Prior to July 2011, if someone had told me that you could catch fluke to 6 pounds and black sea bass to 22” in the middle of Narragansett Bay, in 30’ of water, at the height of summer, I would have said they’d been sniffing too much bunker oil. However, when the person making such claims is veteran guide Capt. Jim White of White Ghost Charters, the credibility factor rises considerably.
Still, I had to see for myself, so on a gorgeous bluebird morning we set out from East Greenwich, armed with an arsenal of light-tackle setups and White’s secret weapon—his 10-year-old grandson, Devin, also known as DJ.
While many of the other boats leaving Greenwich that day turned south toward greener pastures, White headed for a spot deep inside Narragansett Bay, not far from where he and I had taken some nice stripers earlier in the season. As the 21’ Triton center console settled off plane, the Lowrance SideScan Sonar began to show a big rocky ledge rising from the bottom in 30’ of water, along with a thick school of bait hovering above the structure. Water temperatures were in the mid-70s, and there wasn’t another boat within 2 miles of us.
As we set up a drift, I got another surprise: White’s bottom rig was no more than a 2-ounce jighead rigged with a Berkley Gulp! artificial shrimp lure. The jig was tied to a 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, connected to 30-pound braided line. That was it…no droppers, no natural bait, no 3-way setups.
The bite was slow for the first half-hour or so, as the wind was opposing the incoming current, but as soon as the water began to ebb, we began hooking up routinely. Every single drift we made over the small ledge yielded a fish of some type, including a 5-pound fluke and a 3-pound sea bass that I would have been happy to catch on any trip. By the end of the 4-hour trip we had taken over 25 fish, mostly undersized fluke and black sea bass. Surprisingly, we did not catch any bluefish, although White has taken them on occasion, along with scup, sea robins and tautog.
The Gulp! Baits were remarkably effective. It really didn’t matter what kind we used. During the day we dressed our jigs with shrimp, strip-style, and sand eel Gulp! Baits, and the fish ate them all.
What makes this style of fishing extra fun, especially for kids, is the light gear. A basic 7’ light-tip rod and small conventional reel loaded with 30- to 50-pound test braid is all you need. Jig sizes can range from 1- to 2-ounces, with heavier weights called for when the current or wind picks up. A drift sock can help slow the drift in strong winds.
While White doesn’t know that other spots featuring the same type of bottom structure inside the Bay would yield the same type of action, it’s certainly worth investigating if you have the time and patience. You just might be surprised by what you find, and you’ll save a whole bunch of fuel in the process.
To book a trip with Capt. Jim White, or to order his book on catching monster shallow-water stripers, check out his website: White Ghost Charters.
Capt. Jim White’s Monster Shallow Water Stripers sells for $15.95 and includes the following chapters:
- Feeding Stations
- Fishing Tidal Rivers
- Don’t Forget the Rubber
- Under The Cover of Darkness
- Striper Myths and Tales
- Tides and Currents
- Big Bait-Big Fish
- Noise and Sound
- Fishing Points
- Flats Fishing
- Fishing Live Bait
- Fly Rod Stripers
- Surf “A Moment In Time”
- Surf Fishing Thoughts
- Fishing with Lefty Kreh and other Pros
- Working with Your Captain
- Pro Interviews
- Kayak Fishing
Check out this related article: Narragansett Bay Bottom Fishing Surprise