Sunday, May 27, 2012

Striped bass fishing heats up, don’t forget to get a fishing license

Shane Bettencourt (left) of East Providence with the 27 pound striped bass he caught off Prudence Island using live menhaden. His grandfather Albert Bettencourt (right) landed a 25 pound striped bass that same day.

Caption Chuck Daignault, a charter captain from New York, caught his first ever keeper striped bass on Narragansett Bay this past weekend using a bubblegum colored tube with worm.
Kristian Dzilenski , holding fish, and Brendan McLaughlin, both of Warwick, with the striped bass they caught while fishing between Patience and Prudence Island on the north end. Kristian (USMC) was on his first fishing outing after returning from Afghanistan.

Striped bass fishing heats up, don’t forget to get a fishing license

Striped bass fishing opened up this week after heavy rains. More and more fish being caught and they are getting larger.

Kevin Bettencourt of East Providence fished with his father and son Shane last week with great results landing a 25 and a 27 pound striped bass. Here is Kevin’s account of their trip. “We managed to sneak out... conditions were excellent. Pogies are still available in the Providence River. After snagging a dozen we headed South to fish around Prudence Island (Providence Point) where we landed several nice bass in the 32 - 35" inch range. Just before heading home my son Shane landed a beautiful 27 pounder. Shane is no stranger to big bass. He is proudly carrying on the Bettencourt tradition. Three years ago he landed a 42 pounder in Newport and roughly five years ago he won the Striper Marina Tournament (Jr. Division) with a 22 pounder… not too shabby for 11 years old.

Bill Dzilenski of Warwick, his son Kristian (USMC) who was on his first fishing outing after returning from Afghanistan, and his friend Brendan McLaughlin had a good bass bite last week. Bill said, “We found fish in 15' of water on the north side of the islands (Prudence and Patience) that were happy to take a 6" Fin-S-fish on a weighted hook. One schoolie spit up a mess of grass shrimp… it was a great … these guys were having a great time.” Last Friday Bill fished the Islands again and found eight bass using his fly rod, four of them were keepers which were released. Bill said, “I continue to find receptive bass (mostly on squid flies) along the islands.”

Noted local kayak angler Bob Oberg continues to land striped bass in the upper and mid Bay areas and related this story about landing nice fish and then hooking up with a monster fish that got away. Bob said, “Found lots of fish in the upper bay today (Wednesday). Caught thirteen stripers with nine keepers to 33 inches, with many at 32 inches. Though I live-lined (menhaden) for about 1/3 of the time, all of the fish were caught on tube and worm. Had a couple of nice runs with pogies that were fun, but no sets. I suspect I would do better if I chunked, but I don't enjoy it. Yesterday was similar with 8 fish, 6 keepers to 36 inches, with one fish caught live-lining. While today was a good day on the water, the thing I will remember years from now will be the fish I did not catch vs. the ones I did. A massive striper slammed the tube in seven feet of rocky water, made an immediate angry commotion on the surface, then pulled out drag just about as fast and as hard as a striper can. I managed to go down one notch on the lever drag to give it some room to run. I weathered the first run, got it turned around and was in the steady part of the fight when the line went slack. Based upon the size of the fish and the combination of athleticism and power, I estimate it was between 35 and 40 pounds, maybe a little more. It hurts to lose a fish like this and there is the inevitable soul-searching. Bottom line, all the components of my gear were in pristine shape and I didn't make any bonehead moves. The fish was better. Next time I hope I am better.”

Merrill True fished the upper Bay in the East Passage using chunks and live menhaden last week. He fished around the white cone off East Providence and the west shore in early afternoon and had a double hoop up of bass while chucking menhaden in low water.

The action on Block Island continues to build with reports of striped bass getting large around the Island. Captain John Sheriff of Captain Sheriff’s Fishing Charters said, “Although the bass are small, they are here (for) Memorial Day…!”

You need a saltwater license to fish

With the 2012 saltwater fishing season underway, the Department of Environmental Management reminds anglers and spear fishers that a 2012 saltwater fishing license is needed to fish recreationally in all marine waters.

Obtaining a license is easy. Just go to Have a driver's license or state identification card handy, as well as your date of birth, address, and phone number. For Rhode Island residents over 65 and for active military personnel stationed in the state, licenses are free, but still required. Children under 16 years old do not need a license. For all others, the $7 fee ($10 for non-residents) is payable using a VISA, MasterCard or Discover card. Once the information is entered, you can immediately print your license and go fishing! Anglers and spear fishers also have the option of purchasing a license at participating bait and tackle shops and sporting good stores, using cash or a credit card. A list of participating vendors may be found on the website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The spirit of discovery drives us to fish

Blake Dobson with the 36” striped bass he caught on No Fluke Charters Saturday off Warwick Neck near Seminary Cove using tube and worm in 12’ of water.
Bob Matteson, first mate on Captain Sheriff’s Fishing Charters, with a bass caught with parachute jigs on the Southwest side of Block Island. Captain Sheriff found fish in the mid 30 inch range this weekend at both the North Rip and the Southwest side of the Island.
Kim Bissonnette of South County holds some of the fish he recently caught freshwater fishing as the season improves.
Mike Thao of Leominster, MA said “My family loves to eat bluefish.” as he held the bluefish he caught off Poppasquash Point, Bristol.

The spirit of discovery

I often ask myself what is it about fishing that drives me (and others) to fish. I always come back to the adventure of it all and the spirit of discovery. I reinvigorated my spirit for fishing this weekend thanks to Blake Dobson and Mike Thao of Leominster, Massachusetts (two fourteen year old boys). I took them and Blake’s grandfather Doug fishing Saturday. We worked hard for all bites.

I spoke to Blake three or four times before our trip. He always had questions. He was all about fishing. What are we using for bait? Do you ever use buck tails? Where will we fish? And many, many more questions.

The boys arrived an hour early for the charter. We snagged some menhaden and used others caught the day before as chucks. Several fish expressed an interest in the bait, several took the bait and ran, but we could not hook up. We switched to trolling with tube and worm close to shore with no takers except one nice blue fish that Mike caught. Through the morning the boys did not lose faith. “Captain Dave, is this a fish on the fish finder? Does this look like bait to you on the surface? Can we throw some plastic baits? Where are we tying next?”

Not losing faith… the belief that they were going to catch fish and the spirit of discovery drove them to find the fish. We continued to chuck with menhaden, fish with clams, tube and worm, live line menhaden until finally, through hard work and persistence, their faith paid off. Blake landed a 36” striped bass in 12 feet of water between Seminary Cove and Warwick Neck Light as we trolled the low water close to shore. Blake said, “Thank you for finding the fish, I feel great.” And, once again my fishing sprit was renewed... this time by these two fourteen year olds.

West Bay Anglers 2012 William Beaudrey Jr. Memorial Striper Tournament
The West Bay Anglers William Beaudrey Jr. Memorial Striper Tournament will take place from 12:01 a.m. on June 2nd thru 10:00 a.m., June 10th. Cash prizes include $500 for the first place overall largest fish, $200 each for the second place man or woman, $100 each for third place man or woman. Prizes to be awarded at the Warwick FOP at 95 Tanner Avenue, Warwick at 1:00 p.m. on June 10, 2012. Entry fee is $25 per angler; you must register by 5:00 p.m., June 1st. Applications can be picked up at Erickson Brothers, John’s Bait, Lucky's Bait and Tackle, Ray’s Bait and the Tackle Box.

Atlantic Menhaden in Bay now open to commercial fishermen
On May 15, 2012 the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) opened the commercial bait fishery for Atlantic Menhaden in the Narragansett Bay Menhaden Management Area. Menhaden boats worked the Bay last week for the fists time this season. They may not fish north of Conimicut Light nor are they allowed to fish in western Greenwich Bay. DEM performs aerial surveys by helicopter and airplane each week counting the number of schools to estimate biomass. When the number of fish drops to threshold limits, fishing is suspended. This monitoring program is a model fisheries management program being studied by others throughout the country. We should be very proud of it.

Where’s the bite
Freshwater fishing has been good. Kim Bissonnette and his fishing partner Dayton Martin of South County, Rhode Island report, “The freshwater fishing is picking up, after being hampered by the series of cold fronts the past few weeks. There were a fair amount of males in shallow, and some fish are on beds, but there are certainly some healthy females cruising at the mouths of pockets and typical staging areas in preparation for spawning. Swim baits and Rapala type baits work well in slightly deeper water, with soft plastics working well in shallow. Due to the mild winter there is earlier vegetation growth than normal, so working plastics (lizards, creature baits and paddle frogs) rigged weedless on top of the vegetation (towards pockets and holes) will also attract fish on flats and create some exciting strikes.”

Trout fishing in ponds stocked by DEM has been good too. Visit for a complete listing of ponds and lakes that have been stocked.

Striped bass fishing early last week before the rains was excellent. Angler Justin Fisette of Coventry, RI said, “We caught over 20 fish each day last week for four days strait. We fished until 7:30 a.m. when things died down.” Paul Smigel said, “I fished many hours last week on East Greenwich Bay. Caught 55 stripers, 11 keepers up to 33" T/W on kayak… I'm hoping it continues after this rain ends.” However, the story was different after the rains this weekend as bass fishing activity slowed. Angler Bob Oberg said, “I'd had my best first half of May fishing ever this year, strong numbers of fish and the best fish got bigger with each outing. I was expecting things to bust wide open this weekend, but they slowed down dramatically instead. Fished out of Pawtuxet on Friday and had five small fish. My son, a kayak expert on his first kayak fishing trip, landed a 30" and a 32”. Today I fished from Rocky Point to Conimicut Point to Providence Point and Potters Cove for eight hours. Got four undersized bass.” Mike Swain of Coventry said, “The fish were very finicky today (Saturday) we snagged bait at Providence Point and couldn’t hook up. We cut though Patients and Prudence Islands and ran into menhaden on the west side. Several bass pushed our bait around, then finally one took it and we landed a nice fish in the mid 30 inch range. We just had to put our bait in front of a lot of fish before one took it.” Mel True said, “We left Hane's Park at six a.m. to snag some Menhaden... Lots of Menhaden near the white cone just past Sabin Point. Chunked on the drift from Port of Providence to the White Cone with only one striper at 29 inches in three hours. North of the white cone I caught a 35 inch striper drifting chunks two hours into the tide. Some other boats also caught some stripers near us. Tough fishing, slow for the most.” Captain John Sheriff had a successful trip to the Southwest side of Block Island Sunday… “As evening approached, (caught) keeper bass to 36 inches approximately every 5 minutes… they were coming by wire line deep jigging 5 ounce parachute rigs ... squid stacked from surface to bottom. Birds everywhere but surface action for catching bass was difficult.”

Volunteer for-hire charter boat inspections catching on

Captain John Rainone (left) of L’il Toot Charters, Point Judith is inspected by Captain Nick Butziger, Commander of the North Star Flotilla of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. A volunteer program to provide examination stickers for Uninspected Passenger Vessels (UPV) started in August, 2011.

Volunteer for-hire charter boat inspections catching on

Captain Arnold (Nick) Butziger has been involved with boating safety just about all his adult life. He is the Commander of the North Star Flotilla of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and has organized and taught boating safety programs for Rhode Islanders since the early 70’s. However, for the past several years Captain Butziger has turned his attention to a new program. A program that he and a few colleagues started in August, 2011 for Coast Guard sector “Southeast New England”. It is the first of its type from Maine to New Jersey. It is a program that aims to provide examinations and examination stickers to for-hire Uninspected Passenger Vessels (UPV).

Uninspected Passenger Vessels (UPV) are commercial vessels allowed to carry one to no more than six passengers for-hire. Charter fishing boats and sailing characters are examples of Uninspected Passenger Vessels. Inspected vessels are commercial vessels allowed to carry over six passengers for-hire. These vessels are required to be inspected by the Coast Guard. Examples are tour boats and party fishing boats that carry a large number of anglers (over six passengers).

I asked Captain Butziger why he has dedicated so much of his life to boating safety and how the new UPV examinations work. Here is what he had to say.

“In May of 1973 we had a charter boat called the Comet that sank off the cost of Rhode Island. It was a sad day, 16 people died. This impacted me greatly. It made me think that something has to be done to ensure boating and charter fishing safety. So ever since then it has been a goal of mine to advocate for boating safety… in order to save lives.”

Why should consumers care about vessels that have received UPV Examination stickers?
The sticker demonstrates to consumers in the for-hire or charter industry that the owner of the vessel took the time to be inspected, validating that his/her vessel met all requirements. Captain Butziger said, “The examination and sticker benefits the vessel owners/captains too, in that they can make the claim that their vessel has been inspected by a qualified examiner and meets all Federal Regulations. The sticker is good for two years.” said Captain Butziger.

Consumers should care about vessels that have UPV stickers because the sticker means the vessel (such as charter fishing vessel you hire to take you fishing) has been inspected by the Coast Guard (or more than likely by the Coast Guard Auxiliary) and meets all specific regulations contained in the Code of Federal Regulation pertaining to such vessels. Boats without the sticker have to meet the same regulations, however, the sticker means that the vessel has been inspected and that at the time of inspection the vessel was in compliance with regulations.

Who is issuing UPV examinations/stickers?
Captain Nick Butziger said, “We now have six certified examiners with twenty additional now being trained.” The need is growing quickly. “There are over 500 vessels that can potentially be inspected in the Coast Guard Sector “Southeast New England.”, said Butziger.

What types of items are examined during inspection?
As noted above, all Unexpected Passenger Vessels must meet regulations contained in the Code of Federal Regulations pertaining to such vessels. Items include proper type I life jackets for all passengers, appropriated fire safety equipment and extinguishers, safety equipment such as flares, whistles and/or horns, captain and crew certifications, proper licenses, participation in a random drug testing program as well as a host of other inspection items. Each UPV examination takes about two hours.
For a detailed list of requirements and for more information about the UPV examination program visit and click on UPV.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing is excellent in the Bay. Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle reports good fishing at Ninigret Pond, Charlestown, RI as the worm hatch continues with school bass being taken off the Breachway using plastic baits. A few angles are targeting large bass with eels but activity has been slow. Steve MCGonagle reports good fishing in the Providence River Sunday near the crane and cargo ships using live Menhaden. “(We caught) four fish over 28” with the biggest a fat 36”. We keep two with many more run offs with no hook sets.” Roger Lema reports fishing around Hope Island, “When I was due south (fairly close to the island and rock outcrop), the depth went from 27 feet to 13 as I went over the rock there. I got a real nice 31" striper… then trolled along Prudence Island … About the time I made the turn into (Pine Hill) cove (18 feet of water) I hooked into a 33 1/2" striper… The fish at Hope was feeding on baby scup and the one at Prudence was feeding on Mantis shrimp and crabs. Both fish were caught on a 9ER blue and white shad umbrella rig which was pretty beat up.” Mary Dangelo of Maridee Canvas Bait & Tackle, Narragansett said,”Customers continue to catch school bass along the shore with anglers having good luck along the wall at the State Beach near George’s Restaurant in Galilee.” Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said Sunday he fished with Captain Steve Anderson of Bare Bones Charters. Ken said, “We trolled Marylyn style jigs around the Ohio Ledge area and landed eight keeper bass in a short amount of time the largest was 34”. Bob Oberg fished the Fields Point to Providence Point area in his kayak this weekend. Bob said, “Caught 17 stripers with seven keepers. Nicest fish included two 33", a 34" and a 39". Longest fish was surprisingly fat for this time of year, estimated 28 pounds. All fish caught trolling tube and worm.”

Tautog fishing is fair. Mary Dangelo of Maridee Canvass Bait & Tackle said, “Customers caught some nice tautog off Black Point Narragansett this week.” Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said anglers are catching tautog if the upper reaches of the Providence River around the bulkheads and piers.

Fluke (summer flounder) fishing is slow. Few anglers are targeting fluke at this time. Those fishing Warwick Neck, Austin Hollow and the bridge areas are catching very few keepers at this time.

Bluefish are in and have been for a couple of weeks. They are being caught throughout the Bay mixed in with striped bass. Jim Mead said, “I got a six pound bluefish at Chepiwonoxet beach… It was nearly low tide but this one came by and ate my squid.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Striped bass fishing in the Bay is hot; here are ten ways to catch them

Janice Masco with a Francis Fleet mate and the fluke she caught during a past VIP Fishing Tournament. The RI Lion’s Sight Foundation has sponsored the tournament for five years. It is designed for visually impaired persons (VIP) and is June 24 this year.

Striped bass fishing in the Bay is hot; here are ten ways to catch them
Striped bass fishing has been very strong. Last Friday, noted local kayak angler Bob Oberg reported an excellent striped bass bite in mid-Narragansett Bay in nine feet of water trolling tube and worm. Bob said, “Fishing heated up at the peak of incoming tide…caught nine stripers including one 29 incher and one 35 incher. (It was) a rush to have a nice fish on the line so early in the season.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle called Sunday morning and said customers were experiencing a great bass bite in Mt. Hope Bay. Don Williams reports on the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association blog that he hooked up with bass big time Saturday as they fed on sand eels on a local reef. Don said, “… the largest was 34" - all stuffed with bait. All caught on the fly rod!”
These reports have been pouring in. Take advantage of the great striped bass bite. Here are ten ways to catch them.
1. Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden. You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait pods with chunks. Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down.

2. Live menhaden. Find a school and snag live menhaden with a weighted treble hook or net them. Hook the bait through the back or bridge of the nose and put the live menhaden back into the school.

3. Surface plugs or poppers. Great way to catch school bass in the spring.

4. Swimming lures. My favorite this spring is a grey Yozuri Crystal Minnow.

5. Parachute squid jigs. Often used in ocean water (or where there are squid). Anglers successfully use this method off Newport, Narragansett and Block Island.

6. Trolling with tube and worm. The idea is to get the bait down to the bottom where the big fish are. Use lead line in Bay and wire offshore in deeper water. Place a fresh clam worm on the hook. Use different colored tubes until you find one that works. Bubble gum colored tubes seem to work in spring in the Bay, amber tubes when fishing the southwest side of Block Island.

7. Trolling with umbrella rigs. Technique often used to troll off Block Island, in deeper parts of Narragansett Bay, off coastal shores with a variety of squid, shad and sand eel baits.

8. Casting soft plastics. Many anglers love this technique and use it successfully in the spring. Make sure the plastic baits are scented if not add some scent.

9. Buck tail jigs with pork rind squid strips. Have had success with this method to get under schools of blue fish and to the striped bass on the bottom.

10. Live eels. Used by shore and boat anglers, some fishing guides use this as their primary method to catch trophy stripers. Hook the eel through the mouth and out one eye.

Tim Coleman, author and fisherman, found dead
According to local news reports, Timothy Coleman, a well known fishing columnist, book author and fisherman was found dead last Thursday on the “sand trail” in Weekapaug area of Westerly, RI. He was found near an inland pond with his fishing gear. His death did not appear suspicious. Coleman, 65, wrote a weekly saltwater fishing column for The Day newspaper for ten years and had been managing editor for The Fisherman magazine’s New England edition from 1974 to 2001.

I have quoted Tim in many of my columns and we actually met a couple of years ago at the Springfield Sportsmen’s Show. When we met, he casually mentioned he was a fishing writer. After the encounter I realized who he was and thought how humble is was for him to refer to himself as just a “fishing writer”. The Rhode Island fishing and environmental community is saddened by his death. Steve McKenna of Cranston, RI, noted shore angler and friend, said, “Tim was a wonderful guy and he will be missed.”

Fishing tournament for visually impaired
The RI Lions Sight Foundation (RILSF) will be hosting its 5th Annual VIP Fishing Tournament for Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) of RI on June 24, 2012. The half-day Tournament will be held on the Francis Fleet out of Galilee, RI. Participants will compete for trophies and the opportunity to represent Rhode Island at the Lions National VIP Tourney on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in October. The event is free of charge and includes transportation and guides if needed, gifts, breakfast and a morning of fluke fishing. Participants must be legally blind, at least 17 years of age and physically able to fish from a party boat. Applications for the tournament can be found at or contact Ken Barthelemy, tournament chair, at 401.529.6673 or

Where’s the bite
Freshwater fishing for trout and bass remains very strong. “Anglers continue to catch trout as some of the ponds as they have already been restocked by DEM.”, said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. Visit for a list of stocked ponds.
Tautog. Elisa Martin of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Customer George Latos caught a 9 and a 10.4 pound tautog along the southern shore.” Customers of Quaker Lane Outfitters weighed in tautog from eight to ten pound this week said Steve McKenna. “Anglers fishing off the Wharf Tavern and the Barrington bridge are catching a lot of tautog. About one in ten fish have been keepers.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait and Tackle, Riverside. He said the bite has been excellent at Conimicut Light and fair at Ohio Ledge.
Striped bass. Elisa Martin from Snug Harbor said, “Bass anglers continue to catch small fish off the west wall at the Harbor of Refuge but all are waiting for a few warm days for the worm hatch to really take hold in our ponds.” Steve McKenna noted shore angler, author and associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters said, “The fishing has been outstanding. I would rate the season as A- so far. Last Friday I caught a 20 lb bass at Matunuck.” Shore anglers have been catching bass using worms from Sabin Point to Bold Point, “32 to 37 inch fish are quite common with a lot of smaller school bass mixed in.”, said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. “The bass have now worked their way up to Pawtucket.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. The “String Beans” area under the power lines on the East Providence side remains hot for bass anglers.
Squid fishing was soft last week with the cold front moving in. They are expected to return as things warm up.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tautog tips and spring bass

Captain Dave Monti holds the first striped bass of the season caught on No Fluke Charters last week in East Greenwich Cove. The fish was caught with a YoZuri Crystal Minnow swimming lure. Photo by Virginia Magnan-Monti.

Captain Robb Roach with a Narragansett Bay tautog caught last week. Tautog fishing has been great in the Bay.

Bob Matteson and Joe Amaral with Narragansett Bay tautog caught aboard Capt. Sheriff's Fishing Charters.

Frank Gionfrido of Narragansett, RI caught this nine pound, 28.5 inch lake trout jigging a Swedish pimple in 50 feet of water on Lake George, NY.

Tautog fishing if great… here are some tips

Spring tautog fishing which started two weeks ago has been outstanding. Tautog are going for Asian crabs and clam worms in a big way with anglers easily limiting out this week. Fishing at most favorite Narragansett Bay spots has been good… Conimicut and Plum Point Light Houses, General Rock in North Kingstown, Hope Island and Coddington Cove. Also reports of nice fish taken off Point Judith and Narragansett. But before sharing some tips from the experts, here are 2012 regulations for tautog from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

Tautog have to be sixteen inches or more. The catch limit for recreational anglers from April 15 through May 31 is three fish/person/day. The season is closed June 1 thru July 31 (during spawning) and reopens August 1 to October 14 with a three fish/person/day limit. The limit jumps to six fish/person/day on October 15 through December 15. However, there is a ten fish per boat limit during all periods. The boat limit does not apply to charter and party boats.
Here is what the experts have to say about tautog fishing.

Where are they biting this spring? Captain Robb Roach of Kettlebottom outfitters said, “(We have) been hitting the West and East passage a little bit this week for tautog. The fish are there and seem to prefer the sunny, warm, high spots. We caught a couple of limits in 18 feet of water in the mid to upper West passage on Sunday afternoon. The fish liked Japanese fiddler crabs (Asian crabs) on strong, small hooks. We were also chumming with crushed mussels. We found quite a few spots holding fish including Hope Island, Halfway Rock, the Navy Base, Castle Hill and Plum Beach Light. We concentrated on finding the warmest water (55 deg) and watching the depth finder for marks before setting anchor.”

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

Fish lodged in structure. Here is a tip from George Poveromo’s “Rock’em Sock’em” article that appeared in a back issue 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. If this does not work try letting the line just go limp for a minute or two. With no pressure on the fish, it may dislodge itself. The rig often frees itself, the fish may get unhooked, or you may still catch the 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, RISAA vice president and 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.”

What type of bottom should you look for. From shore, look for rocky coastline like Beavertail Point on Jamestown, locations off Newport, Point Judith 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, rock piles off Narragansett Beach, the jetty at Coddington Cove in Middletown, off Hope Island at rock piles and mussel beds on both the north and south sides, 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.

Bait and chumming. The bait of choice for tautog this spring has been Asian crabs and clam worms. In the fall it has been Asian crabs and/or green crabs (with legs taken off and cut in half). Chumming for tautog will enhance your catch dramatically. Kevin Bettencourt from the East Bay Anglers 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 or 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.”

Where’s the bite
Freshwater. “Fishing is good for customers with nice sized rainbow trout being caught at Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown and Beach Pond at Arcadia State Park.”, said Craig Castro of Erickson’s Bait & Tackle of Warwick, RI. Visit for a list of ponds, lakes and rivers stocked by DEM.

Striped bass fishing is good. Bass to 38 inches being caught in the West passage with school bass being caught in covers, at the month of rivers and on the troll. Last week I caught my first keeper of the season in East Greenwich Cove. It was 29”, healthy with a medium sized girth for this time of year. All the fish this spring have been very aggressive. This one took a Yozuri Crystal Mino plastic swimming lure just before it was pulled out of the water. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, reports a good bass bite in the Seekonk and Taunton Rivers. Customers catching bass on the troll up to the mouth of Omega Pond in East Providence.

Tautog. Captain Steve Sherriff reports tautog at several Bay locations “We fished the upper Bay for Tautog on Saturday morning with no luck. Very dirty water. Moved to lower bay North of
Jamestown Bridge near General Rock and Hope Island. (We) caught 17 keepers on Asian and Green crabs in 10 to 20 feet of water. 5.5 pounds was largest fish.” Captain Robb Roach experienced similar good luck last week in the East and West passage of the Bay (see above report). A 16 plus pound tautog was caught last week by Captain Billy Silvia of Can’t Imagine Charters, Bristol, RI.

Squid fishing has been mixed this week. Captain Rick Bellavance said, “We are exploring squid fishing trips in the next week or two at a special rate”. Many anglers catch squid and freeze it for use as bait throughout the season. You can reach Captain Bellavance at . Francis Fleet and Seven B’s vessels out of Galilee, RI are also taking anglers fishing for squid.