Author: Captain Mike Littlefield
Trophy Night Time Stripers
Block Island has earned its reputation as a striper-fishing destination many years ago. These days, her waters draw plenty of charter boats and recreational fishermen, who troll, jig and drift for stripers using live eels. At the height of the season, it’s not unusual to see a hundred boats working the waters near Southwest Ledge at one time. Once the sun goes down, however, most of the boats head back to port. And under the cover of darkness, some truly huge stripers move in to feed around the rocky shores and beaches of the Block.
My favorite time to fish Block Island is in the dark of night. But there is more to this night fishing then just throwing off the lines and heading to Block. You need to do your research on tides and weather before you leave. I like to plan to leave the dock ( Portsmouth RI) 2 hours before the slack tide at Southwest Ledge. Lots of other Captains go by Range of tide, I personally like to use the actual stage of the current.
Tidal currents occur in conjunction with the rise and fall of the tide. The vertical motion of the tides near the shore causes the water to move horizontally, creating currents. When a tidal current moves toward the land and away from the sea, it “floods.” When it moves toward the sea away from the land, it “ebbs.”
Make sure you have an accurate weather forecast before you leave the dock, Many of stories I hear are people who do now know how the wind direction will affect you at Block Island. Waves at a height of 3-5 feet with a frequency of eight seconds or less can toss a boat and make fishing very unpleasant, if not impossible. If its blowing SW 25-30, Stay home if you do not have the knowledge and seamanship skills
The most popular areas to fish, during both the day and the night, is the Southwest Ledge. One extremely important note: Part of the ledge lies in federal waters, which are off-limits to striped bass fishing. Pay close attention to your chartplotter, and if you are targeting stripers, only do so within the state boundary.You will see a lot of boats over the EEZ line at night. Don't be tempted.
Trolling with wire line and vertical jigging will produce fish, but far and away the most popular and productive big-fish technique is drifting live eels near bottom structure.Southwest Ledge is a massive area, so it’s important to use your electronics to narrow down specific pieces of structure and rock piles that are holding fish. The entire stretch, from the shallower, rocky area between the shore and the number “4” red can out to the 3-mile line can be productive.
Eels are the only live bait you need for a night trip to Block Island.. Eels have a lot going for them besides their propensity for catching stripers and the yellow eye devils ! . They are incredibly hardy, require little in the way of care, and a fresh supply is usually no farther away than the local bait shop.
Hooking an eel is somewhat easier said than done, especially for the novice. Eels are no fun to handle. They're unbelievably slippery and have a way of slithering out of your hands, no matter how firmly you grab them, which makes it difficult to get one on a hook.
When drifting live eels for striped bass in fast currents, or on fast drifts when sinkers are needed, we recommend a 6’6″ to 7′ Crafty One Custom conventional rod with a fast to extra-fast action.. We recommend loading the conventional reel with 50lb Bullbuster braid attached to a 5ft length of 30-50lb Bullbuster fluorocarbon leader using a 75lb-110lb barrel swivel. The rig is completed with a 5/0 or 6/0 offset style circle hook or J Hook. An egg sinker just large enough to allow the angler to keep the eel just off the bottom should be used. I like to use a fish finder rig so I can swap out bank sinkers without retying.
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