Saturday, December 31, 2011

New cod fillet law in effect January 1

What a difference a year makes… Francis Fleet mate Ted McDermott fillets cod fish for passengers on a January 1, 2011 cod fishing trip. This year (1/1/2012) we have a new cod fillet law in place.
New cod fillet law in effect January 1
We have a new recreational cod fishing fillet regulation that takes effect January 1, 2012. The minimum fish size is the same at twenty-two inches (22”), however, no angler shall possess a cod fillet measuring less than fourteen inches (14”) and the fillet must have at least two (2) square inches of skin left intact. The skin will help assist enforcement authorities identify the species. This means that if you fillet at sea you need to keep some skin (at least two square inches) left on the fillet.
The new law pertains to fish caught within “this state or otherwise”. “Otherwise” means that if you catch fish in federal waters outside the three mile limit, like at Cox’s Ledge (the popular cod fishing grounds off Rhode Island), and bring it back through Rhode Island waters or back to a Rhode Island port the cod fish regulation applies.
Both support and criticism of the new fillet law has come from private anglers and the charter/party boat industry.
Those opposed to the new fillet law say it will not stop the taking of undersized fish occurring offshore at popular fishing grounds where vessels from Montauk New York and other out of state party/charter boasts and private anglers keep undersized fish then fillet at sea and return to other than Rhode Island ports.
Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat association said, “Filet laws are not the solution. They are not going to stop people from taking undersized fish, what is needed is enhanced enforcement.”
Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) said, “Personally, I'm against it. For the past several years DEM enforcement has proposed a total fillet law in the state. While I was on the fisheries council I helped to defeat it time after time. This time it's about out of state charter and party boats fishing on the cod stocks south of Block Island. Reportedly they keep everything, including all undersized fish, fillet them on the spot, then cut back to Montauk. If caught with only fillets there is no proof to charge them with undersized fish.”Medeiros continued to say that he understands the new laws intent but was concerned that it would lead to fillet laws for all species. He said, “…I fear this will be used to open the door for an across-the-board fillet law. I'm not on the Council (Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council) anymore so I can only fight from the audience.”
However others feel the fillet law will have a positive impact on the fishery. Dick Pastore, a noted long time Rhode Island recreational angler and fisheries advocate said, “ I’m probably a lone voice here but I don’t have any problem with a total fillet ban on the water… and lastly, a fillet ban will deter people from taking shorts. “

Brian an avid recreational angler on the RISAA blog said, “I believe it is a very good solution. It's also a lot better than not being able to clean fish at sea. I can't think of a better way for DEM to enforce limits on fish. It's been like that for years on the west coast and it keeps people honest and allows DEM to do their job.”

When advocating for the filet law, Captain Frank Blount, owner of the Francis Fleet party boats, said, “I was the one who recommended this fillet law and … support (the) option that would allow filleting of cod at sea but with fillets equal to the a specified size. Fourteen inches, if that translates to the minimum size fish (of 22 inches)”. Blount advocated for the law to prevent private anglers, party and charter boats from taking undersized cod and then filleting them at sea with no minimum size.

The new regulation becomes effective this week, January 1, 2012 and will remain in effect through June 30, 2012. The hope is that DEM will assess the effectiveness of the new fillet law and reconsider whether or not we should continue to have one. The new law it its entirety is as follows.
2.22.2 – Cod – Recreational Harvest
7.22.2 – 1 Minimum Size – No person fishing recreationally shall land or possess any cod measuring less than twenty-two inches (22”) total length, or any cod fillet measuring less than fourteen inches (14”) in total length, whether caught within the jurisdiction of this State or otherwise.
(a) Filleting of Cod – The fillets or cleared cod (head and tail removed) shall measure at least fourteen inches (14”) in length, and each fillet shall have at least two (2) square inches (5.1 square centimeters) of skin left intact to assist in species identification.
(b) This section shall remain in effect through June 30, 2012.

Who is fishing for cod?
The Seven B’s party boat (80 feet) out of the Port of Galilee, Narragansett, RI will be sailing for Cod fish this week December 28, 29, 30 and 31. The boast leaves the dock at 6:00 a.m. and return at 3:30 p.m. Cost for the tip through the end of this year is $85 per person. Call 401.789.9250.
The Francis Fleet vessels will be fishing this week too. They have been catching black sea bass to five pounds as well as scup and blue fish with cod mixed in. The Francis Fleet runs cod fishing trips from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The cod fishing trip rate is $85 per person until 12.31.11. Rates after January 1 are to be determined. Visit or call 1.800.662.2824.

Don't miss the salt water sportsman's seminar... or cod fishing this winter

John Toppa of Newport with the 20 pound cod he caught on a Francis Fleet vessel New Year’s Day, 2011. It was the largest cod caught on the boat that day.

George Poveromo, all smiles after landing this 39-pound striped bass last week outside of Chesapeake Bay, will host the January 7, Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. Poveromo is also the host of the VERSUS television series - George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing.

The Seven Fishes illustration (above) by Peter Nilsen was inspired by a No Fluke column on the significance of the Christmas Eve seven fishes meal. More fish and fishing cartoons by Peter are available in his book, "Fish Foolishness" or email him at This makes a great gift for fishermen or your fishing buddy.

Don’t miss the salt water sportsman’s seminar… or cod fishing this winter
OK, this column was supposed to be all about cod and cod fishing. However, I have to share with you that I spoke with one of my fishing idols this weekend, George Poveromo, and he was a true gentleman. George will be in New England next month with his salt water fishing seminar which I have attended three times and will do so again this year (tickets would make a great holiday gift for any angler). The Salt Water Sportsman’s National Seminar Series is one of the nation’s premier educational seminars on recreational marine fishing tactics. It will take place Saturday, January 7, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Casino’s Grand Ballroom (1 Mohegan Sun Blvd. Uncasville, CT). The presentation will be hosted by George Poveromo, host of George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing on VERSUS, and Editor-At-Large for Salt Water Sportsman magazine, and Tom Richardson, noted authority on fishing the coastal waters of New England and a prominent fishing writer and editor. George and Tom will share the stage with nine local charter captains and expert anglers including Captain John Rainone, past president of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association and a distinguished Point Judith, Rhode Island based charter captain of the vessel “L’il Toot”. For more information or to order tickets visit or call 1-800-448-7360.
Cod fishing is fun
The striped bass will all be gone soon… on their way south except for a few fish that decide to winter here, tautog fishing is over too… the season ended December 15 in Rhode Island. So how about targeting cod fish. I spoke with three captains that can take you to the cod. But first, here is some information about cod. Cod is an ideal species to target if fishing with children, because all they have to do is drop their line to the bottom. And, it is one of the most popular eating fish in New England. Cod are bottom fish that are basically lazy. They are not aggressively hunting, they pretty much stay on the bottom, often near structure (underwater wrecks, rock piles, holes, humps and drop offs), waiting for prey to come by. So you have to go to where the cod are to catch them. They are not likely going to come to you.
Cod rigs and bait
A hook, sinker weight that holds the bottom and sea clams are often used as bait to catch cod. Jigs of various sizes, color and weight depending on conditions are used too. Cod will generally eat anything that is in front of them, they are not picky, but you have to get their attention and jigs usually do a good job of this. A common rig used is a diamond jig with a colored teaser buck tail tied about 12 inches above the jig. Anglers often tip the jig and buck tail with live bait (a piece of sea clam). Most anglers use a traditional boat rod and reel to catch cod. A short, sturdy 30 to 40 pound test rod of five to six feet is common with a traditional real of similar weight capacity. A fifty pound test line (both braid and monofilament) are used.
Captains that can take you to the cod
Christine Blount of the Francis Fleet
from Point Judith, RI, said Saturday, “We have had a couple of great seasons the past couple of years and this year promises to be good too. I know Captain Cory Blount called in today and said they were hitting a lot of sea bass too.” When Captain Cory returned he called and said, “Once the water cools and the black sea bass leave so will the dogfish and the cod fishing will improve. A real good sign this year is that anglers have been catching keeper cod close to shore.” The Francis Fleet runs cod fishing trips from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The cod fishing trip rate is $85 per person until 12.31.11. Rates after January 1 are to be determined. Visit or call 1.800.662.2824.
Captain Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters, Point Judith, Rhode Island has been getting some great fishing in on Snappa. This past week Adam Durant wrote, “We had the pleasure of heading out with Capt. Charlie Donilon on Tuesday. The weather was perfect, calm sea, light breeze & mostly sunny. Started on the East Grounds and landed six keeper cod with a least three times as many shorts. Another five black sea bass and a couple good scup. All caught on crabs & clam, jigs accounted for two cod. Best part was ZERO doggies!! … All in all a great day of fishing with an outstanding Captain. Charlie runs a very clean comfortable boat and this trip will no doubt become an annual outing. “
Saturday afternoon Captain Donilon said, “We will keep fishing throughout December as long as the weather holds and people are interested in fishing. We are going out this week and hope to the week after Christmas too.” Captain Donilon said, “The cod fishing has been OK, a lot of fish that are just short by a half inch or an inch. Now that the tautog season is over we will likely fish Cox’s Ledge. Up until this point we have been fishing at the East Fishing grounds. Visit Snappa Charters at or call Captain Charlie Donilon at 401.487.9044.
Captain Russ Benn’s Seven B’s vessel is a party boat with a capacity of 120 people and is also out of Point Judith, Rhode Island. The boat has a gallery but you can also bring your lunch. Cod fishing trips started December 17 from 6:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The rate is $85/adult. They sail Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Captain Russ Benn is an outstanding captain, I fished on his vessel this summer during a West Bay Anglers/Seven B’s Take a Kid Fishing trip and he and his crew did an outstanding job of putting the kids (and adults) over fish. Visit or call 1.800.371.FISH for reservations.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fisheries Council recommends cod filet law

Michael Casey, a member of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, poses with an eight and a ten pound tautog he caught last week in the Brenton Tower area.

Fisheries Council recommends cod filet law
Yes…. we could have a cod filet law in Rhode Island in 2012 as the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) voted to recommend one to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) commissioner Janet Coit last week. Captain Frank Blount, owner of the Francis Fleet party boats, said, “I was the one who recommended this filet law and would support an option that would allow filleting of cod at sea but with fillets equal to the a specified size. Fourteen inches, if that translates to the minimum size fish (of 22 inches)”. Blount advocated for the law to prevent private anglers, party and charter boats from taking undersized cod and then filleting them at sea with no minimum size. If DEM Law Enforcement should check their catch nothing could be done if the fish were filled because there is no minimum filet size… we just have a 22” full fish minimum size in Rhode Island.
Captain Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party and Charter Boat Association, advocated for status quo…a 22” size with no filet law. Bellavance said, “Filet laws are not the solution. They are not going to stop people from taking undersized fish, what is needed is enhanced enforcement.” Many anglers and charter captains feel that filet laws are restrictive and burdensome, particularly those that require no filleting at sea or the preservation of racks. Charter boats and most anglers filet their catch at sea on the way back to port and saving racks (of fish skeletons) often creates a burden too. Some of those at the meeting felt that the “saving the racks” option would place a burden on captains and private anglers who have no readily available place to discard racks once at the dock as most marinas do not allow fish racks to be discarded at the dock. Party boat captains related that the number of racks, particularly on long trips, would be impractical to keep due to the mere volume of them and amount of space they would take up.
The final recommendation approved by the council will be sent to Janet Coit, DEM director, for consideration. The recommendation approved was a combination of two options … that is… the vessel would either have to have all 14” and above fillets (possibly with a 1” skin patch left on them to make it identifiable as a cod fish) or the racks of all fish taken. If undersized fillets were on board due to a poor fillet job then both all filets and all racks must be kept.
The new law could get complex. DEM staffers are expected to take RIMFC input and their departmental recommendations to the director for her decision. What seems clear is that some type of cod fillet law may be in place for 2012.

Other RIMFC news
The RIMFC voted to discontinue the fluke sector pilot program
, however, this leaves the door open for some other type of program, perhaps a permanent one which is expected to be proposed.
The Council voted to recommend the elimination of the Friday and Saturday commercial fluke fishing restriction. Commercial rod and reel fishermen in particular felt that this regulation was unfair to commercial fisherman. Recreational anglers advocated keeping one restricted day, Saturday, which would allow recreational anglers to fish Saturdays without the impact of commercial fluke fishermen. However, in the end with a split vote, the Council voted to recommend the elimination of both restricted days.
A Whelk Ad Hoc Committee had convened and reported on draft regulations for the industry. A major topic advocated for by many industry participants is that all Whelk meat be keep in shells so law enforcement officials can check minimum sizes if they should check a fisherman’s catch.
Agendas for a variety of Advisory Panels (AP) were approved by the council including two summer flounder AP agendas, a scup/black sea bass agenda, tautog, striped bass, menhaden, an Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) and a Winter flounder advisory panel agenda. Visit DEM’s web site at for dates and times that these meetings will be held. Fishermen are urged to attend as this is an opportunity to impact fishing policy. Most of the meetings will be scheduled in January, they will set the tables for recreational (and commercial) regulation recommendations that the RIMFC will consider and eventually be sent to the DEM Director in late winter and early spring 2012 for consideration.
Solar panels to be installed at State facilities
DEM has been awarded $1.5 million in federal funds from the RI Office of Energy Resources to install solar panels at nine DEM facilities throughout the state. The solar panels are designed to turn the energy from the sun into electricity that will be used to offset the energy needs at the state facilities. The funding was awarded as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009. Solar panels will be installed at the following facilities starting this week: Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett; Fisherman’s Memorial State Park and Campground in Narragansett; Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly; Burlingame State Park in Charlestown; Lafayette Fish Hatchery in North Kingstown; Dawley State Park in Exeter; Prudence Island Research Reserve; Urban Edge Farm in Providence; and East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown. It is estimated that all work will be completed by the end of February of 2012.
Where’s the bite
Black sea bass and cod.
Cod fishing was fair this week. Private anglers seem to be doing better than the party fishing boats. Cod anglers are catching some great black sea bass. Francis feel vessels reported keeper sea bass in the two and three pound ranges were easily caught with just about all anglers limiting out this weekend on the sea bass. Angler Eric Duda reports on his Francis Fleet trip, “Went out on the Frances Fleet on Friday (7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) for Cod fishing. Well, don’t expect to get many cod yet, but the sea bass fishing was great!!! Within seconds, you would get a hit.” Private angles seem to be doing a little better. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “Customers are catching some nice 30” fish in the Brenton Tower area.” Earlier in the week several RISAA members reported a good black sea bass and cod bite at the East Fishing grounds off Block Island.
Tautog bite continues to be good too. Dave Fewster reports catching fish to just under ten pounds off Newport and limiting out in a short amount of time this weekend. Angler Michael Casey said, “Black fishing is still going off of the Brenton Tower and Fountains area off Newport. Bite good off Washington Ledge… in 55 feet (of water) we caught 30 tautog (10 keepers) before limiting out and going home in about 3 hours.” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “I have been selling a ton of green crabs, tautog fishing is good, it is a shame the season will end next week (December 15). Fishing from Coddington Cove and Plum Point Lighthouse throughout the lower Bay and out off near coastal shores has been very good.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bring (seven) fish to your holiday table

Chris Catucci of Warwick, RI with two of the twenty bass he caught last week at Warwick Lake.

Dave Fewster teamed up with Rick Sustello to land eighteen keeper cod last weekend at the East fishing grounds off Block Island. Dave said, “The Point Judith jig was the exact size and similar shape of the small rock crabs they were feasting on.”

Bring (seven) fish to your holiday table
As a child I wasn’t aware of the “seven fishes” eaten on Christmas Eve. All I knew is that I liked eating fish and we had a lot of it on Christmas Eve. We had fish because you had to fast (abstain from meat), just as you had to fast every Friday back then. This is what Italian Catholic families did. And, it is where eating “seven fishes” on Christmas Eve came from.
There are many theories why the tradition of “seven” fish came into being. Some say for the seven days it took to make the earth, others say it pays tribute to the last seven of the Ten Commandments, which relate to human interaction, and still others say it reminds us of the seven deadly sins. However, some in Italy do not have a tradition of seven fish but rather one of twelve fish (for the twelve apostles) or a thirteen fish tradition (for the twelve apostles plus one for Jesus). So no matter one fish or thirteen, many Italian families have the tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve.
What type of fish do people eat? My family often started with antipasto with anchovies (no meat), snail salad, fried smelts, baccala (dry cod fish preserved in salt that is soaked for days to get the salt out), stuffed squid in a red sauce over linguini, baked white fish (haddock, cod or hake), baked stuffed shrimp and stuffed quahogs.
As fishermen, it is nice to bring fish to our holiday table. Fishing is such a big part of our lives and is one of the few natural foods we can catch, clean, prepare and eat much the way people have for centuries.
Here are two fish recipes for the holidays.

Sandy’s tasty fish casserole
Sandy Ducharme of East Greenwich, RI is a great friend and great cook. She (and her husband Gerry) prepared a fish casserole for us this past weekend. Not a milky, gooey casserole but a lightly baked dish of rice pilaf, cod, sea scallops and jumbo shrimp. Sandy said, “It is a great recipe for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time and then just bake it prior to dinner.”
Ingredients (serves eight)
2 pounds of white fish (cod, haddock or hake)
16 sea scallops, two per person
16 large shrimp (uncooked), two per person
½ cup lemon juice
½ stick butter or margarine
½ to ¾ cup lemon pepper panko bread crumbs (Sandy uses Progresso)
2 packages Far East rice pilaf
½ cup parmesan cheese
Cook rice pilaf as directed on package and set aside. Melt butter and mix with bread crumbs and set aside. Coat fish and shrimp (not scallops) with lemon juice, set on paper towel and pat dry. Place half of cooked rice pilaf on the bottom of a 9” x 12” baking dish. Place white fish on top of rice, sprinkle half of the butter/bread crumbs and cheese over white fish, place sea scallops and shrimp on top, place remaining rice on top of scallops and shrimp then sprinkle remanding butter/bread crumb mixture and top off with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Sandy said, “When the shrimp turns pink it’s done.”

Captain Dave’s Linguini with white quahog sauce
½ cup virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced (or 4 teaspoons chopped garlic from jar)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (plus four to five good pinches)
½ cup dry white wine
½ lemon juice
red pepper
3 dozen (scrubbed) littleneck quahogs (1 ½ to 2 inches)
meat of 6 to 8 large quahogs cut-up and cleaned (optional)
1 pound linguini pasta

Scrub littleneck quahog shells thoroughly and put them aside. Cook linguine while making recipe. Heat extra virgin olive oil in heavy pasta pan over medium heat, cook garlic in oil until golden brown (about one minute). Add and stir in 1/3 cup chopped parsley and all the unopened little necks, let simmer for two minutes. Add wine and let simmer for one minute. Add lemon and the meat of six to eight large quahogs cut up and cleaned (extra quahog meat is optional; if I catch them I put them in). Add red pepper to taste. Cook for eight to ten minutes or until all quahogs are open. Discard quahogs that are not open. Lower heat and put in one pound of cooked linguini and toss the entire mixture, put into large pasta bowl, then garnish with four pinches of fresh parsley. (This recipe is a variation of one I first saw in the May, 2002 issue of Bon App├ętit magazine by Lori Demori.)

Where’s the bite
Chris Catucci of Warwick, RI said, “The fall bass fishing bite reached its peak last week. My friend and I got about 20 bass each, fish seemed very aggressive and the best producing baits were white chatterbaits and chrome lipless crankbaits. The fish were in shallow water fattening up for winter. It was a great day at Warwick Lake.”
Cod fishing is picking up nicely. The East fishing grounds off Block Island continues to yield nice keeper cod fish (minimum size for cod is 22” with a ten fish/angler/day limit). RISAA anglers Rick Sustello and Dave Fewster fished the East fishing grounds Friday. Rick said, “We started hooking up immediately with cod and black sea bass and an occasional dog fish. Cod were 3:1 keeper to short. The cod were beautiful and fat. They were all gagging up crabs and small lobsters…we decided to anchor over (a hot spot) and try crabs, clams and Jigs… In total we caught 18 keeper Cod up to 15 lbs on jigs, crabs and clams and nine keeper black sea bass up to 4 lbs.” Mary Dangelo of Maridee Canvas, Bait & Tackle, Narragansett, RI said, “Shore angler customers are catching cod for shore, no keepers reported, but still this is a good sign.”
Blue fishing. Anglers along the southern coastal shore are reporting great action. Dave Garzolie said on the RISAA blog that he fished the Charlestown Breach way from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Dave said, “The primary baitfish appeared to be sea herring. I caught fish on almost every cast. I was throwing a 2 ounce pencil popper.”
Striped bass fishing is good along the shore. Mary Dangelo said, “I weighted in a 25 pound bass last week that was caught by a shore angler off Matunuck Beach.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence, RI said, “A customer caught nineteen keeper bass in the 30” range snagging and live lining menhaden under the I-195, I-way bridge at 2:30 a.m. on an incoming tide.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “This Monday customers reported catching keeper bass at India Point Park (Providence) using surface plugs.”
Tautog. Captain John Sheriff said, “(This weekend) we fished for Tautog off Newport area reefs. Limits of keeper Tautog each day. Fished in 55 feet of water on Friday with excellent sea conditions for December. Fished in water up to 90 feet on Saturday which produced three nice keeper cod on crabs in addition to the limit of Tautog.”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday gifts for the angler

How is this for congestion? Sport fishing photographer Jim Levison captured this photo titled The Five Horsemen during the fall striped bass run off Montauk, NY this year. Jim’s copyrighted prints make a great holiday gift for anglers and can be seen and purchased on his website at .

How’s this Grouper. Angler (and RISAA member) Ken Robinson of Smithfield, RI with the 20 plus pound Gag Grouper he caught in Florida earlier this month. Gap Groper season had ended so the fish was released.

Holiday gifts for the angler
Wondering what to get your favorite angler for the holidays? Here are some holiday gifts ideas. Gift certificates at your local bait & tackle shop, Benny’s and stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods are always good too.
1. Fishing lures $3 to $20. I’d like to mention three types… surface lures (often referred to as poppers) that stay on top of the water splashing. Second, swimming lures that swim through the water and third, soft plastic baits of all types... all three are used for fresh and saltwater fishing.
2. Saltwater Sportsman Magazine, $30 for an annual subscription of ten issues. My favorite saltwater fishing magazine of all time. Features many how-to articles, regular features on fishing gear, tackle and fishing tactics. Visit to purchase a gift subscription.
3. United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island (UFTRI) annual membership dues, $30. If you know a fly fisherman, fresh or salt water, they will appreciate this gift. Members meet in workshop form and learn how to tie one of five to six different flies each month. Beginners welcome. Meetings held the first Wednesday of every month at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Warwick, RI. Visit .
4. The Striped Bass 60++ Pound Club, about $30 for the hardcover; and $20 for the paperback by Tony Checko at . Both this book and the author’s 2008 version published in 2008 focus on striped bass of 60 pounds or more. The book includes the story of Peter Vican and his first record Rhode Island striped bass of 76 lbs. 14 oz.
5. Fish scales to weigh an angler’s catch, $10 to $50. Combination fish gripper/scale is about $50. Conventional scales range from $10 to $25, and digital fish scales about $50. Can purchase them at Benny’s, West Marine, Dick’s Sporting Goods and local bait & tackle shops.
6. Membership in the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA), $50. This non-profit organization is created by and for recreational saltwater anglers and holds monthly seminars and education programs on fishing techniques and how to improve catches. The Association supports marine conservation and fisheries resource management. Visit on-line at .
7. Saltwater Sportsman’s national fishing seminar, $55. This year there are two New England seminars, the first at Mohegan Sun Casino, CT on January 7 and the second in Portland, ME on March 10, 2012. The Saturday sessions are held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost for six hours of fishing instruction by national and local captains, guides is $55. This includes the seminar, a year subscription or extension to Salt Water Sportsman magazine, plus a goodie bag, door prizes and more. Registration at .
8. “Shallow Water Striper University” seminar $89, February 18 and 19, 2012 at the Sheraton Airport Inn, Warwick, RI. This is the third year for this highly informative seminar produced by Captain Jim White. I attended the past two years and it was great. This year I will be one of many presenters. The seminar focuses on how to find and catch striped bass with local experts as speakers. Visit for information or call Captain Jim White at 401.578.9043.
9. Museum quality striped bass photo prints by noted sport fishing photographer Jim Levison. These beautiful fall run photos taken off of Montauk can be seen on Jim’s website at (click Montauk). Prints are available from 11'” x 14” to 2 feet by 4 feet. Prints start at $99 for an unframed 11” x 14” glossy finish print ($299 framed).
10. General fishing or learn how to fish charters, $350 to $650 (depending on number of people, species targeted, boat size) for a half day. Hire a charter to help teach someone how to fish or to take the experienced anglers fishing. Visit, the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association web site for a list of qualified charter captain members.

Where’s the bite
John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, RI said, “Tautog anglers were out in force this weekend as the weather improved with most fish being caught in the lower Bay, off Newport, Middletown and Jamestown.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Tautog bite has been good off Narragansett where several customers caught nice keepers this week.”
Striped bass bite in the later part of last week slowed after the storm Wednesday. Earlier in the week (and month) shore anglers experienced the best bass fishing yet this year. Although fishing has slowed, Dave Pickering noted on his blog Friday, “On a positive, note, though, I did see (Friday) a lot of gannets hitting the water way out meaning big bait is still around. However, are the big fish (bass and blues) still around?” is the question. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Some customers have been hitting bass in the Warren River. Last week a 37”, nineteen pound fish was caught in heavy currant using eels.”
Cod fishing is good. No huge fish being taken put anglers are catching keepers. Ken Booth, recreational and commercial rod and reel fisherman said, “The East fishing grounds (east of Block Island) and Cox’s Ledge are holding keeper cod. The fish are not big but there are keepers out there.” Lucas Salem had a great fishing outing for cod (and other bottom species) on Snappa Charters Captained by Charlie Donilon out of Galilee, Rhode Island. Lucas said, “Captain Donilon decided to take us to the East Fishing grounds off Block Island to mix things up. Took an hour to get there (from Newport where they tautog fished), but it was well worth it. Seas were building three to five feet by the time we got there but once the anchor was set it was easy fishing from there. .. Cod, sea bass, scup/porgy, bluefish, baby Pollock, and a few dog fish were all hitting our lines. The biggest cod was around eleven pounds. Biggest sea bass was around five pounds, biggest scup was three pounds. What a great day. It was great to get a mixed bag of fish. They are definitely out there you just have to find the good weather and go. If you want a great time, a good captain and a great boat, fish with Capt. Charlie Donilon… his web site is”
Bluefish. Paul Smith reports that on Thanksgiving Day the bluefish were thick from Green Hill to Charlestown. Paul reports on the RISAA blog, “Along with the blues, an army of gannets accompanied them… Wall to wall fish…. These fish were nice sized to 30+ inches and FAT. Not pudgy, fat. They were pigging out on herring and mackerel.” Captain Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters said, “We had some great late season action in Mackerel Cove (Jamestown, RI) Found the lee of the wind!” Rob captured the action on a webisode video that can be found at .