The Weekly Bite: August 22-28

Illustration courtesy ## Fished Impressions##

The big nor’easter that hit most of New England earlier this week kept most anglers shorebound. So, for the most part, reports are very limited.

Blue-claw crab. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

One note of coastwise importance, at least from Cape Cod south: It seems that 2010 may go down as the year of the blue-claw crab. All along the coast people are reporting incredible numbers of blue-claws in the rivers, creeks and ponds. We plan to look into the reasons why, but for right now, just enjoy the bounty!


The folks at Saco Bay Tackle were busy setting customers up for another shark tourney this weekend when we called. They report that sharks—mainly blues and threshers—are “everywhere”, with Tantas Ledge being a hot spot. Striper fishing inside the Saco River is slow thanks to the murky water caused by the torrential downpours, but anglers are doing well along the beaches. The fish are mostly slot-size, with a few in the 30-inch class. Bluefish are also thick outside the rover and along the beaches. Topwaters and trolled swimmers are both taking fish.


Surfland Bait & Tackle on Plum Island, Massachusetts, reports that conditions outside the river are still nasty thanks to the northeast blow, so few boats have fished the ocean. However, clams fished on the bottom along the beachfronts are taking stripers, and a fish of 18 pounds was weighed in Thursday morning.

Nat Moody of First Light Anglers in Rowley, Massachusetts, was out on the water looking for tuna, but could not be reached in time for this column. Derek Spengler did tell us that some local anglers had witnessed topwater striper feeds off Salem and Ipswitch. Good news indeed for those who feared the storm would ruin what has been shaping up to be a great fall.

Word just received from Doug at Steve’s Bait & Tackle that bonito are still around, along with albies. They are still hard to catch (what else is new!). Apparently there is a lot of peanut bunker and butterfish in the local waters, which is a good sign of things to come. Still some good black sea bass fishing over rocky bottom in 40-plus feet of water around the island.

Rhode Island:

Steve Cook at the Saltwater Edge in Newport, Rhode Island, told me that there was a blitz of stripers along one of the ocean beaches Wednesday evening, and that the small bluefish are still thick in the Sakonnet River and the waters off Newport, so evidently the storm did not scatter the bait as badly as some assumed. The blues are small for the most part, although Steve mentioned that some real honkers in the mid-teens were being taken off the Navy base.

Striper action before the storm was good too, with plenty of 20- to 35-pound fish being taken on the local reefs on vertical-jigged Point Judith Deep Force lures. Apparently this technique is producing fish right through the day.

Steve recently fished the mouth of the Narrow River in Narragansett at night, where he encountered loads of small blues. No stripers, but he said the place was loaded with bait.

Rumors are also flying that a few false albacore were taken off the West Wall at Point Judith. I took the ferry to Block Island last Saturday afternoon before the storm, and noticed lots of working birds near the fish trap and outside the breakwater, but no splashes. When I reached the Block, I checked in with Ravi at Block Island Fishworks, who told me bonito had been popping outside Great Salt Pond and a few other spots. Guide and BIF owner Chris Willi spoke with us on Thursday, and said the bones were still around, but that things were pretty quiet in terms of topwater and light-tackle action. He mentioned that even eeling for stripers was slow. Charter skipper Mitch Chagnon of Sakarak Fishing Charters, confirmed that bass fishing around the island had chilled considerably in the last couple weeks.

A few decent stripers to 38 inches have been taken along the beaches off Charlestown, Rhode Island, to anglers fishing eels at night.


Just back from Noank, where I sighted what appeared to be funny fish breaking off Dumpling Light. Lots of bait around  the marina. And plenty of folks reporting blue crabs too!

From Pat Abate at Rivers End Tackle:

STRIPED BASS: Its been a lackluster week mainly due to weather, but when it settled down we found bunker hovering along both RI and Connecticut shores. Mostly blues were on them but a few striped guys manage to sneak in. Watch Hill saw some action mid week. Schoolies were back at Bartletts and Plum Island with some more grey seals around the Island. The earlier blow didn’t do any damage to the small bait that has been unusually thick this summer, if anything it’s improved.
We haven’t heard from the night shift since the blow but I suspect that the faster moon tides should hold for some better nights on the reefs.

BLUEFISH: It’s a dangerous weekend for blues with several thousand anglers targeting the $25,000 fish and taking a lot of lesser suspects. From the reports we’ve been hearing for the last month there should be some bigger blues weighed in. Great reports were coming from the Race and Gut with medium sized fish. Southwest and Six Mile Reefs plus Long Sand Shoal have a lesser amount of larger fish. The best size reports we’ve been getting are a lot closer to home. The mouth of the Connecticut River and adjacent waters and reefs have been giving up a few teen sized blues. Most of the schools seen working are small, but some anglers are tangling with an occasional school of biggies. The best tactic though is to wait it out with fresh bait.

SNAPPER BLUES: The excellent run continues at most spots in the Connecticut River and tributaries where there is some break in the current. Most any dock or pier with current flow is good. The Causeway and DEP Piers are as good as most spots.

FLUKE: Its over for Connecticut, the season ended last Wednesday. NY is open until 9/6 and RI is open for the rest of the year. Block Island is still doing well.

Our Flat Out Fluke Contest is over and the winners are;

  • 1st: Steve Strzepek 11.75 lbs.
  • 2nd: Bob Ventres 11.10 lbs.
  • 3rd: Hank Lomas 9.60 lbs.

Congratulations to the winners. All of these fish were earned, luck didn’t play any part in their catches. Thanks to all the participants, it was fun.

PORGIES: Another good run this season on both size and numbers. Hatchetts and Bartletts are the most popular spots, Block is excellent but far. Cranes and Hens and Chickens are the the most relaxing spots to try.

BONITO, FALSE ALBACORE: We had several confirmed bonito catches this week, even a photo. Oddly most of the action was to the west. Six Mile Reef had several catches last weekend. The last few days we had reports from Fishers Island, Watch Hill and Block. No reports of local albies, even the Vineyard run has gone down a notch. I’m optimistic that all the small bait in our area is going to lend itself to good tunoid fishing.

BLUE CRABS: In future years we’ll talk about this season. We’re coming up on the final molt of the run and crabs are approaching their maximum size. There almost isn’t a bad spot in the lower River, just some are better than others. North and South Coves are very good as is Lords Cove and behind Great Island. The DEP Piers and the Causeway are good but crowded. If you have a boat you can stay right in most marinas and do well.