Top takeaways from targeting striped bass seminar


Last week the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association seminar on striped bass featured “Old Salts and Young Guns” who spoke about the strategies and tactics they used to catch trophy striped fishing.

Peter Vican of East Greenwich, the Rhode Island striped bass record holder (who actually toped his old state record with a 77 pound, 6.4-once striped bass in 2011, was a panelist along with two of Rhode Island’s “Young Guns,”  Captains Kurt Rivard of Warren and Brandon Hagopian of Cranston.

Here are some highlights from the seminar:

Peter Vican: “I have used circle hooks for years. I think they protect the line. When bass are hooked they often rub their face in sand to get rid of the hook. Circle hooks hook the fish in the corner of the month which protects the line. The fish hooks itself with no hook set. My first state record bass was caught on a rod in the rod holder when I was having a cup of coffee. The circle hook did all the work.”

Capt. Brandon Hagopian: “My favorite tide is a drooping tide. As it drops the bass make their way into deeper water, even better if it is a full moon. At night I heavy up on the leader (as much as 80-pound test) because the fish cannot see it, but during the day I lighten up a lot and run with 40-pound leaders.”

Capt. Kurt Rivard: “We have more striped bass being caught today than I can remember in my 31 years of fishing. In regard to line … I now use braid exclusively. With all the stretch in monofilament line I use to have to run the length of the boat to set the hook. Braid is much more responsive. We have successfully used longer leaders to catch larger fish.  Maybe that’s because with a longer leader the fish doesn’t see the sinker.”

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “The striped bass bite from Westerly to Narrow River seems to be on sand eels with peanut bunker being the predominate striper forage west of that. Customers are catching nice sixed slot fish.” “The bluefish bite had been off a bit with the big blow we had but things improved once again this weekend. The striped bass bite continues to be the best I have seen in twenty years off Newport, Charlestown, Pt. Judith all coastal areas and Block Island are hot,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren. “Fred DeFinis and I continue to catch nice slot sized fish in the Bay live lining Atlantic menhaden.” said Paul Smalec of Portsmouth. “We saw a decline in bluefish in the Bay but things are starting to pick up with customers catching some nice fish in Bristol Harbor this weekend. Skipjacks are starting to come around in our coves and harbors too.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup. “The black sea bass bite is off with anglers working a bit to catch nice keepers. If you want to catch large fluke consider making the trip to Block Island. The East Fishing Grounds (three miles east of Block Island) have been yielding some nice fish,” said Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “The scup bite has been good at Save the Bay, Sabin Point and Rocky Point in the upper Bay.

John Littlefield said, “Customers fishing the Jamestown (west) side of the Newport Bridge have been doing well with black sea bass, even blue fish, drifting in sixty feet of water.  The fluke bite there is slow.” I fished off Newport last week and the weekend for about five days. The black sea bass bite there was excellent with anglers limiting out on nice size fish. The fluke bite was just OK with us returning with three to four fish per trip.

Bluefin and yellowfin tuna, chub maceral, Wahoo and bonito.  “The first bonito have arrived and there are plenty of chub mackerel surfacing too for anglers to cast too.” said Henault of Ocean State Tackle. Sullivan of Lucky Bait said “The tuna bite is on south of Block Island (about ten miles out) with some giants mixed in with mahi in the area too. The Cox Ledge area has been producing too.” 

Anglers Paul Boutiette and Curt Shumway fished The Dump (south of Martha’s Vineyard) Sunday for bluefin tuna. No tuna but they hooked up with at 36-inch Wahoo. Paul said, “We trolled for mile after mile when midway in The Dump my pole suddenly lit up screaming line out. I was on, and line kept stripping off the reel. Curt was clutch to pull in the idle lines on the outriggers. I did not want to tighten the drag too much for fear of breaking the line or pulling the hook.”

Freshwater fishing has been slowed by warm water and the availability of large shiners. Henault of Ocean State said, “Al White a customer fished a night with night crawlers for largemouth at Waterman Lake as shiners were not available and he caught a few nice largemouth. The thing is with these dry conditions not much is washing into our lakes and ponds so the fish are eating just about anything.”

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


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here