Friday, August 18, 2017

Trophy bluefin tuna fishing closes

 Connor Sears (11) of Seekonk, MA and Jack Leyden of North Kingstown with the 35 and 40 pound striped bass they caught at night fishing with eels on the Southwest Ledge off Block Island.
Ten pound fluke caught aboard the Frances Fleet last week by angler John Topper of Bristol, RI.

Trophy bluefin tuna fishery closes

Effective August 11th, NOAA Fisheries closed the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) angling category for large medium and giant ‘trophy’ BFT measuring 73” or greater in the Northern area.  The fishery closed based on reported landings from the Automated Catch Reporting System.  NOAA determined that the trophy BFT subguota has been reached and that the trophy fishery should be closed. 

In an advisory last week NOAA said, “Retaining, possessing or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) must cease.”

The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvesting. The Southern and Gulf of Mexico areas closed June 7th, 2017.  Catch and release fishing is permissible. 

Fishing for BFT between 27”to <47 47="" allowed.="" and="" angling-permitted="" b="" bft="" charter="" eadboat-permitted="" fish="" for="" hms="" is="" large="" medium="" nbsp="" one="" school="" small="" still="" three="" two="" vessels="">

At press time, NOAA issued an advisory that temporarily closed the General and Charter/Headboat categories when fishing commercially.  NOAA said, “Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/ Headboat categories (when fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on August 16, 2017, through August 31, 2017.”

Visit https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for regulations that change as category quotas are met.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass fishing off the Watch Hill reefs has been very good this past week.  Capt. Tim Terranova of Bonito II Sportfishing Charters landed a 50 pound bass this week trolling wire.  Several anglers have picked up thirty plus pound bass on the reef live lining scup. Overall we have had a very active food chain off Montauk starting with sand eels, maceral and thresher sharks and in shore along the southern coastal shore bay anchovies are attracting bonito.”  said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly. “We were fishing the Southwest Ledge off Block Island late last week at night and landed a 40 and 35 pound striped bass using eels.  We fished from sunset to about midnight and then the bite turned on.  We hit two big fish at once then lost four other fish.  Connor Sears (11 years old) of Seekonk caught a 35 pound bass and I hooked a 40 pound fish at the same time.” said Jack Leyden of North Kingstown.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “The bass bite at the Ledge is still good, the night bite is on eels but anglers are still landing fish in the day trolling umbrella rigs with a lot of bluefish mixed in.” Kianna Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “School bass are still fairly plentiful in the Bay and along the coast and one customer reported catching a keeper in the Bay so hopefully they will be coming back into the Bay.”

Summer flounder (fluke). “Fluke fishing along the southern coastal shore from Misquamicut Beach to Watch Hill has been good, particularly over rocky areas like Old Reef off Weekapaug.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.” Fishing at Block Island was spotty this week.  Plenty of black sea bass but you were either on or off the fluke and had to look around for them.  The fluke bite in the lower bay north and south of the Jamestown and Newport Bridges was slow this week with anglers finding keepers far and few between.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Trips were affected by little to no drift last week. This equated to buck tail set ups tipped with white or green gulp far out producing anything else. Still limit catches were recorded by a few fishers each outing. The largest fluke of the week was a 10 pound fish taken by John Topper of Bristol RI.” Fluke fishing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River has been fair. “This week the southern shore fluke bite was in about 65 feet of water off Watch Hill.  The bite at the wind farm at Block Island and at the Hooter buoy slowed this week.” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor.

Tautog.  With the fishing bite slowing down in the Bay some anglers are starting to target tautog with limited success.  “Anglers are catching small fish in low water (15 feet) at rock piles along the southern shore.  Not many reports of keepers caught.  The fish are still in that low water.” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor. Kiana Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We have reports of angles catching keeper tautog at Colt State Park.” “Customers targeting tautog from shore at Ft. Adams, Newport caught shorts only.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. 

Scup fishing continues to be strong in the Bay and along the coast.  “Colt State Park has been yielding some nice scup for customers.” said Kiana Macedo of Lucky Bait. “Scup fishing has been very good all over the Bay with an awful lot of sea robins being caught too. But that has been about it.” said John Littlefield of Archie’ Bait.

Bonito/false albacore are in.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The Bay anchovies are in shore and Bonito are feeding on them.”  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marian said, “We have reports of customers catching Bonito so they have arrived.” Elisa Chill of Snug Harbor said, “Bonito and false albacore have been up and down but they are around.  Bob Kolb’s grandson (six) caught a false albacore when fluke fishing with a bucktail at Nebraska Shoal.”


Offshore/cod fishing continues to be good. Eric Duda reports on the RISAA blog “Cox’s ledge has been very good last couple of weeks for Cod. South side, east or west in about 130 feet of water. Make sure you move around a lot to find them.  Everyone I have caught has been a keeper size, average around 6 pounds with the largest about 14 pounds most trips. Both jigging and clams have been working. A lot of ling out there too. Never tried ling before, but now it’s one of my favorites for dinner. Two weeks ago, saw a lot of Mahi around high fliers but last week only one or two.”  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor said, “The bluefin tuna bite at the Tuna Ridge, the Suffix, the Gully, Cox’s Ledge and the North West Corner of the Dump has been good.  Customers are catching them on the troll with Green Machines and Ballyhoo’s.  There has been some white marlin around too.  Dean Venticinque of the charter fishing vessel Twenty-five spotted three white marlin sunning themselves at the Mudhole.  He caught and released one earlier this week.”  Cahill said, “Cod fishing at the southeast corner of Cox’s Ledge has been good.  Customer Phil Bertoncini did well there this week.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Robotic bait lands 340 pound bluefin tuna

 Alex Petrucci Sr (center standing), Alex Jr (kneeling to left) and their crew caught a 340 bluefin tuna using a robotic Zombait.
 Zombait, the first robotic bait of its type, is stuck into the mouth of a dead bait fish larger than 8" to make it wiggle like a live bait.
 Eric Schenk with the 45” pike he caught this weekend while fishing the Blackstone River in Cumberland.
 Kelly Urban from Miami with Connor Sears, Seekonk with the black sea bass and other fish they caught Monday off Block Island when fishing with Conner’s father Steve Sears and Jack Leyden.
 Seven year old Michael Simpson of Narragansett (right) with the 30 pound striped bass he caught in Salt Pond fishing with eels.  Brother Gabe (five) on left.
Brothers Jonah and Neil Ellis (on either end), grandfather Sy Janaowsky and Joe Kaufman of North Kingstown fished for fluke, black sea bass and scup this week on the Bay.

Robotic lure lands 340 pound bluefin

“I’ve caught some pretty big bluefin in my day using all types of baits.  I’ve fished with bluefish, maceral, even a large live skate behind a scallop boat with success.” said Alex Petrucci of the sport fishing vessel Duck Soup out of Pt. Judith, RI.  He was talking about the 340 pound bluefin tuna he,  his son Alex Jr and his crew caught at the 6th Annual Bluefin Blowout in Gloucester, MA.

The Petrucci’s catching a large bluefin or other large tournament fish is not uncommon.  They have been doing it for years.  Alex and his family are fishing legends in Rhode Island.  Two years ago they took first place in the Bluefin Blowout Tournament.  But what was unusual this year, they caught a fish using a robotic bait called Zombait.  To my knowledge Zombait it is the first robotic fishing lure on the market.

Petrucci said, “It’s a lot better than using dead bait.  These fish come through and are hungry.  They do not stop and analyze things.  If it is moving that attracts them.  I had faith in this bait or I wouldn’t have been using it.  It gave the maceral we were using a nice look on deck and in the water.  It was one of six baits we had out at the same time.”

Zombait creates a realistic, injured swimming fish to attract your prey.  You simply insert this electric toothbrush looking bait into the mouth of a dead bait eight inches or larger; attach a hook and the dead bait wiggles around in the water. 

Zombait lasts about three hours on a battery charge and is good in water up to 200 feet. Visit www.zombait.com for a demonstration video on how the lure works and information about online sales. Individual units cost about $69 with a charger; a three pack with charger is $159.

The Bluefin Blowout is sponsored by the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group with all proceeds from the Bluefin Blowout Auction going to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

Great Outdoors Pursuit finale with vintage baseball games

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold its Great Outdoors Pursuit finale this Saturday at Rocky Point State Park starting with a vintage baseball game at 10:30 a.m.  Family activities will run from 12 noon until 3:30 p.m. 

The event includes a Rocky Point-themed scavenger hunt, rock wall, lawn games, and food trucks. Educational activities, including a clamming demonstration, marine touch tank, and gymnastic demonstrations, along with informational exhibits will also be offered. This event is free and open to the public. Only registered families are eligible for prizes and give-a-ways.

In addition, a double-header vintage baseball game between the Providence Grays and the New York Mutuals will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Historically, professional baseball games were held on the grounds of Rocky Point.  The most famous exhibition game took place on September 27, 1914, when the Providence Greys played the Chicago Cubs.  Slugger Babe Ruth pitched for Providence and also hit a triple in that game. 

ASMFC approves Atlantic menhaden amendment 3 for public comment

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Atlantic Menhaden Management Board approved Draft Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Menhaden for public comment.

The Draft Amendment seeks to manage the menhaden resource in a way that balances menhaden’s ecological role as a prey species with the needs of all user groups. To this end, the Draft Amendment considers the use of ecosystem reference points (ERPs) to manage the resource and changes to the allocation method.

The amendment also presents a suite of management options for quota transfers, quota rollovers, incidental catch, the episodic events set aside program, and the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery cap.

States from Maine to Florida will likely hold public hearings on the draft amendment.  Details on hearings are not yet available.  Visit www.asmfc.org  for a copy of amendment 3 and details on the hearings when they become available.  Public comment on the amendment is open until October 20, 2017.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Last weekend we weighted in a 6.5 pound largemouth bass that the customer is going to have mounted last week.” “Erick Schenck an associated at Ocean State Tackle, Providence caught a 45” pike this weekend on the Blackstone River in Cumberland.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State. The trout bite continues to be slow with warm water and stocked ponds that have been fished out.  However, the largemouth bass bite is fairly strong.

Striped bass. “Bass at the Block Island’s Southwest Ledge is either hot or cold.  Eels continue to work along with umbrella rigs.  And the bite from shore is fair.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “The best bet for fishing for stripers in the Bay right now is either tube and worm or umbrella rigs as the fish are dispersed.  From the surf, along the southern coastal shore anglers are doing fairly well.” Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “We have had a good bite with eels off Jamestown and Newport and a great bite with large fish at Block Island.  Customers are also trolling umbrella rigs and tube & worm with success.”

Summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass.  I fished the Newport and Jamestown Bridge areas a couple of times this weekend and the fluke bite was slow.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “Fluke fishing is good at the Hooter Buoy along the south shore and on Block Island.  Some days the windmill area is hot and other days East Fishing Grounds.  The West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge is yielding fluke for those fishing from shore along with scup and black sea bass.” “Fishing off Newport and Jamestown has been good for anglers, fish are in deep water (80 feet).  However, I’d like to remind anglers that fluke can be caught in very low water this time of year too (15 to 20 feet).”, said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.  Angler Jack Leyden said, “Monday Steve Sears and I took friends and family fishing off Block Island and netted over nine black sea bass, a fluke, scup and bluefish in two hours on a drift from the Southwest Ledge to the wind farm area in 60 to 80 feet of water.”  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Limits of sea bass were common this week with some limits of fluke. A lack of good drift on a number of outings put buck tail jigs and gulp products in the lead for top producers. As always these things change from day to day.”

“Offshore fishing exploded this week with a great bluefin tuna bite (the best this year so far). Customers have landed 35” to 45” bluefin from Tuna Ridge to the Northwest comer of the Dump.  Most are taking them on the troll now hooking up with white Marlin as well as mahi mahi.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina. “We have reports of bluefin as large as 90” to 110” being taken on 18” and 24” spreader bars with green machines working well.  Fish are being landed from the Claw to the Dump.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.  

Fishing with children

 Richard Nolan of Burrillville fished Tuesday with his grandchildren Solomon and Lennox Moore.
 Nick Elliott of Narragansett with a 22” summer flounder he caught while fishing the deep water south of the Newport Bridge. 
 Solomon Moore (four) of Brunswick, Maine with his prized scup. 
The new Goddard Park boat ramp is fully-accessible and features a new deeper water launch site.

Fishing with children

“This is the most fish I ever caught.” “Scup are great to catch.” “We’re going to make fish tacos when we get home.” These were some of the comments made Tuesday by brothers Lennox (seven) and Solomon Moore (four) as we fished Great Ledge on the north east side of the Jamestown Bridge.  The Brunswick, Maine brothers were in Rhode Island with their mother Alexis visiting grandparents and could not wait to try saltwater fishing.

Fishing with children is a lot of fun. No one catches a fish and is sad, particularly children. But to cultivate a child’s interest in fishing you have to tone things down and make it easy for them to catch fish.  It does not have to be a large fish; small fish make children enthusiastic too.  If children are not catching fish right away you can lose their interest. 
Here are some tips for taking children fishing.

First, the trip should be planned for the children and not the adults taking them.  Everyone’s energy on the vessel is geared toward the children to have them catch fish. This means kids only are fishing until they are successful.  It’s all about the children.

Where you fish is important, targeting ground fish that are easy to catch like scup and sea bass is important. Most children have the reflexes it takes for a quick hook set to catch scup and sea bass (faster reflexes than most adults I know).  Scup tend to be where there is water movement, structure and bait so anchoring up or drifting on a ledge, near a bridge, jetty or some other structure where you have caught fish before is a good idea.

You should also gear down.  Use light weight rods that children can handle.  I often use the lightest tackle I have (light weight spinning rods, rated for 8 to 17 pound test line) or small conventional reels and rods for children that have difficulty handling spinning reels.

I also keep the fishing rig simple.  Traditional scup (porgy) or sea bass rigs work well.  Two small hooks and a sinker works fine. The bait is simple too, a small piece of squid.  Keep things light, I once had a youngster eating cheese and crackers and he asked, “Do you think my cheese will work for bait.” We gave it a try.  The decision to use the cheese kept his interest and it worked.

Demonstrating how the rods and reels work is very important.  I often do a general introduction at the dock and a second time when we arrive at the first fishing spot. Then it’s one on one with an adult working with each child most of the day. 

Children do catch on quickly.  At the end of the trip Tuesday, seven year old Lennox was baiting his hook, setting the hook properly, landing fish and taking the fish off the hook.

Teach children how to be responsible anglers.  Obey fishing laws, practice catch and release, take only those fish children will eat, and teach them how to be good stewards of the environment.
Lastly, decide if you are going to keep fish for consumption at the beginning of the trip so there is no misunderstanding with the children (some want to bring them home as pets). Encourage children to eat or at least taste the fish once it is cooked at home.  Fish are a fresh, local and nutritious source of protein.  Something about eating what we catch is part of our DNA as humans.  I think this is an important part of the fishing experience.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing for trout has slowed as the water has warmed and stocked ponds have been fished out.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Customers are catching bass with shiners and a nice pike was caught on Blackstone River in Lincoln, RI.” Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “We weighted in a 6.5 pound largemouth bass that the customer is going to have mounted.” “Most freshwater fishermen are using shiners for largemouth bass.  One customer fished the Turner Reservoir (Rumford, RI) and hooked up with some fish there.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.

Striped bass. John Littlefield said, “This week we had more schools of pogies (Atlantic menhaden) presenting themselves in the upper Bay with two keepers, a 30” and 31” fish being taken at Pomham Light House.”  “One customer caught a 30 inch striped bass at Popasquash Point casting SP Minnows.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.  Mike Cardinal of Misquamicut Bait & Tackle (formerly Cardinal Bait), Westerly, said “Large bass are being caught on the Watch Hill reefs with anglers live lining scup and eels as bait.  The bite from the breech ways last week was restricted to school bass.”  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “We have had a good bite with eels off Jamestown and Newport and a great bite with large fish at Block Island.  Customers are also trolling umbrella rigs and tube & worm with success.” Angler Eric Appolonia of North Kingstown, RI said, “Last week before the storm my son Alex and his friend boated two nice fish in the 30 to 35 pound range.”  “The striped bass bite on the southwest side of Block Island is still very good with anglers catching fish with umbrella rigs as well as eels.  We had some 50 pound fish caught last week.” said Matt Conti of Sung Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been good at the Jamestown and Newport Bridges.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick.  I fished the Newport Bridge area twice this past week and managed a few nice keeper fluke to 23” and several nice sized black sea bass to 19”.  “Fluke fishing has slowed a bit along the southern coastal shore with a good bite still occurring south of Fishers Island (New York).” said Mike Cardinal.  Fluke fishing around Block Island at Clay Head and the North Rip area has been good as well as at the East Fishing Grounds and the South side in 80 feet of water.  As usual with fluke fishing, on any given day you have to fish a few places until you find the fish.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “The bite at the East Fishing Grounds and in the wind farm area has been good with the bite slowing a bit at Clay Head.  The bite is still on a bit along the southern coastal shore in about 60 feet of water.”  The fluke bite at Clay Head and the East Fishing Grounds Monday was very soft when I fished there, plenty of black sea bass.  Perhaps the previous day’s storm gave them lockjaw.

Black sea bass bite has been good at the Newport Bridge with anglers catching them in the Bay, off the coastal shore and at Block Island when they are fluke fishing.

“Scup fishing has been very good with anglers catching 10 to 15 nice fish each at Colt State park and off the bike path bridge.” said John Littlefield.  Mike Cardinal said, “The scup bite is very good off the breech ways.”  “With the bad weather this weekend customers have been doing a lot of scup fishing with a good bite at the Mt. Hope Bridge.” said Macedo of Lucky Bait.  We caught several nice scup fluke fishing under the Newport Bridge this past weekend. Tuesday I fished the Great Ledge area off Jamestown with brothers Lennox (seven) and Solomon Moore (four) and they caught about twenty fish in two hours.

Bluefish have been heavy at Block Island with anglers catching them when fishing for striped bass.  Snapper blue fishing in the bays, coves and harbors improved last week.

Offshore fishing.  “We had two customers come in with blue fin tuna late Friday.  One fish was about 33” and the second which had already been gutted weighed 104 pounds.  So anglers are catching some nice fish trolling for them, casting to them and even jigging seems to be working. The bite was south of Tuna Ridge to the Northwest corner of the Dump as well as the Claw area. Customers are also still catching Mako sharks.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.  

Law targeting fishermen approved by Cranston City Council

 Matt Wechbacker caught this 69 pound striped bass at Block Island with an eel when fishing with Capt. Corey Smith and Kurt Rivard Friday, July 21.
 Rich Heffernan, Tom Wood and Larry Audino fished the East Grounds off Block Island for summer flounder and black sea bass Saturday on No Fluke Charters.
 Newport black sea bass bite was good for Joe Roth of Boca Raton, FL who fished the bridge area with success Wednesday. He and wife Linda were fishing with cousin Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich.
Anthony Gauthier of Washington, DC with a thick summer flounder caught off Ft. Adams, Newport.  Anthony and Katie Conway (formerly of North Kingstown) married in Newport last week.


Law targeting fishermen approved by Cranston Council

In one of the first laws of its kind in the State of Rhode Island, the Cranston City Council approved a ‘No Fishing’ ordinance at the end of Ocean Avenue, Cranston at their July 24, 2017 meeting. The primary advocate for the ordinance was the Rhode Island Yacht Club, whose parking lot is adjacent to the public access fishing area.

Councilman John Lanni said that the ordinance was illegal and he was not voting for it. Lanni said, “Citizens are granted the right to access and fishing in our Rhode Island constitution.  This ‘No Fishing” ordinance would open the city up for expensive law suits.  This is the first time to my knowledge that any city in the state was trying to deny citizens the ability to fish at a public access.”
Michael Farina, council president, said, “I will not be intimidated by the treat of a law suit.  Out attorney says it is not illegal to do this so we are moving forward with it.”

Councilman Steven Stycos was the only other councilperson opposed to the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance and said, “Fishing is not the problem.  We need to enforce the laws we have and propose others such as restricted parking on Ocean Road.  However, the Yacht Club has said they want the parking spaces on the street for events they hold.”

In a letter dated July 21, 2017 to Council president Michael Farina from Larry Mouradjian, associate director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Mouradjian said, “The City of Cranston does not have the legal authority to ban fishing from the area which has been designated for public access.  Based on the Rhode Island Constitution and Rhode General Laws Section 20-1-2, the authority to regulate fish and wildlife has been delegated to DEM.”  The letter concluded, “Municipalities have been granted no authority to regulate fishing and the City’s attempt to ban fishing adversely impacts the constitutional rights of Rhode Islanders.”

Legal Counsel for the city testified (at president Farina’s urging) that they checked with involved state agencies such as the Costal Resource Management Authority and there was nothing wrong with the City ban on fishing at the access point as long as anglers could go down to the beach to fish.  Neither legal counsel nor Council president Farina mentioned the DEM letter at the Council meeting.
Michael Jarbeau, Narragansett Barkeeper for Save The Bay testified that the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance was unconstitutional and that Save the Bay was opposed to the ordinance.  In a letter to the Council Save The Bay said, “We are sensitive to neighborhood concerns, and the concerns of others who enjoy this public access site, regarding trash, congestion, and private property infringement. However, a fishing ban does nothing to address these concerns directly. Instead, this ordinance takes the unprecedented step of banning an activity so cherished by the state that it is explicitly protected in the Rhode Island Constitution.”

Richard Hittinger, 1st vice president of The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, testified and said, “Fishing access is a right granted by our State constitution.  The ‘No Fishing” ordinance is designed to deny and discourage fisherman, it specially targets fishing.  The real problem is trash, parking and congestion.  It’s not right to target fishing and fishermen.  We are opposed to the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance.”

Barbara Rubine, president of the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association testified that, “Our board objects to the trash and congestion at the end of Ocean Avenue and strongly believes the City needs to enforce ordinances already in place, we are opposed to banning fishing at the Ocean Avenue access point as we believe all should be able to enjoy the coastline.”

Before the council voted on the ordinance an amendment made by Councilman Michael Favicchio was approved.  The spirit of the amendment was to ban fishing on the road but allow it on the beach.  The amendment further made it unclear as to where the ‘No Fishing’ line was drawn i.e. at the edge of the road where there is a guardrail, up to the beginning of the sea wall, etc. Councilman Stycos urged clarification in the amendment, but it passed without further alternation.

Save The Bay, the Edgewood Preservation Association and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association all plan to urge Mayor Fung to veto the ‘No Fishing’ law.  The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association has also offered to help the City of Cranston and residents in the area with fishermen outreach.  In the past the Association has helped the State and cities with access area signage, the posting of fishing regulations, provided fishing line disposal dispensers and fishermen communication.

Free clamming workshops

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced it is hosting a series of free recreational clamming workshops this summer. The workshops, led by a local shellfisherman, review the history and value of shellfishing in Rhode Island and provide an opportunity for participants to dig for their own clams.

People of all ages are encouraged to participate. Space is limited and registration is required. To register, contact Kimberly Sullivan at Kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov. All equipment and materials will be provided.

A workshop was held in Bristol earlier this week, the remaining schedule includes workshops on:  Friday, August 11th, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at North Kingstown Town Beach, North Kingstown; Tuesday, August 22, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 9, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Rocky Point State Park, Warwick.

Clamming (known locally as quahogging) has a rich history in Rhode Island, as a significant contributor to the state’s commercial fishing industry as well as a great family recreational fishery. More than 28 million quahogs were harvested from Narragansett Bay and local coastal waters last year.

Come Clam With Me workshops are sponsored by DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) program. ARE provides a host of recreational fishing opportunities for the public – as well as marine science programming for educators.  For more information on ARE programs and events, visit www.dem.ri.gov/are.

Party boat fishing

Every wonder how to select a party fishing boat to go out on and just wish you knew which one was good and best for you.  You can learn how to select a party boat this Monday, July 31st, 7:00 p.m. at the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association’s (RISAA) Party Boat Seminar at the West Warwick Elks Lodge. 

Dianne Valerien will be quest speaker.  Dianne has fished for 40 years and worked on party boats for the past 20 years fishing for cod, black sea bass, summer flounder, scup tautog and striped bass.   Valerien said, “Fishing on a party boat is a great way to get out fishing on a boat.  It’s affordable and you can go it alone or fish with family and friends.”

Learn what to look for when choosing a party boat, differences in boat operations as well as fishing gear and techniques to employ when fishing on a party board.

Non-members are requested to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, members attend free. The Elks Lodge is at 60 Clyde Street, West Warwick.  Dinner between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. sold separately.  

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 http://mercury2017.com  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 http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ .