Fall Fishing in South County
Autumn is a great time for fishing from shore along the South County coast. Schools of fish cruise the shoreline, coming within reach of novices and experts alike as they follow the smooth sand beaches that serve as fish "highways" for the fall migration. Here and there, natural structures interrupt the highways, rerouting the fish to create concentrations of different species among the points, rock piles, sandbars, and sloughs. Because these natural structures harbor baitfish, the sportfish tarry to find food. Anglers can tell by the flocks of diving seagulls that baitfish are plentiful and gamefish are actively feeding. Point Judith, Deep Hole, Watch Hill, and Napatree Point are some of the most familiar areas that lure both fish and anglers for good hunting.
Detours along the migration route also promise productive fishing. Breachways at Charlestown, Quonochontaug, and Weekapaug ponds distract migrating fish with opportunities for resting and feeding. The travelers' respite rewards anglers with access to a generous variety of edible species, from the large striped bass to the smaller scup.
For some of the most popular recreational species, good fishing means timing the outing to match fishes' feeding schedules. Dawn and dusk are prime times to fish for striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish. Daylight hours assure better success catching species such as tautog and scup.
Lures and bait are equally effective for attracting fish, and making the best choice is a part of the adventure. Swimming plugs, metal squids, poppers, and bucktail jigs are favored lures for game fish during the fall migration. Options for bait include sea worms, clams, and squid strips, which entice scup all along the South County coastline. Crabs, clams, or mussels work well for blackfish or tautog lingering around rocky areas. Squid, eels, and cut menhaden are morsels of choice for both stripers and bluefish.
Rhode Island has some of the best surf fishing in the United States, and the South County coastline has easy access to great fishing locations. Weekend anglers can cast a leisurely line from a breachway jetty. Kids can discover the thrill of that telltale tug from the safety of a sandy beach. And hard-core rod-and-reelers can reap the best of autumn's bounty from their own undiscovered fishing spots.
By David Beutel and Tony Corey, Rhode Island Sea Grant
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