Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scientists raise red flag about dogfish

Flukezilla:  Lary Norin of Cumberland, RI with the 31”, 12.06 pound summer flounder (fluke) he caught when fishing in the Jamestown Bridge area on Friday.
New England Boating TV is doing a Newport, RI program this season.  Here on the “fishing” segment shoot Friday are co-host Parker Kelly; Al and Christina Elson of Striper Marina, Barrington, RI;  Capt. Dave Monti (who served as fishing guide); and show co-host Tom Richardson.
Bluefin on the troll: Jack Leyden of North Kingstown, RI and Doug Poscich of Stonington, CT with a 60 pound bluefin they caught at Tuna Ridge, 20 miles southeast of Block Island Sunday.

Scientists raise red flag about dogfish

Things were looking up for dogfish (small sharks).  They received a lot of positive press last year about their potential value to fishermen (as a species to be fished), as table fair for consumers and as a boost to fishing communities in general.

The idea of marketing and promoting dogfish for the dinner plate was a good one… there are plenty of dogfish and they are easy to catch.  What made it even better is that both commercial and recreational fishermen do not like the small shark.  Spiny dogfish are relentless predators.  They steal bait and eat forage fish, clog fishing nets and are caught as by-catch when recreational fishermen are targeting other species.  So to find a solution that works, catching spiny dogfish and sell selling them as food for human consumption, was a win, win solution for fishermen and the consumer.

The idea of marketing and promoting dogfish as table fair is being investigated by the University of New England (UNE) with a $245,000 National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant to explore the “Optimum Utilization of Spiny Dogfish… through industry partnerships and product development marketing.” said the UNE in a April 1, 2014 article posted on their website.  The project goals are “to increase domestic quota utilization for spiny dogfish, boost the consumer market for the fish, increase revenue and jobs for fishermen from North Carolina to Maine, and help restore an improved ecosystem balance.”

Spiny dogfish are not yet in high demand as a food item in the United States but the idea is to build demand. They are popular on the international market and are often served as "fish and chips" in Europe.  Last year when the industry movement to promote dogfish started, fishermen in RI and along the east coast were very positive about the dogfish market.

The movement to promote dogfish as spices for table fare has spread to recreational fishing too.   A number of internet inquiries and posts have explored ways to catch, clean and prepare spiny dogfish for human consumption.

Last month a collaborative study on dogfish was published by Roger Williams University and the University of Rhode Island.  The study examined the mercury (Hg) content in smooth dogfish, spiny dogfish, little skate and winter skate as well as in their prey (scup, butterfish, longfin squid and cancer crabs).  The study area included Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound and Narragansett Bay.

Dr. David Taylor of Roger Williams University said  “As you may be aware, due to declines in traditional bony fish fisheries, there’s been an increase in the use of cartilaginous fish e.g. dogfish and to a lesser extent skates) as a human dietary resource.  I have recently published an article on the mercury contamination in these cartilaginous fish.”  

Dr. Taylor’s study found that “From a human health perspective, 87% of smooth dogfish, 32% of spiny dogfish, and less than 2% of skates had mercury (Hg) concentrations exceeding the US Environmental Protection Agency threshold level (0.3 ppm wet weight).  These results indicate that frequent consumption of smooth dogfish and spiny doggish may adversely affect human health, whereas skates present minimal risk.”

With commercial fishermen and recreational anglers exploring ways to clean, prepare and eat dogfish it is important to keep study conclusions in mind. “From a human health perspective, consumption of smooth dogfish and, to a lesser extent, spiny dogfish pose a human health risk, and therefore, justifies stringent consumption advisories for these species. Conversely, the consumption of skates does not present a significant risk to human health. It is the recommendation of the authors that this information be effectively communicated to the general public so that citizens can make informed decisions regarding the safe consumption of fishery resources.”

The study “Mercury bioaccumulation in cartilaginous fishes from Sothern New England coastal waters: Contamination from a trophic ecology and human health perspective” was published May 29, 2014 by Marine Environmental Research 99 (2014) 20-33 and can be found at .
Study collaborators included David L. Taylor and Nicholas J. Kutil of Roger Williams University Department of Marine Biology and Anna J. Malek and Jeremy S. Collie of the University of Rhode Island  Graduate School of Oceanography. 

No single study should set the tone and direction of a fishery and no doubt further studies on dogfish will be conducted. However, Dr. Taylor and his colleagues have raised a red flag about dogfish, one that should be seriously considered by consumers, scientists, fishermen and government officials.

New England Boating TV in Newport

The New England Boating television program is in its second year airing on New England Sports Network (NESN) and they are doing a program on Newport, RI this season.  This Friday, I served as fishing guide for co-hosts Tom Richardson and Parker Kelly.  We landed four fluke in a matter of 40 minutes all keepers with the largest being 21”. Al Elson of Striper Marina captained on a new Pursuit 30 foot center console that he sells at Striper Marina, Barrington.  Christina, Al’s daughter, served as first mate. New England Boating TV program features coastal towns that boaters/fishermen can visit and highlights shops, restaurants, tourist sites and where to fish when in the area. Visit for an interview with show host Tom Richardson about the show’s first season and what you might expect to find on the website

Operation Dry Water aims to reduce alcohol and drug related accidents on water

Safe boating patrols will be stepped up on June 27 to June 29 in a joint operation conducted by the Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Law Enforcement.  The effort is part of Operation Dry Water, a coordinated national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) detection and enforcement. It is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related and drug-related accidents and fatalities, and making recreational boaters aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water.  During Operation Dry Water, DEM marine law enforcement officers will be out in full force on Rhode Island waterways, searching for boat operators whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent.  Impaired boaters can expect to be arrested or face other serious penalties.

Fooling fish with soft plastics

Al “Gag” Gagliarducci is well-known around the country (and world) as the owner of Al Gag Custom Lures, but he is also an expert fisherman that knows how to fool fish with soft plastic baits.  Gagliarducci will be the featured speaker at the Monday, June 30, 7:00 p.m., Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) seminar at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick.  "There's a lot of things that come into play when fishing with plastics. You need to take into consideration the tides, water clarity and what type of bottom you're fishing on. Even the type of algae and plant life growing in the area helps decide what colors to use." said Gagliarducci.  RISAA members are free, $10 donation for non-members.  Visit for details.

Where’s the bite

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing remains good with anglers landing some very large fish, some catching their limit and others are working hard to catch one or two.   Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “In general there were many limit catches this past week …There were exceptions… especially on days with the slower drift conditions when buck tails prevailed.”  Larry Norin of Cumberland landed “Flukezilla” Friday… a 12.06 pound, 31” monster in the Jamestown Bridge area.  Lary said, “I was in 35 feet of water using one of his homemade fluke rigs with squid strips.” Friday, fishing with the New England Boating TV show and Al Elson of Striper Marina we landed four fluke in a matter of 40 minutes all keepers with the largest being 21” drifting south from the Newport Bridge along Rose Island on the outside of the red can in about 120 feet of water.  Fished there the next day and did not have good luck at all.  Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle, Westerly, said, “Fluke fishing along the southern coastal shore is good, very steady.” Angles are catching fluke in the Nebraska Sholes and Watch Hill Beach area with a lot of black sea bass being caught.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “Fluke fishing in the east passage on the flats from Conimicut down to Prudence Island is very good.”

Striped bass fishing still good in the Bay and improving at Block Island “especially at night ” said Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too charters.   Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle, Westerly, said, “There are larger bass now mixed in with smaller fish which are being caught by shore anglers off Watch Hill, Weekapaug and Charlestown beaches. We weighed in a 45.7 pound Block Island bass this week.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “Bass in the 14 to 17 pound range are fairly common being caught on live menhaden or chucks behind Crescent Park, Conimicut Light and Barrington Beach on the channel pads. The bluefish are there too and guys are going through 12 to 15 pogies just to catch their limit of two striped bass.”  Noted local fly fisherman Ed Lombardo said “We fished the Narrow River … tide was outgoing… fish where easy when we first got to the river… We then moved down river to the sandbars closer to the mouth and pick up some nice fish that where bigger. The fish seem to like flies that are streamers made of craft fur or bucktail, brown over white, olive over white and all white, high tie style. My hot pink high tie worked very well to.”

Scup fishing picked up dramatically this week. Mike from Cardinals Bait, Westerly said, “Shore anglers are experiencing a good scup bite.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s bait said, “Scup in the 12 to 13” range are being caught  at Colt State Park, Ohio Ledge, and Conimicut Light.  Some anglers have caught their limit.”  Scup limit is 30 fish/person/day with a minimum size of 10”.  However, a 9” minimum size prevails for shore anglers fishing only in special provision areas including India Point Park, Providence; Conimicut Park, Warwick; Rocky Point, Warwick; Stone Bridge, Tiverton; East and West Walls (Harbor of Refuge), Narragansett; Fort Wetherill, Jamestown; and Fort Adams, Newport.

Offshore bite improved this week with several reports of bluefin being caught.  Jack Leyden of North Kingstown fished 20 miles southeast of Block Island in the Tuna Ridge area Sunday.  Jack said, “Caught a  BFT (60 pounds) … trolling ballyhoo and artificials. Whales, porpoises abundant in flat calm seas.”  Jack was fishing on Stepping Stone, a 45 foot Cabo.

Shore fishing has been fair with a few larger fish now being landed.  Mary Dangelo of Maridee Bait & Canvas, Narragansett said, “Monday morning the striped bass bite was on at Narragansett Town beach.  Anglers caught school bass with some keepers mixed in. Black sea bass fishing from shore has been good too, hope this hold for when the season starts (June 29).”  The scup bite has been good from shore at Colt State Park in Bristol as well as in the Westerly and Charleston areas said Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait. Dave Pickering posted this on his blog Tuesday (, “I fished yesterday evening and found almost non-stop bluefish action in the Bay from shore.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Black sea bass… a great catch for anglers

 Quinn (Squid) Antonacci of West Greenwich, RI with the 22” black sea bass he caught on his grandfather Ken Robinson’s boat in the Brenton Tower area in 75 feet of water.
 All eyes on the bass:  Scott Kiefer of Exeter, RI with 38” striped bass. Scott said, “My dog Rocky was not letting the one out of his site.”
Capt. Dave Monti (left) and Pete Sousa (both of Warwick) took Lester and Alex from Boy Scout troops in Providence fishing.  Over 180 children fished during RISAA’s Take-a-Kid Day Saturday.
We wouldn’t miss Take-a-Kid Fishing day for anything.” said Capt. Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters, Jamestown.  Shown here are young anglers on his charter vessel the Lacey J.
Members of Jr. Girl Scout Troops 31 and 80 of Narragansett, RI all landed bluefish during the RI Saltwater Anglers Association’s Take-A-Kid fishing event Saturday.  Troop leaders Mel Wathen, Marisa Lonkart and Kristen Maricas in back row.

Black sea bass underwater:  This back sea bass (with hook in month) was curious about Mike Laptew when he took this underwater photograph.  Visit Mike Laptew’s website at for great underwater images.
Chris Bellavance with black sea bass caught off Block Island on Priority Too Charters, Point Judith.
Black sea bass… a great catch for anglers
This year, the minimum size for black sea bass in Rhode Island is 13”. There is a shorter season and sub-periods due to a 7% reduction in quota for Rhode Island required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  The first sub period starts Sunday, June 29 and runs to August 31 with a three fish/person/day limit.  The second sub-period runs from September 1 to December 31 with a seven fish/person/day limit.
 Anglers have been catching keeper size black sea bass since early spring well before the season opens while fishing for tautog and summer flounder.  So this should be a good year for black sea bass.  Al Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, RI said Monday, “Customers have been catching black sea bass when fishing for summer flounder in the four to five pound range so the season this year should be good.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, RI said, “There are a lot of black sea bass out there and we’re getting good reports everyday from customers.”
Black sea bass facts
  • Black sea bass are primarily black (sounds odd), but they have the ability to adjust their color to blend in with the bottom with colors ranging from grey, brown, black to a deep indigo hue.
  • They spend most of their time around the bottom and can be found near rocky areas, jetties, rips  and like a lot of bottom fish, they like structure.
  • Black sea bass are hermaphroditic fish… they begin life as female then turn male.
  • Black sea bass put up a good feisty fight but they do not grow to be large fish in the Northeast.
  • The largest black sea bass caught was 9 pounds, 8 ounces and about 19.7” long.
  • Ideal water temperature for black sea bass is 59 to 64 degrees.
How and where to catch them… rigs and bait
Rigs often used to catch black sea bass have two hooks approximately 12” to 16” apart with a bank sinker to hold bottom.  Squid or sea clams are most often used as bait.  Anglers often catch them while fishing for summer flounder (fluke) or tautog because they are on or close to the bottom.  They can also be caught with jigs and many prefer this method.
The best time to fish for black sea bass is from May (if legal with an open season) through the summer, when they are closest to shore. Any underwater structures… rocks, wrecks, piers and jetties will attract black sea bass.  The larger males are generally found in deeper water.
Capt. Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters charters, Jamestown, RI said “Fish reef edges, deeper structure,  wrecks are best.  Squid strips and small crabs are bait of choice. Hi/low rigs work great.  Fishing for black sea bass is more about location than fancy fishing rigs. Anchor up to target black sea bass specifically, otherwise you will often catch them on a drift when fluke fishing.”
Cooking black sea bass
Black sea bass is a delicate, sweet-tasting saltwater fish. The firm, white flesh of this species is a favorite of many. Bass are easy to fillet, especially when chilled, and yield a thick slice of meat. Some fillets are thick enough to slice lengthwise or to cut into nuggets for frying. Larger fish can be cut into steaks and cooked like striped bass.
Capt. Robb Roach’s favorite ways to cook black sea bass… “Cook whole!  Gut, scale and cut off fins. Stuff and roast either in the oven or in a tin foil tent on the grill- yummy.”
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries suggests broiling black sea bass fillets. When broiling, fold under the thin section from the tail area to allow more even cooking. Place the fish in a greased pan, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and paprika, and dot with butter or olive oil. Broil 5 to 6 minutes on each side, depending upon thickness, until the fillets are golden-brown. Be careful not to cook too long, as the fillets will dry and become somewhat leathery.
Fluke tournament this weekend
Kettlebottom Outfitters and Conanicut Marine (both from Jamestown) have created a new summer flounder (fluke) tournament called Flukefest, a one-day fluke tournament that will be held Saturday, June 21, 2014 from sunrise to 3:00 p.m. (weigh in at Conanicut Marine, Jamestown).  The cost of the tournament is $40 for adults, $20 for 12 and under. Capt. Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters said, “It is very easy to register online at” There will be cash prizes for several categories including Heaviest Fluke, Heaviest three Fluke, Heaviest "trash" (non fluke) fish, Heaviest Shore-caught Fluke, and Heaviest Fluke 12 and under.  Boat, shore, and young anglers are all welcome to participate.  Visit or for information and registration.    
Trout Unlimited meeting
The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (#225 ) will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 6:00 PM, at the Arcadia Management Area Check Station, Rt. 165, Exeter, R.I.  This will be the chapter’s second Stream-Side Meeting at the Check Station.  Hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages will be available. Members and guests welcome.  Contact Ron Marafioti, president, at (571) 643-1452 for information.

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing picked up a bit on the southwest side of Block Island but the larger fish this week were caught off Point Judith Light with eels at night.  “We weighed in a 57 pound fish and then a 58 pound fish caught by Rich Chappell of Wakefield.” said Al Conti of Sung Harbor Marina, South Kingstown. Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait, Westerly, said, “Striped bass fishing has been better along the  shore with fish starting to get larger.” Bass fishing in the Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays is fair to good.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said “We had some nice fish weighed in this week but not like the 37 pounder we had last week.”   Bass continue to be landed in the Providence River this week. Mel True, Sr. said “Went fishing for stripers in the upper Providence River this morning (this weekend) and we caught three stripers in about one hour. Found a school of menhaden near the I 195 bridge. Snagged some and hooked up right away. Stripers were about 35 inches and had sea lice on them.”  Scott Kiefer of Exeter, RI said Thursday, “Seems like the larger fish are making their way (to RI)… I caught five all in the 35-38 inch class covered in sea lice”.  Angler Kevin Bettencourt of East Providence said, “Didn't get out during the week but fished this past Saturday.  The pogies were by Colts Park in the channel and by Barrington Beach.  Fishing was slow with not many fish being caught.  I was able to pick-up a 20 pounder by snagging a pogy and leaving it in the school.  Also did some chunking and picked up one about 17 lbs.  With the bluefish mixed in it’s a great time to chunk.”
Bluefish exploded this week.  I fished in the very successful RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) Take-a-kid fishing event Saturday with 55 other vessels… all trolling for bluefish with about 180 children in Greenwich Bay.  The bluefish bite was outstanding with all boats easily catching six to twelve fish in the 20 to 24 plus inch range.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “The bluefish bite has been very strong with anglers complaining of too many hook ups when targeting bass, but they provide a great fight for anglers and when prepared well are tasty too.” Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait said, “This weekend bluefish were on the surface at Weekapaug Light. There are more bluefish around now.” 
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been good in the Bay.   I fished the Warwick Light red bell last week with Dave, Ed and Richard Jacques (of North Kingstown).  They landed six fluke, three nice keepers, at the end of an outgoing tide fishing the channel banks for about 1 ½ hours.  Mike Cardinal said “Fluke fishing along the coastal shore has been steady with anglers are finding fish in 40 to 55 feet of water.”  Fishing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River has been good too.  “We weighed in a 7 pound, 4 once fluke this weekend that came from the Sakonnet.  And, fishing under the Newport Bridge and off Ft. Adams has been pretty good too.” said Manny Macedo.  Mitch Maloof of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said “The fluke bite is strong right off the beaches in 40 to 50 feet of water.” Roger Simpson of the Francis Fleet said, “There were quite a few limit catches recorded over the past week and quite a few hefty slabs between 7 and 9.5 lbs. On most outings the average keeper is in the 3 lb range.” The minimum size for fluke in RI is 18”, eight fish/person/day.
Scup fishing is heating up with large fish now being caught in the Bay at Colt State Park as well as along southern coastal shores.
Shore fishing. Mitch Maloof of Breachway Bait said, “Anglers fishing the Charlestown Breachway are landing school bass and bluefish… we still have school bass being taken after five at night in Ninigret Pond with anglers fishing the worm hatch.”  Noted shore angler and author Dave Pickering said, “I have been concentrating on the Cape Cod Canal this week with those big tides. Fished there several times and came away with schoolies. However, I did see some keepers up to 25 lbs. being caught. My son, Matt, landed a decent fish about 20 lbs. on a needlefish fished on top. Occasionally good size stripers are chasing mackerel and are breaking on the surface. However, most regulars would agree that Canal fishing is off compared to past years…”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mix it up to catch striped bass

 Mix it up:  Mike Imbornone of North Kingstown landed a 38” striped bass while fishing the Poppasquash Point, Bristol area using tube and worm, earlier in the day chucked Atlantic Menhaden was not working. 

 Fluke fishing hot:  Cody Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, Pt. Judith with monster fluke they caught off Block Island.  Capt. Rick Bellavance said, “Sand eels and squid are the bait in the water.”
 The Jacques brothers (Dave, Richard and Ed) with summer flounder they caught off Warwick Light yesterday (Wednesday).

Bass fishing hot: John Martin of Bristol caught his first striped bass at Mt. Hope Bay when fishing with friend Kevin Pellegrino. The  40”, 23.88 striped bass was caught as he was retrieving a snagged pogy. 

Mix it up to catch striped bass

This week I mixed it up and started trolling with tube and worm for striped bass.  The results were good Sunday as the bass did not seem interested in the chucked menhaden where I was fishing, but they jumped at the chance to nail a red rubber tube with a fresh clam worm on the end of it. 

Anglers often use lead line when trolling with tube and worm in the in less than twenty five feet of water.  Wire line is used when water is over 25 or 30 feet, places such as Brenton Reef, Newport or off Block Island.  I often weight the lead line or tube to get it down to the bottom where the big bass are. 
Lead and wire line is designed to sink in the water column (about a foot ever 10 feet of line depending on boat speed, tide, current and wind conditions).

Atlantic Menhaden (commonly called pogies) are also a popular bait used to catch striped bass.  Anglers use them as bait live often hooking them through the bridge above the nose or on the back allowing them to swim (called live lining).  However, just as common, depending on how the striped bass want to dine, they are cut up in chucks and put on a hook (called chunking).  

I am also prepared to fish with jigs too… Diamond Jigs, Deadly Dick colored jigs as well as a variety of squid jigs tipped with real squid.  So the idea is to be ready with a couple of different methods as you never know what the fish will be interested in on any given day.  And, when the bass are not biting switch off to a different species like I did yesterday targeting summer flounder (or fluke). 

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing is starting to pick up along Southern RI coastal shores.  Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said “They are starting to land keeper bass out in front and in Ninigret Pond they are catching school sized bass and an occasional fish in the 28 to 35” range.  Anglers are using a variety of artificial lures.”  “Striped bass fishing is still not strong at Block Island” said Capt. Rich Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, Pt. Judith.  “Tuesday of last week striped bass were crashing a school of pogies right in from of Fields Point, Providence.  You could see the bass chasing them like tuna just under the surface.  Before we could pull in our snagged pogies a bass would hit it so we snapped off the barbs on our treble hooks so we could safely release most of the fish.” said Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box, Warwick.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “Striped bass fishing had slowed a bit later in the week in the Providence River, but Sunday things broke wide open again south of Conimicut Light in the Barrington Beach, Nayatt Point and Rocky Point areas.  I think the bass are starting to move down the Bay a bit with the bait.  Three customers limited out in two hours fishing the Barrington Beach area with chucks, live lining and yo-yoing Atlantic Menhaden.”  Saturday angler Mike Imbornone of North Kingstown landed a 38” striped bass while fishing the Poppasquash Point, Bristol area using tube and worm, earlier in the day chucked Atlantic Menhaden was not working. 

Shore fishing.  Charlestown Breachway fishing is improving with one or two anglers catching twenty pound fish nightly.  Anglers targeting scup are staring to land fish too.” said Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle.  Steve McKenna noted striped bass shore fishing expert and an associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown said “Shore anglers seem to be having a mixed bag of experiences.   Those that know how to fish the shore are experiencing a good bite, and those that do not are not landing fish.  I heard of two 40 pound fish being caught from the shore last week.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said “Colt State Park anglers are catching school bass and just a few scup. The scup just haven’t arrived in large numbers yet.” Dave Pickering, expert shore angler and author said “I’ve been out quite a few times in the last week in the Bay both with the boat and from shore.  And the results are the same.  There are far more blues around than stripers.  The blues seem to be everywhere.”

Bluefish are being caught particularly where you find the pogy schools.  Some are huge.  Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, one of my customers landed a 18.5 pound blue fish while trolling along the wall at Salter Grove, Warwick last week.”  This weekend, when fishing in the middle of the East Passage the party I was fishing with picked up smaller blue fish in the 20 inch range when trolling tube & worm for bass. However, schools of blue fish on the surface have not been the case yet.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been improving in shore and is hot off-shore.  Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said “Fishing on the south side of Block Island has been great”. Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle Westerly said “Fluke fishing along the coastal shore has been improving and Block Island is doing very well.”  Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “There is a ton of bait in the water… squid and sand eels. From Matunuck to Charlestown customers are catching fluke in 35 to 55 feet of water landing 3 to 4 pound fish with 6 to 7 pound fish common too.” John Wunner of John’s Bait, North Kingstown, said, “They are catching summer flounder in the mid Bay area in the West Passage near Warwick Neck. And Austin Hollow Jamestown which usually holds fish this time of year has not been good.” Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “This weekend fluke fishing really picked up in the middle of the Bay with some nice fish being landed in the flats of Rocky Point in about 15 to 20 feet of water.  I weighed in a nice 7.5 pound fish for a customer.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bass and fluke bite strong; Pickering’s 40 pound mirror carp takes top prize

  Winning carp:  Dave Pickering and his 40 lbs., 2 oz. mirror carp that took the North American CAG Big 4 Tournament.
 Capt. Dave Monti with a 39” bass caught off Poppasquash Point, Bristol on the channel pad using chunked Atlantic Menhaden.  The next day the bass bite was off in this area.
 Jamestown fluke:  Jay Ankle of Coventry with the 23 ½ inch summer flounder he caught Monday fishing off Jamestown.
Ginny Reed of Bristol, RI with a jumbo fluke she caught this weekend when fishing on the Francis Fleet out of Pt. Judith.

Where’s the bite

“Fresh water fishing has slowed a bit.” said John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown.  “But we still have customers fishing for trout in stocked ponds.” said Wunner.  Visit for a listing of stocked ponds in RI.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, RI said, “Worms and shiners are being sold to fresh water anglers, and many of them are families going out for the first time.”

The bluefish bite has been strong, no large schools on the surface, but blues are biting as anglers target striped bass.  John Wunner of John’s Bait said “Some anglers are catching large bluefish; a customer reported an 18 pound bluefish caught off the Dunes Club, Narragansett using a plug.” The RI state record is 26 pounds.  Angler Mike Swain of Coventry said Sunday, “I was catching quite a few bluefish when fishing for bass with menhaden chucks.”   Angler Joe Daniels of Warwick said he continues to catch three bluefish to every bass in the East passage north of Conimicut Light.”

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is spotty in upper and mid Bay but anglers fishing in the lower Bay and offshore are producing fish.  Roger Simpson of the Francis Fleet said, “(The) majority of anglers who fished this past week on the full day trips were able to box at least three to five nice keepers apiece. A lot of quality fish in the three to five pound range with a few days seeing that size fish as the average keeper.”  Reports of fishing off Block Island and along southern coastal shores are good.  Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, Pt. Judith, said, “Bass fishing was slow around the Block Island last week, however, we have done well with fluke around Island shores.”  Capt. Andy Dangelo of Maridee II Charters landed a 10.7 pound fluke (himself) off Block Island Tuesday morning.  Fluke reports were spotty from those fishing the mouth of the Sakonnet River and around Elbow Ledge this weekend.  Monday Brian Beltrami said, “My wife and I fished for fluke the last couple of hours of the incoming tide with a strong SW wind at the Jamestown Bridge… We managed three keepers, 19 - 22" and 8 shorts…it didn't seem to matter if we baited with the mackerel or menhaden, the fluke hit them both.”  Jay Angle of Coventry landed a 23 ½ inch summer flounder while fishing off Jamestown Monday.  Fishing partner Mike Swain said, “The bite was slow and the fish Jay landed should have been a bit fatter.  I think things will break open in the next week or two.”

“Squid fishing has picked up once again in Newport this week.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State tackle.  John Wunner of John’s bait said, “Customers have seen small squid as far up as Greenwich Bay.  Almost seems like the big squid came in and now we have a lot of baby squid around.  Fish being taken on test trawls by URI out of Wickford are seeing quite a bit of squid in the fish they catch.”

Striped bass fishing continues to be strong in the Bay. “Fish in the mid 30’s to 44 inch range are being taken all the way up the Seekonk River to School Street in Pawtucket.  Most are being taken on live or chucked menhaden.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State tackle.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait, Warren said, “Menhaden is the bait of choice as there is plenty of it around.  It has been a very good week for striped bass fishing.”  I continued to have luck in the East passage this weekend off Poppasquash Point, Bristol landing bass to 38” bass with menhaden chucks. However, I fished again with my wife the next day and found it very difficult to find the bass in this area.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “There were 32 boats in the Pomham Rocks Lighthouse are off East Providence this weekend, all fishing for bass with menhaden.  It was a great week for fishing.   Many anglers are getting their pogies early before there is a lot of boat traffic.”  Anglers are also catching bass trolling umbrella rigs, tube and worm, using clam tongues and they continue to catch them using plugs and lures from shore.

Squeteague.  Patti Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick,  said, “Capt. Steven Anderson of Bare Bones Charters caught a nice squeteague off Warwick Light when fishing with menhaden chucks for striped bass.”

Pickering’s 40 pound mirror carp takes top prize

The monster mirror carp weighed in at 40 pounds, 2 ounces and this was enough to take top prize.  The Biggest Mirror Award is this year’s North American Carp Anglers Group (CAG) Tournament went to Dave Pickering of Lincoln, RI.   Dave said, “I was just informed (Tuesday) that my 40 lb. 2 oz. mirror carp captured the Big 4 Biggest Mirror award… it’s the top prize.” 

Pickering, an accomplished striped bass fishermen as well, said, “Forty pound carp are about as rare as 65 lb. stripers here in New England. Some years none are caught while other years might see a few. I believe this is the only one taken so far this year here in New England.   I actually caught this fish in nearby MA. It is only the second forty pound carp I have ever landed in my carp fishing career”. 

Dave Pickering is a freelance writer, photographer and an expert carp and striped bass fishermen (arguable the best in the Northeast).  He hosts two world class blogs, one for carp at and one for striped bass at .

Dave is an elementary school teacher in Wrentham, MA… I can only imagine the fish stories that his students get to hear every day.  Congratulations Dave, very nice fish.

Clam Digging 101

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) as will offer a “Clam Digging 101” program Thursday, June 12, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at North Kingstown Town Beach as part of the RI Shellfish Management Plan (SMP).  The program and the SMP are part of an effort to bring together stakeholder groups -- from government, the shellfish industry, and community organizations -- to collectively plan how Rhode Island can best manage its shellfish resources. You'll take part in a short clam-digging lesson by native Rhode Islander and professional quahogger, Jody King in the shallow waters of North Kingstown Town Beach.  Event is limited to 20 participants over 18.  Fee is $20 per person (cash, credit card, or a check to Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island-- registration is not confirmed until payment is received in full).   Register at  or 401-874-6106.

Pabst Tournament to support visually impaired

The New England Lions Clubs announced support of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Northeast Fishing Tournament for their annual Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) fishing tournament.  Proceeds from the annual Pabst Northeast Fishing Tournament will help further the Lions Clubs’ efforts to support and improve the lives of visually impaired persons.  Visit to find out about the VIP tournament  (June 22) and information about the Pabst Blue Ribbon Tournament  (including entry information and prize listing) which is held throughout the summer can be found at

6th Annual Uncle Jimmy Fain Tournament big success

Mike ‘Boz’ took first place in the 6th Annual Jimmy Fain Charity Fishing Tournament (headquartered at Finn’s Harbourside, East Greenwich) with a 28 pound 2 once striped bass fishing on the 5150 with Capt. Billy Barbour.  Tournament organizer Ryan Hogan said, “The proceeds which will be about $5,000 this year will be donated to local charities.  About 90 anglers registered for the three day tournament that ended June 1 with an awards ceremony after the weigh in.”   Other winners included: 2nd place striper at 26.6 pounds caught by Zach Ethier on the 18 Northcoast with Capt. Jean LeComte; 1st place bluefish, 10.2 pounds, Amanda Kezirian on Fowl Play with Capt. Mike Rainone; 2nd pace bluefish was a tie. 8.6 pounds… Joe Jolls on the HAAS and Ken Landry on the Eighty Six; 1st place Kids,  Jodi Upham 24.4 striper on the Tree Guy with Cap. Kyle Oneppo; and 2nd place  Anthony Padula 21.4 striper on the 5150 with Capt. Billy Barbour.

Nine year old takes 21st Annual Striper Marina Tournament

Colby Bellevue (nine years old) took the top prize for the largest fish this weekend at the 21st Annual Striped Bass Tournament held by Striper Marina, Barrington, RI.  The “Catching Fish to Help Children” tournament which ended June 1st donates all proceeds to the RI Kiddie Shelters for Abused and Abandoned Children.  “Colby’s striped bass weighed in at 25 pounds, 10 ounces and was 38 ½ inches.  We had a total of 120 people enter and 31 fish weighed in for the three day tournament. ” said Al Elson, tournament organizer and owner of Striper Marina.                 

Favorite ways to catch and release striped bass

 Carlos De Hoyas of Pawtucket landed this 33” bass at Gano Street, Providence using a worm.
 Bass on chunks:  Mike Swain of Coventry has been landing striped bass in the Bay (both East and West Passages) using Atlantic Menhaden chunks or live lining them.
 Capt. Monti with a striped bass landed using a circle hook and chucked Atlantic Menhaden (pogy).
 Monster bluefish 35” and 13 pounds caught by Joseph Daniels of Warwick north of Conimicut Point.
Circle hooks are designed to hook fish on lip and not the gut. Photo by Mike Swain.

Favorite ways to catch and release striped bass

We have a good amount of bait in the water… Atlantic Menhaden (pogies), squid, silversides and worms from worm hatches. This translates into great striped bass fishing. The action is hot but sometimes catching bass can be difficult, you need to mix it up with different baits and fish where the fish are feeding.
Here are ten ways to catch striped bass, and to help sustain and enhance this great fishery of ours, they are followed by catch and release tips.
Ten ways to catch striped bass
10.          Trolling with umbrella rigs.  Many use this technique trolling in deeper parts of Narragansett Bay, off Newport or Block Island with a variety of squid, shad, worm or eel umbrella rigs. 
9.            Casting soft plastics, various bait types and weights to fish different depths.  Make sure the plastic baits are scented if they are not, add some scent. Who wants to eat plastic?
8.            Buck tail jigs with pork rind squid strips.  Many have had success with this method to get under schools of blue fish to the striped bass below.
7.            Live eels.  Used by shore and boat anglers, particularly for larger trophy sized bass.  Hook the eel through the mouth and out one eye.  Going between the eyes usually kills the bait. 
6.            Live menhaden.  Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them.  Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, put the fish back in the school of menhaden and let it swim.
5.            Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden.  Anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks.  Some anglers use weight slides to get the bait down to where the fish are.
4.            Surface plugs.  Many school bass in the spring are caught using surface plugs of all types. 
3.            Swimming lures.  My favorite is a grey and silver Yo-zuri Crystal Minnow.
2.            Parachute squid jigs.  Often used in ocean water (or where there are squid).  Anglers successfully use this method off Newport, Narragansett and Block Island.
1.            Trolling with tube and worm.  Anglers use lead and wire line or weight there tube to get it down to the bottom where the big bass are.  Lead and wire line is designed to sink in water column. Bubblegum or red colored tubes seem to work best in the Bay and amber colored ones off coastal shores, all tipped with clam worm.  

How to enhance your catch and release efforts

Many anglers are releasing all striped bass they catch to help sustain and enhance the fishery.  According from a NOAA report, 92% of recreational striped bass are being released. Anglers who keep their catch often catch several undersized fish until they catch their limit of two legal sized fish over 28”.   So it is important to plan your catch and release efforts to insure the fish you are not taking have the best chance of surviving. 

One way to enhance survival is to use circle hooks.  Circle hooks have been used by commercial fisherman for years.  When long-line fishermen using circle hooks would return to check their hooks… the fish would still be alive (hooked in the jaw or mouth and not in the stomach). 
Here’s how circle hooks work…after the bait and hook are swallowed by the fish and it starts to run, the hook is pulled out of the stomach and slides toward the point of resistance on the fish’s jaw or lip and embeds itself in the lip, usually the corner of the fish’s mouth. 

Circle hooks successfully hook bass in the mouth 95% of the time.  The trick is not to jerk the rod to set the hook because you could pull the bait and hook right out of the fish’s mouth.   Let the fish run, as it does, it will pull the hook out of its stomach and hook itself on the lip.  Once this happens the fish is hooked so all you have to do is start fighting the fish and reeling it in.  To release striped bass, consider these techniques (many from RI DEM).

1.       Use circle hooks, they successfully hook bass in the mouth (not the gut) 95% of the time.
2.       Land fish quickly to minimize stress.
3.       Avoid putting fish on deck and letting it flop around, keep it in the water as much as possible.
4.       Wet your hand before handling the fish, dry hands remove the fish’s protective slime layer and leave it open to infection
5.       Handle fish carefully.  Do not put fingers into gill cavities or eye sockets.
6.       Gently remove the hook to minimize damage.
7.       Use lures with single hook, barbless hooks (I snap them off), or circle hooks (as noted above).
8.       Return fish to water quickly. Place fish gently in water in upright horizontal position.  Move it back and forth in the water to force water across its gills.  Once revived allow fish to swim away.

Freshwater fly-fishing workshop
The DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold an introduction to freshwater fly-fishing program this month. Hosted by the Division's Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) program, the workshop will be held in Mapleville on Saturday, May 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The workshop this year has been reduced to $25.00/person. Held annually at the scenic Addieville East Game Farm, this six-hour workshop teaches the basics of fly fishing. All equipment and materials are provided. Space is limited, to register contact Kimberly Sullivan at 539-0019 or

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing is good.  Small school size striped bass and keepers (over 28”) are being caught from the rivers in Providence to Newport and along the coastal shores.  Carlos De Hoyas of Pawtucket landed several keeper bass to 33” at Gano Street in Providence. Carlos said, “I was using sea worms with an outgoing tide around 7:30 p.m. last week. A lot of pogies in the River… some guys are catching fish at night by live lining under the new Pawtucket bridge at (I-95) Exit 28. Some of them are big.” Mike Swain of Coventry and I fished with circle hooks and fresh Atlantic Menhaden chucks Saturday and landed striped bass to 35” and 16 pounds in the East Passage.  Anglers are also having luck trolling tube & worm and using small umbrella rigs.  However, bass along the southern coastal shore and at Block Island is just starting to pick up.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The big fish are still up the rivers, there are plenty of small school bass around but few big fish at Block Island.”

Summer flounder (fluke) are in so whenever you get tired of fishing for bass, don’t hesitate to give fluke fishing a try.  Minimum size is 18” with a limit of eight fish/angler/day.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said Sunday’s, “Full day fluke trip was the best day of the week. Capt. Richie crushed the fish, lots of limits, over 150 keepers. 50 fish over 4 lbs, pool fish just under or at ten pounds.”  Angler Ed Bison reports, “Fished the southern Bay yesterday (Saturday).  Fluke are in caught three nice keepers to 24" landed a total of 8 in a little over an hour on the incoming.”  John Stavrakas of North Kingstown said, “With wind against tide we worked hard for a couple of shorts at Nebraska Shoal and Green Hill. We ran to Block Island and fished south of New Harbor for some consistent action. We put three keepers in the box and caught a couple dozen shorts (mostly 17 inches).  Noted local angler Don Smith said Sunday he and
  Peter Vican “Fished just outside the East Wall (Harbor of Refuge) and my first fluke was 19½”  with two more at 19" each. We had only one short hooked for the trip. Monday we decided to try the same area and we did really well. Kept nine fluke for that day. The smallest keeper was 191/2" and Peter caught a 27" fluke that weighed in at 8.88 lbs. We were fishing in 45' of water, using squid strips and Peruvian Silversides. The water temp was 52.”  Four reports from Montauk confirm they are killing the fluke there with many anglers reaching their limit. “Fluke fishing on the south and southwest sides of Block Island is starting to pick up.  It is better there than along the coast right now.” said Matt Conti.

Bluefish. “Anglers targeting bass at the southwest side of Block Island are catching good sized bluefish.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.  Angler Joseph Daniels of Warwick said, “… hitting the stripers on pogies, but there are some really BIG blues mixed in,  3 blues to 1 striper… caught a one 35 inches, 13 lbs - he growled at me.”  Chris Catucci of Warwick said, “Saturday fishing near Rocky Point I landed one gator blue around 10 pounds, followed by over a dozen schoolies. All of these fish came on a Zara Spook top water bait. The stripers seem to only be feeding when there was an absence of wind and overcast conditions.”

Tautog fishing remains strong but spotty.  Anglers are on them or not (as is always the case with tautog).  The fish being caught are good size, many in the eight pound range. Minimum size is 16”, 3 fish/angler/day with 10 fish boat limit, spring tautog season ends May 31.

Squid fishing remains strong around Newport with anglers seeing clouds of bait when fishing for bass. 

Fresh water fishing remains strong for both trout and largemouth bass.  Many anglers are still catching trout stocked in ponds by DEM including the Golden Trout that played a larger role in DEMs hatchery program this year.  Visit for stocked ponds and Golden Trout program information.