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SOUTHWEST POINT, BLOCK ISLAND, RI

Over the years, some massive bass and memorable nights have been had along the pebbly shore of this hot spot.
By Toby Lapinski
SOUTHWEST POINT, BLOCK ISLAND, RI
If you target striped bass in New England, whether from the surf or by boat, Block Island’s fabled Southwest Point should be on your radar. The general area, including the ledge on out to the three-mile line, falls into the top five spots for large striped bass historically. Many 50-, 60- and even 70-pound striped bass have been landed in the surf here. Add those scores to the innumerable cows landed by boat and Southwest Point and the surrounding waters are yet another Mecca of oversized striped bass.

Back in the 1980s, this site was the location where many thousands of pounds of striped bass were hooked, many lost, but some landed, eventually ending up on the ferry to Point Judith destined for market. Just how many anglers made their fortune in the surf here is to be debated, but suffice it to say that quite a few dozen eels, house rentals, buggy fuel bills and ferry tickets were paid for by fish landed off these rocks. The place simply has history!

Over the years, some massive bass and memorable nights have been had along the pebbly shore of this hot spot which is somewhat unimpressive at first glance. There was the night of December 1, 1985 when RI surfman Steve McKenna landed bass of 51, 48, 45, 38 and 12 pounds on one of the first-ever through-wired Gibbs Needlefish. Dennis Zambrotta has spent his share of nights at the Point, and for good reason. His best two nights for big fish were a 24-hour period on Friday, November 13, 1987 when he caught seven fish, two of them over 50.

We also have some great records of the Porkchop that appeared right here on the pages of The Fisherman Magazine. Take for instance the report of November 22, 1984, Block Island: A pretty good week for bass fishermen, notes Joe Fallon. Quite a few fish taken in the surf from 15 pounds on up to 50 pounds plus. Joe took several himself, including a 42-, 24- and pair of 36-pound fish. All fell for the needlefish plug just after daylight at Southwest Point.

While much of the lore of this spot was written in the 80s, big scores are still landed here. I was out on the island a few years back, working over a great many spots as the mid-November winds blew sideways while the steady precipitation of mixed snow and sleet made me question my sanity. Eventually I made my way to Southwest Point as the tide turned and began to flood. The northeast wind cut through to my bones but the steady action of fish after fish on needlefish and loaded Red Fins made the night all that more bearable. I eventually left as a group of New Yorkers moved in on me and, alone, I was no match for their advances on the point. I had caught enough fish and the call of a pot of warm coffee and cold pizza was my undoing.

Accessing Southwest Point these days is not as easy as it was in the 80s. Back then it was possible to drive a beach buggy right down to the point, making for both easy access to back-up gear and the hiding of 500-plus-pound commercial hauls all the easier. Nowadays, access is gained from the north at the end of Cooneymus Road, walking down the path to the beach and heading south until you reach the point. It isn’t as pronounced a point as say Watch Hill or Montauk, but you’ll know when you arrive by the many ghosts of striped bass past.

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