Video: Narragansett Bay Summer Bottom Fishing
July 1, 2020
Prior to July 2011, if someone had told me that you could catch fluke to six pounds and black sea bass to 22 inches in the middle of Narragansett Bay, in 30 feet of water, at the height of summer, I would have said they’d been sniffing too much bunker oil. However, when the person making such claims is veteran guide Capt. Jim White of White Ghost Charters, the credibility factor rises considerably.
Still, I had to see for myself, so on a gorgeous bluebird morning we set out from East Greenwich, armed with an arsenal of light-tackle setups and White’s secret weapon—his 10-year-old grandson, Devin, also known as DJ.
While many of the other boats leaving Greenwich that day turned south toward greener pastures, White headed for a spot deep inside Narragansett Bay, not far from where he and I had taken some nice stripers earlier in the season. As the 21 Triton center console settled off plane, the Lowrance SideScan Sonar began to show a big rocky ledge rising from the bottom in 30 feet of water, along with a thick school of bait hovering above the structure. Water temperatures were in the mid-70’s, and there wasn’t another boat within two miles of us.
As we set up a drift, I got another surprise: White’s bottom rig was no more than a 2-ounce jighead rigged with a Berkley Gulp! artificial shrimp lure. The jig was tied to a 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, connected to 30-pound braided line. That was it. No droppers, no natural bait, no three-way setups.
The bite was slow for the first half-hour or so, as the wind was opposing the incoming current, but as soon as the water began to ebb, we began hooking up routinely. Every single drift we made over the small ledge yielded a fish of some type, including a 5-pound fluke and a 3-pound sea bass that I would have been happy to catch on any trip. By the end of the 4-hour trip we had taken over 25 fish, mostly undersized fluke and black sea bass. Surprisingly, we did not catch any bluefish, although White has taken them on occasion, along with scup, sea robin, and tautog.
The Gulp! Baits were remarkably effective. It really didn’t matter what kind we used. During the day we dressed our jigs with shrimp, strip-style, and sand eel Gulp! Baits, and the fish ate them all.
What makes this style of fishing extra fun, especially for kids, is the light gear. A basic seven-foot, light-tip rod and small conventional reel loaded with 30- to 50-pound test braid is all you need. Jig sizes can range from one- to two-ounces, with heavier weights called for when the current or wind picks up. A drift sock can help slow the drift in strong winds.
While White doesn’t know that other spots featuring the same type of bottom structure inside the Bay would yield the same type of action, it’s certainly worth investigating if you have the time and patience. You just might be surprised by what you find, and you’ll save a whole bunch of fuel in the process.