Many anglers believe the best time to fresh or saltwater fish is before a storm… for example in the summer before a cold front moves in. They believe the fish feel the difference in barometric pressure… the front moves in, the pressure drops and it triggers a feeding frenzy. I guess the fish sense bad weather so they eat while the eating is good. Many also believe that during and after a storm fishing is not good as the water is turbid and cloudy so fish cannot even see the most attractive bait.
However, sometimes fishing after a storm is good. Just like any other time, the right time to fish depends on variables such as water temperature, water movement and clarity, structure and most importantly bait in the area that fish can feed on. Safety is the most important thing to remember when fishing before and after storms. I head for shore if the weather is threatening, if on shore do not take any risks fishing near fast moving high water or surf that is unpredictable. Wait until things calm down.
Fishing can be good after rain storms, tropical storms, even hurricanes like Sandy… once again, the quality of fishing depends on variables. For example, flooded areas create new fish habitats with a new food supply of insects, shrimp, shell fish and small fish that arrive with the water. These flooded areas and waters adjacent to them can become good fishing areas as the water starts to recede.
Fishing after storms has been good for shore, near coastal and Bay fishermen.
Anytime you can get close to inlets, the shore or underwater structure you will do well. Fishing is good at inlets and outflows because water levels are high due to rain, abnormally high tides and heavy surf. Once water rushes out of rivers, bays, and inlets, bait that may have sought refuge up inlets gets tossed around as they leave for open water where larger fish are waiting.
Other contributing factors to good fishing after storms are geography and storm patterns. For example, with storm winds coming out of the southwest… bait, crabs, oysters, mussels, clams, etc. get crushed and pushed to the opposite shoreline or get hung up on ridges. These areas become prime feeding grounds for hungry fish, particularly tautog and bass this time of year. Good idea to try clams and split crabs as bait when fishing after a storm in these areas.
During the hurricane season a couple of years ago I asked some noted local anglers what they thought about fishing after storms. Here is what they had to say. Fish the opposite shoreline after a storm and you are more likely to catch fish because the bait is there said Steve McKenna of Cranston, an associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters in North Kingstown. Steve said, "I like to fish the fist clearing wind after a big storm once the sea settles down a bit… I caught my last three 40 lb. striped bass after storms." Captain Rich Hittinger, Rhode Island Saltwater Angler Association (RISAA) vice president said, "At the end of the season, storms have sometimes sent the fluke packing to deeper water with no significant bite until the following spring. It also can chase the giant tuna out of here for the season, but you can only wait and see what happens." Last year Mark Pietros commented about cod fishing after a storm on the RISAA blog, "I went out… a couple days after a rain and wind storm. It wasn't a hurricane but the seas were pretty bad a few days before. When we went out the "weathermen" were calling for small craft warnings. The seas were actually one foot or less, it was a great day. We had all the cod action we could handle along with a few haddock, pollock and the biggest hake I have ever seen….I have been out several times after storms and have had good luck when fishing in deeper water."
Two additional theories about fishing after storms: first, big storms do not necessarily bother fish in deep water, so bottom fishing offshore for tautog and other species may not be affected at all. Secondly, with fish not feeding much during a big blow they are very interested in eating as soon as things clear. Both fresh and saltwater anglers have related success using surface plugs once winds settle down as water throughout the water column may still be turbid and cloudy after a storm even though the seas have calmed. Surface plugs splashing around on the surface will likely get the attention of hungry fish.
Where's the bite
Fishing is just starting to pick up after the Sandy. Every indication is that tautog fishing is still good and that striped bass fishing will improve as the water clears.
Tautog. Angler Ken Robinson reports fishing after the storm on Saturday, "Fished Hope Island from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Slow bite. Five keepers." Then he fished Monday at Coddington Cove and caught eight keepers. Ken said, "Bite very slow…Three guys and only eight keepers but great fun." Prior to the storm Joe Daniels of Warwick said, "Found a fantastic hole on Hope Island last Thursday… one tautog ate at LEAST a half-quart of crabs - kept on missing the hook-up… (I) tied on a fluke hook and as soon as I dropped it I hooked him… a beautiful fish (at) 21". Lary Norin and Rick Sustello report a good tautog bite off Narragansett this weekend landing six keepers in 30 feet of water. Ken Ferrara of Ray's Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, "Customers are catching tautog on the humps off Brenton Reef. Good spots in the Bay include Coddington Cove, General Rock, Rocky Point, Plum Point Light, Hope Island and Despair Island." John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle, Riverside, RI said, "The short to keeper ratio is still not good in the upper bay." About ten sorts to every keeper.
Striped bass and blue fish. John Littlefield of Archie's Bait, said "A customer caught eight nice striped bass in the 12 to 18 pound range drifting eels at night on a tide change in the Warren River." There are bluefish around too. Littlefield said, "An 8 to 10 pound bluefish was caught this week right at Hemenway's Restaurant in Providence." The fish was caught in the Providence River outside the restaurant, not in the kitchen of the restaurant. Corey Smith caught a 35 pound striped bass in Mt. Hope Bay Sunday. He put an eel out while tautog fishing and the bass took it.
Squid have been making a run in Newport… at the usual places including the Goat Island bridge said John Littlefield of Archie's Bait.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there's more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.