Like it should in mid-May, the local fishing scene is firing on all cylinders! In saltwater, we’ve officially entered “cow season,” as Rhode Island’s first surf-caught 50-pound striper of year was weighed-in Wednesday. Big bass are also moving into Long Island Sound with multiple fish over 40 pounds being reported. Bluefish numbers are increasing all over. Fluke action is ramping up in Rhode Island and started with a bang in Connecticut. In freshwater, more stocking and much needed rain (albeit not enough) has kept the trout bite hot and heavy!
Rhode Island Fishing Report
The big news from the Ocean State this week was Richard Reich’s 51.66-pound striped bass caught from shore on Tuesday night. It was weighed-in at Snug Harbor Marina, but they didn’t have many details on where or what the behemoth fell for. If nothing else, the trophy catch should be an incentive to start thinking about putting spring schoolie gear away for heavier tackle—it’s go time!
Overall, the fishing “out front” is very good according to Steve McKenna at Quaker Lane Outfitters. On Monday afternoon, he landed 26 stripers, four bluefish and some hickory shad using three-inch Cocahoe Minnows and ½-ounce bucktails. Steve’s main focus area over the last week has been from the West Wall to South Kingston Beach.
Upper Narragansett Bay is chock full of pogies according to Greg at The Tackle Box, which has the attention of more and more keeper-sized striped bass up to 25 pounds. A great way to capitalize on this situation is to live-line a pogy on the outskirts of the school or use fresh chunks underneath. OTW contributor Dave Pickering reported increasing numbers of bluefish in both the Bay and along the oceanfront. He fished the Bay from shore on Monday and bluefish were tearing apart soft-plastic baits, yet avoiding hard plastic offerings for whatever reason.
In the salt ponds, the cinder worm hatch has been hit or miss thanks to this week’s cold spell, but it should pick up as water temperatures rise with the warm front on deck. Ron at Breachway Bait and Tackle said a 12-year-old customer scored a 42-inch bass on Sunday afternoon using a three-inch “Texas Chili” colored Slug-Go behind a casting egg.
Fluke fishing continues to improve in Rhode Island waters. Elisa at Snug Harbor Marina reported great fluking in 60 feet of water from Nebraska Shoals to Green Hill, as well as along the south side of Block. She noted that Dave Lessard bagged a 10.5-pound doormat off Matunuck on Tuesday. Ron of Breachway Bait had fluke up to 5 pounds in 40-feet of water off Green Hill on Wednesday. The ticket for him was a 3/8-ounce teaser bucktail tipped with spearing above his main offering.
Tautog fishing is another option out there. Ron at Breachway Bait said the structure in 50-feet of water off Charlestown Breachway gave Bill Miller and friends their limit in one hour this week using blackfish jigs tipped with green crabs. Their biggest tog of the trip weighed-in at 7.5 pounds. Steve at Quaker Lane also reported a good tautog bite using crabs or sandworms in areas like Bristol Narrows, Beavertail, Tiverton, and the rocks out front of Narragansett.
In freshwater, Joe at River and Riptide said the Wood River is getting another supplemental stocking before the weekend and remains loaded with cooperative trout. For the fly crowd, some trout are rising for red quills and they will have a hard time passing on standard nymph patterns like pheasant tails and hare’s ears, or streamers like the Woolly Bugger.
Connecticut Fishing Report
Migratory Stripers are starting to fill in on all the local reefs in Long Island Sound. Andrew from Fishin’ Factory III has had reports of bass from Six Mile, The Race and Millstone. The Race has been fishing decent with diamond jigs and the better reports from Six Mile have been from those snapping wire. Larger stripers are filing into western Long Island Sound hot on the heels of schools of bunker. Rich from Fisherman’s World received a heck of a report from four anglers on a charter Wednesday morning off Matinecock, Long Island. Using fresh bunker chunks, “Bunker” Bill Reed and friends scored 25 bass up to 46 pounds with a few bluefish mixed in for good measure. Expect these bigger fish to keep pushing east as the water temperatures continue to warm in the Sound.
The more consistent striper action, however, remains in the tidal rivers. Bunker is the word of the day in the Thames. Cheyenne at Fish Connection said anglers live-lining these baitfish are scoring nice numbers of stripers and blues. Bigger blues are starting to filter in the Thames River as well, like the one over 10 pounds Cheyenne said was caught on a trolled tube-n-worm this week.
Some fantastic striper reports came from the Connecticut River this week. Andrew at Fishin’ Factory III said it’s been fishing well from Cromwell down to Old Saybrook. There is a healthy supply of alewives still milling around and plenty of bass hanging nearby. He noted that anglers soaking sandworms from the banks have been catching steadily—a lot of small fish, but the occasional keeper sprinkled in. Bass have also been crushing spook-style lures and pencil poppers over the last week and fishing low light conditions increases your odds. Blaine of Connecticut Outfitters had a great outing on the lower Connecticut River on Wednesday morning. With 9-inch Slug-Gos and spooks like the Shimano Orca, he landed several fish to the low 20-pound class and lost some bigger at the boat. The lower Connecticut also has bunker according to Pat Abate of Rivers End. The big baitfish are attracting larger bass, as evidence of the 42-pounder his shop weighed-in from that stretch this week.
The Housatonic is another river hosting good striper action as of late. Chris at Stratford Bait and Tackle said bass are spread throughout lower, middle and upper tidal sections dialing-in on the mass amounts of herring. He noted the hot lures have been any SP Minnow, black and purple Bombers, and nine-inch Slug-Gos in “ice shad” pattern.
Connecticut’s fluke season started with a bang on Wednesday for Captain Jay Oliveira of Jayhova Charters. A spot change after a very slow start paid off big dividends. After an hour and a half with only a sea robin to show, Jay eventually moved to a sandy spot five miles from Bridgeport in 12 to 20-feet of water and it was “lock and load” for two hours. The hot rig consisted of a three-way setup with a 2-ounce fluke ball to hold bottom and a sand eel teaser fly tipped with spearing and a squid strip. The fly out-fished the fluke ball 10-to-1 and they ended with a full-boat limit of fluke up to 7.5 pounds—not a bad way to kick off the season!
Porgy fishing seems to be picking up on inshore rock piles as well. Jason at Bobby J’s Bait and Tackle reported some nice-sized porgies being taken in about 25-feet of water near Charles Island off Milford using sandworms and clams.
In freshwater, trout is still the name of the game. CT DEEP kept up their incredible stocking schedule this week and released more willing trout into the East Aspetuck River, Pond Brook, Pootatuck River (lower), Pomperaug River, East Branch Salmon Brook (Granby), Lake McDonough (Barkhamsted), Mount Hope River, Fenton River, Hammonasset River, Schreeder Pond in Chatfield Hollow State Park, Amos Lake, Wyassup Lake, Beach Pond, Billings Lake, Quinebaug River (Putnam), Wauregan Reservoir, Snake Meadow Brook, Moosup Pond, and Quanduck Brook, Pequabuck River, Leadmine Brook, Hall Meadow Brook, East and West Branches of Naugatuck River, Still Water Pond, and East Twin Lake.
Best Bets for the Weekend
It’s mid-May and it was only a matter of time before saltwater opportunities gained the upper hand on freshwater. With striped bass, bluefish and fluke action all gaining momentum, why not put some time in the brine this weekend? Striper fishing is as good a bet as any. In tidal rivers, mimic herring with soft-plastic or topwater baits. In salt ponds, look for cinder worms. In the Bay or the western Sound, find the bunker and you’ll find the bass!