2015-06-04 / Nature

June Heralds Striper Arrival

By Dennis Zambrotta


Captain Eric Thomas with a squid that he caught. Captain Eric Thomas with a squid that he caught. June is the month when striped bass fishing in Newport starts to really heat up as larger stripers arrive in local waters with more consistency. Although primarily schoolsized fish (those under 15 pounds), bass of up to 50 pounds become more abundant and active as June progresses. Local anglers will generally use two methods to catch striped bass: dead or live baits, or artificial lures. Of these, bait often takes many of the larger specimens.

Squid is a popular bait during June, especially since they are naturally abundant in local waters. When you purchase squid at a bait shop ask for locally-caught squid which will work better than the boxed variety. As with any bait, the fresher the squid, the better they will work. Many local fishermen catch their own. Squid should be used whole if eight inches long or less, and large squid can be cut in half. Squid should be fished on a 5/0 to 7/0 strong single hook and can be cast from shore, dropped below a pier or bridge, or drifted from a boat. Early mornings, late evenings, and nighttime hours will offer a caster the best chance for success, as squid are most active during those times.

Two other popular natural baits used for striped bass are menhaden, which are a non-edible baitfish (locally known as “pogies”) and live eels. Both can be purchased at area bait shops and fished in a variety of ways, including casting or drifting them near the bottom of the water column. Live eels will require a bucket for transport and an eel rag for grabbing them – ask the local shops for expert advice on methods to fish with live eels. They are very effective but often present a challenge for new users.

Using artificial lures is also a very popular way to hook striped bass. Many lures mimic squid. A white lead head bucktail jig adorned with a pork rind trailer can be very protective from shore, bridges, or docks. They are extremely effective after dark where overhead lights create shadow lines around docks and piers. The most popular bucktails are Andrus Jigs in sizes that range from ½ to 1 ½ ounces. Soft plastic lures such as Sluggos in 6-9 inch size also work well; use white or Arkansas Shiner during daylight and solid black after dark. Sluggos can be fished on a weighted jig head or unweighted hook. Swimming lures such as Bombers, Redfins, and Daiwa SP Minnows can be cast anywhere in the bay or oceanfront.

Popular areas for these techniques include Fort Adams State Park (west side, facing Jamestown), Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, Brenton Point Park, Burma Road access points, and Newport’s Cliff Walk. Anglers should use caution when fishing any area. but especially those facing the open ocean with rough surf. Slippery rocks can also be dangerous. Many local anglers use special spiked footwear in these environs.

Fishing Around

The best news in the past week has been the arrival of more striped bass above the 28-inch legal limit. A majority of local anglers including yours truly have caught a few keeper bass into the low 30- inch range. My most productive lure has been the nine-inch black Sluggo. Sam’s Bait & Tackle in Middletown reports that striped bass up to 20 pounds are more abundant in Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River than along the oceanfront. The top striper catch of the week goes to Joe Perry, an expert fisherman, who weighed in a super, 44-pound bass. John Lecomte, of Portsmouth weighed in another at 34 pounds.

A few bluefish have shown up in the catches of boat fishermen who are also targeting fluke, scup, and sea bass. Captain Eric Thomas of the charter boat Teezer reports that squid fishing is slow, with occasional good bites on certain tides in Newport Harbor and from the Goat Island Causeway. His most effective squid jig this season has been a pink mini Yo-Zuri jig attached to his line and rigged with a small sinker about six inches below it. Thomas has also caught a fair amount of school-sized striped bass on a white jig head/paddle tail combination. For plugs, the Yo-Zuri Mag Darter has caught loads of smaller bass.

Take Note

Tautog (blackfish) season is now closed until Aug. 1.

Keep all local fishing locations free of litter by disposing of it in proper receptacles or carrying it back.

Don’t forget to purchase your Rhode Island Saltwater fishing license. A license is required for anyone 16 years and older. Cost is $7 per year for state residents, $10 per year for non-residents. A seven-day temporary license is also available for $5. The most convenient way to purchase a license is at ri.gov/DEM/ saltwater/license.

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