RI Fishing Report: 8/21/2015

Quote of the Week

“This has been one of the strangest years timing-wise that I or anyone I’ve talked to can remember…”
Anonymous (nearly every seasoned skipper or surfman we’ve consulted in the last two weeks)

Coxes Ledge Loaded with Market Cod

RI fishing report

Watch Hill Outfitters said the big news locally has been some greatly improved action with green bonito out front, anywhere from Watch Hill eastward to Point Judith and beyond—enough shots of fish popping up often enough to make a day of it as this goes to press. The Watch Hill reefs have all kinds of bait, including some squid that have drawn a new shot of bass into the area; folks have been catching fish to a solid 20 pounds, both day and night, slinging surface plastics like chartreuse Slug-go’s, Hogy’s, etc. Christian from the shop said a friends of his had mahimahi and a marlin not far south and west of Block Island, confirming loads of other recent reports that the waters south and east of the Island all the way down t the Dump—including the recently-erected wind farm structures within three miles of the east side—have tons of mahis. Bass fishing at the Island is still so-so—no massive, stationary piles of fish on any one piece of south-side real estate, but little fits and starts of fish as large as the mid-40-pound class scattered about, from just off Southwest Point out to the Fence. Mike and friends had a good load of big fluke in the 7- to 9-pound range and sea bass pushing the 6-pound mark south of Southeast Light mid-week, but the fluking off Misquamicut has been on the slow side. Scup remain big and plentiful on hard pieces all along the south shore beach.

Matt Conti at Snug Harbor Marina said the lion’s share of recent near-offshore activity has centered on the south side of Coxes Ledge, where there has been some legit fast and furious cod fishing underwritten by what seems to be a bumper crop of cookie cutter market-sized migrant codfish in the keeper-size 22-inch range up to around 10 pounds—no monsters, but in the era of collapsed cod fishing, a welcome sign. There have been loads of mahimahi around that general area, and numbers of small makos, too, offering small-boat offshoremen a nice fair-weather shot at some memorable mystery-meat fishing. The bonito fishing along the South County beaches got in gear about 10 days ago now, with the frequency of pop-ups increasing in frequency and duration over the last few days. Conti had heard only one report of shorebound success—that from a guy who stuck a smallish greenie slinging metal off the very end of the West Wall mid-week. Fluke fishing isn’t red-hot in the Point Judith area, but it’s been pretty damned good at various points around the lower Bay, where the sheer volume and variety of forage, including squid, tinker mackerel, peanut bunker, sand eels, and small butters has been borderline unbelievable for the last couple weeks.

The Island is turning out quality bass on a somewhat more consistent basis than a few weeks ago. Whereas the tidal timing was maddenly tight for a good part of the summer, Matt noted you can now fish through less-than-ideal conditions on either tide and come up with at least a fish or two if you know the spots off the SW Corner. The North Rip has fish, too, but not in any big numbers; you have to get the timing right there. Fluking is good off BI’s south side, and you should have no trouble finding cooperative scup. Tautog fishing has been slower and the average sizes of what fish guys are finding smaller than usual for the summer period; on the plus side, tog are showing up in some very strange places for this time of year—most notably Coxes ledge, where more than a few have responded to clam rigs aimed at the abundant codfish.

Sam’s in Middletown noted the continued squid and tinker mackerel activity around Newport Harbor and other parts of the lower Bay has given rise to some pretty spectacular late-summer slab catching. Guys with bucktails have been taking keepers from shore, while boat guys who know the art of “making bait” have been quietly cleaning up on bigger fish. Interesting was Toland’s comment that he can’t remember another season in recent years that saw the sheer tonnage of feed fish packed into the lower Bay and along the south-facing oceanfront—but that the predator situation on the whole has been alarmingly scarce in light of all this available forage. Not surprisingly, the green bonito activity has seen rapid improvement over the last week, with enough pods of generally smaller (i.e. 3- to 6-pound) fish pushing bait topside to warrant a full day in their pursuit. Any of a variety of metals will get the job done; the good news this year is that the presence of some larger bait is making the tunoids more amenable than usual to lures one can actually cast more than a boat-length. Canyon reports have been spotty. The cod fishing out on Coxes is pretty close to lights-out, with guys who know that game having no trouble putting together 10-fish limits of 22-inch keepers.