Weekly RI Fishing Report: 6/27/2014

63-Pound Cow Bass Landed Off Block

After what has amounted to a fair hiatus, courtesy of a trip to a wedding up in Juneau, AK, some turbo-injected jetlag, and then Eastern-Fire-Drill conditions late last, we’re back in the saddle on these weekly reports. It has been an eventful two weeks, during which striped bass, flukew, tuna, and shark fishing all went from about 2 knots to 40 knots—a doubtful outlook as of the first week of June turned wide-open fisheries per the climatic norm here in intermittently sunny and tropical South County, RI. I’ve scraped up reports since my return—mostly over the last two days—of several fluke to north of 11 pounds and bass of 54, 54, and, among others, 63 pounds, the former slabs taken off Sakonnet and Block Island, the latter bass taken off Block Island’s SW Corner and S side, and near the Watch Hill Reefs. The fluke fishing has been heavily impacted by drift conditions—not a new notion, but one that seems to stand in sharper contrast this season than in other recent years. That is, if you’re not paying very close attention to the interplay between wind, weather, tidal timing, current strength/direction, and the spatial orientation of slab-infested bottom structures—if you’re not attempting to time your slab search to encompass windows of theoretically perfect tide-riding—odds are better than average that you’ve spent quality time grousing and bitching about a generalized infestation of wallet-size summer flatties in areas usually good for a keeper or two.

Meanwhile, in the usual 30- to 40-fathom spots—the Horns, Tuna Ridge, etc.—the shark fishing has been quite good, while tuna fans have turned up school bluefins of various sizes around the NW Corner of the Dump as recently as last Sunday. The rumor mill has word of some bigger fish—“large mediums” in the contemporary regulatory parlance—in the 200-plus-pound range from south of Block Island and also well south between the Shipping Lanes north of West Atlantis all the way to Hudson Canyon. Speaking of, the zone of bluer water between the Fishtails/ Middle Grounds westward to the latter well-travelled “slip” in the Continental Shelf wall (the mighty Hud) has surrendered numbers of school-sized yellowfins and even some early longfin albacore to boats dragging daytime spreads including rigged ballyhoo. Point is, best to get yer arse in gear, lest the fishing fall apart the way it so often does in later summer, and you wind up lamenting your own failure to mobilize.


The Mike Wade at Watch Hill Outfitters has begun the manic episode that is the high tourist season in the shop. He said the fluke fishing has been bright spot of sorts the last week or so, with folks who get the right alignment of wind and tide, and thus some all-important movement over ground, have been scratching out reasonable catches of slabs from 20 inches to north of 7 pounds. There are quite a few shorts around—one good reason to stay away from the drifting herd off the south side of Fishers or Misquamicut, working instead in areas that see less pressure. Working along hard-bottom edges out in front of Naps, or way east toward Weekapaug or Quonny. Bass fishing has been up and down, with a few guys working hard on the night shift for some substantial fish anywhere in the Watch Hill Reefs-Wicopesset-Latimers zone on live bait. Capt. Ben Demario had a quiet 50-plus-pounder and there have been others in the 30- to 40-pound range. Block Island has begun to turn out some better fish, too, though you have to play the tides just right to avoid getting eaten out of house and home by the increasingly abundant blues. Scup are big and plentiful for the shore crowd slinging clams or sea worms long distances from the rocks around Watch Hill Light. Black sea bass open on Sunday, and there are some good ones around. Blues have been surprisingly scarce in local waters, and there’s very good sharking underway south of Montauk and Block. Fishing the J&B Shark tournament recently, Wade and crew loaded up on yellowfins in the Hudson Canyon/100 Square area.


Jon Lyons at Ocean House Marina has been seeing some solid bass on the prowl at various points around Ninigret Pond, including a couple of corkers hanging along the channel edges just up inside the Breachway. Fluking is fair to good, depending on who you ask; there have been some big ones off the south side of Block Island, around the mouth of Narragansett Bay, and notably outside the mouth of the Sakonnet River off Sachuest Point/Little Compton. One of the shop’s outboard techs was out with a crew that recently landed a 400-plus thresher shark, and rumors abound about bluefins from football size up past the 200-pound mark—the latter scattered over a wide area from the usual 30-fathom spots all the way down into the Dump and a bit farther outside along the edge.


Elise at Snug Harbor supplied this week’s headline news that Joe Chicalone, fishing off Block Island’s SW Corner aboard his boat, Straight Shooter, nabbed an eye-popping cow bass that scaled 63 pounds early-week. Mark Sherer, no stranger to heavyweight bass, also got on the boards with a fat 54-pounder. Giselle Golembeski among other slab specialists racked up some good scores, including fish of 8.98, 7.9, and 7.3 pounds over the last six days, presumably fishing off Sakonnet. Another crew had a catch that included 4 fish over 7 pounds mid-week off the south side of Block Island. The big variable in fluke success—seemingly more so than in other recent seasons—has been drift speed. The days wind and tide clash and you struggle to get any movement over bottom have served up some big loads of micro fluke. People have been catching some absolute behemoth sea bass, and all hands hope that fishing holds together after the long-awaited opener this coming Sunday. Tuna reports have been scattered; There were footballs last Saturday around the NW Corner of the Dump, and David Appolonia had a pair of 60-pounders down in the Shipping Lanes on Sunday. There are sharks in all the usual spots. The recent Block Island tournament turned up threshers of 246 and 456.


Scott at the Saltwater Edge admitted that there hasn’t been any one spot or fishery standing out as top-flight the last week or so. Fluke fishing has been good in general around Jamestown, under the Newport Bridge, and outside some of the reefs out front; Sakonnet has turned out some good fish over the last week, but mainly on the days that serve up nice quick drift—and it can be a long wait if you arrive during slack water. There have been schoolie bass and some small blues on patrol off the ends of Second Beach, among other spots; the bunker/bass action seems to have come down a few rungs in the upper Bay. The local reefs have been slow for the most part, with mainly smaller bass and occasional bigger bluefish.

Be sure to check out the latest Rhode Island Fishing Report from Zach Harvey every Friday on the Rhode Island edition of Coastal Angler Magazine!