2013-09-19 / Nature

Full-Moon Tides and Lots of Bait Mean Striper Time

By Tim Flaherty

Sophia Rose with David and Lauren Campari were all smiles over their bluefish and sea bass catch last week. Sophia Rose with David and Lauren Campari were all smiles over their bluefish and sea bass catch last week. The highly anticipated autumn bait migration is now in full swing. Large pods of baitfish are descending from the estuaries in the far reaches of Narragansett Bay. This past week, school bass and small blues attacked these pods from Fort Adams to Castle Hill’s rocky shore during the early morning hours. And each morning a half of a dozen boats worked these schools of bass and blues with good results. During this bait migration, the early morning hours will be most productive for anglers. By 9 a.m. the bait pods will have disappeared. The following birds will have, as well, and the lower bay becomes inactive until late afternoon and early evening. This pattern will continue thru October. Alert anglers will never miss the early morning surface action during the fall season.

Unsettled air early this week made for strong, gusty winds and rough seas that kept us at the dock for a few days. The descent of colder Canadian air mass on Sept. 13 pushed all the humid unsettled air off our shores. Since the passage of this front, bay and ocean conditions have been perfect with flat, calm seas and excellent underwater visibility. While fishing over a wreck, five miles south of the Beavertail light, we witnessed a rare sight. A pod of bluefin tuna appeared, just a quarter-mile from our position. We watched them for 10 minutes as they drove bluefish, this time as the prey, toward Castle Hill in a feeding frenzy. The ocean surface near this action was all churned up as the tuna surged and leapt after the blues. The spray from this activity rose several feet into the air producing a cloudy mist that followed the school, making it easier to spot. Bluefin tuna seldom stray that close to shore.

With near-perfect fishing conditions and crystal clear seas, the bite was excellent all week. We continued to land big blues and black sea bass, jumbo fluke and an occasional scup as we primarily fished the wrecks. Striped bass, on the other hand, were hard to come by last week.

Reports of stripers at the reef and at Seal Ledge brought dozens of boat fishermen to those spots over the weekend. The calm seas brought out kayakers, too, and others with small inflatables. Dozens of vessels also appeared at the fountain area 1.5 miles south of the 2-A buoy. Although big bass and ledgemonster-sized blues often appear at these locations at this time of year, no reports of any large bass being taken there have been confirmed.

Fine fishing weather and calm seas should continue. The full moon on the 19th will yield strong tides and currents all week. Do not miss this opportunity! This moon should produce some of the most optimal fishing conditions for the month. Striped bass are always taken on the last full moon in September. Tight lines!

Capt. Tim, of Flaherty Charters, Castle Hill, Newport, is an island native who taught high school and college-level history. He has been angling for more than 50 years, following his father, Frank Flaherty.

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