Fishing Report: The Best Time

Sat, 03/05/2016 - 7:45am

One of the most asked questions for a fishing charter business by customers planning their vacation is “when is the best time for fishing?” The answer to this can be the snarky “anytime is a good time to fish,” to the specific “go to the Poop Chute one hour after the top of the outgoing two days after the June full moon…”

The best time, quite frankly, is whenever there are fish to catch — so the real question is, “When do the fish show up?”

When the fish show up is species-specific and is very much a function of Mother Nature and a myriad of environmental factors. This will have an effect on the migrations of fish around our island and is the ultimate determining factor for when the fish arrive. Two environmental indicators we like to look at are water temperature and forage fish (baitfish). Typically, when the baitfish begin to show up the predator fish aren’t far behind — as long as the temperatures are within their tolerances. As we all know the winter of 2014/15 was bitter cold and, consequently, the striped bass migration was delayed two to three weeks and didn’t get “good” until late June. This year has seen a relatively mild winter, so one would expect a traditional start to the striped bass fishing around mid-May, since the water temperatures haven’t plummeted to 35 degrees (and therefore should warm up quicker). 

Now, if you talk with any of the ‘old timers’ they’ll tell you that striped bass show up when the shad trees bloom, and they’re right, it’s the been most accurate environmental indicator I’ve seen (so listen to your elders!). There is also one non-environmental indicator that comes via the age of social media. By simply using Twitter or Facebook and following the appropriate fishing clubs along the Eastern seaboard, you can pretty much get a play-by-play, fish-by-fish, account of what’s happening, where it happened, and whom it happened with — you can literally follow the migration of just about any species! So when ‘@LongIslandfishing’ lands his first striper halfway up Long Island, get ready.

The dozen or so species of fish targeted by New England recreational fishermen are typically here all summer long. They all migrate; some migrate offshore to deeper water and don’t go far from New England while others migrate in a north/south manner from Maine to the Bahamas. Fluke, flounder, black seabass, tautaug, pollock, and cod have a more inshore/offshore migration pattern. Billfish, tuna, sharks, striped bass, bonito, false albacore, and bluefish have a north/south migration pattern. The inshore/offshore species are typically what we see in April to May followed by some of the north/south species in May through August. The chart below is typically when the species are fishable around Block Island.

This chart is an historical approximation of when fish are around the island, so don’t get bent if the bonito don’t show up July 1 while you’re here on vacation. According to the chart, August and September look to be the best for fishing everything, right? Wrong. Last year stripers left the area in September and the fall run was nonexistent. But, we had a good year for false albacore. Ahhhhh… Mother Nature.  

The best thing to do is to give us a call at Block Island Fishworks for an up-to-date report, and remember, you can’t catch fish unless you have lines in the water.

Catch ‘em up!