Catching that elusive striped bass
You’ve tried to catch a keeper sized striped bass (28” or larger), but just have not hooked up with one yet. It can be very frustrating because you can try and try with no luck.
However, June is the time to try to catch one in Narragansett and Mt Hope bays as Atlantic menhaden (pogies), a form of herring, are up in our coves and rivers spawning and the striped bass have followed them into the upper bay on their northern migration.
I have two bits of advice that have helped me over the years to catch striped bass. First, you can’t catch fish where there are no fish. So you have to put yourself in places where the fish are feeding. And second, you need to be ready with a number of strategies. Some days they are biting on live or chunks of Atlantic menhaden, other days trolling umbrella rigs or tube and worm, and yet sometimes they like swimming lures or surface plugs.
To put yourself where the fish are, read fishing reports/blogs and talk to friends and bait & tackle shop owners to develop a fishing plan. Based on the research you’ve done, select five or six places to find the fish. Now that you have your fishing plan, be ready with a number of fishing strategies to land that striped bass.
Remember what works one day may not work the next depending on what fish are feeding on, the weather, tides, temperature, etc. Here are some of my favorite striped bass fishing strategies.
Favorite ways to catch striped bass
Trolling with umbrella rigs. I like to use this technique trolling in deeper parts of Narragansett bay, off Newport or Block Island with a variety of squid, shad, worm or eel umbrella rigs. Hook two fish at the same time and you will experience a great fight.
Live menhaden. Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them. Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a school of fish and put the live menhaden into the school of bait and let it swim. Used when menhaden are running strong, particularly up the Providence River in early spring.
Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden. You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks. Some anglers use a weighted slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.
Surface plugs, swimming lures and soft plastics. I have caught hundreds of school bass in the spring using surface plugs and swimming lures of all types. Great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc. My favorite is a grey Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow. Many anglers love soft plastics use them successfully in the spring. Make sure the plastic baits are scented, and if they are not add some Gulp scent. Who wants to eat plastic?
Trolling with tube and worm. I have had great success in the bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot monofilament leader. I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best in spring (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm). The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are. Tube and worm trolling has been a successful technique for the southwest side of Block Island using 300 ft. of wire line out in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.
Buck tail jigs with pork rind strips. I have had success with this method to get under schools of bluefish and to the striped bass on the bottom.
Let me know if you catch that keeper and send along a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEM to hold fly fishing workshop
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is holding an introduction to freshwater fly fishing workshop on Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Addieville East Farm, Mapleville. Adults, families and children ten and older may attend. Participants will learn about equipment needed for the sport, fly-tying and casting and best areas to fish in RI. Lunch will be provided. Fee is $15 per person. To register contact Kimberly Sullivan at Kimberly.Sullivan@dem.ri.gov.
Drive up window for bait
Ocean State Tackle, Providence now has a drive up window for bait, fishing tackle, gear and soft drinks. Dave Henault, owner of Ocean State said “People want to fish and they do not want to stand in line so we developed the drive-up window to accommodate them. This will get them in and out a lot quicker.”
Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing continued to remain strong in the bay with an abundance of Atlantic menhaden in bays and rivers. “There are so many pogies in the rivers (Providence and Seekonk) that anglers are scooping them up with nets. School bass are being caught in the rivers with 20 pound fish mixed in. Fishermen are catching 12 to 18 pound fish on pogie chunks in the triangle area of Barrington beach, Nayatt Point and Conimicut Light,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Andrew Cournoyer of Riverside Marine Bait & Tackle, Tiverton said, “Things really opened up in Mt. Hope Bay this week. Customers are catching striped bass with pogies and umbrella rigs are working well too.” The abundance of bait in bays and rivers has made it a bit difficult to get the attention of bass so anglers have started using swimming lures of all type with success to attract striped bass. “The bite has been solid in pre-dawn and late dusk hours with lures from Conimicut Light all the way up the Providence River,” said Jeff Ingber of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “We fished the upper bay this weekend at night and landed fifteen striped in the 28” o 33” range using chucks of pogies, however, they have started to hit swimming lures too.”
Summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass (BSB) bite is on. The season opened May 25 for BSB and fish are being caught with anglers limiting out when fluke fishing. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet, said, “Fluke fishing was solid this week. A good mix of nice size fluke and good size sea bass on most outings with the largest fish being a seven pound fluke and a five pound black sea bass. Best trip of the week overall was Saturday afternoon's half day trip where the stars aligned and the anglers aboard were treated to some awesome fluke and sea bass fishing. Some fishers even had bag limits on both on this half day. Bait rigs, jigs, everything worked.” Anglers have caught summer flounder on the East Passage channel pads, at Warwick Light and in the lower Bay at the bridges with no big consistent bite. However Block Island ocean wind farm area continues to be strong with some anglers limited out there.
Last Monday night at a public workshop RI DEM took comments on their recommendation to reduce catch limits to meet Atlantic States Marine Fishers Commission (ASMFC) harvest limits. Pending final ASMFC approval (which seems imminent) recreational anglers will be allowed to take just five fish and not seven in the months of November and December. So the season catch limits for BSB (minimum size is 15”) are as follows: May 24 to August 31, 2017: three fish/person/day; September 1 to September 21, 2017: seven fish/person/day; September 22 to October 21: closed (when the Federal BSB season is closed); October 22 – October 31: seven fish/person/day; and November 1 to December 31: five fish/person/day.
The scup bite at Colt State Park in Bristol has been good with anglers catching them at the mouth of the Sakonnet River from shore as well.
Sea robins are being caught in the bay and along the shore. Anglers are now keeping them, cleaning the tails and eating them. They are a great eating fish.
Freshwater fishing continues to remain strong with anglers catching a lot of large and small mouth bass. John Littlefield said, “Angler Brian Strayer caught a 5 ½ pound largemouth bass at Bad Luck Pond (Rehoboth). Anglers have also done well with bass at Brickyard Pond, Barrington. The bass have not been large there but the bite is good.” John Lavallee of Continental Bait said, “Customers are catching bass but the trout bits is a little off as the water is warming and some ponds are starting to get fished out.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at email@example.com or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.