The black sea bass season opened this past Sunday, June 29 with the first sub-period running until August 31 with a three fish/person/day limit. The second sub-period runs from September 1 to December 31 with a seven fish/person/day limit.
Anglers have been catching keeper size black sea bass since early spring, well before the season opened, while fishing for tautog and summer flounder. So this should be a good year for black sea bass.
Black sea bass facts
Black sea bass are primarily black (sounds odd), but they have the ability to adjust their color to blend in with the bottom with colors ranging from grey, brown, black to a deep indigo hue.
They spend most of their time around the bottom and can be found near rocky areas, jetties, rips and like a lot of bottom fish, they like structure.
Black sea bass are hermaphroditic fish… they begin life as female then turn male.
Black sea bass put up a good feisty fight but they do not grow to be large fish in the Northeast.
The largest black sea bass caught was 9 pounds, 8 ounces and about 19.7” long.
Ideal water temperature for black sea bass is 59 to 64 degrees.
How and where to catch them… rigs and bait
Rigs used to catch black sea bass often have two hooks approximately 12” to 16” apart with a bank sinker to hold bottom. Squid or sea clams are most often used as bait. Anglers often catch them while fishing for summer flounder (fluke) or tautog because they are on or close to the bottom. They can also be caught with jigs and many prefer this method.
The best time to fish for black sea bass is from May (if legal with an open season) through the summer, when they are closest to shore. Any underwater structures — rocks, wrecks, piers and jetties will attract black sea bass. The larger males are generally found in deeper water.
The Burdick brothers started their summer with quite an adventure. They found an Atlantic sturgeon at the mouth of Narrow River in Narragansett last week. Their mom Melissa Kells Burdick (manager of Adventureland, Narragansett) said, “It had beached itself. There were no visible injuries or markings on its body. The boys carried it home in a towel and we froze it over the weekend. We called DEM on Monday and reported the find. They came it took it for study.”
Atlantic sturgeon is among the oldest fish species in the world and can be found from Canada to Florida. It was in great abundance when settlers first came to North America but has since declined due to overfishing and water pollution and is considered an endangered species. They can grow to 14 feet and weigh up to 800 pounds and travel up rivers to spawn in brackish water. When juveniles reach 30 to 36 inches they move into near coastal waters.
Where’s the bite
“Striped bass fishing slowed a bit in the Bay but some nice fish are still being caught.” said Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick. “Anglers are still catching 25 to 35 pound fish. Many of them working schools of Atlantic Menhaden up near the old Henderson railroad bridge in Providence. Bass and bluefish continue to crash the pogies there. And, at Block Island ,day fishing is improving. Night fishing is still OK, but guys are staying two and three tides to catch five or six fish. If you want to call that good, I guess it is a matter of perspective.” Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too charters, Pt. Judith said, “Daytime Bass fishing is improving out at Block Island with some big fish being caught on each trip.” Chris Catucci caught and released a striped bass from shore in Warwick week. The fish was over 40 inches. Fly fisherman Ed Lombardo reports a continued good bass bite in the Narrow River, Narragansett last week. He and fishing partner Richard Santos landed 29” and 36” fish while fly fishing. Ed said, “The bite was much better on the incoming tide… My hot pink high tie streamer and all white high tie streamers worked very well. Also my shrimp worked well on the shad at dark.” Liam Teixeira and his dad Bill of Bristol landed a 36” striper aboard their vessel the “Keeper” last week while fishing in the middle of the afternoon on Narragansett Bay, trolling with tube and worm. Dave Keil of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “The Fish are getting larger, we weighed in a 56 and a 49 pound striped bass this week, both were from Block Island.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “Customers have been catching keeper size bass in the 28″ to 30” range using tube & worm off Barrington and catching fish in the 15 to 25 pound range using chucked, live lining and yo-yoing Atlantic Menhaden in the Nayatt Point, Conimicut Light areas.”
Scup fishing continues to improve with the fish getting larger every day. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “one customer came in with a 19” scup he cauth off the dock at Colt State Park. And another customer and his grandson caught a total of 55 scup.”
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing was very strong this week. “Fluke fishing under both bridges improved for customers this week.” said Ken Landry. I fished this Saturday with Rus DeMarco and Dave Zartarian of South Kingstown, Paul DeMarco, North Kingstown Steve Weinstein of Cranston and they landed over a dozen fluke under the Newport Bridge and out in front of Brenton Reef, Newport. “Fluke fishing is good when the drift is strong, smaller fish are biting as it slows down.” said Capt. Rick Bellavance. “Elisa Martin of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Bruce Dubois won first prize in their fluke tournament this weekend with an 8.98 fish, followed by Ron Enright who landed an 8.80 pound fluke for second place. Forty-four anglers participated in the Tournament most fishing off Newport, at the mouth of the Sakonnet, Block Island or along southern coastal shores.” Dave Keil of Watch Hill said, “Fluke fishing is now very good, we have customers catching their limit with fishing particularly good off Misquamicut and Charlestown beaches.”
Offshore. “We caught and released eight blue sharks on our first offshore trip on Thursday. As an added bonus Whales, Sea Turtles, Sunfish, and Dolphin sightings can be expected on any trip offshore right now.” said Capt. Rick Bellavance. Elisa Martin of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Customer Bill Fazano landed a Mako and a Thresher shark this weekend at Tuna Ridge. The fish must have been good size as he had to respool his reels and check gear due to the all the action.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Visit Captain Dave’s No Fluke website at noflukefishing.com or e-mail him with your fishing news and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.