Weekly RI Fishing Report: 7/11/2014

Bass North of 40 Invade Block Island Thursday Night

The storm last weekend came up well short of the early media uproar—we saw precious little wind, and groundswell on the low end of average by tropical-low standards—but the unsettled weather, very heavy rains, and also the tumultuous weather patterns than came on in the wake of the big offshore low seem to have had a significant cumulative impact on most of our local fisheries. Fluke fishing out front has been complicated over the last week by periods of silt-laden water and washing-machine conditions. There has also been enough wind to put the kibash on any longer steams to areas (like Block Island) with better odds in the doormat department. We are finally now, on Friday, looking at some green-light weather, and it’s once again time to rough out which fish have landed where and get back to work. Fluke-wise, we’re at a bit of a tactical transition, with warming water pushing some percentage of better slabs back off into deeper water, while others will likely follow the increasingly abundant baitfish into very shallow water.

Most of my sources concur that the tropical low that came through seemed relatively innocuous when it was here, but seems to have had a fairly significant short-term impact on our fishing. Water temps have been frigid at points, and fisheries that should long since have evaporated are still underway, while others that should just now be hitting stride look as though they’re waning. Go figure. The only safe conclusion in what has been a strong gale of rumors, conjecture and other hot air is that this has been a weird season.

Thankfully, some late calls Friday morning confirm that the fishing is back in gear in a big way now. Apparently, a new shot of heavyweight bass has pulled in at the Island—both ends—the offshore scene is coming back to life, and it’s generally a fine time to be alive and fishing.


Mike Wade at Watch Hill Outfitters said it’s a good time to drag big squid/fluke-belly/sea robin strips out on the gravel and the edges where sand meets stones to find big fish. But it’s also a good time to take a different route, loading up a livewell with small live baits, picking up some fresh sand eels, and rigging up double Spro rigs in shades of blue, green, black, silver, or yellow and bouncing downsized offers around the humps, bumps, bars, and cuts in less than 20 feet of water along the front side of Naps, up in parts of Little Narragansett Bay so shallow you might feel safer in a kayak than an outboard. Fishing with gear more suited to largemouths than fluke, you may be surprised to learn that your keeper-to-throwback ratio is better where you can see bottom than it is out in the deep water we’re all supposed to fish this time of year. There were numbers of cooperative schoolies and some scattered keepers off Misquamicut before last weekend, but that seems to have fallen apart in the interim. There are schoolies and cookie-cutter keepers in the 28 to 32 inches at times on the Watch Hill Reefs, with sand eels the dominant food source as of press time. There are rumors of some better fish that pulled into the Race over the last week—possibly some of the larger fish that had been staying with big bunker schools in the western reaches of LI Sound until a couple weeks ago. No offshore word since the weather, but guys are picking some nice sea bass off the harder pieces off Quonny, Weekapaug and Misquamicut, including a 5.1-pound slob that came through the shop late-week. Scup are chewing like a pack of tiny, silver-clad, finned zombies off Watch Hill Light.


Elise at Snug Harbor was at a bit of a loss for solid, recent fishing intel, chiefly because the monsoons last weekend gave way to all kinds of wind, electrical storms, squalls, and generalized weather misery. A couple of brave and enterprising skippers braved quick runs to the Southwest Corner near the Fence and came home with limits of keeper bass and some blues, but neither Elise nor I have had any compelling g recent reports as of Thursday evening. Most of the shop’s fluke regulars—the majority of whom had been glued to the Island grounds before last weekend’s weather antics–have since been confined to the south shore and are not exactly swooning over the quality of the close-to-home slab fishery. There are some big sea bass coming in, mainly as incidental byproducts of fluking efforts; notably, the one and only Paul Tukey checked in with a mutant sea biscuit that scaled 6.1 pounds.

In a late update Friday morning, Joe Mariani on the Miss Paige had multiple fish over 40 pounds at the North Rip late Thursday night on eels; there may or may not be some cooperastive school bluefins around the Fairway Buoy or in the southern part of the Mud Hole.


There are still some bass around and more than enough pogies as this goes out the door. Most of the remaining bass and some blues have been hanging around Prudence, though there have been occasional fish taken as far up at Mount Hope Bridge. The fluking is best off the beaten path from Fox Island outside Wickford Harbor southward past the Jamestown Bridge, where you can help your odds by trying to secure some small live baits around the marina docks in the wee hours, then drag them on plain-Jane rigs long the edges of the shipping channels for some better fish. On the other side, there are fish in the 30 to 45-foot drifts from Goat Island south toward Fort Adams, and beneath the first four or five spans of the Newport Bridge on the Jamestown side among other places. Big sea bass are scattered all over the place on the harder bottom and around the boulders.


Sam Toland at Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown noted there are still, as of this writing, some teen-sized, pogy-oriented bass from Prudence Island as far up as the Mount Hope Bridge—those taking a variety of trolled offers in addition to menhaden. The sharpies found a shot of good fish—40 pounds up—on the reefs out front, had them for three days, then abruptly lost track of them. It’s a generally-accepted trend that a shot of bigger bass that become “residents” generally arrive somewhere around the Fourth of July; here’s hoping that the aforementioned heavyweights were wayward migrants and not the latter, more dependable body of bass. Fluking was very good along the oceanfront before the storm, died, and should bounce back over the coming week; the fishing up inside the East Passage has been quite good if you take the time to look around and get the lay of land outside Fort Adams, Castle Hill, and Newport Harbor on up to the Newport Bridge. Local fish savant Rob Taylor, chartering now out of a new BHM Downeaster, has been tuning bass locally—had multiple 50s one recent trip—and headed outside on Thursday minus the temp gauge that puts a crippling doubt on so many aspiring offshoremen. When he found some water that looked good, then ran into a huge weed mat with all the fixings (five-gallon buckets, fallen helium ballons, etc.), he put out a spread a proceeded to put a hurt on a mother lode of mahimahi that ranged from minis to around 15 pounds; to top it all off, he and crew managed to raise a mako on a swimmer. All this action was in the SW Corner of the Dump.