We have a lot of bait in the Bay… Atlantic Menhaden, silversides and last week many coves and rivers in the Bay experienced a worm hatch. This all translated into a great week of striped bass (and blue fish) fishing. See "Where's the bite" feature below for details.
With all this bait and action why is it that some days, you just cannot get a bite… you scour waters trolling lures and tube & worm, cast in the shallows and around structure with soft plastics, hard plastics and surface poppers. You hit all your favorites spots, where you have caught fish and where others have caught fish… and still… no bass.
Do not lose faith. It's a matter of persistence, mixing it up, paying attention to water movement (tide and current) and yes trying to match what the striped bass are eating (or would like to eat). Here are my top ten ways to catch striped bass… I used five of them this week to mimic the bait in the water… casting swimming lures and plastics to mimic silversides and worms; using live and chucked Atlantic Menhaden; and trolling with tube and worm) to catch nine striped bass.
Ten favorite ways to catch striped bass
10. Trolling with umbrella rigs. Like to use this technique trolling in deeper parts of Narragansett Bay, off Newport or Block Island with a variety of squid, shad, worm or eel umbrella rigs. Hook two fish at the same time and you will experience a great fight.
9. Casting soft plastics, various bait types and weights to fish different depths. Many anglers love this technique and use it successfully in the spring. Make sure the plastic baits are scented if they are not add some scent. Who wants to eat plastic?
8. Buck tail jigs with pork rind squid strips. Have had success with this method to get under schools of blue fish and to the striped bass on the bottom.
7. Live eels. Used by shore and boat anglers, some fishing guides use this as their primary method to catch killer stripers. Hook the eel through the mouth and out one eye. Going between the eyes usually kills the bait. I use circle hooks because bass (small and keeper size) tend to swallow the bait whole and often get hooked low. Circle hooks generally slide out of the fish and hook it on the corner of their mouth on the way out allowing you to release the fish you are not keeping… and release them alive and well.
6. Live menhaden. Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them. Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a pod of fish and put the live menhaden into the pod of bait and let it swim. Used when menhaden are running strong, particularly up the Providence River in early spring.
5. Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden. You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait pods with chunks. Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.
4. Surface plugs. Have caught hundreds of school bass in the spring using surface plugs of all types.
3. Swimming lures. Great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc. My favorite is a grey Yozuri Crystal Minnow.
2. Parachute squid jigs. Often used in ocean water (or where there are squid). Anglers successfully use this method off Newport, Narragansett and Block Island.
1. Trolling with tube and worm. I have had great success in the Bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot fluorocarbon leader. I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm). The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are. Tube and worm trolling has been a successful technique for the Southwest side of Block Island using 300 ft. of wire line out in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.
Where's the bite
Striped bass. Steve McKenna, noted shore angler and author said, "Striped bass fishing this month is outstanding… the best ever. In April I landed one bass in twelve trips… so far in May I have landed 162 striped bass with some keepers mixed in. I have also heard and confirmed a 25 pound fish was caught last week from shore and rumors of a 50 pounder being caught too. This is quite early to be catching fish this size from the beach." John Littlefield of Archie's Bait, East Providence said. "Striped bass fishing for customers have been very good, many have been using clam tongues and clam worms. Customers Albert and Kevin Bettencourt of East Providence fished the Rumstick Point area and landed three bass in the 13 to 17 pound range." Mary Dangelo of Maridee Bait and Canvas, Narragansett said, "There was a striped bass blitz in Wickford Cove last Thursday and customers are reporting good fishing off the shore at George's Restaurant in Galilee for both striped bass and blues." Captain Andy Dangelo of the charter boat Maridee II caught his limit of striped bass when fishing off Block Island and then took his party fluke fishing. This week we had a lot of bait in the Bay. Angler Joe Daniels of Warwick said, "(I was) snagging pogies … near the hurricane barrier and then live-lining for stripers." Joe caught bass to 32" and 12 pounds using this method last week. In addition to plentiful Atlantic Menhaden (pogies) in the Bay, a worm hatch occurred in coves and rivers this past week as noted above. Captain BJ Silvia of Flippin Out Charters said, "Fishing for bass and blues off the Southern end of Prudence Island was outstanding Saturday… all the striped bass and blues you wanted." Merrill True, Sr. a RI Saltwater Angler Association (RISAA) blogger said Sunday, "We snagged some Menhaden and left them on the snagging hook to swim. My son Jamie had a striper on in about ten min. In a few min. a 33 in striper was in the boat."
Blue fish. Blue fish have infiltrated the Bay and are being caught from the Hurricane Barrier in Providence to Jamestown, Newport and Narragansett. John Littlefield of Archie's Bait said, "Sabin Point has been hot for blue fish."
Fluke (summer flounder) fishing has been great too with some anglers reaching their limit (18" minimum size, seven fish/person/day) which was not the case for the past three to four years. Cote Laflamme of Smithfield, RI said he caught an eight pound fluke just off the center wall of the Harbor of Refuge, Narragansett. He also caught eight nice keeper fluke when fishing with the Frances Fleet (Galilee party boat) . His favorite rig is a three way swivel with a teaser tipped with native squid and fluke belly. RISAA blogger John S. said Sunday, "… I put four keeper fluke in the box to 4.5 lbs along with about eight shorts, two sea robins and a skate. Most were caught just west of Green Hill Beach in 40+ feet of water."
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.