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Noreast Saltwater Magazine
Striped Bass Migration May 3 2009
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Striped Bass Spring Migration
May 28, 2009
By Bob Creedon
Article # 4

"Quonny Pond" is one of seven salt ponds that lay between Watch Hill Point and Point Judith, RI. It is the deepest and cleanest of all the ponds in the South Counties of Rhode Island. " SoCo," as it is referred to by natives and visitors alike, is in the eastern most portion of Long Island Sound. In May and early June, Winnapaug, Quonochontaug and Ninigret Ponds host clam worm hatchings that are moon driven because of extreme high and low tides. They also are beginning to produce this year’s young sand eels. I spotted a few on a flat Sunday afternoon. Clam worms and sand eels are major striped bass food in the northeast. They and squid begin to fill the back bays and cover the flats to feed striped bass, blue fish, fluke, weakfish, and just about any finned or clawed creature in the sea.

This year, today May 24, is the date of the new moon. Tidal exchanges all along our coast will be the lowest and the highest for the month of May during the warmest part of the month. Sunlit days, that correspond with low tides, will allow the dark mud patches in the ponds to warm and heat up the shallow water. The combination causes clam worms to swarm out of the mud. It also triggers millions of sand eels to school up in the back bays, and move out to the coast.

Last Thursday night, John Wolf of Cranston and Charlestown, RI, was kayak fishing along Quonny Pond’s northern shore when the water around him began to boil with life. 2-inch long pink and white clam worms began to swim and twitch all around him. He was fly fishing an all white Clouser fly on his 9 weight rod. The first fish caught and released was a 27-inch striped bass. He caught 6 more striped bass from 12 to 24-inches in the first half hour of the spawn.

For the past 4 years I have rented a cottage from John in an attempt to fish a worm hatch. The past three years were not good. All three attempts were focused on the first full moon in May and all were doomed to fail by cold weather and high winds. The old saying "It costs money for a good education" sums up my learning curve on catching bass during a worm hatch. This year John Wolf was kind enough to allow us to start our 2009 quest during the last week, new moon period, in May. We arrived on Friday and our group finally scored its first ever striped bass while fishing flies during a worm hatch. A cold front moved in during Saturday and we caught a few small bass. Most bass we observe were lethargic, and waiting for the evening hatch to come off. The cooler water held up the hatch and we only saw a couple of small worms wiggling on the surface. Sunday night has been mixed with rain and thunder. I have faith that some time between now and Friday morning, we will truly hammer the bass as worms gallivant around us.

Robin Nash and her husband Jeff own Quonny Pond Bait and Tackle. It is at the intersection of southbound Route 1 and Route 216 between Charlestown and Westerly, RI. She, Jeff and George are first rate and their shop is well equipped. Their telephone number is 401 315 2330. They have custom made plugs and casting eggs from local carvers. They carry fresh and frozen bait and you can pick up a local tide chart that reports the tides for Weekapaug Point. The lag time between the high tide outside and inside the ponds can be two to three hours. The larger the pond, the longer it takes to empty. Robin received a fishing rod and reel found by an honest angler at Blue Shutters. She is holding it for the owner, should he or she read this report. We wish Robin and Jeff all success in their new venture. They are quality folks.

The winners of the Certified Marine Services Kids Fishing Tournament, in Connelly, NY, were: First Place - Samantha Kelly, Highland Falls, NY, with a 12-pound, 6-ounce striped bass. Ann Marie Gibbons, of Poughkeepsie, NY, took Second Place with her 12-pound striped bass and Thomas Neal came in Third with a 10-pound, 6-ounce striped bass. There were more than 80 participants in this year’s tournament. They all won something, and were fed at the party afterward. Sharon Jones said that the Kingston area of the river, finally started producing 30 and 40-pound striped bass. She said "The stripers are still here! It took a while for those big stripers to show up, but it was worth the wait." The water temperature has been bouncing from 58 to 62-degrees in the Kingston area. Sandworms have been the prime bait this week, and herring are still spawning.

20 miles up the river, Tom Gentalen, River Basin Sports, Catskill, NY, reported that striped bass fishermen are saying that the fishing is still good from Kingston to Coxsackie, NY. Pat Dutkiewicz of Port Ewen, NY, caught a 44.5-inch fish, while trolling a Rapala below Kingston along the western shore. This fish ties him with Dan Fitzgerald for sixth place in the striped bass contest. It was a great looking fish and weighed 48-pounds, 4-ounces. Pete Longo’s 46.75-inch fish was from the Malden area. The Malden section of the river has consistently produced big fish year after year. Two years ago, the 2007 River Basin Sports shop record 48.5-inch striped bass, was caught by Jeremy Phillips near Malden, NY. Tom reviewed the data he has collected on the 24 striped bass checked in this season. Tom divided the river into 5 separate regions: 1) Norrie Point, Black Creek, Esopus Meadows; 2) Kingston, Rhinecliff, Glasco, Saugerties; 3) Malden, Cheviot, Catskill; 4) Hudson, Stockport, Coxsackie; 5) north of Coxsackie. The results of this review were:

Area 1 - Esopus Meadows - produced 12.5% of the catch
Area 2 - Rhinecliff - had 25%
Area 3 – Catskill - had 37.5%
Area 4 – Hudson - had 20.75%

Area 5 - Coxsackie north - had 4%

The seven striped bass leading the contest came from three locations, Esopus Meadows, Rhinecliff, and Catskill, each produced 28.6% of the totals. The Hudson area had none, and only one was caught north of Coxsackie, NY. The earliest of the big fish arriving tend to be caught in the Catskill area and then, about mid-May, the southern section around Esopus Meadows starts to produce bigger fish. The study, and its statistics, are antidotal and only concern the 24 striped bass registered and measured in Catskill, NY. There are numerous spawning reports coming in this past week . One spawn was reported in front of the Catskill launch ramp a couple of days ago. Lots of smaller male fish are being reported, along with some stripers in the 20 to 30 lb. class. This action, which really got underway this past weekend, extends all the way from Kingston to Coxsackie, NY. Reports from further downriver tell us that good sized schools of large stripers are still entering the river to spawn. The best fishing in some areas may come to an end soon, but there will be plenty of late arriving striped bass for another week or so.

Don Mac Gillivary at Larry’s Tackle in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, reported that island surf anglers are catching striped bass over 30 pounds. This morning, he weighed in a 37-pound, 7-ounce striped bass caught by Morgan Taylor. Morgan won the pick up truck last fall by weighing in an over 50-pound striped bass during the 2008 Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Blue Fish Tournament. Julian Piper caught a 32-pound, 4-ounce striped bass. Tony Jackson had the biggest striped bass caught this week, in what is becoming a spectacular season at Martha’s Vineyard. All three fish were caught at night, from the beach, using plugs. Tony’s fish weighed 39-pounds and 9-ounces. Don said he had not heard of any worm hatches on the island so far this season. My sources tell me that the best pond for clam worm hatches on MV is Lake Tashmoo. I’m betting that they will occur in the next couple of days. All of the herring runs on Martha’s Vineyard are active. Several of the enclosed salt ponds were opened this spring to allow brackish water to flow out and fresh sea water in to reinvigorate the ponds. This process allows herring to enter and spawn in the freshwater creeks that flow into the ponds. The West Tisbury Great Pond has been open about three weeks and the run has been packed with herring. Lagoon Pond has a good run all the way in the back. If you want to try your hand fishing a clam worm hatch, look for darker patches under the water. They will guide you to the mud banks. The new moon on May 24th, will cause extreme high and low tides. The extreme ebb and flow began two or three days before the 24th and will persist for a couple of days into this week.

Memorial Day honors the Americans who died defending this great land. Support our troops as they continue to defend us from fanatics on battlefields across the world. God Bless Them All!

Certified Marine Services – 10th Annual kids Tournament

Samantha Kelly - 1st Place – 12-pounds, 6-ounces

Ann Marie Gibbons - 2nd Place – 12-pounds.

Thomas Neil – 3rd Place – 10-pounds, 6-ounces



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