Big bottom dwellers

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 6:45am

A mixed-bag species report highlights this week’s word from the land-based fishing scene. Large scup (porgies) have moved into casting range from the beach, all around the island. Squid and live minnows are accounting for their fair share of scup and fluke at the Coast Guard Channel. Most notably is a daytime bite of schoolie- to keeper-sized stripers, along with large scup taken with clams on the east side beaches. We recommend the use of a hi-lo rig incorporating two circle hooks, which are less likely to hook the smaller fish in the gut and gills. Another land-based fishing bonanza has been squid, it’s red hot right now off the docks and under the lights. A tandem squid rig works best and is comprised of two squid jigs, one light weight jig at the top and a heavier ‘swim style’ jig at the bottom. Getting two squid at once is not uncommon. Fresh squid is great for the dinner table. We recommend finding a YouTube video that shows how to clean them — it’s not hard, but it requires a special technique.

On the boat angling scene, large bass are being caught with live eels — no surprise here — however, finding them in the day time remains tricky. There are larger schools on the south side, but getting them to bite can be tricky. An eel rig with a long and light fluorocarbon leader on a 4/0 or 5/0 circle hook seems to get more strikes. For the ground fish enthusiast, large porgies, sea bass, and fluke are putting good bends in the rods of the clients fishing aboard some of the charter boats. Bait is not necessary for these delicious, bottom-dwelling denizens — vertical jigging Hogy sand eel jigs and Shimano Coltsnipers, low in the water column over chunky ground is the ticket for the better fish. Capt. Chris had several sea bass up to 24 inches and porgy up to three pounds jigging on the F/V Harley. The crew from Pale Horse reported big sea bass and fluke in the deep holes south of the island. And Capt. Matt on the Hula Dog had a 6.5 pounder in 60 feet of water fishing gulp shad on a bucktail.  

Offshore fishing is starting to heat up with a good bluefin tuna bite and shark fishing. Slowly, the canyon reports are trickling in with yellowfin tuna and bigeyes in the mix in canyons to the west.  Hats off to the boys on Devil’s Fiddle who went out Sunday and ended up fishless but did manage to save a leatherback turtle hung up in fishing gear. Chris ‘Reevo’ Reeves managed to delicately cut the lines wrapped around the turtle’s neck — there’s a video on YouTube entitled “Reevo saves a turtle,” check it out.

Lure of the Week: Hurley Cape Cod sand eel

Capt. Chris reported an interesting catch on the south side of the island while fishing for stripers this week. His client hooked into an Atlantic bonito, not a rarity, but definitely a little early in the summer for them to be around. The same clients caught striped bass and bluefish in the same trip — making for what’s called a ‘Grand Slam’ in the fishing community. All these fish were caught on a Cape Cod sand eel, a lure developed by Bill Hurley on Cape Cod, that is our lure of the week. In fact, 80 percent of the light tackle fishing around the island by charter fishermen are with soft plastics like Cape Cod Sand Eels. Hurley’s sand eel lure is made of a soft rubbery plastic and is impregnated with sand eel oil for scent. It’s attached to a jig head that can vary in size and is slowly jigged in after a cast. The angler gives the lure the action. This lure will catch just about any fish in New England waters. They are often used for tuna offshore and inshore for everything from scup to stripers. Last year a small mako shark was caught on a Hurley sand eel. It’s truly one of the most versatile lures for Block Island waters.

Go catch ‘em up!