September 2009 Fishing Forecast – Steve McKenna
September 2009 Fishing Forecast – Steve McKenna
September is a time of transition. Beaches officially close, beach gear goes back in the garage or closet, the kids go back to school, it gets darker earlier and earlier, the leaves on the trees begin to change and the tell tale cool winds of fall start to blow. This transition also profoundly affects our fishery too. Most of the fish in our local waters start their movement southward or out into deep, deep waters. This all bodes well for fisherman though because with this movement comes binge feeding. September IS the time to be on the water. Along with excellent fishing, the hot, humid days of summer are gone replaced with cool, brilliant blue sky days and even cooler star filled nights. It is a wonderful time to be fishing and just to be on the water. There is also a sense of urgency that comes over us fishermen this month. September is the beginning of the end. We all should get out as much as possible because Christmas shopping time will be here soon and now is the time to fish. And fish HARD! The following is what is in store for us this coming month. And, before getting into specifics, I would like to introduce yet another new feature in my monthly report. Every month from now on will have a Tip of the Month. Hopefully, the info will be interesting as well as helpful, particularly for the novice fisherman out there. Now, let’s look at the ninth month:
Look for good to excellent fishing this month. Things really get going by about the second week of the month. The all important mullet run usually starts up around the first moon of the month. So start looking for this bait fish in the wash near the 4th. Hopefully it will be as strong as in recent years. Expect the mullet to be around until mid October. Believe me, plug and artificial fishing for stripers can be super when this big bodied bait fish is around. I like to use the both plastic and wooden swimmers which imitate the mullet. The 7inch REDFIN, BOMBER and HANDCARVED LURE work well as do the “Danny” and “Junior” type wooden swimmers from BEACHMASTER, TATTOO, AFTERHOURS, BIGFISH and others will take some serious bass. When the mullet are running stripers seem to hit plugs harder so expect bone jarring strikes. Live and rigged eels also work well and are highly recommended in September. Look for strong mullet runs around the Westport river in Massachusetts and the Narrow River, the Charlestown, Quonny, and Weekapaug Breachways. The inlets themselves are productive as are the areas immediately adjacent to them. For example, the Fresh Pond Rocks just east of the Ouonny breachway can be excellent at this time of year. So can this month’s SPOT OF THE MONTH:
SPOT OF THE MONTH: FIRST ROCK
LOCATION: Narragansett, Rhode Island
DIRECTIONS: Locate Ocean Road in Narragansett and head south. Find Monahan’s dock which is about ¼ of a mile from the infamous “ Towers” on Ocean Rd. Pull in Monahan’s and find a parking spot. Monahan’s is a small peninsula with a medium sized parking lot and a boat launching ramp on the right or north side, and a large cove on the south side. Get suited up and walk towards this cove and follow the rocky shoreline south to the first point to the south. That is First Rock. It’s only a short walk from the parking area. BEST CONDITIONS: High dropping tide and a south west wind. Fish can be taken on all conditions though and the only reason I would not fish this spot is if the wind was howling out of the north east. BEST LURES/BAIT: Live or rigged eels, 3/4 oz. white bucktail jigs, wooden medium to deep running metal lip swimmers, and 5 and 7 inch Redfins or Bombers.
COMMENTS: First Rock is very consistent in the month of September. If you surf fish here a lot this month you will catch a pile of bass. Don’t expect monsters though as First Rock is a “schoolie “ spot. Occasionally, you will hook a decent striper, say something in the twenties, but the average bass will be a couple of inches either side of legal. But, there will be many of them this size if you put in your time. First Rock is one of those places that you can count on for a fish or two after a long night of skunkings at other places. So why not give it a try this month. You will not be disappointed.
Moreover, talking about spots to fish this fall, I would highly recommend that you stick to 4 or 5 proven areas over the next 2 ½ months. Chasing week or older fishing reports will drive you crazy as will driving around from spot to spot trying to cover the entire State of Massachusetts or R.I. and will probably cost you a lot of time and result in fewer bass. Look for consistent action at notable autumn producers even if they are well known and if you know no others. Most think places like Pt. Judith, the Charlestown Breach way and the like are crowed in the fall but you would be surprised. Try to fish during weekday nights and mornings. I bet you will have the place to yourself most of the time and surely there will be fish. If you have a good repertoire’ of places to fish, pick out the 4 or 5 that have been good to you in the past and hit them hard. They will probably continue to make you happy. This is what I do. I have a couple of prime locales in Westport, Little Compton, and Gansett that I hit routinely. I forget about all else unless I get good intel that fish are somewhere else. Otherwise I stick to my plan and I usually catch my share. Why not try doing the same if you don’t have a fall strategy for ‘09. While you are out pounding the surf, why not try this trick to land more fish which is my somewhat clever lead in for
TIP OF THE MONTH-
About 30 years ago when sand eels were ever present, there was a new lure which took the surf fishing community by storm. Surprisingly it was made in England but caught New England stripers when nothing else would. It was called the Red Gill sand eel. It came in three sizes and was made out of rubber. The lure was light so some enterprising surf guys fished them as droppers so as to get them into the strike zone. That is they tied them to a barrel swivel on a short 40 or 50 pound test leader and then tied another main leader to the same snap and attached a larger heavier plug or eel, live or rigged, to the business end of that leader. The heavy plug or eel was cast out and the Red Gill dangled 3 feet in front of the main offering. Surf men felt this whole rig looked as if a big fish ( plug/eel) was chasing a smaller bait fish (Red Gill) as it came through the water. This method started on the Cape in the late 70’s and was deadly on bass of all sizes. Most used the small(4”) or the medium (6”) size and most bass up to 50 pounds hit the teaser. Double headers were not uncommon. I, like everyone else, fished with this rig for about 10 years and did very, very well with it. Then the sand eel population dwindled and the teaser/plug combo died out. I put it on the shelf and didn’t take it off until this season. I did so because of the amazing amount of small sand eels along the R.I. coastline all year. In June, July and August about half of the bass I took were on the Red Gill teaser. I had the best success with the 4 inch model in all white or all black colors. It is amazing just how productive these things can be. I intend to use them for the rest of the season. I particular found them deadly when used in conjunction with a 1 oz , 1 ½ oz or 2oz. Handcarved (aka Blue Shark) Lure. Give them a try. They also work well when there is other types of small bait present too.
Boat bass fisherman have a lot to look forward to in September also. The coastlines of Mass. and R.I. are extremely productive as are the islands of Nantucket, the Vineyard, Cuttyhunk, and Block Island. Don’t forget Fishers of the coast of Connecticut too. All are suspect and time is the only thing that prevents most from fishing them all. If you can find menhaden schools and put a few in the live well, you can count on automatic stripers no matter where you chose to fish them. Live eels drifted in the numerous rips around the aforementioned island will also account for some monster September bass. Also, casting live eels into the stones is another tried and true autumn method. And, if you want to get lazy, try trolling frames (umbrella rigs) on lead core or wire. This will account for many, many fish. No matter what your poison, this is THE month to get in your boat and go. The weather is somewhat predictable and not quite as harsh as October and November. You can fish in comfort and catch as many bass as you can in the following months .
This species will be much more “visible” this month. Look for more blitzes as bait, birds and blues will be seen all over the waters of our area. Boaters should have no trouble finding such encounters and will no doubt catch all the blues they want. Surf fisherman will also get in on some of this great action but with a little less frequency. If you fish the surf during the day, keep those big poppers handy as well as the 2 to 3 oz. metal ready as distance casting may be necessary to reach feeding blues. Fishing snotty weather days will also increase a surf fishermen’s chances of finding all out blitzes. Finally, look for some of the biggest blues of the year to be boated and landed this month and next.
This is also the month to concentrate your efforts on these species both in and off shore. Inshore, Albies are more of a sure thing though showing up all along our coast. A very good place to look for them if you are a small boater or a surf fisherman is around the West Wall area of East Matunuck, Rhode Island. False albacore show up here with some predictability in the morning and late afternoon. There is usually plenty of bait in the area and along the wall itself. Drift along the wall or in the gap with your craft or walk and cast the break wall. I really like a hard southwest wind to push the feed into the wall and create some white water. That seems to be the best recipe for action in this locale. I am a surf fisherman and fish for these speedsters every season. I have had my best luck with the #1 Deadly Dick spoon with fluorescent green tape on it. Or the wooden egg float with a streamer fly attached with 20 pound fluorocarbon. The Rebel jumping minnow in bone color is another top albie producer for me. Blind casting the wall is productive as casting towards breaking fish. Also, this is a great spot to use fly gear for them. I would use at least a 9 weight outfit. One last note; use fluorocarbon leaders! Other good albie surf spots include the Weekapaug Breachway in Westerly, Black point, Hazard and Newton Aves. in Narragansett and the mouth of the Westport River in Massachusetts. If you are boating, try Block Island’s New Harbor inlet. False albacore and bonito can be caught together there.
Look for summer flounder action to quickly diminish this month slowing to a halt by mid month. If you want one or two last shots at these flatties, fish deeper waters and with the same fluke rigs I described last month. Right now, there is some good fishing in 70 feet of water off the Pt. Judith lighthouse. There is one good thing though about Sept. fluke, they tend to be on the big side. SCUP: Scup fishing continues to be good to excellent in September. Why not take the kids out, either by shore or boat, and have some fun. The weather is beautiful and there will be some great action with this species. Sizes will be bigger also. Now is that time to get that 2 to 3 pounder!
Blackfishing really gets rolling in September. Look for increased numbers and sizes as this month progresses. Crabs, particular fiddlers if you can get them, really work well on early fall tautog. These fish offer both the surf and boatman plenty of action. BLUEFIN TUNA: I am really out of my league here but I have to at least mention that this most exciting species should be plentiful and ready for action this month. Fish between 50 and 200 pounds will be available south of Block Island , Stellwagon Bank (off Cape Cod) and in Cape Cod bay. Hopefully, they will show up inshore like they did a few years back. A lot of guys now are using spinning gear for this fish for maximum fun. 30 to 100pound class spinning outfits are showing up in tackle shops all over the R.I./Mass area. Big Van Staal, Shimano, and more affordable Fin-nor spinning reels are being matched with said rods. Most tuna guys are loading up these reels with 50, 65, and 80 pound braid and going hunting. And most whom I have spoken to say that tangling with a mid sized Bluefin on spinning tackle is the ultimate sport fishing challenge. Many of these guys have given up striper fishing for these most challenging fish.
That’s the scoop for next month. Hopefully I covered everything and we’ll all catch a bunch of fish this coming month. Good luck and see you in October, Steve McKenna.