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.
Photo Courtesy Of Tommy Pelto
Striped Bass(Open all year, 1 fish between 28 and 35 inches per angler, per day)
Striper fishing continues to hold strong as we enjoy warmer-than-usual water temps, lots of bait and plenty of stripers. And there are still more in the pipeline as reports from the Canal and even points north in Cape Cod Bay, tell of good fishing with bass up to 20 pounds waiting in the wings. Gannets have been a common sight in Buzzards Bay and throughout Rhode Island as schools of sea herring charge inshore. This scenario has set up blitzes of mixed sizes for boaters and surfcasters alike. Many of the larger fish have been taken from boats with stripers into the low 30-pound class reported. But there was a big blitz at First Beach here on Aquidneck Island this past weekend where fish to at least 20 pounds were caught. These herring blitzes are famous for attracting mixed schools of bass from 20 inches to true trophies, sometimes eclipsing 50 pounds and the herring action usually holds up through November and sometimes into December. Must have lures include; Hydro Pencils, Top-Knock Pencils, Gibbs Danny Swimmers, Shimano SplashWalks, Super Strike Poppersand the Point Jude Sea Scallop.Fishing these herring bites can be frustrating because the bombing birds and panicked bait often never makes it to the beach, but for boaters, with most vessels on stilts, you can have awesome action in relative solitude with a true shot at something huge.
Nighttime in November belongs to the surfcaster and they like it that way. The same herring that fuel these daytime blitzes can also fire up the hit after dark. Needlefish are often the best choices for surfmen on nights with calm to moderate seas, just make sure to have a range of sizes because the bass will often key in baits that match up with the sizes of the baitfish in the school—sea herring can be anywhere between 4 and 9 inches in length. Super Strike Needles are a great choice because they come in many sizes and weights making it easy to dial in on what they’re eating. Another option you’ll want to have on hand are swimming lures, a Gibbs Danny is a classic late-fall lure, but you’ll also want to have plastic swimmers in a range of sizes to dial in depth and silhouette—Red Fins, Hydro Minnows and SP Minnows offer a good range of size and depth options. Outflows are a top choice for these late-season bass too because they have the power to concentrate bass at a time when there aren’t as many bass around overall. The Breachways are famous for their late-season fishing and there’s no reason to think that they won’t host some awesome fishing over these next two weeks again this year. The accepted method here is to clip on a plug that can handle current, cast it into the dumping tide and allow the lure to drift seaward. The most popular plug over these last few years has been the NorthBar Bottledarter, but Super Strike Darters, Montauk Darters and Super Strike Littleneck Swimmers will score well using this method. If you’ll be hitting the breachways for the first time this year, make sure to observe how others are fishing and join the rotation using the same sequencing and methods as the rest of the guys in line.
For those doing what we affectionately refer to as ‘binocular fishing’ – which basically means driving around with an extra-large coffee and using binoculars to look for daytime blitzes—you should be in your glory right now. Many schools of bass are perusing the Rhody surf and any size is possible at this time of year. Make sure to have plenty of bucktailsin sizes ranging from 1/2-ounce to 1-1/2 ounces, we like Jeck’sand Andrus. Be sure to bring some poppers like Tsunami. And don’t forget the versatile and underutilized tins from Point Jude Lures, they all work but the Nautilus, Mullet and Sea Scallopare late fall faves.
Predictions: Water temps are holding strong right around 58 degrees and that’s big bass water. I feel like these next two weeks have a very strong possibility of being very good—certainly not the best weeks of the season, but plenty of action and still plenty of sizeable fish. If we dive into a cold snap, fish those inlets hard, if things stay about the same—the fishing should hold up well.
RI State Record Blackfish. Congrats to Paul Newman and Tall Tailz Charters
Blackfish (5 fish per person per day at a minimum size of 16 inches 10 fish max per vessel)
Rhode Island is having a banner year for blackfish; you have heard that the state record was broken over the weekend with a 21.57-pound mammoth! But we’ve heard of dozens of double-digit fish and with water temps still in the upper 50s, the fish are still shallow and even shore anglers are still catching. The target zone though has been between 20 and 50 feet, targeting structure: ledges, rock piles, wrecks or big solitary boulders. With the fish still in relatively shallow water, the jig has been the weapon of choice for most, unless the tide is really screaming and you need more lead to stay pinned to the bottom. As mentioned tog jigs have become the big thing in this segment of northeast inshore fishing and this has switched many hardcore toggers from pool cues and conventional reels to lighter spinning outfits. We carry an array of tog jigs including; MagicTail, Backwater, Tsunami Tog Treatsand Jeck’sall of these jigs will get the job done. If you’re looking for an outfit for tog-jigging look at the Century Weapon Junior Mag, Shimano Trevala PX, Centaur Light Jigging. For reels look at Daiwa BG 3000/4000, Stradic 4000/5000 or TwinPower FD; if you want to go conventional, try the Daiwa Saltist 15H.
Predictions:Blackfishing will continue to put out great results for the next two weeks, water temperature will determine how far they move. If the weather stays pretty consistent and the water temps stay roughly the same, these fish will have no reason to make a drastic move to deeper water. If we descend into a cold snap, they might move out to where 50 to 70 feet is the target depth. Barring any wild weather fluctuations, this season would seem to have the juice for blackfishing to make a run into December.
Bluefish(Open all year, 3 fish per angler, per day, no minimum size)
Blues have been an afterthought over these last few weeks with no one really reporting any great or consistent catches. At this time of year the bluefishing becomes even more unpredictable and no one really targets them specifically… unless they happen upon a late-season blitz. If blues are your main target, we recommend keeping things on the inexpensive side with things like Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers, Hopkins Lures, and the 5.5-inch Charter Grade Popper from Hogy. It's a good idea to swap out any treble hooks for Zo-Wire Inlines. The shop is also well stocked with Steel Leaders and affordable pliers like the Admiral model from Danco.
Predictions:At this point I’d be willing to bet that most of the anglers who fish Rhody through the end of the month will not catch a bluefish. Something crazy could happen, but I doubt it. There will still be a few hanging around though so keep your pliers within easy reach!
Black Sea Bass (current season 9/1 to 12/31, 7 fish per angler at a minimum size of 15 inches)
Sea-bassing has been great over these last two weeks and the fish haven’t moved too deep just yet. Guys are getting them in 40 to 100 feet with regularity and we’re seeing a surprising number of codfish on these same inshore pieces. For those looking to double-down on the sea bass codfish bite, make the run to Block where the East Grounds, SW Ledge and the Windmills are putting out great catches daily. We’ve also heard about good catches from the lesser-known ledges and wrecks around Block as well. Right now the bottom fishing is as good as it gets. Diamond Jigs, Flat-Fall Jigs, the larger Exo Jigs and Bucktails with Gulp are all catching fish, but anything you can drop to the bottom that flutters will get eaten. If you’re really into sea bass fishing, give us a call and ask about the Slow Pitch options we have available from Daiwa and Tsunami—these lightweight and parabolic rods add a whole new level to the sporty side of jigging sea bass.
Predictions: Status Quo. The bottom fishing for sea bass and cod should stay hot for these next two weeks and beyond. As the water cools you can expect to see some tog on these same spots, in fact a few anglers have already been finding a few in the mix. Just remember it is November and picking the right days is almost as important as picking the right spots. Watch the weather and only go when you’re confident that it will be safe.
A fat late season bonito for RISAA Executive Director Greg Vespe
Hardtails (Check local regulations for size and bag limits)
I called it ‘over’ in our last report, but the albies just will not quit! The bite had moved into Long Island Sound and that seemed to be a permanent move as the fish exited Rhody waters. But then this warm spell started up and some big schools of albies came charging inshore between Point Jude and Charlestown. By all accounts, the bite was ferocious! If you’re planning one last albie mission be sure to stock up on the ubiquitous Hogy Epoxy Jigs and Exo Jigs and, of course, Albie Snax(don’t forget your hooks)are also must-haves. Bonito have been very scarce, but we often see a late run of big ones, so make sure you’re ready for that.
Predictions:This time I mean it! Albie season will be over by the time I write another report. But I do think that a few more will be caught over the next five days before they make their final exit. Look for a day with really crappy weather to crank up the feed before they leave until next year.