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New England


Posted By Toby Lapinski, June 29, 2020
Sea bass season finally opened in RI & NY last week, opening up all of Southern New England to this popular and abundant inshore target! (Photo courtesy of the Black Hawk)

As we head into the 4th of July holiday weekend, there is a lot going on in Southern New England providing a wide variety of options to wet a line.

In Connecticut, Dave Anderson said that there are a lot of good things are happening in the Sound right now; fluking seems to be firing way up in a lot of places for instance. And from what I’m hearing from my own personal contacts the fish are definitely sticking with the bait and a lot of what’s holding the flatfish is squid. I hate to say I told you so, but… The area between Weekapaug Breachway and Isabella seems to be the hot zone for better fish, some as large as 9 pounds. If you want to hunt a legit giant, head to Montauk, but be prepared to weed through the sea robins and endless shorts. There were also a lot of bigger stripers taken this week anywhere from Clinton east to the Rhode Island line. There have been big fish all along the Six Mile Reef complex, hitting the points outside the CT River and also running along the south side of Fishers and into the Watch Hill Reefs. Eels have been the best bet but chunks took the biggest fish of the week—a fish over 50 pounds boated just outside the CT River. The other burgeoning fishery is porgies. I’m hearing about lots of 16- to 20-inch porgies this week, shore and boat. In fact, if I had to pick a sure thing fishery, it would be the porgies; they came in with a vengeance this week and everyone seems to be hooking up.

Moving up top Rhode Island, John Hanecak was happy that black sea bass season finally opened up in Rhode Island waters this week with a 3-fish limit through the end of August when it then changes to a 7-fish bag limit on September 1 through the end of the year; the minimum length remains 15 inches all season long. Bottom fishing in general has been varied with some boats doing quite well on fluke while the next one struggles, and sea bass catches seemed to be similarly varied with some boats finding limits of fish to 5 pounds. Porgy fishing is beginning to approach the summer surge with hubcaps being landed from Block Island to the Misquamicut shore—you don’t need a boat to get in on these tasty summer favorites. On the striper side of things, there have been some big bass landed around Southwest Ledge as well as tight to the Island by boaters pitching eels tight to shore, and there is a slug of big fish working their way over from Montauk so the next few weeks should be very good. Just keep in mind that there are new striped bass regulations in effect this year with a 1-fish bag limit and a slot of 28-35 inches. This means you cannot keep any striped bass smaller than 28 inches OR larger than 35 inches.

Charley Soares, covering Cape Cod and the Islands, notes that the black sea bass are back again with a vengeance and wreaking all kind havoc from Sakonnet to Westport as tiny sea bass in the 5-inch class are all over the bottom and hitting 3- and 5-ounce jigs. The fluke fishing has been way off with very few keepers inshore and one high liner fishing Lucas and Middle Ground catching a bunch of short fish in the 15-inch class with just three that made the liberal 17-inch minimum size. The Canal has slowed considerably from that good three-day bite last week, but anglers fishing jigs down deep or the boats catching and using spike mackerel have been doing well with at least two fish in the mid 45-inch class reported. Most of the pogie and striper schools have moved out of Mt Hope Bay into Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River. Larger stripers off Westport have been very hard to come by. Try fishing from 50 to 70 feet off Westport where the bigger sea bass are holding. If you have any doubts about the aggressive nature of black sea bass just ask Lee Woltman and his grandson Max Paralyk. Max was trolling a 7-inch Sebile Magic swimmer for bass and caught four keeper black sea bass on that plug as well as a 10-inch sea bass that thought it had found a great big meal.

Up north along Southern Massachusetts to Maine, Greg Metcalf said that striper fishing around the Boston Harbor area is fantastic. There have been daily early-morning surface feeds for big stripers and this is definitely my best bet for this week. They are eating everything being thrown at them including topwater, soft plastics and live baits. Don’t miss out this world class action. As we head towards the 4th of July, I am very optimistic that next week will produce the first decent reports of sharks, bluefin tuna and continued great catches of inshore species. The summer fishing is in full swing with more species to target and more fishermen targeting them. 30 miles offshore is a great place to social distance and maybe catch a monster fish while doing so.

On the Freshwater front, Rod Teehan fished the morning of June 22 with John Chrisant at Quabbin Reservoir’s Gate 31 in New Salem, Massachusetts. Smallmouth and largemouth bass action at the Big Lady had been excellent for weeks, and we were hoping for more great fishing. The day was forecasted to be partly cloudy and hot with a light southwest breeze—almost perfect post-spawn conditions. John and I expected to do well, and we did. Our six-hour session, which began at 6:00 a.m. and ended around noon, produced nineteen smallmouths and nineteen largemouths. The three biggest bronzies measured 17, 18, and 20 inches; the three longest largies taped 18.75, 18.75, and 19 inches. Typical post-spawners, the few fish we weighed before releasing them were grossly underweight. The 19-inch largemouth, for instance, scaled just 3 pounds, 1 ounce; the 20-inch smallie didn’t even hit the 3-pound mark. However, what the bass lacked in weight they made up for in strength. Battles lasted a long time and featured strong runs and surges, spectacular leaps, powerful head-shakes, and thoroughly stubborn resistance to being subdued. The vast majority of both species were relating to reeds or nearby rocks. Nearly every one took a dark-colored wacky-rigged Yum Dinger. Not every reed stand and rock pile held bass, but when we found ones that did, hits came fast. Besides the bass we also boated three chain pickerel, the nicest a 20.5-incher. Inside Graves Landing we again observed a school of small white perch.

In the Surf, Dave Anderson said there is increasing evidence of a push of big fish coming through the eastern end of Long Island Sound and spreading out along the South County beaches in Rhode Island. There were some 30-pounder taken between Weekapaug and the CT line this week, and one (and maybe two) holy grail 50-pound fish from the surf in that same general area (the particulars were kept quiet and I don’t blame them). Both fish ate live eels. But there’s more evidence than that; boaters have taken some big ones off the Watch Hill Reefs and around Wicopesset Channel, fish from 30 to 55 pounds have been reported. So, as the title suggests, this might be our shot. This seems like a good week to log a lot of time in the surf anywhere between the CT River and Falmouth, Massachusetts. The push of bass represented in South County is just one contingent of the larger biomass of spawned-out giants coming in from the Hudson and Chesapeake; they’re behind schedule, but here they come. Will you be out there to intercept them?

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