Fishing Report: The Fall Run
Mother Nature hosts amazing shows of natural force from time to time on her stage we call earth. This last week was an example of such, with sustained winds in excess of 40 knots, large tides, and a big ocean swell. We on Block Island call these ‘shore days,’ but some call it ideal fishing weather. October generally marks the Fall Run — the annual migration of striped bass to the southern waters of Maryland and Virginia. This generally gets started with a strong, sustained Nor’easter — a natural reminder to stripers that the summer’s over, time to move. Surf fishermen also start their annual migration, following the fish as they move south. Block Island has, historically, been one of these iconic locales all the way into November. Our home has legendary status in the realm of big bass fishing and has been part of many fish stories, both written and verbal. The lure of catching that one big fish continues to draw anglers from New Jersey to New Hampshire, and regardless of their success they continue to come year after year because of the mystique and ample elbow room Block Island offers.
During the most recent Nor’easter, the shore fishing turned on, as expected. A few brave souls ventured out to the east beaches and were rewarded with stripers up to 38 inches. The Coast Guard Station held fish in the schoolie size range and were actually fishable with a fly rod. Albies are still in New Harbor but seem to be dwindling. From the boat, stripers have moved into the coves and points around the island. Top water plugs have been effective when fishing the shallower waters. Bigger numbers of larger fish in deep water are expected any day and will most likely be hitting live eels readily (with the right presentation). Sea bass are abundant and are an ideal option for stocking the freezer. Limits are seven fish per person at 14 inches or longer and there are plenty of good size fish in these waters.
If you plan to surf cast the beach during the fall run, here are a few must-haves for the box. The most important thing to consider in an effective island angling arsenal is to be able to cover the water column from top to bottom, with a lure profile that matches the prevalent forage types. Sand eels, silverside/spearing, juvenile scup, mackerel, squid, and snapper bluefish, make up the forage base for hungry fish around Block Island to dine upon. So, starting high up in the water column, you need to be equipped with a noisy surface lure. These include pencil poppers, spook lures, and traditional poppers. Favorite local topwater colors are bone, blue and white and yellow over white and are used to maximum effect in daylight and light change scenarios. The number one lure to work the upper level of the water column from sunset to sunrise is the needlefish.
You cannot fish Block Island without needlefish in the lineup. Black or “blurple,” parrot, and olive over white are top producing colors. To get a little deeper in the column, go to a darter or lipped swimmer, preferably a floating model. The metal-lipped old-school Danny, or the big plastic-lipped version (especially ones with rattles), are staples of an effective Block Island lure selection. Black, school bus yellow, and “wonder bread” (white) are popular swimmer colors. To effectively cover the lower level of the water column, from both beach and boat, one should absolutely have bucktail jigs, soft plastic jigs, and metal spoon-type jigs.
All Block Island surfcasters have a white or black bucktail jig in the bag at all times, usually tipped with a pork rind or soft plastic. Light tackle anglers from the boat will find the soft plastic on a 3/4 ounce jighead as the number one producer. Sand eel, and rainbow trout, and albino are must haves for color options. The versatility of this lure makes it a valuable asset that you should not leave home without. That’s a general overview — so here are the top five lures for Block Island;
Black Bomber Magnum Long A
Super Strike Needlefish 7-inch in parrot
Shimano Orca 2-ounce in ghost
White Bucktail with a white 5- to 7-inches split-tail pork rind
Hurley Cape Cod sand eel, matching the jig head to the conditions
To effectively fish the inshore Block Island ground, you don’t need every type of lure created, just a selection to cover the water column thoroughly, and most importantly, confidently. If you put the time in with these recommendations you will most certainly bend a rod during the fall run on Block Island.
Catch ‘em up!