Westerly Duo Best Monster Wahoo

The new Rhode Island State record breaking wahoo 80.2 pound Caught By Matt Behan Aboard Fishous Killa with  Capt. Mike Welsh with Friend Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.
The new Rhode Island State record breaking wahoo 80.2 pound Caught By Matt Behan Aboard Fishous Killa with Capt. Mike Welsh with Friend Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.


M ike Wade at Watch Hill Outfitters was out slinging kayaks, spooling reels, eating lunch, salting bait, ordering plugs, directing traffic, playing an accordion, recording a book on tape, leading a guided meditation to help a depressed scup access repressed memories, baking tomorrow’s doughnuts, and doing all the other things involved in running a modern bait and tackle establishment when I called Friday afternoon. While the last week came up a safe distance short of spectacular on local fishing grounds, there are scattered, mostly small bass haunting the Watch Hill Reefs and droves of scup on the various high spots and rockpiles between Watch Hill Light, Napatree, and Wicopesset. There are also some fluke hanging around off Misquamicut and Weekapaug, but most of Wade’s doormat devotees continue to steam for the Island’s south side, specifically the 80- to 100-foot drifts over harder bottom where there are a surprising number of 5- to 7-pound slabs on the feed. The striped bass fishing off the SW Corner has come down a few pegs, particularly with a serious infestation of migrant bluefish dashing around utterly intent on liquefying any “bass” eel that comes into their field of carnage. Big news for the week was a new state record wahoo trolled up by skipper Mike Welsh and fought/brought to gaff by local oystersman, Matt Behan. The huge ‘hoo, caught down in the Shipping Lanes around the 500 Square early-week, scaled 80.2 pounds, easily dwarfing a bunch of nice yellows and some mahis that rounded out a bang-up day outside.


Capt. Chris Willi at Block Island Fishworks was regrouping at home, tying up some custom leaders after a Friday morning trip that marked a return to normal after several days lost to actual weather, then to dirty water, roiled seas and recalcitrant fish. Early Friday morning, Willi managed to find some cooperative bass off the SW Corner in the vicinity of the Thumb, then the Boulders, and finally out on the humps outside the foot of Southeast Light. “It’s not like it was,” commented Willi. “You actually have to look around for ‘em now—and they’re finally down below 30 pounds.” He classified bluefish as “plentiful”—but when he said the word, I heard it as “ass-deep…” Two shop staffers fished North Light—both sides of the point—and had a number of bass up to around 34 inches slinging an array of needlefish and other homespun wooden plugs. The fluke fleet is fishing well south of the south side now—outside three miles—in 100 feet give or take.


Matt Conti at Snug Harbor Marina sounded pretty well worked to a crisp when I checked well after 6 p.m. on Thursday evening. He bemoaned the Wednesday storm and its probable longer-range impacts on local fishing, particularly along the South County beaches west of Point Jude. There were bonito off Matunuck all the way down to East Beach chasing tiny bait Monday into Tuesday, but Conti suspects Wednesday’s torrential rains and the resulting dip in salinity—plus churning seas the color and clarity of coffee milk—most likely sent those fish packing for deeper, cleaner accommodations. A few boats returned from the canyons before the weather—one with a catch of yellows, a wahoo, mahis, and one lone 100-pound bigeye, all, thought Matt, from Atlantis. Other guys had solid sharks—good-sized makos—along the 30 fathom. Again, this was all before Wednesday, and unfortunately has no real bearing on the fishing any of us will be attempting this weekend. One day might as well be a year in canyon time… Four days plus a major low-pressure system? Might as well go try to track down an old sea surface temp lithograph: Nice, kinda cool, but just about as worthless as a kickstand on a Sherman Tank….

On the striper side, fish have begun to thin out a bit—not exactly a shocker when you start to ballpark out the fish that have left Island grounds over the last two months—and the fish are falling into the typical late-summer pattern, topping out around 30 pounds. Bluefish have arrived in staggering numbers, and it’s suddenly not such a great time to be an eel at Southwest Ledge. Fluking appears to be holding steady out in the deep water off the south side—folks have caught well since the storm, in fact—but the bottom west of the Point may need a couple days to clean up. Last folks who headed for Coxes went right on the recent moon—not the time to scratch a bunch of summer cod. Never mind the stiff easterly winds and what those might have summoned from the murk in terms of everyone’s favorite fish, the seldom-elusive spiny dogfish. Once things have had another day or so to settle down, we ought to see some good windows for t-shirt cod-catching.


Kenny Landry at Ray’s Bait made a couple attempts to pry some quality fluke off some productive drifts along the lower east side of Jamestown, sticking a nice handful of joes one outing late last week, then striking out on a return trip a few days later thanks to the old rocket-drift you get when two-plus knots of tide through the East Passage lines up with a 15-knot breeze. An early-week attempt to locate some school bluefins caught nothing but skunk on the troll from the Mud Hole eastward to Gordons Gully. Both areas showed all kinds of life, but nary a knockdown was in the cards. There are roving small pods of medium and small blues slashing and chopping around the middle Bay, and folks are still working for keeper fluke and the occasional monster sea biscuit or scup down around the Bridges.


The other Sam at Sam’s Bait and Tackle said the wind and rain Wednesday did a real number on the water quality along the Newport oceanfront; she suspects the fluking should get back on track after a day or two of clean-up. A couple of shop regulars had nice bass from the rocks along Ocean Drive just before the rains, and that activity should resume sooner than later. The goods news is that we’ve just now reached the middle of August, so there’s no reason to think a one-day low will do our angling odds any real damage.