Continued warm weather has helped to wake up all species of fish across southern New England. Spring run striped bass has intensified, fluke and winter flounder reports are improving daily, while increased bug hatches have equaled increased trout catches in our local streams.
Rhode Island Fishing Report
Captain Frank of The Frances Fleet in Narragansett let me know that the fleet made their first squid trip of the season last weekend, and the fishing was decent on Saturday night. The squid aren’t around in full force just yet, but action was fairly steady, and high hook anglers took home a couple dozen squid each. Night trips for squid will continue to sail Wednesday thru Saturdays at 7 P.M. by reservation only. Fluke trips also kicked off this week and have been a slow-go so far. Fluke anglers were able to locate some shorts and the first keeper of the season did come aboard last weekend. Frank mentioned that the commercial boats are finding good numbers of fluke in deeper water, so the local bite should get going strong once we warm up a few more degrees. For now, fluke trips are sailing by reservation Friday thru Sunday at 7 AM, but will start sailing daily once the bite picks up.
At The Saltwater Edge in Middletown, the guys reported that so far this season is shaping up as one of the best in years for schoolie stripers along the Newport beaches. Spin anglers are scoring big numbers on small jigs and jumping minnows, while the fly guys are catching on bright clousers and small poppers. Fluke fishing started off slow, but reports of keepers are increasing daily around Newport and Jamestown. Tautog fishing also started off slow and has remained that way, with reports of white chinners remaining on the quiet side.
Howard, at Galilee Bait and Tackle in Narragansett, reported that the bunker continues to pour into the area and it’s shaping up to be another great bait year. There are large schools of adult bunker in the bay, and the first reports of peanut bunker in the salt ponds are starting to pop up. The peanuts have been a welcome site for the school striped bass that are staged up in the ponds, and anglers are catching in good numbers on small offerings. Fluke fishing is slowly but steadily picking up around the Harbor of Refuge, and anglers are now reporting some keepers in 50-60 feet of water with a bit of consistency. Winter flounder may be a safer bet than summer flounder at this point, as fishing has been very good locally this week for fish in the 15-18 inch class.
At Breachway Bait and Tackle in Charlestown, local anglers are hitting the salt ponds hard for schoolie striped bass action, and some reports of decent keepers have come in for the first time this year. Squid has started to settle in around the area, and can be caught in the salt ponds at night under a light. The squid hitting the area coupled with the warm temperatures has resulted in an uptick in fluke activity. Fishing is far from stellar but it is improving daily, specifically in deeper water off of Fishers. A few scup have also started to show on the local rockpiles, and that bite generally takes off quickly once the first arrivals show up.
Connecticut Fishing Report
Andrew, at Fishin Factory 3 in Middletown, reports that the striped bass madness continues throughout Connecticut. Large numbers of school bass are hanging out around the mouth and taking small soft plastics and topwater poppers. The bunker schools in the mouth of the river are so thick you can walk across them, but the large bass haven’t shown up and keyed in on them just yet. Bigger bass, up to and over 40-inches, are patrolling the herring runs and continuing their migration upriver. Just about any tributary area north of Middletown has some good bass around it, but the action is hit or miss from day to day. If you can locate some fish, large topwater poppers and danny plugs have been doing the trick. The squid are in and reports are solid around the South County beaches, Fishers and Niantic Bay. The squid showed up just in time for the fluke opener this weekend, and Andrew expects to see some good flatties taken around Fishers this weekend. In the sweetwater, trout fishing remains solid in the Salmon and Farmington rivers, despite the lack of rain.
James, at Rivers End in Old Saybrook, that the bass bite in the Connecticut River has transitioned from a mainly schoolie game, to a much larger fish bite throughout the river. There are still plenty of schoolies around the mouth, but larger keepers up to 40-inches can be found around the herring runs. The good thing about this spring run is that fish can be found from the mouth up to and over the Massachusetts border, making good bass fishing possible no matter your location. Shad fishing has been reported as very good from Middletown to Hartford, and is also one more supply of bass bait, along with the herring and bunker. Rhode Island fluke reports have been quiet, but winter flounder reports have been very good in Niantic Bay and also at Hammonasset Beach.
TC Marine Bait and Tackle reported that another batch of DEEP trout stocking has resulted in continued trout success in western Connecticut. While trout are getting a lot of attention out west, the main show remains the Housatonic River striper bite. Action is still good throughout the river, with better results coming in from late night anglers throwing SP Minnows and herring imitators. Worms are still catching schoolies from the banks during the day, while daytime boat anglers are still hauling schoolies on light jigs. Luckily, a spike in temperatures this week is bringing about more hope for the fluke opener this weekend, and the shop is selling tons of rigs, squid, spearing and smelt to anglers eager to get the show on the road.
Rich, at Fisherman’s World in Norwalk, reported that striped bass fishing is still going strong in the Housatonic, but it is not the only game in town. Bunker is all over the Norwalk River, and anglers have managed some keeper bass on fresh chunks. The western sound beaches are also producing great numbers of schoolies, as it appears that many of the smaller fish are moving out of the local tidal rivers. The mumblings of the first bunker-harassing bluefish are also starting up and should blow open in the very near future. The DEEP trout stocking has brought continued success in the western CT streams, while many freshwater anglers continue to turn to the Saugatuck Reservoir for great trout, bass and walleye fishing.
Best bets for the weekend
While we are not quite at full summer fishing status in southern New England, we are certainly close. The unseasonably warm weather of late seems to have increased activity levels across the board, and with the amount of bait showing up in local waters, we should be seeing large bass, fluke and bluefish in no time. In the meantime, spring run striped bass is at its peak, and linesiders can be found close to home no matter where you live. Fluke will be open in both states this weekend, and I anticipate an ever-increasing bite as we enter the early parts of next week. Spring trout fishing remains a great option in the freshwater, and should only improve with a little weekend rain.