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.
Image Courtesy of Double Haul Anglers
Striped Bass(Open all year, 1 fish between 28 and 35 inches per angler, per day)
This moon is going to be the big moon for the spring season. This is when things will change rapidly and dramatically top catches will rocket from 35 inches to 35 pounds overnight and then ascend the poundage ladder from there. It’s worth reminding everyone that we are still fishing under the constraints of a slot limit, so only striped bass between 28 inches and less than 35 inches are ‘keepers’ everything else, must be released—even your personal best, even the world record! And for anyone fishing live eels, live bunker, chunks or any other natural bait for stripers, the law dictates that you must use a circle hook. If you snag a bunker, you have to reel it in and re-hook it on a circle. And for the record, the shop has a full compliment of circle hooks from many of the industry’s top manufacturers. Enough of the legal stuff…
No matter how you fish, surf, boat, kayak… now is the time to make the transition from throwing little stuff to heaving the big dawgs. Now is the time to swap your Jumpin’ Minnowsout for the 9-Inch Doc,now is the time to switch your 1oz Mag Darters for Super Strike Darters. You can’t afford to wait for someone else to find the fish for you. We have already heard of a few fish in the mid 30-pound class from the Bay and 20-pounders have been caught throughout Rhody, into the Canal and out on Cape Cod as well. If you’re a surfcaster, fish at night and consider what these larger fish are keying in on, bunker and squid. Fish lures that mimic these baits in size, profile and action. Magic Swimmers, Stick Shadds, and large metal lips for the bunker, 9- and 12-inch Slug-Go’s, buoyant needles like the Gibbs Needle and maybe an Amber Super Strike Darter for the squid. If you want something new to try consider the 10-inch MagDrafts from MegaBass, these massive swimbaits have all the makings of the next big thing, as long as Johnny Bluefish doesn’t come a-calling. If trolling is more your style, the Mojo Rigsfrom Magic Tail are proven crushers of big bass that are keyed in on bunker. And for you Canal guys, this next set of breaking tides has the makings of a good one.
Worm hatches can be one of the best applications for the fly rod in the salt and they are in full swing in dark bottomed south facing coves. With the influx of bigger bass into the shallows this can create an memorable experience with a fly rod. Check out our Worm Flies.
Predictions: We should see a major influx of larger bass, both in Narragansett Bay and along South County, over into Massachusetts and into the Canal. Surfcasters who make the change soon will have the best results as new fish push through in waves. Boaters will have their best shot up in the Bay. Word is that there are lots of bunker already in place with some sleeper-cells of large bass shadowing the schools. As this moon approaches, look for a major push of 20- to 40-pound bass into Narragansett Bay with some fish over 50 pounds likely as well. Daytime anglers will do well on large topwaters like the Doc, live bunker trolled on circle hooks and Mojos. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, no more time to waste.
Image Courtesy of Newport Sport Fishing Charters
Blackfish: Togging has been awesome over the past couple weeks. There have been some really big fish taken, from boat and shore. Now is the time when you have a really good shot at hooking a big spawner way up in the shallows. We will gently urge you to release those big females, they are holding a lot of future togs in their bellies. With that said, we have seen several big ones landed over the past 10 days or so with a 13-pounder taken from the Aquidneck Island shore and lots of 7- to 9-pounders taken on local charter boats. Capt. Rob Taylor of Newport Sportfishing Charterssaid he’s been getting good fish in the bay and out front… so the fish are everywhere right now. There has been some griping about a crab shortage this season, so you may have to gather your own on a rocky shoreline at low water or try an alternate bait like seaworms or squid strips. We have all the hooks, leader material and sinkers you’ll need. Or, if you’d rather stick with the jigs, check out our Blackfish Jig Page.
Predictions:There’s no reason to believe the tog bite will slow down over the next couple weeks, the only change that we might see is a movement to deeper water. Just remember that the season closes after May 31 so you’ll have to make it happen if you have your heart set on tog.
Bluefish(Open all year, 3 fish per angler, per day, no minimum size)
Let’s begin with our prediction from the last report, “By the time we run our next report, there will be bluefish reports from all over local waters. But the bite will, almost certainly, be like last year, unreliable, random and mostly comprised of smaller fish.”AIRBALL! Bluefish have showed up in a big way this year driven by the above-average numbers of squid in Rhode Island and the burgeoning population of bunker running the bay and beaches as well. If you haven’t heard, South County, from Weekapaug east to Point Judith has hosted some of the wildest early season bluefishing Rhode Island has seen in quite a long time. Most of the fish have been somewhere between big and huge with 12- to 16-pound fish not at all uncommon and few flirting with 20 pounds have been reported as well. The breachways have been the most reliable producers of these bruiser blues, but as of this week, large blues were making their way up the bay and had gone as far east as New Bedford. The presence of large baitfish seems to be the only prerequisite for finding these gators and, in keeping with usual bluefish protocols, they are hitting a wide variety of baits. We recommend keeping things one the inexpensive side with things like Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers, Hopkins Lures,and Charter Grade Popperfrom Hogy. And if you’re really smart, you’ll swap out any treble hooks for single Siwash or Zo-Wire Inlines. The shop is also well stocked with affordable pliers like the Admiraland Duffy Tournament models from Danco or you can splurge and get yourself set up with Danco Premios or Van Staal Pliers. There’s no telling how long this will last, so if blues are your thing, your time is now.
Predicitons:As long the squid are around there’s no good reason for the blues to clear out, so we feel like another week of bluefish mayhem is likely and it could last longer than that. With that said, we do expect to see a contingent of these big choppers to move into the Bay to gorge on the abundant bunker schools there. Smaller blues have only been sporadically observed so far, hopefully we’ll see more of the little ones soon, because, after all, today’s little ones are tomorrow’s giants.
Fluke(Open May 4 to December 31, 5 fish per angler, per day at a minimum size of 19 inches)
We’re continuing into the fluke season with cautious optimism. There have been a few keeper fish caught around Newport and the area south of the windmills has been giving up some fish over the past seven days. We’ve also heard that there are some fish along the SoCo beaches and behind Fishers Island as well. Squid seem to be the key indicator for fluke success, find the squid on your fishfinder and you’re probably going to find the fluke below them. Bucktails tipped with squid strips, whole squid or Gulp are the most popular offerings right now. The shop has more Gulp!in stock than probably any other shop on the Eastern Seaboard with every imaginable color ever from White to Electric Chicken to New Penny and beyond. We also have a huge selection of bucktails like Spro Prime Bucktails, Ultrahead Bucktails from Jeck’s and the Fusion19 Bucktails from Berkley.
Predictions:Man, it would be nice to be able to make a confident prediction and say that the fluking will light up by the end of the month and never slow down but we can’t go there just yet. It does seem like things are starting off on a better foot in 2021. So instead, look for indications that things might light up. If the South County Beaches and the Windmills catch fire, we just might be in for an old fashioned fluke season—let’s cross our fingers and wait.
Weakfish(1 fish at 16 inches or greater, open all year)
We have not heard any weakfish reports in at least a week in Rhode Island waters. But the bite still rages on out on Long Island and some of the more reliable spots in Connecticut seem to be seeing an action increase. The suggested lures are still the same, 4- to 6-inch paddletails like Housy Minnows, Keitechs or Bass Assassins, pink, white and gold are popular colors. Another favorite is the 5-inch Mag Darter in those colors as well as blurple. The Long Island guys swear by snap-jigging light bucktails in white or pink if you want to mix things up.
Predicitons:We’re just rerunning the prediction from the last forecast here because weakfish are just so difficult to rely on. It’s anyone’s guess as to what the next two weeks hold for the weakfish in Rhode Island. They have been the most unpredictable species in New England for the last 20 years or more. If you want to catch one, fish deep and slow with small baits in the tidal estuaries that spill off into the bay and don’t set the hook too hard!