Thursday, November 5, 2015

Anglers simply want to be outdoors

 Capt. Rene Letourneau of On The Rocks Charters with a West Bay tautog he caught Tuesday while fishing with Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.
 Capt. Joe Pagano, taxidermist and charter captain from Stuff-It Charters, with a 60 pound striped bass mount.
Chris Konkol from North Kingstown RI with the brace of nice cod to ten pounds he caught last on the Gail Frances party boat.

Anglers simply want to be outdoors

In a recent angler survey by Southwick Associates of Fernandina Beach, when anglers were asked to note the reasons they like to fish, 88 percent of survey respondents cited "I like to spend time outdoors." It was the most selected response.

The desire to be outdoors was followed by "I like to spend time on or near the water." which was noted by 84 percent. The challenge experienced when fishing, selected by 80 percent of respondents even paled to simple "fun," which was selected by 83 percent.

As I mentioned last week in this fishing column, my personal feelings about fishing were reflected by most other anglers. Fishing is seen as a social activity with 71% citing spending time with friends and family as a key motivator. Only 50% cited eating their catch as a primary reason to fish.

"Many people love to spend their free time on the water with friends and family," says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the angler survey (as well as hunting and shooting surveys). "Fishing offers a lot of recreational benefits, but one of the biggest is the chance to simply get outside and enjoy nature. Angling is the preferred way to achieve the overall outdoor experience."

Visit for survey details.

Capt. Joe Pagano’s website at .

Where’s the bite

Tautog fishing continues to improve with fish being taken in Narragansett Bay and along the coastal shore.  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “Customers are catching tautog at just about any rock pile.  And at places such as Whale Rock, Pt. Judith Light and Plum Point Lighthouse they are catching fish.”  I fished the Newport area about ½ mile southeast of the Seal Ledge can Sunday for an hour after returning from Block Island with no luck.  However, customers fishing closer to shore seem to have better luck producing fish.  “Dirty water this weekend made tautog fishing challenging but customers still caught fish so this is a very good sign” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown. John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “Customers fishing the Providence River at the Heart Club just north of the Hurricane Barrier said they caught many short fish there but the Wharf Tavern in Warren produced two keepers for them.  Others are reporting a good tautog bite in the Jamestown Bridge area.”  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet, said, “Tautog fishing continues to be very strong. Fishing was outstanding last week with limits common place. We broke the ten pound barrier with a fine tog of nearly 11 pounds and had two other fish in the 10 pound range. Varying numbers of sea bass mixed in but a few trips early in the week saw some fishers have a limit of those to go along with their tog and a few keeper cod.” “Tautog are still in low water as the temperature in the Westerly area is still in the 60’s.  Once the water cools the fish will be moving to deeper water.  We weighed in a couple of eight and nine pound fish caught inside of Fishers Island that were in fairly low water.  The tautog bite is going to do nothing but improve so I am looking forward to fishing.” This Tuesday Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle called me from the water when fishing with Capt. Rene Letourneau of On the Rocks Charters.  Dave said, “We have caught about forty fish and four keepers, the bite is very, very soft and subtle.” They were fishing in 40 feet of water on a rock pile off Jamestown.

Black sea bass, cod and scup bite is still strong. “Anglers are catching their black sea bass limit in waters along the southern coastal shore where they normally catch summer flounder. However, they have moved to deeper water” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.  I fished with angler Steve Brustein Sunday and we had little trouble catching our limit at the southwest ledge on Block Island with scup in the 15” range.  Four party boats from New York where fishing the southwest ledge hard for black sea bass and scup. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said “The black sea bass and scup bite is good but it is starting to slow.”  “Cod fishing was good this week both on the southeast and southwest corner of Cox’s Ledge.  The good news is that anglers can keep sea bass they catch in Federal waters so it makes traveling that distance worthwhile.” said Matt Conti of Sung Harbor Marina. “This weekend customers fished the Newport area for seabass and all three limited out with 28 fish to four pounds.” said John Littlefield of Riverside.

Bluefish and striped bass. “A customer took a charter to catch bluefish in Narragansett Bay and they caught six nice bluefish and one keeper striped bass in the Ohio Ledge/Colt State Park area.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. “Customers are still catching striped bass and bluefish from the beaches in Narragansett and from the breachways in South County.” said Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Outfitters.  “Last week things slowed a bit because we had so much bait in the water.   But I expect they will pick up again this week.  The week before last was outstanding with many striped bass and bluefish blitzes.” said Mike Wake of Watch Hill Outfitters. Conti of Snug Harbor Mariana said, “The bass bite is pretty good along the southern shore where they are catching school size bass and fish to twenty pounds.  And, they are still catching fish at the North Rip at Block Island.  We haven’t heard much about the bite on the southwest corner.”

False albacore.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill said, “Customers are still catching false albacore inside of Fishers Island.”

Offshore.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “We have a good weather forecast for early in the week.  I have some customers that plan to fish the Hudson Canyons for yellowfin tuna and swordfish.  Customers this week that fished the Mud hole did not produce.”

Freshwater fishing remains very strong.  “I had a customer that caught a great variety of fish at Echo Pond, Barrington including largemouth bass, trout and pickerel so fishing is pretty good.  I am still selling quite a few shiners.” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.  “Trout fishing at the lakes, ponds and rivers that were stocked by DEM has been very good.” said Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane.  Visit for a listing of stocked pounds.

What fishing can do for you

 Geoff Monti had no trouble catching his limit of tautog (to six pounds) off Newport this Saturday
Tim Stanhope of Bellingham, MA with a ten pound pool winning cod caught on the Frances Fleet.

What fishing can do

I fished with family and friends this past week.  And I have to tell you it was great. 
It reminded me of what I have always known, but often forget.  Sometimes I get caught up in the frenzy to catch fish when taking people fishing for hire as a charter captain.  And somethings, I loose perspective and think it is all about the fish.

What fishing with my son Geoff, and friends Chuck, Kevin, Steve, Jim and Rick reminded me of this past week is that sometimes it is not all about the fish.  But rather it is about the bond that is developed and enhanced between mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, father-in-laws, old and new friends.

Fishing affords you the time to get to know someone.  You talk about challengers and dreams, and sometimes just have plan old fun.

Thank you Geoff and friends for helping me keep a proper perspective about fishing.

New model helps determine impact of climate change on fish habitat 
A new approach by U.S. Geological Survey scientists to modeling water temperatures resulted in more realistic predictions of how climate change will affect fish habitat by taking into account effects of cold groundwater sources.
The study, recently published in the journal Ecological Applications, showed that groundwater is highly influential but also highly variable among streams and will lead to a patchy distribution of suitable fish habitat under climate change.  This new modeling approach used brook trout, but can be applied to other species that require cold water streams for survival.
"One thing that has been missing from other models is the recognition that groundwater moderates the temperature of headwater streams," said Nathaniel Hitt, a fish biologist and study coauthor. "Our paper helps to bring the effects of groundwater into climate change forecasts for fish habitat."
Climate change models predict that summer air temperatures will increase between 2.7 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the eastern United States over the next 50 to 100 years. Such increases in air temperatures will increase water temperatures of streams and rivers and pose a significant threat to fish like brook trout that have low resistance to warming water temperatures. 
Brook trout are an important cultural and recreational species with specific restoration outcomes identified in the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
"Our models help improve the spatial resolution of climate change forecasts in headwater streams," said Craig Snyder, a USGS research ecologist and lead author of the study. "This work will assist conservation and restoration efforts by connecting climate change models to places that matter for stream fishes."
The study is available on the ESA website at
Workshop and public hearing on fishing regulations

A workshop on proposed commercial fishing regulations for Rhode Island will be held November 16, 4:30 p.m., followed by a public hearing at 6:00 p.m. at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Coastal Institute Building, Hazard Room.

Public comment will be solicited on amendments to "RIMFR - Finfish" including commercial management for summer flounder, bluefish, scup and black sea bass as well as editing changes and proposed amendments to the RIMER- Legislative findings.

Small businesses which are either currently licensed, or in the future may seek a license to harvest, buy, sell, or produce seafood products, as well as the small businesses that provide services related to those engaged in such industries, are requested to comment on the proposed regulations.  Comments should focus on how proposed regulations can be changed to minimize the impact on businesses affected.

A copy of the proposed regulations is available for review through November 16, 2015 at the Marine Fisheries offices, or by mail. A copy of the proposed regulation(s) has been filed with the Office of the Secretary of State’s website at Proposed regulations are also available on DEM’s Website.

Written comments concerning the proposed regulations may be submitted to Peter Duhamel, Division of Fish and Wildlife  Marine Fisheries office, 3 Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI 02835 no later than 12:00 Noon on November 16, 2015.

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission annual meeting

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) will hold their 74th Annual Meeting November 2‐5, 2015 at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort in St. Augustine, FL.

Many key issues that will impact recreational anglers in Rhode Island will be discussed and/or determined.  Stock assessments, reports and fishery management plan recommendations on species such as tautog, scup, black sea bass and summer flounder are expected.  Some species, such as summer flounder and tautog, may have more conservative regulations due to overfishing and/or recent stock assessments.

For agenda and meeting materials, visit‐Annual‐Meeting. You can also attend meeting sessions via a go to webinar or listen in via conference call.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass fishing is good along the coastal shore but many anglers are focusing on other species. “This week we had a school of bass in the 20 pound range come through the south shore in the Green Hill area and anglers did well.  But it is hit or miss this time of year as the fish are moving, migrating south.  There one day and not the next.  The North Rip has been good too.  Anglers are using diamond jigs with success and eels at night or early morning as the bluefish are killing the eels during the day.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.

Black sea bass opened up again in Federal waters (October 22) so anglers can keep their Rhode Island limit of seven fish.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina. “Black sea bass being open in Federal waters is big, now anglers targeting cod fish in places like the East Fishing Grounds can keep some of the sea bass they have been catching when targeting cod.” “Guys are still targeting black sea bass and are doing good.”  said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.

Tautog fishing has been outstanding.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Customers of Capt. B.J. Silvia, Flippin Out Charters, landed seven fish that were ten pounds or over in the past two weeks.  Fish are in the Bay and off the coast biting on both Asian and green crabs.  Anglers caught tautog all the way up the Providence River right at the Save the Bay facility.”  I fished off Newport Saturday with my son Geoff Monti and he had no trouble limiting out with fish to six pounds.  The beauty is that not only are the tautog plentiful but anglers are picking up a number of black sea bass as a bonus when tautog fishing. I fished off Newport again Tuesday with a friend (in 60 feet of water) and we boated only one tautog, did not check in shore were there were a ton of boats. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Local tautog fishing has been quite good. Friday and Saturday were the best days where there were quite a few angler limits with the largest fish pushing the eight pound mark. Varying numbers of keeper sea bass are mixed in with a few small cod starting to show both keepers and shorts.”   Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “You still hear some anglers complain about catching a lot of shorts but for the most part customers are landing five to eight pound tautog.  They are catching them with green crags and Asian crabs.  Jigs are working too.”  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “We sold a record number of crabs.  Anglers are fishing and catching off Narragansett at River Ledge and Brenton Reef, Newport.  Anglers are catching tautog off Scarborough and at the Pt. Judith Light but the fish are smaller as the larger ones have been picked over.”

Cod fishing.  Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The biggest fish last week was twenty pounds with hi hook scoring five keepers. Sea Bass reopened in federal waters for Friday and anglers aboard easily attained limits of jumbo sea bass to five pounds. Mixed in on all the trips have been varying quantities jumbo porgies and some nice size ocean perch along with an occasional bluefish.”

“Squid fishing is good in the Jamestown and Newport areas.  Anglers are catching squid at Ft. Wetherill, Ft. Adams and on the Goat Island causeway.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. “Squid fishing is great.  Some customers are walking out of here with $50 to $100 of squid jigs.  They are catching them in Newport on the Causeway and Jamestown at the usual places.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.

Freshwater fishing for trout is good, particularly at ponds stocked by DEM in the past two weeks.  Visit for a list of ponds. “Trout at Carbuncle Pond and at Lincoln Woods are taking PowerBait worms as well as small and medium shiners.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

Catch and release… and then mount your fish?

 Steve Brustein caught this cod (about to be filleted) while tautog fishing off Newport.
 Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich with a black sea bass caught with a green crab while tautog fishing
 Mike Radziszewski’s 57 pound, eight ounce striped bass that took first place in the Pabst Blue Ribbon Fishing Tournament.  
Capt. Joe Pagano of Stuff-It Charters will speak about taxidermy at a RISAA meeting Monday, October 26 at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick, RI.

Catch and release… and then mount your fish?

How would you like to stuff a 10’ 2” Alaskan Kodiak brown bear, a full size lion attacking a zebra, or better still recondition a polar bear originally prepared in the 1800’s and build an iceberg for it to stand on alongside another bear at the Roger Williams Park Zoo?
This is what Captain Joe Pagano of Stuff-It Charters has done since high school as a taxidermist along with preparing a full range of fish mounts… shark, bluefin tuna, striped bass, cat fish, largemouth bass and much, much more.
Next week Capt. Pagano will be guest speaker at a Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association Monday, October 26, 7:00 p.m. meeting at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick, RI.  And of course, the topic will be taxidermy. Many of the animals like the panda bear he stuffed came from a zoo where the animal had passed away and now was being preserved for exhibition.  
Capt. Pagano said, “Many anglers who catch trophy fish now prefer to release the fish after they take a photograph and measure it and have a fiberglass replica made of the fish.” Pagano said, "This is usually more expensive as the glass mounts are sculptured and painted to match the fish in the photo.  But the beauty is that the angler has the satisfaction of releasing the fish back into the water.” 
“Taxidermy in the winter and taking people fishing in the summer is all I have ever done.”  Pagano is a noted local charter captain who fishing in the surf near shore for striped bass with his boat often fishing at night.  He practices catch, tag and release with many of his customers. And, in 1991, Captain Pagano caught the second largest fish in the world ever landed by rod and reel. It was a 2,909 pound, 15 1/2-foot long Great White Shark. 
The evening starts with an optional West Valley Inn Dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.   Non-members are welcome and are asked to make a $10 contribution to the RISAA Scholarship fund, no charge for RISAA members.  Visit (calendar) for details.

First place striped bass earns $10,000

The final winners of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Fishing Tournament received their awards Saturday at a special ceremony held at the Ocean Mist Restaurant, South Kingstown, RI.  This is the tournament’s fourth year with an expanded time frame and weekly, monthly and overall tournament prizes for striped bass, bluefish and summer flounder (fluke).  Visit for details on tournament winners.

Where’s the bite?

Tautog fishing was outstanding this week. Both shore and boat anglers have been limiting out.  And this weekend (October 18) the limit increased to six fish/angler/day. However the ten fish boat limit is still in place (does not apply to charter or party boats).  Again this week I fished off Newport with great results.  In addition to tautog, the two anglers on board Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich and Steve Brustein of West Warwick caught five black sea bass, scup and a cod.  Yes, a cod fish while fishing with green crabs for tautog.  In fact a number of cod fish were caught in shore this week.  Nelson Valles of Maridee Bait & Canvas, Narragansett said, “A few customers caught cod in shore this weekend, two anglers were fishing Black Point for tautog and caught cod fish.”  Valles said, “Tautog is being landed off the rocks from shore all along the Avenues.”  “Commercial tautog fishermen are having no trouble catching their ten fish limit.  Tautog fishing is very, very good right now. Recreational fishermen are doing very well too.” said Tom at Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown. “A customer fishing Coddington Cove Saturday with two friends caught thirty shorts and nine keepers. And those who fished Conimicut Light would go through a half gallon of crabs to catch three keepers. However the bite from shore at the Wharf Tavern and at the bridges in Warren and Barrington is good.  Anglers are catching keepers, a much improved tautog bite from last week were most were catching shorts.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.

Black sea bass are still plentiful. Few anglers are targeting, but rather they are catching them while tautog fishing. Anglers are still catching sea bass at Colt State park when tautog fishing said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Cod fishing has been fair.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We are finding a few cod just about everywhere which is good - just not in the numbers since before the eight days of gale force winds in early October. Mixed in with the cod have been some good size porgies and ocean perch, a few noteworthy fluke including a ten pound fish caught by customer John Magnuszewski from Newington CT, an occasional sea flounder and a handful of blue fish. Both jigs and bait did account for keeper cod this past week.”

Striped bass fishing has slowed.  Nelson Valles of Maridee Bait & Canvas said, “It's hit of miss with striped bass.  If you are fishing from shore you may as well stay put and wait for a school of bait to come close to shore.”  Fall striped bass are generally migrating and are on the move.  “Many school size bass are in Salt Pond and anglers are catching them often.” said Tom of Snug Harbor Marina. Striped bass fishing in the upper Bay has slowed with some fish being caught in the Mr. Hope area.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Freshwater ponds stocked for fall, while saltwater tautog bite is strong

 Angler Steve Brustein with a large tautog caught at General Rock, North Kingstown earlier this week.
 This week Rick Croteau and Jim Malachowski caught tautog to 23 inches off Newport.
 Erik Jackson of Charlestown, RI with a cod he caught last week on the Frances fleet.
 Chef Steve Brustein said, “Sea robin tails, particularly the large ones, are delicious to eat.”  They are often used in bouillabaisse
Angler Jim Malachowski of Cranston was greeted by dolphins as he left Newport to tautog fish Monday. 

Freshwater ponds stocked for fall, while saltwater tautog bite is strong

“We hope families will venture out and experience the thrill of reeling in a trout.” said Janet Coit, Director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM).  Last week DEM announced it stocked Rhode Island ponds and rivers with 6,600 brown and brook trout.

The ponds and rivers stocked with trout include:  Meadowbrook Pond, Richmond; Carbuncle Pond, Coventry; Olney Pond, Lincoln; Silver Spring Pond, North Kingstown; Barber Pond South Kingstown; Carolina Trout Pond , Hopkinton; Beaver River, Richmond; Round Top Pond, Burrillville; Stafford Pond, Tiverton; Wyoming Pond, Hopkinton; Blackstone River; Upper Pawtuxet River, Cranston and West Warwick; and Wood River and Pawcatuck Rivers, Richmond.
A 2015 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older.  A trout conservation stamp is also required of anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or ‘fly-fishing only’ area.  Fishing licenses can be purchased online at or in person by visiting the Boat Registration and Licensing Office at DEM Headquarters, 235 Promenade Street, Providence.
Fishermen in Northeast are dedicated to sport
A report about recreational fishing in the U.S. found that anglers in the Northeast and Midwest had the lowest drop-out rate compared to anglers in other parts of the country. The report examined fishing license purchases in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast and West over a ten year period. 
While there were some significant differences among regions, in each region the analysis was consistent with what was found nationally:  women, young people, and those who live in urban communities are more likely to lapse in their fishing from year to year.
Visit for study details.
Where’s the bite?

The tautog bite was very good this week with some very nice fish being caught off Newport and Narragansett on rock clusters.  Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “Anglers were catching tautog at Conimicut Light and limiting out quickly.”  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Tautog fishing is improving as the water clears with fish being caught off Narragansett.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “I sold more crabs than ever this weekend.  Customers are catching tautog at Hope Island, Coddington Cove, and in the upper Bay, customers are limiting out at Conimicut Light with a strong bite along the bulkheads in the Providence River on the west side industrial area.”  I fished with anglers Rick Croteau and Jim Malachowski off Newport Monday and they found good sized tautog to 23”, also fished the General Rock area Saturday in North Kingstown and caught two keepers with those on board having difficulty landing keepers. Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters said, “I have been fishing the #2QR  buoy and # 4 buoy one mile south of Castle Hill and the Fountain area one mile further out.  We caught a mixture of sea bass and blackfish.  We had the same results yesterday at the site of the old Brenton light tower on Columbus Day.  Two sea bass tipped the scale at 6 and 7 lbs.  Largest blackfish was 9 lbs. with six others over 7 lbs.  The first 5 hours of the day had consistent action with the last hour having zero results. I’m sailing as an open boat forming mixed groups during the next two weeks.” Angler Lary Norin said, “I fished for tog Friday and Saturday morning.  Friday 7-11 a.m. two keepers and countless shorts.  Saturday the first five casts produced four fish and two keepers and then it was nonstop action until we left around 9:30 a.m.  Short morning we left them biting.  Fish were caught on Asian and green crabs.”  Mitch Maloof of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown said, “The tautog bite has been good at the Charlestown Breachway.”

Striped bass and bluefish in the Bay are back.  Greg Bruning from the Tackle Box said, “Large bluefish in the ten pound range are being caught at Conimicut Point along with keeper sized bass mixed in.”  “Thursday was an OK day for bass fishing at the southwest Ledge off Block Island but I expect things to pick up more as the water continues to clear.  We had a good bass bite this week from Watch Hill to Point Judith from shore.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor. Fishing along the southern coastal shore has been very good. “Striped bass in the 20” to 40” range are being caught out in from as well as from the Charlestown Breachway and from shore.” said Mitch Maloof of Breachway Bait & Tackle.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Barrington Beach has been very good for nice sized bluefish all week.”

Offshore and inshore… bonito, false albacore, sharks and bluefin. “False albacore bite was occurring all the way up Narragansett Bay last week with fish surfacing in the Popasquash Point, Bristol area.” said Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box.  “There were green bonito at the Mudhole along with blue sharks today (Thursday). The water is now 64 degrees at the Mudhole so the bluefin should start coming around” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The big news this week was the outstanding tuna trip Friday. A big eye tuna estimated to be over 250 pounds and a swordfish well over 150 pounds complimented a great catch of 50-75 pound yellows and a bunch of albacore. Toss in plenty of mahi to 30 pounds, a Wahoo and a few big ones that got away and all we can say is…What a trip!”

Cod fishing is fair.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “A fair amount of cod both on Wednesday and Saturday's trips. Hi hooks had 3 apiece each day.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

NOAA seeks input on ecosystem-based fisheries policy and regional action plan

Chung Nguyen of Providence caught a 35” striped bass off the Charleston Breachway Saturday during a storm and rough seas.

John Migliori said this Big Pond, Aquidneck Island bass was caouth using a Schadey creek Lure this week in windy conditions after the storm.
NOAA seeks input on ecosystem-based fisheries policy and regional action plan
Last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a request for fishermen input on their ecosystem-based fisheries management draft policy.  That was followed by and additional request seeking input on their recreational fisheries regional implication plan.

In an advisory to the recreational fishing community NOAA said, “We are taking an important step in our management of saltwater recreation fishing with the development of a Greater Atlantic Region Recreation Fisheries Implementation Plan.  The plan will include a list of action items to be taken in the northeast to implement the framework laid out in the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Implementation Plan.

The national plan has six guiding principles including:  support for ecosystem conservation and enhancement; public access to quality fishing locations; state and federal management coordination; innovative solutions to evolving science, management and environmental challenges; provide trusted/scientifically sound social, cultural, economic and ecological information; and communicate and engage the recreational fishing public.

Anglers are asked to help NOAA develop a regional plan for 2016-2017 by relating what NOAA can do to improve and what they should do for recreational fishing community.  Anglers should provide input on issues such as the activities or services they would like to see and/or the ones they find unnecessary, approaches for improving communication with recreational anglers, etc. 

Comments should be submitted to  by October 26. Contact the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Recreational Fishing Coordinator, Dr. Earl Meredith at 978.281.9276.

NOAA is also seeking fishermen input on their ecosystem-based fisheries management draft policy which can be found at
The draft policy is being developed to insure the long-term health of marine fisheries resources which is largely dependent on our collective ability to understand and account for the interactions around key species, their environment and the people who rely upon them for food, recreation and their livelihoods.

In an advisory NOAA said, “We recognize that ecosystem-based fisheries management is a shared responsibility. Your experience and expertise should be reflected in the policy, which is why we wanted to share a draft policy with you.”

Fishermen are asked to provide thoughts by December 16, 2015.  Comments and questions should be sent via email to Jason Link.  Visit the policy are at website address above for details.

Lean about fly fishing Labrador City and Northern Quebec

On Wednesday, October 28, 6:30 pm the Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will host Rick Little, owner of Shadcreek Flies, Hampstead, NH.  The meeting will take place at the Coventry/West Greenwich Elks Lodge, 42 Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich.

Rick enjoys adapting some of his freshwater techniques and approaches to the salt and that passion has influenced the types of flies that he uses and how he fishes them.  Members and guest will learn about the “Adventure Trip to Labrador City and Northern Quebec, open for both anglers and guest non-anglers.

Contact Ron Marafioti at (401) 463-6162 with questions.

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing has remained strong even during recent storms.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Saturday Chung Nguyen of Providence caught a 35” striped bass off the Charlestown Breachway using one of Strike Pro’s 2 3/4 ounces Surf Pro round bottom pencils.” 
Tautog fishing is improving as water conditions calm down.  Last week Gisele and Rich Golembeski fished the Narragansett area for tautog.  Gisele said, “Launched from Wilson Park dock in Wickford searching for tautog (before the storms). Fished on some rock piles off Narragansett Beach. Final tally 9 keeper sea bass (lots of shorts) at least 6 short t-tog, and one surprise 19 1/2" cod!! Never thought there were cod that close to shore!!! Too bad it wasn't a keeper!! All caught on crabs.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “A few anglers fished Sunday where they could find a stop out of the wind.  They fished Johnson’s Ledge and around Hope Island hooking up with a few fish but nothing spectacular due well due to rough conditions.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Tautog are being caught at the Wharf Tavern on an eight to one keeper ratio.  Anglers are also catching a lot of oyster toadfish in the process.  More than in other years.”
Oyster toadfish are being caught by anglers when tautog fishing at the Wharf Tavern in Warren. They lay at the bottom and ambush prey such as crustaceans, mollusks, squid and other small fish. Photo licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Bluefish were being caught even after the storm in the Conimicut Light to Barrington Beach area.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “We have had a good bluefish bite the past few weeks, even after the storm this Sunday bluefish in the 6 to 9 pound range were being caught in Greenwich Cove and Bay.”
 Skipjacks continue to be around everywhere in coves and harbors and along the coastline of Providence and East Providence.” said John Littlefield.

Cod fishing before the storms was good.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances fleet said, “Monday was a good day.  Many of the fishers aboard had four to seven nice cod apiece to take home. There were some bigger fish well into the teens with the best threatening the 20 pound mark. Both bait and jigs were producing well.”

Near record tautog and how to catch them

 Joe Bleczinski of Narragansett, RI and the 18.9 pound tautog he caught off Narragansett at Whale Rock.
Fly fishing expert Ed Lombardo with looks to be a 40” plus striped bass he caught at Narrow River using his fly rod and a large fly.

Near record tautog and how to catch them

Tautog (or black fish) have a delicious white colored flesh and are commonly caught in Rhode Island in the fall (there is a short spring season as well).  They remind me of grouper but are much smaller. They live near or in rocks and are not often sold in fish markets because they are more difficult to catch commercially. Tautog baits include crabs of all types, tautog jigs and some anglers using clam worms in the spring.

The minimum legal size in Rhode Island is 16” with a three fish/person/day limit until October 17th.  On October 18th the limit jumps to six fish.  However, a ten fish per boat limit applies for both periods (does not apply to charter boats).

Last week Joe Bleczinski of Narragansett, RI caught a 18.9 pound tautog.  This is a fish of a lifetime.  The Rhode Island state record for tautog is 21 pounds, 4 ounces set in 1954. Joe is vice principal at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School.

Joe Bleczinski's 18.9 pound tautog broke the net handle on the way in.

Joe said, “We were fishing at Whale Rock (at the mouth of the West Passage off Narragansett).    I felt a tug and thought I was stuck at the bottom.  Then the boat started to move sideways and I said ‘Get the net this is a big fish’.  The fish did not fight a lot it just deliberately started to swim away and take the boat with it.” Joe and his fishing mates managed to boat the fish even though it broke the net handle on the way in.

If you want to land tautog here are five tips from Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters, Pt. Judith who spoke about tautog fishing this week at a Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) seminar.

Capt. Charlie Donilon, Snappa Characters. 

Fishing rod and line.  Capt. Donilon said “I suggest a longer rod for tautog, ideally something at least seven feet with a little bit of backbone.  The longer rod allows you to raise the rod a greater distance from the water while setting the hook… pulling that fish away from structure.  Braid line allows you a more direct contact with the fish to feel the bite and will not stretch like monofilament line allowing the fish to go back into structure.”

Chumming is important.  “If I am bringing five gallons of crabs on a charter trip, one of them will be used for chum.”  Charlie’s chumming technique is not fancy.  He cuts the legs off green crabs (he uses Asian crabs too) with cutting shears, cuts crabs in half and then throws them in the water throughout the fishing area.

Anchoring over structure.  “I have a heavy anchor for my boat, 20 pounds with 20 feet of chain that allows me to get away with less scope and more accurately positon the boat over structure.”  His scope ratio is more like three to one rather than the seven to one or ten to one ratio commonly recommended based on conditions.

Sharp hooks.  Tautog have tough lips so sharp hooks are necessary.  Capt. Donilon said, “Anglers spend so much time and money to fish so why skimp when it comes to hooks.  I use ‘Lazar Sharp’ hooks.”
 Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters, Pt. Judith, takes this New York group tautog  fishing every fall.  “They are some of the best tautog fishermen I know.” said Capt. Donilon.

Finesse the rod as you ride the swells.  “When the boat is rising and falling due to ocean swells you have to finesse the rod making every effort to keep that bait on the bottom in the strike zone.” said Capt. Donilon.  So when the boat rises you need to lower your rod to stay on the bottom and when the boat falls you need to raise the rod to take up the slack so you can feel the bite when it occurs.

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing is improving with some bass now being caught in Bays, rivers and coves with an enhance bite along the southern coastal shore and off Newport to Little Crompton.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Customers are catching bass at the Newport Bridge next to the bridge stanchions and then trying their luck outside at Brenton Reef.”  Noted local fly fishing expert Ed Lombardo said, “I got a bass (looked to be 40 plus inches) at Narrow River on a large fly.  Lots of bait in the river right now and the good news is that the bass are starting to move in now.  There are many hickory shad too which are lots of fun on a 6 or 7 weight rod.  Pink flies are working very well.”  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “We (I) had a great night fishing (Monday) for striped bass in the 20 to 30 pound range with eels in the Sugar Reef Passage area (about six miles off Watch Hill on the Block Island-New London Ferry line route). When the clouds covered the big moon the bite was on and things slowed as the moon lite things up.  The shoreline guys are doing well too at Weekapaug Breachway and at Fireman’s Beach.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “This weekend striped bass were from Brenton Reef to Little Compton close to shore and the bass are taking clams off the beaches on Block Island. They are now starting to come back in our rivers too.”  Many Macedo of  Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Bluefish and keeper strped bass in the 30” range are being caught in the East Passage off Colt State Park, Popasquash Point, Bristol and the T Wharf at Prudence Island.  We  had a couple of Prudence Island residents come in to buy bait last week.”

“False albacore and bonito are being caught inside New Harbor, Block Island this weekend and were close to shore between Brenton Reef and shore off Newport Sunday.,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The false albacore bite has moved off shore to Fishers Island Sound and Montauk.”

Skip jack blues are everywhere” said Dave Henault of Ocean State tackle. “There are lots of skip jacks and peanut bunker around.  I mean a lot.  Some angles have caught yellow jack fish under the skip jacks and thought they were bonito or false albacore.  Actually the yellow jacks are very good to eat.”

Black sea bass fishing remains strong off coastal shore in and around Newport.  I fished off Newport and at the mouth of Newport Harbor Sunday and we boated twelve nice keeper sea bass.

Offshore fishing.  Captain Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters said, “I have been fishing the Mud hole for the past two to three weeks. Last week was the final week taking customers out with the shark cage and we came in contact with mako and blue sharks.  The water was 66 degrees. We caught a false albacore but no bonito or bluefin tuna.  We saw a couple of schools of common dolphins and the draggers are still working the area so you know the area is holding fish and should still be good as long as the bait is there.”

Mobile technology a big trend at the boat show

 Peter Van Lancker, president of Hunt Yachts, Portsmouth collects the Best New Power Boat award at the Newport International Boat Show from Sally Helme of Cruising/ Sailing World magazines (left) and Nancy Pifard of the Newport Exhibition Group. 
 The Hunt 32 cc won Best New Power Boat at the Newport International Boat Show.
Eric Teronzak from Glocester with a striped bass caught on Stuff-It Charters with Capt. Joe Pagano.

Mobile technology a big trend at the boat show

Want to check your boat’s fuel level from the office?  How about making sure the bilge pumps are working or if the vessel is secure?

You can do it all with your cellphone from the office, the car or your living room couch.  The trend of mobile communications we have experienced on land with homes and automobiles has worked its way to the boating industry and will soon be more commonplace on vessels of all types.  This was one of many trends highlighted at an industry panel discussion Friday morning at the Newport International Boat Show.

In addition to advances in boating technology, there were hundreds of boats (many being introduced for the first time) and thousands of products to help boaters (and fishermen) enhance and care for their vessels.  And this weekend the City of Newport was ready. 

“Newport welcomes you.  We are ready for you.  It has been a great year for Newport. We have had wonderful people here starting with the Volvo sailing event.  We are proud to host the boat show and look forward to seeing you next year.” said Mayor Jeanne Napolitano at the “Best of Show” awards breakfast held Friday morning.

Here’s what I liked at the show

Hunt Yachts. Peter Van Lancker, president of Hunt Yachts, Portsmouth, RI gave me a tour of their new 32’center console which had just received the Best New Power Boat show award.  Van Lancker said, “The boat is made for both fishing and family cruising.  It has a unique entry to the left of the helm that allows passengers easy access below even while underway and the captain is at the helm.” The Hunt 32 center console features accent lighting all around, comfortable seating for eight at the bow for family and friends.  And for fishing, it has outriggers, several insulated storage/fish boxes that drain overboard, and optional bait well locations.  It has a sink and grill option on deck and a head with shower, sink and bunk below. And, it can rip through chop at 45 mph to get you to your favorite fishing grounds quickly.  Find out more at

Bee’s Knees Zipper Wax tops.  I know because I used it on my boat canvas zippers this weekend. Linda Mendonca, company founder said, “I captained an old boat and took all the canvas off for cleaning.  Well it took me an hour to put one canvass back on as the zippers wouldn’t budge.  That’s how I invented Bee’s Knees Zipper Wax. The wax is a natural lubricant that can be used for all zippers and snaps, to lubricate wooden draws, hatches and it is 100% natural and won’t harm boat surfaces including Isinglass.”  You can purchase the product online at
Big Fish Paddleboards are stand up inflatable paddleboards.  They offer a 10’2” board, the Bluefish, which sells on line for $1,095,  it is 32” wide and 6” thick and can handle paddlers up to 250 pounds.  A larger board model, the Kingfish, is an 11’ board that is 32” wide, and 6” thick.  The Kingfish can handle the largest of paddlers or multiple paddlers.  Both boards are sold as packages and come complete with 21.8 psi pump, a 3 piece paddle, and two removable center fins, a knapsack, and repair kit. Company president Richard Allen said, “Big Fish boards are rigid, stable and very durable.  The beauty of these boards is that they are extremely portable.  It all fits into a supplied knapsack and it takes about 250 pumps on the supplied pump to fill the board.”  At press time Big Fish had a $400 Newport Show discount available online.  Visit

Monomoy First Light is a new wooden 26” center console power boat designed for family fun and fishing.  Owner Mike Pease of Pease Boat Works said, “My brother and I built them with classic lines reminiscent of oldc bass boats.  They feature lapstreak sides and a fiberglass hull for durability and ease of maintenance.”  The vessel is powered by a 140 HP, four stroke outboard engine housed in an engine box at the stern.  Overall the boat has many hand crafted features.  Boats can be customized with bronze hardware, prices range from $125,000 to $185,000.  Visit .

Tautog fishing seminar with Capt. Donilon

Learn tautog fishing tips and techniques from one of the area’s most respected charter captains, Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters.  Capt. Donilon will be the guest speaker at the Monday, September 28, 7:00 p.m. Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) seminar talking about the many aspects of successful tautog fishing including tackle, baits, fishing area and more. Non-members are welcome and are requested to make a $10 donation to the RISAA scholarship fund, RISAA member attend free.  A RISAA quarterly meeting will follow the presentation. For details visit

Where’s the bite

Black sea bass fishing is very hot.  With the increased limit to 7 fish/person/day, anglers are often catching their limit.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet reports black sea bass to over five pounds this week as boats made their last fluke trips.  We fished off Newport Seal Ledge, Elbow Ledge, as well as at the mouth of Newport Harbor along Rose Island this week and anglers aboard had little trouble reaching their limit or coming close to it with some very nice sea bass.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Customers are catching see bass in the lower Bay and out in front with Seal Ledge.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “A customer caught a 24 inch and 18 inch black sea bass from shore in Newport this weekend.”

 Brothers Joe and Charlie Prisco of Warwick with black sea bass they caught off Newport Saturday.
Donna Duffy (wife of angler Jim Duffy) with a false albacore caught offshore this weekend.

Cod fishing is good.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We boated nearly 200 keeper cod Saturday, on our first 2015 cod trips.  Fresh shucked clams worked well with jigs working too. Hi hooks were 7 to 9 keepers with most anglers taking home three or four fish each.”

Bonito and false albacore.  The false albacore bite remains very strong with anglers boating fish all along the coastal shore and offshore too.  Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown hooked up with his second false albacore Saturday at 10 a.m. north of Pt. Judith in front of Narragansett. Jack said, “We saw them break the surface and were on them.”  Narrow River, Salt Pond and other outflows have been good places to pick up the trail of false albacore.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “The bonito bite has softened but false albacore is still very good.” Dave said, “Here’s is a tip for anglers targeting false albacore.  Stay in the area where the fish are rather than chasing their every move.  If you should have down time jig the lure you are using off the bottom and you’ll be surprised. You’ll catch black seabass, scup, even fluke while you are waiting for the false albacore to return.”  Alex Petti of Fin & Feather Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “Anglers are catching false albacore from the Charlestown Breachway to Pt. Judith.  There is more bait in the water than I’ve seen in 15 years this is a good sign for a strong fall fishing season.”

“Squid are in at Newport with anglers fishing the causeway with success.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.  When I fished off Newport this weekend the black sea bass were spitting up squid (rather than lobster or crabs) so according the black sea bass the squid are most definitely in.

Skipjack bluefish (baby blues) are everywhere.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. 
“Skipjacks are in coves, salt ponds and just about any harbor in Rhode Island.”  John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “I must have sold eight dozen snapper poppers for skipjacks this weekend.  I hadn’t sold many but things exploded this weekend.”

Fresh water fishing for largemouth bass is good but trout fishing is slow as water levels in area rivers, ponds and lakes has been low.  Alex Petti of Fin & Feathers said, “Water levels in the Wood River have been low.  The hope is that once we get a little rain the trout fishing will pick up.”

Striped bass fishing is still good with more fish now being taken along coastal shores.  Capt. Joe Pagano has been fishing along the shore with his boat in the surf (as usual) using eels and Atlantic menhaden and is doing pretty good.  Shore angler Rick Boyd from Narragansett Surf Caster did some bottom fishing with me this week and said, “It has been a pretty good year for us from the beach, anglers are catching striped bass, blue fish and the false albacore are now all over the place.”