High-Summer Cod Catching Excellent At Coxes


We are now heading into a point in the season when the only way to maintain a good catch rate is to work harder at it, to expand your tactical repertoire, and to seek out the advise of the sharpest guys who will actually give you the time of day. There’s no reason to accept diminishing returns because someone said we’re in the summer “doldrums.” There’s lots to catch right now: Continued world-class trophy striper fishing over at Block Island, solid summer cod fishing down on Coxes Ledge, cooperative football bluefins and white marlin, mahis, makos, and bonito from the Block Island Fairway eastward to the near-offshore grounds south of the Vineyard. Speaking of bonito, there should be some opportunities in the not so distant future to chase them around from the Center Wall to Sakonnet Point. For every area-specific target fishery heading into a summer slump, there are many more fisheries heading toward their seasonal apex. This is no time to beat it out in a fishery with terrible odds: Get after what’s good, and you’ll see whole new sets of options unfolding while your dockmates are grousing and bitching about their third consecutive skunking. And if there’s a specific fishery you’d like to learn a good deal more about, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do to help: zhfished@gmail.com.


Some of my more fluke-minded contacts in the western reaches of the South County shoreline have been racking up some respectable tallies of good-sized slabs to 7 or 8 pounds, the prevailing sentiment among Misquamicut flukemen is that the fishing’s gotten a bit tough the last week or two. Granted, my friends have logged significant time over many years cultivating an intimate understanding of the lay of the sunken land in their immediate fore. The spots that surrender many of their better slabs are in many cases subtle lanes of gravel intersecting piles of rubble, or little edges where bottom make-up changes and currents have worn out subtle depressions that furnish big fluke ideal ambush points. They fish little spots others scarcely notice; they power-drift to get the perfect drift angle along drop-offs that almost never align with natural drift scenarios; they spend hours the night before they head out filling portable live-wells with little gumdrop-sized snapper blues. In short, they work hard for what they catch.

One of them offered a good suggestion for fluke hunters running out of Westerly or Weekapaug, or Quonny: When you consider the ease with which you can access most of the grounds from Point Judith to the Charlestown Breachway, it’s no surprise that known fluke terrain off Green Hill, say, or Scarborough, gets hit pretty hard and eventually gets picked over. But to the far west—the stretch from East Beach to Weekapaug—there’s no direct, easy access. The grounds out around Quonny Reef hold some hefty fluke that see nowhere near the pressure their counterparts in points east do. It’s well worth taking the extra time to steam a little farther and get away from the main drifting horde.

It’s also worth experimenting with different baits and rigs in very shallow areas like Little Narragansett Bay—places that run against the conventional wisdom of heat-wave fluking. Bottom line is that it pays to get creative, to experiment and observe very carefully prospective new areas. You’ll find all kinds of hard bottom, all kinds of sea bass, and a little later in the season, swarms of slammer scup in the westernmost leg of the south shore beach. If the known spots are overrun with shorts and an armada of skiffs, it’s time to branch out and scare up some new secret spots.


The word from Fishworks was pretty encouraging as of Thursday afternoon. While we all know about the incredible month-longstream of heavyweight linesides coming off the Island’s SW Corner, there has also been some excellent fishing along the eastern side of the north end, a zone that has surrendered numbers of fish into the 30s and beyond over the last several weeks. It’s the surf intel that may prove most exciting to CAM readers. Notably, the stretch of boulder-strewn beachfront from the foot of SE Light up toward Old Harbor Point has coughed up at least a couple of cows pushing the 50-pound mark for guys slinging eels or needlefish plugs on late-night tides. The lower west side, Gracies Cove up toward Charleston Beach, a stretch holding big clouds of sand eels, has had bass into the teens and occasional blues, while other surfmen worked between Pots and Kettles and Mansion Beach for keeper bass and some larger. No concrete word on bonito just yet, but the sea bass have been big and almost everywhere. The scup aren’t thick yet, but there are some jumbos around on hard pieces off the south side. Fluking is down a bit from where it was a couple weeks back, but guys willing to put in the effort and work the drift conditions have found some big fish along most stretches of the Island shores.


Matt Conti at Snug Harbor reported another big surge in big-bass landings after a minor cool-off early-week. While he didn’t weigh any real mutants this week, he saw numbers of fish in the 35- to 45-pound bracket that took live eels off the SW Corner, anywhere from the Duck Head out to the Fence. The North End has had some good fish too, while the SE Corner has been bluefish city. The fluke fleet has been grumbling a bit about a recent lull in the action over at the Island, but the last few days have seen some good ones cooperating during specific windows in the tide.

During the stretch of rain and NE wind some days ago, some of the shop’s fluke regulars steamed east to scope out the normally productive stretch of rugged, tideswept bottom anywhere from Baileys Beach to the mouth of the Sakonnet River; what they found was filthy water, not much bait, and precious few cooperative slabs. Closer to the marina, the fluking along the south shore beaches has been the usual quest for the right drift conditions in the deeper areas south and east of Point Judith Light, out in front of the Center Wall, and at various points moving westward. Sea bass are as big and plentiful as they’ve been right along, and the summer cod fishery has hit stride out on the hard pieces of real estate at the SE Corner of Coxes Ledge, where the dogfish have been a minor nuisance but absolutely not a deal-breaker. Most of the hot-weather codfish are market-sized, but there have been some larger specimens taken.
In general, the offshore action has been excellent, with numerous showings of school bluefins in the 35 to 42-inch range spotted or landed on the troll in an array of near-offshore areas including the Fairway Buoy, south of the Gully, the Fingers, Gordon’s Gully, etc. The more easterly spots have also seen a pretty good influx of billfish—white and blue marlin—some substantial mahis, and green bonito over the last week.

There have been small yellows on the prowl anywhere from just south of the Horns down into the Shipping Lanes, and there was word of a pretty solid shot of yellows, including some larger models up to around the 80-pound mark, taken on the night chunk bite in the Fishtails Monday or Tuesday. There were similar fish taken mid-week in the vicinity of West Atlantis, mainly on the daytime troll.