Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Giant tautog caught this week

Huge tautog:  Scott Kiefer of Exeter, RI with the sixteen (16) pound tautog (two above photos) he caught off Hope Island in Narragansett Bay.
Trophy bass:  Robby Araujo of Attleboro, MA with a trophy sized 51 pound striped bass he caught this week drifting eels on the southwest side of Block Island with Capt. Tracy Terrien and his father.
Squeteague still biting.  Carole Prisco (above) of Warwick (with daughter Amanda and husband Charlie) caught four squeteague; the largest was 26” (below) using large pieces of squid between Hope and Gould Islands.

First striped bass.  Benjamin Amadio of Coventry, RI catches his first striped bass while fishing with Joe Pagano of Stuff-it Charters.

Giant tautog caught this week
It was a chilly fall morning requiring jackets.  The sun rose Sunday and things started to warm up at Hope Island off the northern tip of Jamestown in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay.  Anglers Scott Kiefer of Exeter, RI and his fishing partner Angelo Manni anchored and sent their chum pot down. 
“We started to land fish right away.  The tide was ripping.  Conditions were right.” said Scott Kiefer. Then Scott got a huge hit on the green crab he was using for bait. “This fish didn’t go down heading for structure like most tautog.  It ran, very much like a striped bass.  It went behind the boat. Under the boat and when I finally brought it up Angelo looked it in the eye and it ran again.” said Kiefer.  It took Scott with Angelo’s help on the net about six minutes to land the tautog.

The fish was sixteen (16) pounds, and about 30” long.  This is a huge tautog. A ten pound fish is considered a prize and a fish of a lifetime for many.  The Rhode Island record for tautog is 21 pounds, 4 ounces, established in 1954.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick weighed the fish in and said, “I have never seen a tautog this big up close… they caught some nice six and seven pound fish too but I couldn’t take my eyes off this big one.”

Tautog tips from the experts

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.”  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.”
Where to fish for tautog.  From shore, look for rocky coastline like Beavertail Point on Jamestown, locations off Newport, the rocky shore line off Point Judith and off jetties along the southern coastal shore.  Docks, piers, bridges are good structure too.  From a boat, I have had good luck at Conimicut Light, Plum Point light house next to the Jamestown Bridge, the jetty at Coddington Cove in Portsmouth, off Hope Island, around Brenton Reef and Seal Ledge in Newport, Whale Rock, Ohio Ledge in the East Passage, General Rock in North Kingstown and any other places there is structure, debris, rock clusters, wrecks, etc.  Another key factor is water movement, so a couple of hours before or after high or low tide is good. 

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/green crabs. Don't be afraid to feed them! If you don't, they won't stick around long!”  Captain Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters from Jamestown said chumming is very important… “I chum with crushed mussels or crushed periwinkles.”

 Where’s the bite

Striped bass.  Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters said, “Striped bass fishing the past few days has been the best ever at Block Island.   We caught 80 bass in one trip this week.”Dave Sweet and Craig Picard fished off Pt. Judith Sunday. Dave said, “Using a small silver spoon, my first fish was a 16 lb. bluefish on light tackle, what a workout!  We each managed a couple of nice stripers, from about 23" to largest at about 36"… looks like the fall run is on.” Capt. Al Anderson of the charter boat Prowler reports similar results with striped bass and blues off the center wall and in front of Scarborough Beach.  Both boats tagged and released their bass.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “It has been hit or miss at Block Island for my customers, no bites at night and then the next day the bass bite was on.” Capt. Tracy Terrien said, “Drifted eels for six bass 35- 51 pounds on the southwest side. Broke off on three and when bringing the fish up there was numerous monsters swimming with them…”  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “School bass with keepers mixed in are being caught with storm shad baits early morning and at sunset in Apponaug Cove.”  Angler Ron Nalbandian said, “Birds all over the place (in front of Charlestown Breachway). (Landed) 14 Stripers 20”- 34” all on metal and 6” shads.

Tautog.  The big news this week is the sixteen pound tautog caught by angler Scott Kiefer of Exeter, RI.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, weighed the fish in and said, “They fished Hope Island for about an hour and half and the action was great with big fish and then things slowed down with a lot of shorts being caught.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “The tautog bite is good at Conimicut Light, Rocky Point, and the bridges in Barrington and Warren but with a ratio of about one keeper (16” or larger) to eight smaller undersized fish.  Saturday I fished Seal Ledge off Newport and managed three keepers with six shorts and a lot of small black sea bass. Other boats were fishing south of Brenton Reef and others off Castle Hill Light. 
Cod fishing continues to improve with fish to twenty pounds being taken on the Frances Fleet this week. Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “We are seeing tremendous amounts of herring, squid and even some sand eels on the ground so there should be more fish showing in the weeks to come.”
Offshore.  Angler Eric Weybrant said, “(Friday) The drift was North to South (at the Mudhole) and we were 1/2 mile or so South of the deep spot when we had our first taker which turned about to be a 177 lb Mako.”
DEM to hold fly fishing programs
The DEM Fish & Wildlife Division’s Aquatic Resource Education program will hold three fly fishing workshops.  The programs are produced in conjunction with instructors from Trout Unlimited, Rhody Fly-Tyers, United Fly-Tyers, and with many more organizations and volunteers.  Families with children over 10 years of age are encouraged to attend.  Programs range for beginner to advanced angler. 
“Introduction to Saltwater Fly-Fishing”, Saturday, October 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Kettle Pond Visitors Center in Charlestown.  Fly-fishing instructors will teach participants fly-tying, casting techniques, and knot-tying. All materials and equipment are included with the $35 per-person registration fee. Participants should pack a lunch and bring a pair of waders.
“Fly-Fishing Express,” a fly-fishing safari around Aquidneck Island on the Old Colony Train Saturday, October 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The train will stop at several remote public access fishing areas around the island. Fly-fishing instructors will offer advice on the best flies and fly- fishing tactics. The program is designed for advanced beginner, intermediate and advanced fly-fishing anglers, and is perfect for those who have already participated in the “Introduction to Saltwater Fly-Fishing” workshop and would like to hone their fly-fishing skills while fishing.  Pack a lunch and your chest waders.  All other equipment, including flies, is provided with the $35 per-person registration fee.

“Fall Fly-Tying 2013”, held on six Thursdays beginning November 7 to December 19, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the North Kingstown Community Center. Professional fly-tyers will teach beginning and intermediate fly-tying techniques for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. All material and equipment is included. Cost of the program is $5 for each class or $25 for all six sessions. Pre-registration is recommended, although walk-ins are accepted.

For additional information and for registration materials, contact Kimberly Sullivan in DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education program at 539-0037 or via e-mail at
NOAA releases new summer flounder and striped bass assessments
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, released its 57th Stock Assessment Review Committee report on summer flounder (Paralichthys dentata) and striped bass (Morone saxatilis).  The good news is that both stocks were found to be in good condition. Neither is experiencing overfishing or is overfished.  Summaries of the two stock assessments findings can be found at
 An important aspect of any assessment is the determination of current stock status. The status of the stock relates to both the rate of removal of fish from the population – the exploitation rate – and the current stock size. The exploitation rate is the proportion of the stock alive at the beginning of the year that is caught during the year. When that proportion exceeds the amount specified in an overfishing definition, overfishing is occurring. So a stock can be either experiencing overfishing or overfished or both.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tug of war season on with tautog

First tautog: Josh McElwee of Boston, MA caught this 19 ½” tautog, his first ever, using a single hook rig with egg sinker on top.  He used green crabs and was at General Rock, North Kingstown.

Big striped bass:  Russ Weymouth of Charlton, MA caught this 48 lbs., 49” striped bass while drifting eels in the morning on the southwest side of Block Island.  The fall run/migration of striped bass has started.

Tournament winners:

  on the beach in front of the Ocean Mist in South Kingstown, RI are winners of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Tournament that attended the awards ceremony Saturday.

Sharking experience:  Ken Montigny (Fairhaven, MA), John Starakas (Wakefield, RI) and Jeff Montigny (Fall River, MA) landed this 500 pound mako shark when fishing at the Mudhole (15 miles east of Block Island) last past Friday.

Tug of war season on with tautog


The fall tug of war season with tautog is on.  Tautog (or blackfish) is a great eating fish with a white dense meat.  Their bulldog like fight (similar to grouper) is very exciting and much like a tug of war between you and the tautog.  Once a tautog is hooked it will try to bulldog its way back down into rock or structure.  So when the fish bites, it becomes the angler’s job not to let it bury itself in the structure. 

From shore or boat

Tautog can be fished from shore or boat.  The common thread is structure.  From shore it is a matter of trial and error to find a sweet spot or hole that holds big fish.  You want to be near, next to or over structure. 

 From a boat locate the structure you want to fish (on sonar if you have it).   Estimate wind and current and then anchor up current so that as the anchor line pays out the vessel is over structure or slightly before it.  Tie off the anchor line and fish.  Tautog is very territorial so it is important to fish all sides of the boat, even cast a bit covering as much area as you can from different positions in the boat.  If still no bites pay out a little more anchor line to reposition the boat, repeat the process until you are totally off the structure and if still no bites it is time to move to another spot.

Rigs and Bait

Tautog rigs should be kept simple.  My favorite rig is homemade. I use one tautog hook connected to a swivel with a two or three once egg sinker on top sliding on a small three to four inch piece of monofilament line.  Another swivel above the egg sinker connects the monofilament and the braid line (30 lbs.) coming from the rod/reel. Since I have started using this rig bottom hook ups have been cut in half. Braid line does not stretch, so this is my preference, whereas monofilament line may stretch allowing the tautog to reach structure.

 I use green crabs and Asian crabs (when available).  When using green crabs, break off claws and legs and cut the crab in half.  Hook the crab though one leg socket and out another.  This exposes most of the crab and makes it easy for the tautog to put its mouth on the bait.

Standard premade tautog rigs usually have two hooks and a loop below to tie on a bank sinker.  I usually cut the upper hook off. Captain John Rainone of L’il Toot Charters said, “One hook saves rigs and fish… waiting for another fish to jump on makes no sense… I tie rigs with a lighter sinker line so it breaks and hook/fish is retrieved.” The idea is to have less on the rig to get tied up in structure.

 Pabst Blue Ribbon tournament winners
The 2012 second annual Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) striped bass and fluke tournament concluded this past Sunday, September 22 with an awards ceremony at the Ocean Mist in South Kingstown, RI.  The tournament is one of the largest bass and fluke tournaments in the Northeast. 
This year the $10,000 first place striped bass boat division prize went to Jeff Thibodeau of Wallingford, CT with a 60 lbs. 11 oz. fish.  Robert Ferraro of Narragansett, RI took second place ($5,000) with a 58 lbs. 8 oz. striper; and third place ($3,000) went to Joseph Bartnicki of Hackettstown, NJ for a 54 lbs 9 oz. fish.
Shore division striped bass fist place winner was Michael Coppola of New York, NY; John Hanecak of Rock Hill, CT second place; and Thomas McGuire of Narragansett, RI was third place shore division winner with a 34 lbs. 7 oz. striper.
The first place summer flounder (fluke) prize ($5,000) went to Samuel Dibner of Woodbury, CT for an 11 lbs. fluke; second place ($3,000) went to Joseph Giuliano, Niantic, CT; and third place fluke price ($2,000) went to Matt McDermott of Plainview, NY.
 Junior winners include Andrew McGarry, Block Island, RI (bass winner) and Fin Howat, Southport, CT (fluke winner).
The PBR tournament ran from June 1st to September 15th and took place in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Visit for photos.
Where’s the bite

Tautog. John Wunner of John’s Bait and Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Tautog fishing is just starting to pick up with anglers now catching keepers.” Angler Dave Fewster said, “I tried for an hour last Sunday and got a bunch of shorts, one keeper tog…it will get better every day with lower temps and shorter days.” I fished with Joshua McElwee Saturday and he caught his first tautog (and keeper sized fish over 16”) at General Rock, North Kingstown, RI.  Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle, Westerly said, “Anglers are catching tautog at Watch Hill reef and Ragged Ledge.  Most are using green crabs.”

Striped bass.  Russ Weymouth fished the southwest side of Block Island Thursday and said, “Drifting slightly north from the Peanut, (we) caught the biggest fish on my boat One Iota… a  49" striped bass at 48 pounds (using eels).  We continued to repeat the drift and caught as many keeper stripers as we had eels…” John Wunner of John’s Bait said, “I had three customers leave Allen’s Harbor, North Kingstown at 6:00 p.m. Friday night for Block Island and returned at 1:00 a.m. Saturday.  They left with 40 eels and could have caught as many bass, all were in 30 to 40 pound range.”  Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait, Westerly, said, “Fishing improved Tuesday night with anglers catching keeper bass mixed in with a lot of school size bass fishing from shore at Misquamicut and Charlestown beaches.” No reports of a strong bass or blue fish bite starting yet in Narragansett Bay.


Shore fishing picked up but is still slow as anglers are having difficulty hooking up with fish consistently.  Dave Pickering, noted local shore angler authority and author said, “Today (Saturday) I went down and checked out places that had been producing earlier in the week.  I found no bait, no birds diving, no fish and no fishermen. I fished a lot of white water and rocky drop-offs today but could not even find a schoolie or a bluefish…”  Visit Dave’s striper blog at


Offshore. John Starakas of Wakefield, RI, said, “(I) took two friends, Jeff Montigny of Fall River, and Ken Montigny of Fairhaven, MA on their first shark fishing trip Friday.  Fished the Mudhole (about 15 miles east of Block Island) all day, no luck trolling for tuna, after chumming for sharks for almost four hours… (we) landed a large mako,  8’ 10” fork length which makes it approximately 500 lbs.”  Jeff was on the rod and fought the fish, Ken wired the fish and John ran the boat and harpooned the shark.

Fresh water fishing.  Dave Pickering fished for carp at night this weekend in the Blackstone River. Dave said, “I noticed a fish grubbing at night right in front of me in about a foot of water.  From experience I know that carp will come in very close to feed under cover of darkness.  So, I put out a flip cast of about 10-15 feet with both outfits.  That did it as the alarm went off about 10 minutes later.  A good fight ensued in total darkness and soon I flipped on my headlight to see a big mirror carp at my feet. Yes, they do hit at night.”  Visit


Fishermen vocal on two key issues

New England Boating TV show: Co-host Parker Kelly caught this 24” fluke at Austin Hollow, Jamestown last week fishing with Capt. Dave Monti.  Kelly and her co-host Tom Richardson were shooting a Wickford, RI episode that will air on the New England Sports Network. 

Restoration perfectionists:  Michael Borrelli of Metan Marine restores vintage boats.  Seen here this past weekend at the Newport Boat Show with a 21 foot 1969 Boston Whaler Sakonnet.
Fish of a lifetime:  Bret Bokelkamp (in photo) of Marion, MA and Bill Dzilenski of Warwick, RI caught this seven foot white marlin west of the Acid Barge in view of Block Island.  Bill said, “The hook-up was followed by an extended series of leaps and bounds by the fish.” 

Capt. Dave Monti and co-hosts Tom Richardson and Parker Kelly fished for summer flounder off Jamestown. They filmed a Wickford, RI episode of New England Boating to air in October on NESN.
Fishermen vocal on two key issues
Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) members at the September 9, 2013 meeting voiced concern about Atlantic Menhaden quotas and minimum sizes on commercial ground fish regulations being reduced on haddock, yellowtail flounder, witch flounder and American Plaice.
Mark Gibson, Deputy Chief of the Marine Fisheries Division of DEM, commented on the minimum sizes being reduced.  He said, “The Division recommends adoption of these measures as the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) has requested that states complement federal (commercial) groundfish management actions which have reduced minimum sizes on these species in hopes of reducing discard rates.”
 Discards are fish thrown back in the water as they are below the minimum size allowed; they often die due to the trauma of being dragged in a net and brought up on deck. Changing RI regulations to dovetail with federal regulation would avoid enforcement challenges when fishermen travel in state waters with smaller fish.   Mark Gibson said that Rhode Island NEFMC participants will monitor developments regarding discard minimization and recommended a one-year sunset provision so minimum sizes can be reevaluated next year.
Minimum sizes were established on these species based on best available science i.e. establishing sizes that would allow female fish to mature and reproduce.  Members argued that moving minimum sizes below current levels goes against the science ie.. taking female fish before they spawn which could eventually lead to a fisheries failure.
Council members argued that the solution to reducing discard rates is not to take smaller fish but to make the webbing in fishing nets larger so small fish can escape.  Most agreed, however, the majority felt with no time to change net regulations, the Council should recommend to Director Janet Coit that she approve the new minimum sizes.
Where’s the bite
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is surprisingly good.  Normally, at this time of year they move offshore. Matt Conti of Sung Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said “Charter boats are still hitting fluke just south of the southeast corner off Block Island.  And, fishing east of Point Judith is pretty good too.”  Last Wednesday I fished with Parker Kelly and Tom Richardson at Austin Hollow, Jamestown.  The duo caught fluke to 24”, they are co-hosts of the television show New England Boating and were shooting an episode in Wickford, RI that will air in October on NESN. 
Tautog fishing is just starting to pick up.  Tautog minimum size is 16”, three fish/person/day with a boat limit of ten fish.  Limit increases to six/person/day on October 19 through December 15 but the ten fish boat limit still in effect.  Charter and party boats not subject to ten fish boat limit.
Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “This is the first weekend that customers are landing keepers.  Most Bay fish are short, but out in front… off Beavertail, Narragansett and Brenton Reef (and around other rock clusters) customers are catching keepers.”  I was at Seal Ledge off Newport Sunday and twenty boats were southwest of the Ledge and ten boats north of the Seal Ledge bell, all were tautog and catching tautog. “Anglers are landing keeper tautog at the Breachway in Charlestown.” said Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle.  Tautog fishing has been good in the Sakonnet too, Kurt Rivard landed a nine pound tautog this weekend as part of the Aquidneck Island Striper Team’s Sergeant Christopher Potts Tournament .” 
Striped bass fishing slowed this week.  David Sanford of East Greenwich fished in the Lumbermen Striped Bass Tournament out of Champlin Marina, Block Island and said, “Fishing was slow.  We managed to land two bass, in two days.  The winning tournament fish was 38 pounds.”  Dave Henault of Ocean Sate Tackle said, “Pogies are moving into the Providence and Seekonk River and customers are catching blues and striped bass.”  Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “Anglers are catching 15” to 33” bass off the wall with eels at night and sliver baits like Deadly Dicks during the day.  The fish are larger out in front with boat anglers landing bass to 35 pounds.”    Matt Conti of Sung Harbor said, “Fishing was slow this week at Block Island with a lot of bluefish.” Matt’s father Al said, “Those getting to the Southwest side (of Block Island) before 10 a.m. are catching bass.  We also had a school of stripers come to the surface off the West Wall (at the Harbor of Refuge) both Sunday and Monday, the fish were not very large but were a lot of fun for anglers.” Manny Sousa of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Customers have caught striped bass off Bullock’s Point, East Providence.  There have been keepers but nothing big yet… my son caught a 29” and 32” fish using clam tongues.”  “We fished from 2:00 a.m. until about 10:00 a.m. Saturday and couldn’t hook up with striped bass.  We were using both eels and chucked menhaden fishing the Hope and Gould Island areas.” said angler Mike Swain of Coventry.
Scup anglers continue to catch large scup along coastal shores and in Narragansett Bay having no trouble landing keepers (10 inch minimum).
Offshore fishing slowed last week. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Shark fishing is still good.  Three were caught this weekend, we weighed in a 149 pound Mako Sunday but few tuna are being caught.” Bret Bokelkamp of Marion, MA and Bill Dzilenski of Warwick, RI caught a seven foot white marlin west of the Acid Barge in view of Block Island last week.  Bill said, “The hook-up was followed by an extended series of leaps and bounds by the fish. We came up empty on tuna, but were grinning ear-to ear and we still are.” 

Galilee Tournament of Hope and Seafood Festival

Big striped bass:  Fred Lewie of Bolton, CT took the Galilee Fishing for Hope Tournament striped bass boat division with this 44.85 pound fish.
  Nice weakfish:  Kevin Pellegrino with the 24” weakfish (squeteague) he caught while anchored off Hog Island scup fishing Saturday.

Top bluefish and scup:  Nathaniel Ambrad of Wakefield, RI with the bluefish and scup that took first place in the Junior Boat Division at the Galilee Fishing Tournament of Hope this weekend.
Galilee Tournament of Hope and Seafood Festival
The Galilee Fishing Tournament of Hope and Seafood Festival were a big success this weekend.  The top striped bass landed in the boat division by Fred Lewie of Bolton, CT weighted in at a whopping 44.85 pounds.  This topped last years’ big fish by about seven and a half pounds. 
Adult anglers competed in boat and shore divisions for the striped bass, summer flounder (fluke) and bluefish.  In addition to these species, the Junior Division anglers fished for black sea bass and scup.  Steve Anderson took first place in the adult fluke division with a 4.55 pound fish and Kathy Hardy of Warwick took the Junior Boat division with a 3.60 pound fluke.  See complete listing of winners below.
The Seafood Festival was a huge hit too with over 65 venders (last year about 22 exhibitors participated).  Director Janet Coit of the Department of Environmental Management, co-sponsors of the event said, “It was very exciting walking the exhibits, children got to walk through a fishing net that was on display, tour a fishing boat, fish on the dock and much more.  Our staff did a great job working the event.” 
Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA), said, “Traffic both Saturday and Sunday were excellent.  We estimate that several thousand people attended.”  Medeiros continued, “We had bad sea conditions Saturday.  Many anglers said they had to deal with five to six foot seas coming into the Port of Galilee.  But overall it was a very good event.”
Tournament proceeds will go to the Narragansett Parks & Recreation Financial Aid Program, the Pt. Judith Fisherman’s Memorial Scholarship Fund and the RI Saltwater Anglers Foundation.  RISAA took a leading role organizing the tournament and Seafood Festival.  Photos of tournament winners can be seen at .
Galilee Fishing for Hope Tournament winners
Black sea bass (Juniors only) Junior Boat Division winners were 1st place Kathryn Hardy (3.25 lbs.), 2nd Nathaniel Ambrad and 3rd Jillian LeBlanc.
Bluefish Junior Boat Division winner was 1st Nathaniel Ambrad. Junior Shore Division winners were Sophia Garzoli (.39 lbs.), 2nd Alex Greenberg and 3rd Michael Cohen. Adult Boat Division winners were 1st place Glen Corsetti (11.90 lbs.), 2nd Donald Smith and 3rd Peter Vican.  Bluefish Adult Shore Division 1st place winner was Thomas McGuire (5.25 lbs), 2nd Rick Boyd and 3rd Rich Clarke.
Fluke Junior Boat Division winners Kathryn Hardy (3.60 lbs.), 2nd Noah Roebuck. Adult Boat Division winners were 1st place Steve Anderson (4.55 lbs.), 2nd Travis Barao and 3rd Gilbert Barao.  Fluke Shore Division 1st place Priscilla Bogdan (2.20 lbs.).
Scup (Juniors only) Junior Boat Division winners were 1st Nate Ambrad (2.05 lbs.), 2nd Joey Scrofani, 3rd Robinson Hoopes.  Junior Shore Division 1st place Alex Greenberg (.90 lbs.), 2nd Sophia Garzoli.
Striped bass Adult Boat Division winners were 1st place Fred Lewie (44.85 lbs), 2nd Corey Smith (36.70 lbs.) and 3rd Rich Carroll (35.80 lbs.).  Adult Shore Division 1st place Kevin Brignole (17.80 lbs.), 2nd Rick Boyd and 3rd Rich Clarke.
Newport International Boat Show
So you want to buy a boat. You are in luck.  It is the perfect time of year as sellers of both new and used boats are anxious to sell.  And, this is the perfect week to look at a lot of boats, all at one time, at the 43rd Annual Newport International Boat Show Thursday, September 12th through Sunday, September 15th .The show features boats of all types from 15 to 85 feet and it takes place on the Newport waterfront along American’s Cup Avenue.  Show hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Visit for details.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing continued to be slow from shore and boats.  Mike Gill of Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown, said, “Shore anglers are tossing eels and all types of artificial baits with very few bumps.”  I fished the Pine Hill Prudence Island area Saturday and managed to catch three small school bass.  Mike Wake of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “Bass are being picked up with both small and large baits along Watch Hill reef but shore anglers are having a very tough time landing fish.”  Sam Busenbark of Bucko’s Tackle & Bait, Fall River, MA said the striped bass have just not arrived yet in our bays.”
Summer flounder (fluke) bite is still good at Block Island and fair in other places said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.  Angler John Graydon of Warwick and his party managed to land some nice keeper fluke fishing around Block Island Saturday.  “Fluke seem to have moved to deeper water in the fifty foot range.” said Mike Gill of Quaker Lane.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “Our full day boat had the best week of the entire season...with a tremendous amount of anglers limiting out…our biggest fish of the week was taken by … Connie Tu of Warwick, RI who boated a 10.8 pound fluke.”
Weakfish and Northern Kingfish continue to make their presence known in our waters.  Sam Busenbark of Bucko’s Tackle said, “Customers have been hitting some good sized Kingfish and in good numbers near the battleship on the river in Fall River.  Kevin Pellegrino caught a 24" weakfish Saturday while anchored at Hog Island scup fishing with a jig tipped with squid. Kevin said, “It was a beautiful fish.”.
Scup has been good all summer, however, this week it slowed a bit with anglers still catching large fish but in fewer numbers. Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said porgy (scup) fishing was only fair this week.
Tautog fishing is still slow, however, Sam Busenbark of Bucko’s Tackle said, “Anglers are landing keeper tautog in the 16 to 18” range in good number from the Sakonnet River to off Brenton Reef, Newport.”
Black sea bass fishing has been good, however, a lot of shorts are being caught.  Angler Rick Sustello fished the Clay Head Block Island area Saturday and said, “We worked … our way south (of the red can) in about 35 to 70 feet of water… We continued repeating the drift… As the wind speed picked up, so did the action… We caught countess shorts and two short fluke but limited out on black sea.”
Offshore fishing was slow this week with the Frances Fleet they reported catching a mix of yellow fine tuna and albacore, a Wahoo and a few Mahi.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Warm water fish in Bay and global warming

Warm water fish:  Mason Sherman of North Kingstown with the 32 pound, 46” cobia he caught while fluke fishing just south of the Jamestown Bridge.  Several of the warm water fish have been caught in Narragansett Bay and along coastal shores this year.
Priscilla Bogdan of Lincoln, RI landed this cobia off Point Judith, Narragansett last month.  One of several cobia caught this year off coastal shores and in the Bay.

Warm water fish in Bay and global warming
“There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.”
This quote is not from liberal environmentalist but rather from four Republican E.P.A. administrators that served under Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush.  It came from an opinion letter they published in the August 1, 2013 issue of the New York Times.
The letter goes on to urge we support initiatives such as “reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.” 
The dialogue on global warming has changed from a bipartisan issue on whether or not it is occurring to what should be done about it now as a nation, and I might add as fishermen.
Local evidence of climate change includes Narragansett Bay and near coastal water temperatures heating up for nearly forty years.  How warm you ask? Well it used to be very cold.  The crew of the Brenton Reef lightship measured water temperature at the mouth of Narragansett Bay every day from July 1878 through January 1942.
 In the coldest winter recorded (1917-18) the water temperature from December through February was 33.2 F. The average for the whole period of their record (64 years) is 39.1 F. This temperature is far from the warmer water temperatures recorded in February, 2012… Conimicut Point, 45 F; Newport, 42 F; and Block Island, 46 F.
OK, so we have a warming Bay (URI Bay temperature studies confirm this too, the Bay has warmed 2 to 3 degrees depending on time of year in past 45 years), and evidence of a rising ocean in New England (and Rhode Island) with beach erosion occurring all along our coastal shore.
Now what about the fish?  What seems to be happening is that the cold water fish (like cod) are moving out of the area, away from coastal shores and out into deeper waters. Last year my brother-in-law and I traveled to Cox’s Ledge (over 18 miles offshore) to catch them.  And, for the past few years we have had warm water fish (and manuals) being sited or caught in the area.  Dolphin sightings in Narragansett Bay in the fall for the past couple of years, blue fin tuna at the mouth of the Bay in January and cobia being caught in the Bay this summer are some examples.
Last week Mason Sherman, a URI engineering student from North Kingstown, RI, caught a 32 pound, 46 inch cobia when he was bottom fishing for fluke (summer flounder) just south of the Jamestown Bridge.  Mason said, “I was using very light tackle... 20 lb test monofilament line and a plastic squid rig tipped with a fresh piece of squid.  Every time I would get the fish close to the boat it would dive.  I mean dive deep below the boat… it took about 25 minutes to land the fish.”
Last month Greg Vespe of Tiverton landed a 17 pound cobia fishing north of the Newport Bridge when fishing with Atlantic Menhaden chunks for striped bass. Bait shop owners have reported an additional three to four cobia being caught in the Bay this year.
Cobia (a warm water fish) migrate along the Atlantic coast on a seasonal basis. In spring, they move from southern Florida, to the Carolinas as water temperatures rise. That’s right, I said the Carolinas… not Rhode Island.
As fishermen, we know the water is warming and we need to do everything we can to curb climate change.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with catching warm water fish here, I would love to catch a cobia, but it would be nice if some fish were left for my great grand children.  And I don’t mean fried fish.

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing at Block Island is still good with smaller fish (28”-32” keeper size) being taken at the North Rip and larger fish on the South West Ledge. Umbrella rigs still seem to be the bait of choice during the day. Last week striped bass were between Gould Island and the Newport Bridge and all along southern coastal shores, this week that action slowed down a bit.

Fluke (summer flounder) fishing remained good but spotty this week with fish being taken (for the first time in years) in the upper Bay.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Customers are catching fluke at Fields Point and in other places in the upper Bay… in eight to fourteen feet of water if you can believe that.  The fluke are feeding on skipjacks (baby blue fish) in coves and along shoreline areas.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Customers are catching fluke in places where they have not been for years.  Last week anglers caught keeper sized fluke at Sabin Point.” The fluke bite off Newport and Jamestown remained good but spotty with fish being taken in good numbers depending on the day under the Newport and Jamestown bridges, at Austin Hollow, Dutch Island,  Hull and Mackerel Coves off Jamestown.  Some days anglers have found fluke in numbers off Newport beyond Seal Ledge and the Brenton Reef areas.  John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Customers have been catching fluke everywhere including the entrance of Allen’s Harbor, in Wickford Harbor.”  The fluke bite in Greenwich Bay continued to be slow as the western portion of the Bay is recovering from hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) at the lower levels of the water column.

Scup fishing remains strong throughout the Bay at the usually place… Colt State , Bristol, the bridges, Providence Point, Ohio Ledge, etc
Blue crabs have been plentiful in coves and estuaries.

Skipjacks (or baby blue fish) have invaded coves, ponds and inlets.  Anglers have been catching them in volume.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RI Fish for the Future… first cooperative of its type in the nation

Fluke fishing:  Lorna Russell of Providence with the fluke she caught off the Beavertail area of Jamestown.  Her son Liam (right) and friend Mathew look on.
Researcher even when off duty:  Jon Hare (center), Narragansett Laboratory Director and Oceanography Branch Chief for NOAA Fisheries Service, fished with Capt. Dave Monti on Angel Light, a RI Fish for the Future cooperative member this Saturday.  Jon lives in East Greenwich and by chance his wife booked the charter on the cooperative vessel for him, his son John (far right) and friend Elliot Emperor of Orleans, France.

RI Fish for the Future… first cooperative of its type in the nation

There is a new fishing cooperative in Rhode Island… the first of its type in the nation, it is called Rhode Island Fish for the Future and I am one of its founding members.  It is a charter captains’ summer founder (fluke) cooperative consisting of nine vessels.  The captains are voluntarily testing an innovative fishing approach to improve accountability and conservation of the summer flounder (fluke) population while increasing business flexibility and stability for the Rhode Island charter boat industry.

The cooperative is also testing innovative new software they developed that records catch in real time.  Each of the captains in the program has a computer tablet on board loaded with the software.  The software (called Fish Net) allows captains to record species type and fish length (the software converts length to approximate weight).  All of this is recorded in real time in the location that they catch/record the fish through a GPS capability.  It is hoped that software like this will provide a rich data source for fish mangers in the future as charter boats and recreational fishers are presently not required to report their catch the way that commercial fishermen do. 

The cooperative received a grant to develop the software and is operating under proposed guidelines as they fish off a Research Set Aside (RSA) fish allocation they purchased at a federal auction.
The mission of the pilot project includes reducing discards (and mortality rate… or the number of fish that die after release) and increased flexibility and predictability so charter captains can better serve customers.  Captains have been able to improve customer experience by allowing them to take more fish and smaller sizes than normally allowed.  This sounds great… more fish for customers, smaller sizes allowed, however, there is a catch.

Captains participating in the program agree to live within a rigid set of rules.  Rules such as counting all fish caught toward their quota or allowable catch for the season… even the ones too small to keep.  Their cumulative total of allowable catch is smaller than they would be able to take under normal recreational fishing regulations, however, the program gives them the flexibility to catch the fish and use them with customers when it is best from a business perspective.

For example they can fish for striped bass or tautog when they are in season and available and save the fluke fishing for when other species are not available.  Captain Joe Pagano of Stuff-It Charters (a program participant) said “The pilot program will allow my customers to keep more fish and plan their vacations ahead of time which will ultimately provide more stability for my business.”

Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, one of the organizers of Rhode Island Fish for the Future said, “The catch cooperative program is the best option I've seen to date, one that with the appropriate implementation, will let our industry continue to thrive for years to come.”
For information about Rhode Island Fish for the Future visit

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing has been fair this past week at Block Island and in the Bay.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait Tackle, East Providence said, “Sunday small bass in the 22” to 24” range were caught at Sabin Point.”  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marine, South Kingstown said, “The Bass bite at Block Island has been with eels at night and customer are catching them during the day trolling umbrella rigs.”  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Some nice bass were caught at the Newport Bridge this week with Atlantic Menhaden which have been plentiful in that area and around Gould Island.  Some customers have been doing well with bass in the Breton Reef, Newport area.”

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been spotty with warm water in Narragansett Bay and rough water off shore.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “I had a customer catch a small keeper sized fluke off Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Warwick and then he landed a nice squeteague.”  I fished in the Beavertail, Jamestown area with Jon Hare and his son John and friend Elliott this Saturday and landed about a dozen fish including six nice keeper fluke but they were hard to come by.  “Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait said, “Fluke are from Warwick Neck to the bridges and beyond but they were very spotty and hard to catch this week.  Some days anglers were hitting them and some days they were not.”  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marine said, “Fluke fishing was slow this week for customers both at Block Island and along southern coastal shores.”

Black sea bass fishing has been OK with anglers catching them while fluke fishing.  Some nice sized black sea bass were taken off the wall at the Harbor of Refuge and off Narragansett Beach.

Scup fishing continues to be strong all over Narragansett Bay, off coastal shores and in the Newport and Jamestown bridge areas.  Angler Mike Swain of Coventry said, “I saw a number of boats at Warwick Light landing scup while fluke fishing this Sunday.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Scup fishing continues to be very strong with large scup common.  Anglers continue to experience a good scup bite at Colt Sate Park, Bristol.”

Offshore fishing had been pretty good this week at the Dump with blue fin tuna, mahi-mahi, and  yellow fin  being taken by a number of customers said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor.