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Favorite ways to catch striped bass

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The striped bass bite this year has been early and strong. School bass arrived two to three weeks early with large numbers of fish in the 20” range and now a good number of fish in the 26” to 30” range are being caught.

Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Customers are catching striped bass in Apponaug Cove in front of Chelo’s Restaurant, at Chepiwanoxet Point and off Goddard Park in the Sally Rock area. Soft plastic lures are working best.”

Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “School bass are all around but now we have heard a number of fish 30” to 32” are being caught, most on soft plastics like the Cocahoe Minnow. Fish are being caught in the Cole and Lee’s River as well as the Palmer and Barrington Rivers. We have reports of customers catching keeper bass all the way up to School Street, Pawtucket.”
“This has been one of the best Aprils I've seen for striper fishing here in RI. The fish arrived two weeks ahead of schedule, and they have been plentiful in both the bay and along the oceanfront. While early fishing in past years tended to be a lot of real tiny "micro" fish, this year's early migrating fish have been very good size, some of the best I have ever seen in April," said striped bass expert and author Dave Pickering.

We have good size schools of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) in our bays and some very large silversides along the coastal shore. The fishing is not going to do anything but get better (fingers crossed). Here are my top ten favorite ways to catch striped bass:

10.     Trolling with umbrella rigs. I like to use this technique trolling in deeper parts of Narragansett Bay, off Newport or Block Island with a variety of squid, shad, worm or eel umbrella rigs.

9.    Casting soft plastics, various bait types and weights to fish different depths. Many anglers love this technique and use it successfully in the spring. Make sure the plastic baits are scented if they are not add some scent.

8.    Buck tail jigs with pork rind squid strips. Have had success with this method to get under schools of blue fish and to the striped bass on the bottom.

7.    Live eels. Used by shore and boat anglers, some fishing guides use this as their primary method to catch killer stripers. Hook the eel through the mouth and out one eye. Going between the eyes usually kills the bait. I use circle hooks because bass (small and keeper size) tend to swallow the bait whole and often get hooked low. Circle hooks generally slide out of the fish and hook it on the corner of their mouth on the way out allowing you to release the fish you are not keeping… and release them alive and well.

6.     Live menhaden. Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them. Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a pod of fish and put the live menhaden into the pod of bait and let it swim. Used when menhaden are running strong, particularly up the Providence River in early spring.

5.    Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden. You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait pods with chunks. Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.

4.    Surface plugs. Have caught hundreds of school bass in the spring using surface plugs of all types. 

3.    Swimming lures. Great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc.  My favorite is a grey Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow.

2.      Parachute squid jigs. Often used in ocean water (or where there are squid). Anglers successfully use this method off Newport, Narragansett and Block Island.

1.      Trolling with tube and worm. I have had great success in the bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot fluorocarbon leader. I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm). The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are. Tube and worm trolling has been a successful technique for the Southwest side of Block Island using 300 ft. of wire line out in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass fishing in the bay, along the coastal shore and in South County ponds has been very good. Al Gag’s, the Cocahoe minnow and soft plastics shad baits in white are working best. Surface and swimming hard plastic lures are working too. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “The bass are all the way to the Crescent View, Riverside area. We had customers catching keeper size bass (28” to < 35”) at Barrington Beach and in the Warren River.” Gil Bell has been consistently catching school bass from the beaches in South County. He said, “This weekend I caught three fish in a row in the 24” range. I am convinced the drop in ocean temperature Sunday forced striped bass to return to deeper warmer waters.”

Tautog. Some anglers are catching their limit, others are catching a few shorts and a keeper. “We caught three nice tautog today, we let the two female keepers go and kept one of the males for dinner,” said Tom Wood. I saw Tom and his wife Dawn (a RISAA board member leaving Wickford Harbor Saturday). Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “Two of my customers said they caught one keeper and a few shorts with clam necks off Newport.”  Littlefield of Archie’s Bait, said, “Customers fishing tautog are doing better the father south they fish. However they are starting to catch fish at Wharf Tavern and at the Bristol Narrows. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Green crabs has been the bait of choice with a good bite at Hope Island, Ohio Ledge, Codington Cove and General Rock, North Kingstown.” Derek and Rachel Kolodziejczak of Johnston caught seven fish to six pounds. Derek said “Saturday we fished Plum Point Light with success using cut and whole green crabs.”

White perch. “The white perch bite has been outstanding this year. Customers have been catching them along the Palmer River in Seekonk, Swansea and Rehoboth,” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle.

Freshwater fishing remains very strong for trout and large month bass. “Anglers continue to catch trout at Willet Avenue Pond with bass and pickerel being caught a Bad Luck Pond, Rehoboth,” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. “The trout bite is still very good. One of our customers caught a 19” trout in one of the ponds stocked by DEM,” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick.

Dave Monti is a charter captain, member of the American Saltwater Guides Association, RISAA, RIPCBA, serves as vice chair of the RIMFC and is a marketing communications practitioner. Forward fishing news & photos to dmontifish@verizon.net, visit www.noflukefishing.com or www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com.
                       

Dave Monti

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