No Fluke

Three favorite ways to catch striped bass


The great news is that the striped bass are here on their spring migration north. I caught a 30” fish in Greenwich Bay Saturday in front of Buttonwoods, Warwick, with a Yo-Zuri Cystal minnow with little effort, and anglers have been reporting a great bite too in the west passage of Narragansett Bay. 

Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “Anglers are catching school striped bass to keeper slot size fish, as well as 30” to 40” fish in the East Passage. They are using shads, spoons and lures of all types with success.”

It is important to note that striped bass are in tough shape. They are overfished, and we are engaged in a stock rebuilding plan, so great care should be taken to catch and release these fish safely to reduce post-catch mortality. Anglers should keep the fight short, as playing with the fish tires it out. Keep the fish in the water even when de-hooking, photo-taking and releasing, if possible, and try not to handle the fish a lot.

The striped bass limit is one fish per person per day between 28” to less than 31.”

Striped bass should be measured from the tip of the snout or jaw (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail. Recreational anglers are required to use inline circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with whole or cut natural baits, except when fishing with a natural bait attached to an artificial lure such as a tube and worm. The use of non-lethal devices to remove striped bass from the water is required; gaffing striped bass is prohibited.

And this year we have a new striped bass fillet law in Rhode Island (Massachusetts has one too that is a bit different) which includes no filleting of striped bass or possession of racks or fillets is permitted while actively fishing with lines in the water; racks must be retained and kept whole (including the head, tail, and body) and no striped bass shall be mutilated in a manner that prevents accurate measurement; no more than two fillets should be taken from a legal striped bass; the equivalent of one fish per angler; private rec. anglers racks must be retained until the vessel is secured to the dock or removed from the water and all fillets have been offloaded; and party/charter racks must be retained until the vessel is secured to the dock or removed from the water, all paying passengers have disembarked, and all fillets have been offloaded.

Here are three of my favorite ways to catch spring striped bass:

n Casting soft plastics, various lure types and weights to fish different depths. Many anglers love this technique and use it successfully in the spring. I have caught hundreds of school bass in the spring using surface lures or plugs of all types. Swimming lures are a great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc. My favorites are a grey Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow and a white or bone colored SP Minnow.

n Atlantic menhaden or pogies. Snag the live Atlantic menhaden with a weighted treble hook or net them. Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a pod of fish and put the live menhaden into the pod of bait and let it swim. Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden. You can anchor (and chum), drift fish or fish the moving bait pods with chunks. Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.

n Trolling with tube and worm. I have had great success in the bays and near coastal waters using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five-foot fluorocarbon leader if needed to get down lower in the water column. I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm). The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing: Anglers continue to find trout in stocked ponds in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. For a list of stocked trout ponds, visit Designated Trout Waters | Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (; in Massachusetts visit Freshwater Fishing | Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “Fishing for largemouth bass is outstanding, the best it has ever been.”

Striped bass

“Baitfish were jumping in the Cape Cod Canal last week, and the herring run continues to produce, and some small bass have been caught in Buzzards Bay outside of the Ditch. Famed Canal Rat “Bull” MacKinnon did well in April, landing four stripers last week, including a 30-inch keeper on his white pencil,” said Attleboro native East End Eddie Doherty.

Matt Kim of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, said, “Bass in the 30- to 40-inch range are being caught in Warwick and the East Bay. Anglers are using bid soft plastic lures to catch them — the bigger the better.”

Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, said, “Striped bass fishing has improved, with large fish now starting to be caught. And the worm hatch is upon us. One warm day last week and Ninigret Pond came alive, and the bass fishing was on. Other ponds will start popping too as things warm up.”

Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “We had stripers up to 25 inches long taken at the Breachway this week. More than a few very small school bass were caught as well, mostly in the white wash at your feet.”

Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Striped bass to 40” have been caught in the upper reaches of the Providence River, with more larger fish being caught every day. White and bone colored swimming and surface lures are working for customers.”


Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, said, “In the spring, tautog females migrate along the coast to spawn, typically depositing their eggs in mussel beds. This time of year, crabs, sandworms, and clams make good tautog bait.”

Elisa Cahill from Snug Harbor, said, “It has been a mixed bag for anglers targeting tautog with the best results happing south of Block Island … We have been catching fish in as little as 6 feet of water with jigs and Asian crabs. If you are using green crabs do not forget to take the shells off. It makes the bait softer for spring tautog.”

Squid fishing has been on and off.  When they are in, they are in, and anglers are doing well from the shore and from boats from the Newport Bridge area.

“Summer flounder (fluke) have been caught along the southern coastal shore.  These are the first reports we have heard this year.” said Matt Kim of Quaker Laine.

Dave Monti holds a master captain’s license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

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