Fishing Report 5.4.2011 – Arden Gardell

It’s been about two weeks since the seasons first report and Mother’s day is just around the corner.
Photo Credit H. Earl Evans

As promised the “fish” – Striped Bass, Tautog and otherwise – have all continued to flood the coast and display an ever increasing interest in our offerings. Reports from the North and East relay much of the same. There has even been a rumor of micros as far as Gloucester and more substantial reports of fish to 40lbs in parts of Western Long Island Sound. Rest assured, every SW blow is only pushing the migration onward.


Photo Credit H. Earl Evans

Locally, there’s a not a species you can’t target right now. Fluke season opened Sunday with typical slow early season fishing and Scup are surely around, likely pushing closer to shore every day. However, three fisheries seem to command the greatest enthusiasm from those breaking the death grips of cabin fever.


Photo Credit H. Earl Evans

Stripers to the mid twenty inch range continue to entertain the growing crowds at Middletown’s Second Beach, the West Wall and elsewhere, Mother Nature making up for their diminutive size with the first exulting aromas and sensations of wind driven salt spray.


Photo Credit H. Earl Evans

Sticking to swim shads has been the bet for these highly pressured fish. Those not eager to join the crowds have begun to encounter fish in many classic spring destinations and these areas will continue to produce often leading to some of the season’s best fishing as we near June. Finding these spread out fish is half the challenge so look to cover water and single out aggressive fish with long casting lures like the 1.5oz Gibbs Pencil Popper.

Another area of angling enthusiasm has been on the rocky side – Togging that is. After a bit of a slow start, local Tautog have shown up in force. Both the bay’s upper reaches and out front pinnacles went from seemingly barren early last week to rapt with life over the weekend. With water temps still on the cool side, it does seem most of the fish are still holding in depths of 50-60 feet. K. Jackson, R. Taylor and another teamed up for a little boat trip on April 31st and found hordes of Tog circling a 50′ high spot south of Aquidneck. Word was that this pile put on a serious chew resulting in a quick limit of fish to 7lbs.


Photo Credit Kevin G. Jackson

Note that “not-so-tog” looking fish; commonly referred to as a Ling, it’s actually a Hake, relative of the ol’ Cod and spectacular eating providing you don’t freeze it. More importantly it’s evidence that the tog are still moving in from deeper water.

Finally, at least some of the inner sanctum of SWE patrons have seemingly given in to the dark side; or rather the “sweet” side as those on island, having had our way with the seasons first micros, focused our efforts on increasingly wily trout populations around the state. Simply put, where Striper fishing and Toggin’ may be good, they are yet to be full fledged fisheries and the trout fishing, well that is in full form. It is important to note that these are not the “farm fresh and dumb as mud” fish we first encountered in early April. No these fish in our more popular brooks and streams have been educated in the hard knocks manner and can prove quite frustrating. On the other hand, a few of us took a slightly different approach and opted for a little “blue lining”. This sub-culture fishing style has been seeing increased popularity and recognition as it’s the best and often only way to interact with some of Rhode Islands native wild Brook Trout. While the rarely exceed 10″ in length finding them is half the battle. Private lands, long hikes and very technical fishing require a certain unconcerned attitude but the rewards of being in such an intimate setting are priceless.


Photo Credit Kevin G. Jackson

While we did manage a few of the spectacularly colored wild fish over the weekend, we also nearly stepped on a turkey, “saved” a hitch-hiking spotted turtle and even witnessed the arrival of Elvers (arriving juvenile American Eels) to some of the local creeks. Mind, less you have a pair of bulletproof Simm’s G4 waders, leave the good pair at home. After 2 days of trampling through briers and bogs my new Orvis Silver Labels are leaking like a sieve. One thing I did discover this weekend is an awesome product called“Docs Dry Dust”. When paired with a classic gel type fly floatant this stuff was key for keeping my caddis and hendrickson patterns on the surface as I skated them into tight pockets.


Photo Credit Thomas Enderlin

Over the next week Striped Bass will be making themselves known just about anywhere one might expect. The presecence of larger forage in the way of Bunker, Squid, and Sandeels will govern where exactly the fish hole up, each species preferring different areas and the predators picking ambush points accordingly.


Photo Credit Kevin G. Jackson

If your already desperate for large, focus on back bays in the states upper reaches where bunker should stack up as well as the mouths of estuaries as fish key in on our somewhat revived herring runs. You’ll need to present some substantial targets as well so bring the snag hooks and a selection of big surface lures like Lordship Atom 40’s andTattoo’s Sea Dogs For numbers of decent fish and maybe even some large look to South County spots from Napatree to Point Judith. Inevitably shoals of squid have already descended upon our shore with a large bulk of the bass population and some serious blues sure to be hot on their…mantles. Catch yourself some fresh squid and send them out whole on a classic chunking rig. In the meantime, smaller baits have and will continue to flood our marshes and bays with all sorts of predators on their tails. Anywhere eel grass abounds is a great starting spot, but also look for warm muddy bottom thats sure to provide a smorgasborg of shrimp, worms and crabs for the bulk of our early fish. While such spots are mostly a small bass game, make sure rigged with quality hooks like VMC’s should something large eat.


Photo Credit H. Earl Evans

Tog fishermen should be able to succeed just about everywhere by the weekend and as always, Green Crabs and Asian Crabs are the trick. While classic blackfish rigs like those from Fin-Strike will work, I personally prefer to use my own, combining Gamakatsu Octopus hooks with 60lb Ande mono for a top-notch yet disposable rig. Typically I keep it simple, 3-4 feet of mono, loop for the sinker (2-4oz’s), and a dropper with a single hook. Make sure when tying such a rig that, when your line is taught, the hook loop does not hang lower then the one for your sinker. Rigging this way will avoid some snags. However, if you’d like to try something different, grab the heavy freshwater spin rods and try some light tackle toggin’. Small lead jig heads or even bare hooks can be baited up and used in the various eddies and calmer spots for some truly heroic battles.

And for those who wish to join our inner fraternity of heady wild trout bum’s, simply go out and buy a map.

P.s. the squid are here

By Arden Gardell

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