The Sandbank Channel, Rhode Island - The Fisherman

The Sandbank Channel, Rhode Island

The Sandbank Channel
Chart courtesy of Navionics.

A longstanding spot for winter cod with a shot at pollock and black sea bass in season.

Laying just to the east/southeast of the East Grounds, and just to the west of the Mud Hole, the Sandbank Channel is an area that has hosted some excellent cod and pollock fishing through the years. When looking at it on a chart you can see sort of a deeper water rut (or channel) through the surrounding ground around it, hence offering some edges and banks to fish. Water depths range here depending where you are on the slope but generally range from 100 feet on the edges to 150-foot depths in the center of the channel. The length of Sandbank Channel essentially runs from north to south and with the tidal flows running to the ESE on the ebb and to the WNW on the flood, covering different depths on your drift is usually not a problem. Additionally, there are some mussel beds located here that attract predators that like to feed on shellfish. The area receives a fair amount of fishing pressure each winter and spring from anglers looking for some cod. Anglers fishing the East Grounds tend to slowly work their way this direction as the bite slows on the higher ground.

I would start out here looking for a few cod with bait rigs around the locations of 41-08-29.6/71-23-47.5 and 41-09-02.6/71-23-18.2. Simple hi-low bait rigs with a 4- to 8-ounce sinker will do the trick. Fresh clams will work much better than frozen ones if you can get your hands on some. They’ll stay on the hook better and will leave a much better scent trail. Based on the name and location you can expect there to be quite a few sand eels present so I wouldn’t rule out trying to jig a few fish but I’ve personally had better success at this spot with bait. Use a 4- to 6-ounce diamond jig with a dropper fished a couple of feet above it, either a surge tube, a red gill, or a cod fly.

The mussel beds that I mentioned are located around 41-08-19.6/71-24-43.1 and is another area to check out for codfish in the spring. I’ve saved more than a couple of days of fishing by being able to pick a few fish off of these beds when other spots failed me. Be sure and check out the rockpile located at 41-07-58.9/71-24-05.5 if you’re there and if the other waypoints don’t produce. Cod and sea bass both like to hang around rocks and chew on some crabs so this would be a good spot to anchor up and fish. Again, I’ve had better luck with bait rigs than jigs when fishing the rock pile.

When the pollock fishery was a little more robust, or when the pollock fishery was existent I should say, we would find them around 41-08-15.9/71-24-41.1. You’re probably not going to fill the box with them these days but work a jig there and you may still find a few of their descendants chasing some bait or even another cod or two.

Keep the Sandbank Channel in mind if you’re fishing the East Grounds and the bite shuts down or even if you simply don’t want to run all the way out to the ledges. If you fish this spot first you have plenty of options for a back-up plan including short jaunts to the East Grounds, the Dodge Grounds, and Shark’s Ledge.

Sandbank Channel  – Some Numbers




41-08-29.6 / 71-23-47.5

14482.5 / 43858.3


41-09-02.6 / 71-23-18.2

14477.7 / 43861.6

Mussel bottom

41-08-19.6 / 71-24-43.1

14488.7 / 43858.4

Rock Pile

41-07-58.9 / 71-24-05.5

14486.0 / 43855.0


41-08-15.9 / 71-24-41.1

14488.7 / 43857.9



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