Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Listen to the experts… tautog fishing outstanding

October 18,2010

Captain John Sheriff, with a Narragansett Bay tautog he caught last week, advises using a grapping hook anchor made with rebar so if caught in rock it will bend and free itself.

Anthony Resta of North Chelmsford, MA with a 42” striped bass he caught with his friend Alan Stewart. The pair caught six bass in the high 30” to low 40” range using surface plugs in the Westport River.

Tautog fishing exploded this week with shore and boat anglers catching some great fish. Many anglers caught their limit in fairly short time in Narragansett Bay as well as off southern coastal shores in Newport, Beavertail (Jamestown) and Narragansett.

And, as of October 16 the catch limit for private recreational anglers increased from three fish/person/day to six fish/person/day. However, new this year, is a ten fish per boat limit. The boat limit does not apply to charter and party boats (visit DEM’s website at for complete salt and freshwater fishing regulations).

With the tautog season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to hear from some “tautog experts”. Over the past month I asked expert tautog anglers, fishing guides, charter captains and bait shop owners for tautog fishing tips. The tips below are the second installment of what they had to say (tips appears in last week’s column which can be found on this publication’s website or by visiting my blog at ).

Positioning over structure
Positioning over structure is important when tautog fishing. You have to be over or near structure (rocks, piers, wrecks, ledge, humps or holes, etc.) to catch tautog. Anglers use a number of strategies to ensure their vessel is properly positioned and stays in position. The trick is positioning the vessel without getting your anchor stuck in rock. Two years ago I lost an anchor on the northern side of Hope Island that got stuck in rock... ouch!!! It cost over $200 for a new anchor and line. I now often use a $1.49 cinder block as an anchor when fishing areas that require anchoring on rocky bottoms. The cinder block holds if current is moderate. Captain Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters, Jamestown, said, “I use two anchors to get proper positioning over structure.” Robb said that he stays away from crowds and finds his own fish, it also gives him plenty of room to make sure he is properly positioned. Captain John Sheriff of Captain Sheriff’s Charters suggests using a grappling hook anchor make of rebar. The soft rods allow the anchor to bend if it should get caught in structure. Captain Sherriff said, “Many anglers 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. Captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, Galilee, RI said if it takes several times to position yourself properly over structure then so be it. Remember no structure, no tautog.

Rod and rigs
I use a rod with a flexible tip so I can feel the tautog’s first bite, but yet a rod with a lot of background to muscle the fish away from structure. My personal chose is a one piece Penn medium action spinning rod with 30 lb. test brad line. The braid line does not stretch like monofilament line which could allow the tautog to move more easily back to structure. The tautog experts I spoke with all seem to agree. The simpler the tautog rig the better, less hardware means less chance of getting caught in structure. This year my favorite rig was suggested by John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle in North Kingstown. It is a very simple rig consisting of an egg sinker, a two-way swivel and a single hook. The egg sinker slides on the main braid line which has a two-way swivel attached to it, the hook with 12" to 15” of line is attached to the other end of the swivel. Bottom snags seldom occur, I have used this rig a few times this year without losing any rigs. Captain John Rainone of L’il Toot Charters, Narragansett, has developed a special tautog rig with a sinker line that breaks if the singer gets caught in structure. You can retrieve the hook (and/or the fish) if the sinker gets stuck. Captain John said, “One hook saves rigs and fish… waiting for a second fish to jump on that second hook makes no sense.” Angler/Captain Kevin Bettencourt of the East Bay Anglers likes to use a three-way swivel rig. The main line is attached to the swivel and then a sinker is attached to the second swivel loop and the third swivel loop has a 24” fluorocarbon (30 to 40 lbs) line attached with either a 3/0 to 4/0 Gamakatus Octopus Hook.

Last week a number of tautog tips were covered in this column, however, one is worth repeating… where to fish for tautog.

Where to fish for tautog
John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “It may take some looking and experimenting but shore anglers should find a spot that works for them... off wharfs, rocky shoreline and docks”. Popular places anglers have been catching tautog this fall include reefs/humps/holes off Newport; rock piles off Narragansett beach; Beavertail Point, Jamestown (from shore or boat); Whale Rock off Narragansett; Plum Point Light in North Kingstown next to the Jamestown Bridge; Conimicut Light, Warwick; Colt State Park, Bristol; Coddington Cove, Middletown; General Rock, North Kingstown; from shore at Quonset Point, North Kingstown; Ohio Ledge (in the East Passage); Hope Island; and the wharfs along the Providence River.

East Bay Anglers
The East Bay Anglers’ Fishing Expo will be held Sunday, January 30, 2011 (more information to come). I spoke about tautog fishing at their October meeting last week and had a great time. They are a great group. Contact Will Barbeau if you are interested in joining at .

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing continues to improve in Narragansett Bay. Fly fisherman Peter Nilsen of Barrington said, “Finally the bass are moving up into the beaches in the upper bay. Caught two keepers along Barrington Beach and missed a few others. Not much bait showing, just a few very small pods here and there.” Angler Alan Stewart, a member of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, has been hitting big bass in the Westport River using top water plugs in the morning. Last week he caught six huge bass, the largest was over 40”. The striped bass bite at Block Island continues to be hot too. Angler Eric Appolonia of North Kingstown said, “The bass bite off Block Island is outstanding. I picked up three nice bass in an hour using eels on the southwest side of the Island”. Reports from charter boats fishing the Island have been good too.

Tautog fishing is outstanding (see above column). Captain John Sheriff took three clients tautog fishing Sunday off Newport in the reef area and said, “We fished in the NW gusty winds on an outgoing tide. The group caught 35 tautog and 27 keepers. Most of the fish were released”.

Tautog experts share tips

October 11, 2010
Kevin Bettencourt (left) of the East Bay Anglers and his Dad Albert Bettencourt (right) are tautog fishing experts. Last week they limited out north of Conimicut Light in Warwick. Their fish were in the 3 to 7 lb. range. Kevin said, “Chumming is a critical part of tautog fishing.”

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 with a dense whitish meat.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) regulates tautog fishing. Fish have to be sixteen inches and catch limits changed this fall. The catch limit for private recreational anglers on and before October 15 is three fish/person/day, which jumps to six fish/person/day on October 16. However, new this year, is a ten fish per boat limit. The season ends December 15. The boat limit does not apply to charter and party boats.

You learn to fish two ways, by personal experience, and by what you learn from others. Over the past month, I have asked noted Rhode Island anglers, fishing guides, charter captains and bait & tackle shop owners in Rhode Island for tautog fishing tips. I plan to share these tips over the course of the season. So here is the first installment on tautog fishing tips.
Fishing in the fall is cold. Dress appropriately. If you dress in layers, you can take them off as the sun warms you.. Do not forget the gloves, I usually have at least four pair with me … water proof neoprene gloves, light cotton gloves, heavy winter gloves… whatever the conditions, be ready, and of course the gloves get wet.

Boat placement is important. Find structure wit 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. Ken Ferrara and his son Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick suggest 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.

Fish lodged in structure. Here is a tip from George Poveromo’s “Rock’em Sock’em” article that appeared in one of last year’s issues of Saltwater magazine. When a fish is hooked and it has muscled its way back to structure, apply pressure forcing a respectable amount of bend in the rod. If the fish is not moving, hold the rod vertically to the water, tighten the line and pull or pluck the fishing line like a banjo string. The sharp vibrations emitted work their way back down to the fish through the line and irritate it. The fish, in a state of confusion, may back out of the hole to free itself from the irritation. Once you sense this has happened start reeling in the fish. I used this technique last year and it worked. If this does not work try letting the line just go limp for a couple of minutes. With no pressure on the fish, it may dislodge itself. To my surprise, the rig often frees itself, the fish may get unhooked, or you are free and catch a fish.

Feel the bite… tap, tap and then get ready for a tug of war. Captain George Cioe said, “I believe with the first tap the tautog is positioning the bait for consumption.” So at the second tap I raise the rod up firmly feeling for the weight of the fish (no need to jerk the rod up hard). Once the fish is hooked, keep the rod up and pressure on so the fish is not able to run for cover. Captain Rich Hittinger, a long time angler out of Point Judith said, “If you get two bites with no hook-up your bait is gone. Reel in and re-bait.”

Where to fish for tautog. From shore, look for rocky coastline like Beavertail Point on Jamestown, locations off Newport and off jetties at South County beaches. From a boat, I have had good luck at Plum Point light house next to the Jamestown Bridge, the rock wall north of Coddington Cove in Portsmouth, off Hope Island, around Brenton Reef in Newport, Whale Rock, Ohio Ledge in the East Passage and any other places there is structure, debris, rock clusters, wrecks, etc.

· Chumming for tautog will enhance your catch dramatically. Kevin Bettencourt from the East Bay Anglers and his Dad Albert have been fishing for tautog in Narragansett Bay and southern coastal water off Newport, Jamestown and Narragansett for many years. Kevin said, “Chumming is a critical part of tautog fishing. If you want to land numerous tautog you must establish an effective chum line. This can be accomplished with grass shrimp or crushed asian/green crabs. Don't be afraid to feed them! If you don't, they won't stick around long!” Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters from Jamestown said chumming is very important… “I chum with crushed mussels or crushed periwinkles.”

DEM has groundbreaking
DEM and the US Army Corps of Engineers joined federal, state and local officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ten Mile River Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project last week at Hunt’s Mill Dam in East Providence. The restoration project will include fish ladders to provide for upstream migration of adult Blue-black Herring, Alewife, and American shad to historic spawning areas on the Ten Mile River and in Turner Reservoir.

DEM stocking rainbow trout
DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is stocking approximately 4,000 rainbow trout in several locations throughout the state for the fall freshwater fishing season. Ponds stock will include Meadowbrook Pond in Richmond, Carolina Trout Pond in Richmond, Olney Pond in Lincoln, Stafford Pond in Tiverton, Barber Pond in South Kingstown, Silver Spring Pond in North Kingstown, Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, and Round Top Ponds in Burrillville. Additional fishing areas will be stocked next week.

Where’s the bite

There is no excuse. Get out and fish this week. The weather conditions look good at press time, the fish are biting and winter will soon be here. Water temperature has dropped and the new moon phase is great for fishing.

Striped bass are on the move and being caught off coastal beaches from Newport to Watch Hill. Many reports of keeper striped bass being caught in the Bay too. Block Island fishing for bass is still very hot.

Blue fish bite off coastal beaches and in the Bay is good. They are finally working bait pods pushing them to the surface, exciting the birds.

Tautog fishing is great too. Many reports of keeper fish taken in the Bay around Conimicut Light, Plum Light, at Coddington Cove, General Rock in North Kingstown and off coastal shores where there is structure.

Block Island Stiped Bass Fishing

September 27, 2010
Tony Henriques of North Kingstown, Rhode Island caught this 40 lb striped bass fishing with eels while with Captain Sheriff Charters off Block Island.
Wind this weekend put a hold on fishing for many anglers and a hold on striper fishing for charter boats too. However, earlier in the week the fishing was great, particularly on Block Island where the fishing has been outstanding all season long. Big striped bass are hitting hard this fall on the Southwest side of the Island. Sea bass, giant scup and now the fall tautog season will be heating up too. Every indication by rod and reel anglers and divers targeting tautog is that the tautog season will be good this year too.

Block Island is a treasure for Rhode Island anglers and those visiting the Island to fish. You can always find fish around the Island. Charter captains and recreational anglers have related great striped bass experiences on Block Island all summer long.

I spoke with Don Smith, an avid angler and active member of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association about Block Island striper fishing. Don said he and his fishing partner Peter Vican have fished Block Island almost every weekend during the season. “We talk regularly to Capt. Matt King of Hula Charters, Block Island….he gives us information about the fishing that comes from his own experience and what he gets from the divers (the divers are a great source of information about the location and size of bass) and other Captains on the Island.”

Angler Smith continued to say, “Between Peter and I we have over 100 years fishing experience and we just kind of know from past experience where to go for the particular weather-tide conditions for any given night. I find that you can fish the Block somewhere in almost any type of wind or tide – you just have to know where to go. You might not be in a spot where the big cows feed but you can always find some bass to fish for. If the bass fishing is bad there’s other species like fluke, bonito, giant scup, trigger fish, etc. to catch. And, the fish follow the bait so there’s always the occasional surprise when you find big fish feeding in an area they usually don’t frequent and you get to catch them all night long with no one else around.”

This year around Block Island the striped bass have switched up their feeding habits compared to other years. Smith related, “It used to be that they (the bass) would hold up on structure at night and you could find them waiting for bait to feed on. This season we have found them to be schooling up and chasing bait at night, not staying on structure. It has made the night fishing much more difficult and not as productive as it has been in previous seasons. The early morning fishing (at daylight) has actually been better than night fishing for the past four or five weeks.”

Fisheries Council meeting
The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) will meet October 4, 2010, 6:00 p.m. at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI. Agenda items will include reports from the shellfish, the summer flounder, and the scup/black sea bass Advisory Panels. A variety of new business items to be discussed as well. Anglers are encouraged to attend.

Release those big striped bass
Angler Pete Nilsen of Barrington wrote me and asked, “… why are we killing all those large fish? Those big female cows are breeders… it bothers me considering the way the striper stocks are going… why don’t you promote catch and release in your column.” I agree with Peter we should not take the breeders, I advocate for not taking them with anglers fishing on my boat (as other Captains do too). We take a quick photo and then release the fish, after the first photo the fish seldom leaves the water, the hook is removed while it is at the side of the boat and then the fish is released. You can read about catch and release tactics in future columns or on my No Fluke web site ( and blog were past column appear.

Where’s the bite

Tautog fishing this weekend was good even though the wind made it very difficult to fish. Many reports of anglers reaching their limit. The average seems to be three out to ten fish are keeper size. Reports of fish being taken off Beavertail, Jamestown; Coddington Cover, Middletown; Hope Island, between Jamestown and Prudence Islands; Plum Lighthouse next to the Jamestown Bridge; and a host of other locations. The fish seem to be working their way up the Bay (let’s hope so).

Black sea bass fishing is still good. Fish being caught off Newport (Brenton Reef and Seal Ledge) as well as off Point Judith Light.

Striped bass fishing in the Bay picked up this week. Fish being taken off Barrington Beach on the channel pad in deep water said angler Joe Petuli. Fish also caught, around Half-Way Rock between Jamestown and Portsmouth, and around Hope Island. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside reports that a customer caught a 30 lb. striped bass at Sabin Point, Providence this week using menhaden chunks. John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said a 35 lb. bass was taken at Sally Rock early in the week and that the striped bass bite continued to be good at Narrow River for both school bass and larger fish. The striped bass fishing around Block Island remains outstanding with reports of fish over 40 lbs. being taken off the Southwest corner of the Island. Fish are being caught using eels, parachute jigs, umbrella rigs and tub & worm. Earl

Blue fishing in the Bay, off coastal beaches and at Block Island is good. Large blue fish continue to move into the bay with large fish being caught round Hope Island, in front of Barrington Beach on the channel pad, off Poppasquash Point, Bristol and other places throughout the Bay. Although blue fish supply was better it still is not outstanding in the Bay.

Scup. The Rhode Island recreational season for scup ended Sunday, September 26, licensed charter boats are allowed to catch scup until October 11.

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there’s more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave’s No Fluke website at or e-mail him at .

Learn how to be a “Striper Hunter” and more

September 20, 2010

Bass off Block Island: Warwick Fire Fighter Mike Schmidt with a 30 pound striper that took a Yellow and White Poly-jig while on Priority Too Charters.

The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association has a great line-up of topics for their Monday, September 27th seminar.

Now is your chance to learn how to catch striped bass consistently just as great charter captains of Rhode Island have been doing for years off Block Island. Curt Caserta, who will present what he has learned from character captains, said, “I have taken little pieces of techniques and information and tried to adapt them to what works best for me…” Topics covered include techniques such as the correct direction to pitch your bait, how to set-up a drift, properly position your boat, the importance of electronics, the benefits of finding your own fish while staying away from others as well as the gear and tackle that works best.
The session will also include three mini seminars featuring Steve McKenna, renowned Rhode Island surf fisherman from Cranston, RI, and an associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters in North Kingstown, RI. Steve will talk about the fundamentals of fishing. Next, Mike Fotiades will talk about something I have always wanted to learn…how to properly throw a cast net. With fresh live bait fairly abundant in the Bay and Ocean (such as menhaden) this is something that could enhance your fishing experience and catch all at the same time. The third mini-seminar will be handled by Tom Wood and the topic is trailer safety. We all have experienced or witness trailer nightmares at the boat ramp or on the road. This session is sure to help keep you safe and avoid accidents.

The seminars begin at 7:00 p.m. and are held at the West Valley Inn in West Warwick. The public is welcome, although a $10 donation is requested for the RISAA Marine Fisheries Scholarship Fund. Dinner, sponsored by the West Valley Inn, is available between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

For more information about these seminars check out the RISAA web site at or call 401-826-2121.

Anglers oppose ban on lead sinkers and lures
On August 23, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and four other organizations to ban all lead in fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act. This includes sinkers, jigs, weighted fly line, and components that contain lead such as brass and ballast in a wide variety of lures, including spinners, stick baits and more.

The petition was presented with the aim of reducing bird deaths caused by the ingestion of lead sinkers and jig heads; however, a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that less than one percent of all waterfowl and other birds such as eagles are killed by lead sinker ingestion.

The American Sportfishing Association (of which RI Saltwater Anglers Association is a member), has provided a special web page at (under Top News items dated 8/31/10) explaining the reasons why anglers should oppose the ban and how to help by sending an email to your state's legislators in Washington.

Newport Boat Show
Exhibitors at the Newport International Boat Show related attendance was good this weekend and I sensed more sales activity than they had last year. I looked at three center console fishing boats for in-shore and near coastal fishing (something you could take to Block Island).
The first manufacturer was Parker represented by Don’s Marine of Tiverton, RI. Tom Grimes of Don’s related that Parker’s claim to fame was “strength, simplicity and seaworthiness”. He jumped up and down on the gunnels to demonstrate the vessels stability (the vessel has a roomy 9’6” beam). They were showing a 25’ center console as a show special priced at about $50,000 and their new 2100 Special Edition 21’ center console (again built well for fishing).
I also spoke with Jim Shriner of Mill Creek Marine (the former Johnston’s Boat Yard located in Wickford, RI). Jim said, “We are focusing on selling Eastern boats, a value line with roots in commercial boat building…the nice thing is that they are built locally in Milton, New Hampshire and you can order a boat the way you want it.” Jim related that the new 24’ center console (offered between $50,000 and $60,000 depending how it is ordered) is ideal for fishing and was enhanced last year with an 8’6” beam.

The last fishing vessel I looked at is one of the high performance fishing center consoles on the market… the Pursuit C280. This boat was built with the offshore fisherman in mind. It has a 24 degree dead rise to cut through heavy seas and features a large 52 gallon live bait well. Pursuit is known for performance, fit and finish and they are represented locally by Striper Marine of Barrington, Rhode Island. Striper Marine’s show special price on the C280 was $139,900 said Gregg Wheaterby, sales representative from Pursuit.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing is improving on the Bay. Fish are being taken north of the bridges as well as along the southern coastal shoreline of RI. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, reports customers are catching bass at Warwick Light. A good striped bass bite mixed with blues off point Judith Light this week. Prior to the high seas on Block Island and Rhode Island Sound striped bass fishing off Block Island was great. Anglers continue to take fish in the 30 lb. range using eels 2 ½ miles off the southwest side. Captain Sheriff Charters reported taking fish up to 40 lbs. using ells last Wednesday one mile off the SW corner of Block Island. This weekend bass between 15 and 32 lbs. were taken on the Southwest side of Block Island using Poly-Jig Parachutes said Captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters.

False Albacore fishing remains very good off Point Judith with a number of fish being taken off the center and east walls this past week. Green Deadly Dicks seemed to be their bait of choice this week. Fish also off and between Newport and Beavertail in Jamestown.
Bluefish are now large and can be found throughout Narragansett Bay and off shore. RISAA blog member Brian Woodard reports taking eight to ten pound bluefish off Prudence Island this Saturday using chunks of porgy in forty feet of what. Brain said “Every ten minutes a school of monster blues would swim by and attack our lines…” Last week I caught blue fish as large as 30 “ while fishing with tube and worm on the channel pad off Poppasquash Point, Bristol. Smaller bluefish also caught close to Prudence Island near Bear Point with swimming lures.
Tautog fishing is encouraging and good on the Bay and off coastal shores between Newport and Point Judith. Good number of keeper fish reported being taken off Beavertail this Sunday in high seas as well as at Whale Rock, Narragansett,; Plum Point Light House next to the Jamestown Bridge; around General rock off Wickford; and around the jetty at Coddington Cove in Middletown.

Senator Whitehouse gets to know charter fishing industry challenges

September, 13, 2010
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (right) on the charter boat Priority Too talks about challenges facing the charter fishing industry with Rick Bellavance (left), president of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association.
Last week I had the opportunity to ride along on Priority Too Charters out of Galilee with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on board. The Senator was trying to obtain firsthand knowledge about challenges facing the charter and party boat industry and possible solutions. Issues discussed on the trip were varied, but one thing was clear… the Senator is an advocate for our oceans, Narragansett Bay and fishermen and is determined to make the most informed decisions as he possibly can.

Captain Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party and Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA), said one of the issues facing the charter and party boat industry is how it is classified by the State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM). The Department regulates recreational fishing and commercial fishing in Rhode Island, however, the charter and party industry is different than both. Captain Bellavance said, “We take people recreational fishing but we are commercial in nature in that we have to plan our business to catch species that are available at any given time.” For example you cannot catch summer flounder in the winter.

Another example of this is tautog fishing, a species targeted by anglers in the spring and fall and one that had a mid-season regulation change this year. The new recreational fishing regulation reduced the bag limit to six fish in the fall per angler per day, but the new regulation added a ten fish per boat limit. So if five anglers were fishing on a vessel they could catch just ten fish or two fish per person. This regulation would have put an end to charter boat fishing in the fall for tautog. No one is going to pay the charter fee (usually around $500 to $600 for a half day for six people) for the right to catch two tautog. The compromise was to treat the charter industry differently. They now can take eight fish per day per person in the fall (likely to go to six next year) but agreed to a one fish per person limit in other parts of the season. This will allow charter boats to fish for other species when they are available and focus on their tautog limit when other species are not biting. The compromise respected the need for a limit reduction in that charter boats can only take one fish per person per day throughout the year with an enhanced limit in the fall. This will reduce the total number of fish taken, yet preserve the fall fishing season for the industry.

Captain Bellavance said, “… managing the charter and party industry along with the private angler is very difficult. I believe our needs are different and we should be managed in a way that allows us the best economic potential while also being accountable and conservation minded.”
The RI Saltwater Angler Association’s economic impact study reported recreation fishing has a $160-million impact on the state with 50% of this coming from out of state anglers. Recreational fishing and charter fishing have a big economic impact on the state so it is to our advantage to enhance both while respecting the environment and conservation.

Artificial reef committee meeting
Any RI Saltwater Angler Association member interested in establishing artificial reefs is welcome to join the artificial reef committee and attend a meeting Thursday, September 16 at 6:30 p.m. Send an e-mail to Richard Hittinger, chairman, at .

Coast Guard to considers discontinuing Block Island North Light
The Coast Guard is considering discontinuing Block Island North Light. Interested mariners are encouraged to comment on this proposal in writing, either in person or through organizations. All comments will be considered and are request by September 28, 2010. E-mails can be sent to and faxes to 617.223.8291.

Summer Flounder Advisory Panel Meeting
DEM will hold a Summer Flounder Advisory Panel meeting Tuesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus, OSEC room 115, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI. For more information contact Jason McNamee at 401.423.1943.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing remains good around Block Island with nice fish being taken on the Southwest side. Captain John Sheriff reports landing bass in the 30 lb. range in 35 to 54 feet of water drifting eels this weekend. Angler Keith Turner reports a school bass bite at Black Point, Narragansett in the early morning using a 1 oz. Kastmaster (seven school bass up to 22” were caught and released) early in the a.m. Striped bass fishing was good Friday on Block Island as well. Fish between 25 to 40 lbs were taken by the charter boat Priority Too.

Bluefish bite continues to improve in the Bay and off Block Island. I spotted pods of fish surfacing near Coddington Cove, anglers off Block Island are catching big blues using tube & worm and parachute jigs. Captain Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters, Jamestown, reported a good fly fishing trip this Sunday for blues off the north end of Prudence and Patience Islands and then off Narragansett Beach.

Off-shore tuna fishing was not good last week. Captain Rick Bellavance said, “The Tuna fishing can't get any worse. I am hopeful as the tide slows down towards the end of the month, things will improve.” Shark fishing remains good with blue sharks and makos being taken.
Bottom fishing for scup and sea bass is very good around Block Island. Reports of keeper sea bass being caught near the Newport Bridge on the Jamestown side this Saturday and just north of the bridge. Anglers Rich and Gisele Golembeski caught a 26” fluke and a 2.9 lb scup, the largest they have ever seen off Block Island this weekend. Tautog fishing is encouraging. I did some test fishing for tautog at Coddington Cove and caught a nice 21” tautog. Divers working the area related they saw many large tautog in the area, this is a good sign, hope things heat up in the next three to four weeks.

False Albacore bite is good. Reports of fish being taken off Pont Judith and along southern coastal beaches. Rich and Gisele Golembeski each caught fish using a silver needle eel and a green Deadly Dick.

Fishing after storms can be good

Very nice fish: Don Smith, a long time Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association member, caught this 10.35 lb fluke (summer flounder) while fishing off Block Island last week.
Fishing after storms has historically been good, particularly good for shore, near coastal and Bay fishermen. Anytime you can get close to inlets, the shore or underwater structure you will do well. Fishing is good at inlets and outflows because water levels are high due to rain, abnormally high tides and heavy surf. Once turbid water rushes out of rivers, bays, and inlets, bait that may have sought refuge up inlets gets tossed around as they leave for open water where larger fish are waiting.

Other contributing factors to good fishing after storms are geography and storm patterns. For example, with storms coming out on the north and northeast bait, crabs, etc. get pushed to the opposite shoreline or get hung up on ridges. Fish the opposite shoreline after a storm and you are more likely to catch fish because the bait is there said Steve McKenna of Cranston and an associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters in North Kingstown. Steve continued, “I like to fish the fist clearing wind after a big storm once the sea settles down a bit… I caught my last three 40 lb. striped bass after storms.”

I asked Captain Rich Hittinger for his thoughts about fishing conditions after a storm. Captain Hittinger said, “The fluke (were) back at North Rip (Block Island) since last Tuesday. But, things will change after the storm … At this time of year storms have sometimes sent the fluke packing to deeper water with no significant bite until the following spring. It also can chase the giant tuna out of here for the season, but we can only wait and see what happens. In any case the scup, sea bass, and stripers will still be here after the storm, but it may take a few days before they settle back into a feed.”

I plan to put these “fishing after a storm” strategies to the test and will keep you posted.

How gubernatorial candidates stand on recreational fishing issues
Recently the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) asked all eight gubernatorial candidates their thoughts on five issues important to recreational anglers. All candidates except Ronald Algieri (Independent) replied. The five issues included questions on: artificial reefs; the Weaver Cove LNG Project; public access to the shoreline ; the Jamestown Bridge fishing pier; and support of the existing no sales tax on boats law.

I carefully read and re-read candidate responses and have to report that candidates responded but many did not commit or they committed to support an issue with conditions. Details on their responses can be found on the RISAAA website in their September newsletter at . Here is a summary as to how I interpreted candidate response… many support RISAA and fishermen but four candidates stood out with their responses supporting most angler issues unconditionally. Kenneth Block (Moderate), Frank Caprio (Democrat), Lincoln Chafee (Independent), and Victor Moffitt (Republican) were supportive to recreational fishermen’s concerns. I urge you to read candidate responses on the RISAA web site and decide for yourself.

Where’s the bite
Off-shore fishing was good prior to the storm last week. Angler Mark Pietros reports on the RISAA blog that he had all the cod fishing action he could handle last week along with haddock, Pollock and “the biggest hake” he ever caught. He fished in 220 feet of water at Stellwagon which is in the eastern edge of Massachusetts Bay off Race Point between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. Captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters reported catching a 300 lb. blue shark at the Mud Hole and said that two boats hooked-up with bluefin tuna. The vessel Tuna Tangler landed their fish and Duck Soup (who caught a nice fish a couple of weeks ago) lost their fish after a long battle as it got dark.
Bluefish. Captain Rick Bellavance reported plenty of bluefish at the north end of Block Island as well as some huge scup and black sea bass around Clayhead, Block Island.
Black sea bass fishing off Newport was good early Monday (see fishing after the storms article above) for those who fished the outgoing tide, once the tide switched to an incoming tide the bite slowed right down. Keeper fish that I caught Monday (and as reported by Paul Tower on the RISAA blog) were coughing ups small 3 inch lobsters, they must of really had the feed bag on.
Bay fishing was very slow this week as water heated up again to over 75 degrees in some areas. Let’s hope the storm and following weather cools the water and the fish come back.
Fresh water fishing for bass is good. Craig Castro of Erickson’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick reports customers are doing well fishing for bass in RI ponds and lakes. “This is tournament season and several customers came is this week getting ready for tournaments in MA, RI and CT”, said Castro.

Five giant bluefin tuna caught this weekend

August 30, 2010
Bluefin tuna weighing in at 866 lbs. caught this Sunday by Dean Venticinque (second from left) of the vessel “Twentyfive” at the Mud Hole about eleven nautical miles off Block Island.
Al Conti of Snug Harbor Marina reports three giant bluefin tuna were caught this Sunday including an 866 lb. tuna caught by Dean Venticinque of the vessel Twentyfive; a 425 lb. fish caught by Alice Petrucci of Duck Soup; and a 666 lb. bluefin caught by Joe Warner on the vessel Shadow Maker. Captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters reported that two giant bluefin tuna weighing over 800 pounds were caught Saturday. Captain Bellavance said, “The crews of the Monsta and Midnight Rambler scored with giant blue fin tuna over 800 pounds fishing in the Mud Hole on Saturday. “ The Mud Hole is about eleven nautical miles ESE off Block Island. These are the first reports of giants being caught. Let’s hope it is a great season.

RI Party & Charter Boast Association (RIPCBA) charity tournament
The RIPCBA held a charity tournament last week. The first place winner was Ralph Dwine from Lyndeborough, NH with a fish that weighed 33.75 pounds. The fish was caught aboard the Persuader run by Capt. Denny Dillon and Mate Jimmy McWilliams. Second place was taken by Paul Furtado from Warwick, RI with a fish that weighed 33.50 pounds. The fish was caught aboard the Maridee II run by Capt. Andy D’Angelo and Mate AJ D’Angelo.

A night of shore fishing
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) held a shore fishing workshop this past Monday at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick. At press time Dave Pickering, noted local shore angler was scheduled to speak about Breachway Strategies… or outflows… being some of the best locations in Rhode Island to fish. Fishing strategies for Rhode Island southern shores included the Weekapaug, Quonny, Charlestown, Galilee and Narrow River areas. Dave is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers’ Association and has written hundreds of articles about fishing for striped bass. Visit Dave on his blog at
Pat Abate, owner of River’s End Tackle in Old Saybrook, CT was scheduled to speak about Block Island fishing from shore. Pat’s presentation includes an aerial tour of Block Island showing some great fishing spots, how to get to them and how to fish them once you arrive. For information about Block Island shore fishing visit (they have classes and seminars too).

Joseph Hartman Memorial Fundraiser a success
The RISAA reports that the Joseph Hartman Memorial Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner held in Coventry on August 25 was a big success with proceeds of the event split between three of Joe's favorite groups: the Coventry Fire District (he was a firefighter), Manchester Lodge #2 and the RISAA Foundation. Dale Hartman, Joe’s wife, said, “Joe was proud to be a member of RISAA … and loved taking part in the annual Take-A-Kid Fishing Day. He would be happy to know that this fundraiser helped to pay for the event.”. Dale Hartman and her daughter, Kristina, presented a check for $633 to the to the R.I. Saltwater Anglers Foundation to be used towards the 2011 “Take-A-Kid Fishing” day.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing on Block Island remains excellent. Stripers are taking parachute jigs and eels along the South side of Block Island, reports captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters. Angler Joe Daniels of Cranreports landing striped bass off Warwick Neck this past Friday. Daniels said, “…We started trolling out of Oakland Beach by the golf course towards Warwick Light - we were trolling Rapala Magnums at about 23-27 foot depth - picked up a double - one was 28" the other 30". Did a 180 and came back over the same area picked another double both 32" - after that - nothing! - Guess the bad weather cooled the water temperature enough to start bringing them up to my end of the Bay.” Captain Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters , Jamestown said, “We have been doing well on bass in the Bay lately. Light tackle around Quonset and trolling wire around halfway rock and Prudence Island. The bluefish (gators) are there too!” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said action in most of the Bay is slow but some nice sea bass, fluke and bass being caught south of the bridges. Captain Bob Masse of Fishtales II said on the RISAA blog that he fished Block Island Saturday starting at 6 a.m. and the three anglers on board limited out on bass that weighed in the mid-twenties.
Fluke (summer flounder). Captain Rich Hittinger reported Carl Pearson caught an 8.9 fluke on his boat Skipjack as well as six other fluke over three pounds. Captain Hittinger said, “These fish never came into the (Rhode Island) south shore beaches this year. I think that is because the squid were fished out early in the season by very heavy pressure from the draggers, so there is nothing on the beaches for these fluke to eat. At the Island they are eating sand eels.” Hittinger continued, “From this past weekend I can tell you that the NE wind last week blew the fluke off the spot on the North Rip where they have been for weeks. There are some big scup at the SE corner of Block Island and Coxes Ledge is loaded with dogfish.” Captain Robb Roach said, “The fluke have left the bay! Won't see them there in numbers again until next year. Try going out front and anchor up/ chum. You will do better on fluke and get a ton of seabass and scup as well.”

Off-shore fishing. Captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said, “We Fished offshore on Friday and Saturday. Fishing 38 miles S/E of Point Judith, we caught three Makos and five Blue Sharks, all were tagged and released. Trolling for Tuna Fish was unproductive everywhere we tried. …We fished Saturday Night where we found Bluefish and Green Bonito biting diamond jigs in the North Rip off Block Island. September and October offer some of the best fishing of the year, many folks wrap it up after Labor Day, missing the best opportunities to catch the widest variety of fish available all year.”

Impact of Gulf oil spill on bluefin tuna fishing in Rhode Island

August 23, 2010

Rob Sperrazza of Suffield, CT caught this 26” fluke (summer flounder) on the vessel Angel Light of No Fluke Charters using a squid rig tipped with squid strip and a fresh water minnow mounted horizontally on the hook which madea big presentation to the fluke.

Scientists have objected to the Obama Administration’s claim that 75% of the oil spilled by BP in the Gulf has been collected, burned, degraded or evaporated. In fact, scientist have refuted this claim and related that much of the oil is still in the water.
News about a 22 mile underwater oil plume 3,000 feet below the Gulf surface was reported by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in a study published in the August 19, 2010 issue of Science magazine. The study enhanced fears about possible damage to bluefin tuna larvae. Bluefin tuna migrate to waters off Rhode Island, so damaged larvae in the Gulf could impact fishing here. The 22-mile plume is actually 1.2 miles wide and 650 feet high. The study’s author, Christopher Reddy, is a Rhode Island native.

Ekos 2 (an environmental/economics blog) reported that Dr. Ronald Kendall of Texas Tech University emphasized how little was known about the impacts of dispersed oil on species such as bluefin tuna, a species that has experienced a decline over the past few decades. He noted that critical spawning areas for tuna are located in the vicinity of BP’s oil releases and plumes of dispersed oil. The spring and summer spill period coincides with the tuna’s egg and larval stages.

I wondered about the impact of the spill on bluefin tuna fishing in RI so I asked Captain John Rainone, L’il Toot Charters, Narragansett and past president of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA). He said, “…The scientists say that they have no clue as to whether there will be any long term impacts from the oil spill on tuna eggs and larvae. In fact where is the proof (100%) that the only area that bluefin tuna spawn is in the Gulf of Mexico where the oil spill happened. Is that the only place in the entire ocean East and West that Bluefin spawn?” Rainone continued, “…I have one strong feeling … tuna fish are smart, just like most animals and fish they have survival instincts. If they are swimming into the area that has oil… do you really think they are going to stay there and spawn, or move off to a different area in the ocean and spawn there? When the tsunami was coming and all the animals headed for higher ground, did they do this due to instincts and survival feelings, or did they hear the special weather broadcast on the radio?”

Captain Rick Bellavance is a member of the Highly Migratory Spices Advisory Panel of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a charter boat captain in RI and president of the RIPCBA. Captain Bellavance said the NMFS committee has and will again address the effects of the spill on tuna at their September meeting when they have more information. He said, “Prior to the spill, bluefin tuna stocks were not rebuilding sufficiently and as a result NMFS enacted a mid season adjustment to reduce fishing mortality within the Private Angler Sector. Any effect the spill has on this year’s spawn could show up in future stock assessments and result in further regulations… There are some global complications as well. As we try to convince Eastern countries to rebuild their stocks, we are dumping oil and chemicals all over ours. Not too convincing! “

Striped bass regulations
Recently the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) held a public hearing on increasing commercial striped bass quotes. The majority of those attending felt that all is not well with striped bass and we should look to cut back rather than increase the number of fish being taken. Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) presented membership with the question on their blog. Should more or less fish be taken? Overwhelmingly members felt striped bass regulations should be adjusted downward if necessary to preserve the fishery. Many favored slotting, allowing anglers to take fish of a certain length (smaller fish) rather than larger egg bearing fish. Members related they would be willing to take less fish to preserve the fishery if necessary.

New tautog regulations
The RI DEM director has approved new regulations for tautog fishing. There are different regulations for private recreational anglers and party & charter boats.
Recreational angler: 3 fish per person/per day from now through October 15 (status quo); 6 fish per person/per day from October 16 to December 15; and a 10-fish BOAT LIMIT from now to December 15. New changes include a reduction from 8 fish/day to 6 fish/day in the fall fishery, and the new boat limit. This means that no more than 10 tautog may be caught on any boat, no matter how many anglers are aboard.

Licensed Party & Charter Boats with mandatory logbook reporting for all tautog fishing (new): 1 fish per person through October 15 (new); 8 fish per person from October 16 to November 30 (will drop to six fish in 2011); and 1 fish per person from December 1 to December 15.

Where’s the bite
Fresh water bite is good and improving. Angler Kim Bissonnette of South Kingstown said, “Largemouth bass are still relating to cover and structure, but can be found roaming a bit during early mornings and later in the evening as the water temperatures drop a bit. Flat water conditions during either time of day are beginning to produce some very nice strikes on top water baits using poppers and smaller profile propeller baits. Soft plastics are also still catching fish along weed edges close to drop offs. During the day, downsizing has helped to produce some good bites using 4" lizards and stick baits. Good colors have been chartreuse, green pumpkin with flakes and sweet potato pie.

Striped bass bite continues to be good at Block Island with fish being caught in the lower part of the Bay too. Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters, Jamestown, said, “Surprisingly the Stripers are in the Bay. My eight year old Ethan won the CYC tournament with a 31", 11 lb striper caught at Half Way Rock.” Captain Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said, “Persistent easterly winds have had a negative effect on the fishing around Block Island. We are still catching stripers during the day drifting eels and parachute jigs on wire, but you have to work for what you catch. The North Rip is full of bluefish.” Fly fisherman Peter Nilsen of Barrington said, “Fishing from shore is still very slow. The only action from the beaches on the East Bay side, are "skipjacks". But they are getting a bit bigger than they were a few weeks ago. I've been casting on the shores of Little Compton and along Barrington Beach looking for the occasional striper and have caught many of these pesky little blues. No bass!”

Fluke (summer flounder) fishing is good at Block Island with some fish being taken along southern coastal beaches and in the Bay around the bridges and south. Fish to ten pounds being taken at Block Island with jigs outperforming squid rigs. Last week Rob Sperrazza of Suffield, CT caught a 26” fluke under the Newport Bridge when fishing on Angel Light of No Fluke Fishing Charters. The fish was taken on a squid rig tipped with squid and a minnow (you can purchase frozen fresh water minnows at Erickson’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick, they save them for fluke fishermen).

Fish poaching penalties… and a great shark story

August 16, 2010
Thirteen foot, 288 lb. thresher shark caught on Priority Too Charters from Snug Harbor, RI. Captain Rick Bellavance said Jeff Laroque and the crew from UPS were fishing with him Saturday when the fish was caught.
Last week the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) charged Albert Reeves of Rehoboth, MA with poaching striped bass. They said he had eleven illegal fish in a secret compartment in his boat. The story spread like wildfire through the fishing community. For a while it was the only topic at bait shops, on charter boats and on fishing blogs in Rhode Island.

DEM said they had information that Reeves was illegally taking over limits of striped bass in Rhode Island and selling them in Massachusetts and that he had the extra fish in a hidden compartment on his boat. The officers stopped him while driving on Route 1 in Rhode Island after fishing. Officers found a secret compartment that opened hydraulically with eleven (11) illegal fish (in addition to the two legal fish he had in his possession). The state seized Reeves’ boat and eqipment. His arraignment is scheduled for September 1.
RIDEM officers are familiar with Reeves. He was arrested, charged and pleaded NOLO in July of 2003 for the same offense. He was fined $450.00.

Poaching by anyone, recreational fishermen or commercial fishermen can have a negative impact on a fishery and fishing community. I asked a couple of anglers, charter captains and fishing authorities their thoughts on this poaching incident and if in general penalties should stay the same or be enhanced. Here’s what they had to say.

Captain George Cioe, Narragansett, RI…“I believe that when a vessel is designed to conceal criminal activity that it is a sure indication of habitual offense. Therefore the vessel should be seized and the funds given to DEM for future enforcement efforts or equipment.”
Steve Medeiros, president, Rhode Island Salt Water Anglers Association…“We hope that this time the court will agree to seize his boat and equipment. A day's illegal catch can be valued at hundreds of dollars, and many poachers do this EVERY DAY! It is time for the fines for such violations be increased. It is time for the General Assembly to change the fisheries laws and allow for the increase of such fines.”

Captain Rick Bellavance, Priority Too Charters, president of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association… “I favor a modest fine for first time offenders.( I would suggest a temporary suspension of their commercial fishing license and a fine.) Repeat offenders should be subject to an increasing fine structure, to include forfeiture of their State Commercial Fishing License... Recreational fishing fine structure should also be reviewed with the possibility of loss of Salt Water License. According to MRFSS, Non-Compliance among many species is in double digit percentage of recorded intercepts. Due to the number of private anglers, this equates to a much larger number of illegal fish than are illegally harvested commercially.”

Grand opening for new Mt. Hope boat launch.
DEM held opening ceremonies for the Mount Hope Boat Launch Improvement Project in Bristol on Monday, August 16. The old boat launch located behind the RI Veterans’ Home has been replaced with a new, 60-foot wide concrete ramp and two floating courtesy docks. The new Mount Hope facility is accessible to boaters with disabilities.
DEM said a dredged channel from the new boat ramp location, which is north of the old Mount Hope boat ramp, into deep water will accommodate larger boats brought in by trailer to the new facility. This new ramp is the only public boat launching ramp of its size in the Rhode Island portion of Mount Hope Bay.

Menhaden advisory panel meeting
A meeting of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council Menhaden Advisory Panel has bee scheduled for Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 6:00 P.M. at the URI Bay Campus, Coastal Institute, Hazard Room which off South Ferry Road in Narragansett, RI. Agenda items include the most up to date stock status and a review of current regulations and proposals for any changes to current regulations. Anglers interested in expressing their thoughts about menhaden regulations are urged to attend the meeting.

Clam regulations change back to the way they were
DEM filed new emergency regulations with the Secretary of State while rescinding emergency regulations that were filed the week before relating to the harvest of soft-shell clams from the newly opened shell fishing area near Conimicut Point. Effective immediately, time restrictions on the harvest of soft-shell clams in the shell fishing area near Conimicut Point have been eliminated. The area will be open from sunrise to sunset, as are other shellfish harvesting areas. The emergency regulations filed on August 5 limited the harvesting hours from sunrise to noon. The regulatory change was made after it became apparent that the time restriction had an unfair impact on clam diggers as they claim they usually can only harvest product during periods of low tide.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing off Block Island remains good with blue fish mixed in. Anglers taking fish jigging (Diamond Jigs), with eels and tube and worm. Reports for several anglers and charter captains related that this week the best fishing has been on the south and southwest sides of the Island with the north rip still holding fish too. Fishing off Newport has produced fish too. For the second week in a room I caught a keeper bass under the Newport Bridge while fluking close to the swirling water around bridge piers.
Fluke (summer flounder) fishing has slowed down this past week due to the odd wind direction and juxtaposing tide, high seas. Fish still holding near coastal shores with no major reports of catches in the Bay. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said reports of fluke off Newport (Brenton Reef, the Inn at Castle Hill), off Jamestown (Beavertail and in front of Mackerel and Hull Coves). Tom of Erickson’s Bait &Tackle said the sand bar off the south side of Gould Island had been good too. Block Island fluke fishing is expected to improve this week with favorable winds and tides.
A great shark story
Off Shore fishing reports have not included bluefin tuna. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said, “…I would say tuna is slow and sharking is good. I did see some encouraging signs near Coxes, so the action will soon begin.” Captain Bellavance continued, Saturday “We hooked a Blue Shark which had a NMFS tag in him. After retagging the shark, I removed the old tag and let him go in good shape. … A couple hours go by with nothing, then the short line goes off. .. a 13 foot Thresher Shark comes flying out of the water.. The guys did a great job listening and fought the fish perfectly… the fish jumped a couple more times and after an hour, I stuck it with a harpoon, sunk a flying gaff into it and had a tail rope in place. Done. We packed it in and headed for Snug Harbor, where the fish weighed in at 288 pounds.” Captain Bellavance said, “Thresher Sharks are delicious food (like swordfish) and my customers wanted to eat it … If the shark was not good to eat, we would have tagged it for research and let it go.”

Catching this striped bass was no fluke

August 10, 2010

Captain Dave Monti with the striped bass he caught this week while fishing for fluke (summer flounder). The 34” bass hit a whole squid under the Newport Bridge.

I fished in the Newport area for a couple of hours Saturday during the Newport Folk Festival. Fishing under the Newport Bridge can be challenging… bottom hang ups, fast water, boat congestion and more. I was using an eight oz. fluke ball weight with a buck tail and a second green florescent fluke rig above it, both tipped with squid… in fact whole squid. A second single hook rig was out on another rod too.

The rod bent as I got a huge hit… what a fluke and then all of a sudden this fluke was running. A fluke running ? A minute later a dorsal fin surfaced behind the boat as well as my sea anchor that I had dispatched a few minutes earlier to slow the boat. It was a 34” striped bass that hit the top hook. I managed to land the fish along with everything else that was is one big ball… the sea anchor, its line, most of the fishing line from the two rods and all the squid rigs.
This experience was no fluke because striped bass love squid and feed on the bottom, near structure and fast moving water that tumbles bait around. It is common to get bass hits when fishing for fluke, particularly when using whole squid.

This story is good news… bass are in the Bay. There have been other reports this week about bass in the Bay… so even though water is warm and has chased fish to cooler, deeper water, things did seem to pick up this week,The East Bay Anglers will hold their monthly meeting Wednesday, August 11 at the Riverside Sportsman’s Club on Mohawk Drive in East Providence. Will Barbeau of the East Bay Anglers said promotional plans for the East Bay Anglers 2011 EXPO will be reviewed by member Mike Laptew . The annual EXPO fishing show takes place in January. Reservations to attend the August meeting can be obtained by calling 245-8375 or e-mailing

Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) is holding their Bluefish/Striped Bass Combo Special Tournament for individual anglers from August 13 to August 22. Anglers must enter a bluefish and a striped bass to qualify. Total weight. Boat and Shore Divisions. Pre-registration NOT required for RISAA members. For more information contact Chairman Mark Paparelli at 401-884-6724.

Commercial striped bass quota hearing. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will hold a public hearing to take comments on Striped Bass Draft Addendum II. This is a proposal to increase the coastal commercial striped bass quota. Recreational anglers are urged to attend the meeting and voice their opinion as the decision to increase the quota would likely impact recreational fishing in a negative fashion. The Rhode Island meeting will be held Tuesday, August 17, 6:00 the URI Narragansett Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI. A Massachusetts meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 16 , 6:00 the Holiday Inn in Dedham, MA.

Tautog fall catch limits. The Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Marine Fisheries Division proposal to reduce the recreational tautog catch limit this fall from eight fish to three fish per angler per day will likely be recommended to the DEM executive director. Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association, said “The proposal to allow the Party/Charter Industry to remain at eight fish from October 15th to November 30th will likely vw recommended as well.” Bellavance’s proposal included a provision for one fish per person at all other times besides October 15th to November 1st, for the remainder of 2010. This would allow the industry to fish tautog in the important fall season, yet limit fishing at other times this year. Tautog regulations will be revisited in late 2010 to address the 2011 season.

Black sea bass catch limits. The RI Marine Fisheries Council also recommended to the DEM director to increase the recreational Black Sea Bass season, which would now run until October 11th, would close until November 1st, and then reopen for the remainder of the year. The bag limit would stay, 25 fish/person at 12.5 inches.

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing on Block Island and off southern Rhode Island coastal shores remains good. Jim Rogers reports a good fishing night last Friday around the Point Judith Light fishing in ten feet of water with eels. He hooked up almost every cast. The largest fish caught was a 45 inch bass that had a large lobster in its stomach. Angler Don Smith reports great fishing on Block Island with 30 bass caught Friday night, in the mix twelve bass were over 40 lbs. with a 51 lb fish caught by Peter Vican. Bass taken with light tackle and live eels. I caught a 34” striped bass under the Newport Bridge while fluking last Saturday and a RISAA blogger reports catching a 24” bass on the troll with tube and worm near the BP Buoy off Barrington. So this is good news Bay fishing is improving.

Bluefishing seems to be picking up with many reports of fish surfacing both in the east and west Bay passages in the Quonset Point and Half-Way Rock areas. Bluefish taken on surface lures and on the troll with tube and worm off Bullock’s Point and south to Barrington Beach, another sign that Bay fishing is improving.

Bonito. Tom of Erickson’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick reported taking two Bonito off Narragansett last week. He chased them for a while but they did not like what he was casting. He then trolled at three to four knots with an artificial bass lure and hooked up five times and landed two fish.
Fluke fishing is fair in the Bay and better off f Block Island. Saturday fishing around Jamestown and under the Newport Bride produced fish for anglers but plenty of shorts were taken with some keepers mixed in.

Off-shore fishing is good. Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters in Jamestown reports a good Yellow Fin Tuna bite at the Fishtails and east on the troll. Robb reports he and his team regrettably lost a 300 lbs Bigeye tuna after a six hour fight.

Fresh water. Craig Mancini of Colonial Bait & Tackle in Cranston reports a good fresh water bite with a customer reporting thirty largemouth bass being caught at JL Curran this past week. Shiners were their choice of bait. The other local area ponds were slow, bass were not biting too well on shiners, but night crawlers seemed to spark their interest.

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there’s more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave’s No Fluke website at or e-mail him at .