We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Chris Connelly to discuss bottom jigging for ground fish off of Block Island and Narragansett, Rhode Island with the Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure and the Hogy Heavy Minnow Lure. Here's what we learned...
Targeted Species: Ground fish (inshore) - scup and black seas bass
Location: Narragansett, Rhode Island
Due to the late start of the season, a lot of Rhode Island charter captains have missed the early spring schoolie run, including Capt. Chris. Because of this, he's been targeting ground fish with some striped bass and early season bluefish mixed in. There are a few locations where these fish can be found between the north part of Block Island in the rips to the beaches running along Point Judith and the southern facing beaches towards Charlestown and Westerly.
Tides: Coming off black tide after high tide at the start of the outgoing tide for about 1 to 2 hours seems to be the best time to target inshore fish hanging around rock piles and structure. There have been a few situations during slack tide when Capt. Chris will see fish tailing and slurping on the surface, but they won't take any baits offered to them until the tide changes.
It helps to have some tidal movement to cover some ground while drifting as well.
As it's been in most places in the New England area, the fog has been heavy this year. Some mornings, they get lucky with birds which makes it easier to locate fish in the area but a lot of days they run into brutal fog that hangs around until noon. Until visibility is regained, Capt. Chris will troll with bigger umbrella rigs to find the fish and once he locates a school, he'll set up a drift and start jigging from there with Hogy Dancing Diamond Jigs
and Epoxy Jig Lures.
Why This Bait?: Due to the early season bluefish, a lot of the soft baits that Capt. Chris usually uses, such as the Hogy Pro Tail Paddle, were getting chewed up quickly. Because of this, he shifted towards metal lures which both imitate bait in the area, avoid bluefish carnage and help with the heavy tidal current around Block Island. Heavier metal lures, such as the 2 and 3oz jigs, get down quicker and hold position better.
Colors: Silver (epoxy), silverside, olive and green (heavy minnow)
Retrieve: When trolling inshore, Capt. Chris will use larger umbrella rigs to find the fish before setting up a drift, dropping down and jigging. When up around Block Island, he will use heavier metal jigs to drop down to bottom feeding fish and vertical jig them back to the surface.
Rod: St. Croix Tidemaster
Reel: Penn Spinfisher V SSV6500 Spinning Reel
Line: 30lb braid
Leader: Started with 15lb fluorocarbon in the early season and switched to 20lb when the bluefish showed up. More recently, he has switched to 30lb fluoro with a fast clip at the end due to deeper water, stronger current and larger fish (striped bass).