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FLY March/April 2013

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Birds and Bones

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and Beaches Fishingin the Cityof Mansions By Tom Keer

resort ciry at the I t's hard to find a more textured place than Newport, the historic summer If you walk along Bellevue Bay. Narragansett Island's in Rhode Island ofAquidneck routh end I the intense summer ! A,r.n,r., you'll know what I'm talking about. The street is shaded from the title of most stately. rying for Lun by giant hardwood trees,with each oak and maple Through the treesyou can seethe palatial Gilded Age mansions for which the city is famous.The number of grandiose homes on this one street alone is amazing,and there'snot a carriagehouse that I wouldnt welcome as a writing studio. Even the wrought-iron gatesare works of art, and ar every turn I image that I'll seeJay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Tom and Daisy Buchanan. In fact, parts of rhe 1974 version of The Great Gatsbywere filmed just up the streetat Marble House. the tide in the bay stands still at slack, you might want to take a tour of some of the Iocal preservationsociery's11 historic properties,once owned by families such as the Vanderbilts, Berwinds,and Oelriches.Impeccablymanicuredgroundssurround the famous mansions,with their tremendous ocean views from the craggyrocks that overlook Easton Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. And literally just outside the front doors of the mansionsyou can fish for trophy striped bass. In fact, sportfishing was highly popular in the Roaring Twenties,and in front of some cottages you'll still find the metal stands,each resembling an inverted U, that anglersused a century ago for hanging tackle bags and lanterns. (Lobster tails were their bait of choice for striped bassin those days.) The stands also provided posts that fishers could lean againstwhen the fishing was slow or hang onto when a rogue wave crashedhigh on the rocks and the backwashthreatenedto d r a g t h e m i n r o a n a n g r ys e a . Beach Second stripers nboundin rhcwarersaroundNewport(aboue). Schoo/-size thereisa bluefsh.'X/hen ,tndiry-seaiory srripedbass isgoodforearfi-and|arc+eas,.,n giod tirtt, yoi -a1thauetosharethi ark with sufers(righ)' PhotobyJim Rowinshi


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During a recentvisit I met with a few of my fishing Brenton Reef extends on that same southwestern friends. PeterJenkins is the owner of The SalrwaterEdge tack, running loul in a few, but not all, places.It's hairy in Middletown, which is not just the closestfly shop to for boaters,but the structure,current, and chaosmake Newport but also a good place to meet die-hard anglers for outstanding fishing. Bluefish and falsealbacorecome and learnwhatt hot and what'snot. Jenkinsbrought along into the corner to feed on the baitfish, and boaterswill Earl Evans,Tom Enderlin, and his shop manager,Arden seethem spreadthroughout the reefstructure,particularly Gardell,all ofwhom areoriginally from elsewhereand have on a dropping tide. Stemming the tide is the preferable stayedin Newport, which atteststo the ciry'sattracrion. way to fish the reef; if you're drifting, be sure to keep Evans and Enderlin your outboard running and To worked at the Edge before beware of the rocks. The Bristol going off to other jobs. water depth along the "lW4ratwe like about Newreef varies from 20-foot Miles port," saysEvans, "is that mean low tide depths EE there is great fishing nearto 70- or B0-foot mean by. It doesnt take much low depths,which time at all to get from makes it perfect for a beach to a river . . . summertime bass. or to a cove or to the Fishing along rocks. We can fit the southernsideof in a lot of fishing Newport, near the berweenmeetings stately mansions, and before and requires getting after work. It's your boat close T',o Plum amazing." enough to drop Beach Gardelllikes the a fy in the wash. variety of species. The good part He says,"Youve got is that as you a mix of rocks and cast your fly ) ffi ledgesand sandy into the white ri@ch b e a c h e sw h e r e water crashthe striped bass ing against sffi and bluefish arthe rocks, you W ffi M rivein lateApril or have a good opsbM ffi earlyMay.fuwaportunity to hook ter temperatures ir tremendous fish. warm, the bass Striped bassin the rocks fill out and stay are some of the prettiest in the cooler,deeperwater, making a season-longfishery. you'll ever see:vibrant purple with hints of green and Bonito and falsealbacoreshow up in August. I like to go pitch-black markings and lines. Vhen you're that close offlhore, and Newport is a perfect spot to launch from for to the rocks, watch ltor rogue wavesrhat can come out of schooledbluefin tuna, skipjack,and mahimahi. Sometimes nowhereand slam your boat into them. you don't evenhave to go offshore to catch them." Brenton Point and Brenton Reefgive up some of the biggestbassof the year,and in the late summer ar-rdearly BrentonPointand BrentonReef fall it's a great spot for a bass/bluefish/albie slam. But At the southwesterncornerofNewport, in Brenton Point again, the place deservesrespectfrom both shore and State Park, Brenton Point and Brenton Reef are favorite boat ar-rglers. Keep in mind the old adage"I d rather have angling haunts. Shore-bound Brenton Point provides a drink on the rocksin my boat than be in the drink with castingfrom rocks or surf. About a mile of land provides my boat on the rocks." access, and a jetry on the northwest side is good on the dropping tide. When the tide floods, be careful to avoid FirstBeachand the CliffWalk jetry. The rocks farther out on the First Beach,officially known as Easton Beach,is one of getting trapped on the jetry, leading to a picture-perfect rock ledge, are higher the prettiestplacesto fish in Newport. It's on the norththan those close to shore, and some flatter spots toward ern cove of Easton Bay, which means that if you look the westernside allow easiercasring. acrossthe water you'll seethe end oFthe famousNewport



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Cliff \X/alk. First Beach is mostly sandy, but there are some rocks. It's a great early-seasonstriped bass and bluefish spot, with some good late-seasonfalse albacore fishing. After a summertime lull, it picks up again throughout the fall. Just off the beach is a quick drop-ofi and kayak fishing can be good there when winds are light. Unlike the beach, the waters along the historic Cliff \X/alk have plenry of rocks and ledges to fish, with the Newport summer cottages asa backdrop. Beginning at Memorial Boulevard,this 3.5-mile scenic walkway overlooksrocky bluffs, the Atlantic Ocean, and the summer mansions.The seascan be stiff, but overall they're not too bad. Striped bass and bluefish move in to feed White,water that comesfrom diuersecurrentsthat crashinrc rochsand ledgesmakesfor perfect on silversides,pollack, mackerel, xriped bass sltort work of disorientedbairfsh in suchlocnLes. fshing. Bass-mabe and squid. tVhen the bay anchovies and the peanut bunker arrive, the albiescan be found moving in and out of the area.There significant depth changesbring fish closerto the offshore is accessfrom the southern end, too, which is off Ledge reefand into castingrange. Road. Located near the southern end ofBellevueAvenue, SecondBeachruns generallyeastand west and is paralbefore Ocean Avenue, this right-of-way providesaccessto leled by a long offshore bar that is about 100 yards from the end of the Cliff Valk. Unlike other Dartsof the Cliff shore.Fishing hereis solid in the earlyseason,with stripers \Walk,this end of the walkway is not pavedand consistsof moving up and over the offshore bar, chasing silversides boulders,dirt paths,and narrow passages along the bluffs. and squid closeto the beach.\When itt hot, the fishing is RugglesAvenue also ends at the Cliff Valk, just south of quite literally right at your feet. Unfortunately for anglers, The Breakersoff BellevueAvenue. Located at rhe easrern crowds fock to Second Beach during the tourist season, end of NarragansettAvenue is an areacalled Forty Steps. which makes for difficult fishing. This site providesaccessto the midpoint of the Cliff\Walk, The main parking lot for Second Beach is located off where 40 granite stepslead sharply down the face of the SachuestPoint Road. This site has a long, wide sandy rocky bluffs above the ocean. beach that faces Sachuest Bay. Fall is a good time for Second Beach,particularly after the crowds have thinned EastonPointand SecondBeach out. The bookend terrain createsa natural cove,gathering Berween First and Second Beach is a large, rocky point bait as well as predators.The beach can be an excellent called Easton Point. Just asyou might hear locals refer to bluefish, bonito, and false albacore spot during the day First Beachas Easton Beach,SecondBeach is also known and an even better striper spot at night. asSachuestBay.Regardlessofwhat you call them, Easton From Septemberthrough November, bassmigrating Point separatesthose fwo areasand is known to anglers from BuzzardsBay in Massachusetts naturally hit Sachuest for different rypesof structure aswell as diversecurrenrs. Point, Second Beach, and Easton Point before moving You can always find a place to get our of the wind, and down past Newport and Brenton Point toward Point sheltered areasare never far away. Judith and South County. The area offers good fishing EastonPoint isn't as easyto negoriateby foot as orher for severaldifferent speciesthroughout the season. rocky areas.It's primarily riprap, so boots with superior To the west of Second Beach, r'rvospots bearing coltraction are necessaryif you're staying on shore.Another orful names are worth checking out. First is Purgatory way to approachit, though, is by wearing a wet suit and Chasm, located on Tirckerman Avenue just south of the junction with Purgatory Road. A rocky cliff overlooks walking out to the rocksat low tide and castinginto deeper water. There are rwo offshore depth changes,one to 26 SachuestBay, and a bridge crossesa deep, natural rock feet and then another to 36 feet. On the coming tides, the chasm,that gavethe areaits name.You can alsoaccessthis w w w . m a t c h t h e h a t c h . c o m. R H O D E I S L A N D 3 5

cally from the middle of a {lood tide through the first half of the dropping tide. Farthersouth you won't find many landmarks until you get to the end of the road, where you'll find Sachuest Poir-rt,a few coves, ar-rdlots of rocks and ledges.Becauseof its southernmostposition, all tides here can fish well. The Sakonnet River meets Rhode Island Sound on this eastern edge, and the currents are strong on the dropping tide. All along this face is a mixture of boulders,roctryshores,coves,and cobble-all perfect ambush sites for striped bassand bluefish. It's **. flat, though, and on a southwest Rocks,rocksand more rochs.Whenyou look at theformtttiotts of the rocbs/ihe this,Totill seeuhy you w i n d - w h i c h i s t h e d o m i n a n t need.f/uo rocarbon shoch tippets. summer wind-the seasarc manageable.Floaring.sinking-tip.or intermediatelinesget the nod, and the diversiryof the strucareafrom the next spot worth trying, Hanging Rock. A ture and the rocky drop-offs produce excellentbassfishing. parking areais located at the end of Hanging Rock Road, Bluefish aisolike this area,particularlywhen the Gulf Stream which is at the westernend of SecondBeach.Both Purgatory Chasm and Hanging Rock are popular with surfers, pushescloserto shorein the summer.Summerbringsbonito, false albacore,and skipjack. All sorts oF bait concentrate and night fishing in the rocks with sinking-tip lines and along the point, and the threeareascan be accessed through largefliesaround the higher tides can be outstanding. a seriesof roadsand trailsthat aremaintainedby the refuge. The refugeshours of operation apply,and if you'rehiking, Sachuest Point be alert to ticks and be preparedFormosquitoes. The 242-aue SachuestPoint National Wildlife Refuge Becauseofthe western,southern,and easternfaces,anin Middletown (independentFrom Newport since 1731) is located off SachuestPoint Road. SachuestPoint was glerscan easilypick fishing areasbasedon the wind and the seas.Headwindsoften push fish closerto shore,but the large originally a sheepfarm, and in the 1940s it was used as a rifle rangefor the US Navy. Since the 1970s it has been a wavescan be troublesomeas they crashon the rocks.Long castsare not necessarilyneeded, wildlife refuge and offers some but SachuestPoint demandscauof the best fishing in southern lor tion becauseof the waves.The RhodeIsland all species. watersometimescollectsexcessive The refugespansthe eastern weeds from offshore storms, but sideofthe peninsulaand covers because ofthe currentsit clearsup three dominant lishing areas. ^ . o t n , ^ , ,i.Ll-, Flint Point, at the northeastern e n d , f i s h e sb e r t e ro n a c o m i n g Third Beach tide, when you'll get the sweep North of the SachuestPoint NafromThird Beachdown to Flint tional Wildlife Refuge in MidPoint, a great place for baitfish Hook Eagle 254 NA, 1X short, any size Claw dletown is Third Beach. Third and current.In the middle of the Thread: Danville3/0 white Beach Road, predictably,runs refuge, on the easternside, lies alongsideThird Beach, which a clusterof rocks and a tidal {lat Body: SilverMylar yarn faces the Sakonr-retRiver. It's calledIslandRocks,where rock Wing: Bucktail, olive over yellow over pearlescent Mylar over white; white is 2X hook formations and ledgesprovide basicallya letter C made entirely length, yellow is longer,olive is longest of beach sand with drop-offs. s t r u c r u r et h a t b r e a k s u p t h e Topping: 7-l4 strandsoltpeacockherl, just The beachgathersbait and also currents,making the area fish beyond the wir.rg bass,blues, bonito, and albies. better with more water, specifi-



Itt a good spot except during the peak of summer, when folks are swimming and sunbathing. But no matter. Fish for bassat night. There are rocks at the northern end of the beach,and the Flint Rocks formation at the southern end ofthe beach,so you basicallyhavebookends.Floating and sinking-tip lines are the most common, and the flood tide tends to fish the best. \7aves don't get too high over here, which makes it a great kayak spot. Third Beachis broken down into four areas:theThird Beach boat ramp, the East Middletown Town Beach, the semiprivate Peabody Beach, and the Third Beach Club. Gardiner Pond is to the west of the beach. \What makesThird Beachappealingis tlre narural bowl that it forms. Baitfish congregateon the seamof dropping tides, bringing striped bass,bluefish,bonito, and falsealbacoreinto closerange.The current is stronger at the northern end, so youll probably want to fish this sectionduring the dropping tide. Then, you can work your way down toward Flint Point and fish your way back up on the coming tide. No feesare charged during the offseason, and there is ample parking. A town boat ramp at the end of Third Beach Road accommodatesboats un to 18 feet. Kavaks can also be launched here.

bait, including peanut bunker, silversides,bay anchovies, and the like. You'll also find a lot of squid in the harbor. V4ren it's time to take a break from fishing, or ifyou're waiting for the tide to change,Newport is chockablockwith every'thingyou'd expect in a venerableresort town: amazing sightseeing,great restaurants,summer-leaguebaseball,the world-renowned music festivals,and lovely beachesthat are popular for summer fun other than fishing. Plan a quick visit with the family, or stay for a long while. Odds are that you wont want to leave.Be sure to stop at least once for the ice cream at the famous Newport Creamery. Then get back to the surprisingvariety of fishing excitement.r+ TbmKeeris a freelancewriter and author who liuesin Wellfeet, Massachusetts.-

FortAdamsStatePark fuound the corner from the Ida Lewis Yacht Club is Fort Adams State Park, which was home to the US Naval Academy during the Civil \Var and is now home to Newport's famous jazzand folk music festivals.Located off Harrison Avenue, this statefaciliry is one of the largestseacoastfortifications in the United States,containing a visual record of military history from the 1820sto the end of'World'W'ar II. Now a statepark, completewith boat ramp, Fort Adams getsample attention from anglers,partly becauseof its location at the northwestern point of Newport Neck. To the eastof FortAdams liesthe historic port ofNewport Harbor. A rock retaining wall lines the harbor, and large rocks and boulders separatethe retaining wall from the sea. Stripedbassand bluefishcruisethe harbor. Fort Adams is a spot you can fish without waders,and with the ramp nearby itt perfect for kayaking. The close proximiry to Narragansett Bay meansstrong currents on a dropping tide. You'll very easilyseethe tide lines forming and bassand bluefish moving benveenthe tide lines and the shoreline. In the spring, striped bassfilter into the harbor. Boat traffic is light at this time of yeagso daytime fishing can be very productive. BecauseNewport has a working harboa the bottom drops offvery quickly and very closeto shore, making angling easy.During the summer, night fishing tends to be better, mostly due to the reduced boat traffic. Bonito and albiesare occasionallyfound on the Narragansett Bay side of the state park, where there is also a state beach.There are rocks at the southern end, with sand and cobblebetween.In the fall. Newoort Harbor can be full of

When: Mid-Aprilthrough November. Where: Newport, Rl. Headquarters: Newport. Lodging is abundant. Visit html. Appropriate gear:7- to I0-wt. rods;floating,interm e d i a t e ,a n d f u l l - s i n k i n gl i n e s . Useful fly patterns: Ken Abrames'sRay'sFly, Flat wing, FalseDawn, SureThing, SeptemberNight Fly, EelPunt, RayBondorew'sRay'sFly. Necessary accessories: Boot-foot waders, chest pack, Boga-Crip, stripping basket, polarized sunglasseswith amber-brownishlenses,sunscreen. N o n r e s i d e n tl i c e n s e :$ 5 1 7d a y s ,$ 1 0 / a n n u a l . Ffyshops/guides:Middletown;TheSaltwaterEdge,(401) 842-0062,(866) 793-6733, Books: Fishing New England: A Rhode Island Shore Cuideby Cene Bourque; Flyfisher's Cuide to the New Englond Coost: Rhode lslond, Mossochusetts,New Hompshire,ond Moine by Tom Keer.

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Newport, RI by Tom Keer, originally printed in Eastern Fly Fishing  

It's hard to find a more textured place than Newport, the historic summer resort city at the south end of Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island's...