herring run bait is the 10-inch Fin-S Fish rigged on a 10/0 Beast Hook (unweighted). You can fish it a variety of ways from fast and splashy to dead-drifting with short ‘wounded’ twitches. A couple other great softbait options would be the 7.8-inch Keitech Swimbait or a 7.5-inch Housy Minnow; these paddletails can be rigged on 10/0, 1/2-ounce Weighted Beast Hooks and fished slow or fast. Sebile Magic Swimmers (165 size) are another crusher in the runs, Natural Shiner or Ghostescent are probably the best colors. This is another versatile plug that can be swung slowly in the tide or hurried through the shallows like a panicked herring streaking for the safety of the run. Something else that you might want to try is the MegaBass 8-inch MagDraft Swimbait in colors like ‘Brownie’, ‘White Back Shad’ and ‘Albino’, this is a bait I have not tried in the runs, but I feel confident that they will crush.
PREDICTIONS: Look for the striper bite to intensify rapidly over the next two weeks. Striped bass move on the moons and with the full moon on April 26th, I’m expecting to see a vastly different ballgame as that moon passes. Fresh fish should be showing up in all the classic schoolie spots—from the West Wall to upper Buzzards Bay. I think the first fish will show in the Canal before our next forecast as well. If you’re into being the first guy to hook a schoolie in the springtime, you should already be fishing. Slot-size fish should also be in the cards by the time we release the next forecast. We’ll see if I’m right. Another fish species that moves on the moons is the river herring, so look for the action at the runs to pick up during coming moon tides as well.
Togging is off to a slow start—but that’s not unusual. Most of the fish we’re hearing about are shorts being taken in 15- to 30-feet of water. The water temps are still on the lower side, a mix of cold nights and lots of windy days has slowed the warmup out front. The best action we have heard of has been out at Block Island, some of the deep-water humps off Point Judith and a few deeper spots up in the Bay. I talked to Captain Robert Kerry Taylor about the bay blackfish this week and he said he thinks a good population of togs stay in the bay all winter and that they just hang on structure until the water temps come up to their liking and then they begin to feed heavily again. He cited the fact that when they blew up one of the bridges on the Sakonnet a few winters back, a pile of blackfish floated up dead from the shockwave. Armed with this information, I might say that your best bet is to start on manmade structure in the bay—jetties, pilings and bridge abutments—but that’s just an educated guess. Rigs tend to dominate the early spring fishery and I also see a wider variety of baits being used, crabs aren’t always king in the spring; worms, periwinkles, clams and even squid strips can be used to tempt early-season tog. And we have all the components you’ll need to get on them whether you go with rigs—from Seaguar Blue Label Fluoro, to Gami Octopus Hooks. And if you still want to go with jigs, peruse our amazing selection of colors and styles by CLICKING HERE.
PREDICTONS: Early season blackfish can be fickle, sometimes they surprise you and sometimes they disappoint. The one thing I can say with confidence is that it always seems to be better in May than it does in April. So if you’re looking to notch a keeper in the fourth month, take a few days off after the 25th and put all your Easter eggs in that basket. It’s customary to fish deeper structure in the early-going but my records indicate that a lot of nice fish move into shallow water pretty quickly as the month threatens to change, water depths between 10 and 30 feet seem to be the best areas to prospect. Move around until you find a bite and then stay on that depth for a while until you uncover a pattern. Figuring it out is the fun part.
Dave Anderson Photo
Freshwater Fishing Report
If you’re freshwater bass guy we’re nearing the spawn now in most ponds, except the very large and very deep ones. So, fish hard this week because these fish are likely to get on the beds around this next moon. This is a magical time of year though because the combination of perch moving in to spawn and bluegills becoming much more active, these prespawn big girls are making one last push to pack on the calories before they sit on the bed and protect their eggs and they’re finding plenty to eat. This is when I like to fish hard with larger baits like Huddlestons, MagDrafts and S-Wavers. On of my favorite baits in the MagDraft Freestyle rigged on an 8/0 Flashy Swimmer—that thing destroys fish! On windy days, I like to throw glides like S-Waver and let the wind push them in toward the shore while I retrieve very slowly—this results in some thunderous and very visual strikes, so much fun! There are also likely to be lots of ‘buck bass’ up shallow as well and if you want to rack up the numbers you can do it with a Vision 110 Jerkbait fished with a ‘snappy’ stop-start retrieve. Another versatile bait that will take fish of all sizes in the MegaBass Dark Sleeper, you can straight-swim it with excellent results, but fishing it on the bottom like a jig has proven to be an even better way to put fish in the boat (or on the shore). These are also world-class smallmouth baits when they move up to spawn.
PREDICTIONS: In all but the biggest ponds the bass will move up to spawn by the time we ink our next forecast. Personally, I don’t fish for bedded bass, but for those of you that do, the Huddleston Bluegill Baits seem to do quite well on bedding fish. The other half of my prediction though is that some very large bass will be caught and released in Rhode Island ponds over the next 10 or so days. This is one of the best times of the year to hook a giant, so don’t sleep though it.