The fish have arrived
Get your fishing poles ready, check your line, and oil your reels… the fish are here! Sometimes all it takes is one or two days for the fish to show up and that is exactly what has happened out here. There aren't quite yet the numbers that we see later in the season, but there are plenty of fish to be caught all around the island.
There have been boats bottom-fishing off the west and southwest sides of the island this week. Anglers reported that the fluke brought into the boat were keeper-size or just under, along with a few doormats that made for a great photo-op and an even better dinner. Fluke have been caught in about 50 to 60 feet of water using squid, clams, or spearing. Along with fluke, a few boats on the southwest side have brought in snapper blues (8 inches to 14 inches) that have been seen chasing around schools of bait fish at the surface of the water. Keep an eye out for flocks of birds working the surface and the splashing schools of bait fish, because if there are snappers chasing the bait fish, there are striped bass below them.
Coast Guard Beach has been the hot spot for surfcasters this week. Anglers have been fishing about an hour before and after sunset as well as early in the morning for striped bass. Because the bait fish in the channel are smaller, it is best to use smaller lures that imitate sand-eels, such as 4-inch slug-gos and swimmers with a thin profile. Two anglers reported catching several stripers an hour before sunset this week, including a 41-inch, 22-pound bass and a 28-inch bass with a tag from New Jersey, indicating that despite the colder water this season, the striped bass are migrating right on schedule. Aside from Coast Guard, fishermen have seen good numbers of keeper bass at night on the south side of the island between Black Rock and Vail Beach. Anglers have had the most success using an assortment of lures and live eels. Additionally, Ravi of Block Island Fishworks reported that the number of squid inside New Harbor has continued to increase, while much of the squid that was being caught inside Old Harbor has been displaced due to recent dredging in the area. Although the dredging in Old Harbor drove out the squid, it also stirred the sand eels at the ocean floor. As a result, we expect to see an increase in striped bass in the area.
As the fishing season gets underway, it is important to note that the season for black sea bass does not begin until June 29, with a limit of three fish per person per day at a minimum of 13-inches and that the season for blackfish (tautog) doesn’t begin until Aug. 1. This is the time of year when it would be good to brush up on fishing limits and regulations and make sure that your fishing permits are up to date.