2014-09-25 / Nature

Equinox Marks Southern Migration

By Tim Flaherty


L–R: Larry, Brooke and John Newsome, with Tom Cranston, landed these bluefish, sea bass and bonito last week. L–R: Larry, Brooke and John Newsome, with Tom Cranston, landed these bluefish, sea bass and bonito last week. The autumn equinox on Sept. 23 and the chill of the morning air is a most significant event for anglers because it marks the official beginning of the fall feeding frenzy.

During the next five weeks, fish will feed ravenously preparing for their seasonal migration south. Fluke have already departed bay waters; meanwhile, blues and bass have begun their most active feeding period of the season. In the case of ledge monsters, they will add three to five pounds to their weight in the next six weeks. Their migration will take them on deep ocean migrations thousands of miles by the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast of Central and South America.

Tautog, an indigenous species, are again on the move schooling up and descending the bay, destined for deep offshore water where they will spend the winter. They, too, will feed ravenously, gaining weight for the long winter period of relative inactivity. Black sea bass, most prized and flavorful of all, will move eastward to the edge of the continental shelf and gradually migrate to deeper waters off the shores of New Jersey and further to the temperate waters of North Carolina. The equinox marks the beginning of this annual migration.

Anglers here should enjoy some of the best fishing of the season during the next few weeks. The new moon will bring anglers strong tides of over four feet this entire week. Autumn tides are the strongest of the year and will provide anglers with optimum conditions. Whether fishing from shore or a boat, now is the time to wet your line.

Huge schools of pogies have been descending the bay from the upper bay estuaries. Reliable reports indicate big schools of large pogies are moving south and have been located from south Prudence Island to north Jamestown and all around Gould Island. Henry Spingler, while fishing on his classic 1950s bass boat “Porgy and Bass,” with his mate Jim Billageron, had a fine time snagging pogies and livelining them in these schools. They landed a 35-pound striped bass and another one that was nearly 20 pounds. Great work, lads.

Repeated reports of large schools of pogies have entered Newport harbor seeking refuge from hungry bass and blues in the bay. Big bass have entered the harbor and have been taken with live pogies. Anglers fishing from the docks and piers have also taken part in this action. Recently, Justin Costa landed a 45-pound striper from the Elm Street pier in four feet of water. For boat anglers, early morning fishing is best because of reduced boat traffic. Busy boat traffic has made it difficult for boat anglers working these schools of pogies and bass.

Sam of Sam’s Bait and Tackle shop has reported black fishing has picked up at the usual fall spots. The rocky shore of the bay side at Fort Adams to Castle Hill to Ram Island Light has been producing some keeper tautog. Taggert’s Ferry off Indian Avenue has also been productive, as well as the Ledge Road area. Small live crabs are the best bait for this prized local species.

Well, anglers, that is all for this week and remember – all the best fishing is yet to come. 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 in the steps of his father, Frank Flaherty.

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