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Fishing Forecast - April New Moon 2024

Fishing Forecast – April New Moon

The only thing predictable about New England spring weather is that it’s highly unpredictable. The past couple weeks have brought wind, rain, and more wind. It’s been tough to get out, but at least it’s provided some last-minute opportunities for tying, organizing, and otherwise preparing. The striper and white perch fishing has been decent despite the garbage weather. The ospreys are filling in each day. They haven’t showed in big numbers yet, but there’s been a handful of river herring at some of the usual runs. We’re also only a couple weeks from the arrival of fresh migratory stripers. Tog season opens April 1st, and usually gets hot around the second or third week of the month. Cod fishing is an option in the small windows when the wind machine is turned off. And within the next couple of weeks, squid fishermen will be filling buckets under dock and boat lights. Things should get good very soon, and there’s a lot to be excited about.

Herring - Starting To Appear

 Herring do funny things to striped bass. In many of the rivers and ponds bass “hold over” for the winter, their prime forage is shrimp, mummichogs, and other small baitfish or minnows. Then every spring, usually around the middle of March here locally, the herring begin to show up in many of the same rivers and ponds. Herring migrate up the coast and then “run” to freshwater to spawn. Somehow, stripers seem to inherently know this. Herring are big, fatty, and oily - everything you want if you’re a hungry striper. These upcoming weeks can be some of my favorite of the entire season. When bass get a taste from the first push of herring, but there aren’t good numbers yet, they can go a little crazy. The term “herring drunk” is a very real thing. Imagine if you were only eating nuts and berries all winter, then you get your hands on a big juicy steak. You’re probably going to go find more steak.


 A solid early bass that mistook a 8” Zinger X-Cite for a herring.

There are several good ways to imitate herring to fool a big early season bass. My favorites are big, weightless soft plastics. A weightless 7” or 10” Hogy in black at night, especially with the new moon coming up, is deadly. LunkerCity Finesse Fish and NLBN 8” Straight Tail are also good options. It’s tough to beat the action of a weightless plastic when they want a herring. Big swimbaits like the Berkeley Magic Swimmer and G-Ratt Sneaky Pete are also sure to move some big bass the next couple weeks. At night, it can be worth it to try crawling any plug on top that throws a “V” wake. The Cotton Cordell Red Fin is about as good as it gets in that category. Big metal lips probably won’t produce numbers right now, but it’s not a bad idea to pack one or two if you’re after a big.

White Perch

It’s not the most glamorous, but we also have a very good white perch fishery here in Rhode Island. They inhabit many of the same rivers and ponds as stripers and will feed willingly through the winter months. It’s a great way to get outside and bend a rod this time of year. Perch are generally grubbing around in muddy areas for whatever they can find – shrimp, minnows, worms, etc. They will rarely turn down a well presented little paddletail. The 3” NLBN on a matching light Jig Head is a great option. Sometimes when plastics on a jighead aren’t working, they’ll fall for a small twitch bait like the Small Yo Zuri FingerlingIf you’re itching to dust off the fly rod, they love a clouser, small shrimp fly, or anything that resembles a worm. Flies and light hair jigs fished under a bobber on light tackle can be a fun time too. I usually like darker colors for all of the above. Black or green/olive should get the job done. Perch will generally be schooled up, so if you catch one, there’s almost definitely more with it.


Chunky white perch that fell for a classic black clouser minnow.

Tautog - Get Ready For Battle

The first of April marks the start of spring Tog fishing. Although the bite doesn’t pick up until a bit later in the month, there are at least a few fish around. It’s not always easy to get green crabs early in the season from bait shops, but you can always find shore crabs on your own by flipping rocks. Almost any piece of shore with decent sized rocks should have some at low tide. By the second or third week of the month there is usually enough fish in the bay to warrant the time and effort. By the last week of the month, it should be steady. Whether you prefer Jigs or rigs, it’s not a bad idea to start deep earlier in the month and then move shallower as we approach May.


Hopefully in the next couple of weeks the wind will relax and we will have some good days to try for cod. The fishing seems to be pretty hit or miss. Cod are fun because if you can find them, they’re generally not too picky. They’ll willingly hit big metals and plastics. Although getting them warmed up with bait like or cut clams or squid can never hurt. The Hogy Sand Eel Jig is perfect, especially when there are big sandeels around. Johnny Jigs Slow Pitch Jigs have a big wide profile if they aren’t falling for the slim profile. Point Jude Jigs are also great, classic style tins with several different profiles to match whatever is working that day. Since cod will be feeding on an abundance of different bait species such as sand eels, squid, mackerel, etc. throughout the spring, it’s best to always have a few different style jigs in the bag.  


 A nice cod caught recently by Dustin Stevens of RI Kayak Fishing Adventures. Dustin is always on something good, check out the website for his kayak guide service here.

Squid - Delicious Nights Ahead

Last, but certainly not least, squid fishing is a type of fun you really have to experience to know. It’s not always easy to be motivated to fish at night in the cold. With that said, the prospect of fried calamari is all I need to get out of bed. Within the next couple of weeks, the squid fishing should get good in and around the bay. Anywhere with lights – harbors, marinas, bridges, etc. are good places to check. Those with boats can try jigging weighted sabiki rigs or squid jigs at whatever depth the squid are marking at. They generally show up well on sonar, and you’ll definitely have no problem making them out if they are in thick. We carry a few really nice Squid Jigs here at the shop.

Perhaps the best thing about this time of year is that everything will only get better. If you try, and skunk, the next time you go will probably be better. There’s always something (or many things) to be excited about and look forward to. There’s also a slight panic that sets in after the first few decent spring days, and you still have flies to tie, plugs to rig, or a rod to buy. Stop by and get whatever you need, it’s time to get out on the water!


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