Fishing Forecast September 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)
Things are about to get a little crazy! And I’ve been pretty surprised by how many people I talk to that have no idea what’s coming. Hurricane Lee has set its sights on New England and the forecast models are wavering about how severe the impacts might be for Rhode Island and the rest of southern New England. Presently, it looks like the eye of the storm will likely pass east of Cape Cod, but not by much, 50 to 200 miles is the consensus, and that’s not far enough, we’ll see a lot more than just some wind and showers. Cape Cod stands to see some serious impacts, and Rhode Island would likely feel the impacts equivalent to a strong tropical storm. I want to be clear; this is contingent upon the storm doing exactly what the models are predicting at this moment, which is unlikely (and I am not a meteorologist). If this hurricane were to run just 100 miles further west than the westernmost edge of the forecast cone, it would be a direct hit on New Bedford and would be a storm we remember for the rest of our lives. No matter what the storm does, it’s going to mess things up fishing-wise. The seas are forecast to build steadily, starting Wednesday night and will be prohibitively large by Friday night. I won’t make you read between the lines: fish now and be frank and honest with yourself later—you don’t want to be on the news because you thought you might catch a few stripers from the rocks in 9- to 11-foot seas!
On to the fishing! It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since our last forecast. The striper fishing has been in a bit of a holding pattern, in that there hasn’t been a ton of evidence of new bodies of fish migrating into local waters. This likely has something to do with the July-like weather we’ve been experiencing over that span of time. Luckily, we already had a good pile of bass in the area and they have been reaping the benefits of the first wave of baitfish leaving Narragansett Bay. Most of the stripers in our immediate area have been in the 24- to 36-inch class—with a heavy dose of fish right at slot size. The big girls that were here in numbers at the time of our last report have been tougher to find, but they are still around. Another change since our last report has been a strong uptick in surfcasting success. We’ve heard many reports from surf guys of daytime activity, especially from Fort Adams down to Brenton Point and from Third Beach down to and all the way around Sachuest Point. The accelerant has been large peanut bunker, anglers have reported doing well on the Game On X-Walk, 5-inch NLBN Paddletails, Super Strike Floating Poppers and bucktails. After dark the bite has been less blitzy and more ‘typical’ for early September. Anglers concentrating on the points and boulder fields are scoring well on fish from 30 to 40 inches with a few donkeys in the mix. Surfcasters seem to be doing especially well on soft plastics right now, the NLBN Paddles in 5 and 8 inches are catching a lot of fish. But also, as the soft plastic eel revolution continues to gain more devotees, the bite on those just keeps getting better. The OG GT Eels are scoring well, but there’s a new player, Game On has recently released their Duratech Eels which are made from a high-stretch, high durability material and they are quickly gaining new fans. Another favorite is SuperSnax, the bigger, more seductive cousin of Albie Snax. Most anglers favor darker colors, but having lighter and brighter options for different situations usually pays off in the long run. The Z-Man TT Jigheads and the Gravity Tackle Titan Swimhooks are among the most popular for these baits, but some anglers will run them onthe BKK Titanriders. Because of the abundance of medium-sized bait in the area, many mid-sized plugs are scoring well, too. Plastic swimmers have been hot; SP Minnows, Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnows and Red Fins are all seeing lots of action. Also the Super Strike Darter has been scoring well. And with the storm on the way, you definitely want to have a Super Strike Bottle Plug or two in the bag, along with a couple NorthBar Bottle Darters.
It seems like most of the boaters have been preoccupied with offshore fishing, chasing albies or togging, but a few guys are still hunting bass from boats. The warm spell seems to have pushed some of the bigger bass out deeper which has opened up some opportunity for fishing with flutter spoons like the Ben Parker and the Tsunami. And, not unlike the surf guys, plastic eels are working well from the boats also. The Gravity Tackle Eels and the Game On Duratech Eels are catching lots of fish threaded onto jigheads like the Zman TT. These are working especially well at Block Island where a new push of dinosaurs showed up last week and off of Watch Hill as well. Early morning along the many reefs of Aquidneck Island opens up the opportunity to ‘paper route’ the reefs and ledges. There are many ways to score fish in these spots, but the 9-inch Doc is the unanimous favorite for casting into the whitewater at first light. Other lures that will get it done include The Magic Swimmer, Shimano SplashWalk, NLBN Paddletails and GameOn X-Walk.
Predictions: A lot will depend on the final approach of Hurricane Lee, but storms like this tend to wipe out every active pattern, forcing us to start again from square one. Luckily, it’s mid-September and not mid-October because the implications of that, could be dire. Looking for the silver lining here, the water temps are quite warm and they will cool down considerably after the big swell subsides.
Bluefish (Open all year, 3 fish per angler, per day, no minimum size)
Lots of bluefish action this week and some big ones, too. Many of the blues we’re hearing about are being caught on Snax and tins intended for albies. These fish are prowling the same waters as the hardtails for the same reasons—concentrations of bait. So if you’re in the mood a throwdown with an angry, toothy fish with a nasty attitude, fish around areas where bait concentrations are high and you will find what you’re after. We recommend keeping things one 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 like the Admiral Tournament models from Danco or you can splurge and get yourself set up with Danco Premios or Van Staal Pliers.
Predictions: I honestly don’t know what to think, it will depend on the bait situation and what kind of a body of fish moves in after the storm. Without any doubt, the bluefish will be back, it’s just hard to say when and where under these conditions. One place that will likely keep them through the hurricane is the Bay, look around Colt State Park or Providence.
Fluke (Open May 3 to December 31, 4 fish per angler, per day at a minimum size of 18 inches)
Fluking stepped down a few rungs in spite of my prediction that the exiting baitfish would perk the bite up. They are still being caught, it’s just been a tougher bite, especially over the past week. Block Island has been the best place to go if you want to catch fluke, with South County still putting out a few as well. With numbers on the downtrend, anglers would be wise to go au naturale, tipping their bucktails with squid, spearing or – even better – a live peanut bunker or snapper bluefish. That wriggling, panicking, shimmering baitfish will call in any nearby doormats for a sniff. If you can’t get you hands on any bait, Bucktails tipped with Gulp or other natural baits will draw plenty of attention from fluke, but the M3 Spoons have also been crushing the flatties for the past several seasons.
Predictions: Winding down. I don’t think it’s going to be ‘all over’ even after the storm passes, but I do think the storm will accelerate the fall migration of fluke leaving our inshore waters. When the storm is over, I’d concentrate on Block Island and I’d want to mark some bait before dropping my jigs.
Black Sea Bass (Current season: August 27 to December 31, 3 fish at 16.5 inches or greater)
Sea bass reports remained steady thanks to more anglers concentrating on bottom fish, (thank you tautog!). As per usual, shorts are so common they can be a nuisance, but one of the better ways to cull out a few big ones is to fish some of your deeper tog spots with whole crabs, which can cull out most of the little ones. Another method is to fish whole squid. There have been good reports from Coxes, the East Grounds and more random reports from inshore ledges as well (just make sure you’re not fishing any Massachusetts waters because sea bass is closed there. 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 a bucktail tipped with Gulp.
Predictions: Sea bass action will weather the storm, it just might take a few days. But look for the deeper, further from shore, spots to light up first and with the inshore areas to follow. Some of the best sea-bassing of the season happens this month so get out there as soon as the water cleans up.
Tautog (Current season: August 1 to October 14, 3 fish at 16 inches or greater – only one fish per limit may exceed 21 inches and there is a 10 fish vessel limit)
Tog fishing has been really good so far this month, I think most hardcore toggers would say it’s exceeded expectations up to this point. The fish are often being caught in shallow water, 5 to 25 feet with good reports extending out to as much as 50-feet of water. This is the perfect time of year for utilizing the jig on a light spinning rod. And many anglers are moving over to slow-pitch rods for this application. The Maxel 761XH is a great choice for this application. Others prefer to stick with more ordinary spinners like the Tsunami Carbon Shield. 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: Once the visibility comes back, the tog bite will fire right back up and I think the shallow water fishery will continue as well. Basically, we’re going to have to wait until Monday or Tuesday of next week and then things should snap back into place for toggers. (And historically, these next couple weeks are some of the best of the year for blackfish in Rhody.)
Hardtails (seasons and limits vary, please check DEM website)
Capt. Coral Rose, @professional.hooker, with a great Albie!
Well, the albie season has really gotten off to a hot start and now everyone is panicking about what this storm might do to the bite. I hate to say this, but I don’t think it’s going to be a good thing. A storm like this, even if it stays well east of the Cape, will send in massive waves, which will dirty up the water, which the albies seem not to like, and it will also drop the water temperature, something else the albies don’t love. I talked to one of the best albie guys in the state yesterday and he seemed to think the storm is coming early enough in the season that the fishery will recover. I agree with him, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the fish to move back in.
The fishing has been very good this week and there have been tons of bonito around, even mixing in with the albies, something ‘conventional wisdom’ says doesn’t happen. Albie Snax have been the top producer by far and you can attribute that to the fact that a lot of these fish are feeding on squid. The hot colors have been nearly every color, but white has held a slight edge. Others that have been hooking fish include lemon meringue, sand eel, amber and amber/white. The popular hook has been the BKK Titanrider in 4/0. Boaters seem to be doing better on resin jigs like the Game On Exo Jig, or the Hogy Epoxy Jig. I think the biggest takeaway here is that everything is working and the fish have been eating. Reports from the Cape have told of very finicky fish and tough bites all around. When the fish get finicky, it’s wise to go small; try the 4-Inch Ron-Z or the 14G Hogy Heavy. And don’t forget to sign up for our Albie Shootout if you haven’t already which began on September 1 with awesome prizes up for grabs. The shootout ends on October 30.
And there has been another inshore exotic over the past week in the waters surrounding Aquidneck Island, chicken mahi have been showing up in small numbers and may even be a possibility from shore.
Predictions: The albie bite should recover from the storm and resume by the middle of next week. Keep an eye out for larger ‘offshore’ baits like halfbeaks which often show up around the second half of the month and drive the albies into a frenzy. If the bite gets tough, go where the bait is and the albies should find it.