The graveyard of wrecks that lie within the confines of this East End hotspot provides ideal habitat for the winter king.
The last few years have seen a resurgence in cod fishing in the waters south and east of Block Island, collectively referred to as Coxes Ledge. In addition to there being some good bottom here, there are also many wrecks that are scattered around the Ledge. The area within the box created by the following four waypoints 41-09-30 / 71-13-07, 41-11-01 / 71-06-49, 41-05-45 / 71-02-60, and 41-03-41 / 71-09-54 was once a dumping ground for derelict boats and thus has many wrecks located within it, perhaps even some yet to be found. If you’re fishing the area it’s always a good idea to keep your sounder on because you may just find one of them during your travels.
The many wrecks found throughout Coxes act as additional pieces of fish-holding structure and can often provide for excellent fishing. I want to point out that these numbers have come to me through a multitude of sources through the years and I have not personally fished each and every one of them but have fished most of them at different times. As with any GPS numbers, these coordinates will get you close, and you might need to search around a bit to be exact. Some were Loran-C waypoints that have been converted to GPS, and where I had those I’ve included both formats. Some wrecks also deteriorate over time from rot, storms, and getting dragged over, so they may not be as pronounced as they once were. I also must mention thanks to Tim Coleman, the late editor of The Fisherman’s New England edition, and Capt. Al Anderson, both of whom researched, searched for, and shared much of the information that they discovered about wrecks in Long Island and Block Island Sound, and off of Block Island with readers of The Fisherman Magazine in years past. I cherish the memories from joining them on a couple of these hunts as well.
Starting with the Elizabeth Ann, this wreck is just north of the ledge and sitting at 41-10.4 / 71-11.8. She was a 70-foot fishing vessel from Newport that sank on March 9, 1971. While part of her hull appears to have collapsed, she still has enough left to attract a few fish.
Next, the Rosemary R was a 63-foot fishing vessel hailing from Stonington, CT. She began taking on water on her way home from a fishing trip on August 24, 1994, reportedly sank in 144 feet of water. She rests around 41-09 / 71-08. This puts her at about the northern edge of the deep water finger. If fishing the “Mountains,” it’s not too far away and might be worth a look.
There are several wrecks located around 41-08.3 / 71-10.0 and the old dumping area. These are generically labelled as the “Cox’s Wrecks.” One is definitely a barge that was sunk there on May 15, 1990 in 126 feet of water. It was 100 feet long by 34 feet across and was constructed of steel so it should still be holding up quite well today even though it’s not a tall structure off the bottom. I believe that this one is located at 41-08.300 / 71-10.000. The others are located 41-08.388 / 71-09.910 and 41-08.281 / 71-10.017. They are all located close together so it makes it easy to check out all three together.
The Oceanic was an 85-foot vessel from New Bedford that was set to rest at 41-08.34 / 71-09.87 in 1994. The surrounding waters here are 120 feet deep.
The Northwind lies on the bottom at 41-08-10.4 / 71-09-51.0. This is one of two different “Northwinds” that were sunk on the ledge, one in 1986 and one in 1992. I don’t have any information as to which specific vessel this one represents other than her name, but I know that she produces some codfish. Located nearby and a little to the southwest lies the Spirit of 76 in 108 feet of water. You can find her at 41-05.307 / 71-10.269.
The Gipper II is located at 41-05.509 / 71-07.382. She was 73-foot wooden dragger from New Bedford that was scuttled there in 1989. She has become pretty broken up through the years, as most wooden wrecks usually become, so she no longer shows as a large target. There may still be a few codfish hanging out around what’s left of the hull, but her fish-holding capabilities are somewhat reduced but still worth checking out.
Off the southern edge of the ledge you can find the following wrecks sitting in somewhat deeper water. The Betsy C is located at 40-58.178 / 71-10.565 after having sunk in April of 1959. The PT200 is located at 41-00.007 / 70-59.968 and was a 78-foot Higgins Class Motor Torpedo Boat that collided with an unknown object and sank on February 22, 1944. Then there’s the Easily at 41-02-41.6 / 71-10-54.0. I don’t have much in terms of details on this vessel, how large she was, or when she sank, but fishermen have found a few cod on her through the years.
There’s a spot located at 40-59-27.4 / 71-02-27.3 that apparently is a hang of some type. Whether it’s an actual wreck, or just some serious bottom structure, it produces some cod and pollock for anglers getting on it. Further to the east you can find the wrecks of the St John and the Great Islander. The St John was sunk on August 24, 1963, and is located at 40-58-41.8 / 70-51-16.1 in 26 fathoms of water. The Great Islander is located nearby at 40-59-13.3 / 70-51-50.0, also in 26 fathoms of water.
The Andrew & Allison was a 67-foot steel dragger that sank on January 7, 1987. She has not definitively been located and has three different sets of coordinates for her approximate location. The first two are close together at 41-00 / 71-20 and 41-00 / 71-19. These would put her off the southern edge of the ledge in 25 fathoms. The third location is further offshore to the southeast at 40-50/70-51.
My recommendation is to bring both jigs and clam baits if you’re going to give any of these wrecks a try. Some days one outshines the other, but leaving either one at home ensures it’s the choice of the day. Make sure to bring a good supply of jigs, rigs, and sinkers as you’re inevitably going to hang some up when fishing craggy structures like these. For guys running offshore these wrecks offer great spots to stop and hit on either the way out or the way home to add a few fillets to the box.