Cue Andy Williams! “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
September has been off the charts for fishing in Narragansett Bay for every species. There are numerous anglers catching bonita and false albacore on resin jigs (mostly orange or rose color) and even soft off-white baits with jigheads.
Many anglers report catching bonita for the first time. These fish, beautiful to look at, give as hard a fight as any you will snag in local waters.
How good is the fishing? Greg Vespe, noted angler from Tiverton and president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, caught an 11-foot shark three weeks ago, then went out to within 100 yards of the same spot and caught another of the same size!
Commercial fishermen are regularly posting on social media of guests catching striped bass out toward Block Island and Narragansett, as well as Pt. Judith, in the 44- to 52-inch range.
A local angler, who goes by the moniker JD from Middletown, sent me a video of catching a large bluefish and a slot striped bass (28 to 35 inches) on the same top water popper lure at the same time. He messaged, “I put the ‘fish’ back in expeditiously.”
Scup are running large (easily caught on seaworms and squid on small hooks), as are black sea bass, while fluke are steady out front. And snapper blues, just three inches long at the beginning of September, have been regularly seen blitzing in Tiverton, Little Compton, Newport and Portsmouth on menhaden and their smaller peanut bunker, as well as silversides.
They are now running in the 10-inch range, which is ideal for teaching children how to fish for immediate success on inexpensive tackle, with only repeated casting as the salient skill.
The limit is three a day to regenerate the species, but three 10-inch snapper blues make a marvelous meal if you fry them with onions and potatoes. They are much tastier than the large “gator” bluefish that you must bleed out in order to make the meat more palatable.
By all accounts, summer fishing on the bay has been exceptional, one of the best seasons ever. As we head to October, when the stripers return in full from points east and north, fatter than ever, well, in JD’s words, “The fishing is only going to get better.”