No Fluke

When the water’s cold… the fish stay home


Water temperature rules the saltwater bite this time of year. The sea is colder than usual and has slowed things down a bit. Some say we are two to four weeks behind. This Monday at Narragansett Pier the surface water temperature was 47 degrees, the average temperature for May is 51.4 degrees.

There is an old saying that when the dandelions are up its time to fish for tautog. So the dandelions popped up on my lawn last week and I gave tautog fishing a try Saturday. Someone should have clued in the fish. We had no luck fishing for tautog, not even a bite. The water temperature off Newport (in the bay) was 47 degrees, with waters off Wickford at about 51 degrees.

A few warm days and the temperature should shoot up which is generally what happens is May. This will make a big difference, just a few warm days this week and water should warm and attract more bait and things should start to be a bit more normal. In years past I have found the striped bass migration up the coast and into the Bay really starts to flow in a big way when the water hits 55 degrees.

Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “We did manage to get out to the cod grounds and did find a few fish. The water temperature for this time of the year is way below normal. We normally see water around 45-47 degrees but it just broke 40. This will slow down more bait pushing in the area. The fluke will be chasing the squid but the squid are going to be later unless something really changes.”

This week some anglers did manage to hook up with school bass in the Pawcatuck River in Westerly. Douglas Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “Customers are catching migrating striped bass in the Pawcatuck River at the Cemetery where the River bends. They were about 20 inches long.”

At the shore from Goddard Park in Warwick a reader said he landed five school bass Saturday morning using Zoom Fluke baits. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “We have reports of bait on the surface with birds feeding at the top in the Providence River but no reports of fish being taken.”

Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Fishing for bass is not good yet. The water is very, very cold. One of our customers fished the West Wall at the Harbor of Refuge in South Kingstown and saw only a couple of fish being taken this past weekend.”

Freshwater bite still good

Trout fishing in ponds stocked by DEM is still very good. Douglas Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The trout bite is very good, the fish are very large in area ponds.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “We continue to weigh in three and four pound fish being caught at Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods and just about any stocked pond. The frequency of stocking that has taken place and size of fish being stocked by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has been outstanding. The best ever.”

Some say the largemouth bass bite has slowed a bit due to cold weather. However, angler John Migliori landed a 17 inch largemouth using a Shadeycreek Spinning Lure this week at a pond on Aquidneck Island. Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Some customers have bought shiners to target largemouth bass but things slowed as the water cooled. Things are expected to pick up when it warms up a bit this week.”
For freshwater and trout regulations along with a list of stocked waterways visit www.dem.ri/gov in Rhode Island, for Massachusetts waterways visit

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 or visit his website at

Dave Monti

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.