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The North Rip at Block Island can be a very productive fishing ground if you understand the bottom contour and tidal flow and how both baitfish and game fish relate to it. Having fished Block Island for several years, I have found this area to be very productive for several species of fish.
The tides at the North Rip flow either in a southwesterly direction or northeast based on the outgoing or incoming tide. Block Island is a vast land mass located about 9 miles from Rhode Island’s coastal shoreline at Point Judith, Rhode Island. The funneling effect of water from Block Island Sound in conjunction with dramatic bottom structure and depth changes provides powerful currents which create the North Rip
The North Rip sand bar extends out from the Block Island shoreline in a northeasterly direction out 1.6 miles until reaching a depth of 65feet.The bottom contour on the east side of the sandbar and the shoreline of the north end of the island extending out to the green lighted buoy has areas of dramatic bottom contour and depth variation. Just east of the buoy, approximately at .50 miles is an area where the bottom rises up quickly from 100 feet in depth to approximately 54 feet. The GPS coordinates of this position is (41.15.543 N 71.33.924 W) From this position and taking a compass heading anywhere from 86 – 157 degrees for another .50 mile is a very productive spot for Bass, Blues and Fluke before the bottom drops off to depths in excess of 100 feet.
There are several types of baitfish that frequent the Block Island North rip. The most common, especially this year, have been sand eels. Sand eels, squid, silversides, and bunker are just some of the other baits that may be found in the rip as well.
Early in the year, the most common and productive pattern is fishing various methods along the natural rip that follows the sand bar from the shore out to approximately 60 feet of water. It is also common for seabirds to be feeding on baitfish in the rip. This is a sure sign that larger fish are actively feeding. Trolling umbrella rigs with artificial sand eel patterns is very effective for Bass and Bluefish. Wire line jigging parachute rigs if squid are around is effective as well. Trolling against the current will keep your baits in the strike zone longer as you maneuver your vessel accordingly working the length of the productive rip versus going right over it. Put out different lengths of wire line to find the depth of the strike zone since the strong current will naturally bring your baits up towards the surface even though your vessel is not making much forward progress. Casting artificial lures or small metal jigs into the rip is another effective technique. Top water is also effective in low light conditions and when the tide and wind are not opposing each other and creating rough seas. With certain vessels like center consoles, anglers can troll and cast lures into the rip at the same time maximizing their time and efficiency on the water.
The most recent consistent pattern taking place on the North Rip is the sand eels stacking up on the deeper water structure that exists in this area from approximately 54- 100 feet. (41.15.543 N 71.33.924 W) where Bass and Blues gorge themselves on the sand eels all summer. The Lowrance HD7 graph screen shot provided shows the quick drop off of the bottom and the abundance of bait, blues and bass in 20 to 90 feet of water just east about 100 yards from the waypoint listed.
The better bite for Bass is early morning, late afternoon and night during the stronger portion of the tides. As long as there was strong current congregating the bait, Bluefish are active throughout the entire day and night.
Productive Fishing Methods
The most popular and productive technique for Bass and Bluefish was vertical jigging heavy metal jigs, deadly dicks or similar lures. The most effective size of jig due to the depth and current was 3 – 5 ounces. It is very important to utilize heavy leader as Bluefish were cutting off the jigs. At slack tide, the bait and fish scatter. When the current slows and or goes slack, trolling is the preferred method because you can cover more area quickly and efficiently to locate the scattered fish. Drifting eels at night is also productive for Bass although be prepared to sacrifice a lot of eels to Bluefish as well. In the later portion of the summer and early fall, False Albacore and Bonito show up in the rip. Fly fishing, casting or trolling smaller metal jigs for these speedsters is very effective. For Fluke anglers, the North Rip can also be very productive as well in the deeper waters. Fluke fishing is also good just south and east of the rip at Clay Head throughout the summer.
The North Rip is a productive fishing ground that should not be overlooked. Check for strong tidal current, look for seabirds diving on bait and take a quick scan the bottom with your graph before moving on to other fishing grounds. You may find that you will not have to go any further.
Take a look at some of the great fish we caught at Block Island's North Rip.