Fishing Forecast October New Moon Period 2023
By Dave Anderson
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 less than 31 inches per angler, per day)
It’s been a bit of a wild ride these past few weeks, weather-wise we’ve had it all, summer like temperatures, plunging cold fronts, remnant tropical systems, 10 days of rain and northeast wind, bouts of storm-driven groundswell with perfectly calm days in between. I’m tempted to say ‘welcome to fall in New England,’ but so far, we’re looking at a particularly extreme fall season. The good news is, we’ve finally had a week of ‘real’ fall weather with cold nights and temperate days and this has clicked the fall run into gear. For, pretty much, the entire month of September there was no urgency among resident stripers. Were there some good bites, yes, but there wasn’t really much trackable movement, boat anglers were still fishing on summer structure and finding the same fish they’d been fishing for all summer. That has changed.
What’s the driving factor behind all this? If you ask me it’s bait movement, but the fact that the cooler nighttime temps are inspiring the baitfish to move probably also means that the striped bass are feeling those same temperature changes and the urgency is starting to build. There are two main bait species that are driving this shift in urgency—peanut bunker and mullet. Mullet seem to be having an especially good year locally and that means the bass bite has the potential to follow that trend. Big numbers of mullet have been observed at various spots along the shorelines of Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bay, these baitfish are the surfcasters best friend because they are of a pretty large size and they like to stay up shallow. And, for the most part, peanut bunker do the same thing. If you don’t know how to spot mullet, look for groups of 4- to 8-inch baitfish v-waking along shallow estuaries or right in the shore break out front, you may also see them jumping out of the water en masse.
When the mullet are around, a lot of what we hold near and dear as striper fishermen can go right out the window. While nighttime surfcasters may be accustomed to crawling needles and metal lips to find the best bites, when the mullet are around, everything clicks into overdrive and the best presentations tend to feature fast or even lighting quick retrieves. In daylight, some of my favorite lures are the Super Strike Bullet ripped along the surface, the 6-inch Magic Swimmer swum as fast as it will allow or paddletails like those made by NLBN in white or natural mullet colors. At night I really like Super Snax on 1- to 1-1/2-ounce jigheads, I choose the heavier heads because they stay down when fished at higher rates of speed. Here again NLBN Paddletails will catch well too. If the fish are not reacting to faster speeds, try a Super Stike Darter or something like a Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnow, these baits offer speed versatility, allowing you to dial in the right retrieve speed. The last plug that’s really important at this time is the Super Strike Bottle Plug which will hold in rough seas or heavy current and put out lots of vibration that I feel like calls the fish in to investigate when they’re expecting the mullet to be running at high speed. All of these tactics will work from boat or kayak as well.
More of the boat fishing is going to be centered around peanuts which will venture out away from the beach more regularly than the mullet. Sometimes when the bass are on peanuts they’ll hit anything that moves other times they can be very picky. When the fish are turning their noses up at what you’re throwing, try to determine the size of the peanuts and do your best to match the size and profile. This is when your albie box might serve you better than a bag of striper plugs; everything from Albie Snax to Exo Jigs to the smallest Hogy Heavies might be the ticket to scoring with picky stripers, so make sure you’re prepared. Going up the line from there, Yo-Zuri Monster Shot, Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Topknock Pencil, Island X Hellfire, 1-ounce Super Strike Poppers, 1- to 3-ounce Gibbs Pencils and Game On X-Walks will all have their days if you fish hard this month, from shore, yak or boat.
A big X-Factor for hunting fall run giants is adult bunker, and they have been scarce. But if you find a pod of them, make sure you’re prepared to make a few presentations. Be sure to have the 9-inch Doc, Ben Parker or Tsunami Flutter Spoons and a couple 228 SSK Magic Swimmers on hand, these baits will cover the column and usually, at least one of these will score. And if you’re still striking out, capture a few bunker and send them out on a 9/0 circle hook for a near certain strike.
Predictions: As long as the weather stays fairly stable, look for the striper bite to really come together over the next couple weeks. Surfcasters should be hitting these dark nights hard, with the mullet in mind, but doing whatever it takes – including throwing live eels – to earn strikes from larger migrating stripers. Daytime blitzes should remain fairly common, look in places where inlets or passages to and from the bay are moving bait through on a running tide.
Bluefish (Open all year, 3 fish per angler, per day, no minimum size)
While we’ve had a pretty good year for bluefish overall, the bite has been less consistent over the past two weeks. We have heard some amazing reports of big 14- to 20-pound, blues shadowing transient bunker schools out a mile or two off the South County Beaches. These fish were angry and would strike just about anything that landed near them, but they were on the move, sticking with the bait and gone the next day. With all of the bait being injected into local waters, there’s a pretty good chance that the blues will be around in some capacity and if you want to catch them, find the bait. We recommend keeping things on the inexpensive side for blues with things like Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers, Hopkins Lures, Point Jude Sea Scallops and the 5.5-inch Charter Grade Popper from 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 Steel Leaders and affordable pliers.
Predictions: Bluefish will probably continue to be tougher to find over the next few weeks, but there will be opportunities for the lucky ones to hook some big fish. I’ve already said, but I’ll say it again… find the bait first. The breachways and the passages to and from the bay will offer some of the best chances to cross paths with the gators.
Black Sea Bass (Current season: August 27 to December 31, 3 fish at 16.5 inches or greater)
Sea bass reports have been kind of ‘all over the place’ lately, the fish aren’t showing in numbers in the places where they’re historically ‘supposed to be’ at this time of the season. But then we get outlier reports; like the kayaker that caught several keepers in 20-feet of water up inside the bay while fishing for tog. The main thing we’re hearing is that there just far fewer keepers around than we were seeing at this time last year. There’s been a lack of fish around Block and out at Coxes, maybe we’re just in between robust year classes? But those that are putting in the time are finding enough keepers to fill a limit, the key factor there is just time and focus. A popular bait that’s been taking the sea bass world by storm is the Nomad Squidtrex, so you might want to give that a try. And with the abundance of sand eels in the area, it might be wise to fish slender jigs like Exo Jigs, Daiwa Zakana Jigs and the Point Jude Po-Jee. But don’t sleep on larger offerings like the Hogy Sandeel Jig or a bucktail tipped with Gulp.
Predictions: Hopefully things will get better, but I’d guess that they’ll remain on ‘below average’ side. Maybe when the water temps fall and the fish are forced to move to deeper water, perhaps then, they’ll concentrate on some smaller pieces of bottom and more reliable bite will fire up.
Tautog (Current season: October 15 to December 31, 5 fish at 16 inches or greater – only one fish per limit may exceed 21 inches and there is a 10 fish vessel limit)
We are in the midst of peak time for togging and, with water temps still hovering in the upper 60s, many of these fish are up shallow and ripe for the picking with Blackfish Jigs. many anglers are moving over to slow-pitch rods for this application. The Shimano Talavera Slow J is a great choice for this application. Others prefer to stick with multi-purpose spinners like the Tsunami Carbon Shield. The fish are spread out right now with keepers coming from water as shallow as 5 feet and some big fish hanging on ledges and wrecks as deep as 80. Most anglers are targeting structure at between 10 and 40 feet. There are fish being caught our front and up inside the bay, some of the deep wrecks in the bay are holding some really nice fish. Areas beneath the Newport Bridge and along the Narragansett shoreline are also producing well. Now is prime time for shore anglers to score keeper fish as well. But it’s not all jigs, many anglers are employing a simple one hook rig with a 2- to 4-ounce Bank Sinker and a 5/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. But jigs are all the rage right now and everyone has their favorite style and color, popular colors this week have been white and glow—you can take your pick of styles on our Blackfish Jig Page. Maybe it’s time to get an early jump on the tog season!
Predictions: This trend of hot tog fishing should hold for through the end of the month, although a cold spell might send them deeper. But Rhody waters support a robust tog fishery through November and into December, so there’s plenty of time left for anyone that wants a few fresh fillets or that would like to fill the freezer.
Hardtails (seasons and limits vary, please check DEM website)
This routine of a storm every weekend is getting old. It seems like every time the albies regroup and start feeding heavily inshore again, we have a new weather system to deal with and then we’re forced to start all over again and wait for the fish and the water to recover. The good news is that the water temps are still high and that gives me a lot of confidence in the fact that they will be back in greater numbers and maybe – just maybe – we’ll get a break from the storm parade. Another tidbit of good news is that offshore fishermen have been telling me that there have been huge numbers of albies offshore; with any luck, those fish are on their way inshore… we shall see.
Last week there were some fish popping up around Aquidneck Island, Watch Hill and the mouth of the Sakonnet River, last weekend’s blow pushed those fish off though and now we’re back in the mode of ‘wait and see’. Many baits have been working when the fish are around, the top two though, have been the white or amber/white Albie Snax and Exo Jigs in white or silver. These fish have been feeding on peanut bunker, juvenile herring and small squid. Of course, all types of resin and metal jigs are scoring fish, Hogy Heavies and Hogy Epoxy Jigs in a wide range of colors are scoring. The Shimano Current Sniper jigs are catching fish and so are the Daiwa Zakana Jigs. The most important thing is to carry a range of sizes so you can match what the fish are feeding on. Bonito have been scarce for a while now, but they often make a curtain call around the end of the month or the first week of November.
Predictions: With water temps still in the mid to upper 60s, there’s no reason to panic about the end of albie season. And with a good crop of fish waiting offshore, there are reasons to be optimistic. Your success is going to be directly linked to the weather, if things stay relatively stable, we should enjoy a strong finish… if we keep seeing these storms, the season might just fade out with very little fanfare.