Favorite ways to catch striped bass


We have an influx of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) in Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays this week. With all this bait and the perfect water temperature (just over 60 degrees), now is the time to try to catch some striped bass because they have arrived following the bait.

Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said last week, “Anglers are catching some great slot size (28 to <35 inches) and larger striped bass with chunks (of pogies) all the way up to I-195 in Providence.”

East End Eddy Doherty said, “I caught a 21-pound striped bass two days after May’s full moon on the Cape Cod Canal. Primary forage baitfish has been consisting of significant schools of herring, silversides, squid and nine inch bunker as well as smaller groups of mackerel that have entered the Canal so let’s hope they decide to stick around to feed the predators.”

With all this bait in the water here are some favorite ways to catch striped bass:

  • Trolling with umbrella rigs. I like to use this technique trolling in deeper parts of Narragansett Bay, off Newport or Block Island with a variety of squid, shad, worm or eel umbrella rigs. Hook two fish at the same time and you will experience a great fight.
  • Casting soft plastics, various bait types and weights to fish different depths. Many anglers love this technique and use it successfully in the spring. Make sure the plastic baits are scented if they are not add some scent.
  • Buck tail jigs with pork rind squid strips. Have had success with this method to get under schools of bluefish and to the striped bass on the bottom.
  • Live eels. Used by shore and boat anglers, some fishing guides use this as their primary method to catch killer stripers. Hook the eel through the mouth and out one eye. Going between the eyes usually kills the bait. You must use circle hooks, it is the law. Circle hooks generally slide out of the fish and hook it on the corner of their mouth on the way out allowing you to release the fish you are not keeping … and release them alive and well.
  • Live menhaden. Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them. Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a school of Atlantic menhaden and put the live menhaden into the school bait and let it swim. Used when menhaden are running strong, particularly up the Providence River in early spring.
  • Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden. You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks. Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.
  • Surface plugs. Have caught hundreds of bass in the spring using surface plugs of all types.
  • Swimming lures. Great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc. My favorite is a grey Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow.
  • Parachute squid jigs. Often used in ocean water (or where there are squid). Anglers successfully use this method off Newport, Narragansett and Block Island.
  • Trolling with tube and worm. I have had great success in the Bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot fluorocarbon leader. I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm). The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are. Tube and worm trolling has been a successful technique for the Southwest side of Block Island using 300 ft. of wire line out in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish became more abundant this week with an improved bite. “Striped bass fishing improved this week at Block Island with angels catching slot fish and larger trolling wire with tube and worm at the Southwest Ledge. The bluefish bite was particularly good at the North Rip. The bass bite along the coastal beaches has been a night bite,” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown. Sam Toland of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, Middletown said, “The striped bass and bluefish bite out in front of Newport and in Narragansett Bay has been very good with some large fish (above the slot size of 28 to <35 inches) are being caught in the East Passage all the way up to Providence.” “Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “The bluefish and striped bass bite on the West Grounds at Block Island was very good this week. We had a lot of fun targeting them with surface and swimming lures and caught fish to 42 inches there.”  Tom Houde caught a slot size fish on his kayak in a Bay cove this week with a standard 24-inch tube and worm.

Summer flounder/black sea bass.  Black sea bass season opened May 22 to August 31 with a two fish/person/day limit. Anglers are reminded that the minute size is now 16 inches. “The fluke bite had note ben very good off Newport or in the Bay. But the black sea bass bite has been good for anglers,” said Sam Toland of Sami’s Bait. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The fluke bite in the Block Island Wind Farm area has been good. We caught fluke to 26 inches just south of tower five in about 70 feet of water and had no trouble limiting out four fish/person/day limit (18 inches is the minimum size). Things have warmed up so the bite is pretty good.” Elisha Cahill of Sun Harbor said, “The fluke bite is good off Carpenters in about 30 feet of water and the bite is very good at the East Fishing Grounds off Block Island and just south of the Wind Farm.”

 Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

No Fluke, fishing


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