Saturday, May 21, 2016

Camp aims to hook kids on fishing

 Noted carp expert Dave Pickering and the 32 pound carp he caught last week using a combination of maize and a pink artificial piece of corn.
 Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin’ Out Charters with the 36 pound striped bass he caught when fishing with live pogies in the East Passage.
 Jay Anctil of Coventry caught striped bass to 25 pounds with his fishing partner Mike Swain in the Conimicut Light, Warwick area this weekend.
 Angler Mike Swain of Coventry with the striped bass he caught using live pogies this weekend.
 Diane Valerien of Coventry (7.3 pound fluke) and Barry Gootkind of Narragansett (6.3 pound fluke) caught last week on the Seven B's party boat.
RISAA aims to hook kids on fishing with their new pilot project... a youth fishing camp.

Camp aims to hook kids on fishing

OK, so there are all types of camps, sports, dance, even cooking camps and now there is a fishing camp in Rhode Island.  The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) is holding a pilot fishing camp at Rocky Point Park, Warwick, Tuesday, June 28 to Thursday, June 30 for children 7 to 14 years old. 

A lot goes on when you fish.  It appeals to our sense of adventure and teaches us patience, it is one of those activities where science and art converge, it teaches us to be good stewards of the environment and it allows us to build a lifetime of memories and friendships with those we fish with.

Steve Medeiros, RISAA president said, “The goal is to introduce youngsters to fishing. We find children of all backgrounds and cultures are attracted to fishing for all the right reasons and our aim is to give them a proper introduction to the sport.  Our hope is that we fine tune the program and are able to hold additional camps in the future.”

For now RISAA’s piolet fishing camp is taking 40 children on a first- come, first- served basis and developing a waiting list. Children will be split into two groups, 7 to 10 and  11 to 14 year old age groups. The same children attend all three days. 

There is no cost for children to participate, however, parents must complete and sign all participation forms, provide their child with proper attire for an outdoor fishing camp and weather conditions. Parents must provide transportation for children each day.

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

The fishing camp is sponsored by the RI Saltwater Anglers Foundation and partners include the RI Department of Environmental Management, the City of Warwick, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Brewers Marina.

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

The striped bass fishing season in underway and there are some large bass being caught in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. 

Expert angler Mike Swain of Coventry said he and his fishing partner Jay Anctil (also from Coventry) boated two bass in the 25 to 30 pound range Saturday while fishing with live pogies (Atlantic menhaden) around Conimicut Light on the channel edges.  Mike said, “We had to work all day for these two fish.  We had a couple of other bites but the bass would pick up the bait, run with it and then drop it.  We were pretty happy to catch these two fish.  They are mirror images of each other, almost twins.”

Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin’ Out Charters and his fishing friend Greg Vespe boated a 36 pound striped bass last week using live pogies in the East Passage.  Bass have been north of Popasquash Point, Bristol to Providence.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “Customers have been catching bass at Conimicut Light. Last week the striped bass bite was concentrated in this area.  My son Ken (Landry) caught three nice keepers at the Light using live pogies.”

Striped bass have to be at least 28 inches to take them and the limit is one fish/person/day.

Three favorite ways to catch striped bass in the spring

Surface plugs or lures
My all-time favorite way to catch a striped bass is using a surface lure or plug.  There is nothing like seeing a striped bass explode on the surface to attack your plug.

This method is particularly good to use when conditions call for you to bring attention to the surface.  The plugs can be pulled, swayed and skipped across the water surface making a splash when they move and a wake (in V form) much like a boat.  Some lures add additional sound by making the lure rattle as it is pulled across the surface.

I have found this method to work particularly well in the spring and fall when the water is warmer on the surface and the bass are feeding in the upper portions of the water column and they are not down deep where the water tends to be cooler.

Atlantic menhaden (or pogies)
Fishing with live (known as live-lining) or dead cut up Atlantic menhaden (known as chunking) is most definitely a fun way to fish for striped bass.

Anglers chunk with fresh or frozen menhaden.  You can anchor (and chum), drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks.  Some anglers like to use a weight (often with a sliding clip on their line) to get the bait down when the striped bass are feeding at the bottom.

Many anglers catch their bait by snagging the live Atlantic menhaden with a weighted treble hook and others net them.  To live-line menhaden, hook the live bait through the bridge of their nose, find a school of fish and put the live menhaden into the school or near it and let it swim.  This method is used most often when the Atlantic menhaden are running strong, particularly in the middle and upper portions of East Passage of the Bay.

The shipping channel in the East Passage of the Bay acts as a fish highway carrying bait and striped bass all the way through Providence to Pawtucket.

Trolling with tube and worm
I have had great success in the Bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot fluorocarbon leader.  I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best in the spring (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm).   The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are.

Tube and worm trolling has also been a successful technique for fishing the ocean, particularly the Southwest side of Block Island, using 300 ft. of wire line in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.

Where’s the bite

Fresh water fishing is still good.  Expert carp angler and author Dave Pickering reports a great carp bite. Dave landed a 32 pound carp last week with many other anglers landing fish in the high teens up to 30 pounds.  For more info, check out Dave’s carp fishing blog at www.ricarpfishing.blogspot.com.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “The bass are starting to move as the water warms and anglers are catching them.  We sold a lot of shiners and night crawlers.  The shiners seem to be working as customers are catching not only bass but pickerel and perch as well.”

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is really starting to pick up.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Fluke fishing is getting better every day with keeper fish (with a lot of shorts mixed in) being caught along the beaches in the Charlestown area but the best bite so far is on the West and Southwest sides of Block Island.”  Diane Valerien of Coventry and Barry Gootkind of Narragansett caught fluke to over seven pounds fishing the Seven B's party boat last Friday. The Frances Fleet reports a good fluke bite with one customer limiting out last Friday and others returning home with three to five fish.

Striped bass fishing in the East Passage is good with anglers catching bass to 30 pounds using live Atlantic menhaden (pogies) as bait.  See East Passage striper fishing story above.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “School bass are plentiful in South County with keepers mixed (particularly at night) and I am willing to bet that there are some keeper bass on the north end of Block Island in the 30 inch range as they usually are this time of year. Worm hatches have occurred at Ninigret Pond but not at Potter and Salt Pond yet.  With low tide mid-day this week the mud will likely not warm enough for a hatch in these ponds until next week.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Anglers are catching bass from Sabin Point with a keeper or two being caught right from the Barrington Bridge.  A customer caught a 27” bluefish this week right at the Hurricane Barrier in Providence.  Between the bass and bluefish eating the pogies and a good numbers of anglers snagging them, it has been hard for find Atlantic menhaden out there.”

Squid fishing has been good in Narragansett, Jamestown and Newport but it is hit or miss on any given day (or night).  Matt Conti said, “Customers caught large squid in good numbers at Nebraska Shoal this past week.”


The tautog bite continues to be good for a spring season, fishing is spotty but there are some big fish being caught.

Friday, May 6, 2016

New striped bass and black sea bass regulations, record 11.2 pound largemouth

 Night catch: Brandon Migliore and his 11.2 pound largemouth bass.  If the state certifies the catch it will be a new Rhode Island record.
 All smiles: Brandon Migliore with his 11.2 pound record largemouth bass as his friend and fishing partner Matthew Sheldon looks on.
Capt. BJ Silvia with an 11.5 pound tautog caught Sunday.

New regulations for striped bass and black sea bass

On Tuesday the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) enacted a new regulation to help prevent the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic striped bass.  The new rule requires recreational anglers to clip the right pectoral fin of striped bass 34 inches or larger at the time of harvest.

The new regulation was adopted with considerable public input to help prevent “stockpiling” – which occurs when fish are harvested on a day closed to commercial fishing and then offered for sale on an open day; they also address fish being illegally transported and sold in neighboring states.

“Our local harvest supports the health of our families, economy and way of life.  And protecting the viability of our stock and ensuring fish are legally harvested and sold are responsibilities we take very seriously.  These new regulations are critical to supporting the continued vibrancy of the striped bass fishery, and I thank the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council for its leadership in engaging the public around this important topic and working to protect our state’s marine resources.” said DEM Director Janet Coit.

Black sea bass

Many recreational anglers are not happy with black sea bass total allowable catch limits, however, many are praising what will likely be the new recreational regulation here in RI this year.  The minimum size will now be 15” with a three fish/person/day limit between June 15 and August 31, and a seven fish/person/day catch limit between September 1 and December 31. 
Both the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association agreed on this option at the last public hearing and it was recommended by the RI Marine Fisheries Council at their last meeting.

“I knew if I let up the fish would be gone”

“This bass hit when I had about 75% of my cast retrieved.  I waited a bit before setting the hook as I have been setting it too early.  I waited until I felt the weight, the rod bend and then set the hook.  I just kept the pressure on the fish because I knew that if I let up the fish would be gone. It took about two minutes to land.” said Brandon Migliore of Sterling, CT (formerly of Coventry) about the record 11.2 pound largemouth bass he caught this weekend at Johnson’s Pond, Rhode Island.

Migliore said, “My fishing partner and friend Mathew Sheldon and I have been fishing this area for over fifteen years in hunt for a record breaking largemouth… week after week, month after month, year after year.  It’s hard to believe we did it.  I give a lot of credit to Mathew; he is a great fisherman and has taught me a lot.  Just minutes before I landed this fish, Mathew caught an eight pound largemouth.  And, when my fish came close to shore the rod was bend in half, Mathew was on his toes and rushed to lip the fish.”

Brandon was using 30 pound braid line and a St. Croix fishing rod. Dave Mooney of Sandy Bottom Bait & Tackle, Coventry where Migliore weighed in his fish said Sunday, “The fish just left here.  We had kept it alive for a while in our tank and then it just rolled on its side and gave up.  Brandon was using a Magnum Jitterbug top water lure he bought here.”


The 11.2 pound largemouth bass will be a new state record if the catch is certified and approved by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM).  The 10.6 pound largemouth bass holding the record was caught in 1991 at Carbuncle Pond.

NOAA releases recreational fishing plans

On a national level, NOAA’s Fisheries has been increasing efforts to better support saltwater recreational fishing and recreational fisheries issues.  In 2015, NOAA Fisheries published a National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy and a National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Implementation Plan.  The policy highlighted six key principles intended to guide NOAA in considering the development and promotion of sustainable high quality saltwater recreational fisheries.  Each region now has an implementation plan (visit www.fisheries.noaa.gov for a link to the Greater Atlantic Regional Implementation Plan as well as national and other regional plans).

The recreational fisheries that NOAA manages include cod, haddock, many flounders, Atlantic bluefish, black sea bass, scup, striped bass, tautog, and weakfish. They also are responsible for the management of other recreationally caught and/or forage species such as Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish. These species provide an important food source for recreationally sought-after fishes such as striped bass, tuna, and sharks.

For more information, contact Moira Kelly, Greater Atlantic Regional Coordinator for recreational fisheries, at 978-281-9218 or email her at moira.kelly@noaa.gov.  

Where’s the bite

“Striped bass are everywhere.  Customers are catching school size bass in Warren, Providence, Barrington and Jamestown, all over the Bay.  The largest fish so far has been 32.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.  Maridee Bait & Canvas of Narragansett reports that all the action this week has been at the West Wall (South Kingstown) for school striped bass and they have started to catch a few keepers. Noted local shore angler Steve McKenna said, “The striped bass bite is very, very good. I have been fishing in Narragansett and there are a lot of school bass around.  This is encouraging.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “We weighed in a 32”, 34” and a 37” striped bass this weekend.  All were caught at Sabin Point, East Providence with anglers using menhaden chunks or clam worms.  Customer Albert Bettencourt said he has been catching 20 to 27 inch fish at the Squantum Club, East Providence and all around the upper portion of the Bay.”  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The school bass are getting larger, almost keeper size (28”), and they are everywhere Matunuck, the Charlestown Breachway, the West Wall… everywhere.”

Freshwater fishing this week was topped-off with Brandon Migliore’s record 11.2 pound largemouth bass caught at Johnson’s Pond. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “The trout bite has been very, very good with night crawlers now the bait of choice.  Anglers are catching fish at Melville Pond and Olney Pond, Lincoln Woods.” “Freshwater anglers are targeting bass and trout.  I have sold about 20 dozen shiners toady and it’s only 10:30 a.m.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Tautog fishing is just starting to heat up with anglers catching shorts with some keepers mixed in.  No major reports of people limiting out with their three fish, however, keeper fish are being caught.  Many Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “It’s rocks and docks for tautog and customers are catching them at the Stone Bridge, Tiverton and Ohio Ledge in the East Passage of the Bay.  Anglers are using worms, Asian and green crabs with some old timers using quahogs with success.”  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “The commercial rod and reel fishermen are limiting out on tautog (ten fish) fishing in shallow water along the southern coastal shore using green crabs.” Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin’ Out Charters landed an 11.5 pound tautog Sunday and said, “I let her go so you can catch her when she is 15 pounds.” “It’s hit or miss with tautog. One day the bite was good at Conimicut Light and the next the bite was off.  They were catching a lot of small fish at the Wharf Tavern, Warren but they were at 6 to 8 inches.” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait. 

Cod fishing was off this week compared to others.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet, Narragansett said, “Cod fish were moving around an awful lot and they are scattered into smaller groups now that spawning is over. Each trip this week produced some fish but there was no sustained bite. Still it has been several years since we consistently caught cod fish all through the month of April.  There were a handful of the cod that came over the rails that tipped the scales in the mid to upper teens this week.”




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Capt. Blount… servant to fish and fishermen


 Capt. Frank Blount at a New England Fishery Management Council meeting. His term expires this year. Photo courtesy of Fishermen’s Voice.

 Capt. Dave Monti and Steve Brustein used sea clams to catch cod last fall off Block Island.
28 pound cod landed on the Frances Fleet this past weekend.

Capt. Blount… servant to fish and fishermen

Capt. Frank Blount, owner of the Frances Fleet, Narragansett, will be leaving the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) this year after multiple terms of service as a councilperson. 
John Bullard, chief administrator of NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, said, “Frank has chaired the Ground Fish committee for years.  It’s a committee that has seen a lot of controversy due to the poor status of ground fish (particularly cod fish) in New England and Frank has done an outstanding job.  He will be missed.”

At last week’s NEFMC meeting in Mystic, CT Capt. Blount made a motion that was approved  by the council.  The motion was toMove to request that the NEFMC ask the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) to provide information on the level of compliance with ground fish catch reporting by reconciling Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) vs. SAFIS (fish dealer) reports.”  In other words does harvester and dealer reports match, if they do not match there is non-compliance and there may be something afoot.

The VTR and SAFIS reports were established as a check and balance to make sure fish processors and fishermen are reporting landings factually. 

I heard Frank make the motion and was overcome with a sense of pride to have such a great fisherman from Rhode Island represent us on the Council.

Capt. Blount has also been an advocate for fishermen on the subject of cod fish being caught in local waters.  He has claimed that VTR logbook data from fishermen indicates that there are far more cod fish in the waters south of Massachusetts compared to the official stock assessments coming from the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Recent recreational fishing activity and data reports off Rhode Island over the past two years seem support this position.

Congratulations Frank! You have done a great job serving Rhode Island, New England and the fish working on the New England Council.
Cod fishing tips from the pros
“A couple of years ago we wouldn’t be having this seminar on small boat cod fishing close to shore because there were no cod.” said Capt. BJ Silvia  of Flippin’ Out Charters at a RI Saltwater Anglers Association seminar he and fishing partner Greg Vespe gave Monday night. 
The commercial cod fishery in New England has suffered major blows with recreational fishing north of Rhode Island being off too.  In fact for a couple of years you could not take any cod from the Gulf of Maine, and this year recreational anglers are allowed to take one fish.
However, in Rhode Island we have quite a different story (10 fish/person/day with a 22” minimum size) with anglers catching multiple cod while tautog fishing this fall with some early reports that cod fish are mixed in with the tautog this spring too.
The fall bite was so good that some were targeting cod close to shore off Newport and very close to Block Island at the East Fishing Grounds in addition to fishing in and around Cox’s Ledge.  By no means do we have a robust recreational cod fishery, however, it does seem to be rebuilding here off Rhode Island.
Some cod fishing tips from Capt. Silvia and Greg Vespe:
Cod fish for the past couple of years have been small, so no need for heavy rigs, Capt. Silvia said, “For cod, we have been using the rigs we use to fish for summer flounder.”
To avoid tangles and absorb shock when using braid line Greg Vespe suggests using a 20 foot, 50 pound monofilament leader.
Avoid dog fish (sand sharks) by moving, sometimes just a bit further up on a ledge or a different spot entirely and switch to jigs rather than using bait.
Bring plenty of bait sea clams, crabs as well as squid so you can take advantage of scup, black sea bass, cod and tautog that may be in the area. “We have been on top of some huge black sea bass when fishing for tautog or cod but the bite only picks up when we put on some squid.” said Silvia.

Target structure… ledges, mussel beds etc., however some of our best cod fishing has occurred where dolphins and whales are feeding.

‘Spring Aboard’ campaign promotes boating education

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is teaming up with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to promote boating education.  

An informed and knowledgeable boat operator is much more likely to recognize hazardous conditions on the water and avoid a mishap. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, only 12 percent of deaths occurred on vessels operated by those with a boating education certificate; 77 percent of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the boat operator never received boating education instruction.

Remaining boating courses include ‘About Boating Safety’ being offered on May 14, Cross Mills Public Library, 4417 Old Post Road, Charlestown and on June 18 at the Neighborhood Guild, 325 Columbia Street, Peacedale, RI.  To register call (401) 789-9301, or for more information contact David Johnson at dgjdive1@verizon.net  or call (401) 783-1170.

DEM also offers an online boater education course. Participants must pass a proctored exam to receive certification. For more information on Rhode Island boating laws and boating education courses, visit www.dem.ri.gov .

Forty-nine states and U.S. territories require proof of completion of a boating education course for operators of some powered vessels. In Rhode Island, successful completion of a boating safety course is required for all boaters born after January 1, 1986 who operate a boat with a motor greater than 10 horsepower; and for all operators, regardless of age, of personal watercraft.

Newport Boat Show call for entries
Newport Exhibition Group, owners and producers of the Newport International Boat Show, are accepting applications for the 2016 Newport For New Products (NFNP) Awards.
Judged by a team of marine-industry experts, NFNP winners for best new powerboat, sailboat and multihull, best new navigation product, and best new product for boat operation, maintenance, and safety will be announced on Friday, September 16th at the Industry Awards/Press Breakfast.
In addition, attendees present on opening day will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite new boat as part of the ‘People’s Choice Award’. 
The Newport International Boat Show will take place September 15-18, 2016 on the Newport Waterfront, America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. The Show is one of the largest in-water shows in the country and with an assortment of boats of every type and style, plus a variety of accessories, equipment, electronics, gear and services for boaters.  For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.newportboatshow.com.
 Where’s the bite
Cod fishing is down from what it was a month ago but some boats are still fishing and doing OK.  Cod fishing usually declines in April, some years very little fishing occurs in April.  However, last week some larger fish were taken.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “This weekend we boated a 28 pound cod and the top angler took home a total of eight cod.  Other days this past week were good too.”
Striped bass fishing is exploding. “Customers are catching fish in the 30” to 40” range this week.  It started last Thursday when a large amount of Atlantic menhaden arrived in the Pawcatuck River. Anglers are live lining and using chucked Atlantic menhaden as bait along with eels.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly.  Noted striper fly fisherman Ed Lombardo said, “We got into stripers last Thursday at Narrow River. The school of bass where small but still a lot of fun and so nice to feel that strike after a long winter! The tide was outgoing and at 5:30 p.m. and then changed to incoming. Small white over purple flies and all pink tide with craft fur worked well, size 1/0 .”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “School size bass are being caught in Greenwich Bay and in our coves. “  “We have a huge volume (1,000 of fish) of small school size striped bass in the six to twelve inch range at the Hurricane Barrier in the Providence River this week.  One of my employees caught two 20 inch fish there this week. I predict we will have keepers in the Bay next week.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.
Tautog fishing really has not picked up in Rhode Island yet.  The spring season started April 15th with a 3 fish/person/day, 10 fish per boat limit. Mike Wade of Watch Hill said, “This weekend a fifteen pound tautog was weighed in at River End in Old Saybrook, CT.  And actually that is where the fish are being caught.  Rhode Island waters are still just a little cold for the tautog but in Connecticut it is a bit warmer and the tautog bite is strong.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait said, “Ken Landry gave tautog fishing a shot off Narragansett Saturday and did pretty good and then fished for school striped bass in the Bay on the way back. They caught keeper cod while targeting tautog.”
“The squid are in and a customer caught fifteen pounds of squid this past weekend.”, said Dave Henault of Ocean Stare Tackle.  Newport, Jamestown and the Sakonnet area all had large amounts of squid this weekend.”

Freshwater fishing is excellent.  Rhode Island DEM has restocked trout a second time in some locations.  For a list of stocked and restocked water ways visit www.dem.ri.gov .  “The State of RI did an outstanding job stocking ponds this year as all fishermen seem to be very happy. We have some customers that have been fishing Carolina Trout Pond and have done well.  Anglers are starting to switch from hatchery bait types to natural baits such as night crawlers and spinner baits.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill. Trout is not the only freshwater fish biting… “I have already weighed in more five plus pound bass than I did all of last year.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fisheries celebration in D.C.

Advocating for the fish: Meghan Jeans of the New England Aquarium and Patrick Paquette, a recreational fisheries representative from Hyannis, MA, take a break in the U.S. Senate cafeteria.

Nice brace of trout: Billy Enright of Cranston holds a nice brace of trout the he and friends Autumn Mitchell and Mike Manco (also of Cranston) caught by 6:30 a.m. on Opening Day.
Keeper bass in Bay: Brandon Hagopian of Cranston with a keeper striped bass he caught last week in the upper Bay.  No lice on the fish indicate that it was likely a hold-over bass and not a migrating fish.
First Opening Day trout: Liam Farrell (age 13) proudly displays his first trout with Uncle Sean FitzGerald (both of Jamestown) as they fished with Alex (age 9) and Steve Greenberg of Narragansett.
Fisheries celebration in DC

What a celebration I attended this week.  April 13th was the 40th Anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the fishing law of this Nation.  The celebration was held in Washington, D.C. sponsored by six conservation groups lead by The PEW Trusts.

Like all anniversaries it was a time for reflection.  To reflect on how successful the act has been and how it needs to be adjusted in the future.  The MSA and its reauthorizations provided the teeth needed to set firm allowable catch limits (ACL) which directly lead to 39 fish stocks being rebuilt today. So we need to keep this law strong, and make sure it continues to eliminate wiggle room so fishermen and fish managers have firm catch limits to continue to rebuild fish stocks.

Additionally, moving forward MSA needs to be adjusted to include things like enhanced forage fish protections, stronger by-catch provisions and most important a big-picture eco-system based management planning strategy.  We need an eco-system based management strategy because climate change and warming water has forced some fish out of our waters and forced other species (like black sea bass and summer flounder) into our area in greater numbers and present fisheries management strategies are not handling these changes.  Climate change, forage fish, stronger bycatch provisions are not consistently incorporated into a big picture management strategy and plan. 

The 40th Anniversary celebration of the MSA in Washington this week included informational meetings with members of congress and their staff.  Our Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut congressional delegations and staff members met with representatives from the commercial and recreational fishing community, the New England Aquarium as well as a number of conservation groups in New England to reflect on MSA successes and future adjustments needed.

So happy 40th Anniversary to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  You have served the fish well.

Opening Day big success

The Opening Day of trout season this past Saturday was a big success.

“I got one” said Liam Farrell (13 years old) from Jamestown as his uncle Sean FitzGerald looked on with pride.  It was Liam’s first Opening Day fishing experience.  “It was tough getting up early but well worth it.” said Liam. Billy Enright of Cranston said, “We have been coming here for ten years.  We haven’t missed a year.  The three of us have about a dozen fish so far.”  It was 6:30 a.m. and they had been fishing for about 30 minutes.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) did an outstanding job stocking ponds with 80,000 hatchery raised brook, brown and rainbow trout this year.  Over 100 waterways have been stocked and this year three new locations were stocked on the Ten Mile River, marked by white trout fishing signs, include the intersection of 114A and Hunts Mill Road and just below the John Hunt House at 65 Hunts Mill Road. Visit www.dem.ri.gov for a complete list of stocked ponds.

Proposed BIWF and sea2shore safety zones clarified

The scope of the draft Safety Area (a 500 yard safety zone) that the USCG has published in the Federal Register pertaining to the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) and the sea2shore cable run was clarified last week by Ed Leblanc (USCG).  In a note to Elizabeth Marchetti, fisheries liaison, from Mr. Leblanc said "The Coast Guard's intent with respect to the proposed safety zones is to enforce each individual safety zone only when construction vessels are on-scene at an individual turbine.  As discussed in the proposal regulation, the Coast Guard intends to create individual, 500-yard radius, safety zones around each turbine. In essence, five safety zones, one for each turbine.

Vessels (other than BIWF construction vessels) will be precluded from entering safety zone only when construction vessels are on scene.  So, for example, if there are construction vessels working on turbine #3, but no work vessels at any of the other turbines, mariners must stay at least 500 yards away from turbine #3, but are free to approach as close as they want to turbines #1, 2, 4, and 5 (consistent with prudent and safe navigation, of course).

If there are work vessels at both turbines #1 and #2, mariners must remain clear of those two turbines but have full access to waters around the other three, and so on."

A copy of the Federal Register Notice and the place to submit comments on the proposed regulation by April 17th is  https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USCG-2016-0026-0012.

Captains donate food and cash to Jonnycake Center
The Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) held their annual captain’s banquet at Spain Restaurant in Narragansett, RI with their favorite charity being recognized with donations.  John Rainone, RIPCBA past president and donation coordinator said, “Captains and their guests attending the event donated 242 pounds of food and $130 in cash to the Jonnycake Center in Peace Dale.  The Association has done this for the past several years and we were happy to do it once again this year. Great Job all.”

Roddy Fly Rodders to Meet April 19th

The Rhody Fly Rodders will hold their annual cookout get-together on Tuesday, April 19th at 6:00 p.m. Members, guests and new comers are welcome to attend, enjoy the food and talk about the upcoming fishing season.  A short film about fly fishing adventures will be shown, followed by a brief presentation by Mike Bucko who heads of DEM’s new department administering the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS). The meeting will take place at the Riverside Sportsman’s Association, 19 Mohawk Drive, East Providence.  Contact president Peter Nilsen with questions at pdfish@fullchannel.net.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing was hot this week with many bait & tackle shops reporting brisk sales.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “Customers did very well at Willet Avenue Pond, East Providence but found the Brickyard Pond, Barrington was not yielding the fish it had in the past.  Many had seen cormorants and other birds working the pond and leaving with a lot of fish so many anglers didn’t even fish there.  Popular baits this year included scented Power Baits such as chunky cheese and other scented flavors.  These worked well in MA but in some Rhode Island ponds like Willett Avenue the fish were biting just about anything anglers put in the water.  In addition to the Power Baits a variety of small silver lures were working well as well as spinner baits of all types.”  Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick said “We sold out of just about all trout baits this weekend including trout worms and meal worms and had to replenish our inventory in a hurry.” 

Spirited bass migration continues to move north.  On-the Water’s Striper Migration map (http://www.onthewater.com/striper-migration-map-april-8-2016/ ) indicates that the school bass are in southern Connecticut.  However, there have been some reports of migrating school bass being caught in the Pawcatuck River in Westerly.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “There have been migrating bass caught right here in downtown Westerly at the bridge (crossing the Pawcatuck River).”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “I checked with the On-the-Water migration map, it was pretty reliable last year but also believe that we can have some advanced schools of bass and it is very possible they are in southern Rhode Island now.”
Cod fishing remains good in local waters offshore.  Boats did not sail often last week due to bad weather, but when they fished boats had fair trips, with lots of bait and cod on fish finders. With improved weather all hope the good cod bite continues. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

DEM stocks 80,000 trout for Opening Day

Opening Day at Silver Spring Pond, South County provides a carnival like atmosphere with overnight camping, early morning breakfasts and fishing at 6:00 a.m.
Brandon Hagopian of Cranston with a nine plus pound bass he caught last week in the Pawtuxet River using a topwater lure.
DEM stocks 80,000 trout for Opening Day

The Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) is ready for Opening Day this Saturday, April 9.  DEM has stocked over a hundred local ponds, lakes and waterways with 80,000 trout.  Bait and tackle stores are ready too and have stocked up with gear, baits of all types and fishing lures designed to put trout in you bucket.

Opening Day fishing is a tradition passed on from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters. Anglers from seven to seventy years old fish opening day of trout season because it signifies the start of the fishing season and our reconnection with nature in the spring. It also allows friends and family members to talk, get to know each other better and bond as they creative opening day fishing memories that will last a life time.

Janet Coit, DEM director said “Opening Day is a time when families come together at their favorite fishing hole to share the thrill of reeling in a trout and to recharge and connect with nature.  Freshwater fishing is an important part of our culture and economy in Rhode Island, and we’re proud to support it through our stocking program.” 

Hatchery-raised brook, brown, and rainbow trout with an average individual weight of about one and a half pounds have been stocked by Fish and Wildlife Division staff in ponds and streams for opening day.  Gail Mastrati, a DEM spokesperson said “We have a complete list of ponds that have been stocked for opening day on our website at www.dem.ri.gov.”  Several of these ponds and waterways will be stocked a second and third time during the season.

There is no minimum size for trout and the creel or bag limit is five fish from April 9 to November 30, and two fish from December 1 to February 29.  There is no closed season for largemouth and smallmouth bass in Rhode Island, 12” minimum size for both with a bag limit of five fish/angler/day. Northern pike minimum size is 24”, no closed season with a two fish/angler/day limit.  And, chain pickerel has no closed season, minimum size is 14” with a five fish/day/angler limit.

Some of the more popular ponds DEM plans to stock prior to Opening Day include:   Barber Pond, South Kingstown;  Carbuncle Pond, Coventry; Chickasheen Brook, South Kingstown; Frenchtown Park Pond, East Greenwich; Hunt River, East Greenwich and No. Kingstown; Meshanticut Brook, Cranston; Moosup River, Coventry; Pawcatuck River in several towns; Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown; Tiogue Lake, Coventry; Eight Rod Farm Pond, Tiverton; and Saint Mary’s Pond, Portsmouth.  Other popular trout ponds include Willett Pond, East Providence and Simmons Mill Pond in Little Compton.

Ponds open for only children 14 years of age and younger for the first two days of the season (April 9th and 10th) include:  Cass Pond, Woonsocket; Frosty Hollow Pond, Exeter; Geneva Brook & Pond, North Providence; Lapham Pond, Burrillville; Lloyd Kenney Pond, Hopkinton; Ponderosa Park Pond, Little Compton; Seidel’s Pond, Cranston; Silvy’s Pond, Cumberland; and Slater Park Pond, Pawtucket.

Where to get a fresh water license and trout stamp

 A 2016 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish. 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 and the Trout Conservation Stamp ($5.50) can be obtained at any city or town clerk's office or authorized agent such as bait and tackle shops, Wal-Mart and Benny’s.  A current list of license vendors is available on the DEM website.  Licenses may also be purchased on line or obtained at DEM’s Boat Registration and Licensing Office located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence.

License fees remain at $18 for Rhode Island residents and current members of the Armed Forces,  $35 for non-residents, and $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license.  Anglers over 65 must have a license, which for them is free, but do not need a trout stamp.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater.  All attention this week is focused on Opening Day this Saturday, April 9, 6:00 a.m.  Visit www.dem.ri.com for information on licensees, trout stamps and the ponds, lakes and waterways that have been stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout.  However, with warming water anglers have also been landing some very nice largemouth bass.  Brandon Hagopian of Cranston said, “I caught my largest largemouth bass ever last week in the Pawtucket River. It was over nine pounds. I use noisy topwater lures over shallow coves with a lot of vegetation as this will be the warmest areas of a river or lake. If you are not picking up weeds, even with topwater lures, you could be in the wrong spot.”

Winter flounder season runs from March 1 to December 31.  However, anglers are reminded that it is illegal to catch winter flounder in Narragansett Bay. Winter flounder regulations state, “The harvesting or possession of winter flounder is PROHIBITED in Narragansett Bay north of the Colregs Line of Demarcation as well as in Potter and Point Judith Ponds.”  So the east to west Colregs Line at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay is drawn from Brenton Point in Newport, through Beavertail Light to Boston Neck in Narragansett. Anything north of this line cannot be fished for winter flounder. ” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “An easy way to tell the difference between winter flounder and summer flounder (fluke) is that winter flounder has a black back and a small mouth, summer flounder are lighter in color (shades of brown) and have a larger mouth with visible teeth.”  The minimum size for winter flounder is 12” with a two fish/angler/day limit in legal waters.
Cod fishing has been was off the charts good last week.  I spoke with both Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet and Capt. Andy Dangelo of the Seven B’s party boats this weekend and both said the cod were stacked up thick with customers often reaching their limit of ten fish per angler.  Capt. Blount said, “Cod fish have been stacked up 15 to 30 feet thick at times under the boat. Both bait and jigs have been working equally well. The bite has been best earlier in the day.”

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Expect stripers early

 Omar Curi of Providence caught this pickerel last week on shiners.
Atlantic menhaden are well managed in Narragansett Bay.

Expect stripers early

All signs are pointing an early striped bass season, possibly the earliest season in years. The Bay and ocean water has consistently been warmer than last year.  Spring is shaping up as warmer than normal too and there is a high volume of bait such of herring and peanut bunker (juvenile Atlantic menhaden) in our waters.

Steve McKenna, noted local striped bass shore angler and associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown, said, “Things are going to be early this year.  And that is good because I’ve got the urge to fish.  And, I’m ready to go.”

Dave Pickering, striper expert and publisher of ristripedbass.blogspot.com said, “Last year (a record cold year) the striped bass showed at the very end of April.  That was late by past standards.  If I were a betting man, I would go for the ending days of March into the first week of April, one of the earliest starting times we will ever see.”

So get your gear ready it is going to be an early striped bass season… possibly as early as next week.
Traditionally migrating striped bass in Rhode Island first arrive at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge in Pt. Judith.  McKenna said, “I’ll be at the West Wall next weekend.” 

Counting fish from the air
This week I was reminded of the outstanding Atlantic menhaden management program we have in Narragansett Bay.  Monday night George Purmont, a spotter pilot commissioned by the Marine Fisheries Division of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), spoke about his work of counting schools of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) from the air in Narragansett Bay.

At a RI Saltwater Anglers Association meeting Purmont said, “When the amount of Atlantic menhaden in the Bay goes above the threshold the Bay is open to commercial harvesting.  When it falls below the threshold the Bay is closed to Atlantic menhaden fishing.”

The program is one of the most sophisticated and effective programs of its type in the nation.  Purmont said, “Flights once or twice a week give fish managers up to date data.” The program works well for recreational fishermen to protect this forage fish as well as for the commercial fishery allowing the Bay to be fished when there is an abundance of fish in the Bay.

Pilot Purmont said, “There is a mix of peanut bunker (juvenile Atlantic menhaden) as well as mature fish in the Bay.  The juvenile menhaden present themselves as dark spots or schools whereas mature Atlantic Menhaden present themselves as grey schools from the air as the fish flash as the swim in the water.”

Jason McNamee, chief of the Marine Fisheries Division of DEM said, “We want both peanut bunker and mature fish in the Bay as they serve as a different type of prey for a variety of fish we have in the Bay.”

Coast Guard seeks public input on wind farm safety zone
The Coast Guard is seeking public input on a proposed 500-yard safety zone for the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) by April 17, 201.

The Coast Guard proposes to establish a 500-yard safety zone around each of five locations where the BIWF wind turbine generator (WTG) towers, nacelles, blades and subsea cables will be installed in the navigable waters of the Rhode Island Sound, RI, from April 1 to October 31, 2016.

These safety zones are intended to safeguard mariners from the hazards associated with construction of the BIWF. Vessels would be prohibited from entering into, transiting through, mooring, or anchoring within these safety zones while construction vessels and associated equipment are present at any of the BIWF WTG sites.

Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before April 17, 2016. The public may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2016-0026 using the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov .  If you have questions contact Mr. Edward G. LeBlanc, Chief of the Waterways Management Division at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England at 401-435-2351, or email Edward.G.LeBlanc@uscg.mil .
  
Wind Farm meeting April 5
The Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) will hold an update meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 4:00 p.m. at the Hampton Inn, South County Commons, and South Kingstown, RI.  Agenda items will include the 2016 construction schedule, project crew vessels, the U.S.C.G. 500 yard safety zone and gear boundaries. A separate meeting regarding National Grid's sea2shore cable construction will follow with an announcement distributed as soon as the date is finalized.  For information contact Elizabeth Marchetti, Fisheries Liaison at 401.954.2902.

Striper club holds used tackle sale
The Aquidneck Island Striper Team will hold its annual used tackle sale this Saturday, April 2, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Portsmouth VFW, 822 Anthony Road, Portsmouth.  For information contact Capt. Eric Thomas at 401.524.7239.

Annual Kids Day at Addieville East Farms

The 16th Annual Kids Day at Addieville East Farm will take place Saturday, April 23rd, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Children ages 10 and over may register but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Children will learn the basics of fly casting, fly tying, fly fishing (in a trout stocked pond) and basic entomology.

The RI Department of Environmental Management, two Trout Unlimited Chapters and the United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island are co-sponsors of the event.  Kid’s Day is free however all are urged to register in advance as space is limited.

Register with Kimberly Sullivan, 401-539-0037 or email  kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov; and Jessica Pena, 401-539-0019 or email Jessica.pena@dem.ri.gov.

Block Island Wind Farm cable construction
Kokosing Industrial will be conducting submarine cable installation work from April 1 through June 5 in support of the sea2shore Renewable Link (BITS) and Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF).
In a statement last week the cabling companies said they “Respectfully request that fishermen remove fishing gear/traps from the selected cable route, and maintain a clear path 300 feet on either side of the center line. Please see the overview chart for BITS and BIWF cable routes. Kokosing will return to fishermen any gear/traps that may get fouled in the cable equipment but is not responsible for replacement of the gear. 

Questions should be directed to Elizabeth Marchetti, fisheries liaison at 401.954.2902 or at
rifisheryliaison@gmail.com . For additional information visit : 

Where’s the bite
Fresh water fishing slowed a bit with cooler weather last week.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle Warwick said, “With the cooler weather anglers just have not been getting out to fish fresh water.  Things will start to move as trout season opens up in April.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Omar Curi of Providence caught a nice pickerel on shiners last week.  With cooler temperatures last week the carp bite slowed but crappy and white perch fishing was good.  And, trout fishing in Massachusetts has been excellent.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Anglers are catching largemouth bass and pickerel at Stump Pond, Smithfield with shiners so things are opening up.” Alex Petti of Fin & Feather Outfitters said, “We had a couple of customers fish Farmington River in Connecticut and the did pretty good with trout.”  Steve McKenna of Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “We had a customer land a five pound largemouth bass last week right here in North Kingstown using shiners.”  Opening Daly of trout season in Rhode Island is next Saturday, April 9 at sunrise.  DEM has stock area ponds dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/troutwaters.htm

Cod fishing has been good when boats have been able to get out due to bad weather.  Dianne Valerien of the Seven B’s party boat said, “Capt. Andy Dangelo has been doing a great job with the cod this year.  Saturday we had twenty anglers on board and returned to the dock with 200 cod (the limit, ten fish per angler).  The fish were mostly males, when we started to fillet them for customers only three out of the first 100 fish were female.  We’d like to think they are going to hang around for a while waiting for the females to arrive.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We absolutely crushed the cod Saturday with over 400 keepers just a handful of cod shy of a boat limit and pool fish just under 15 pounds.  Both bait and jigs worked well.”


Striped bass fishing for hold-over striped bass in the Connecticut rivers is still very good.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Charlestown Breachway winter over striped bass up to 26 inches taking white bucktails dressed with 3 inch curly tail grubs on the outgoing tide this morning (Saturday).”