Get ready for the speedsters

Posted 8/11/21

Chub mackerel have appeared in local waters with some bonito mixed in. Gear and tackle used to target chub mackerel, bonito and false albacore is similar. So starting now I am ready to cast to …

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Get ready for the speedsters


Chub mackerel have appeared in local waters with some bonito mixed in. Gear and tackle used to target chub mackerel, bonito and false albacore is similar. So starting now I am ready to cast to these speedsters (all in the tuna family) if we see them on the surface. 

From now through September I will have two or three rigged rods ready to go if we should come across schools of these fish on the surface. They are all St. Croix Mojo rods rigged with Shimano Strardic reels and 20-pound test braid with 15 and 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders. They are ready to fish with direct tied epoxy jigs and some with shiny metal lures that resembled sand eels such as Deadly Dicks and the ever faithful Kastmaster lures. If you want to be ready to target these fast movers your saltwater bait & tackle shop can help.

Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge in Middletown, RI and president of the American Saltwater Guides Association, said, “Chub mackerel are becoming regular visitors in mid-Summer in Southern New England. They can be found frothily feeding on the same baits that cause the "bass rafts"; typically bay anchovies or sand eels. Chasing chubs are a fun prelude to the exciting times ahead created by bonito and then (fingers crossed) false albacore.” To find out more about how to target chub mackerel, bonito and false albacore visit

Chub mackerel are good to eat and so are bonito. But false albacore are usually not eaten. Anglers often have difficulty distinguishing between bonito and false albacore.  The way I remember is a rhyme first shared with me by Steve Medeiros, president of the RI Saltwater Anglers Associaton. Steve said, “Bonito have teeth and are good to eat.”  This stuck with me as it is easy to remember.

Local bonito and false albacore expert Susan Lema said “Use as little hardware has possible. We tie directly to a 25-pound fluorocarbon leader with a uni knot and no swivel. This keeps things simple with no hardware flashing in the water to spook the fish. These fish are ram feeders. They open their mouths and hit the bait at high speed so things are moving.”

Roger Lema (Susan’s husband) said, “Fish the outgoing tide in front of rivers, coves and ponds as the water and bait have to be moving. When we go out we have five rods ready to go. Some prepared to cast silver lures like Deadly Dicks and Kastmaster lures. But, we are also ready to troll (at four knots) with broken back lures, shallow swimming and deep swimming lures to use depending on where the fish are in the water column.”   And, one last tip, “You have to anticipate where these speedsters will surface again and be there when they do. So we like to fish the sides of the schools rather than getting out in front of them,” said Roger Lema.

Dolphins at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay

Last week at 6:30 a.m. (on our way to Block Island) I came across a pod of a couple of hundred dolphins off Scarborough Beach, Narragansett. When bluefin tuna fishing, it’s one of the signs you look for before you put in your bluefin tuna spread (rigs) to catch them. Dolphin and bluefin tuna often eat the same thing and are chasing the same bait. But the dolphin are smart enough not to go for the tuna rigs.

Have to wonder if there were bluefin tuna mixed in with those dolphin, if so it would be incredible for Rhode Island fishing, a good bluefin bite off Narragansett? Off Beavertail? Off Newport? But who knows, maybe this pod just lost its way. Anglers are reminded they need a special Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Federal fishing permit to catch bluefin tuna. 

Where’s the bite?

Bonito and chub mackerel.

 Be ready to cast to and hook these speedsters. Lures of choice are epoxy gigs designed to float or pull though a foot or two below surface or shimmy lures like Deadly Dicks and Kastmaster lures. Mike Hachey of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown said, “Many of our kayak and shore anglers’ are keying in on bonito and chub mackerel. The cub mackerel are in the 20-inch range this year and the bonito are a bit large than last year too. They are feeding on larger baits like squid. So you know the bonito are large too. All hope that the false albacore are not far behind.”  Richard Reich of Maridee Bait & Canvas said, “Anglers are hooking up with chub mackerel in both the East and West passages in lower Narragansett Bay. The fish are decent size this year about 18 inches and they give you a heck of a fight.”

Striped bass and bluefish.

Striped bass fishing continues to slow a bit in the Bay and off Newport. Capt. BJ Silvia said, “This time of year you have to be ready to deploy a number of strategies and tactics to catch striped bass. We have to look for them in the lower bay and out in front ready to use soft plastics, troll tube & work, use live bait like Atlantic menhaden and eels, etc. It varies from day to day depending on where you are fishing and conditions as to what you will need to do to hook up with a striper this time of year.” Mike Hachey of the Saltwater Edge said, “Striped bass fishing has slowed for our customers. Some school bass being caught from the shore but no reports of large fish being taken. Most of the large fish are being caught off Block Island.” The Pt. Judith Lighthouse area is yielding keeper bass. “We saw a number of charter boast hook up with striped bass in front of Pt. Judith Light this weekend. It looked like they were trolling tube & worm and doing pretty good,” said Richard Reich of Maridee Bai & Tackle. I fished the southeast side of Block Island Sunday and hooked up with large bluefish to twelve pounds but no striped bass.

Black sea bass, fluke and scup.

 “Kayak anglers continue to do well with black sea bass easily catching their limit of three fish,” said Mike Hachey of the Saltwater Edge.  On charters this week customers caught their three fish limit while fluke fishing. The fluke bite is still slow catching just four keepers at Block Island Sunday and three at the Newport Bridge this weekend. So anglers are having to work and but the time in to catch summer flounder. Richard Reich of Maridee said, “We fishing east of the Hooter Buoy this week and caught plenty of black sea bass, giant scup to 14 inches, but no fluke.”

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

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