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 a 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.
Congrats Chad Ketch!
Striped Bass Fishing Forecast (Open all year, 1 fish between 28 and 35 inches per angler, per day)
The striper score has gotten a little better for the surf guys in the days since our last forecast. There was a good run of fish from the rocks for at least one week leading up to Tropical Storm Isaias, several fish over 40 pounds were put on the rocks by a handful of guys that got the word from the Messiah. The bite was mostly comprised of smaller fish from 18 inches to 20 pounds, but those that stayed on the bite for its duration stuck some big ones in the 30- to 45-pound class. A variety of plugs and lures were working for the smaller fish, bucktails when it was rough like the Jeck’s Nighttime Special or Magic Tails in wine color. Swimming plugs like the Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnow and loaded Red Fins were also taking fish. But the far and away best bet for a big one was the live eel. Since the storm passed, the action has cooled off a bit, but there are still plenty of smaller fish from Brenton Reef around to the Tea House. And with all the chub macks in the area, there is no doubt that there are some big ones around as well. Peanut blitzes are starting to fire up at both ends of the island, from Sachuest up into the Sakonnet River and from Brenton all the way around to Fort Adams. The baitfish are very, very small and this can make for some tough fishing if you don’t carry a fly rodor casting egg. One of the tricks I have used in the past is to rig a Super Strike 2-3/8-ounce Little Neck Popper with a feather-dressed 5/0 Siwash on the tail and swim it through the melee. Stripers are not as smart as we all want them to be and they will often lock onto the sight of those feathers snaking along behind the plug and grab it. It sounds silly, but you should try it. This week’s Canal tides were a flop, the only bait in the Ditch was herring fry and a few whiting, the fish were almost all between 14 and 26 inches and they were not easy to hook.
Boaters continue to do well in local waters with the T-Man tube and worm. We’re also seeing an increase in the sales of Mojo Rigs as more large baitfish move in, with the chub mackerel leading the way. I haven’t heard any reports of fish taken on Mojos recently, but they have proven themselves to be a very effective way to find big fish when big bait is in town. Reading between the lines on this, there’s been a big emphasis on trolling for the last several weeks and this should tell you that the fish are spread out and rather than finding big concentrations of fish on one reef or ledge, it is more likely that you’ll find a few fish on several pieces of prime structure. Down in South County, where the chub mack schools are much thicker, anglers have found some really big fish live-lining chubs near the big schools—this also might be worth a shot in Newport. In addition to that, there were some giant stripers feeding on big schools of small stripers sighted out in the open between Montauk and Watch Hill last week, these fish disappeared after the storm but could pop up anywhere at any time. Catches at Block Island have cooled down just a touch according to the sources we’ve spoken with and it has become necessary to know the area a little better than just looking for the boats to hook up. The guys that are still crushing are using their coconuts and fishing likely spots instead of just pounding the ledge and hoping the fish come by some time in their six hours on the grounds.
Predictions: For the surfcasters I think there are two ways to go about it; either pound it every night that you can with big fish methods or, start fishing smaller stuff in the early mornings and just before dark for the smaller fish chasing the huge schools of peanuts. I think by the time the next report is due, there will be a much higher number of bass in the surf again, especially if the weather cools off a bit—let’s hope for that. Despite reports that Block has been slower this week, I do believe it will fire up again as the big tides draw near, eels will be the slayer, but don’t neglect the power of large soft plastics like the GT Eels from Gravity Tackle. Closer to home that troll bite should hang on for at least another couple weeks but I would urge anyone with a boat to put in some time around those chub mack schools, big stripers love mackerel and giant stripers love giant mackerel—seems like a no-brainer.
Courtesy of Captain Rene Letoureu and On The Rocks Charters
Bluefish Fishing Forecast (Open all year, 3 fish per angler, per day, no minimum size)
Blues finally seem to be showing up in greater numbers after an entire summer of inconsistency. It’s got to be all the bait that has been flooding in around Aquidneck Island. We have heard about some good-sized blues around Fort Adams—6 to 9-pounders. And a well-mixed school of them off the Cliff Walk as well. As you move west along the SoCo shore and even into Connecticut, the bluefish numbers seem to get bigger with every mile left in your wake. If you’re looking to catch bluefish, then you should be looking for bait and fishing splashy or flashy lures around it. For topwater offerings try something like the Hogy Squid or Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper in the 2-ounce size. If you want to go flashy, maybe a Pt. Jude Sea Scallop or a Hopkins would suit your fancy.
Predictions:I think the blues are going to be around for a while now for the simple fact that there is so much bait around. And, as I suggested in the report above, I think the people who target schools of baitfish will have the best luck catching bluefish this month.
Fluke Fishing Forecast (Open May 3 to December 31, 5 fish per angler, per day at a minimum size of 19 inches)
I’m starting to think that the fluke got a look at the rising coronavirus numbers in Rhode Island and decided to steer clear. The only positive reports I have heard have been one-off reports from Block Island and Fishers Island. The local fluke fanatics have resigned themselves to a few drifts over prime bottom, just to keep it honest, before they whip out the sea bass rigs and start looking for humpheads.
Predictions:As I said two weeks ago, the fluke bite is not going to magically explode. But there is one little trick I know that just might pay off in this tough season. Fluke love snapper bluefish and they have been showing up over the past few weeks. Catching some snappers to throw in the live well and then fishing them live over your best fluke bottom or in the approach to some known snapper territory (like the gaps in the walls at the Harbor of refuge), just might save the season. Give it a try, either that or go sea-bassing!
Sea Bass: (Current season June 24 to August 31, 3 fish per angler per day at a minimum size of 15 inches)
Not much has changed in the sea bass arena since our last forecast. We are seeing more sea bass now that many everyday anglers remember seeing in their lifetimes, and that includes local legend Charley Soares, who said he hasn’t seen sea bass like this in his 70 years plying local waters. The number of shorts is still the biggest issue for anyone with the hopes of a pan-fried sea bass dinner. The best advice is to fish larger baits, fish deep, and to move around a lot. Very often, the well-known ledges, rock piles, and wrecks get hammered by the daily fleet of anglers that frequent local waters. But if you use a chart or your Navionics App, you can find other spots that will be holding more sea bass and fewer boats. Large whole baits like tinker macks and squid will often help cull out the doinkers, also jigs like the Shimano Flat-Fallcan also help target keepers. Heavy tins are also a good way to nail a few sea biscuits, try the new Daiwa Zakana Casting Jigs or Shimano Coltsnipers in the heavier sizes.
Predictions: We have a lot of deep water around the island so it’s a great place for sea bass. There’s no reason to think that the sea bass action will change at all over the next two weeks. If you find yourself steaming for Block, don’t forget the sea bass rigs either, there’s some of the best sea bass grounds in Rhody out there.
Exotics Fishing Forecast:
Chub mackerel is the newest addition to the Rhode Island saltwater fishing vernacular. They seem to be here to stay and have become a fly and light tackle target for many anglers, mostly those fishing from the shore. The chubs have been in heavy over the past two weeks and have been showing up regularly at Watch Hill, all of the Breachways, Point Judith, Beavertail, Brenton Point, and Fort Adams. They fight very well on light tackle and also provide a beefy, high-calorie food source for large predators like striped bass and bluefish. If you’d like to try and catch one, give our blog post from last week a read,Chasing Chubs.As if one exotic mackerel species weren’t enough, we also have frigate and bullet mackerel speeding around local waters and fueling the albie rumors because they both look very similar to one another and also look kind of like small albies with larger eyes. These, too, can be caught on small flies and tins, we’ve heard they don’t fight very hard, but are still a nice species to add to the list of personal catches.
Courtesy of Captain Eric Thomas and Teezer77 Charters
The general consensus seems to be that the mackerel overload has pushed the bonito out. After being caught somewhat regularly through June and early July. The only place I have heard about bonito being taken recently is Block Island (probably in the Coast Guard cut) and out at Nantucket and Marthas Vineyard. Hat's off to Captain Eric Thomas for the lone local bonito that has hit our radar since mid-July. Albies, as far as I can tell, it’s just rumors and cases of mistaken identity. If I’m wrong about that, I’d love to know about it.
Predictions:I think there’s a reasonable chance that the bonito will come back again, maybe in a place where the mackerel party isn’t as prominent. Last year the bite really seemed to pick up around the last 10 days of August—maybe that will happen again. Albies most likely won’t be around in big numbers until September so that leaves the chub macks which I have to believe will stick around for several more weeks. The frigates, I have no clue.
Scup Fishing Forecast:(Open through 12/31, 30 fish per person, per day at a minimum size of 9 inches)
Scup (porgy) fishing has been amazing all summer long and if you’re looking for an easy limit of good eating fish, grab some bait and find some rocky structure. These fish are easy to catch and will eat almost any dead bait, sandworms are the favorite, but squid, clams and even Gulp will hook their share. The great thing about porgies is that you can catch them almost anywhere and they’re just as abundant from shore or boat.
Predictions:This fishery should not slow down at all over the next two weeks, whether you’re dunking bait off the Cliff Walk or anchored up on some secret wreck, these fish should be abundant and hungry.
Sharks Fishing Forecast:
By now most anglers that read local magazines or peruse social media know about the 300-pound thresher shark taken from Long Island Sound two weeks ago. Since that time we have seen a major uptick in shark activity in local waters. Iron Mike Everin reported a decent-sized shark from one of his surf spots this week and there was a report of a mako taken from shore from one of the South County beaches. There have been several reports of shark sightings from breachways as well. Boaters have reported seeing several species of shark in Rhody waters as well. Hammerheads have been hooked and landed at Coxes and a few other spots out around Block Island, in these same areas there have been makos and blues as well. Needless to say, it’s been ‘sharky’ out there so be careful and be prepared.