Fluke, Stripers, Sea Bass, Blues, Bluefins Hot off BI’s South Side

Charlie Mock, age 9, of Carmel, IN, fought and landed this impressive school bluefin on the troll ESE of Block Island; he was fishing with his Uncle Sam Toland of Sam's Bait and Tackle, on Tuesday, August 5.
Charlie Mock, age 9, of Carmel, IN, fought and landed this impressive school bluefin on the troll ESE of Block Island; he was fishing with his Uncle Sam Toland of Sam’s Bait and Tackle, on Tuesday, August 5.

Right out of nowhere, the heat and humidity came down like a hammer almost the second it turned August, and suddenly, the three-weeks-behind theorists are beginning to concede that we’re on schedule after all. The good news is that we’re much nearer to August one than to September one, and there’s still plenty of prime angling opportunity ahead. The bad news is that we’re in August, a month that speeds by like a high-speed train at straightaway speeds, and if you’re not careful, you’ll finally stop dawdling just in time to see the school buses roll. Get out now, and get out often. Autumn’s coming.


Mike Wade at Watch Hill Outfitters noted that the fly and light tackle guys have found a new diversion in the form of sporadic bonito appearances around the Watch Hill Reefs/ Fishers Island area. Per the norm, these fish are on the go more or less in perpetuity, popping up in a pile of white bait, dining briefly, then dashing elsewhere—repeat, repeat, repeat. Most reliable window to get a cast off in their direction has been during slack water, top of the tide in particular, somewhere between Watch Hill Reef and Sugar. Along with bonito, there have been some foot-long mystery tunoids Wade thinks might be frigate mackerel; whatever they are, either they or the great multitude of baitfish (all sorts and sizes, including bunker, rainbait and sand eels) that brought them inside seem to have attracted the attention of some better bass in the 25 to 30-pound range that have been making regular appearances between Wicopesset and Watch Hill Reef. There are all kinds of sea bass still around but paltry bag limits continue to prevent any kind of a directed fishery for them. Fluking continues to taper off from Weekapaug westward, but quite a few folks have connected with school bluefin tuna within five miles of Block Island’s south side, in the Mud Hole and Gully, and east of Coxes. A few guys have been taking big bluefish from the beach right at the Pink House.


Capt. Chris Willi at Block Island Fishworks has been checking in with current observations on the state of illegal commercial and plain old black market striper fishing around the Island—a situation that has ranged somewhere between discouraging and disgusting over the last month as staggering tonnage of monster fish have been abducted to feed the open—and, where fish caught in RI state waters are concerned, highly illegal—commercial striper market in Massachusetts. There has been virtually zero enforcement activity until about a week ago, when a couple of charter boats were allegedly popped for fishing over the three-mile line. In brighter news, despite the awesome fishing pressure—Willi has gone so far as to stop running charters on Fridays and Saturdaysto avoid the worst of the crowds—there are still many large striped bass holding on the south (SW, SE) side of the Island; Willi’s clients have been taking fish from 20 pounds past 30 all on artificial, Slug-go’s and other soft-plastic sand eel imitators, mostly. Fl;ukin g remains very good in the 70- to 100-foot depth range off the south side, and the sea bass are still thick seemingly every.


Snug Harbor weighed a 55-pound bass for Richard Dean back on Monday, but the Island’s big bass production slowed through the week. The expectation among most who’ve been racking up hours adrift off the SW Corner is that the strong moon tides will get the fish chewing again. Speaking of the Island, the fluke fishery out in the south side depths—as deep as 100 feet by some accounts—has picked up again. The commercial rod-and-reelers have been coming in some trips with as much as 70 of their 100 pounds comprised of joes—slabs from 4 pounds up—and there are still impressive numbers of scary-big sea bass littering the hard ground all around the Island. Back on our side of the pond—from Scarborough around to Charlestown—the picking has been slim on all but those short windows of absolutely perfect drift conditions. There are some big tautog up in the Narragansett stones, but most of the excitement over that fishery is in the spear-fishing community. No real bonito news just yet, but there are still school bluefin tuna patrolling the 30-fathom curve, particularly in points east. There are still some quality sharks around, like one 200-pounder brought to the scale by one of the Point Jude charterboats earlier in the week.


Kenny Landry at Ray’s Bait said it remains tough going on almost all fishing fronts up the Bay. Fluke seem to be getting most of the recent attention, and even there, the shop’s regulars have been traveling down toward the mouth of Narragansett Bay in search of a better keeper : short ratio. This is a good time to start stowing a lightish spinning outfit armed with a small, thin-profile metal like an Acme Need-L-Eel or Deadly Dick; when the white bait starts dropping seaward, there should be some scattered surface activity from bass, blues, and, if all goes well, some bonito or false albacore.


The other Sam at Sam’s Bait and Tackle noted the striped bass situation has been quiet along the Newport oceanfront. There are some good fluke around in the deep water from roughly Fort Adams down to Brenton Reef, and eastward from there toward Sakonnet. There are still big bass on a somewhat less consistent feed over at Block, and fair numbers of school bluefins from the Mud Hole/ Gully east and south all the way to the grounds south of the Vineyard. Boats at the right place at the right time have managed some nice white marlin and big mahimahi in that zone, too.