WATCH HILL POINT, RI - The Fisherman


From the early signs of striped bass in May on through the last few stragglers in November, Watch Hill Point provides season-long action for the shore-bound angler. The Hill, as locals call it, provides relatively easy access and the opportunity to land large bluefish, over-sized striped bass, tasty scup, speedy bonito and false albacore, white-chinned blackfish and the occasional keeper fluke. Unfortunately, the combo of easy access and opportunity galore also brings in heavy crowds at times. A thick skin and forgiving nature is often required to fish here.

With the Watch Hill Reef complex only a short hop from the point, the tip of the point under the lighthouse is a natural striped bass and bluefish magnet. Just look at a map of western Rhode Island and your eye should immediately be drawn to this spot as it juts out into Block Island Sound. A strong wind out of the south or southwest coupled with a rising tide will have the rip standing up in short order. Take extreme caution if you are new to this location as some very large waves will roll in here, often stacking up back to back. The rocks by the water’s edge are large with deep gaps between them; this is no place you want to land if you take a fall.

Standard surf tackle is required and long casts are often necessary to reach breaking fish. First and last light as well as the hours after dark see hordes of hungries working the entire point from the beach to the east, out past the point under the lighthouse and on to the jetty on the west. Rising water is preferred, but those in the know pull large striped bass and bluefish from the Hill at all stages of the tide. Eels take the better fish on average, but many large bass haven fallen prey to a well-placed darter or metal-lip swimmer after dark. This is also one of those places where you hear of “tourists” taking a 40- or 50-pound bass under the noon-day sun on a popper from time to time. When the mullet are running or if you are fortunate to be at the point when a school of bunker arrives, very good action can be had at first or last light.

Small pieces of squid, clams or sea worms on a hi-low rig tempt the ever-present scup that roam the west side of the point. Anglers travel from all over New England to target these tasty saltwater panfish at the Hill. Be ready for the occasional fluke or sea bass to take your scup bait, and anglers working crabs close to the rocks land their share of blackfish all season long. One word of note, do not leave your bait boxes all over the rocks. The biggest downside of the heavy fishing pressure by the bait crowd is the trash which is often left behind. Take out more than you bring in so that we do not lose even more public access.

To reach Watch Hill, take I-95 to exit 92. Head south and pick up route 78 East. At the end of the highway, go straight across US-1 onto Airport Road; Airport Road becomes Winnipaug Road. Turn left onto Watch Hill Road and follow it into town. Parking can be had on the street in the off season or in the large parking lot by the harbor. There is some paid parking available as well. Once parked, walk up the hill and turn right down Lighthouse Road. Follow to the end; you’ll see the beam from the lighthouse as you make your way down the road. Be quiet as you walk to the point and please DO NOT park your vehicle at the light unless legally allowed to do so by way of handicap tags. Despite the gate being left open some nights, illegal parking will only lead to more loss of access.