The calendar and weather finally synched up this week and it actually feels like it’s supposed to during the first week of May, which is absolutely beautiful. In salt or freshwater, the local fishing is pretty darn good too!
Rhode Island Fishing Report
Ocean temps are climbing and waves of schoolie stripers are pouring into Rhode Island waters. Steve McKenna of Quaker Lane Outfitters has been catching good numbers of bass up to keeper size since last Friday in the Matunuck area using Cocahoe Minnows and small bucktail jigs. He believes the May new moon will usher in the first big fish of the season so get ready if you’re not. OTW contributor Dave Pickering fished along the oceanfront on Wednesday and said there are so many fish right now that conditions don’t seem to matter. His first four casts produced five stripers with a Cocahoe/shrimp teaser combo. Dave noticed many different size classes mixed together as one cast might yield a 10 incher, the next cast it might be a 20 inch fish while the next could deliver a keeper.
Fresh striped bass are pushing westward as well. Ron at Breachway Bait and Tackle relayed that stripers showed up in Charlestown and the last three days have been pretty good fishing for schoolies up to keeper size. Mike at Watch Hill Outfitters said bass up to 26 inches are being caught on three inch swim shads in the Pawcatuck River. Joe at River and Riptide Anglers reported that salt pond water temps are almost flirting with worm hatch territory, which is always a fun bite to get in on.
Blackfish season has been on the slow side since it opened on April 15, but much better action should be in the cards over the next couple weeks. Mike at Watch Hill Outfitters suggested focusing on shallow rocky zones like Ragged Reef or Watch Hill Reef right now with clam as the bait of choice. Neil at Saltwater Edge said the area between Newport and Jamestown with crabs or sandworms is a good bet as well.
Fluke season opened up on Wednesday, but no recreational reports have come in just yet. Ron at Breachway Bait and Tackle told me that commercial rod and reel guys have experienced a good bite in 70 feet of water since Sunday with four ounce bucktail jigs on bottom with 3/8-ounce bucktail teasers above. He added that winter flounder fishing isn’t on fire by any means, but you can still get your limit like Bruce White did on Sunday in a local salt pond using sandworms. Squid action is quiet so far according to Larry at East Providence Bait and Tackle. There is nothing really doing in Newport yet, but he’s checking Sakonnet on Friday, which I’m told is usually the first place to see them.
In freshwater, this weekend is a “free fishing weekend” thanks to RI DEM, so you don’t need a license to enjoy all the freshly stocked waters around the state. Joe at River and Riptide said the Wood River and a handful of ponds were just restocked for the special weekend and there are plenty of trout still kicking around from previous stockings as well. For fly fishers, dry fly action is heating up with red quills, black quills and hendricksons all hatching on good days. Then again, offerings like Woolly Buggers, Rooster Tails or garden hackle will catch trout no matter what food is in the water.
For more on fishing from the Rhode Island shore, check out On The Water’s Fishing New England: Rhode Island Shore Guide.
Connecticut Fishing Report
More and more striped bass are being welcomed into Connecticut waters hot on the heels of impressive numbers of river herring. Cheyenne of The Fish Connection is hearing about decent striper catches in the Thames, Yantic and Shetucket Rivers. Anglers are doing their best to imitate the off-limits herring with pencil poppers and weightless Slug-Gos. Andrew at Fishin’ Factory III said if you cast a sandworm from the banks of the Connecticut River anywhere from Middletown to Deep River, you stand a good chance at landing a striped bass. He said they are mostly schoolies, but some bigger fish into the mid-30 inch range are starting to mix in. Q at River’s End reported that the lower Connecticut River from Lieutenant River to the sandbars gave up some bass to 30 inches on Tuesday morning.
The western Sound and its tributaries are also providing solid striper action at the moment. Rick at Fisherman’s World said that Jay Vricky cast netted bunker (yes bunker!) in the Norwalk River this week and ferried them to Hempstead Harbor where he chunked up several stripers up to 22 pounds during an incoming tide. Rick also reported that Capt. Ian Devlin put clients on bass up to 14 pounds inside the Norwalk Islands on Saturday morning using light jig heads and soft plastic baits. Jason at Bobby J’s Bait and Tackle said the Housatonic River has a lot striped bass in it right now, many of which are feasting on herring in the Derby/Shelton area. He noted that anglers are doing well with top-water lures during the day and swimming plugs at night. Capt. Mike Roy of Reel Cast Charters reported that the mouth of the Housy is still holding some bass, but hopes to find better quality fish in the open Sound this weekend.
Blackfish season closed on Tuesday, but holy smokes what an ending! Jason at Bobby J’s noted that there were several monster tautog taken from breakwalls along the Connecticut coast this past weekend, some up to 15-pounds! You’ll have to wait until July for your next shot at one if you missed out. Winter flounder fishing is something you can do at the moment and it’s still worth going in the Niantic River according to Matt at Hillyers Tackle. He said using plenty of clam chum and tipping your hooks with sandworms is the ticket.
In freshwater, trout fishing as good as it will get all year. With low flows thanks to very little rain as of late, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel in many rivers and streams. Chris at Stratford Bait and Tackle had two nine-pound trout weighed-in from Beardsley Park this past week and a 10-pounder from Blackberry River. Torrey at Housatonic River Outfitters told me that 9,000 trout are being stocked this week into the Housy’s upper Trout Management Area. If you caught a fish around there up until now, there’s a good chance it was a ‘holdover’ from years past. The upper Farmington River is fishing extremely well right now too partly because of the full blown hendrickson hatch going on. In the bass scene, Pat at Candlewood Bait and Tackle said largemouth and smallmouth there are starting to move onto beds. He said think shallow water in 10 feet or less and use tubes, spider jigs, hair jigs with slow retrieves.
Best Bets for the Weekend
As can be expected for the first week of May, there is a lot going on in the local fishing scene. You have to prioritize what species of fish you’d like to chase or type of fishing you’d like to do. If saltwater is your preference, there are a lot of fresh stripers showing up along the oceanfront or in tidal rivers. For freshwater options, it’s hard to beat trout fishing right now. The weather looks extremely nice this weekend, so I don’t think you can lose no matter what you choose. Just get out there!