Tautog fishing as good as it gets
Now is the time to tautog fish as the fishing is great. Last Thursday I was able to catch my limit (five fish) of keeper tautog (minimum size 16”) in about two hours and forty-five minutes. And, in-between, a lot of short fish were mixed in. The fish were in the 17” to 18” range, however, I was fishing in the lower bay around Newport. Much larger fish, averaging four to six pounds, are being caught off Newport and at River Ledge, Narragansett with anglers catching their limits too. As the seas calm, if you can get, now is the time to fish tautog.
Tautog anchoring tip. I am using my 18 foot Carolina Skiff to fish for tautog these days to get close to structure i.e. light houses, jetties, etc. One of the tools in my anchoring arsenal is a cinder block with anchor chair and rope. I have lost many anchors over the years fishing over rock and heavy structure. So if your boat is light enough to hold with a cinder block it might be worth exploring. If you get hung up on the bottom and can’t retrieve the cider block, a new one is $1.59, not the $250 cost of a new anchor and chain.
Where’s the bite
Tautog fishing rules salt water fishing. Larger fish to eight pounds being caught off Newport with smaller fish being caught in the lower bay around the bridges. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Fishing around the Pt. Judith light has been good on days when the water is not dirty. But it has been hit or miss there. Fishing good one day and the next day the winds and seas kick up the bottom and the bite is off. Anglers are catching nice fish off Newport around Seal Ledge as well as River Ledge off Narragansett. The average fish are nice… in the four to six pounds range.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “Some anglers have caught some keeper fish at the Wharf Tavern, however, the wind and seas have been rough on and off so tautog fishing has been limited.” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “The hot spot this week has been Codington Cove (Middletown). Anglers are catching 30 fish and just keeping the largest. Fishing there has been very good. Most anglers are using green crabs for bait.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Bait & Tackle, Providence said, “Customers are catching fish at Coddington Cove and out in front in Newport. They are having no trouble catching their limit when they are able to get out.”
Striped bass and bluefish. Conti said, “I was at Charlestown beach this week and fishermen where catching a lot of school bass from the surf with keeper fish to 30” mixed in. I know the West Wall (of the Harbor of Refuge) has been good too. You may have to wait for a school to come through but there are still plenty of schools coming through.” Angler John Owens reported on the RISAA blog, “Final run of the season and it didn't disappoint! Found a huge slug of bass off of Narragansett beach on the incoming tide around sunset last night. We caught 20 of them in 30 minutes up to 32 inches in size. Some small blues were mixed in as well. Perfect way to end the season”. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle reports keeper striped bass being caught in the bay at Salter Gove in Pawtuxet. Henault said, “Keeper bass to 31 “are being caught at the Quonnie and Charlestown breech ways with short fish mixed in.”
Freshwater fishing. With high winds and rough seas on saltwater a number of anglers have turned their attention to freshwater fishing. Aquidneck Island angler John Migliori said, “I guess I can kiss the stripers goodbye for this year. Now I will concentrate on the largemouth bass until the winter trout plant. I fished a beautiful "Indian Summer" like day last week and the bass bite was pretty good using Kastmaster lures.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, said, “The Blackstone River is yielding pike. We had a number of customers fishing the River for pike, earlier this week.” Trout fishing is still OK at stocked ponds in Rhode Island and Massachusetts but not a lot of anglers are targeting them.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He 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 and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.