The first time I checked out Fort Rodman I was just out taking my daughter for ride to see the ocean. Somehow we ended up in New Bedford, MA and just kept heading south until we found Buzzards Bay. I think many of us, myself included, look at these hyper-public parks with their walking trails, information kiosks and ample parking as places where great fishing just will not be found. But Fort Rodman is situated on the tip of a pretty prominent point (called Clarks Point) and it’s right in the middle of one of Massachusetts’ most heavily-traveled striper highways.
It was September when we made that first stop and, as is customary during albie season, I had an albie stick in the truck, but I didn’t carry the rod with me, I thought it was just a daddy-daughter moment. Our walk through the park revealed some interesting historical tidbits, for example, the towering stone fortress was opened in 1861 and designed by Robert E. Lee! As we continued through the 47-acre park, my eyes were drawn to the water where I saw ample opportunity for shore anglers targeting a variety of species.
Off the parks eastern shore there is a long pier that I would estimate to run at least 700 feet out into the bay. This spot offers excellent fishing for scup and might produce the occasional fluke as well for the active caster flicking bucktails. Two smaller jetties also protrude from this shoreline offering similar opportunities, albeit without the reliable footing. Blackfish opportunities exist here as well, particularly in the fall.
Things got more interesting as we stepped onto the large granite blocks where it was possible take in the full vista of Buzzards Bat and the Elizabeth Islands. The bottom below the granite breakwall drops off sharply and the deep coves on either side of the point exchange water at the tip with evidence shown in the form of visibly turbulent seas. It was about the time I was sorting out this water exchange when I saw a pod of albies charging after baitfish about 150 yards off the point! I broke into a run, hampered by a slower child trying to keep up, and grabbed my gear.
As luck would have it, the albies were just barely within reach and I was able to make two casts that seemed good enough to get bit, but the fish disappeared and my dreams were dashed. However, the fish gods were not done. As we converged on the southwest corner of the granite wall, a southwest wind pushing the seas into a heavy chop, a school of stripers charged in chasing peanut bunker. Cast after cast produced action on Albie Snax and Exo Jigs. We landed stripers from 20 inches to 16 pounds from that mini blitz and we were the only ones fishing. A beautiful thing.
I would call Fort Rodman a sleeper spot, especially for the albie chasers and striper hardcores, it has more potential that its public access belies. The walls, rubble bottom and pier edges provide tons of fishy structure for blackfish and scup as well. For the boaters, of course, the walls and riprap will produce blackfish, but there is also a bonus spot for you. Almost exactly a quarter mile due south of the center of the point, there is a heap of large boulders marked “sewers” on the chart. This area mounds up to 18 feet from the 23- to 26-foot depths surrounding it. With good water movement and tons of structure, this unnamed reef holds blackfish, striped bass, scup and sea bass and is definitely worth a few drops any time you pass by.
If you like to get a little dose of history with your fishing, Fort Rodman would be a good place to try. If you like to try and trick your spouse or children into going fishing with you, suggest a walk at the fort and tell them with a wink, “I’m bringing a rod, just in case.”