Friday, July 21, 2017

Commission overruled by Secretary of Commerce

David Rea with his first ever summer flounder (a nice 22” fluke) caught south of Dutch Island last Saturday.
 Tom Lombardi of Charlestown with his limit of fluke (totally 30 pounds) he caught last weekend on the Frances Fleet.
Cameron Sears of Seekonk (13 years old) with a striped bass he caught at the North Rip casting soft plastics when fishing with his father and Jack Leyden. 
Commission overruled by Secretary of Commerce
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, notified the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) that he has found the State of New Jersey to be in compliance with the new Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan.  The decision circumvents the work of the Commission that provides coastwide management of summer flounder (fluke) in our area.
Secretary Ross said in a letter to the Commission “New Jersey makes a compelling argument that the measures it implemented this year, despite increasing catch above the harvest target, will likely reduce total summer flounder mortality in New Jersey waters to a level consistent with the overall conservation objective for the recreational fishery.”

In a press release last week, the ASMFC said, “Based on the latest stock assessment information, summer flounder is currently experiencing overfishing. Spawning stock biomass has been declining since 2010 and is just 16% above the threshold.  If the stock falls below the biomass threshold, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires the Council to initiate a rebuilding program, which could require more restrictive management measures.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act puts fish first in this nation to ensure that fish stocks are rebuilt.  Having more than 40 fish stocks successfully rebuilt proves the fish first policy works.  When decisions – such as the Secretary of Commerce’s decision allowing New Jersey to make their own summer flounder regulations – are allowed, they put the interests of individual states first. 

This is a recipe for disaster.  States are subject to local political pressure to put local interests first, and the fish will take a back seat.  The big concern with last week’s decision is that other states will decide to fish the way they want to regardless of what’s best for the fish, and we could end up with total chaos.
We need to be advocates for public access
On Thursday, July 13th the City of Cranston Ordinance Committee passed an ordinance to eliminate fishing at the Ocean Avenue, Cranston public access point.  The ‘No Fishing” ordnance will now go before the City Council for final approval on July 24.  The ordinance in part read, “There shall be no fishing at the public access point where Ocean Avenue meets the shoreline at any time”.
The primary advocate for the ordinance was the Rhode Island Yacht Club, whose parking lot is adjacent to the public access fishing area.  The Yacht Club commodore (chief volunteer officer), past commodores and some property owners in the area said “Why should we be subject to people fishing there adding congestion to the end of the street”, “The trash in the area is terrible.”, “I do not like walking down to the water with all those lines in the water.”, “We work hard and deserve to go to our boats without this hassle”, said a Yacht Club member.
Some neighbors as well as Councilpersons Steven Stycos and John Lanni did not support the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance saying if approved the ordinance would deprive the people of Cranston and the State of RI of public access to the Bay to fish which is a constitutional right.
Councilman Kenneth Hopkins, vice-chair of the Ordinance Committee read portions of the Rhode Island Constitution online out loud to the committee saying “We can do this, it’s not illegal, it says we have a right to regulate the resource.”
The Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association testified that they did not support the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance, nor did they support the trash or conduct of some of the people at the end of Ocean Road.  They felt that banning fishing is not the solution.  “One more ordinance is not going to help.” said Barbara Rubine, EWPA president. “We need a long term solution.  Maybe a fishing pier should be built somewhere else in the City.”
I visited the Ocean Avenue site Tuesday afternoon, July 11 at 2:30 p.m.  There were four people fishing there, no trash was on the ground and a trash bag was tied to the fence which looked like it had been placed there by the fishermen.
Councilman Stycos said that the City has done nothing to address the challenge but the first step might be placing trash containers and emptying them regularly at the site as they presently do at Stillhouse Cove a short walk away.  Stycos said, “The intent of the ordinance is to prohibit fishermen from being at the access point, I do not know how you can single out a group like this.”
Councilman Stycos said “Seven years ago the Rhode Island Yacht Club asked me to address the challenge, I suggested we eliminate parking on portions of Ocean Road to help address the congestion issue, however, the Yacht Club did not like that solution because members (and those attending events at the Yacht club) park on the street.”  Councilman Stycos said, “Initially the Yacht Club asked that the City of Cranston deed the public access point over to the Yacht Club, but I told them that this was not likely going to happen.”
As fishermen and access advocates, we need to be diligent about protecting public access points on lakes, ponds, coves, rivers, bays and the Atlantic Ocean.  City Council advisors at the meeting said there were only three other fishing access point locations in the City of Cranston.
The ‘No Fishing’ ordinance is scheduled to go before the City Council at their July 24th meeting.  The ‘No Fishing’ ordinance has a lot of political horsepower behind it has the sponsor of the ordinance is City Council president, Michael Farina and it has the support of the Ordinance Committee.  The City Council meeting is open to the public.

Where’s the bite?

“Freshwater fishing bass fishing is good.  Anglers are using shiners and soft plastics with success.  The surprising thing is that the trout bite is still pretty good at Wood River.  Customers are even catching some trout in local ponds that were stocked by DEM.  This is unusual for this time of year.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.

Striped bass. Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown fished the Block Island North Rip last week and said the striped bass were on the surface and they landed multiple bass casting black Slug-Go lures, even picked up a few trolling the Slug-Go.  “The bass were thick with a lot of bait, birds feeding too.”  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Last week we caught bass to 52 pounds fishing the southwest side of Block Island at night using eels.”  Angler Mike Swain said, “We caught multiple striped bass Sunday at the North Rip casting soft plastics as the bass were high in the water column feeding.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, said, “The bass bite on the southwest side of Block Island is good.  Customers are catching some very large fish there.”

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing along the southern coastal shore and Block Island is hot. Angler Jack Leyden said he, Steve Sears and children fished the Block Island North Rip for fluke and limited out last Thursday. “The rip was loaded with sand eels and the fluke were there.” said Leyden.  Fishing the Bay, including the lower Bay around the Newport and Jamestown Bridges is slow.  Anglers are catching some very nice fish but the summer flounder bite is a very slow pick. Congratulations to Dave Rea of Wickford  for landing his first keeper fluke, a nice 22” fish, caught Saturday in the trench just south of Dutch Island when fishing on No Fluke Charters.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Fluke fishing was great this week.  We had four excellent days of fishing. Monday saw a near full boat limit close to the coastal shore while Thursday through Saturday fishing waters around Block Island paid big dividends. On Thursday's trip we had three extraordinary fluke taken between 11 and 13 pounds. Customer Tom Lombardi from Charlestown had an easy limit catch of fluke that totaled just over 30 pounds in combined weight on Saturday. Buck tail jigs of various kinds and hi lo Spro jigs set along with gulp seemed to do really well with the big fish this past week.” 

Offshore fishing is starting to explode with bluefin and yellowfin tuna starting to be caught. Off shore fishermen Dick Pastore said on the RISAA blog Saturday, “Sharked at the horns in flat seas – 71 degree water. No drift. Two lazy blue sharks milled around but didn’t t take the mackerel baits which was a blessing. We then moved to the South West Ledge which was alive with bait and 74 degree water. Boils of large blue fish and strippers below. Diamond jigs and deadly dicks worked well. Tons of BSB and large scup on deadly dicks. Birds (shear waters) were working the boils.”

Local tournaments top fishing news

 The crew of the sport fishing vessel ‘Fortuna’ from East Greenwich took 1st place in this weekend’s Snug Harbor Marina shark tournament with a 330 pound mako.  Bryan Jay was on the rod when the fish hit.
 Bob Matterson with the monster 20.5 pound bluefish he caught south of the Jamestown Bridge.  The State of RI record is 26 pounds, set by D. Deziel of Woonsocket in 1981.
 Steve Brustein of Portland, Maine with the 23” fluke he caught Saturday just north of the Newport Bridge.
John Migliori with a striped bass he caught at dawn at Block Island.  “The bass exploded on the surface lure, its’s one of my favorite ways to catch bass.”

Local tournaments top fishing news

‘Fortuna’ takes Snug Harbor Tournament with 330 pound mako

The sport fishing vessel ‘Fortuna’ from East Greenwich, RI captained by Mike Beland landed a 330 pound mako shark to take first place in Snug Harbor Marina’s Shark Tournament this past weekend. Bryan Jay was on the rod when the fish hit.   Michaela Hastings on ‘Rangeley’ took second place with a 235 pound mako.

Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “We had a great turnout with 49 vessels participating, two more than last year.”   The tournament took place July 8th and 9th and concluded at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Proceeds from the tournament go the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

Fishing for a Cause big success
The 7th annual Fishing for A Cause tournament, fundraiser and dinner raised nearly $200,000 to benefit children and families of the Schwartz Center, Meeting Street’s Dartmouth, MA campus.  The sold-out annual event which took place June 23rd and 24th featured more than 100 anglers and over 350 guests at the seaside dinner, making it the largest annual fundraiser for The Schwartz Center. 
“Our 7th Tournament and Seaside Dinner surpassed all expectations thanks to our incredible supporters and our Fishing Committee,” said Meeting Street President John M. Kelly.  “The incredible spirit of giving and dedication to our work and to our children is truly humbling.”
Upon the culmination of the tournament participants enjoyed a seaside dinner emceed by comedian Lenny Clarke. The dinner celebrated tournament participants, dedicated supporters and the children and families that will benefit from the proceeds.
This year’s first place 48”striped bass was caught by Mike Marcello of Portsmouth, RI; first place blue fish went to Richard Bellizzi of Dartmouth, MA with a 31.50" fish; and first place summer flounder (fluke) went to Dan Abraham of Portsmouth, RI with a 22.25” fish.

Big 3 Fishing Tournament

The Big 3 Fishing Tournament is scheduled to take place today, Friday, July 14 at the Wychmere Beach Club in Harwich, MA.  Since it started three years ago the tournament has raised more than $1-million for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod and the Islands.  Forty boats are expected to participate this year with over 300 people attending the dinner.  Watch for tournament winners next week.

Concerned about mercury in fish?

The 13th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP 2017) will be held in Providence this Sunday, July 16 through Friday, July 21. Over 1,000 people from 57 countries are registered to attend. 

Ecotoxicologist Celia Chen, who is the research translation core leader for the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, and a research professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth College, serves as a co-chair of the conference. 

Chen is a widely-recognized expert on the fate and effects of metal contaminants in aquatic food webs both in freshwater and estuarine ecosystems. She’ll be leading one of the workshops to be held on July 16 as part of the conference.

Visit the conference website at  for details and the latest on mercury as it relates to aquatic ecosystems and fish contamination.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass fishing continues to heat up on Block Island.  Angler Eric Appolonia (and family) from North Kingstown caught striped bass to 40 pounds using umbrella rigs and eels at the Southwest Ledge last week.  We fished Sunday too and caught three keepers to 32 pounds on eels.” Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Bass fishing with eels are working on the Southwest Ledge with fish in the forty pound range being caught at night and during the day.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “For the most part bass have left the Bay we had a few fish caught at Ohio Ledge on eels but all the action is at Block Island.  The largest Block Island fish we weighed in this week was 50.5 pounds.”  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “Striped bass fishing has exploded here.  A customer jigging for black sea bass caught a 37 pound fish and anglers have been catching 40 to 45 pound fish using eels at Watch Hill and Sugar reefs.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet reports good evening striped bass trips last week with boats limiting out, many anglers caught fish in the 30 and 40 pound range. 

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing was good last week at Block Island with fish being taken on the North and west sides of the Island, the windfarm area on the south and at the East Fishing Grounds 3.5 miles east of the Island.  The biggest challenge was dog fish… avoid them and your will likely hook up with fluke.  This weekend Steve Brustein and Mike Weaver found fluke to 23” just north of the Jamestown Bridge on No Fluke Charters.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Anglers are catching keeper fluke both in the Newport and Jamestown Bridge areas.  Most of the activity is happening south of the Bridges.” “Customers are landing fish in the Sakonnet River area.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle. “The fluke have been in lower water this year… large fish are being caught in 28 to 35 feet of water close to shore at Misquamicut and along the coastal shore.  Fluke fishing is excellent on the south side of Long Island.” said Mike Wake of Watch Hill Outfitters. Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “We had a good week of fluke fishing. There were a few handfuls of limit catches on most days; many saw limit catches of sea bass that were generally of very good size. We had at least three fish this week that threatened or hit the 10 pound mark and a bunch of others in the 8-9 pound range.” Matt Conti of Sung Harbor Marina said, “From the Center Wall of the Harbor of Refuge to Charlestown anglers are catching fluke in 55 to 65 feet of water.  They are catching shorts and keepers with black sea bass filling in nicely.”

Scup fishing is strong in the Bay.  Many Macedo said, “The scup are very large.  Some are 17 and 18” and are being caught from shore at Colt State Park and in the Warren River as well as off Newport.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “Scup fishing from shore on jetties and breachways has been very good, the fish are getting larger every year.”

Offshore fishing is starting to take off. “One of the boats fishing our Shark Tournament this weekend (see story above) caught a 139 pound bluefin tuna and others in the Tournament caught bluefin in the 60” range.  Anyplace at the 30 fathom line from the Horns to South of Martha’s Vineyard is filled with bait, whales and birds.  Anglers fishing east of the Fingers, at Tuna Ridge and a number of other locations are hooking up.”

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Marine Sanctuaries/Monuments on chopping block

 Cory Bourassa of Cumberland caught this back sea bass Sunday under the Newport Bridge.  Minimum size is 15”with a three fish/person/day limit.

Owen Clark and Aiden Beltrami (both 8) present their fish drawing at the RI Saltwater Anglers Association Fishing Camp held at Rocky Point State Park with DEM and US Fish & Wildlife as partners.

Where’s the bite

“The striped bass bite on the southwest side of Block Island continues to be spotty, however, the fish being taken are large in the mid 40 pound range.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.  “We still have plenty of school bass around but things have slowed down in Mt. Hope and Narragansett Bays or keepers.  Things are better on Block Island with some big fish being caught there and off Westport.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.  Jose Estrava, an associate at Ocean State Bait & Tackle, Providence caught a 35 pound bass at the Cape Cod Cannel using a three once pencil lure.  “Bass are being caught in the lower River at the Day Marker, off Green Island and areas between Fields Point and Conimicut Light.  The bite off Newport has been good too with anglers landing fish using plugs, trolling and using eels from shore. Top performing plugs for striped bass this year include the two once dotters by Yo-Zuri.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State.

"Summer Flounder and black sea bass bite has been good in the Warwick Neck area.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State. “Fluke fishing at the Island has been good as well as along the coastal shore from Narragansett to East Matunuck.” said Capt. Tom Pelletier of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Fluke fishing has been better along the coast than around Block Island with fish being caught from Narragansett to Charlestown with black sea bass being caught in rocky areas (off Pt. Judith Light).  Bigger summer flounder are being caught at the East Grounds… either you find the fluke there or a log of dog fish.  It is hit or miss.  But the fluke are bigger there.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said “The fluke bite is pretty good at the mouth of the Sakonnet, off Newport with some nice fish being caught under the Mt. Hope Bridge. Some very large black sea bass have been caught around Block Island.”

 “Scup fishing is very good with some very large fish  in the 13” to 17” range being caught at the Mt. Hope Bridge (both sides), Fog Island as well as in the Newport area.” said Manny Macedo.  “The scup bite off Warwick Neck was good Thursday as 50 participants of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association fishing camp fished from 15 volunteer vessels, scup to 15” were caught that day. 

Squid fishing has been spotty; however, a good bite was reported at Ft. Wetherill, Jamestown this week.

Offshore fishing is just starting to pick up.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Some bluefin tuna was caught at the Horns this week with small yellow fin caught at Atlantis.  We had a sword fish caught this week with blue sharks active at Tuna Ridge and a 200 plus pond mako shark caught by the vessel Big Game at the Horns.  We hope for a busy week with the Snug Harbor Shark Tournament starting next weekend.”

Freshwater fishing for trout has slowed a great deal as the water has warmed and stocked ponds are being depleted.  However the largemouth bass bite remains strong with smaller fish being taken.  The Brickyard Pond in Barrington is getting weedy but yielding some nice Carp.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.

Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments on chopping block

In a media advisory last week the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said they are soliciting public comment on National Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments designated or expanded since 2007 to determine if they should exist or be reduced.

President Trump’s Offshore Energy Strategy outlined in his May Executive Order has ordered the Secretary of Commerce through NOAA to review if national monuments and sanctuaries present “lost opportunity” with regard to potential energy and mineral exploration and production.

Many in the fishing community are split about National Monuments.  Some believe, as the President does, that profits and jobs should come first.  However, a large part of the fishing and conservation communities believe it should be the environment and fish that should be first.  Many believe that National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Monuments serve as a sanctuary and spawning grounds for a variety of sea life and fish and should be left untouched by development.

For information on National Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries visit NOAA Fisheries website at .

Anglers teach them the basics

 Kevin Ward of Bristol, CT caught this 52 pound striped bass trolling an umbrella frame on the south side of Block Island on Priority Too Charters out of Pt. Judith.
Dirck Westervelt of North Kingstown caught this summer flounder under the Newport Bridge on an incoming tide Wednesday on No Fluke Fishing Charters.

Anglers teach them the basics

The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) will hold two youth fishing events this week. 

The 19th Annual Take-a-Kid Fishing event will take place in Greenwich Bay this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon. About 150 children from over a dozen youth organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Providence Recreation Department and group homes will be treated to a morning of fishing. Over 100 volunteers and 50 volunteer vessels will take children fishing followed by a cookout at Brewers Cowesett Marina, the event host marina. 

Also this week RISAA will hold its second Youth Fishing Camp at Rocky Point State Park.  The camp runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and is sponsored by RISAA, the RI Department of Environmental Management and U.S. Fish & Wildlife.  Steve Medeiros, president of RISSA said, “Fifty campers will learn fishing basics, fish biology and identification, conservation, and safety.  Participants will also learn how to fish from shore and a boat.  Shore fishing instruction will take place at Rocky Point Beach and boat fishing on volunteer vessels will occur in the waters off Warwick Neck and in Greenwich Bay. This year we added a day of summer flounder (fluke) fishing on the Seven B’s Party Boat out of Pt. Judith.”

There is no fee for participants and the camp is now full and enrollment closed. Camp is scheduled to kick off Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. with a symbolic first cast from the shore of Rocky Point Beach with a group of camp participants; Janet Coit, DEM director; Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian; and Steve Medeiros, RISAA president.

Trout Unlimited seminar

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will host a seminar titled “Building a community around conservation & fishing” on Wednesday, June 28th after a brief 6:00 p.m. meeting.  The seminar will be held at the Arcadia Management Area Check Station, Rt. 165, (Ten Rod Road), at Wood River, Exeter, RI.  The meeting will be preceded by a 5:00 p.m. cook-out, the public is invited to attend.

Speaker Jeff Yates, Trout Unlimited’ s national Director of Volunteer Operations , will be the guest speaker. He is an author and guide, whose first book, Fly Fishing Fairfield County: Secrets of Suburban Streams was published in 2011.

For information contact Glenn Place at 1-401-225-7712 or .

Angler surveys, light tackle and fly fishing seminar

The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) will hold a light tackle & fly fishing for striped bass seminar with Joe Gugino and a second topic on the benefits of angler surveys and how they help recreational anglers by Michal Bucko of the RI Depart of Environmental Management (DEM).

Gugino is an accomplished kayak fisherman who prefers fly fishing and topwater fishing for striped bass.  Mike Bucko leads Rhode Island’s team of angler surveyors.
The public is invited to attend the seminar with a $10 donation to the RISAA scholarship fund.  Optional dinner starting at 5:30 p.m., at the West Warwick Elks, 60 Clyde Street, West Warwick, RI.  Visit for details.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater bite slowed this week with anglers catching large and small mouth bass as well as trout but not in the numbers they had been catching the earlier in the month.  Angler Harold Hemberger said, “Have fished both Waterman Lake and Stump Pond in Smithfield in the past two days.  I caught a half dozen bass - all in the one pound range. .nothing great but plenty of fun.  Bait was a natural color rubber worm fished by letting it drop to the bottom and then up and down on the retrieve.”  “Lincoln Woods and Echo Lake, Barrington is still yielding bass although not many large fish have been caught lately.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Striped bass fishing has been mixed. Capt. Rick Bellavance of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) said, “Striped bass fishing at Block Island is very good. All sizes from 25 inch school bass to a few 50 plus pounders were landed by charter boats this past week.  Kevin Ward of Bristol, CT caught a 52 pound striped bass trolling an umbrella rig off Block Island’s south side on my boat (Priority Too Charters).”  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Capt. Louis DeFusco of Hot Reels boated a fish in the high forty pound range and Monday and we weighed in a fifty pound fish from a commercial fisherman.”    John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “The pogies are still thick in the Providence River but the bass have thinned out.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Some anglers are switching to night fishing and they are using eels with success.  The Mt. Hope Bay seems to be producing better than the West Passage.”  “We had one of the largest surf casting tournaments take place this weekend and no bass of decent size were caught.  Only bluefish.  This shows how tough fishing from shore was this week.” said Nellie Valles of Maridee Bait & Canvass, Narragansett.

Black sea bass (BSB) bite is on.  “We had a customer catch a sea bass on an umbrella rig.  Overall fishing for them has been very good.” said Many Macedo of Lucky Bait.  Many anglers are limiting out (three fish/person/day) catching black sea bass when fluke fishing.

“Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is getting stronger. Fish are being caught at the windfarm and Nebraska Shoals and the Green Hill area are yielding some nice fish in 45 to 50 feet of water.” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “Fluke fishing in the Sakonnet area, under the Mt. Hope Bridge, under and around the Newport Bridge and Ft. Adams was good this past week.”  John Littlefield said, “Some customers have been able to land fluke off Warwick Neck as well as in Greenwich Bay.”  I fished the Jamestown Bridge/Dutch Island area last week and did well when wind and tide were in line and we could establish a good drift. 

The scup bite exploded this week.  “We had 17” scup being caught from the East Wall and the Hazard Avenue, Narragansett areas.” said Nellie Valles of Maridee Bait & Canvas.  John Littlefield said, “Scup was the big story this week with anglers landing them from Colt State Park shore, the Wharf Tavern, Sabin Point.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “We had two customers limit out on scup…. That’s a total of 60 keepers (30 fish/person/day, minimum size is 10”).”

Sea robins are prolific in our Bays and off coastal shores.  Angler John Migliore of Aquidneck Island caught a large sea robin last week.  Migliore said, “What was unusual is that a school of sea robins were feeding on the surface much like a bluefish or striped bass feeding frenzy.”  Many anglers are now cleaning and eating sea robin tails. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fishing for fluke improves, Commerce Dept. agreement will hurt red snapper

Stanley Maigarie of Narragansett with a 47 pound striped bass he caught on a fluke jig and teaser under feeding bluefish on his way back from Block Island Tuesday. 

Mike Clini (right) with a 9.6 pound summer flounder and Matt Davidson with a 6 pounder, both caught in the Block Island wind farm area aboard ‘Skipjack’ captained by Rich Hittinger of Warwick. 

Where’s the bite

Striped bass. “There are so many pogies (Atlantic menhaden) in the rivers (Providence and Seekonk) that anglers are scooping them up with nets. School bass are being caught in the rivers with 20 pound fish mixed in.  Fishermen are catching 12 to 18 pound fish on pogie chunks in the triangle area of Barrington beach, Nayatt Point and Conimicut Light.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.  Andrew Cournoyer of Riverside Marine Bait & Tackle, Tiverton said, “Things really opened up in Mt. Hope Bay this week.  Customers are catching striped bass with pogies and umbrella rigs.” The abundance of bait in bays and rivers has made it a bit difficult to get the attention of bass so anglers have started using swimming lures of all type with success to attract striped bass.  “The bite has been solid in pre-dawn and late dusk hours with lures from Conimicut Light all the way up the Providence River”, said Jeff Ingber of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.  John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “We fished the upper Bay this weekend at night and landed fifteen striped in the 28” to 33” range using chucks of pogies.”

Black sea bass (BSB) bite is on.  The season opened May 25th and fish are being caught with anglers limiting out when fluke fishing. 

Last Monday night at a public workshop RI DEM took comments on their recommendation to reduce catch limits to meet Atlantic States Marine Fishers Commission (ASMFC) harvest limits.  Pending final ASMFC approval (which seems imminent) recreational anglers will be allowed to take just five fish and not seven in the months of November and December. So the season catch limits for BSB (minimum size is 15”) are as follows:  May 24 to August 31, 2017- three fish/person/day; September 1 to September 21, 2017 – seven fish/person/day; September 22 to October 21`- closed (when the Federal BSB season is closed); October 22 – October 31 – seven fish/person/day; and November 1 to December 31, five fish/person/day.

Summer flounder (fluke). Fluke fishing in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay on the shipping channel edges has been producing for anglers as well as the Warwick Light area and the West Passage south of the Jamestown Bridge.  Tuesday Margaret and Ken Choiniere of Seekonk, MA  hooked up with fluke to 22” on the edges of the underwater gully south of Dutch Island with fish being caught on the bank as we left the gully. This week Rich Hittinger and guests fishing the Block Island wind farm area on his vessel Skipjack caught multiple fluke to 9.6 pounds. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet, said, “Fluke fishing was solid this week.  A good mix of nice size fluke and good size sea bass on most outings with the largest fish being a seven pound fluke and a five pound black sea bass. Best trip of the week overall was Saturday. Some anglers had bag limits on both fluke and sea bass. Both bait rigs and jigs worked.” 

The scup bite at Colt State Park in Bristol has been good with anglers catching them at the mouth of the Sakonnet River from shore as well and just about on any structure where water is moving. 

Sea robins are being caught in the Bay and along the shore.  Anglers are now keeping them, cleaning the tails and eating them.  They are a great eating fish.

Freshwater fishing continues to remain strong with anglers catching a lot of large and small mouth bass.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Angler Brian Strayer caught a 5 ½ pound largemouth bass at Bad Luck Pond (Rehoboth, MA).  Anglers have also done well with bass at Brickyard Pond, Barrington.  The bass have not been large there but the bite is good.”  John Lavallee of Continental Bait said, “Customers are catching bass but the trout bite is a little off as the water is warming and some ponds are starting to get fished out.” 

Commerce Dept. agreement to halt red snapper rebuild

The Department of Commerce announced last week that an agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the five Gulf Coast states to extend the 2017 recreational red snapper season by 39 weekend days in the Gulf of Mexico for private recreational anglers.   

The action was lauded by some in the recreational fishing community and criticized by others. NOAA had reduced fishing days to rebuild the stock.  The red snapper fishery is rebuilding, however, scientists and conservationists felt it premature to liberalize regulations at this time as they estimate red snapper overfishing could occur in one year and damage the rebuilding plan for the species.

In a press release Wednesday, the Center for Sportfishing Policy, an industry group composed of recreational fishing industry supporters in tourism, boat manufacturing and fishing gear and tackle retailers said, “As a result of today’s action, red snapper season will reopen for private recreational anglers in the Gulf out to 200 miles every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including Monday and Tuesday of the July Fourth holiday and the Monday of Labor Day. This 39-day season will begin Friday, June 16, in time for Father’s Day weekend and ends on Labor Day, September 4. State seasons will run congruently with the federal season.”

Meredith More, director of Fish Conservation at the Ocean Conservancy said “Red snapper regulation liberalization will almost certainly lead to overfishing of red snapper, plain and simple. Private anglers of the Gulf of Mexico deserve a real solution to the problem of shortening seasons for red snapper, not an ill-conceived quick-fix.  Years of sacrifices and tough choices by fishermen and managers have begun rebuilding this valuable fishery. We’re finally seeing more fish in the water and any short-sighted decision that puts those gains at risk is an affront to their hard work.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources panel, agreed that the decision will interfere with ongoing efforts to recover the red snapper population.
In a press statement Rep. Grijalva said "Gulf Coast businesses literally cannot afford a fishery management fiat that eliminates all the progress that has been made… The public needs to see a scientific justification for this plan before it goes into effect."
Grijalva pointed to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, noting the law is intended to ensure the use of scientific data for fisheries decisions.
He noted that the Federal Register announcement of the extension suggested the amended fishing season "may delay the ultimate rebuilding of the stock by as many as six years."

Now… a drive-up bait window

Ocean State Tackle, Providence now has a drive up window for bait, fishing tackle, gear and soft drinks.  Dave Henault, owner of Ocean State said “People want to fish.  They do not want to stand in line so we developed the drive-up window to accommodate them.  This will get them in and out a lot quicker.”

Fly tying workshop at Free Library

A fly tying workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 21, 6:30 p.m. at the North Kingstown Free Library, 100 Boone Street, North Kingston.  John Smith, a lifetime angler, avid fly tyer and biology professor at East Stroudsburg University will tie a few different styles of flies and introduce participants to basic fly tying equipment.  Registration is requested but not required.  Call 401.294.3306.

Graduate School of Oceanography launches seminar series

‘Warming Seas and the Ocean State’ is the topic that will be discussed Thursday, June 22, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Coastal Institute Auditorium, 220 South Ferry Road, Narragansett.  The discussion will be led by students of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.  The seminar will cover how physical processes are responding  to warming sea surface temperatures.  The later portion of the program will focus on the effects of warming on coastal ecosystems, illustrating how fish species are being impacted by climate change and what it means for Rhode Island fisheries.  For information contact .

Friday, June 9, 2017

Catching that elusive striped bass

 Mike Swain with one of the many striped bass he has caught in the Conimicut Light area using live and chunks of Atlantic menhaden (pogies).
Rich Hittinger of Warwick with a 7.8 pound summer flounder (fluke) he caught off Block Island last Thursday when fishing on his vessel ‘Skipjack’.

Catching that elusive striped bass

You’ve tried to catch a keeper sized striped bass (28” or larger), but just have not hooked up with one yet.  It can be very frustrating because you can try and try with no luck. 

However, June is the time to try to catch one in Narragansett and Mt Hope Bays as Atlantic menhaden (pogies), a form of herring, are up in our covers and rivers spawning and the striped bass have followed them into the upper Bay on their northern migration.

I have two bits of advice that have helped me over the years to catch striped bass.  First, you can’t catch fish where there are no fish so you have to put yourself in places where the fish are feeding.  And second, you need to be ready with a number of strategies.  Some days they are biting on live or chunks of Atlantic menhaden, other days trolling umbrella rigs or tube and work, and yet some times of year they like eels.

To put yourself where the fish are read fishing reports/blogs and talk to friends and bait & tackle shop owners to develop a fishing plan.  Select five or six places you will go to find the fish based on the research you have done.  Now that you have your fishing plan, be ready with a number of fishing strategies to land that striped bass. 

Remember what works one day, may not work the next depending on what fish are feeding on, the weather, tides, temperature, etc. Here are some of my favorite striped bass fishing strategies.

Favorite ways to catch striped bass

Trolling with umbrella rigs.  Like to use this technique trolling in deeper parts of Narragansett Bay, off Newport or Block Island with a variety of squid, shad, worm or eel umbrella rigs.  Hook two fish at the same time and you will experience a great fight.

Live menhaden.  Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them.  Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a school of fish and put the live menhaden into the school of bait and let it swim. Used when menhaden are running strong, particularly up the Providence River in early spring.

Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden.  You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks.  Some anglers use a weighted slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.

Surface plugs, swimming lures and soft plastics.  Have caught hundreds of school bass in the spring using surface plugs and swimming lures of all types.  Great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc.  My favorite is a grey Yozuri Crystal Minnow.  Many anglers love soft plastics use them successfully in the spring.  Make sure the plastic baits are scented if they are not add some menhaden scent. Who wants to eat plastic?

Trolling with tube and worm.  I have had great success in the Bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot monofilament leader.  I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best in spring (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm).   The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are. Tube and worm trolling has been a successful technique for the Southwest side of Block Island using 300 ft. of wire line out in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.

Buck tail jigs with pork rind strips.  Have had success with this method to get under schools of blue fish and to the striped bass on the bottom.

Let me know if you catch that keeper and send along a photo to

DEM to hold fly fishing workshops

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold three day fly fishing workshops on Monday, June 12, 19 and 26, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Coventry Public Library, 1672 Flat River Road, Coventry and on Wednesday, June 14, 21 and 28, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Greenville Public Library, 573 Putnam Pike, Greenville.  Instruction and equipment needed will be covered with all gear provided.  However, participants are welcome to bring their own gear.  Adults and children 10 and older are invited to attend.  Space is limited.  To register contact Scott Travers at (Classes also stared at Glocester Manton Public Library on June 6).
DEM is also holding an introduction to freshwater fly fishing workshop on Saturday, June 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Addieville East Farm, Mapleville, RI.  Adults, families and children ten and older may attend. Participants will learn about equipment needed for the sport, fly-tying and casting and best areas to fish in RI.  Lunch will be provided. Fee is $15 per person.  To register contact Kimberly Sullivan at .

Where’s the bite

Striped bass.  I haven’t heard of fifty pound fish being caught in the Bay in a long time but this week they were. Capt. Randy Bagwell of River Rebel Charters weighted in a 50 pound striped bass caught in Mt. Hope Bay.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said “Randy came in with his customer to weigh and clean the fish; they were greeting customers at the door asking if anyone wanted some bass fillets.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “A customer sent me a picture of a 53 pound fish caught in the Bay and we have some very nice bass in the 30 pound range being caught in the Providence and Seekonk rivers.  There are big bluefish mixed in with the bass.”  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters,, Westerly said, “Bass are on the reefs eating squid and the worm hatches in South County Ponds (like Ninigret Pound) are still going strong on warm days. We also have a lot of Atlantic menhaden and bass in the Pawcatuck River.”  Peter Jenkins of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown, said Monday, “Today there was great fishing for bass on Sugar Reef.  The squid were everywhere.  Bass were caught on every drift using Slug Go lures and files.”

Summer flounder (fluke fishing).  I fished the Newport Bridge area with a slow bite and a lot of shorts this week.  Anglers fishing the southern coastal shore experienced mixed fishing.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “Fluke fishing at Fisher’s Island to Misquamicut Beach has been good.  Customer Mike Lacz landed a 27” fluke off Misquamicut this week.”  Fish for fluke in the Bay is spotty.  Anglers are catching fish but not in large numbers.  Angler Rich Hittinger said the bite was good a Block island catching fluke to 7.8 pounds last Thursday. Capt. Frank Blount, of the Frances Fleet said, “A lot of quality fish and a lot of limit catches. On Saturday's trip Capt. Rich found a hungry pile of nice size sea bass to four pounds limiting the boat out.”

Scup. “We had a customer catch a 17” scup off the Stone Bridge this week with some nice fish being off of Colt State Park, Bristol.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.  “The big news of the week is that scup are in… anglers are catching them off Tiverton and Greenwich Bay.” said Henault of Ocean State.

Sea robins. More anglers are keeping them to eat.  Cut of their tails and fillet them.  They have a delicious white meet.  In Europe sea robins are a major ingredient in bouillabaisse.  I have cleaned them for many charter customers and all have said they loved the way they tasted.

Black sea bass bite is on.  The season opened May 25th and fish are being caught with anglers limiting out when fluke fishing.

Freshwater fishing continues to remain strong. “Not many anglers are targeting trout but those that are continue to catch them.  And, we have a lot of anglers catching  good numbers of largemouth bass.  They may not be as large as last year but the bite is stronger.” said Henault.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fishing camp is a hoot

 Richard Reich, lead surfcasting instructor, explains some of the fundamentals of casting to youth fishing camp participants on Rocky Point Beach, Warwick, RI. 
Fishing appeals to our sense of adventure and builds a life time of memories with family and friends.

Fishing camp is a hoot

It is important to teach our youth about fishing.  Fishing appeals to our sense of adventure and teaches us patience. It is one of those activities where science and art converge. It teaches us to be good stewards of the environment and it allows us to build a lifetime of memories and friendships.
June marks the second year of a highly successful fishing camp for youth that will take place Tuesday, June 27 through Thursday, June 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Rocky Point State Park.
The three day camp, sponsored by the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), will host 50 children from seven to fourteen years old.

Steve Medeiros, RISAA president said, “The goal this year is to spin off our highly successful 2016 pilot camp.  Enhancements will include more fishing time on the water.  Yes we will have instruction on basic fishing skills, how to cast, safety and the environment but we plan to focus on fishing.  After all it is a ‘fishing’ camp. On the first day participants will fish from shore, a fluke fishing trip on the Seven B’s Party boat out of Galilee, RI is planned for day two, and participants will fish on RISAA member recreational vessels on the third day in the Greenwich Bay, Warwick Neck and Rocky Point areas.”

Medeiros said, “We find children of all backgrounds and cultures are attracted to fishing and our aim is to give them a proper introduction to the sport. We have about 35 volunteer recreational fisher men, women and captains working on the camp project.”

The pilot fishing camp was such a success last year that it has now been funded by U.S Fish & Wildlife in partnership with the RI DEM and RISAA for the next five years.  The aim this year is to post another success and roll the camp concept out to an additional location in 2018
The same children attend all three days of the camp split into groups by age and fishing experience.  There is no cost for children to participate and lunch is provided, however, parents must complete and sign all participation forms, provide their child with proper attire for an outdoor fishing camp and weather conditions and must provide transportation for children each day to and from Rocky Point State Park.

Topics to be covered over the three day camp include fish identification,  fishing laws, use of spinning and conventional tackle, basic marine biology, how and why to use different baits and lures, casting and fishing from shore as well as boating safety and fishing on a boat.

The fishing camp is sponsored by the RISAA, DEM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the City of Warwick.  Brewers Marina in Warwick Cove is donating dock space for 20 vessels that will be used for fishing at camp.

There is limited camp space available, sign up this week by calling the RI Saltwater Anglers Association office at 401.826.2121.

DEM to host Fly Fishing School at Addieville East Farm

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will host a fly fishing school on Saturday, June 17, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Addieville East Farm.  Learn the basics of entomology, fly tying, fly casting, the right equipment to use, knot tying and then fly fishing in a freshly stocked trout pond.   

Minimum age is eleven years old.  Cost of $15.00 will cover your lunch with the fly fishing program free.  All fly fishing equipment will be supplied but feel free to take your own. 

To register contact Kimberly Sullivan, DEM at or 401-539-0037; or Scott Travers, DEM at or 401-539-0016.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing slowed his week with cooler weather.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We are selling a lot of shiners but customers do not seem to be catching bass like they were last week.  It has been cold.  However, anglers are still catching trout at stocked ponds, even at Willet Avenue Pond (Riverside).  I can’t believe the amount of trout they are pulling out of that pond since the second stocking.”

Squid fishing was good this week.  Large numbers of boats are fishing for squid off the southern coastal shores, both commercial and recreational vessels. So the fluke bite has been on squid this week in that area.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Squid fishing was very good on Thursday Night with hi hooks filling upwards to a half bucket apiece. Unfortunately things did not stay that way  over the holiday weekend as even though the winds were light and variable the water was still churned up from last Friday's blow.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is heating up with fish being caught in the Bay, along our southern coastal shore and out on the south and southeast sides of Block Island.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Customers are doing well in about 70 feet of water off the southeast side of Block Island in the ocean windfarm area and along the southern coastal shore keepers are being caught with a lot of shorts mixed in, a lot of fish are coming up just short at 18.5 inches (this year the minimum size for summer flounder is 19", four fish/person/day).”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “The fluke bite is pretty good off Warwick Neck and they are catching some keeper black sea bass when fluke fishing.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Good catches were made both on the local beaches and also around Block Island. A decent amount of limit catches were recorded. Best for size was on Saturday with an 8 lb. pool fish and other fish in the six to seven pound range. A few nice sea bass mixing in and plenty of short fluke.”

Striped bass fishing is good in the Bay with most action in the East Passage from Bristol all the way up to the Hurricane Barrier in Providence.  “There are a lot of school bass being caught with some keepers mixed in this week.  Customer Albert Bettencourt with his son and grandchildren caught over 60 small school bass using jigs and small spoons last Thursday night.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.  Holly Frye of The Tackle Box said, “One customer weighted in striped bass to 13 pounds this week fishing with lures at Conimicut Point from shore.”  “The southwest ledge and north rip at Block Island are yielding small but keeper size striped bass in the 10 and 15 pound range.  Anglers are trolling umbrella rigs with multiple fish hooking up at the same time. School bass with some keepers mixed in are being caught from the beaches as well as Pt. Judith Pond, Ninigret and other ponds along the southern coastal shore.” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Bass are being caught in multiple locations in the East Passage from Popasquash Point, Bristol to the Providence River Hurricane Barrier area. Anglers are using Atlantic menhaden with success, some are drifting with live pogies and overs are anchoring up and chumming with chunks.  Ohio Ledge and Napatree Point have been good..”  “We weighed in a 41 pound fish caught in the East Passage by Rocky Patriarca off Prudence Island but we also weighed in 27 and 31 pound fish caught in the Conimicut Light area this weekend.” said John Littlefield.