2014-10-09 / Nature

Time to Catch Blackfish

By Tim Flaherty

A slow moving northeaster moved into our area and stalled bringing cold easterly winds and plenty of rain and choppy seas. That system managed to keep boat anglers at their docks for much of the week. Since then anglers have enjoyed strong tidal action with crabs, shrimp and small bait fish being driven to the top.

Large bait have been appearing in the lower bay presenting great surface action to shore and boat anglers along the rocky shores of the OceanCliff Resort to Raggedy Point and onto buoy-4. Boat anglers spotted the bait ball action and were working schools of stripers with plugs.

As the water temperature continues to drop the fall feeding frenzy will continue to increase. On Oct. 7 the water temperature on the oceanside was 62 degrees having dropped two degrees in less than a week. The big ledge monsters tore up our steel leaders and broke lines frequently. Small tuna also made appearances often screaming off 300-feet of line in 30 seconds. The biggest black sea bass of the week was nearly a six-pounder taken at a wreck off Beavertail Point. Sea bass from three to five pounds were common last week. Giant scup to three pounds were hitting top water rigs. Some of these scup were so large we dubbed them as new species, “scupasaurus.” Because of the jumbo size of these scup they are able to be easily filleted.

Sam Toland of Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown reports that many benito and albacore of the tuna family of fishes have been appearing during early morning hours on the western rocky shore of Fort Adams to Castle Hill. Many large schools of small baitfish continue to descend the bay providing feeding opportunities for hungry school bass and tuna. Bluefish have been strangely missing during these recent surface actions. Toland also tells us that blackfishing has been improving for shore anglers as well as boaters. Some big “whitechins” have been hitting crabs at Ledge Road and Seal Ledge and buoy-2. Shore anglers at Ledge Road and at Castle Hill have reported keepers being taken over the weekend. Patrick Heaney of the charter boat Venture tells us he landed some blackfish over six pounds at a few inshore, rocky humps between Seal Ledge and the Fountain area.

As peak blackfishing is still ahead of us, anglers would be wise to change the line on their reels. They should also check the conditions of their blackfish rigs and look for weaknesses. Be sure to sharpen hooks and check the condition of the barbs on blackfish hooks as well. Remember: Big blackfish have lips like leather and if the hook is not sharp, the blackfish hook cannot penetrate and assure your hookup. Also remember to bring a sturdy net with you. Always net big blackfish to assure a successful landing. Big blackfish have been lost off the side of the boat by excited anglers trying to haul them over the rail by hand.

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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