New England! A Kayak Anglers paradise. From the Penobscot River in Bangor, Maine to Calf Pasture Point and Town Pier in South Norwalk, Connecticut. We have every type of water imaginable. Rips, marsh, rocky shorelines, islands, bluffs, flats and so much more. Pick your poison. Do you feel like flyfishing for that linesider or how about tube and worming a rocky shoreline? Some of our home waters has a little of everything. And if we want a change of scenery? No problem! Car top to a new destination. We can all agree that the kayak, has given us a whole new outlook on how to fish and pursue Striped Bass. Many of us here were surfcasters and found the kayak as that perfect platform to get to where the fish are in a silent and subtle way. In this article we will take a look at some of the many locations around New England, discuss tactics, and experience the enjoyment from NEKF members perspective in the pursuit of our most prized fish, Lubina Estriada or Striped Bass!
New Hampshire Coastline:
Submitted by NEKF Member "Hooked"
Don’t let the short coastline fool you. There are plenty of options for the NH striper fisherman.
In addition to the rocky coastline that reinforces the Granite State nickname, you will find sandy beaches, inlets into salt marshes and harbors, herring runs, offshore islands and most notably an inland body of water known as Great Bay, fed by the Piscataqua River, famous for it’s deep water and ripping current. As with many other regions, you are limited more by parking than by almost any other factor.
The season is a bit shorter than our neighbors to the south but when it’s on, NH has some of the finest striper fishing around. Soon after word gets out that bass are in the Merrimack, I’ll head to the Hampton Estuary. While shore-based anglers are shoulder-to-shoulder a couple miles to the south, hungry stripers are filling the marsh. The water warms quickly over the mud bottom and dropping tides will flush bait into the channels. In springtime afternoons, this can make for constant action, either from the kayak or from the sod banks above.
Small soft or hard baits seem to be the ticket and though much of the early action comes from short bass, plenty of keeper size bass take up residence in the estuary. Seacoast Kayak is located on the Salisbury side of bridge, at the mouth of harbor, and there is launch spot nearby that offers access to the estuary and through the mouth to the ocean.
If the estuary is not producing and seas are calm, there are a couple of areas of submerged rocks about 100 yards straight outside and to the north of the harbor entrance that might be a worth a try. The water drops from 8 feet to 20 feet on the outer side of the structure and it’s a perfect area to drag a tube through.
Once I get a couple trips under my belt, I’ll head to Great Bay. Great Bay is like the Hampton Estuary on steroids. Bigger water, stronger current, more bass. In the early part of the season, the best action is with bass keying on herring. Get your topographical maps out and explore. The feeder-rivers are home to spawning grounds for herring so break out the Sluggo’s and topwater plugs and head to the dams. Launch sites can be found in Durham at Adams Point or the Town Landing as well as spots in Greenland, Exeter and Dover. Pay attention to the tides since the bay empties and fills twice a day. Starting in June, the tube & worm is the sure-fire method day or night. Suds'n Soda Sports, a bait and tackle shop in Greenland could probably provide more advice as you are stocking up on worms and eels.
Although there are plenty of fish in the bays, I prefer the coast. If you could create a location that is perfect to explore by kayak, chances are you would come up with a place like New Castle, an island-town at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Bordered on the north edge by the river with it’s heavy current, with the eastern ledge facing open ocean and the west and south featuring a protected harbor with flats, mussel beds and a salt marsh with tidal creeks, this area offers ample choices for all striper anglers. Launch from Goat Island, or from Odiorne Point in neighboring Rye, and you have access to areas that will keep you in fish from the first school bass in spring to the last cows of the fall run.
After the striped bass arrive, but before the bluefish show up in force, dense schools of mackerel can be found in the deep water off Portsmouth. In the coming season, my plan is to fuel the jealousy of my boat owning friends by jigging up some bait and live lining it in the rugged shallows around Odiorne Point and Seal Rocks. They may have an easier time getting the bait but I know from experience that they can’t get anywhere near the structure I can by kayak.
There is so much more available to the NH striper angler, but part of the fun is figuring it out by yourself. It’s time to go fishing.
Launching area for New Castle, NH:
Massachusetts Plum Island "Joppa Flats"
Submitted by NEKF Member "Bluefish"
From my house it is a short walk to the old boat ramp on Water Street.
I really enjoy walking through the oldest part of Newburyport early in
the morning, or after most people are comfortable in their homes, with
my yak to and from a trip on Joppa Flats. I've gotten plenty of looks
and questions, and even a few offers of beer on these treks. Sometimes
I bring a fish home for my family and friends that always gains the
curiosity of the kids I come across. I meet people on their way to
work, walkers, joggers, and you name it. The one thing they all want
to know is "where are you going fishing?" "Joppa", that's my answer.
Joppa Flats is part of the estuary at the mouth of the Merrimack River.
It is only one of the many great spots to fish in the Great Marsh.
The Great Marsh stretches from Hampton, NH to Gloucester and it is the
largest contiguous salt marsh in New England covering over 25,000
acres. I start fly fishing in late April-early May and finish the
season in October. I will fish from Deer Island up river by the Chain
Bridge, all the way to the Basin at Plum Island Point. However, I
spend the majority of my time on Joppa Flats. Stripers are the target
but I do go after the bluefish that move in during August to keep the
To access Joppa you can launch from the ramp next to the Black Cow
restaurant, the Water Street ramp, Plum Island Point, or the Parker
River Wildlife Refuge. The Water Street site is the most tide
dependent, and I have dragged the yak across the mud to breaking fish.
This is much more fun than hauling out at low tide. Keep an eye on the
tide and the wind. An outgoing tide really starts moving. Once your
hooked up you can be a long way down the river before you know it. A
strong northwest wind on the outgoing will make for a long paddle back
to Water Street or downtown. Hugging the grass will give you some
relief. Also with the limited options to get off the water, sudden
thunderstorms can pose a danger. Boat traffic in the area on weekends
is like being on Route 95. Wake from the channel and boaters speeding
through the flats will keep your attention. Even at night on a high
tide there are many boats motoring in the area. Last summer two boats
collided in a hit and run. Weekdays and early morning or last light on
non-holidays significantly reduces the boat traffic.
On a typical trip I will bring three rods. A 9 foot ten-weight with a
350 grain sinking line, and two 9 foot nine-weight rods. On the
nine-weights I have added a ten-weight intermediate and a ten-weight
floating line. I used the sinking line a lot in May and June to get
under all of the twinkies we had last year. I will also use this line
for the drop offs into the channel where I find holding fish. Half
Tide Rocks by the American Yacht Club is another spot I like to use the
sinking line. With the yak I can sit right in the eddy behind the
rocks and cast to either side into the deeper surrounding water. I use
the floating line on calm days to prospect for fish or when casting to
fish pushing bait over the grass beds along Water Street. Last year
the intermediate was the set up of choice and on which I caught the
majority of my fish. The intermediate line worked very well when
drifting across the mussel beds off of Woodbridge Island in two or
three feet of water. Joppa holds a variety of food sources including
green crabs, grass shrimp, mussels, clams, sand eels, herring, eels,
sea worms, which all move around with the tide to the striper's
delight. In the fly box I carry a variety of clousers and deceivers,
half and halfs, herring and bunker patterns, gurglers, sand eel
clousers, shrimp, Chris Windram's One Fly, and Gartside's Wiggle Worm.
The Wiggle Worm is new and I am looking forward to throwing this sea
worm imitation on the flats. The olive and white clouser with copper
flashabou was my most productive for numbers of fish. White flies
(especially the East Coast Coast) brought about my largest fish. All
of these fish were caught within an hour after sunset on outgoing
tides. Maybe these flies looked like one of the favorite forages of
striped bass, the white Sluggo.
If you go to Joppa try the Salisbury side of the channel from the Ice
Pick (breaker) down river. Bouy 15 always seems to hold fish. Drift
the outgoing tide along the innermost moorings of the American Yacht
Club. Last summer the AYC put in a temporary marker for racing that
held fish for a long time. They must have been checking out the new
structure. The grass by the clam shack on Water Street holds fish on
high tides with a sunset. Woodbridge Island offers many opportunities
all around the island. The Plum Island River empties into Joppa and
the Basin around Woodbridge. Large schools of fish will drop out of
the river and wait for the bait fish to flush with the outgoing tide.
The mussel beds off of Woodbridge has always been a favorite spot
especially when they get exposed at low tide and you can walk and cast
into the deep drop offs. I have had stripers in a foot of water swim
between my legs coming across that flat. The Basin has some nice holes
to fish but tends to get a lot of boat traffic. If you paddle around
the Captain's fishing fleet at Plum Island make sure you don't encroach
on the surfcasters.
June and early July are the peak of Joppa. Once the water heats up
daytime fishing is very slow. In August I tend to fish more at the end
of the day. Bluefish will come in during late July and August so tie
on some 80# leaders or some wire. Late August is when the bunker start
coming down the river. I walk the docks at the marinas to check on
their size and progress down the river. September picks up again but
my time on the water decreases from there through October, but so does
the boat traffic.
There are plenty of places and a variety of times when Joppa is
productive. The area offers a variety of forage, whether it be bait
fish or you for the biting insects. At low tide Joppa might look like
a featureless flat. Once the water starts moving over it though, Joppa
provides plenty of opportunities.
I started this article with the quote "We're everywhere". Picture
yourself arriving at the ramp on Water Street at 4:30 in the morning
thinking that you are the first one there and three guys are standing
around looking at a fish. The guy with the hat looks up at you walking
your kayak and says "the Dark Side, we're everywhere" and hands you a
business card. You know the rest of the story.
Launch area for Joppa Flats:
Massachusetts Cape Ann
Submitted by NEKF Member "GRH"
The area I concentrate my kayak fishing on is Cape Ann. No area has the diversity that Cape Ann does, from the rocky shores of Gloucester and Rockport, close islands, numerous coves, points, jetties, sandy beaches, inner and outer harbor, both ends of the Annisquam River and the tributaries that feed it. Living on Cape Ann offers endless opportunities to locate and paddle into big fish, but it’s the ability to find protection from the wind and waves that makes Cape Ann the ultimate kayak fishing location. Its protrusion into the North Atlantic that forces many migratory fish to pass by or settle in the Cape Ann vicinity, giving anglers opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish.
In the spring the first fish of the year seek out the warmer water of the tidal creeks of the Annisquam River. The shallow muddy bottom warms the water and attracts bait and predators alike. The Little River, Jone’s Creek, Mill River, Goose Cove and Lobster cove all attract school fish starting in May, and best fished during the outgoing tides as bait funnel out of the smaller rivers. Fly fishing, jigs and plastics work well with the fast moving school bass. As May nears the end, larger bass begin to show and I look for them at the mouths of the river. Both ends of the river can be productive, especially the rocks near the Blynman bridge and the sandy holes around the Annisquam yatch club. In late May large schools of mackerel show up and provide large forage for the bigger stripers to chase. Big swimmers and chunk bait works well here, as well as surface plugs at dusk and dawn.. As June progresses, I focus on the rocky coast line for jumbo stripers. The tube and worm is my go to rig once mid June comer around, and I always find bass trolling the rocks off Lanesville, Sandy Bay, Lands End and Black Bess. Look for rocky points or offshore reefs that attract and hold bass during dropping tides.
As summer temps climb and the water enters the 60s, it time to fish the night or go deep. Big fish will move up close to the beach fronts during the evenings, and places like Pebble, Cape Hedge and Wingearsheek all produce nice fish both casting surface plugs and chunking during the cover of darkness. If you don’t like yaking during the night attempt to concentrate on deeper water, like the backside of Thatchers island or off Dogbar breakwater. When things start to get slow, don’t forget the harbors, both Gloucester and Rockport harbors hold fish and early morning bites before the boat traffic picks up. Focus on the docks where commercial boats unload and often dump by catch for lunkers among the pilings.
Once September comes around peanut bunker usually show in great numbers and bass can be found chasing the schools anywhere. Pebble Beach has held impressive massacres during recent years, and the bass tend to pin them in there for several weeks. Don’t overlook the beaches during Sept and the beginning of October, as the smaller bass have moved on, just the big girls are around and everyone is thinking trophies. Small flies matching the peanuts and large poppers seem to hook the active fish when they are keying on schooled bait.
No matter the month or tide, there is always a place to fish off the yak around Cape Ann. I usually look for protection from the wind and fish the leeward coast. During an East wind, I will fish the harbor or Ipswich Bay. Northern winds chase me to Loblolly cove to Braces Cove, and South Western winds I will fish from Straightsmouth Island to Pigeon Cove, or Plum cove to Halibut point. There is always a protected area, so search out the calm water and avoid the swells the come in from the N Atlantic.
Launching area for Essex River in Essex MA:
Massachusetts Boston Harbor
Submitted by NEKF Member "Slappy"
Boston Harbor has just about every structural element that a striper fisherman could wish for: mud flats, deep channels, pilings, river mouths, rock piles, ridges, boulder fields, islands—the list is almost endless. Boston Harbor also has the key that makes fish pile up around the structure: current. Four times a day big tides pour in and out of the Harbor, turning all these areas into feeding stations. Don’t think of structure as just a pile of rocks; think about how structure interacts with the currents.
For the kayak angler, the opportunities are endless because we have the key to getting in tight to where the bass feed. We can paddle to spots shore fishermen can’t reach and we can go into skinny water that would rip the lower unit off a power boat. The key for the kayak fisherman is choosing which structure to fish and keeping our kayaks in the strike zone.
Most of my fishing is done at night and my preference is to cast and drift. This dictates the type of structure that I fish. I look for ridges, rock piles, and boulder fields with strong currents moving over them. Since I fish at night, I don’t follow the birds; I pick my spots and fish them hard; I stay very tight to the structure that I fish. I typically fish in 2 to 15 feet of water and when I fish really shallow, I find myself bouncing off rocks.
So how do you find structure like this? Some spots, like the Faun Bar and the Deer Island rip are obvious, but you need to develop an array of spots to fish when the bite is slow. At night it is difficult to locate spots by reading the bottom—usually it is too dark to see, but you can understand the bottom by watching the surface. Pronounced current lines can show you spots that water funnels through; slick spots can show you where a ridge comes up close to the surface; roils on the surface can mark rocks or groups of rocks. Low tide is an opportunity to mark rock piles and ridges in your GPS. Rocks that are under ten feet of water at high tide are high and dry at low tide. My GPS is full of marks that may only be one or two rocks, but they consistently produce fish.
At night your fish finder is a key tool to locating and staying on structure. As you paddle from spot to spot, keep an eye out for anything unusual, even a slight drop off or change in bottom type can create a holding spot for fish. When you do locate a ridge or boulder field, reading your fish finder is key to staying on the structure. Many Harbor spots have fast currents moving over them and you will not be over the structure for long, keep an eye on the depth and when you are off the spot, don’t keep casting, paddle back and fish it again. Often fish are concentrated on the edges of the structure, either the front or back of a ridge. Take note of where you hit the fish and plan your next drift to focus on that area.
Even if you are a drift and cast fisherman like I am, don’t overlook the power of trolling as a search tool for finding the fish. When moving from spot to spot, I always troll and I pay attention to the areas where I hook up. I often find new spots this way and they are usually structural elements that I missed, often just a change from sandy to rocky bottom. Bass are seldom found alone, when you do hook up on the troll, take some casts in the area to see if you can locate the school.
Learning an area well will significantly increase your success rate. Keep a log book and note the tide and the structure that you fished. Note which part of the tide fished best and which direction the current is going. Some areas around the Outer Harbor can be counter intuitive because eddies reverse the current flow—this is especially true along the shores of Winthrop and Deer Island.
My approach to every Harbor trip starts with a plan. I check the tide charts to see which way the tide is moving, when peak tide is, and when slack tide is. Based on the current direction and the tides, I pick my starting points. I usually have two or three spots that I plan to hit on a particular tide and the spots are usually only a few hundred yards apart. I start by trolling from my launch spot to my first GPS mark and I troll until I am within casting distance of the mark. As I drift through the area I keep an eye on the fish finder to see if I mark any fish and to watch for the edge of the structure. As soon as I drift off the structure I paddle back up and do it again. There are many nights where the fish are only on one part of the structure, usually either the upcurrent edge or the downcurrent edge. It requires hard padding to keep in the strike zone, but it will often pay off with a big fish or a steady bite of just legal fish.
My GPS shows that I typically paddle (and drift) 7 to 10 miles in a four hour fishing session and most of my fishing is done within a mile of my launch spot. I spend very little time fishing off structure, and I am very aggressive about paddling back up to my spots. I will usually do at least four fishless drifts of a spot before I decide to move on, and when I do move on, I will often move a very short distance away so I can return when the tide is a bit higher or lower.
Have confidence in the spots you pick! There may be nothing showing when you first arrive, but as the tide picks up (or slows down) the fish may show. Some of my best nights came after I had pounded the water in the same area for an hour and a half. When the fish arrive a spot can go from dead to wide open, and it often does!
I generally don’t give up on my plan until I have gone fishless for about two hours. At that point I will troll around the structure trying to locate fish. I will do a few passes in what I consider the key holding area, and then move on to another type of structure.
A word of caution: the currents around the Harbor are very dangerous. The Deer Island rip, Hull Gut, the Faun Bar, and many islands sometimes have standing waves and intense currents. These are not the spots for the uninitiated and experienced kayakers will often find the conditions challenging. Be careful!
Launching area for Winthrop (Deer Island):
Massachusetts South Shore:
Submitted by NEKF Member "Ernvaz"
The area of water I have concentrated my kayak fishing has been at the confluence of the Fore River and the Weymouth Back River in Weymouth, MA on the south shore. This area has been very productive for me using some very simple and common techniques. It has many natural attributes that attract and hold fish and provides an easy starting point for kayak fisherman. The area primarily holds Striped Bass from spring through the fall seasons and Bluefish late in the year.
To begin with, the location I mentioned above is sheltered from the open ocean by the long stretch of land that forms Hull. This sheltered area provides a calm body of water for an enjoyable day of fishing. There are many areas to launch a kayak that include Webb State Park, Wessagussett Beach, Abigail Adams Park, and Bare Cove Park. These launch areas will provide parking and access to the two rivers, are a relatively short paddle to reach a few harbor islands such as Grape and Slate. There is also a public boat ramp opposite the Wessagussett Beach with ample parking.
During the spring the Weymouth Back River has a good size herring run. The herring enter the river about mid April and swim up to Whitman’s Pond to breed. As you can imagine the congregation of several hundred thousand herring, or bass candy as I call them, will attract stripers at the mouth of the river and draw them deeper into the river during high tides. Up until this year herring were a favorite bait, but the new regulations have put a stop to catching any herring for this use. Hopefully, that will bring back the population and save such a fabulous resource. Regardless of the ban, the herring are still there, which means the stripers will be right behind them and easily accessible with the right technique. This river also has a population of eels which are an excellent striped bass food source.
I have been very successful fishing this area while trolling the tube and worm from the kayak. It is an easy and productive way to fish that allows you to cover water quickly and find pockets of fish to concentrate on. I have focused on the mouth of the two rivers during the falling tides. The bait fish are pushed out in the current during this time of the tide, so the bass are eagerly waiting just outside the rivers. I have also focused on the several rocky points such as at Webb State Park. These rocks hold fish consistently and are conveniently located near a boat channel. The channel drops off quickly form about 7 feet to 35 feet of water. This steep drop off also tends to hold fish in good numbers. The deeper areas will require a weighted tube to reach the fish along the bottom, but a weight is not necessary in the shallower water. I have also been successful with bucktail jigs with a soft plastic. I have not tried the sluggos yet, but this year I will definitely make an effort to learn to fish this lure. The resident population of eels will probably make the black sluggos very successful.
In conclusion, this area is easily fished from a kayak because it holds fish throughout the year due to its supply of bait and natural attributes. It is easily accessible and provides fish the rocks, bars, and holes fish love to hide in. I hope you give it a try and see you on the water.
Launching area for Duxbury:
Massachusetts Cape Cod
Submitted by NEKF Member "Jigmaster Five"
Cape Cod is a big place, tho. It's hard to narrow it down to just 1 area. There's fish from the Canal to P-town. Fresh and Salt.
For stripers, I fish with arkansas shiner colored slug-gos on Gene Larew High-Tide jigheads in various sizes to mimic the size of the sand eels present (3"-6" or so). Throw in a few swim shads (storm, tsumani, calcutta) in natural colors to match baby bunker or herring. The only big difference between fishing the Cape and Boston is the water on the Cape can be very clear. I almost always use a fluoro leader and sometimes go down to 15 lb test to get the fish to bite. If that doesn't work, I got to 10 lb straight mono with a 4" slug or shad. For the early season schoolies, you can use a freshwater bass rod with 8 lb test and have a ball. At night, the fishing is generally better - the fish are closer and less spooky. But to be honest, I haven't done much kayak fishing at night on the Cape. I can say that from shore, things are much better.
As far as where to fish, the Cape gives you plenty of options. Early in the season (May 1st give or take 2 weeks), the first fish show up all along the South Shore (Menahunt Beach, South Cape Beach, Cotuit, Bass River, Red River are popular spots). A little later, fresh fish will come streaming into Pleasant Bay and move around the Cape and through the Canal. When the water gets hot, the best fishing is on the cooler north side (Barnstable Harbor & Brewster Flats) or backside of the Cape (P-town, Truro, Wellfleet). When the water gets warm, night fishing in the summer on the south side is your best bet - day time fishing can be good for blues and schoolies. In the fall, I just follow the bait and birds which can be anywhere.
Another nice feature of the Cape is there's always some place to get out of the wind and it's almost always windy on the Cape. In the summer, it blows SW almost every day which makes the north side even more desirable. In general, it will be deceptively calm in the morning with steadily increasing winds throughout the afternoon. The seas can blow up in a hurry, so be prepared.
Launching area for Nauset:
Submitted by NEKF Member "kcreeger"
Probably because I first fly fished in salt water there, Quonnochontaug salt pond and its breachway in South County Rhode Island are some of my favorite waters. I don’t think there’s much of a problem in talking or writing about it because it is such a popular and well known place; there are very few beans left to spill about Quonnie. Access is easy and you have a great variety of terrain within quick reach, from the rough and ready front to the quiet of the back pond. That said, you should be aware that because of its state fishing and boating access it is a major put in spot for motor boats. The pond itself has a marina and many homes around it. Weekends, and weekdays in July and August, can be crazy here during the daylight hours. Because you can walk the channel edge and way out onto the flats directly from the parking lot, Quonnie is also a mecca for wading fly fishers and others. On a Saturday evening in June there can be a solid line of fly and plug casters stretched north along the channel drop off. Though I fish it now mostly from a kayak, my first experiences at Quonnie were in the canoe I had used for years dry fly fishing my home water, a big tailwater river, for trout. It’s safe enough to do that at Quonnie but you can still get pretty lost in fog that sometimes comes up with no warning. I’ve been there when recreational yakkers went out for a paddle at sunset only to find themselves shouting for help finding the boat ramp an hour later. Standard safety equipment including GPS, or at least a compass is essential even on the protected inside.
The conventional wisdom at Quonnie that has rung true pretty often for me in the last decade is to fish the outside on the outgoing, and the inside on the incoming. The exchange of water here is real big and bait in the warmer and protected salt pond gets flushed on the outgoing into Block Island Sound where passing game fish can smell it for a long way off. In a yak off the mouth of the breachway you can run into some interesting fishing on the outgoing. It’s even possible to ride the very early outgoing out the breachway to fish the outside and then ride the early incoming back to fish the inside. You really have to be sure of what you’re doing though if you are going to try that stunt because the rips and standing waves are intense when the tide is going full bore. The swell outside needs to be pretty calm as well. It’s basically a lost cause to try to buck the current in the breachway in a non-motorized craft. Also, there are other ways to get at the mouth from the outside without running out it.
For fly fishers, the incoming is really the thing though. For one, it’s generally calmer and less windy on the inside. Then there’s the whole pond dynamic. It’s pot luck, but if there happens to be a good school of baitfish or other forage near the mouth when the tide gets ripping it can get sucked right into the pond where predators will set up on structure to feed. The best situation, and one I try to plan visits to Quonnie around, is when the incoming is happening during the dead of night. The bass are much more likely to feed in the open and near the surface in the dark. Let’s face it, it’s a lot harder to fish deep effectively with fly gear than it is with a tube and worm or a deep diving plug (or bunker chunks and lead!). This and other related handicaps I happily accept as an idiot who only uses flies. One way to deal with it is to fish in the dark, something Daignault asserts we all ought to be doing anyways if not in a boat and fishing near the bottom – even then maybe. Another benefit of the dead of night is that the captains and the fair-weather hardware boys, and even the wading fly guys pretty much abandon the place once real night sets in. One of the best things about the pond is that there’s a huge flat to the west of the breachway mouth and the main channel. Take a look at an aerial photo from Terraserver or Google Earth and you’ll see what I mean. Parts of the flat are exposed on lower tides and much of it stays shallow enough to wade on most tides. A good part of whatever bait is in the flow gets pushed up onto the flat and the game fish will be there waiting. Even on floods that aren’t carrying much forage, the fish will be there on the prowl for a while after the tide gets started. Yak across from the put in and you can pick them off blind casting from shallower water towards the channel. If there’s bait in the flow, all the better. It’s like casting streamers in a river – very cool. Just make sure you anchor holds when you get out to wade!
Conditions change constantly here and you can encounter everything and anything from the most common skunking to incredible frenzies, size twelve isopods in great clouds with hickory shad after them in huge shoals and the cows lurking in the channel ambushing them (time for that 10” streamer), to schoolies and keepers after silversides all over the flats (better have a fly they want – but if you do…) and almost any other situation you can imagine. I once talked with a much better fly fisher than me whose pleasure it had been to tease 40lb bass away from herding bait just off the east flat (lots of other possibilities there, but that’s another story) with a cast of a dozen small dropper flies he would strip out of the bait schools.
Even the outgoing can be interesting on the inside. The flow out is easy compared to the incoming. With so much flat area it can be pretty easy to find an edge with the bass set up lazily in the current taking a morsel every minute or so. Locate them, figure out what they are eating and get a good cast and drift to one and you can be into your backing pretty quick.
In the fall the blues and albies sometimes come in – the blues much more often. You can have great sport chasing pods of blues around the comfortable confines of the pond in easy daylight conditions without much competition during the week. A canoe is still great for that – a high seat to cast from and a dry butt! And the blues sometime don’t seem to care what the tide is doing if there is bait.
The local guru, a kind of kindred spirit to Boston’s Jack Gartside is Kenny Abrams, the author of Striper Moon. There seems to be one of these guys about every hundred miles or so up and down the coast. His web site www.stripermoon.com is worth a visit for sure with its great pictures of baitfish and unique fly patterns.
There is so much great water in South County, more than enough to explore in a lifetime. The front is big and burly and has great possibilities in so many locations if you can deal with surf launches and landings, not to mention the other salt ponds, estuaries, breachways, etc., etc. It’s hard to single out one spot, but Quonnie, because it was the first place I ever fly fished the salt, and because I happened to, out of dumb luck, stumble on one of those all night long blitz in your face kind of times, will always have a soft spot in my heart.
Launch area for Quonochontaug (Quonnie)
Submitted by NEKF Member "Lower"
Rhode Island is home to some amazing striper water. It seems as if everywhere you turn there are places that look “fishy”. To a newbie or visitor it can almost seem overwhelming. What I want to do is to discuss a few spots that are both safe and productive for those new to the area.
When winter finally settles down and I break the kayak out of the cellar, the first place that gets my attention is the Narrow River. The Narrow River is an excellent spot to dust off the cob webs and get into some of the first schoolies of the year. I typically put in at Middle bridge. From here you can paddle up the river, or float out to the mouth. The one thing I have to point out here is the current can get moving pretty good when the tide is heading in or out. Just be prepared to paddle against the current if need be. Although there are some good spots “up river” I usually focus my attention between the bridge and the mouth. Throwing slim plastics on jig heads, as well as, storm type plastics seems to do the best. Look for deep holes along the banks and concentrate your efforts there. If the conditions are good, the mouth is a deadly spot. Eels at night, T&W, and swimming plugs are the ticket. This is a very rocky area that holds big fish. Again, use good judgment when leaving the river into the bay.
The next stop takes us to the Harbor of Refugee. This spot looks great on a map, but in person is quite large. Determine which area you would like to spend your time and try to launch accordingly. The best part of this harbor is that it is protected on all sides, creating a nice place to paddle. The west wall is the most talked about spot. Again, a great early season spot for schoolies. I have to say though; this gets less of my attention. I typically spend my time on the other side of the harbor. When looking at a map there are 5 jetties that come out from shore. To the west of those jetties is a big boulder field that ends in a mussel bed. This is a big bass area. Dragging eels at night can be deadly. This is also a great spot to throw big wood. A danny swimmer at first light over the boulder field can be very exciting! Throwing a “howdy” type plug or pencil popper when the sun comes up can also be productive. I hope to spend more time fishing this area this year.
One of the greatest spots in RI for a nice day on the yak is Quonochontaug pond. This is a salt pond formed behind Quonny breachway. For a tidal pond, it has tons of structure. There is a parking lot next to the breachway and the launch is a breeze. From the launch there is a channel that runs out. You can start fishing right in the channel. T&W, flies, plastics all work here. Just be sure to get your offerings down. Since it is a channel the fish tend to hold close to the bottom. Off to the right of the channel is a nice rocky area with a deep hole directly in front of it. Bass tend to hold in this area. Off to the left of the channel is a nice flat. It’s separated into two by another channel. Great place to find fish early in the morning and late at night. Working a clouser on the flat is a good bet. I have seen some nice fish caught that way. If you continue past the flats towards the back of the pond you’ll see a narrowing of the land. This narrowing holds fish. Gotta get deep though. They tend to hold on the bottom. The back of the pond has some great structure. There are visible rocks and a nice boulder field. T&W on the far side of the rocks always produces. I also like to throw poppers in and around the rocks. Don’t ignore the shore line, a number of fish have been pulled from there. The back part of the pond is quite and beautiful. The pond is also great in the fall. The pelegics will show as well as a number of great blue fish blitzes.
Speaking of blue fish, the last place I’m going to mention is Barrington beach. Typically a nice easy launch right off the beach. This beach fishes well all summer, but fall is where it’s at. If you’ve never sat in a kayak in the middle of a bluefish blitz, you haven’t lived. It’s unbelievable. Bluefish crashing everywhere. Fish knocking off the side of the yak, chunks of bait fish floating all over. Ton’s of fun. I recommend launching early in the morning. I like to be on the water before day breaks. Then right as the sun comes up, so do the bluefish. Try to see how the bluefish are working. Don’t even try to chase them around. They’ll find there way to you. Fish a blitz, then wait. If you see a blitz out in the distance, leave it alone. They’ll come around again. This is the most action packed fishing I know of. Evenings can be just as good.
So that does it. There are thousands more spots along the RI coast, but these should at least get you on the water. Be safe and have fun.
Submitted by NEKF Member "Curley"
I was humbled to be asked to write this as my kayaking experience isn't as long as others who have shown me the short cuts, but as the Riddler told me we all have something to share.
I started fishing for trout and bass as a kid with a neighbor at a local park pond. As a teen fishing fell to the side, but later on I was reintroduced by another friend. I got myself a canoe and would head out to the local ponds and have a ball with the bass. After a few years I jumped up to a small jon boat. The trailer made it easy to get in and out and I learned about boat control and how to read a depth finder.
I would cast to the shore line with one rod and had a shiner on a bobber on the other. I'll be $%#&^% if that shiner got me more fish than the plugs. So I started slow trolling shiners looking for structure and trying to figure out a pattern.There where the ocassinal trips to Meigs Point, but I never seemed to fair well.
Jump ahead to 3 years ago. I was surfing on ctfisherman.com and they'd added a kayak fishing thred.These guys were catching some good fish and it sounded like a hoot.There were links to kayakfishinstuff.com and a local sight Ultimatekayakfishing. I decided on a Tarpon 140, the 160 didn't have a tank well yet. Fished the monthes of July and August the first year and caught more stripers than ever. I was hooked.
The tube and worm was my lure of choice, It fit right into what I did for bass. Find structure and you'll find fish. weather it is rocks, humps or drop offs Don't be afraid of lobster pots, they are there for a reason. I don't mean to go aimlessly threw there spread, but work around them. As I started out I learned an area before I tried another. Now I have a few different places to try when conditiong require a change.
Invest in some electronics they can tell you whats down below. The best advice I can give you is turn off those stupid little fish and learn to read and adjust your unit. Eagle / Lowrance has an excelent tutorial and emulators for some of there units Take advantage of them. They want you to know how to use there equipment. The kayak has the pefect speed to give you a nice fish arch, I've actually called a strike. But remember, In shallow water you are seeing so little of what is down there. Try and find a pattern, are they hitting at 7 feet or are they taking it at 12 feet. How fast was I going? What direction was I going. Be sharp and pay attention to what you are doing and it will bring you success.
Tight lines and Good Diggin!
We hope that you found this article helpfull in the 2006 fishing season. Remember to have fun on the water, the fish will come!