Monday, October 9, 2017

DEM stocking local waters with trout

Matt Weckbacher holds up the replica mount of his 69-pound striped bass that took first place in Striperfest, a season-long striped bass tournament sponsored by On-the-Water magazine.

DEM stocking local waters with trout

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is stocking ponds across Rhode Island with 10,000 trout in advance of Columbus Day weekend. A select number of waterways will be stocked given current drought conditions and as conditions improve, additional stocking will take place.

As part of a new initiative aimed at making larger, trophy-sized, hatchery-raised brown trout available to anglers, 400 brood stock brown trout with an average weight of 4 to 6 pounds will be stocked at Carbuncle Pond in Coventry beginning this fall.

The following waters will be stocked: Carbuncle Pond, Coventry; Olney Pond, Lincoln; Silver Spring Pond, North Kingstown; Barber Pond, South Kingstown; Round Top Ponds, Burrillville; Meadowbrook Pond, Cronan Landing, Lower Shannock Fishing Area, and Beaver River (Rt. 138), Richmond; Ponagansett Fishing Area, Foster; Wallum Lake, Burrillville; Wood River, Dow Field, Mechanic Street, Barberville, Wyoming Pond, and the Pawcatuck River, Hopkinton; and Potter Hill Landing, Westerly.

A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp are required to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or fly-fishing only area. A trout stamp is not required for persons possessing trout taken from a lake or pond that shares a border with Rhode Island.

For stocking information and freshwater fishing regulations visit www.dem.ri.gov.

ASMFC garners angler input on Atlantic menhaden

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) hosted an Atlantic menhaden public hearing at the URI Bay Campus Wednesday night.  About fourty anglers, environmentalist and DEM fish mangers attended.
One of the key issues discussed was establishing Ecological Reference Points (ERP) for the species in Amendment 3 to modify the Atlantic menhaden Fishery Management Plan.  Overwhelming with a 23 to 2 vote those in attendance supported an option that suggested a 75% target for biomass of Atlantic Menhaden to be left in the water as forage fish and ecological purposes. 
Atlantic menhaden serve as a food source for striped bass, bluefish, whales, osprey and other species.  They also serve an ecological purpose.  Atlantic menhaden are filter feeders helping to reduce nutrient levels in the Bay and Ocean.

The second key issue discussed was the reallocation of quota to coastal states.  Virginia’s quota has historically hovered around 85% (with one fish processor Omega Protein landing most of that), New Jersey has been at about 11% and the remaining quota split among all other east coast states (Rhode Island’s quota is 0.02%).

Once again overwhelming (23 to 1) those in attendance supported allocating a minimum of 3% to Rhode Island and other states that have small quotas at this time. 

The rational put forward was that historically states other than Virginia and New Jersey also had active fisheries but they closed due to a lock of fish.  Now that the species is doing well and more fish are in northern waters quota should be reallocated to these states.

Amendment 3 will now go before the ASMFC Atlantic menhaden advisory panel for discussion and then the Atlantic menhaden board for decision and a vote in November.
For information about Atlantic menhaden Amendment 3 visit www.asmfc.org .

Central Falls and DEM host family fishing day at Lincoln Woods

DEM in partnership with the City of Central Falls and Progreso Latino, will host a family fishing event at Lincoln Woods State Park on Saturday, October 7, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The event is part of DEM’s ongoing efforts to promote outdoor recreation and environmental education in communities across the state.

As part of the festivities, instructors from DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) program will teach participants how to catch and clean trout. DEM teamed up with the City and Progreso Latino this summer to host a saltwater fishing excursion for residents of the Central Falls community; as part of this earlier event, some 50 people enjoyed a day on Narragansett Bay aboard the Francis Fleet Charter from Galilee, learning about the diversity and abundance of marine life in the Bay.


Where’s the bite

Tautog fishing started to explode this week with fish being caught in the Bay and along the coastal shore.  Angler Richard Reich said, “We caught tautog to our limit off the center wall of the Harbor of Refuge earlier this week but went back the next day and caught one.” “Customers are catching fish but the short to keeper ratio is not very good. One customer fishing in the Ohio Ledge and Rumstick Point areas caught 30 shorts and two keepers and another angler at the Wharf Tavern caught 15 shorts to 1 keeper.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Lorraine Dante of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Tautog fishing was good in the Bay this weekend with customers landing keepers at Stone Bridge, the Mt. Hope Bridge Lighthouse, even at Colt State Park.  Green crabs worked well, Asian crabs are just starting to become available after the tropical storms and high seas that we had.”  I fished off Beavertail this weekend and did pretty good catching eight shorts and two keepers.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Tautog fishing is just starting to pick up we had customers catching keepers at Hope Island, the Codding Cove Jetty and the humps off Beavertail.”

Striped bass,bluefish and false albacore. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “It’s like National Geographic out here. We have whales feeding on mature Atlantic menhaden with striped bass, bluefish and large false albacore right behind them close to the beaches. On an outgoing tide the place to be is at the mouth of the Breachways and at high tide they are around Watch Hill Light.”  Bluefish were surfacing in the Bay briefly and then going back down quickly once the bait moved.  No prolonged surface action in the upper and middle Bay.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait said, “Striped bass are being caught out in front off Beavertail and Newport with bluefish surfacing in the Bay.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Small striped bass are being caught at Rumstick Point, off Barrington Beach and in the Warren River.  Only one report of a 29” keeper bass being caught a Sabin Point by a customer that was bottom fishing for other species.”

The scup bite has been very good in the Bay.  John Littlefield said, “Customers are catching very large scup in the bay once again and some are limiting out.  Angler had said the fish were getting smaller by this week they have been large.  They are catching scup at Colt State Park and Sabin Point.”

Cod fishing. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We found a pick of nice green cod to about 15 pounds Saturday. Hi hook boxed four good cod. Fishers also had some big ocean perch, huge sea flounder to four plus pounds, quite a few good size scup and a bluefish. Monday's run way offshore did produce a handful of nice green cod fish to twenty pounds but there was not enough of them and not much else to go with them.”

Fly fishing. Noted local fishing guide and fly fisherman Ed Lombardo said, “The Narrow River has been fishing very good on both the outing and incoming tides. Lots of shad, we believe American shad (18” to 20”). Both the Hickory Shad and American Shad have been very prolific for the past 8 to 10 weeks. Two of the best flies I like using for the shad are tied on a size #1 hook and a simple black over white deer tail streamer with a body of Bill’s body braid. The other fly that always works well is a hot pink streamer tied with hot pink craft fur for a wing with body braid as well. We are getting only a few bass at this time hopefully this October will see more bass.”



Capt. Donilon keeps innovating

 Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters in front of one of his shark diving cages.
 Mates Katie Viducic, Claire Hodson and Lauren Benoit of Snappa Charters.
Mate Laruen Benoit prepares the vessel and gear for a day of fishing on Snappa Charters.

Capt. Donilon keeps innovating


Early on a Saturday morning Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters and mate Lauren Benoit picked up nine passengers in Newport. It was a foggy morning with big rollers from an ocean storm pushing the boat forward through the East Passage in front of Castle Hill Light and into Newport Harbor. I was along for the ride to meet Lauren, her fellow mates and experience another Capt. Charlie Donilon first.

Capt. Donilon is an industry innovator.  He was the first charter captain in the area to have a shark diving cage in the 70’s, one of the first to start tagging rather than taking sharks, one of the few with an inspected vessel for eighteen rather than six passengers, the first to run a mate school and now the first to have a crew of oceanographers, environmental and fisheries graduates that happen to be all female.

Female mates in the charter industry are an anomaly. I was on board to meet and interview mates Laruen Benoit, Katie Viducic and Claire Hodson.

I met Katie three years ago at Capt. Donilon’ s mate school.  She was an instructor and Capt. Donilon’ s first female mate.  She helped to attract Lauren and Claire to serve as they are or were all University of Rhode Island graduate students.

We pulled out of Newport Harbor as Charlie explained the sites to his customers.  “The granite walls of Ft. Adams are three to four feet thick to repel cannon fire.” “That’s Ida Lewis Yacht Club, she saved 18 people as a light house keeper. Many of them were a bit tipsy when returning to their vessels from town”  “Did you know a million pounds of TNT was stored on Rose Island during the war.”

Laruen, a West Greenwich resident, has a master’s degree in Oceanography and works doing research for NOAA. I asked why she wanted to be a mate. “I have a broad skill set but never knew how to fish. So learning to fish was important and above all I wanted to learn more about sharks.  I wanted to catch, tag and release sharks and Charlie Donilon is a pioneer and expert in this area. Sharks were my specialty in graduate school.” said Lauren.

Customer John Cinti who organized the charter was getting married last weekend at the Inn at Castle Hill. He asked about job demands.  Lauren said, “I work, go home, eat and sleep and do the same thing the next day.  It’s a demanding job so I try to stay in shape and workout at the gym.”
Cinti said, “I like the idea of female mates, they are easy to talk to and Lauren’s fisheries expertise helped inform me and my friends about the fishery here in Rhode Island.”

Mate Claire Hodson of West Harford greeted us at the dock as we returned from Newport.  She was taking the next charter as the Charter Vessel Snappa often does two trips a day.  Capt. Donilon said, “I need to do 120 trips a year just to break even with the fuel, bait, insurance and boat payment costs.” So he expanded his business to do ash burials at sea, shark cage diving, photography, harbor, lighthouse and windmill tours.

Hodson said, “I wanted to be a mate on a charter boat to experience people interacting with the environment and be part of that … I also like going fishing and not knowing what you are going to catch.”

Capt. Donilon’ s new innovation… a crew of female master degreed mates sure seems to be working.

Note: Capt. Donilon is an advocate and big supporter of sustainable fisheries and all the good the Magnuson-Stevens Act has done to rebuild fisheries.  “One might think that I’m in the wrong business.  I hate to kill fish.” said Capt. Donilon. “But some customers want to take the fish to eat and I totally understand this.  Last year we had about 300 shark contacts and we tagged about 143 of them. I say “contact” because we did not kill one shark and this included nine mako sharks.”  

Fishing after storms can be tricky

Noah Brunelli of Wakefield (13 years old) with the 4.9 pound largemouth bass he caught on the Saugatucket River with worms he dug from the woods next to his home.

Fishing after storms can be tricky

Many of us may have a touch of cabin fever after being waylaid by the remains of Jose.  Freshwater fishing is a good bet after a storm as the water is not as turbid and conditions are usually more tolerable with no high ocean surf.

As the weather clears here are some ‘fishing after storms’ thoughts and tips.

Be safe. Winds and rain create fast moving water on river banks and the coastal shoreline.  Stay away from this water as you can get washed in particularly from high ocean surf.

A storm like the one we had this week can change fishing a lot.  Some species like summer flounder (fluke) may leave the area totally.  Yet others species just won’t bite.  They may not bite because the water is dirty with sand that irritates the gills of fish so they stop moving around and feeding or they simply cannot see your bait in murky, cloudy water. 

Storms can also create fishing opportunities with reefs, clam and mussel beds that get torn up with broken shells providing a feeding ground for many of the fish we target. 

Additionally, a good storm this time of year often provides a cleansing and transition time for anglers suggesting it is time to target fall species like tautog, migrating striped bass, surface feeding bluefish, cod and false albacore.

Sea run trout seminar

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will host its monthly membership meeting on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017, 6:30 p.m. at the Coventry/West Greenwich Elks Lodge, 42 Nooseneck Hill Road (Rte. 3, Exit 6 off of Rte. 95), West Greenwich, R.I.

After a short chapter meeting, Ron Lasko will give a presentation titled ‘Beyond a tale of two rivers – a future for sea run brook trout’.  Lasko is the author of ‘A tale of two rivers’ which is the ecological, and historical story of Cape Cod’s sea run brook trout.  For additional information contact Glenn Place at 1-401-225-7712 or at TU225President@gmail.com .   

Where’s the bite

False albacore (albies) and bonito fishing was very good this week as false albacore and some bonito were running along our coastline from Watch Hill to the Sakonnet River with reports from the East Fishing Grounds and other areas lighting up too.  The most intense contact was around Pt. Judith both toward Westerly and north to Narragansett Beach.  Angler Adam Maziarz said on the RISAA blog he landed a nice bonito off Scarborough Beach Saturday.  Maziarz said, “They put on a quite a show, occasionally getting completely airborne. I managed to catch a bonito on a pink Hogy epoxy jig, which made the trip worthwhile. They seemed fairly picky; I tried many colors of epoxy jigs attempting to match the hatch but the pink did the trick.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Albies and bonito were thick, acres of them from Pt. Judith to Block Island feeding on peanut bunker. Popular places to land them from shore include the West Wall at the Harbor of Refuge, Fort Getty, Jamestown and Sakonnet Point.”  Dimitri Mancini of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “Diego Vargas, one of our good customers and an outstanding fisherman, fished the East Fishing Grounds Saturday and landed false albacore and his party limited out on extra-large black sea bass underneath.  Large bluefish were on the surface too.”

Tautog fishing is spotty.  Some anglers landing fish in the upper Bay but the best bite has been in the lower Bay with some tautog anglers landing fish to ten pounds.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Customers are trying to hook up with tautog from shore but are not having much luck at places such as Wharf Tavern.  But, I did hear the bite at Castle Hill, Newport was good.”  Charlie and Carole Prisco of Warwick caught keeper tautog in the upper Bay last week, the fish were there with small ones too but as Charlie said, “The tautog bite is on.”

Striped bass fishing is the Bay is not good however the bluefish bite exploded this week in the east passage and south of Conimicut Light.  “The bluefish bite off Barrington Beach and south of Conimicut Point was good this weekend.  The blues were feeding on schools of peanut bunker.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.  The bass bite at Block Island was on and off last week.  “The bite has been early in the morning.  We have been leaving the dock at Pt. Judith at 5:00 a.m.” said Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters.  Some days you arrive at the Island and the bite is on other days the fish are just not there.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “The striped bass bite at the Cape Cod Canal continues to be outstanding.  Anglers are landing pass in the 40 pound range from shore.  The ‘Whip it Fish’ by Al Gag’s, a soft plastic lure, is working very well for Canal fishermen. Dimitri Mancini of Continental Bait & Tackle said, “The striped bass bite for customers fishing the Cape Cod Canal has been staggering.  Better than it has ever been.  Hogy soft plastic lures are working well. It has been a very successful lure for our customers fishing the Canal and comes in a variety of colors with white and pink working the best lately.”

Black sea bass, scup and summer flounder.  Anglers are reminded that the black sea bass season in Rhode Island and Federal waters is closed this Friday, September 22 to October 21.  The season opens again on October 22 with a seven fish/person/day limit.  The closure in the fall was a tradeoff for the season staring a month earlier in June this year.  “The scup bite is strong at Sabin Point and Colt State Park with anglers often reaching their 30 fish limit.  They are also catching a lot of northern kingfish.”  said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.  This weekend anglers fishing my dock and the Town Dock in Wickford were landing scup, northern kingfish, skipjack bluefish and an occasional summer flounder.   I fished off Beavertail Point this weekend with my brother Henry, Mike and friend Kevin.  They landed summer flounder, black sea bass and scup with a slow pick of keepers.  

Cod fishing is starting to pick-up with anglers targeting them at the East Grounds and Cox’s Ledge. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Hi hook this Saturday was four cod with a decent number of fishers having two apiece. There were some large sea flounder to over four pounds and a few big fluke to 11 pounds along with a nice assortment of ling including some real "baseball" bat size specimens. Both jigs and bait produced on the cod fish.”

Freshwater fishing continues to be good in area lakes and ponds.  “The largemouth bass bite is good in ponds at Rehoboth, MA and at the Brickyard Pond in Barrington where one of my customers caught a six pound catfish this week.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.  “The largemouth bass bite is very solid with three and four pound fish being landed fairly common in places like Meshanticut Lake and Randall Pond in Cranston.” said Dimitri Mancini of Continental Bait.  Noah Brunelli (13 years old) and his brother Zach Brunelli found a good largemouth bass bite to 4.9 pounds on the Saugatucket River.  They caught multiple bass using worms dug from the woods near their home in Wakefield, RI.


Learn from tautog experts

 Carole Prisco of Warwick caught these keeper tautog in upper Narragansett Bay Monday.
Capt. Joe Bleczinski, who caught this 18.9 pound tautog off Narragansett in 2015 said, “I knew it was a big fish when the boat stared to move sideways.”  He will be a RISAA tautog panelist on Sept. 25th.
 Kyle Dawson of Wakefield took first place in the 2nd Annual Snug Harbor Billy Carr Midnight Madness Striper Tournament this weekend with this 49.88 pound striped bass. 
Mike Gallanti with a false albacore he caught this week on the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge, South Kingstown.

Learn from tautog experts

“In the fall you can fish for striped bass, tuna, bonito and false albacore, black sea bass, scup, cod, tautog and more.  Fall is arguably the greatest time of year to fish.” said Capt. Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA).

With the summer flounder season winding down anglers are starting to focus their attention on tautog. If you ever wanted to fish for tautog, now is the time to learn and fish for them.  The bite is on with anglers catching keeper sized fish in our Bays and along the coastal shore.  And, starting October 15th the limit jumps from three fish to six fish/angler/day with a ten fish per boat maximum (does not apply to charter or party boats).

Here are two great ways to learn how to tautog fish.    Attend a ‘Tautog Experts’ seminar at the West Warwick Elks held by RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) Monday, September 25, 7:00 p.m. or visit the RI Party & Charter Boat Association website at www.rifishing.com for a list of charter and party boats with boat photos and rates that can take you on a learn how to tautog fishing charter. 
On September 25 join Travis Barao, a RISAA board member who has fished for tautog in the Fall River, Newport and Sakonnet River areas; Capt. Joseph Bleczinski who caught a 16 pound tautog at Whale Rock, Narragansett two years ago; and Richard Reich noted shore and boat angler (Richard took 2nd place shore division in the Snug Harbor Billy Carr Midnight Madness Striper Tournament last week, see below story). Learn tautog tips, tactics, gear, rigs, baits and where to fish for them during this panel style seminar. Visit www.risaa.org for details.

Non-member admission is a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, RISAA members attend free. Dinner served at 5:30 p.m. provided by the Elks for a separate fee.  The presentation starts at 7:00 p.m.

Snug Harbor tournament big success

Kyle Dawson of Wakefield took first place in the 2nd Annual Snug Harbor Billy Carr Midnight Madness Striper Tournament this weekend with a 49.88 pound striped bass.   Scott Carleston of Warren took second place with at 42.58 pound fish and Howard Eman of Narragansett took third place with a 40.9 pound fish.

Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, ”We had a 10% increase in anglers this year and will donate over $4,000 to the Point Judith Fisherman’s Foundation in the name of Billy Carr. We had 20 surf and 52 boat anglers participate.”

First place in the surf division went to Ron Rego of Providence with a 27.9 pound fish, and second place went to Rich Reich with a 26.02 pound fish.  Brett Carr (Billy Carr’s nephew) won the Junior Division with a 27.44 pound striped bass.  Visit www.snugharbormarina.com for details.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing. “The bass bite at Brickyard Pond in Barrington has been pretty good.  I had two Dads come back for more shiners as they fished with their sons and ran out.  Night crawlers are selling fairly well too.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.

Tautog fishing is just starting to get active.  Anglers fishing last week were catching keepers but they were small. Carole Prisco of Warwick caught two nice keeper tautog when fishing with her husband Charlie this past Monday on a rock pile in the upper Bay.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “Tautog are in shallow water areas but most keepers caught are on the small side.  We have not had a lot of anglers targeting tautog yet.” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Customers were catching fish off Brenton Reef Newport and around Hope Island in the Bay but they were all just over size 16”.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky bait said, “Customers are catching tautog at Colt State Park and in Tiverton but they are barely keepers.”

Striped bass and bluefish.  I fished southeast of Beavertail Light Sunday and there was about a half square mile of bluefish feeding on sand eels.  The fish finder would light up with school of bait from surface to bottom.  The black sea bass and scup bite was excellent there as well.  Did not have a chance to see if there were striped bass under the bluefish.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait said, “The Bay is loaded with bluefish with schools popping up everywhere.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said “One of our customers landed a 32” striped bass a Popasquash Point, Bristol last week.  So the bass are starting to pop up again, some fish are being caught off Newport too.”  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The bass bite at Block Island has been good with fish still feeding mackerel.  Fishing is better closer to shore in places like Black Rock.”

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Due to big seas we were only able to get out Monday and Saturday last week.  Monday did produce some nice fish both fluke and black sea bass with a behemoth 13 pound fluke caught by a customer from CT. That fish is one of the biggest of the year. Top fish caught Saturday was around ten pounds. Some scup, an occasional cod fish and or ocean perch were mixed in.”  The black sea bass bite was consistent Sunday and Tuesday off Beavertail. Sunday I caught about 20 fish in two hours, 25% of them were keepers with the largest fish topping out at 22 inches.  Large scup to 16” caught on the drift there as well.  The action was much the same on Tuesday when we fished about a mile southeast of Beavertail. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “Large scup are being caught from the Warren River to Popasquash Point, Bristol.  Customer said the largest ones were a black color which is a bit unusual.”

From the shore.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The striped bass bite with blue fish mixed in has been very good from the shore for the past two weeks.  Quonnie, Weekapaug and East Beach have all been very good with fish averaging about 36” and blue fish in the two to ten pound range.  We also have a good scup and tautog bite from Watch Hill Light and from the breachways.”


False albacore are out in front along the coast.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “False albacore are west wall and all along the coast to Little Compton and Westport.”

Get ready for a tug of war

 Vicktor Tang of New York had a big day tautog fishing last fall aboard Flippin Out Charters with Capt. B.J. Silvia.  He hooked this 11.5 pound tautog when fishing in Narragansett Bay.

Jack Leyden of North Kingstown (shown in photo) and Steve Sears of Seekonk boated multiple cod and black sea bass when fishing Cox’s Ledge last week.  The cod and black sea bass bite has been great there.


Get ready for a tug of war

Tautog fishing is much like a tug of war.  Once you hook one the battle is on to keep it from going into structure.  Many times anglers hook up on the bottom when fishing for tautog.  My experience is half the time the bottom hook up is caused by a fish that takes the angler’s bait into the rocks before they even know it. 

Tautog (or Blackfish) is a great eating fish with a white delicate meat.  That’s why anglers love to catch them.  The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) regulates recreational tautog fishing.  The catch limit in RI until October 14 is three fish/person/day, then it jumps to six fish/person/day on October 15 through December 15.  In addition there is a ten fish boat maximum per day limit (which does not apply to party and charter boats).

So, get ready, here are five tips to help you have a great fall tautog fishing season. 

1.    Find structure to find tautog.  Tautog can be fished from shore or boat and in both cases they like structure (rocks, wrecks, bridge piers, dock pilings, mussel beds, holes and humps along the coast and in the Bay).  So no structure, no tautog.

2.  Fish where the fish are.  This is particularly true with tautog because they are a territorial species, you have to find the tautog, they are not going to find you.  So if you get no bites move to another spot.  When you find them, you find them and the bite is on. 

3.  Boat placement is important.  Find structure, estimate wind/drift direction and anchor up current from where you want to fish and drift back to the spot as the anchor is setting.  Once in position fish all sides of the boat casting a bit to cover as much area as you can.  If still no bites let some anchor line out (a couple of times) to change your position, if still no bites it is time to move the vessel.

4.   Feel the bite… tap, tap and then get ready for a tug of war.  I believe with the first tap the tautog is positioning the bait for consumption.  So get ready to set the hook anticipating the second tap before the fish takes your bait into structure.  Once the fish is hooked, keep the rod up and pressure on so the fish in not able to run for cover.

5.  Where to fish for Tautog.  From shore look for rocky coastline like Beavertail Point on Jamestown, locations off Newport and off breakwater rock walls along the southern coastal shore.  From a boat I have had good luck at Plum Point light house next to the Jamestown Bridge, the rock jetty at Coddington Cove in Portsmouth, off Hope Island, General Rock in North Kingstown, around Brenton Reef and Seal Ledge off Newport, off Narragansett at rock clusters or the bolder field off Scarborough, Whale Rock, Ohio Ledge in the East Passage and any other place there is structure, debris, rock clusters, wrecks, etc.  It’s good to find your own spots as popular ones often get overfished.


Plan in place for harmful algae

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold an informational meeting to review Rhode Island’s new monitoring and contingency response plan for harmful algae blooms (HAB). The meeting will take place Tuesday, September 12, 5:00 p.m. in the Hazard Room, URI Coastal Institute Building on South Ferry Road, Narragansett.

Last year, Rhode Island experienced its first HAB caused by the presence of toxic phytoplankton in local waters; the event triggered an emergency closure of the state’s shellfishing areas. A subsequent bloom earlier this year resulted in a second emergency closure of some waters.

As part of the workshop, officials will review routine monitoring efforts for phytoplankton in the state’s waters as well as new emergency protocols in the case a HAB is detected.

Along with its partners, DEM successfully managed the earlier HAB events, ensuring all local shellfish products on the market remained safe. During the emergency closures, partners worked swiftly to collect and test over 190 water and shellfish samples for harmful algae and domoic acid, a toxin responsible for amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans.

Waters were reopened when all samples tested below levels of concern. In the wake of these events, DEM worked with its partners to update the state’s Harmful Algae Bloom and Shellfish Biotoxin Monitoring and Contingency Plan, which will be reviewed during next month’s workshop.

The plan in its entirety can be viewed at www.dem.ri.gov/shellfish . -

Where’s the bite

Striped bass and bluefish.  “The striped bass bite is excellent for boats but has slowed a bit from shore.  It’s spotty. Last night (Sunday) shore fishermen did well with bass from the breachway using plugs and eels.” said Mike Cardinal of Misquamicut Bait & Tackle, Westerly.  Spoke with Capt. Randy Bagwell of Rebel Charters when at Lucky Bait in Warren.  Capt. Bagwell said, “Block Island has been hit or miss for bass.  We were out there last week and did not hook up but were going to give it another try today (Monday) but cancelled the trip due to high seas.  There seemed to be bluefish out there but did not see anyone hooking up with striped bass.  Some nice bass have been caught off Newport with Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin Out Charters landing some nice fish off Newport this week.”  The bluefish bite from the Sakonnet River to Pt. Judith has been very good this past week with bluefish often surfacing in schools trapping bait on the surface in a feeding frenzy.

Summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass. “The fluke bite has slowed along the southern coastal shore.” said Mike Cardinal of Misquamicut Bait & Tackle.  Capt. Randy Bagwell said, “We had no trouble hitting our limit of black sea bass at Block Island (sea bass went to seven fish/angler/day on September 1).   They were all filled with sand ells and small lobsters. The fluke fishing was not good at the Island the day we were there.” Black sea bass fishing was also good at Cox’s Ledge.  Anglers Jack Leyden of North Kingstown and Steve Sears of Seekonk had no trouble hooking up with black sea bass as they fished for cod at the Ledge.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The full day fluke/sea bass trips were outstanding Monday and Saturday this past week. Both trips saw lots of angler limits of both fluke and sea bass and both trips saw a lot of quality fluke over 5 pounds and on Saturday two fish in the 10 pound range fought it out for bragging rights. Saturday's run was also punctuated by an extreme amount of sand eels causing the sea bass to be stacked up 20-30 feet thick.”

Scup fishing is good. Mike Cardinal of Misquamicut Bait & tackle said, “Anglers are doing well with porgies from the Quonnie Breachway. I fished for scup twice last week with 4, 7 and 9 year old children on board and they all did well with scup to 15” in lower Narragansett Bay along the western side of Jamestown.


Cod fishing at Cox’s Ledge was good last week anglers finding the cod are boating fish to twenty pounds and are having not trouble reaching their seven fish limit of black sea bass.

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.