Saturday, May 6, 2017

Free Fishing Weekend for freshwater anglers

John Migliori with a 12” golden trout he caught at Melville Pond, Portsmouth.  Take a picture with your golden trout and send it to Jessica.pena@dem.ri.gov to receive a golden trout pin.

Free Fishing Weekend for freshwater anglers

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold Free Fishing Weekend Saturday, May 6th and Sunday, May 7th. As part of the event, the public is invited to fish without a fishing license or trout conservation stamp in the state's freshwaters.

Six local ponds will be stocked with over 6,000 rainbow trout and 4,000 golden trout for the event. Stocked waters include:  Peck Pond, Burrillville; Browning Mill Pond, Exeter; Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown; Upper Melville Pond, Portsmouth; Meadowbrook Pond, Richmond; and Shippee Sawmill Pond, Foster.

The free fishing program was established in Rhode Island in 1995 as an opportunity to encourage people to experience freshwater fishing as a new outdoor experience and highlight some of Rhode Island’s premier freshwater fishing areas. Anglers who catch a golden trout on free fishing weekend and throughout the season will receive a free golden trout pin. Take a picture of your catch and send it to Jessica Pena at Jessica.pena@dem.ri.gov .

Free fishing weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing. Freshwater fishing regulations on size and limits apply on May 6th and May 7th. For more information or to purchase a license, visit www.dem.ri.gov.

DEM workshop for fishermen nets some good ideas

It was about half way thought the commercial fishing workshop Tuesday night at the URI Bay Campus when fisherman John Walker recommended a change in license use regulations that made a lot of sense to most fishermen and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) staff persons in the room.

The issue was allowing two licensed fishermen fishing on the same vessel to each take their allowable catch limit (this is done now with select species).  Walker said, “When you think about the amount of fuel, the added carbon pollution and cost we incur each time we fish it makes a lot of sense to allow two licenses to work one boat… it cuts expenses in half and is a lot safer.”

Fisherman Greg Duckworth said, “This recommendation makes a lot of sense to me, whatever we have to do to make it work should be explored.” DEM is taking the suggestion under advisement and will explore if and how such a change could be implemented.

Another proposed regulation discussed at the meeting was a regulation similar to one that exists now for lobster pots.  The regulation would prevent all pots such as eel and crab pots from being raised an hour after sunset and more than an hour before sunrise.  The aim of the proposal would be to prevent poaching, however, fishermen felt the regulation would be restrictive as some fishermen now raise their pots early morning to sell crabs, or set them a dusk, etc.

Workshops such as the one held Tuesday night are designed to seek fishermen input on regulations.  Regulations and proposals discussed will be explored further and presented at a public hearing in June.

Al Gag tackle demonstration at Ocean State

Ocean State Tackle, Providence will have Al Gag of Al Gag’s Fishing Lures at their store for a demonstration on Sunday, May 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Meet the inventor of the Whip-It Eel and the Whip-It Fish and learn how to fish the lures.  For information contact Dave Henault at 401. 749.3474.

8th Annual Customer Appreciation Day

Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, RI will be celebrating their 8th Annual Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday, May 13th.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “We plan on having a number of reps on hand from a variety of manufacturers (Penn, Calcutta and a host of others). And, we will be having our traditional pig roast for customers.” 

Two quahog transplants… May 10th and May 11th

Two quahog transplants will take place this month.  This is the program that uses local quahogers to dig quahogs out of restricted areas and move them to clean waters. On Wednesday, May 10th a transplant will take place at Greenwich Cove and Thursday, May 11th a transplant will take place at Bristol Harbor, starting at the Independence Park boat ramp.  Licensed commercial shellfishermen will be paid $7/50 pound bag and those assisting with dumping $10/50 pound bad.  Both transplants will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon.

Shellfishermen should report to the on-site DEM enforcement patrol boat by 8:00 a.m. on the day of the transplant.  The shellfish transplant program is a cooperative effort between DEM, the Narragansett Bay Commission, the shellfish industry, and the RI Department of Health. 2017 transplant funding is provided by the Narragansett Bay Commission.


Where’s the Bite

Freshwater fishing continues to be very strong with anglers catching large and smallmouth bass.  The trout bite is expected to improve this weekend with DEM stocking ponds with trout and golden trout for Free Fishing weekend. See above article for ponds to be stocked or visit www.dem.ri.gov .   Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “Trout fishing in DEM stocked ponds is still great and customers are catching bass and pike in Chapman Pond (Westerly).”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Ronnie Lippe caught a 26 pound carp in East Providence using pop-up baits.”

Tautog fishing has improved this week in the Bay with anglers catching keepers with shorts mixed in; however, fishing along the southern coastal shore was not good.  “Tautog fishing is good in RI but anglers have been keeping their fishing success to themselves as is the case in the spring time, but we know they are catching keepers somewhere." said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Spring fishing locations in water 15 to 25 feet has just not been good in South County.”  I fished with two anglers Saturday in the Newport and Jamestown area and had a very slow pick with two keepers and three shorts.  “Capt. Billy Silvia caught his commercial limit of tautog at Ohio Ledge this week.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We received reports of keeper tautog being caught off Newport, and all along Water Street but there are a lot of shorts mixed in.”  Joe Palmer of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, “No major reports of blackfish being caught yet.”

Striped bass fishing in Southern, RI is exploding.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “Bass fishing is phenomenal.  A customer caught a 31” fish off the West Wall (Harbor of Refuge) this weekend with school bass being caught in mass at the Wall and on Matunuck and Charlestown beaches.  The ponds in Charlestown, Ninigret and Narrow River are all hot too.”  Anglers have caught as many as twenty school bass on an outing in Greenwich Cove (spreading to Apponaug Cove in Warwick too). “School bass with keeper bass mixed in are being caught everywhere including the Warren River, Kicketmuit River and all the way up to Pawtucket.” said Many Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle.  “We have a lot of school bass in the 14" to 15” range being caught but no reports of keepers really arriving yet.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.

“Squid fishing is hit or miss with anglers catching as much as ½ bucket (a five gallon pail) fishing in the Newport and Jamestown.” said Manny Macedo.  “The squid are in and out depending on the day in Rhode Island with large numbers being taken in Hyannis, MA.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State.

Bills in Congress put fish at risk

 Dareus Boragine of Cranston (and an associate at The Tackle Box in Warwick) with a 3 lb. 1 once bass he caught in the Pawtuxet River last weekend.
Fish advocates:  Capt. Dave Monti of Warwick, RI and Patrick Paquette of Hyannis, MA visited Capitol Hill last week to advocate for the fish and recreational fishing. 

Bills in Congress put fish at risk

I was in Washington, DC this week with fishermen throughout the country advocating for the fish.  The fishermen I was with met with Rhode Island and Massachusetts senate and congressional offices to gain their insight and update them on important fisheries issues.

The Rhode Island senators and congressmen do a good job when it comes to fisheries.  In fact Senators Reed and Whitehouse have been on the forefront of not only fisheries issues but important related climate change issues such as rising water and erosion of our coastline, warming water and its impact on fish and fishing. We are in good hands in Washington.

Key issues discussed included the impact of recreational fishing.  According to a NOAA study, recreational fishing has a $200-million dollar annual economic impact on the State of Rhode Island.  However, three bills introduced in congress (with versions soon to be introduced in the senate) would have a major long term impact on both commercial and recreational fishing.

House bill H.R. 200,  introduced by Representative Young (Alaska) and H.R. 2023, introduced by Representative Graves (Louisiana) would both liberalize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (the fishing law of this nation) allowing more fish to be taken out of the ocean for the short term financial gain of some. 

These short term gains would be possible by eliminating the need for Allowable Catch Limits (ACLs) on rebuilt fish stocks.  A quick assessment shows that if these bills passed, possibly all but 30 of 400 species would have Allowable Catch Limits.  Fish stocks have been rebuilt in this nation in part due to Allowable Catch Limits.  To eliminate them on stocks that have rebuilt could take away the gains we have made to rebuild stocks and allow species to become overfished before catch limits can be put back in place. 

These bills do not put fish first, they do not grow fish to abundance for all to catch and eat but rather put fish stocks at risk for overfishing making them available for short term gain for some.

New Jersey summer flounder bill

New Jersey Congressmen LoBiondo and Pallone sponsored a bill H.R. 1411 that would prevent NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) from implementing regulations that would reduce summer flounder harvest limits.

Summer flounder spawning stock has been down for six years in a row and coastwide anglers have overfished. With this declining biomass and overfishing the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) that regulates summer flounder coastwide found it necessary to reduce commercial and recreational harvest levels by about 30% in 2017.

The Magnusson-Stevens Act has given NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the fish to grow them to abundance for all.  Under this federal fishing law over 40 fish stocks have been rebuilt. Weakening Federal fishing laws would allow states motivated by self-interests and short term gains to manage fish with their best interest at heart and not the best interest of the country or the fish. 
More to come as these Bills and others if they develop further in Congress.

Snug Harbor used tackle sale this weekend

Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, will hold its annual Used Tackle Sale event on Saturday, April 29, 9:00 a.m.  The shop will be open for the season starting Sunday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day.

Rods, reels, combos, gaffs and lures are just some of the equipment you are likely to find at the Sale.  Sell or buy used gear or update your tackle with new equipment.  Elisa Cahill of Sung Harbor said, “It’s a great opportunity to sell items and upgrade to some new technology. The way the sale works is that if you sell your used tackle at our sale you give us a 20% commission, or you can use 100% of the sale price towards new equipment you buy from us.  We ask that anglers ideally get their “for sale gear” to us before Saturday so we have ample time to get it ready for the Sale.” 

For information call 401.783.7766.  Snug Harbor Marina is at 410 Gooseberry Road, South Kingstown.

Where’s the bite

“Freshwater fishing for trout is starting to taper off as ponds and lakes stocked by DEM are starting to get fished out a bit like Willet Avenue in Riverside.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.  DEM is scheduled to restock select ponds with trout (and golden Gold Trout) in time for Free Fishing Weekend May 6th and 7th.  However, fishing for other species such as largemouth and smallmouth bass has been good. Angler Dareus Boragine fished the Stafford Pond, Tiverton this week and landed a three pound smallmouth bass using a Dirty Jig.  He fished Spectacle Lake near his home and landed a nice carp this week too.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Trout fishing continues to be good with large fish 17 to 20 “ being caught at Only Pond, Lincoln and Silver Spring Lake in South County.”

Tautog fishing is receiving mixed reviews.  Most anglers and bait shop owners are reporting a very slow bite.  However, some customers of the Tackle Box in Warwick are landing fish.  Dareus Boragine of Cranston, a sales associate at the Tackle Box, said, “We have had keeper tautog caught in the upper reaches of the Providence River and at Jamestown and Newport.”  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “We have sold some crabs but have no reports of fish being landed.”  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Customers have had negative results tautog fishing, no one has reported catching anything.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Three customers fished the Conimicut Light area this week and had no luck.  They caught one short fish.  Others fishing the Wharf Tavern from shore got no bites at all.”  The hope is that the tautog bite will improve with the warm weather this week.

Striped bass fishing for school striped bass has been fair.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, said, “Customers have caught striped bass in the upper portions of the Providence River.”  “School striped bass are in the lower Bay, just north of the bridges out in front to Allen’s Harbor but the fish have not worked their way in mass into Apponaug or East Greenwich Coves yet.” said Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle.  Elisa Cahill said, “There have been more fish on the West Wall (of the Harbor of Refuge) this week and they have been getting larger but it is still hit or miss depending on the day that you fish.”  This week Csin and Omar Curi hooked up with school bass to 25” in Greenwich Cove this week.  They were using jumping minnow lures.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.  Fly fishing expert Joe Lombardo said, “We fished the Narrow River Saturday and Sunday and found good numbers of striped bass. These fish where not resident fish but fresh ocean bass. Not only good numbers of fish but some of these bass where in the 20” class, very nice on 7 & 8wt fly rods. We also caught white perch anywhere from 8” to 12” great bait for the bass along with the blueback herring and alewife’s running the river now. I used a streamer that was a good 5 to 6” long to mimic the white perch. This fly was tied with yellow over olive colored craft fur with a little gold flashabou between both colors. Intermediate fly lines work well.”

Cod fishing was off this week.  Still a lot of bait on the fishing grounds so party boat captains fishing for cod are optimistic.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tautog fishing tips from the experts

 John Migliori caught his first trout of the season Monday at Melville Pond, Portsmouth on his first cast and then went on to limit out using a spinner bait. Trout fishing is still very good and less crowded.
 Slow retrieve worked: At 2:00 p.m. on opening day Tim Jacobs of Richmond had little trouble reeling in rainbow trout using a trout spinner bait with a slow retrieve.
 Jason Howell of Narragansett hooked up with school striped bass at Narrow River.
Steve Brustein of Portland, Maine with a spring tautog he caught last year in Narragansett Bay.
Tautog fishing tips from the experts

The spring tautog season opened April 15 and runs through May 31 with a three fish/person/day limit and a ten fish per boat limit (does not apply to charter boats). Tautog fishing is fun and there’s a certain knack to it as it takes a lot of concentration and a quick hook set. 

Here are some of my favorite tautog fishing tips I’ve learned from the experts. 

·       Keep rig simple to reduce tie ups, I prefer an egg sinker rig with one hook extended below the sinker on a swivel, or a one hook conventional rig with a dropper loop and sinker
·       Anchor over or near structure, and fish the entire boat or area, even casting a bit as tautog are territorial, a few feet make a difference, also let anchor line in and out to change position
·       Be prepared to chum as needed, I use a mixture of cut-up sea clams and crushed crabs
·       I use 40 to 50 pound braid line to enhance a direct connection to the fish and the line does not stretch when the fish tries to run back into structure, my fishing rod is a medium action rod
·       Your rig should be on the bottom, be patient, pay attention and be prepared to set hook quickly
·       Be prepared to fish different types of rigs and bait presentations depending on conditions and what fish want i.e. jigs with bait, green crabs as bait, Asian crabs, conventional rigs, etc.

Fishermen sought to serve as independent representatives

Deepwater Wind, developer of the Block Island Wind Farm, is looking for at least two Rhode Island fishermen to serve as independent representatives of the local fishing fleet in connection with the development of the South Fork Wind Farm at Cox’s Ledge. 

The independent fishing representatives from both the commercial and recreational sectors will help disseminate information to the fishing community and help facilitate communication between fishermen and Deepwater Wind. They will also serve as the primary point of contact for any area fishermen with questions or concerns about the offshore wind farm or transmission cable. This is a great opportunity for those active in commercial or recreational fishing as these representatives will serve as an important link between Deepwater Wind and the fishing community.

Interested fishermen with home ports at Point Judith or elsewhere in Rhode Island should visit www.dwwind.com/fishing-reps  for more information.

With this late notice in the Providence Journal I called Aileen Kenney, vice president of permitting & environmental for Deep Water Wind.  Ms. Kenney said, “We ask that applicants forward cover letters and resumes as close to the April 21 deadline as possible via mail or email.”   

Fishing for a Cause Tournament

The 7th annual Schwartz Center/Meeting Street Fishing for a Cause Tournament to raise money for students with special needs is now registering fishing participants and dinner guests for their June 23rd and 24th fundraiser. 
Charter captains are offering their vessels and personal skills as fishing guides to take participants fishing in the recreational tournament
Fishing for a Cause has raised more than $800,000 in its history. “The incredible success of this tournament is due to the increase of corporate groups over the past seven years,” said John M. Kelly, President of Meeting Street.
More than 100 fishermen and women are expected to participate in the two-day catch and release tournament. Upon the culmination of the tournament participants and guests will gather for a catered seaside dinner in New Bedford emceed by comedian Lenny Clarke
For more information about this year’s event or to donate your vessel and services visit http://www.meetingstreet.org/FFAC or contact Beatriz Oliveira at The Schwartz Center 508-742-6425.

Squid fishing and tube & worm seminar

Learn the basics of squid fishing on a party boat from expert angler Tom Wood and then learn the technique of fishing with tube and worm from fishing author and guide Charley Soares on April 24, 7:00 p.m. at the West Warwick Elks Lodge, 60 Clyde Street, West Warwick.  “The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association meeting will focus on when to fish deep vs near the top for squid as well as the best squid lures and gear to use.” said Tom Wood. Charles Soares said, “The uniqueness of the tube and worm is that it catches numerous species along with stripers from five to fifty ponds.”  Non-members welcome with a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, members attend free.  Visit www.risaa.org for details.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing continues to be very strong.  “A customer caught a 3.5 pound largemouth bass at Brickyard Pond in Barrington this week.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.  “Anglers are doing very well with largemouth bass, we sold a lot of shiners this weekend.” said Craig Mancini of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston.  Mancini said, “Trout fishing has been better than it has been in a long time.  Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle, Westerly said, “Trout fishing at Carolina Trout Pond and Meadowbrook Pond (both in Richmond) has been great but the rivers have been a bit too high for anglers.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Opening Day’s weather discouraged some anglers from fishing so Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside is still holding a lot of fish with anglers limiting out there."  “Trout fishing is very good at Melville in Portsmouth.  PowerBait is the bait of choice with spoons working good at Lincoln Woods for one customer.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.  Gil Bell of Charlestown caught a four pound, 25” chain pickerel at Watchaug Pond, Charlestown last week using a Sutton Frisby Spoon.

Tautog fishing season opened up Saturday, April 15.  Some anglers target them this weekend with poor results as it was quite windy this weekend.  Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle said, “We did not have many customers target tautog, things should get going later this week.”  Many Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Customers targeted tautog at Stone Bridge, Wharf Tavern and other places but did not get a bite.”  Fishing further up the Bay was not good either, John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “A customer fished the Nayatt Point area for tautog but the wind picked up and he came back, he had a cold of good bites but no fish.  Others targeted Wharf Tavern, Jamestown and Newport but we haven’t back from them yet."

Striped bass fishing has not been very active.   “Things have not started to percolate yet in the salt ponds.  Once the worm hatches start the striped bass will start to come around in mass.  We have had a few reports of schoolies being caught but I am not sure they are new bass or just hold-overs from last year.” said Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & tackle.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Angers are catching fish at the West Wall but it is still spotty.  Fish are still being taken in the Narrow River, Narragansett but these fish are likely striped bass hold-overs from last year.”  Dave Henault said, “Capt. Billy Silvia (while quahogging) saw about 20 striped bass move though Ohio Ledge on Tuesday. So the bass are in the Bay.  Striped bass fishing at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge in South Kingstown has been spotty.  Tuesday was a good day there by Wednesday morning with a change of wind was not good. Angler Jay Uhlman caught a nice size school bass at the Goat Island Causeway in Newport Tuesday night when squid fishing.  He caught seven squid that night.”


Cod fishing is still slow but picking up.  The hope is that the volume of bait seen on the fishing grounds will continue to attract fish.   Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Cod fishing is hit or miss.  One customer fished the south side of Cox’s Ledge with two friends and came back with 30 nice fish, yet other have come back with one or two fish.  You just have to be in the right place at the right time.” 

Spring fishing is hot… time to cast a line

 Michael Laboissioniere of North Providence with a 2 pound trout he caught at Olney Pond, Lincoln.
Alicia DeAngelis caught her limit of trout (five fish) in just a couple of hours at Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown.  “She used PowerBait fished on size 14 snelled treble hooks eighteen inches above a bass sinker.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. 

 Rich Andrews with a 27”, three pound trout he caught opening day.  Trout seemed larger this year.
The RI Party & Charter Boat Association donated cash and canned goods to the Johnnycake Center food bank as part of their annual meeting Sunday at Spain’s Restaurant, Narragansett.  In photo:  Captains John Rainone, past board president; Steve Anderson, vice president; Andy Dangelo, treasure; Paul Johnson, secretary and Rick Bellavance, president.  
Late start OK: John Soloyna of Warwick caught this rainbow and brown trout within an hour after he started to fish around noon Saturday.

Spring fishing is hot… time to cast a line

It’s spring and the fishing is great. Opening day of the freshwater fishing season was a big hit, tautog season opens Saturday, April 15 and anglers are catching school striped bass in southern Rhode Island saltwater ponds, coves and rivers.

Tautog season opens

Tautog fishing is fun.  I like to relax with friends and family, shoot the breeze and enjoy a great Rhode Island fishery all at the same time.  Tautog (or Blackfish) is a great eating fish too with a dense whitish meat.  The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) regulates tautog fishing with three seasons. 

The spring tautog season opens Saturday, April 15 and ends May 31 with a three fish/person/day limit; fishing reopens August 1 to October 14 with a three fish/person/day limit; and then the late fall/winter season runs from October 15 to December 15 with a six fish/person/day limit. 

A fishery-wide closure, to protect tautog during their spawning period, is in effect from June 1 to July 31.  At all times when the fishery is open, there is a limit of 10 fish/vessel daily limit. Party and charter boats are not subject to the 10 fish/vessel limit. 

You have to be over or near structure (rocks, piers, wrecks, ledge, humps or holes, etc.) to catch tautog so anglers use a number of strategies to ensure their vessel stays in position.  The trick is positioning the vessel without getting your anchor stuck in rock.  I’ve lost three anchors over the years which can cost as much as $300 to $500 depending on the type of anchor and chain.

Anglers often use a grappling hook anchor make of rebar to tautog fish. The soft rods allow the anchor to bend if it should get caught in structure.  Capt. Sherriff said, “Another method used by anglers is to tie a line to the end of their Danforth or grappling hook anchor (opposite the chain end) and attach a float to the other end of the line”.  When ready to leave they pick up the float and line which pulls the anchor out of the structure the same way it went in.

I use an anchor retrieval system (www.westmarine.com ) which cost about $100.  A float on a six foot line is attached to your anchor line with a sliding metal ring.  When the vessel is pulled forward toward and beyond the anchor the ring eventually works its way down to the anchor and the float brings the anchor to the surface where you can retrieve it off the stern.  The trick is not getting the anchor line caught in your prop as you move forward toward and beyond the anchor.

Another method that worked well for me when I had a smaller center console was the use of a cinder block as an anchor. The cinder block costs about $1.50.  However, it often does not hold in strong current or seas and does not work well with large or heavy vessels.

Anchoring over structure takes some practice too. Locate a rock pile with electronics, 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. 

Watch for more tautog fishing tips next week.

Freshwater season Opening Day big hit

If you missed Opening Day Saturday it is OK as there are plenty of fish left to catch.  Jeremy Barton of Narragansett said, “There weren’t nearly as many anglers fishing Saturday morning at Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown but the fishing was very good. And as you can see you have a lot more elbow room fishing from shore.”

Not only was the fishing good but the size of the stocked trout were larger than usual. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said stocking efforts were successful, “We had a father/son and an uncle/ nephew team come in for photographs for our Facebook page.  All four of them limited out on trout (five fish/person).  Trout fishing was good at Melville Pond, Portsmouth and Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside.”
Fishing after the start of opening day did not deter John Soloyna of Warwick who caught a nice rainbow trout and a brown trout in about 60 minutes when he started fishing a 1:00 p.m.  And, Tim Jacobs of Richmond who caught two nice rainbow trout at 2:00 p.m. said, “I’m using a trout spinner bait with a very slow retrieve rate.” Soloyna landed two fish in five minutes as I watched him from shore,

Visit www.dem.ri.gov for licensing information and locations, a list of waterways that have been stocked with trout and details on regulations.

Striped bass coming on strong

On-the-Water magazine’s striped bass migration tracker (www.onthewater.com/striper-migration-map) shows school striped bass are working their way north up the Connecticut coastline with keeper fish being caught off New York. Jason Howell of Narragansett fished the Narrow River in Narragansett this weekend and landed school striped bass. 

Rhody Fly Rodders meeting

The Rhody Fly Rodders will hold their Annual Cookout Get-Together Tuesday, April 18th, 6;00 p.m. at the Riverside Sportsmen’s Association, 19 Mohawk Drive, East Providence.  Meeting will include fly casting as well as the continuation of the striped bass movie ‘Running the Coast’ that was first shown last month. Flies will be on sale with money donated to 'Project Healing Waters’.  Contact Peter Nilsen, president, with questions at pdfish@fullchannel.net .

Where’s the bite

Striped bass. School striped bass ae being caught in southern coastal ponds and rivers like Narrow River, Narragansett.  However, it is early and hard to tell if these are migrating fish or hold-over fish from the winter. 

Tautog season opens April 15 (see above article).

“Cod fishing has been spotty and the water was cloudy from storms earlier in the week.” said Dianne Valerien of the Seven B’s Party Boat.  Capt. Matt Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We fished last week but the water was still churned up from last weekend's big storm. Fishing was quite slow with a few handfuls of market cod fish up to 8 lbs. However, tons of bait were noted on the local grounds which is always a good sign.”

Freshwater fishing has been focused on trout and opening day (see above story). However, early signs are that the largemouth bite is good and picking up too.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Get ready… Opening Day is Saturday, April 8th


 Jacob Ayotte landed this 26 pound carp and then a 23.9 pound carp last Sunday night using a pineapple soluble bait.
 Silver Spring Lake in South County is a favorite spot for families fishing on Opening Day.


This 16 pound striped bass was caught by Capt. Rob Taylor's friend Matt (show in picture) just south for the Hurricane Barrier in the Providence River Basin.  "The herring were on the surface and the hold-over bass were feeding on them.", said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.


Get ready… Opening Day is Saturday, April 8th

Opening day of the freshwater fishing and trout season is Saturday, April 8th.  The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) plans to stock 80,000 trout into 100 Rhode Island waterways.  New this year, Carbuncle Pond in Coventry will be stocked with brown and rainbow trout. 

Lake Tiogue in Coventry will not be stocked this year due to low water issues, and St. Mary’s Pond in Portsmouth will not be stocked. Beginning next fall and into the future, large brown trout will be stocked at Carbuncle Pond in Coventry with the goal of developing this location into a brown trout angling destination.

On Saturday, April 8, a children’s fishing derby will be held at Pondarosa Park Pond in Little Compton.  And on Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and April 9, fishing in Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket, and Ponderosa Park Pond in Little Compton will be reserved for children 14 years and under. 

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.  The daily creel and possession limit for trout is five from April 8, 2017 through November 30, 2017, and two from December 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018. 

Visit www.dem.ri.gov for licensing information, a list of waterways that will be stocked and regulations.

Saltwater fishing from shore

The more I learn about fishing, the more I realize that to be successful at it, you need to do your homework.  Monday night I was taught how to do my homework to be a successful shore fisherman by two local experts…Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown and Capt. Chris Aubut of Aubut Rod Company. Peter is also the Lead Instructor at the Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing School and an avid surfcaster and fly rod fisherman as the situation dictates
“What we look for from shore are edges.  What I mean by edges is the change between hi and low water, shadow lines of docks (and bridges) at night, edges of sand bars and banks, and edges of moving and standing water” said Peter Jenkins at the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association meeting to a group of about 180 anglers at the West Warwick Elks Lodge.
Most gamefish, like striped bass for example, set themselves up on edges or near edges to ambush and take advantage of prey (bait) that may be feeding or may be getting tossed or pushed along by moving water, currant and tide.

“You can learn a lot from the birds… like what type of bait might be in the water that the fish are feeding on.  If they are seagulls they can eat large baits, like herring and Atlantic menhaden, if small birds are on bait, such as terns you know they are after smaller bait possibly Bay anchovies as they could not lift large baits.  Knowing what bait is in the water helps you target fish with the correct lure." said Jenkins.

Another key tip is to remember that hard structure such as cliffs, rock formations and boulder fields hold bait such as cunner (choggies), black fish (tautog) and scup in the structure at both high and low tides.  So these areas can be fished anytime.

One last tip suggested by Jenkins and Aubut is check out the location you plan to fish during a moon low tide so you can see the contour, where the edges,  pools and sand bars are located.  “I surf and fish from shore but I got a whole different perspective of what was really under the water where I fish by putting a mask, snorkel and fins on and taking a dip to see what the bottom was like where I fish.  I quickly learned why this particular stop usually held fish.  The bottom was loaded with an active mussel bed that smaller fish and striped bass would feed on.” said Capt. Aubut.

Visit www.saltwateredge.com and www.aubutrods.com for additional information and fishing tips.

Pre-owned Hinckley Yachts can now be guaranteed

Hinckley Yachts of Portsmouth, RI introduced there first Certified Pre-Owned Program last week at an owners rendezvous in Key Largo, Florida.   I always stop by the Hinckleys at boat shows as they are the gold standard of luxury yachts.

The new program offers buyers of previously owned Hinckley Yachts a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program that includes extended warranties and the assurance that their purchase bas been factory maintained.

Peter O’Connell, Hinckley CEO said, "Many Hinckleys that reach the used boat market have not only been built by Hinckley, but they have been maintained throughout their life by our own staff. We know these boats, we know that they've been properly serviced, we represent them in the marketplace, so our confidence in them is very high."

To qualify for CPO status a Hinckley must have been serviced in the company’s seven service operations, or in a yard authorized to service Hinckley products.  Boats then undergo inspection and must be listed for sale with a Hinckley-owned sales office.  There is no program cost to the sellers or buyers.

The first pre-owned Hinckleys are expected to be available this month.  For information visit www.hinckleyyachts.com.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass.  “Fishing was off a couple of weeks ago when the water cooled but in February and January we had some good striped bass hold over fishing in the Providence River.  One of my customers fishes the Providence River and has caught 40 to 50 school striped bass this winter.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Capt. Rob Taylor and his friend Matt targeted striped bass one warm night earlier this week in the Providence River Basin.  The herring were active and so were the striped bass.  They landed a 34”, 16 pound striped bass along with a number of fish in the 26” to 31” range.”
Freshwater fishing.  Carp fishing continues to remain strong and with the start of spring carp fishing is getting better.  Jacob Ayotte landed a 26 pound carp in a Rhode Island pond using pop-up baits and then he landed a second 23.9 pound fish. He is a carp expert who caught three 30 pound fish last year and is scheduled to start working at Ocean State Tackle next week as our in-house carp expert.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.  Ayotte said, “Very special fish for me last evening (Sunday) maybe my most significant of the season. I have been home rolling boilies (boiled paste fishing balls) all winter and started baiting them a week and a half ago but the weather has not been cooperating. I had been sticking with a pop-up over the bed (of leaves) as I felt it was my best bet for a bite, however, this weekend showed some more mild weather with light rain. I decided now was a good time to give them a go.  Just under two hours in on my second short session using a pineapple soluble my right rod was off and I landed a beautiful 23 pound, 9 once fish.  Very, very happy with this one!” 
“With no ice to speak of in January and February we have had very little ice fishing.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “We had some customers ice fish in Rhode Island early in March as the water was colder then than in winter, but it is all over now. We did have a couple of anglers see DEM stocking area ponds with trout for Opening Day, April 8th, but nothing at Willett Avenue Pond in Riverside yet.”

Cod fishing. Make sure vessels are fishing the day you want to go.  Dianne Valerien of the Seven B’s party boat said, “Cod fishing this week as been spotty.”  Party boats sailing for cod fish at this time include the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s (with Capt. Andy Dangelo at the helm) at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .

Budget cuts would harm fishing and fishing communities

Budget cuts would harm fishing and fishing communities

President Trump’s 2018 proposed budget cuts for climate change initiatives has the scientific community alarmed and will harm the fish and the fishing community here in Rhode Island.

Brad Plumer on Vox.com said: “What’s clear is that Trump wants the US government to pull back sharply from any effort to stop global warming, adapt to its impacts — or even study it further. That includes eliminating much of the work the Environmental Protection Agency is doing to research climate impacts and limit emissions.”

“It includes scaling back the Department of Energy’s efforts to accelerate low-carbon energy. It also includes cuts to NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs. The proposal would also eliminate the Sea Grant program at NOAA, which helps coastal communities adapt to a warmer world.” said Plumer.
The President’s budget outline mainly offers top-line budget parameters for agencies with little detail. A detailed budget will be offered by the White House in May on how it would like to fund and/or cut programs.  The Congress then votes on proposals approving or rejecting them.

All of this is very concerning as fisheries management relies heavily on science and research for data collection, understanding the impact of climate change on fish and ecosystems and much more.
In recent years we have had warm water fish such as black sea bass and summer flounder move up the east coast, and we have seen cold water fish such as cod and haddock leave the area. This type of fish movement is important to study and it directly related to climate change, changing ecosystems and warming water.

Here are some budget cut highlights that impact the fish, fishing communities, ecosystem-based management and climate change work.

First NOAA’s Sea Grant program, used by 33 states to provide grants to help coastal communities deal with the challenges of climate change, would be eliminated. This is not a budget reduction but a federal budget elimination.

“Including Sea Grant, Trump’s budget would eliminate $250 million in NOAA programs for coastal management,” said Plumer.

In Rhode Island, like many other states, the Sea Grant Program is a federal-state-university partnership.  The program, which is based at the University of Rhode Island was one of the first Sea Grant Programs in the country formed by legislation sponsored by Senator Claiborne Pell.  Rhode Island Sea Grant designs and supports research, outreach and education programs that foster coastal and marine stewardship.

For example, Rhode Island Sea Grant programs have helped to expand aquaculture in the state, mitigate beach erosion through use of offshore deposits, and address Rhode Island Marine Trades industry workforce skill gaps. Sea Grant studies have also explored the social impacts of ocean wind farms with the aim of encouraging ocean wind farm development on the east coast.

For the next two years, Rhode Island Sea Grant planned to improve understanding of shellfish (bivalve and gastropod) stock assessments and population dynamics with a focus on resource management implications.  Additional plans called for studying the impacts of climate change on finfish and shellfish population dynamics in Rhode Island waters, with emphasis on Narragansett Bay species and fisheries. 

Last week Alex Kuffner of the Providence Journal reported that in addition to Sea Grant, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) in Rhode Island would get a 60% budget cut from Trump.   Kuffner said, “(CRMC) regulates all coastal development in the state, including homes, marinas and seawalls, and also collaborates on projects to restore habitats, such as the recent raising of a salt marsh along Ninigret Pond threatened by rising.” 

In addition to eliminating the Sea Grant program and much of the funds going to CRMC, Trump’s budget includes a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion.  This includes zeroing out funds for many climate programs, including the agency’s work to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as its Energy Star program, the voluntary program that helps companies produce energy efficient products. 

In the Department of Energy, Trump plans to impose a 17.9 percent cut, about $2 billion, from core energy and science programs intended to accelerate the transition to new (and cleaner) energy technologies. The Paris Agreement on climate change sets aside funding to help poor countries adapt to climate change and supports a host of other clean energy/climate change initiatives.

As members of the fishing community, we need to help communicate these proposed cuts to others and share how they will impact the fish and fishing.  We need research-based fisheries management programs that consider climate change and its impact on the fish and fish movement so we can grow fish populations to abundance.

The Trump-proposed cuts to NOAA and climate change programs will greatly harm the long-term health of fisheries and fishing communities.
Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM), announced its annual Cinder Worm Workshop.  This is the program’s eighth year and it will include two weekday evening classes in fly tying instruction and one weekend evening of fly fishing. The program is free to registrants.

The course syllabus includes practical rigging and fly casting instruction for the novice on the day of fishing. .  “We would like to have everyone attend both workshops,” said David Pollack, one of the organizers of the program, “but you also have the option to pick just one.”  Introduction to practical rigging and casting instruction will be covered for those that need additional assistance.  Fly fishers will then fish the coves of Grassy Point area of Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. 

The program is open to any adult or accompanied child over the age of 10, regardless of skill level--40 person maximum so register early.  Instruction and guidance will be provided by some of the area’s most proficient and knowledgeable worm fishermen.   Also this year is the opportunity for kayak fishing - limited to experienced kayakers who have their own vessel. Proper safety equipment is required plus lights for navigation. 
 
All fly tying materials will be provided.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own tools and equipment, but all necessary fly tying tools and equipment will be loaned to registrants upon request. Saltwater fly fishing equipment will be loaned to registrants.

The Fly Tying classes will be held Tuesday, May 2rd and May 9th. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the
Kettle Pond Visitor Center, Charlestown, RI.  The Fly Fishing portion of the program will take place Saturday, May 13th, 4:00 p.m. until dark at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown, RI.

Capt. Ray Stachelek and Dave Pollack, fly fishing experts and USFWS volunteers will facilitate the program. For information or to register contact Scott Travers at sott.travers@dem.ri.gov .

Narragansett Trout Unlimited to meet March 29th

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will host its monthly membership meeting on Wednesday, March 29th, 6:30 PM at the Coventry / West Greenwich Elks Lodge, 42 Nooseneck Hill Road (Rte. 3, Exit 6 off of Rte. 95), West Greenwich, R.I.

The brief membership meeting will discuss the Chapter’s annual banquet and upcoming educational events, projects, and activities that the chapter will be involved in during the year. After the short meeting, the chapter will welcome Seth Boynick.  Seth is the proprietor of The Farmington River Trading Company at www.farmingtonrivertradingcompany.com .  The topic of his presentation will be “Drift Boat Fly Fishing on the Farmington and More!!” 
For additional information contact chapter president Glenn Place at 1-401 225-7712 or  TU225President@gmail.com

DEM holds free fly-tying workshops

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a series of free fly-tying workshops that began this week at public libraries in Middletown, Little Compton and Portsmouth.

The classes, designed for beginning and intermediate fly-tiers ages 10 and older, will cover techniques for both freshwater and saltwater fishing and will culminate in fishing events to be scheduled this spring.

Scheduled events include: Freshwater Fly-tying at the Middletown Public Library, 700 West Main Road, Middletown on March 20, 27 & April 3, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and at the Portsmouth Free Public Library, 2658 East Main Road, Portsmouth, March 23, 30 & April 6, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Saltwater Fly-tying will be held at the Brownell Library, 44 Commons, Little Compton, March 22, 29 & April 5 , 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.


Classes are taught by experienced anglers from DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education program. All equipment and materials will be provided; however, participants are welcome to bring their own materials if desired. Space is limited and registration is required. To register, contact Scott Travers via email at Scott.travers@dem.ri.gov.

Fishing show bit success


Grainger Pottery makes realistic ceramic fish:  Caroline and Lauren Grainger of Grainger Pottery, East Sandwich, MA delighted attendees at the New England Saltwater Fishing Show.  Their ceramic fish are made to size, molded from real fish from our area.


Fishing show bit success

The New England Saltwater Fishing Show was a big success this weekend. Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (www.risaa.org) said, “We had a line of 600 people waiting to get in Friday that stretched from the ticket office at the Convention Center all the way to the hotel.”  And, on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. (an hour after the show started) the line I saw had about 400 people in it.

Medeiros said, “We sold out booth space (over 300 exhibitors) a month before the show and we won’t know formal attendance numbers until we get a report from the Convention Center but it is sure to be record breaking.”  More than 15,000 people have attended the show in the past.
Here are a few exhibits that caught my attention at the show.

Matt Bosgraaf, manager of The Kayak Centre of Rhode Island, Wickford, RI said, “After taking a few years off we returned to the show and are glad we did.” Half way through the show on Saturday the Kayak Centre had already sold four boats. “And, you never know who is going to walk through the door in the next month or two and say ‘Hey we saw you at the Fishing Show and want to buy a Kayak’. That’s the way it works.” said Bosgraaf. 

Kayaks and paddle boards are one the fastest growing segments of boating with peddle kayaks being the craze and boats being tripped-out with fish finders, electric motors and much more. 

Sunday Kayak Centre owner Jeff Shapiro said, “To gain more awareness and walk in traffic the Kayak center plans to open at a new location this summer in the old Ryan’s Market on Brown Street in Wickford.”  The Centre still plans to launch boats on Wickford Cove but the new location should generate additional exposure (they also have a summer location in Charlestown, RI).  The Centre offers kayak lessons, paddle board and kayak boat rentals and sales with such brands as Feel Free, Old Town, Wilderness and Native Watercraft.  They also sell gear and wear for kayakers including lines such as Patagonia and offer fishing seminars and events through their partner Ocean State Kayak Fishing.  Visit the Kayak Center at www.kayakcentre.com

Grainer Pottery of East Sandwich, MA creates hand-made ceramic fish.  “We make over 100 different species of realistic ceramic fish, made to hang on the inside of a home as wall d├ęcor.  Owners Caroline and Lauren Grainger said, “Our products have a lifelike feel because we make plaster molds from real fish and hand-press clay into the molds.  We make realistic ceramic fish of all major New England species plus a variety of southern, tropical and freshwater fish.  Visit www.graingerpotterysandwich.com

Bill Hurley Lures are custom made with lots of sand eel oil. “Traffic at the show has been great.  I almost wish we sold the lures at the booth but we distribute them through bait & tackle shops such as Goose Hummock Shop, Fisherman’s Line and Falmouth Bait & Tackle who are at the show. The soft plastic lures are designed to mimic sand eels and are made with pure sand eel oil that is injected into the plastic and then the inside of the bag and lure are coated with sand eel oil when packaged.” Adults and children attending the show were mesmerized by Bill’s fish tank display of the lures working in the tank under simulated current conditions.  The lures danced in the tank as water and pushed past them.  The lure features Mustad jig hooks that are guaranteed not to fail when fishing for striped bass.  Hurley Lures’ new lure called a Canal Deep Water swim bait is designed to mimic a herring, Atlantic menhaden and/or a sand eel.  It will soon be available in 6, 5 or 3.6 once sizes.  Visit www.codandstriperlures.com .

Cheeky makes both fly fishing and spinning reels in bright green and blue colors.  This Arlington, MA Company has been designing and building reels for six years and were one of the first manufactures to use bright colors to construct reels.  Ted Upton, CEO of Cheeky said, “Our multi-disc drag system is one of the most distinguishing features of our spinning reels. Our SaltForce aluminum frame and body and machined carbon spin spool keeps the reels strong and light weight.”  The CYDRO line was on sale at the show for $100 (normally $129).  It is available in 3500, 4500 and 5500 model sizes all at the same price.  Upton said, “We are happy at how the reels did at the show and what was surprising was that we had just as much interest in our fly fishing reels as we had with our spinning reels.”  Visit www.cheekyfishing.com .

Harbor Light Software cofounder Fran Karp said, “Knowledge is power and having good, accurate, real-time data collecting of fishing data for fisheries management is what Harbor Light Software delivers to fishermen and fish mangers.  This show allows us to share with recreational anglers the software we have developed and are implementing on the east coast for the commercial and for-hire charter boat industry.  Many of these same initiatives could be adopted to work for recreational fishing.” 

The advantage of collecting accurate data is that fishery biomass, catch and effort are more accurately estimated.  If we have better data fisheries are managed more effectively so we can grow them to abundance so there are more fish for all to catch.

The company’s FishNET software is its first application to collect real time catch, effort and biological data electronically.  Today the software is accepted by NOAA in select areas as the software of choice to speak directly to the ACCSP data warehouse offering commercial fisherman and charter boats the opportunity to file their Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) electronically saving hours of paperwork and providing fish mangers with more accurate data.  Visit www.harborlightsoftware.com .


Dave Morton of Beavertail Rod & Reel said, “We are now getting into repairing kayak peddle systems too.”  The North Kingstown company does reel cleaning as well as rod and reel repair.  They take apart reels, clean all pierces and then reassemble the reels.  Morton said, “We can modify and customize reels for anglers of all types including people with disabilities enabling them to fish or fish more effectively.”  The company replaces guides and tips on reels too and can be found at www.beavertailrodandreel.com .