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Fishing the Ocean State’s Waters



Those who fish in Rhode Island’s coastlines will find no better arena to engage in their pastime than that found in and around Narragansett Bay or off the southern coastline of the Ocean State.

Whether you favor inshore, the cold water species, or decide to head out to the deeper waters to search for the larger, big game species, the smallest state in the Union offers some of the best fishing to be found in the wide world of salt water angling. Private, party and charter boats (especially those who belong to the Rhode Island Party and Charter Boat Association) can provide you with the capability to sample some of the best salt water fishing in the Northeast.

During late springtime striped bass and bluefish will make their annual appearance along the regional coastline in large numbers, along with the bottom dwelling fluke (summer flounder), and the black seabass.

Bluefish can be picked up by almost any technique including trolling, live bait, jigs, or by employing surface plugs. The first few elements of the ‘Blue Horde’ show up during late Spring. The best areas to seek them out in June are Watch Hill Reef Complex, Narragansett Bay, Block Island’s East Grounds, S.E. Light, and at various spots found upon Southwest and Shark’s Ledges.

Striped bass action will be very productive during this time frame as well. Drifting eels on night trips has proved to be an almost guaranteed ticket to success on the linesiders that can run from ‘schoolie sizes’ right up to ‘cows’ that surpass the 50 lb benchmark.

The Watch Hill Reef Complex will give up their share of large bass as will the myriad humps and bumps of Narragansett Bay, the rocky shoreline off of Newport, and the ragged bottom structure and ledges found around Block Island. A wide variety of techniques have proven to be very effective on these gamefish, especially on early morning or evening tides or during the hours of darkness.

Fluke fishing will provide great fun for both novice and expert anglers alike. Relatively light tackle when employed to bottom bounce a squid/spearing or mummichog sweetened fluke rig or on a bucktail jig with a fresh squid strip can put some amazing numbers of these fantastic flatties in the fishwell. The good eating black sea bass will often inhabit structure in the form of wrecks or rocky bottom. They are a true favorite when it comes to good eating table fare.

Scup are a relatively small fish that are very often used for bait to capture striped bass, however, these small denizens of the near shore waters provide some good eating, too. Bag and size limitations once again differ in the various states’ waters. Charter and party boat anglers have to abide by a separate set of rules and bag limits which can be found online.

Offshore action really heats up right around the time that the Summer Solstice occurs. Shark fishing usually takes hold around the second to third week of June as the regional water temperatures begin to warm up to their seasonal norms. The known migratory pathway of many of the most sought after Apex Predators has them moving progressively through the waters outside of Block Island as the month of June wanes. A good rule of thumb, when pursuing the toothy critters, is to head out to the 20 or 30 fathom curves south and east of Block Island, after the second to third week of June and look ever more eastward as the month draws to a close. While there’s never a time when you can’t catch a shark in the waters near Block Island during the summer, there’s are times when it’s better to head a little more offshore as the regional water temperatures increase.

Anglers will have a good shot catching one of the most sought after member of the Mackerel Shark family, the mako, one of the members of the Requiem Shark family including the blue, dusky, and tiger, or even the long tailed thresher. Although 50- to 200- lb. blue sharks will be the predominant species and size caught, there will be enough larger sized makos and threshers around to definitely liven things up. As the summer progresses, a broad spectrum of various species of sharks will be found swimming in the chum slicks.

Sharking has become one of the most popular forms of big game fishing as evidenced by the number of sharking tournaments that are held including the Snug Harbor and Block Island Shark Tournaments. However, with the ever declining number of the toothy critters, anglers should consider tagging and releasing those fish that are not destined for the table or are not of a winning weight in a tournament. All endemic sharks in the region provide tremendous sport on light tackle running from 20-to- 50-lb. I would heartily recommend that any private boater who seeks to capture sharks consider booking a charter trip prior to setting out on their first sharking foray. Not only will you pick up the necessary basics in regards to techniques employed, but more importantly, you’ll learn the safe way of catching, handling, and landing these toothy critters.

Tuna species ranging from the bonito families to Giant Bluefin Tuna can be caught in the coastal waters off of Rhode Island. Spinning and fly fishing aficionados will develop sore wrists from non-stop battles with False albacore during the later part of the summertime when huge schools of these fish ‘blitz’ on schools of baitfish. The dream of capturing fish on light tackle is actually much closer to an absolute fact, rather than fantasy.

Other species of tuna including school bluefin tuna albacore, yellowfin, and bigeye will be captured by those venturing to the blue water arenas found from just outside of Block Island all the way to the ‘Canyons’ found at the edge of the Continental Shelf. Other exotic species such as Mahi-mahi, wahoo, blue and white marlin, and swordfish can be found there as well.

Shore based anglers will catch their share of blues and bass, especially along the south coastal beaches and breachways of Rhode Island. As in all forms of fishing, it’s a matter of putting in the time, using proper techniques, and having a great deal of patience.

Rhode Island, the Ocean State, offers anglers the opportunity to experience some of the best inshore and offshore fishing to be found in the wide world of salt water angling. There are any number of party and charter boats sailing from Rhode Island ports including Watch Hill, Point Judith, Narragansett Bay, Block Island, and Newport that can make your fishing fantasies come true.


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