Night fishing on Narragansett Bay has rewards


EAST BAY — Greg Vespe has successfully completed 375 night fishing trips for striped bass on Narragansett Bay. He fishes for three types of striped bass: spring fish, transit bass and what he refers to as “resident grubbers.”

He spoke last week at the R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) monthly seminar and shared tactics he uses to target these fish from early May to October.

One may ask: Why fish at night? “Fishing at night allows me to be competitive,” said Mr. Vespe. “I can catch quality fish, it is peaceful and not crowded like in the day and the seas are usually a lot calmer at night. And, it is not as dark as you think out there.”

Mr. Vespe, who generally fishes from his 14-foot aluminum boat (and occasionally from shore), finished 16th out of 1,500 anglers in the Striper Cup Angler of the Year competition in 2009.

He suggests anglers should have confidence in their boat and ability to navigate at night. “Go out during the day to the exact spots you plan to fish,” he said. “It is not like daytime fishing, where you go from spot to sport and are consistently moving. I pick three spots, going to the furthest one first to set up and fish, and then progressively move to locations closer to the boat ramp.” Once you select a location you settle in and fish that spot, he said.

If the squid are running in the spring, he prefers to fish the lower bay with squid rather than chasing menhaden and bass up the East Passage and rivers. The transit fish arrive in July and August at night to feed in the lower bay; they’re aggressive fish but don’t tend to hold long. The “resident grubbers” are the fish that target lobsters and crabs; they tend to be loners and are often beat up from feeding off the bottom.

Here are some nighttime fishing tips from Mr. Vespe:

• Anchor so your bait is on top of the structure, not necessarily the boat. He usually fishes in six to 20 feet of water, but if the bottom looks broken (with a lot of structure) in 40 feet of water, he’ll fish there, too. Often times he uses two anchors so he can position the boat and be able to move it to take advantage of the structure as the tide and current change.

• One of his favorite spots to fish in the eastern third of the Newport Bridge.

• Be quiet and stealth when fishing for bass.

• His favorite bait is squid in the spring and early summer. He uses a whole squid, fished two feet off the bottom, changing weight as the current changes.

• As the water heats up he usually switches to eels. However, once the rods (he fishes three) are set, he often throws plugs with his spinning rod and reel.

Fisheries council meeting

Now’s the time to express your thoughts about the Rhode Island fishery. Attend the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, at the Corless Auditorium, URI Bay Campus, and South Ferry Road, Narragansett.

Agenda items will include a review of 2012-2013 recommendations for winter shellfish management area schedules and 2013 commercial fishing licensing. Also, agendas for the new day-long advisory panel meetings DEM and the council are experimenting with will be reviewed including summer flounder, scup/black sea bass and the Atlantic herring ad hoc committee panel.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass are still plentiful at Block Island with the southwest ledge area a hot spot. Anglers fishing the lower bay and off southern coastal shores are not experiencing a good bite. “Fishing off Newport trolling wire with tube and worm was not productive last week. The bluefish are prominent; they kept biting off the tips of the worms,” said George Allen of Portsmouth.

Fluke and black sea bass fishing in the bay was challenging this week with few fish being caught under and around the Newport and Jamestown bridges. The bite for fluke and black sea bass is still good off the center wall at the Harbor of Refuge up to the three-mile limit. Snug Harbor Marina reports a good fluke bite off Scarborough Beach in 70 to 80 feet of water and on the south and east sides of Block Island. Black sea bass are still thick at the southwest ledge.

Tuna fishing for bluefin has been good at the mud hole with anglers taking school tuna. Two weeks ago the first giant, a 730-pounder, was landed by David Appolonia of South Kingstown. Snug Harbor Marina reports yellowfin tuna at the southeast corner of the dump on the troll.

Capt. Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing on Narragansett Bay for more than 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Your fishing photos in jpeg form, stories, comments and questions are welcome. Visit Capt. Dave’s No Fluke website at or e-mail him at


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