Hot Spot: River Ledge & Old Antonio - The Fisherman

Hot Spot: River Ledge & Old Antonio

River Ledge
River Ledge

It began as a bottom fishing trip for tautog, but his boat was at a Quonset Point marina, enticingly close to a very productive a striper hotspot I seldom fished due to the distance from my home waters. He only wanted a few tautog for company visiting from California but once we had a half-dozen legal tog I talked him into fishing the productive waters at Old Antonio Rock and River Ledge where the Pettasquamscutt River empties into a boulder field where I have caught stripers, bluefish and a few weakfish. I don’t believe we were ever skunked there and in all the years I have been producing fishing reports for this magazine I don’t believe I have ever heard of anyone singing its praises. Was that because it was too good to mention or was it that no one thought it was worth the effort?

My first trip here was an exploratory one out of Point Judith trolling tubes and casting plugs from the rocky shoreline from Pt. Judith Light, around the corner northward along the Scarborough Hills to River Ledge and the entrance to the river. The boat I was running on the very first trip some 35 years ago was a seakindly inboard, with a deep draft which I deemed too big for tip toeing in and around that rocky shoreline.

Old Antonio
Old Antonio

Even trolling out further from the shoreside structure we picked up several stripers from schoolies to bass in the 15- to 18-pound class along with a single weakfish we lost at the boat when an overanxious angler tried to lift the prize over the rail. The dejected angler claimed it was a 10-pound specimen but as I arrived with the net it looked a lot more like five. The shoreline at the mouth of the Pettasquamscutt is a great place to toss plugs and soft baits, not to mention live eels under low light conditions. One evening under a sloppy southeast wind we worked the area from the east side of Beavertail Point and around the tip with nothing more than a few docked eels to show for our effort. I recalled our previous success at River Ledge and decided to give it a try and if it was a dry run we could head back up the west passage under the lee of Jamestown on our way back home. It was too hairy with all three of us casting so I kept the boat in gear while my deckmates tossed eels into the white water. I don’t recall just how many stripers we boated that night, but it was over a half dozen quality bass from the high teens into the mid 20-pound class. The blues seemed to be everywhere that year and my friend Andy caught the largest bass of the night on a well shortened stubby.

The wind picked up on the change of the tide and the conditions turned from dicey to dangerous so with all of our eels gone I ran back out while Andy held the boat allowing me to toss a Danny surface swimmer into the roiling water and hooked up to a bluefish that stayed airborne until I got it alongside where it spit the plug back at me. The man who owned the larger boat I had guided on that first trip eventually purchased a 24-foot center console and continued to fish and explore that location. He told me that tubing the outside edges had proven rewarding for him and his crew, but their most enjoyable action has been early morning casting the ledges and hooking up on bass from schoolies to keepers. While I’ve rarely seen anyone surf fishing, he occasionally sees a man fishing on the south side of the river opening. We speculated it may be someone with a nose for stripers who is associated with the Fort Varnum National Guard camp in that area.

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