August 2009 Fishing Forecast – Steve McKenna

AUGUST ‘09 FISHING REPORT:

Traditionally, saltwater fishing in the month of August can be good to excellent for some species and downright terrible for others. The month of August also sees some new species of fish come on the scene around our waters. Also, the eighth month dishes out some hot, humid and thunder-stormy weather which can make fishing unpleasant and somewhat dangerous at times. As a surf fisherman, I do not look forward to this month because stripers seem to disappear and trudging around in waders, even light weight breathable ones, is a chore. Also in August, bugs appear to ubiquitous, and even with the appropriate sprays and juices, it is difficult to have a bite free, comfortable fishing trip. On a positive and personal note, I like August because I and wife, Sheila, travel to Nantucket Island for our annual vacation. If you have never been, Nantucket is an enchanting place to spend a few days in the summer months or anytime of the year for that matter. The bass fishing is also pretty good out there, even in August. We have been going for many years now and I always bring my gear, of course. Even in August, I have managed a few stripers after dark on each trip. One time I caught bass to 25 pounds at Smith‘s point on the southwest side of the Island. Bluefish are also plentiful at this time of the year. Sheila doesn’t mind and I usually just go for a few hours on one night of the vacation. This August our trip to Nantucket will be extra special though as it will be our honeymoon.

In addition, I will start something new in this August fishing report. Beginning this month I will include a “spot of the month” for surf/boat striped bass and will continue it each month while this fish remain available around these parts. It will be specific but concise and is purely meant to be educational. I am excited about this new feature and I hope all of you will enjoy it. With that said, let’s take a look at what August ‘09 has in store for us.

STRIPED BASS –

Oh boy, it’s August. This month’s fishing possibilities for stripers does not conjure up great memories of blitzing fish or 20’s and 30’s in the cooler. Bass fishing in August, particularly from the beach, is historically S-L-O-W! It seems that you really have to put in a lot of time this month and be a little lucky to consistently put fish on the beach this month. I personally have never done well this month. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Yes, I have had a few memorable August nights but they have been few and far between. There are a few things; however, that you can do though to help you catch a few more fish this month. Number one; put in your time. There is no substitute for time on the water. It WILL be your best teacher no matter what month you fish. Number two; try to fish in spots that have deep or deeper water close to shore. Apparently, big bass spend their daytime hours sulking in cooler, deeper water waiting for dark to invade shallow waters to feed. That seems to be correct as daytime striper fishing near shore from the surf in August is just about a waste of time. Number three; surf fish after dark. Dusk and dawn are a related second choice in the 8th month. Number four; use live eels. Rigged eels are a second choice and I know you are tired of hearing it, but if you want to use artificials this month, try the 9 inch black Slug-go. I have taken A LOT of stripers in August on this artificial. I still believe it is almost as good as a live eel and better than a rigged eel. If you want to use other artificials in August, do so if there is a lot of white water and/or current. Number five; fish all northeast storms. Nothing excites moody, sulking August bass like a good ole’ nor’easter. Occasionally we get one in August and if we do in the next 30 days drop everything and go fishing. You won’t be disappointed. Surf fishing, even during the day, during a full blown August storm can be outstanding. Number six; fish around the new month in August which is the 20th. The four days before and after that date will account for a few more fish if you hit it hard. I would forget fishing near and on the full moon this month particularly if it’s clear and windless. By all means go during this period if there are opposite conditions. Number seven; fish ocean waters. Narragansett Bay and other backwaters are not as good this month. The ocean is colder and provides a better more comfortable environment for stripers. That’s where you should be fishing. BTW, I consider the mouth of Narragansett Bay as the open ocean. The waters around Jamestown, western Newport, Saunderstown and eastern Narragansett can be good in August.

SPOT OF THE MONTH – AUGUST ’09

SPOT – Swimming Hole, aka “the swimming pool” because of the shoreline remnants of a concrete swimming pool which was destroyed in a past hurricane.

LOCATION – Narragansett, Rhode Island

DIRECTIONS – find Ocean road in Narragansett, R.I. Follow this road south until you see Bass rock road on your left. It is about a mile south of the infamous Hazard Avenue and part of the same shoreline. Take a left on that road and follow to a small parking area on the left. Follow the dirt path to the water and take a left or walk north. Follow shoreline for a ¼ of a mile until you see a large rock. On the north side of this enormous rock there is a cove. In the middle of this cove you will see a reef awash in the middle of said cove about a cast and a half off the beach. That’s the Swimming hole. Fish directly in front of this reef, fanning your casts in front of and to the right of the reef and into the cove.

GEAR – 9 or 10 foot medium to heavy conventional or spinning rod with a reel capable of holding 250 yards of 20 pound mono or 50 pound braided line. Use at least a 50 pound mono or fluorocarbon shock leader. Waders with studded soles are necessary.

CONDITIONS – the best time to fish here is during the hot months of July and August is after dark. I always liked the Swimming Hole around high water on a southwest wind. There is always some white water around the reef and very deep water on the ocean side of the reef. This is a very consistent spot for bigger bass in the middle of the summer. A 30 pounder is not unusual at this spot in August. BAIT/LURE- Live eels are prime bait. Rigged eels are also good. Try a surface swimmer or eel skin swimmer right before dark particularly if there is a lot of white water. Stay away in a hard northeast or easterly blow. This area weeds up terribly as it is east facing. Good Luck That will give you at least one good spot to fish this month I am sure you know some more.

On the other hand, boat bass fishing can be good to excellent in the month of August. I would also suggest that boat fisherman stay in ocean waters and stay out of Narragansett Bay if you want to be productive. South of the “bridges” is where you want to start fishing. BTW, as of this writing (7-27-09) boat and surf fishing is RED HOT at Block Island. Big, big fish are being boated all around the Island. My tackle shop has weighed in stripers up the 55 pounds in the last week, all taken from the “Island”. Live eels drifted on 4 foot leaders and egg sinkers are the weapon of choice. Night or day. Mike Laptew, the diving fisherman, told me he was diving the “Block” last week and saw more big stripers than he has ever seen. He also commented that there are tons and tons of large sand eels around the “Island”. Hopefully that fast fishing will continue into August. Even without this excellent report, B.I. Is always worth a shot in the 8th month. Closer to home, Brenton reef off Newport is always a good bet in August as are the Watch Hill reefs. Live eels drifted deep will catch for sure as will free lined or three-wayed live bunker or yo-yoed fresh dead in all of the aforementioned areas. If trolling is your thing, try tube and a worm on lead core or wire or an umbrella rig. The latter being a good fish finder. Another great summer method that boaters use to lure big summer bass is to live line small scup. Catch some scup and put them in your live well. Find a fishy looking area and put one of the scup on a 6/0 “J” hook or a 3 or 4/0 treble. Clip the tail fin before sending the scup to the bottom. This will limit his ability to swim and make it easier for the bass to catch him. Catch ‘em up and keep the faith. The fall will be here shortly!

BLUEFISH – Two days ago I heard a very positive report on Rhode Island bluefish. Capt Jimmy White told me that the mid bay (Narragansett Bay) was loaded with small to medium blues, particularly around Patience and Prudence Island. From the surf, blue fishing has been slow. I think I have caught 6 total this season. Almost every surf guy I talk to has a similar score. Boat guys on the other hand are caching a few more but these are incidental catches- caught by mistake while fishing for stripers. I would look for a few more blues this month and even more in September and October. Blues were never my favorite fish to catch so it’s pretty hard to get excited about them. I would say that if you want to catch them from a boat look for the tell tale birds diving and wheeling. More often than not, blues will be under them. Look for this activity to happen more often by month’s end. And even more in September. From shore, if you want blue use fresh chunks on the bottom or cast live eel after dark around ocean side beaches. If there is a self-respecting blue dog around, you’ll know all about it.

BONITO – It has been a hit or miss season for bonito, with a few anglers scoring a lot of fish, but many usual haunts for these speedsters have been vacant. You can wait for a report but as always the best bet is to get out and look for them. Standard offerings such as the Deadly Dick always work, but don’t forget small topwaters such as the Jumpin Minnow. FALSE ALBACORE- This exciting species is due about mid to late month and I personally cannot wait. I have been chasing these fish since I retired as I have more time now to fish during the day from shore. I usually start looking for the around the West Wall in Pt. Judith. This is one of the premier places to find and catch them. Casting to the entire ocean side of the wall, one may find them anywhere along the wall. A lot of times they are out towards the end or near the “fish trap”. Like bonito, false albacore can be fussy when they first arrive in our waters but soon “turn on” and are fairly easy to catch, or hook I should say. As stated, the West wall i8s a super spot for them. Use shiny, slim spoons like the Deadly Dick # 1 model with green on it. Streamer flies like Ken Abrames patterns work well towed behind a wooden float. Pop the float on retrieve and this will attract the little tuna. They will quickly see the streamer 2 feet back on the fluorocarbon leader. This is a great way to get them if you don’t have fly tackle or it is blowing too hard to cast a 9 weight. BTW, the West wall fishes best when the wind is coming from the southwest, the harder the better. This wind along with some bait which there always seems to be along the wall during August, offers ideal conditions to catch this special species. As the albies increase in numbers don’t be afraid to spread out. I have caught them on the East Wall, Black point, Hazard Avenue, the mouth of the Narrow River and even Bonnet Shores point. In a boat, I would employ the same techniques. A boat offers much more mobility which is key when targeting these fish. They move fast and sometimes the shore bound fisherman can’t keep up. It is more of a wait for the fish when surf fishing for false albacore. In a boat, go get them. FLUKE- Summer flounder fishing should continue to be excellent for the boat fisherman in August. Shore guys are struggling with the 21 inch limit though. Catching one is tough, 6 is just about impossible from shore. As a result, surf fisherman are looking for other species like blackfish, scup and even stripers. Boat fisherman are having no problems meeting that limit for the most part. I have spoken to a lot of boat fluke fisherman and they say fishing is excellent. Look for good fishing around both the Newport and Jamestown bridges, Austin Hollow (off Beavertail), the west gap at Pt. Judith and all along the south shore of R.I. Water depth seems to be an important factor in fluking. Last report saw 40 feet as being the magic number. Big lead headed buck tails with squid, fluke belly or sea robin belly strips along with teasers of B2 Squids with squid strips and freshwater medium shiners seem to be working well when drifted and bounced along the bottom.

Tip of the month for fluking: When fluking in a boat hold one rod and keep another in the rod holder. This is called “dead sticking”. The motion of the boat rocking and drifting gives movement to the rig on the bottom and will attract and catch fish.

TAUTOG (BLACKFISH) – Believe it or not tautog fishing is pretty good right now from both boat and shore. Not many fish for this species in the summer months but those taking the time to try are doing well. Green crabs, or better yet, fiddlers if you can find them, really work on these fish. Beavertail has been producing as are the rocks around Bonnet Point and Narragansett proper. SCUP- Scup continue to please throughout the summer. A lot of big scup are being taken. I personally weighed in two over 2 pounds last week and a bounce close to the 2 pound mark. There was a tournament last week apparently. The bay as well as outside have been producing. From shore, try the end of the West wall or East wall. Use small bits of clams or squid on small hooks for the best results. This is a great species to introduce to your kids. They are plentiful and easy to catch- two things which children love. Take care and see you in September, Steve McKenna

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