2018-10-04 / Around Town

Stripers and Bluefish Easy as One-Two-Three

By James Merolla

John Dring caught this 33-inch, 14-pound striper while fishing near the shore at Third Beach. John Dring caught this 33-inch, 14-pound striper while fishing near the shore at Third Beach. Late September and October fishing for striped bass and large bluefish locally may just be as easy as one-two-three.

That would be First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach in Middletown, which has seen the large, autumn-prized fish return both in active, blitzing schools and individually.

Anglers have been using a variety of popper lures on the surface to distract keeper stripers from attacking all kinds of bait fish at all three of the beaches. Here are just two fishing stories from last week, the first from Newport’s John Dring.

“I was fishing from my kayak about 25 yards from shore at Third Beach, just north of the boat ramp. It was close to high tide at the time. My brothers, Jim and Mike, along with several other anglers, were fishing from the shore,” he said.

“The water all along the beach was loaded with peanut bunker. I had caught four medium-sized bluefish and had just changed to an inexpensive popper, as I had already lost a good lure. I caught the striper on that inexpensive plug on the first cast at about 6:15 p.m. It was 33 inches and weighed about 14 pounds.

“Most of the anglers on the shore were catching bluefish, but I did see a guy catch a striper that appeared to be about 40 inches,” he said.

These hits were in addition to Newport’s John Migliori, who I fished alongside at Third Beach for five hours on Sept. 22. We surf cast with eight-inch, lightly colored poppers on that day and watched the stripers that Dring described wallop peanut bunker bait and other bait fish about 80 to 150 yards offshore. One striper that was certainly a keeper actually jumped completely out of the water in the blitz, always a thrilling site for any shore angler.

Migliori, who has been fishing for six decades, completed a kind of bass trifecta on Sept. 24. He caught a single keeper striped bass at each of the three beaches on three separate days. The first two were landed at Second and Third Beach, with the biggest being 31 inches, and the final fish, 34 inches in length, was caught at First Beach despite rough conditions that required wading as far as possible into the surf and casting farther than a beach angler ordinarily might.

Migliori swears by poppers at this time of year, claiming he has landed more than 200 stripers on his favorite lure alone. His results prove it.

Update: Two days after this column was written, Migliori and two other anglers, observing the first great striped bass blitz of the autumn at 3rd Beach, caught about 90 schoolies up to 25 inches, but no keepers, several hours of unbelievably enjoyable local fishing.

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