Fishing when the water gets hot
It’s not even mid-summer and the weather has been hot. The water in parts of Narragansett Bay was 74 degrees this weekend, even hotter in low water coves and sanctuaries.
When water gets this hot and things get compounded by poor flushing of our north facing coves, the oxygen levels drop and fishing in some areas can be challenging.
Bait fish leave the area and the fish we like to catch (and eat) often leave for cooler, deeper water that is better oxygenated. Fish such as black sea bass, scup, summer founder, even bluefish and striped bass may be harder to find in the bay.
So, how do you catch fish when it seems like there are no fish to be found? As a charter captain I have often had to find fish for customers, family and friends even though the water was warm. Here are some tips I remind myself of when wanting to catch fish when the water warms up.
Fish where the fish are
The key to fishing warm water in summer is water movement... the water is hot so you have to fish an area that gets flushed often and has structure or edges where water movement is brisk and often deep. This includes structure such as channel pads, under or near bridges, rock clusters, jetties, outcrops, points or peninsulas on land and wrecks.
For example the shipping channel in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay from the southern tip of Prudence Island to Providence serves as a "fish highway" flushing that side of the bay, bringing bait and fish into the bay. Places such as Warwick Neck; Providence Point, Sandy Point and the T-Wharf on Prudence Island; Poppasquash Point, Bristol; and Sally’s Rock, Greenwich Cove; as well as Quonset Point, North Kingstown all serve as natural structure that can whip water around them along with bait fish and the fish we like to catch.
And, the Jamestown and Newport Bridges serve as manmade fish magnets, funneling water, bait and fish. So when the water is warm you have to take advantage of structure and fish where the fish are.
This holds true for freshwater fishing too. Fish deeper water, areas that are shaded and areas that have some water movement when the water gets hot.
Where’s the bite?
Freshwater fishing has been good in deeper ponds and when anglers have been able to get shiners. Most bait shop owners say there is a shiner shortage and most just are not getting the shiners they need to sell to freshwater customers. Lorraine Danti of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Anglers are doing better in deep water ponds as the water temperature is rising in smaller ponds creating algae bloom and poor water quality. Stafford Pond in Tiverton is producing bass for customers.”
Stafford Pond is relatively deep with a maximum depth of about 22 feet. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Shiners are a problem. We have only been getting half of what we order, but customers that are fishing are doing well. Gorton Pond in Warwick has been good for customers. Producing a seven and a six pound bass for customers this week. Many are fishing from the dock with shiners when they can get them or floating night crawlers to hook up with bass.”
Striped bass fishing remains strong at Block Island. “We weighed in three 50 pound fish from Block Island last week. The bite is very strong there. However, anglers have been hooking up off Gooseberry Island too.” Said Danti. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Night bass fishing has been very good at Block Island. Last Wednesday did have the best tides and we had a full boat limit by 10 p.m. We played catch and release for another hour and then went home. We have been seeing more shorts around this year than ever before. We are catching 2-3 shorts per keeper. This is making for lots of action.” Fishing in the Brenton Reef and Seal Rock areas off Newport is producing bass for anglers, however, they are mostly school bass with some keepers mixed in. Expert Cape Cod Canal fishermen East End Eddie Doherty of Mattapoisett said, “The bluefish have invaded the Canal this week. Have lost a lot of soft plastic baits to them, however, this weekend an 18 and a 25 pound striped bass were caught. So the bass bite has slowed but not stopped.”
Fluke, scup and black sea bass. Most angers are hooking up with black sea bass as they are fishing for fluke. This weekend we did fairly well off Newport Brenton Reef fishing for fluke and black sea bass. The fluke were smaller fish just of the 19” minimum side but the bite was good. The largest black sea bass caught there was about 21”. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait said, “Areas south of the Jamestown Bridge are producing. We had a customer land a 27” fluke. Areas around Dutch Island, Austin Hollow and off Beavertail are all producing keeper fluke and sea bass for customers.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The days where we get a little bit of breeze the fish are really coming over the rails. Tuesday did see the best action on the fluke when we had a good wind with tide rift. Biggest fluke on the week was just shy of 10 pounds. The half day trips have a good showing of black sea bass. Many anglers are going home with limits of sea bass on the short 4 hour trips.” Danti said, “The scup bite has been very good off the back side of Colt State Park. And, customers are catching fluke and nice black sea bass off Newport.”
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association, the American Saltwater Guides Association and the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Follow Capt. Dave on twitter @CaptDaveMonti. He’ll be tweeting about ‘Where’s the bite’, fishing regulations, national fishing policy, and issues that impact the fish. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.