No bones about it
Starting off this week’s fishing report: the stripers are seen daily by bathers from Mansion Beach all the way into town, as far south as the Beachead Restaurant. Catching them during the day is quite tricky, but the best bet is with a fly rod and crab patterns — fished behind the breaking waves and in the whitewater. Later in the day into the evening, the standard surfcasting lures will produce. These are soft plastics, lipped swimmers, and the venerable needlefish and darter. Perhaps the most plentiful fish species to catch from the beach are the scup/porgies. Thin strips of squid fished on a hi-lo rig will perform well in the Coast Guard Channel, the surf zone along Crescent Beach, as well off any of the rock jetties or sea walls. Fluke are also being caught in the Coast Guard Channel, but they are primarily throwback size, being less than 18 inches. Squidding is still quite productive in the evenings around the marina docks in New Harbor. While the squid may be caught during the day, and offer quite a challenge, nighttime around any dock or boat lights may yield a good haul of these tasty mollusks.
Two species of fish we’re frequently asked about in the shop are the presence of false albacore and Atlantic bonito. We are happy to report that bonito have been seen and landed around Charleston Beach and the Coast Guard Channel. Lure preference is typically small metals or tins and small. If you’re in these areas and see frenzied anglers running up and down the beach, chances are some bonito came to the surface feeding. You don’t have to wait to see these fish to catch them. Casting ‘blind’ can produce a bite; chasing them down the beach can often be fruitless, but is awfully entertaining to watch.
From the boat, bass fishing in tight around the island has been consistent, but you need to cover a lot of ground. Deep water out on the southwest reefs produces spotty production, as different groups of fish move in, then immediately get pounced on by the fleet. Seabass numbers have been excellent if you stay in 60 feet or more of water, especially by the wind turbines, these structures have already built a body of life around them which gives us another five spots to fish! Fluking is mediocre with the focus in the deep water. The seabass are so thick that getting to the fluke has been difficult. The big deal for near-shore boat fishing is the arrival of bonito. These fish take patience and usually a long cast. The focus of the activity is around the entrance to New Harbor. Offshore reports are pretty decent, with some closer activity in areas like the Gully, Mudhole, and Dump. White marlin, mahi, mako, and bluefin tuna have all been reported being taken. Not bad for being 40 miles or less from the island — old school fishing.
Speaking of old school fishing, we recently lost one of our professors: Hermann ‘Bo’ Gempp. Bo was one of the first people I met when I hopped off the ferry and onto a Harbors Department boat 25 years ago. He introduced himself and asked if I could drive a boat. When I said, “Yes, I can,” he replied, “We’ll see about that.”
There began a cherished relationship that will never be forgotten. Bo Gempp was a proponent of the waters he fished and was eager to show any of us how it was done. Bo started the marine pumpout program that is largely responsible for the clean harbor we now have. He worked tirelessly with the Shellfish Commission to start what is now a renewable shellfishing resource. And he was an advocate for commercial and recreational fisheries alike. The Block Island community owes a lot to this man for his foresight and work. We lost an iconic waterman and will always remember him and his knowledge that he generously shared. Rest in peace, Bo.