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.
Striped Bass(Open all year, 1 fish between 28 and 35 inches per angler, per day)
Despite it not really feeling like summer over the past two weeks, it is summer and the stripers are now falling into their summer patterns. This does not mean they will be easy to catch! Finding bites can be tougher as resident fish set up and move at random. Southwest Ledge has been holding lots of fish, and there are good numbers inside the line right now too, so you don’t have to be tempted to break the law. The numbers of absolute giants seem to be down a little and the numbers of fish in the 20-pound class, usually somewhat rare on the ledge, have been more common as of late. Live eels on 7/0 or 8/0 circle hooks have been the top takers, try the Owner Mutu or the classic Gamakatsu, but large soft baits on leadheads are also getting chewed, GT Eels are a mainstay at this point, but a large 8" Ron-Z will also stick fish. There have also been good topwater reports coming from the rocks at Block at first and last light, The Big Doc has been the most popular bait there. Closer to home there are plenty of schoolie bass along the south side of Aquidneck Island, with the occasional slot fish mixed in; these fish can be found in tight, anywhere you see whitewater, early morning and after dark will be your best bet. This would be a great place to throw a Jumpin’ Minnow, a Top Knock Pencil or a floating Super Strike Popper. There are larger fish on the deeper piles and ledges too, one of the best ways to connect with these fish is to troll the tube and worm, T-Man Tubes in scarlet or bubblegum will catch well when trolled tight to structure; anywhere from Brenton Reef to Elbow to Schuyler is worth a try—eels are also a good bet. If you’re looking for slot fish, try the north end of Jamestown.
Most of the surf guys we’re hearing from are finding smaller bass right now, bucktails by Magic Tailand the Spro Power Bucktails tipped with Fat Cow Jig Strips seem to be leading the way for most—white has been the popular color. These have accounted for lots of shorts and slots, along with the occasional stud in the 30-pound class. Shore anglers looking for large have been been lining for the Canal over the past week or so, where big catches of stripers in the 20- to 40-pound class are being reported. There has been a topwater bite on the cloudy days and Magic Swimmers and big pencils like the Left Hook Raptor have been hooking fish. But the best way to connect with a larger fish is to throw heavy paddletail jigs like the 8-inch Savage Sand Eeland the Al Gag’s Whip-It Fish.
Photo Courtesy of Captain Eric Thomas of Teezer Charters
In the morning fog rafts of bass gorging on sand eels have created some consistent fly rod action along the oceanfront. At some point the bait becomes the very small nearly impossible to imitate "snot bait" that the hardtails feast upon; but now it is sand eels and the action is steady. Nauset Sand Eelsand Clouser Minnows on a sinking 250 or 350 grain line will get you below the bait and a better chance of going tight. Grain weight lines become more important as the water warms and as bait ball form. Two lines we have been very happy with are the Orvis Pro and the RIO Premier Striper Fly Line.
Predictions: This past new moon came with some weak tides and the bass fishing seemed to suffer a bit in most places, except the Canal. We will have a bright moon to contend with, but the tides are going to be a lot stronger so we’re predicting some better bass fishing, especially for the boat guys. Look for Block Island to improve, in both size and numbers as the moon approaches. Look for increased striper action on the local ledges as well. The Canal has the very real potential of being better than the last moon, thanks to the minus tides, but let’s not get too excited, the Canal has been anything but predictable since about 2018.
Image Courtesy of Awestruck Fishing Charters
Bluefish(Open all year, 3 fish per angler, per day, no minimum size)
The only consistent bluefishing we’re hearing about is around the north end of Jamestown, 4- to 6-pounder are mixing in with the bass there. Out front, there are small blues taxing the eel-slingers in the surf. The big blues seem to be all out with the tunas south and east of Block. We recommend keeping things on the inexpensive side with things like Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers, Hopkins Lures, and the 5.5-inch Charter Grade Popperfrom Hogy. And if you’re really smart, you’ll swap out any treble hooks for single Siwashor VMC ILS Inlinesor the Zo-Wire Inlines. The shop is also well stocked with Steel Leadersand affordable pliers like the Admiralmodel from Danco or you can splurge and get yourself set up with Danco Premios.
Predictions:Blues will continue to be hard to nail down as the depleted population roams local waters. As always, we recommend looking for baitfish first, that is often the best way to find your way into a blitz of blues. Either that or drop diamond jigs at North Rip.
Fluke(Open May 4 to December 31, 5 fish per angler, per day at a minimum size of 19 inches)
Fluke fishing has continued to ride well above 2020 levels with good catches from South County, between the Pell Bridge and the Dumplings, deep waters south of Elbow Ledge and the East Grounds at Block Island. Shorts have been a nuisance, but throwing a larger profile can help deter the dinks. Tip your Spro Prime Jigs with a 6-inch Gulp Grub to beef up your offering and skip the teaser. Focus on smaller humps and rock piles or defined edges in 75- to 100-feet of water.
Predictions:We feel like the fluke bite will stay good but probably won’t make any drastic moves in either direction. The best catches will go to the anglers that focus on deep water structure. Don’t be afraid to experiment in water deeper than 100 feet either, some really nice fish come from the shelves and ledges in the East Passage every year.
Black Sea Bass (current season 6/24 to 8/31 3 fish per angler at a minimum size of 15 inches)
We’ve been hearing about consistent catches of sea bass from the humps and bumps in 50 to 70 feet off of Misquamicut and out in front of the breachways this week—many of these fish are being caught in fluke rigs. We’re also hearing about some good catches inside the Bay, up around the Navy Base, out in deeper water. Block Island is giving up the largest sea bass we’re hearing about and jigs continue to be the more popular method. Diamond Jigs, Flat-Fall Jigs, Daiwa Zakana Jigs the larger Exo Jigs and Bucktails with Gulp Swimming Mullet are all catching fish. Depths between 40 and 100 feet have been producing well, but there continue to be some small keepers taken from shore mixing in with the scup.
Predictions: There is no reason to think the sea bass fishery will change at all over the next couple weeks. Sea bass have quickly become the most abundant gamefish in Rhody waters over the past four or five seasons. Fish will continue to be caught from all of the spots mentioned above for the next two weeks, but don’t skip the ledges off Beavertail or the sticky bottom south of the Center Wall either.