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Almost as if right on schedule, a slug of big striped bass rocket into Southern New England for the 4th of July holiday week.
By Toby Lapinski  |  July 2, 2018
Joseph Apanowitch broke the 60-pound mark on the night of June 30 with this big striped bass. (Photo by Dan Piwonski)

This spring has been weird for striped bass fishing to say the least, with many just saying the run is behind schedule and others saying the fish are simply in different places, taking different routes than they have for millennia. I’m not so sure if a cold spring or new migration paths are the only things wrong right now as there is no denying that the fishery is not as healthy as it should be. Sure there have been a few big bass caught here and there, but there simply is not the widespread distribution of fish across a large enough expanse of the region which one would expect to see in times of plenty.

Are the fish simply offshore? I guess that could be what’s going on, but if that was the case then we’d be seeing way more striped bass outside 3 miles than we traditionally saw. Could the bass have pushed further north earlier than usual due to the cool spring waters? Again, I guess this could be a reason why those of us fishing in Southern New England have had a rather poor spring, but again one would have to surmise that anglers to the north are seeing twice the bass they did in the past if all the fish that are normally caught to the south simply moved north, and this is simply not the case.

The "Bass Triangle" is an area between Montauk, Watch Hill and Block Island that produces oversized striped bass in the summer. Just be sure to mind the 3-mile limit when targeting striped bass here.

That all said, the week around the 4th of July has produced its share of cow bass over the years in what I refer to as the “Bass Triangle,” the waters between Montauk, Watch Hill and Block Island. The last two weeks or so had the makings of a good bite for those of you who know how to read the fishing reports for what they can tell you about where the fish are going, not just where they’ve been. Big striped bass havebeen creeping their way along the South Shore of Long Island, first starting out at the mouth of the Hudson and Raritan Bay before making their way east. The second week of June saw a shot of 50s and 60s landed off Fire Island, and the bite slowly moved towards Montauk over the next two weeks. Slowly but surely, rumblings began to circulate of these bass perhaps hitting Rhode Island waters, and a spearo (spearfisherman) who I follow began getting some big bass in this timeframe, so the writing was on the wall for things to open up locally.

Then as June finally came to a close, it happened. The bass hit the rips between Montauk Point and Block Island, and word of big bass started hitting the internet. Capt. Greg of The Black Hawk reported increasingly-better results late in the week with fish to 30 pounds being caught each night, and then on Saturday night they hit an even bigger pile of big bass with fish to the mid-40-pound class being caught all around the boat. They quickly turned around for another trip on Sunday night which produced bass to 50 pounds for the fishermen who were smart enough to see what was going on and book a spot on this night bass trip. Suffice it to say, the Black Hawk has the bite figured out and dialed-in right now!

A 50-pound striped bass eeled up on the Black Hawk this week on one of their night bass trips.

While this was going on, private boaters too were getting into some better striped bass in the Bass Triangle. Fisherman subscriber Joseph Apanowitch set out for a tide drifting eels on his friend Danny Piwonski’s boat on Saturday, and he was rewarded with his biggest striped bass to date shortly after sunset. The fish first bottomed-out a 50-pound scale that they had on the boat, and then it did the same to a 60! The mammoth striped bass taped out at 53 inches and sported a 31.25-inch girth. Despite Joe's best efforts, he was unable to revive the fish and it was eventually weighed-in the following morning at Fishin' Factory 3 in Middletown, CT where it had an official weight of 59.45 pounds. The fish undoubtedly exceeded the magical 60-pound mark when it was caught, the first fish to hit the mark on the still-young 2018 fishing season.

Another look at Joseph Apanowitch's huge June Moon Bass.

Be sure to check out all of this week's fishing reports, and perhaps you’ll connect the dots on where to hook-up with a super cow of your own for the 4th of July Holiday!