Better late than never.


The month of August normally brings the hottest weather of the year.  To me it sometimes brings the coolest striped bass fishing of the season. Water temperatures are on the rise and will continue to do so until they peak in mid-September.  During this time most of the bait fish that inhabited the tidal rivers and estuaries earlier in the year have filtered out into the bay and along the coast. They are not yet congregated into the large schools normally seen in the fall, but seem to be concentrated into pods or small schools spread here and there.  Many a conversation overheard along the shore during this month will contain “I didn’t see any bait”.  Finding bait is a key ingredient to successful fishing anytime, but in August it seems even more important.

Striped bass fishing  this time of year takes a little more work.  Night fishing in August is usually more productive  than daytime outings and fishing in just one spot is more often than not, fruitless.  Leaving no stone unturned by covering as much water and as many places seems to be the best approach.  I guess you could say hunting them down. The hot, bright sunny days and relatively calm waters seem to drive striped bass out away from shore very early in the day and finds them returning only after the sun has gone to bed.  The best fishing is cusually from an hour before and after sunrise and again in the evening after sunset.  Cloudy days can sometimes lengthen these periods.  A change in the weather can dramatically improve things.  A low pressure system passing along the coast normally brings easterly winds to our shores.  Accompanying the low are overcast, cloudy skies and perhaps rain.  This combination causes the easterly facing shorelines of Narragansett, Jamestown, and Newport to have a slight swell with moderate chop to the surf.  These water conditions produce continuous white water along the rocky shores.  The water does not get too rough or the wind too strong to make fishing difficult and produces almost ideal conditions.  The only thing that could make it better would be to throw a little fog in for good measure.  This change from  hot, clear days and glassy waters can really improve shore fishing.   The best days I have had in August happened when the weather changed as  mentioned.  Of course this scenario holds true at any time during the summer and fall.

Bluefish  can be anywhere in August, from upper Narragansett Bay in search of menhaden or along the coast looking for anything they can chomp on.   August and bluefish go together.  Some good bets for bluefish  in R.I. are: The Sakonnet River, Second Beach, Sachuest Point, and Weaver Cove in Newport; Hull’s and Mackerel Coves and Potter’s Point in  Jamestown; Bristol Narrows and the waters south of the Narrows near Heffenrefer Estates in Bristol RI..  I’ve  had good success with bluefish in these areas in August.   If you should find some Bluefish around don’t forget that most of the time they will hit just about anything.  Try the flies you no longer care about or don’t mind having destroyed and save your best flies for other occasions.  The use of a six inch piece of wire in front of the fly will help you from being cut off.  I tie up some special flies I save just for bluefish.  They are tied on extra long 3/0 hooks.  These hooks are  nearlyt four inches long h and the fly itself is tied on just forward of the bend. The shank of the hook acts as the wire leaderg and any bluefish that tries to  cut through the hook shank is going to need some severe dental work.  What color?  If I had to choose one color for bluefish it would be yellow.

August usually finds our waters teeming with snapper blues.  Locally called “skipjacks” these young bluefish can be found in almost any harbor, tidal river or any other spot there’s food. Just like their big brothers these six to eight inch eating machines are always hungry and eager to strike at just about anything.  By the time they leave in the latter part of September, some will have grown to nearly a foot long. Almost any fly tied on a No. 1 or 2 hook will do.  I like to use calf tail for the wing, as it is just about the right length.  White is a good color choice. If you  top the white  with some olive and/or tan hair  these 1.5 -2” long flies will  work quite well for False Albacore, especially if  there’s Bay Anchovies around..  Caught on fresh water tackle skipjacks  offer excellent sport and these little guys present an excellent chance to introduce a youngster to  fishing.  Besides being caught on spinning tackle, there is no better opportunity to have him catch his first fish on a fly rod.  Their willingness to strike and the numbers that can be caught offer some exciting and fun times. I’m glad I still have some kid left in me because I’m looking forward to fishing  for some snapper blues on my 2/3 weight rod. My dogs love eating Snapper bluefish.

On the freshwater sides of things fishing can be slow in August.  With water temps in local rivers  are high and water levels low. Giving the surviving trout a break is perhaps a wise choice. Bass fishing in August can also be tough in the weed infested ponds in Rhode island. Seeking the shade that heavy  cover provides during the day  bass can be taken in early morning and evening away from the heavy cover. I for one don’t care to try for Black Bass  that live in thick weeds, lily pads or other heavy cover. Hooking up then becoming quickly entangled  in vegetation and  having to paddle over to free the struggling bass is not much fun to me. I prefer  fishing in more open water. Unfortunately Rhode Island doesn’t have many ponds that aren’t weed choked. Maybe that’s why I like Maine so much with their structure laden ponds and lakes that have  relatively little weed . Despite all its ups and downs fishing in  August can be a very productive month, all you have to do is put he time in. That’s probably not a bad idea when you consider that in a little over a month there’s a good chance of the first frost.

Although the first frost  and  is nearly a month away things have already begun to change. These changes are noticeable if you take the time to observe. I have long thought there are two migrations of birds and fish . The first begins  in early August and continues through the month. The second occurs in mid-October and continues into November. This year in during the first week in August several small flocks of cowbirds landed in my backyard in search seeds, grain or small insects. They were no longer  in single pairs with fledglings but mixed dozens of males and females all getting along  just looking for food.  Goldfinches have also  begun to flock together.  Thistle plants ripen during the second and third week of August and their swollen seed heads are  favored by goldfinches. Thistle plants are abundant where I run my dogs and they flush many feeding  goldfinches  while romping about.  Some days I see only  several dozen Goldfinches and other days a flock of a hundred or more. Still in their bright yellow mating plumage the Goldfinches coloration is a pleasant site that I look forward to seeing each August. Purple martins also begin to form small flocks and can be seen assembled on power lines at the same locations each year. They await nature’s call to migrate south to Central and South America where they’ll winter over.  Along the coast small menhaden(peanut bunker) begin arriving in to lower Narragansett Bay around the second week in August. They usually appear in the waters from Weaver Cove in Middletown, RI  south to the Newport Bridge and over to the eastern Jamestown shoreline.  For years you could count on bluefish arriving in the Mackerel cove area of Jamestown during  the second weekend of August.  After a brief stay the peanut bunker continue  south down along Hull’s Cove and Beavertail Pt. in Jamestown RI.  Near the end of the third week in August they will have made their way to the Narragansett, RI shoreline and often enter Narrow River. By months end they will head  out and  they’ll be replaced by migrating finger mullet who filter into  RI waters as August ends.