May 23, 2013 Kierran Broatch
Forecast: Connecticut, Rhode Island
Saltwater fishing is great locally and it’s only going to get better in the coming weeks. Striped bass, bluefish and fluke action is red hot and there are tautog and even weakfish to be had as well. Try to allocate some time on the water in between parades and cookouts this weekend because it’s go time!
Rhode Island Fishing Report
Fishing for bass and blues continues to improve in Rhode Island waters and it’s setting up to be a great Memorial Day weekend. Peter at Saltwater Edge said bigger stripers are being taken with more regularity now along the oceanfront, including a surf-caught 41-pounder from Monday night by an unnamed angler.
Striped bass and bluefish action is also very good in Narragansett Bay. Steve McKenna of Quaker Lane Outfitters dodged thunderstorms on Tuesday night and landed two stripers up to 15-pounds using eel-skin plugs from shore somewhere in mid-Bay. He also added that there are a quite a few pogies in the upper Bay and Neil from the shop has been doing well live-lining them around Providence for bass to 20-pounds.
The cinder worm hatch is in full swing in South County salt ponds according to Joe at River & Riptide. He said on good days worms start showing up around 2:30 PM, but if you’re in the water by 4 you should be fine. Action can go right into dark and typically tapers off around 9:30 at night. For fly fishers, think a floating line and small worm patterns. For spin fishermen, try small soft-plastics behind a casting egg. These bass are predominantly schoolies, but Joe said bigger fish have been moving in. With the moon phase and tides being what they are, he believes the salt ponds could be a great place to be this long weekend if weather cooperates.
Around Block Island, John from Twin Maples reported that waters are warming and the fishing is responding quickly. Surfcasters are getting stripers along the west side of the Island. Boaters are doing well diamond jigging for bass and blues in the North Rip. There are fluke being taken off Charlestown Beach and the entrance to New Harbor. John said basically anywhere from the north end to the SW Point is offering good fishing right now, partly due to an impressive amount of sand eels.
Fluke fishing is excellent overall according to Ron at Breachway Bait and Tackle. He continues to do very well using a two bucktail rig. The top bucktail, usually a green or blue 3/8-oz. Spro jig tipped with spearing, has been the ticket in 35-feet of water. Ron likes any tide that’s moving, but halfway through the incoming is definitely producing better results. The biggest fluke weighed in at Breachway Bait in the last week was 6.5-pounds.
You still have until the end of the month to take home some tautog for dinner. Robin at Quonny Bait and Tackle said shore-bound anglers are catching keeper-size togs right from the breachways using green and Asian crabs. That should mean most inshore structure inside the Bay or along the oceanfront has a good chance of holding tautog right now too.
In freshwater, Joe at River and Riptide told me the Wood River is still loaded with trout thanks to another stocking last weekend plus the holdovers that made it through the early season barrage. He said trout are “looking up,” which should be music to the ears of dry fly fans. Evenings hatches have been pretty good, so be sure to have Grey Fox (#14-16), Adams (#12-16), and Red Quills (#14-16) in your fly box. Joe also reminded me that Rte. 165 is under construction, so expect minor delays if heading that way.
Connecticut Fishing Report
If you haven’t already, it may be time to start logging more hours outside the tidal rivers and on the beaches and reefs of Long Island Sound. River reports are waning, which partly stems from herring dropping out with striped bass in tow. The Connecticut River has been on and off lately according to Pat at Rivers End. He believes there are still plenty of stripers spread from the river mouth up to Windsor, but they seem to be well fed on herring or bunker and aren’t jumping all over everything. Soft-plastics are working in the lower river because that’s what most anglers are throwing, but some are starting to pick up bass and bluefish using live bunker as well.
There are quite a few bunker in the Thames River too and Cheyenne at Fish Connection said anglers are scoring stripers and blues on fresh chunks fished on bottom. In the Housatonic River, Bobby J’s reported another slug of fish caught in the Derby and Shelton stretch in the last week on pencil poppers and spooks during the day and plastic swimming plugs by night.
While tidal river fishing is on borrowed time, the action on the Sound is getting better by the day. Matt at Hillyers Tackle said classic spots like the Race, Plum Gut and Bartlett’s Reef have a pretty good bass bite with bluefish sprinkled in. Cappy at Captain Morgan’s Bait and Tackle reported similar news for spots in the central Sound like Southwest and Six Mile Reef. Boaters are doing OK snapping wire or three-waying jigs. He also added that a few scup are starting to get caught on the reefs.
In the western Sound, Captain Mike of Reel Cast Charters picked up two weakfish up to 7-pounds casting big Krocodile spoons on Friday night before running into large schools of bluefish. There’s been a lot of other weakfish chatter going around, so this could be a good time to put some extra time in for that elusive species. Mike has been doing well with topwater lures at last night near structure and even better with live eels after dark. He got a 19-pounder to eat a lime green spook on Monday evening and four bass to 32-pounds fell for eels on Saturday night.
Fluking has been pretty good both quantity and quality-wise to start the season depending on who you ask. Andrew from Fishin’ Factory III said some nice fish have been taken along Isabella on the south side of Fisher’s Island, including Scott Romano’s 5.7-pounder from Wednesday morning. Andrew said Niantic Bay has fluke if, but you have to work for your limit. He also noted that anglers targeting stripers in the mouth of the Connecticut River are catching flatfish on swimming plugs, so that means they’re pretty thick there as well. Pat of Rivers End suggested off Soundview or Millstone as other fluke spots.
In freshwater, we still need rain in a bad way, but that hasn’t stopped CT DEEP from stocking an impressive amount of trout into lakes, ponds and rivers in anticipation for Memorial Day weekend crowds. The best way to see the list of most recent stocked waterways is on their Facebook page, “Connecticut Fish and Wildlife” (www.facebook.com/CTFishAndWildlife). One of the best trout options, even in low water, is the West Branch Farmington River because it stays cool and has ample food sources. Grady from UpCountry Sportfishing up there said the Farmy is currently 300cfs through catch and release area. The recent rain has done little to change the color or height of the river. Tan Caddis (#16-18) and Green Caddis (#16-18) are hatching throughout the day. March Browns (#12-14) are ramping up and are on the water in light numbers around 5pm. Hendricksons (#12-14) are winding down but are still available in the Riverton area. Hendrickson Spinners (#12-14) have been falling in the evenings along with Blue Quill/Mahogany Dun (#18), Blue Wing Olives (#16-18), Adult Winter Caddis (#18-22), and Grey Stoneflies (#16-18) are working more throughout the day when the Hendricksons are not strong. Streamers and Wooly Buggers have been doing well as have Tan, Green Caddis Larva and Pupa on the bottom.
There are plenty of solid fishing options for the long weekend ahead. For striped bass, try capitalizing on a cinder worm hatch in a salt pond or on bunker-hungry fish inside Narragansett Bay or the mouth of the Connecticut River. Fluking along South County beaches or on the backside of Fisher’s Island is another worthy option. If saltwater is not your thing, try your luck on Connecticut’s blue-ribbon Farmington River. It won’t have more trout in it all year than Memorial Day weekend!