Friday, July 31, 2015

Good things happen to good people

 Jason McNamee, new Chief of Marine Resources for DEM
 Mark Pachico caught this 47 pound striped bass at Block Island using eels fishing at night.
 Larry Mouradjian (DEM associate director), Sandy Kane (charter captain) and Larry Radke (scientist/consultant) enjoy a day of summer flounder (fluke) fishing off Newport.  The trio netted fifteen nice keepers to 25”.
Avid offshore fisherman Richard Pastore with a bluefin tuna he landed at the Dump (about 50 miles offshore).
Greg Vespe caught and released his 1,000th striped bass Sunday at the Southwest Ledge, Block Island.

Good things happen to good people

Last week was one of the best so far this summer… five very successful fishing trips, I spent quality time with my wife, son and dog and then there was this email from Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) that arrived Friday morning.

The email said, “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jason McNamee as DEM’s new Chief of Marine Resources.”  My heart was filled with joy because this was a good thing, happening to a good person.

Director Coit’s email went on to praise McNamee… 16 years at DEM,   supervising marine biologist, his ability to perform analytical stock assessments and his knack to make complex partnerships work.
Jason McNamee is not only a rock star in RI managing marine resources sustainably but he has a great reputation coast wide and nationally for his work chairing technical committees on both the New England Fisheries Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. 
He recently impressed the fishing community at the Southern New England Recreational Fishing Symposium with the multi-species eco-system research he is doing on Atlantic menhaden, striped bass, blue fish and other species as he obtains his Ph.D. in Fisheries Oceanography at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

I serve the fishing community in Rhode Island on a number of councils, boards and committees as a volunteer and everyone I meet has only good things to say about Jason McNamee.  He is a solid scientist, fish manager and great person.  The fishing community wishes him all the best.

Fisherman’s prayer

Greg Vespe of Tiverton is an avid fisherman with a particular knack for catching striped bass.  Here is his account (I say prayer) of his 1,000th striped bass caught Sunday.

“Sometimes it’s all about catching that next fish... sometimes it’s about slowing down and reflecting on the fish you just caught.

My smallest bass of the night was the most special... reaching a milestone that began many moons ago on the Delaware river when a kid drifted a tinsel jig and mackerel strip intended for channel cats was nailed by my first striped bass and culminated 3:35 a.m. this Sunday morning when an eel drifting just inside the fence at the Southwest Ledge off Block Island got picked up by my 1,000th striped bass.

This was a special moment of what has been a wonderful journey.  Lots of memories. So many lessons learned… first keeper, first surf keeper, first eel bass, first trip to Block Island, etc.  And, the first time I scared BJ Silvia with my hookset.

None of this could have been accomplished without the help and patience from so many better fishermen than me who have helped me along my path. Members of the Aquidneck Island Striper Team, the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and all my fishing partners over the years I thank you all.”

Where’s the bite

Striped bass and bluefish.  Kim Petti of Fin & Feather Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “Customers were catching both striped bass and bluefish with fly fishing gear at Prudence Island. Some made a trip to Cape Cod and landed blue fin tuna on the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank.”  Angler Mark Pachico of Middletown, RI said, “I caught a 47 pound striped bass at Block Island on Friday on a live eel with captain Eric Chappell fishing for the Aquidneck Island Striper Team. The bite was best on the incoming tide as we didn't do much on the next tide.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “With pogies thick in the upper Bay and rivers we have some bass in the Bay but the water has warmed and have a strong bass bite in cooler water at Block Island.”  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The bass bite on Block Island is very good.  We weighed in a 44 pound fish this weekend.  They are catching them with eels at night and tube and worm during the day.”  Lorraine Danti of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “The striped bass are really stacked up at Block Island now.  We have weighed in fish in the 40 and 50 pound range, most seem to be caught at sunset with eels but others are being caught during the day.” Angler Eric Appolonia of North Kingstown said, “My son Alex and I and his friend Ethan Bowie were out at Block Island and the bass fishing was hot.  We got out at 10:00 a.m. and had all caught a fish by 11:00 a.m. on the Southwest Ledge.”  Eric was trolling with tube & worm.

Offshore fishing continues to improve.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Hot Reels captained by Lou DeFusco landed a 90 pond wahoo (possibly a State of RI “notable catch” record) and Big Game Charters landed a 17 and a 24 pound mahi along with yellow fin tuna over 50 pounds.  All the action seems to be in the Shipping Lanes.”  Avid offshore angler Richard Pastore said on the RISSA blog Saturday, “Went down towards the Fingers looking for 68 to 70 degree temperature break. We spotted whales, bait jumping, shearwaters (birds) and dolphins in 69 degree water. We kept moving south into the Fingers and 70.5 degree water. Double hook up on spreader bars of 55 pound BFT. Followed by another double hook up of 55 pound BFT one in the cooler the rest back in the water.  High flyers produced small mahi on smallest blue deadly dicks allowed to sink while free spooling.”

“Fluke fishing is very good at the East Fishing Grounds and in the Green Hill area.” said Elisa Cahill of Sung Harbor Marina.  Lary Norin and Rick Sustello report a great fluke bite east of Block Island Saturday in 75 feet of water.  Norin said “Green flash spinner jigs were used… I had bluefish, fluke belly and squid.  It was the best three consecutive drifts ever.  Immediate nonstop action with mostly keeper jumbo fluke.  We boated 10 fish over five pounds with the biggest being a 27 inch slab.”  Fishing in the Jamestown and Newport area was good this week with reports of fish under the Bridges as well as along the shore.  Dave Sweet and his son Jason (12 years old) fished the southern coastal shore this weekend.  Dave said, “We went south a mile off the five cottages and hit some nice fishing in about 60 feet of water.  Jason had high hook with his personal best, a 22" fluke.”

Snapper blues or skipjacks (referring to juvenile blue fish) are in and there are a lot of them in our coves and estuaries.  “We heard 100 Acre Cove has a huge school of skipjacks.  They are great fun for kids to catch.” said Lorraine Danti of Lucky Bait & Tackle.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Skipjacks are in with anglers catching them from shore and off docks.”

Scup are everywhere in the Bay.  Lorraine Danti of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “Customers are landing 19” and 20” scup at Colt State Park and the bridges in Warren and Barrington.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thresher puts up 5 hour 40 minute fight

 Maridee II charter customers led by Tim Boynton and the 422 pound thresher they caught this weekend.
 AJ Dangelo of the Maridee II charter boat out of Galilee holds the tail of the 15 foot, 422 pound thresher shark they caught at the Gulley this weekend.
 Travis Barao of East Providence with the 7.2 pound fluke he caught off Newport earlier this month.
 Ethan Masciarelli (12 years old) of North Kingstown landed this 55.40 pound striped bass last week with an assist from his grandfather operating the boat chasing down the fish.
 Chris Pomeroy of Woodbury, CT landed this 9.25 pound fluke off Block Island aboard the Jeanie B charter boat captained by Russ Benn of the Seven B’s.
 Roger Tellier of North Kingstown with Capt. Dave Monti of Warwick and fluke caught off Newport last week.
Steve Medeiros of Coventry (RISAA president) with a fluke he caught Friday.

Thresher puts up 5 hour 40 minute fight

It was the hardest fighting fish I’ve ever experienced.” said AJ Dangelo mate on the charter fishing vessel Maridee II. 

“At first when we hooked the thresher shark at 10:30 a.m. we stared out with each of the guys (led by customer Tim Boynton) going 15 minutes or so on the reel but by the end of the fight they were switching off every two minutes.  We had already caught three blue sharks and two makos that were released so when we hooked this fish we had already had a full day.

The fish fought hard and we didn’t see it until 2:30 p.m. but it didn’t offer a harpoon shot.  At 4:10 p.m. we were able to grab the leader and get the harpoon in her to end the five hour and forty minute battle.” 

The thresher was 422 pounds and fifteen feet long and was caught this weekend at the Gully fishing grounds. The Maridee II is captained by Andy Dangelo.

Shore fishing good and getting better

Steve McKenna noted striped bass shore angler and lecturer said, “Fishing has been pretty productive both in June and in July so far compared to recent years… particularly my last three trips in July.”  Steve fishes Narragansett and Jamestown shores using artificial lures of all types.  “The bite now is at night as the water has warmed.  We’ll fish at night until the end of September and then based on conditions will then try daytime fishing.”

“Fishing from shore has been very good.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. “Scup fishing has been excellent from shore at Sabin Point, Providence and other locations all along the Providence shore as well as from Barrington Beach.  Anglers are using clam tongue, worms and squid with success. Striped bass have been caught from the Barrington Bridge in the 27” range with blue crabs fishing being very production particularly in 100 Acre Cove.”, said Littlefield.

Julian Trozzi of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown said, “Fishing from the Charlestown Breachway has been very good with anglers landing keeper sized striped bass, black sea bass, scup and some very large blue fish.  The bite is also good out in front from boats close to shore.”

DEM Environmental Police presentation Monday
“Some anglers complain that they are never around when they see a violation, while others complain they are around too often.” said Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA). Learn how DEM’s Enforcement Division works, its structure, challenges and responsibilities at a RISAA seminar Monday, July 27, 7:00 p.m. at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick. Separate dinner available from the West Valley Inn starting at 5:30 p.m. Non-members asked to donate $10 to RISAA’s scholarship fund when arriving, RISAA members attend free.  For additional information visit .

Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing has been good at Block Island but you have to work for them.” said Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick.  “We are no longer fishing in the Bay but have been fishing with eels mostly at night at Block Island.  Some anglers are going just for a few hours and are leaving without success, but those that are working the tide changes and putting their time in are producing some very nice fish.  Ethan Masciarelli (12 years old) of North Kingstown landed a 55.4 pound striped bass last week.  He fought the fish by himself with his grandfather chasing it down with the boat.” said Landry.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said Block Island is hit or miss.  Some customers go there and do well one day and then return and do poorly the next day.” Skip Stritzinger who fished Block Island last week said on the RISAA blog, “…we moved inshore in 25-35 feet.  It does not seem to matter where you are at the Island.   Southeast, Southwest or Northeast, the fish are stacked.   Flipping down wind and getting eels into the zone seems to help.  The fish are following the others so a second drift on the same spot is often not effective. At the same time throwing to followers is fun and a friend of mine hooked up well using Slug Go’s doing just that.   Smaller eels are better (as long as you can get them down).  No weight whenever possible. Keep it strealthish and slow.”

“Fluke fishing at Warwick Light has been good as well as Conimicut.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle. “Anglers are jigging for summer flounder at Conimicut Light just east of the channel and are doing well.” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.  The Newport and Jamestown areas continue to be productive for fluke.  “Fish are being caught in 90 feet of water around the Newport Bridge.” said Ferrara. Travis Barao caught a 7.2 pound fluke off Newport when fishing the RISAA team fluke tournament.   I have been fishing in the Jamestown and Newport area six times in the last ten days and have done well.  Fished with RISAA president Steve Medeiros and RISAA secretary, Roger Tellier, both landed multiple fluke to 26”. Capt. Russ Benn of the Seven B’s was out on his charter boat the Jeanie B at Block Island this week and said, “Customer Chris Pomeroy of Woodbury, CT landed a 9.25 pound fluke.”  “Fluke fishing has been very good out in front of Charlestown.” said Julian Trozzi of Breachway Bait. Roger Simmons of the Frances Fleet said, “White flies and buck tail jigs were mentioned a few times by the crew as being productive, especially when conditions were more difficult. Generally seeing the fluke spitting up squid and some sand eels.”

Scup/bluefish.  “Scup fishing has been good at Hope Island and Sally Rock.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait with bluefish showing up at Ohio Ledge.  “Bluefish seem to be more plentiful this year as they have been on the decline in recent years.” said Littlefield.  Anglers are catching many in the three to four pound range but some very large fish are being landed too.

Offshore fishing for tuna and sharks remained good this week.   

Freshwater. Noted area fly fisherman Ed Lombardo said, “Fished the Wood River on Monday night and the Hex hatch was at its best to date. Still not quite like it has been in past years but much better and more fish where up feeding on these Big Macs coming down the river. I fish my spinner pattern during the hatch, it works very well.”

I love a good fish tale

 Anthony Renzi caught this 52 pound, 11 once striped bass fishing Block Island at night with eels with Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick.
 Brenden and Steve McGonagle landed this 160 pound bluefin tuna this week at the Fingers.
 Capt. Monti’s brothers-in-law Terry Baron, Lewis Nastasia, Mike Weaver and Pete Magnan boated forty fluke and sea bass this weekend.
John Bartlett, Adam Mancini (Senior and Junior), and Chad Bartlett vacationed in Bristol and fished Jamestown and Newport this week on No Fluke Charters.

I love a good fish tale

Fish stories can make you laugh. Or they can make you cry.  And, we can learn from them, lessons we put to use to land future fish. Fish tales are created every week, here are three that were spun this week.

Family bluefin fight
Steve McGonagle and his son Brenden went bluefin tuna fishing this weekend.  Here’s a summary of Steve’s account of the trip.

“We expected the fish to turn, however, she accelerated and I am on the rod watching it dump.  She slows a bit and then accelerates again and I watch the dacron splice go out (towards the end of the line) and soon I see the gold of the spool.  Maybe 50 yards of line left.  Not good. 
Finally we get the fish to stop but still it is very heavy.  Battle is on.  Gain some line, lose some line.  I am wondering is this a tail hooked thresher? 

40 minutes goes by and boats are circling us.  Everyone wants to know.

Fish is straight down now. Rod is an upside down U and line coming off the real, slowly now.  My son Brenden is running to the throttles and back, clearing eight lines, up the tower to take in the bowling pins, securing line to a harpoon…”Bump it ahead. Bump it! Get me a gaff ready! Is the harpoon rigged?”

I see it is a big tuna.  Huge black back, huge black eyeball and bright silver side gleaming through the blue.  One more circle.  I can’t see how deep she is over the transom but my son moves to push the dart through the fish.  His first ever harpoon shot and it is perfect.  Right through the fish.  Our fish, 64” fork length and 42” girth is estimated at 150 to 160 pounds.  This is as good as life gets.” 

Michael meets flukezilla
Mike Weaver of Lincoln, New Hampshire (my brother-in-law) was in RI Sunday for a day of summer flounder fishing.

“This is a heavy fish, this is a big fish, I think it’s a big fluke.” said Mike. He had been fishing all morning and had landed several fluke including a 27” fish.  Now he was hooked into a very large summer flounder.

We asked the anglers to his left to real up so Mike had room to fight the fish.  I say fight the fish because that is what this fluke was doing fighting.  At first we thought he was hooked up on the bottom as the fluke peeled off line  much the way a bottom hook-up sounds like.  For the next four to five minutes it was gain some line, loose some line and then the fish made an all-out run half way through the fight.  Mike reeled slow and steady.

The fluke began to give up and just as he was about three feet from the surface and saw the boat he made a run for it and popped the hook.  Mike held up his hook and said, “Look at this, he bent the hook.” 

And that is just what happened, this beast bent the hook just enough to slip it out of his month and then run for cover. The fish looked like he was 30” as I was on the net, waiting for him to surface.

Kayaker meets striped bass
Kevin Harrington is a kayak striped bass fisherman.  He launched out of Sakonnet Harbor Sunday morning and hooked up with striped bass. 

Kevin said, “Trolling the tube and worm with a favorable wind I had a slam, then it was off to the races. I kicked the rudder hard over, got the fish broadside, when she ran, towing me sideways and peeling off line to beat the band I finally got the rod around forward and did my best to keep her off the starboard bow. I was reeling and pumping, but wasn't gaining anything, just getting towed at about four knots .

Lucky for me this fish headed for deeper water, for a moment I thought I had a tuna.  After about five or ten eternities more of give and take, I finally saw the leader (30 pound fluorocarbon) and got her massive head to the boat. Over 40 at least.

Just as I hauled her head up to get a hand under the gill plate, the wire holding the hook let go and she slipped from my hands. She lay there on the surface for a moment, then swam slowly down with my hook.”
34th Annual Snug Harbor Shark Tournament
Todd Stevenson, captain of the sport fishing vessel Skinny T, had a great day Sunday as this boat was declared the overall winner of the 34th Annual Snug Harbor Marina Shark Tournament that took place July 11 and 12. “Stevenson of Greenhill, RI has been a tournament participant for many years but this was the first year his boat took the top prize.  Angler Jim DeVecchis was on the rod when the fish hit.  We had a great tournament with over 200 individuals and 51 boats participating.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.

The tournament winners were Jim DeVecchis of “Skinny T” for their 351 pound thresher shark; 2nd place thresher was 191 pounds, caught by Henry Zewinski of the Season Ticket.  In the Mako category: 1st place, 261 pounds, Chris Guyette of Release Me; and 2nd place, 199 pounds to Mitch Wnek of Dusky. 

The winners of the shark tagging category were Steve West as the individual winner who tagged five fish and the team tagging winner was the sport fishing vessel Carl J with a total of fifteen sharks tagged.

RISAA Team Fluke Challenge tournament winners

The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) announced the winners (pending verification) of their Team Fluke Challenge held this weekend. What a perfect weekend for a fluke tournament.  The weather was good and anglers were at the ready although many complained of poor fish quality in traditionally fertile fluke fishing grounds due to an infiltration of dog fish around Block Island.

The Team Fluke Challenge is comprised of two angler teams and takes into consideration their top four fish weights.  Winners of this year’s challenge include:  1st place, 26.10 pounds… Bruce and Michael Lawing; 2nd place, 25 pounds… Rich Hittinger and Robert Murray; 3rd place, 24.5 pounds… Gisele and Richard Golembeski.

Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will host its regular monthly membership meeting on Wednesday, July 29, 5:00 PM.  This meeting will be the third of the streamside meetings for 2015, and will be held at the RIDEM Deer Check Station in the Arcadia Management Area in Exeter, RI.  At this meeting, TU 225 members and guests will enjoy friendly fishing stories among fellow members.  We also will have equipment available to calibrate water thermometers for anyone wishing to assure the accuracy of their thermal monitoring equipment.  One fly fishing rod and a variety of related items will be available for bidding.  Participants can fish before and/or after the meeting.  Please contact Chapter President, Ron Marafioti, at (401) 463-6162 with questions.

Volunteer training program on invasive species
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) in collaboration with Save the Lakes, will host a training session for volunteers for the GREAT (Greeting Recreationalists to Empower and Train) Boater Program.

DEM and its partners will offer instruction to volunteers who wish to educate boaters at local boat ramps about invasive species and encourage boaters to be vigilant about checking their vessels and removing any plant materials.  DEM and Save the Lakes are looking for new volunteers, and any member of the public who wishes to be a volunteer for the GREAT Boater Program must attend to learn more information and sign up.

The objective of the GREAT Boater Program is to engage volunteers to raise awareness and educate boaters at public boat access ramps on actions they can take to prevent the spread of invasives.  Information at:’s the bite
Striped bass fishing at Block Island improved over the weekend.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Fishing for bass with eels improved a lot this weekend at the Southwest Ledge.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We weighed in a 48 pound fish that was taken with eels at Block Island and had a 34” fish from shore at Popasquash Point, Bristol using Atlantic menhaden chucks.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Tony Renzi of Reel Deal caught a 52 pound, 11 once striped bass this week at Block Island while fishing with Ken Landry.  Mary Corcoran landed a 54” (50 plus pound) striped bass using eels which was released.”  Mike Bucko of Bucko’s Tackle Service, Fall River said, “Anglers from shore and boat are landing bass in the 30” to 36” range at the mouth of the Sakonnet River.  They are tolling tube & worm and from shore cut up pogies are working well.”
“Fluke fishing at and around Sakonnet Point has been good for the past two weeks.  Fishing has been robust there were it had been spotty at the end of June and the first week of July.” said Mike Bucko of Bucko Tackle Service.  “Fluke fishing at the East Fishing Grounds off Block Island has been very good.”, said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.  Angler Don Smith said he was forced to fish the East Grounds in the RISAA fluke tournament as his usual fluke spots were overrun by dog fish. “We talked to several commercial rod and reel fishermen who told us that the East Grounds was a good spot but the fluke there weren't much over five pounds. We fished there on Saturday and had 40 boats for company. The biggest fluke we caught was just over four.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “Fluke fishing at the Sakonnet and off Newport is very good.”  I fished off Newport and Jamestown (east and west sides) and did well for three days in a row with fluke and black sea bass this weekend.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “At times this past week 70 to 80 percent of the keepers on board were over four pounds!  Biggest fish of the week estimated to be around ten pounds.”  At press time fishing is improving on the south side of Block Island. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Customers did well fluke fishing off Warwick Light this week.  Fishing was very good.”         
“Scup fishing is excellent in the Taunton River, in Tiverton with scup and seabass being caught at the Stone Bridge.” said Mike Bucko of Bucko Tackle Service.”  “Colt State Park, Independence Park and the bridges in Barrington are all yielding big scup.  Anglers are landing scup in the 12” to 19” range.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.

Offshore. “Tuna fishing has been good with yellowfin at the Canyon.  The bluefin bite is still very too.  It has moved east to the Fingers but it is still good.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bluefin tuna bite strong

 David Appolonia of South Kingstown with a school bluefin tuna caught this Friday.
 This 502 pound mako shark was caught Sunday by the vessel Booked Off.  Tony Guriano and his party were bottom fishing at the East Fishing grounds when the shark started to chase their catch.
 Bluefin tuna like this one caught by Capt. Dave Monti while fishing with David and Eric Appolonia can hit your bait going over 30 miles an hour.  
 Russ Demarco with two of the four fluke caught off East Matunick State Beach in 55 feet of water, the water temperature was 63 degrees.
Grace Carhart, Portsmouth, NH with a super-size black sea bass she caught on the Lady Frances this past Saturday the 4th of July.

Bluefin tuna bite strong

I fished for bluefin tuna this week.  We hooked up with fish.  It was very exhilarating. I fished with two friends, David and Eric Appolonia.  They have fished for tuna for years with friends and their brother Felix.  Here is a recap of the trip.

David is a sea captain who is no stranger to school bluefin and giant bluefin tuna fishing.  David, his brothers and fishing friends have caught three giants in recent years in waters off Rhode Island… a 730, a 763 and an 878 pound giant bluefin.  David caught two of them back to back within two weeks of each other in 2012.

I bumped into David and his wife at Brewed Awakenings in South County Commons during the winter.  It was cold outside but David was already just about done working on his tuna gear in his basement.  He was ready to go tuna fishing and it was still winter.

Tuna fishing is part art, part science and part intuition. Friday, David artfully put out a spread of seven rigs to troll.  “When fishing on larger boats we put out ten or twelve rigs.  But seven is more than enough for my boat.”  David has a 26’ Regulator with twin 225 horsepower Yamahas. 

There were green machines, squid rigs, bird teasers and diamond shaped squid bars… all designed to create commotion and action on the surface to elicit a stripe.

We fished all the way to the Dump which is about 50 miles offshore south of Block Island… a total of 107 miles in one day. 

As we approached the Dump the water got warmer (early 70.6 degrees) compared to the 66 degree water off Rhode Island.  The warm Dump water temperatures are created by the Gulf Stream and the spires of warm water that spin off of it.  These warm temperatures bring bait and the Dump’s changing bottom contour holds bait and the tuna go to where the bait is to eat.

And, tuna do eat.  The average tuna eats about 20 to 25 percent of its body weight every day.  So for a 50 pound tuna that’s 10 pounds of fish a day.  This is a good thing for fishermen as this enhances the odds of them eating your bait.

We saw no signs of life at our first stop.  David said, “We need to find some life… whales, porpoise, bait, birds feeding… something.” So we moved and it was a good call.  Within 30 minutes we were surrounded by porpoise, hundreds of them all moving south so we joined them and trolled in the school.  The hope is that bluefin are in among the porpoise feeding on the same fish that the porpoise are feeding on.  “It’s exciting to see so many porpoise. Hundreds of them.” said Eric.  They were swimming with the boat, around the boat and almost as far as the eye could see.  We had never seen so many of them in one place.

It wasn’t long before we heard screaming lines.  Tuna are speedsters.  They swim and hit your bait going 30 to 35 miles an hour which creates a screaming sound as the line is being pulled out of the reel by the tuna. “Fish on.” And then 30 seconds later, “Another fish on, a double hook up.” yelled David. 

Eric grabbed the first rod, and I the second.  The fish on my rod was smaller, about 39” and came in first with David’s help. Eric’s fish came in second, it was about 44”. David did an outstanding job operating the boat and leadering the fish close to the boat for release or capture.

The physicality of tuna fishing is something new to me.  It takes a lot of strength, just to endure the day and to reel in the fish.   In total we came in contact with four fish on the trip that were captured and/or released.
The success of the day was the preparation that David did in the winter preparing the gear, the prelaunch preparation the day before, the early morning start at 4:30 a.m. all combined with the tuna fishing art, science and intuition that the Appolonia brothers demonstrated on the trip.

It was a trip that I will remember for a long time.  And by the way, the bluefin tuna was delicious.  It made a great 4th.

Two local fishing legends pass

Capt. Ron Mouchon, 58, of Charlestown Beach Road, unexpectedly passed away Sunday.  He owned Breachway Bait & Tackle and the charter fishing boat Baitrunner.  Ron pioneered many fishing techniques for striped bass and had a generous heart, particularly for the community often donating fish and fishing tournament proceeds to food banks and shelters.  His fishing presence in RI will be missed.

Richard Sevigny of Connecticut passed away July 4.  His brother Bob Sevigny said, “He caught a 65 pound striped bass near Warwick Light fishing under pogies that were showing on top.”  Mr. Sevigny was featured in the book titled The Big One by David Kinney for being the person who invented the yo-yo method of catching striped bass that is used by most fishermen today.

ASMFC schedules Atlantic menhaden ecosystem workshop and webinar

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has scheduled an Atlantic menhaden ecosystem management workshop for August 31 through September 1.  This is an important step toward taking into full consideration the roll and impact Atlantic menhaden have on the environment as filter feeders and the large role they play as a forage fish for striped bass, bluefish, tuna and a host of other species.
In a press release last week the ASMFC said, “Based on the findings of the 2015 Atlantic Menhaden Benchmark Stock Assessment and Peer Review, the Commission’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board initiated Draft Amendment 3 to the Fishery Management Plan.
The Draft Amendment will consider changes to the management program including the development of ecological reference points that reflect Atlantic menhaden’s role as a forage species. To aid in the development of these reference points, the Commission has established a multi-disciplinary working group to identify potential ecosystem goals and objectives for Board review and consideration. 

“This workshop reflects the Commission’s continued commitment to fully evaluating the importance of Atlantic menhaden to the ecosystem and harvesters.  This process will benefit from the expertise and input of managers, stakeholders, and scientists that are committed to the sustainable management of this valuable resource,” stated Board Chair Robert Boyles from South Carolina.  “The anticipated outcome of the workshop will be potential goals and objectives for ecosystem management that the Atlantic Menhaden Management Board will consider as part of the Public Information Document for Draft Amendment 3.” The webinar will be held on Friday, August 14 at 9:00 a.m.

The workshop will be conducted on August 31 and September 1 from 8:30 AM to 5 PM at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve, 7795 Arundel Mills Boulevard, Hanover, Maryland 21076..  Space may be limited; please contact Mike Waine, Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at or 703.842.0740 if you are interested in attending the workshop or for information on how to register for the webinar.
NOAA seeks nominations for hydrographic panel

NOAA is soliciting nominations for membership for the 2016 Hydrographic Services Review Panel (HSRP), a Federal Advisory Committee. HSRP applications for year 2016 must be received by August 10, 2015, preferably via email to  The call for nominations is available on the Federal Register website.

The panel advises NOAA on operations and research issues related to hydrographic surveying, nautical charts, tides and currents, geodetic and geospatial data and measurements, coastal intelligence and resilience, and emerging Arctic priorities.

Applicants should have expertise in marine navigation, port administration, maritime shipping or other intermodal transportation industries, cartography and geographic information systems, geodesy, geospatial data, physical oceanography, coastal resource management, including coastal resilience and emergency response, or other science-related fields.

Information on the Hydrographic Services Review Panel can be found at: 

Where’s the bite

Striped bass. Fishing off Block Island has improved.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Anglers are catching fish on Block Island but not necessarily on the Southwest Ledge.  A customer boated striped bass in the 30’s (pounds) range on the south side of the Island this weekend.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Customer Albert Bettencourt, his son and grandsons landed four bass in the 20 to 30 pound range fishing the Newport area with Atlantic menhaden.  A 36” bass was caught at the Squantum Club in East Providence and Sabin Point, Providence was yielding bass to 30” on the 4th of July.  The bait of choice was Atlantic menhaden.” “We weighed in a 44.8 pound fish this weekend caught at Block Island with an eel.  But the big news is Provincetown, MA.  We have heard from a half dozen customers that the striped bass exploded there this week and last.  Guys are casting small lures and landing a bass in seconds.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren. 

Fluke fishing is improving.  A good bite reported off coastal shores in the Charlestown area with spotty activity around Block Island. Capt. Jay from the charter fishing vessel the Double Down said, “Fishing in the Sakonnet is still good, usually we are fishing Block Island this time of year but it has been a little slow there.”  “Anglers are still landing fluke at Warwick Light and catching black sea bass mixed in.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s bait & Tackle.  Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown and his fishing partner landed four nice keepers Sunday fishing the west and east sides of Jamestown.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “Fishing was aided to some degree by now being able to add a sea bass to angler's boxes and coolers. Sizes on some of these sea bass borders on astonishing with fish frequently up to and over 6 pounds.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Fluke fishing at the Sakonnet is still good and anglers are catching fluke under the Mt. Hope Bridge as well.  We even had a customer catch one from the dock at Colt State Park.” Russ Demarco reports a good fluke bite off Matunuck State Beach this week where he boated four nice keeper fluke.  Tuesday I fished with guests on my boat on the east side of the North Rip at Block Island and boated several fluke (five keepers), sea bass and sea robin.

Scup fishing has exploded. We have customers catching them all over the Bay on worms, clam tongue and squid.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait, Riverside said, “Scup fishing has been good all the way up to Sabin Point Providence and Colt State Park.” 

Offshore.  Kevin Tucker caught a 125 bluefin Friday.  I fished with David and Eric Appolonia this weekend for bluefin tuna.  Capt. Dave put us on to four bluefin, all nice fish.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “John Volpe and Steve Shohan landed a 317 pound mako shark this weekend.” Tony Guriano of Booked Off weighed in a 502 pound mako shark at Snug Harbor Sunday.  Matt Conti said, “They were bottom fishing at the East Grounds when the shark started to follow their catch.  They had heavy gear on board so they baited the fish and were able to catch it.”  Conti said, “The bluefin tuna bite has moved east to the Fingers and north.  The bite at Tuna Ridge was not very strong this week.”
Freshwater fishing. Local fly fishing expert Ed Lombardo said, “We fished the Wood River last night (Sunday) hoping to fish a great Hexagania Limbata Hatch and it did not happen. We need a stretch of very hot humid days to really get this Hex to start to emerge in a way that the fish will get excited. Last night only one nice rainbow was caught and three of us fishing. The hatch was the worst that I have seen in more than thirty years of fishing this hatch, for this time of the year.”  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bay and ocean exploding with activity

 Angler Brian Dick caught this 16 pound striped bass at Brenton Reef Tuesday while fishing On the Rock’s Charters.
 Michael Strashnick of Warwick with two nice fluke he caught off Warwick Light last weekend.
 Anthony Marfeo Jr. and his dad have been catching big largemouth bass.  This fish was caught on medium heavy minnows early this week.
 Peter Vican of East Greenwich with the 52.45 pound striped bass caught Saturday off Block Island.  This is his 33rd fish over 50 pounds; he holds the RI State record with a 77.4 pound fish caught in 2011.
 Sean Stanford of Jamestown with the 9.25 pound fluke he caught this week on the Seven B’s party boat using a fluke belly and a sand eel as bait.
 Lary Norin (back row, far right) was part of the team that boated this 290 pound thresher shark last week aboard Hot Reels Charters with Captains Louis DeFusco and Jack Sprengel. 
Mike Swain with a 40” and a 43” striped bass caught in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay Tuesday.

Bay and ocean exploding with activity

A month ago fishing news was dribbling in but this week the faucet was wide open as fishing (catching) reports accelerated with anglers offshore, in the upper and lower bay, along the coastal shore, at Block Island and in freshwater with a strong largemouth bass bite.

Here is a thumbnail of what’s going on:

Tuesday Mike Swain of Coventry and his fishing partner boated a 40” and a 43” striped bass early morning using pogies in the east passage.

Capt. Louis DeFusco of Hot Reels and Capt. Jack Sprengel of East Coast charters landed a 290 pound thresher shark with Larry Norin, Rick Sustello and four other anglers on board.

RI state striped bass record holder (77.4 pounds) Peter Vican of East Greenwich landed is 33rd striped bass over 50 pounds… a  52.45 pound fish he caught off the south side of Block Island at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday using a live eel.

Tuesday, Brian Dick from Connecticut was fishing with Capt. Rene LeTourneau of On the Rock’s Charters and boated a 16 pound striped bass off Brenton Reef, Newport using a needlefish lure.

Michael Strashnick of Warwick boated several keeper fluke right off Warwick Light this weekend.

Fluke fishing out in front of southern coastal beaches has improved daily with 3 to 4 pound fish being caught and 7 and 8 pound fish being weighed in too said Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown. 

Fishing regulations receiving pressure

During the past several months there have been a number of key proposed policy changes that if approved could greatly impact our fisheries. Some say the proposed changes will weaken regulations having a long term negative impact on fisheries, while others say the policy changes will have a positive impact on fishing immediately providing much needed relief for commercial fishermen and fishing communities in New England.  Here are some highlights.

Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization bill

Last month, in a highly partisan vote, the U.S. House passed a bill that would weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Matt Mullin, from the Environmental Defense Fund said, “The bill, as passed by the House would undercut proven environmental law including the Endangered Species Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act; weaken rebuilding and quota provisions; restrict data from the public; and limit options for fishermen.”

It is important for recreational and commercial fishermen to weigh in on the Reauthorization bill; particularly if/when a Senate version of the bill starts to go thought the legislative process in the U.S. Senate.

NOAA National Standard 1 changes would weaken Magnuson-Stevens

On June 30 the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) closed its comment period on policies that would weaken key parts of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and provide regional managers with more flexibility. 

NOAA’s proposal would revise the act’s National Standard 1 guidelines making them more flexible in response to fishermen who have claimed fishing laws are too rigid. 
A statement from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Conservation Law Authority and three other conservation groups said, “The proposed new rules promote strategies that would increase the risk of overfishing and would allow managers to leave populations at low levels rather than rebuild them quickly and to forgo management of fish stocks in need of conservation.”   

The statement related the proposal would allow managers to delay lowering catch limits in response to scientific information, increasing the risk of overfishing; obscure information about overfishing (by averaging several years of data); raise quotas by carrying over uncaught fish from the previous year without determining whether the population is healthy; and continue using deficient plans for rebuilding overfished stocks to healthy levels, instead of revising the plans to restore populations more quickly. The statement said, “The proposal would allow managers to keep using rebuilding plans that did not meet their goals and to extend timelines for rebuilding overfished stocks for years or even decades beyond what would be allowed currently.

At press time, the public comment period closed on these policy changes and the fishing community is waiting to see if NOAA will enact all or some to these proposed National Standard 1 guideline changes.

ASMFC summer meeting

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) 2015 Summer Meeting is scheduled for August 4-6, 2015 in Alexandria, Virginia.  The ASMFC makes coastal fishing regulations for many of the species we fish in Rhode Island including striped bass, summer flounder, black sea bass, tautog and a host of others.

The preliminary agenda includes important Management Board meetings for tautog, striped bass and Atlantic menhaden that will impact the 2016 Fishing Management Plans for these species.
The tautog board will review and discuss a Draft Public Information Document for Amendment 1 to the tautog Interstate Fishery Management Plan.  The most recent tautog assessment will likely bring more conservation tautog relations for recreational and commercial fishermen in RI. 

Key issues on striped bass include a review of the Technical Committee’s Report on the likelihood of achieving fishing mortality targets with the regulations that were finally implemented (one fish at 28” minimum size for recreational fishermen and a 25% commercial quota reduction), and progress on management level projections using the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Fleet reference points. The Board will also review and possibly approve the 2015 FMP State Compliance Reports. 

Important Atlantic menhaden discussions will focus on an update from the Atlantic menhaden working group on the progress of ecosystem-based management goals and objectives.  This was a key component/concession with the vote taken by the Commission at their last meeting when they increased quota by 10%.

Rhode Island ASMFC representatives usually hold an input meeting for fishermen on agenda items prior to the ASMFC meeting.  Watch for this meeting notice. An updated agenda and materials will be available on July 23, 2015 at

Where’s the bite
“Freshwater trout fishing has slowed down substantially.” said John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown.  However largemouth bass fishing is hot.  Dave Henault of Ocean Sate Tackle, Providence said, “Customers Anthony Marfeo (junior and senior) have been catching good sized largemouth bass every day, four times a week, using medium heavy shiners. They are fishing multiple lakes and ponds north and west of Providence.”

Striped bass. Angler John Rivera of Portsmouth (when visiting Fin & Feather Outfitters, North Kingstown) said, “I fished all night Saturday starting at the Narrows, then Black Point, Narragansett, followed by the Cliff Walk in Newport.  The fish were not interested in the flies I had.  Looked like they might have been eating shrimp.  Switched to spinning gear and ended up at the Cape Cod Canal landing four fish in the ten to fifteen pound range.  In general fishing in the lower Bay from Portsmouth to Newport Harbor has been good at night.  I often fish on my kayak and heard that last week kayakers landed a 40 and a 50 pound fish at the Newport Bridge, one on a live pogie and a second on a squid.” Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “Fish in the 15 to 34 inch are being caught in the salt ponds with anglers catching them with plugs and small Slug Gos.”  The bass bite on Block Island is improving.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “It is a messed spring with the bass bite on and then off on any given day.  Some schools of menhaden have bass feeding on them and others don’t.  Some guys are fishing at night on Block Island for one bite and that’s it.  From shore anglers are doing OK. We have a couple of customers that landed 32” fish at Beavertail this week.  The old timers say when we have a cold winter the fishing season will last longer, but what they forgot to tell us is that it will start slower too.”

Fluke/black sea bass fishing had been good at Warwick Light and south of Patience Island.  Some guys are landing them in 10’ of water and others in 70’ of water.” said Ken Landry.  I fished the Warwick Light area Sunday with angler Steve Brustein and we caught short flounder, we moved to north of the Jamestown Bridge and landed multiple sea bass to 21”.  Anglers are happy about the sea bass opening July 2 as they have been catching them while fluking.  As of July 2, anglers are allowed to take one sea bass/person/day. The limit increases in September to seven fish/person/day. Frank Mello of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Customers are landing summer flounder in the Rocky Point and Conimicut areas.” Both the Seven B’s and the Frances Fleet party boats had a good fluke fishing week. Capt. Russ Benn of the Seven B’s said “Several fish in the eight to ten pound range were caught this week including a 9.25 pound fish caught by Sean Stanford.”

The scup bite continues to get stronger with anglers landing them just about anywhere in the Bay.  “Customers are catching big scup at Colt State Park and at the bridges (in Barrington and Warren)." said Frank Mello of Lucky Bait.

Atlantic bonito.  Yes bonito!  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Bob Turcotte landed a small bonito Saturday about ¼ mile off the beach at Little Compton.  It was the only bonito caught on a crippled herring.  The bass, blues and the bonito were feeding on sand eels."