Friday, December 11, 2015

Strong cod bite... best in years

 Capt. Dave Monti and Steve Brustein with the cod caught Sunday.
 Jim Stevens, Warwick and Kevin Fetzer, East Greenwich with cod caught at the East Grounds.
  AJ Dangelo, mate on the Maridee II charter boat, with a 14 pound tautog caught off Newport.
Fall catch of cod and black sea bass.

Strong cod bite best in years

“The cod fishing has been phenomenal at the East Fishing Grounds (3.5 miles east of Block Island).  I suppose the fishing is good at Cox’s Ledge too but anglers haven’t had to go that far.” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.

How good you ask?  Anglers fishing with me on No Fluke Charters did well this weekend. On Saturday Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich and Jim Stevens of Warwick caught nine keeper cod and thirteen black sea bass in about three hours of fishing at the East Grounds.  Weather and sea conditions were perfect. 

Angler Steve Brustein of West Warwick netted five nice keeper cod and three black sea bass on Sunday.  Southwest winds and rocky sea conditions at the East Grounds made fishing challenging. 
Sea clams and jigs both worked well. The fish were not big, large ones were about 8 pounds and 27 inches with a lot of shorts mixed in.  Diamond jigs and cod rigs, the type with bright orange and green rubber covering on the  upper shaft portion of the hooks were used.  Most fish were caught at drop-offs or the back side of humps at a depth of about 60 feet.  Many cod were spitting up small crabs when they came over the rail.

Capt. Rich Hittinger said, “When we fished the East Grounds last week the Frances Fleet was there fishing the east side of the ledge.  They were there a while so they must have been doing well too. We had three anglers on board and kept a total of 12 cod and 12 black sea bass and one large tautog. ”
Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “All three cod trips sailed this week were very strong with nice green white bellied cod fish showing up and anglers boxing several nice cod apiece. Fish in the 10 to 15 pound range are becoming more common with a few bigger ones mixed in.”
The minimum keeper size for recreational cod in Rhode Island is 22”.  The possession limit is 10 fish/angler/day.

If you are thinking about going cod fishing now is the time, particularly with 50 degree days forecast for the weekend.  Some smaller charter boats (six people or less) are still fishing with Snappa Charters (maximum of 18 people) and larger party boats like the Seven B’s and the Frances Fleet are still making tautog and cod trips. Visit for a list of charter and party boats.

Rhody Fly Rodders to meet December 15

The Rhody Fly Rodders will host a presentation Tuesday, December 15, 6:30 p.m. by noted local fly fishing expert Ed Lombardo.  Lombardo will present on “Fly Fishing Saltwater Estuaries and Fresh Water Fly Fishing Tactics” in Rhode Island and Connecticut.  The presentation will take place at the Riverside Sportsmen’s Club, 19 Mohawk Drive, East Providence.  The meeting is open to the public.  Contact club president Peter Nilsen for information at 401.245.7172.

Economic impact of recreational fishing in RI

A study commissioned by the American Sportfishing Association shows that Rhode Island recreational fishing (from anglers that live in the state) has a total annual economic impact of approximately $144,030,467 on Rhode Island.  The economic contribution shown for Rhode Island is based on the total fishing-related spending from those that live in the state.  What is missing from this number is the amount of money that out of state anglers spend in Rhode Island and the economic impact of fishing related manufactures that happen to be located in Rhode Island. 

The study was conducted by Southwick Associates of Florida for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).  The study also included congressional district totals for each state so legislators could see just how much constituents were spending on recreational fishing.  A copy of the study “Economic Contributions of Reactional Fishing:  U.S. Congressional Districts” which was completed in October, 2015 can be found at

ASMFC schedules hearings for Atlantic herring

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has scheduled Rhode Island and Massachusetts hearings to gather public comment on the Public Hearing Document for Draft Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Herring. The Rhode Island hearing will take place Monday, January 4th from 6 to 9:00 p.m. at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI, contact John Lake at 401.423.1942 for information. 

The Massachusetts meeting will take place Tuesday, January 5th, 2:00 p.m. by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries at the Annisquam River Station, 30 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester, MA, contact David Pierce at 617.626.1532 for information.

Narragansett Trout Unlimited meeting set for December 16

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will hold their monthly membership meeting on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 6:30 p.m. at the Coventry/West Greenwich Elks Lodge, 42 Nooseneck Hill Road (Rte. 3, Exit 6 off of Rte. 95), West Greenwich, R.I.
The meeting will celebrate the December Holidays and will provide an opportunity for the club to thank members for their volunteer time spent on conservation, habitat, access improvement, and water monitoring projects completed in 2015. Members will also elect next year’s Board.  Contact chapter president, Ron Marafioti at (401) 463-6162 with questions.

Where’s the bite

Cod fishing remained strong this week. See above report.

Striped bass fishing is spotty.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “It’s hit or miss on striped bass as they migrate south.  However, anglers fishing the beaches and bridges (Narrow River) continue to catch bass.  School bass are plentiful and every now and then larger bass come through.”

Tautog fishing this week remained strong too.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Customers are doing well out in front of Jamestown and Newport as well as at Coddington Cove and General Rock.  Three guys can fish a few hours and they will limit out with ten fish per boat and catch a lot of shorts in the process.”  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “Tog fishing continued solid with multiple angler limit catches each day and pool fish 8 to 10 pounds. Best day was Tuesday with an easy full boat limit. A fair number of short and keeper cod fish mixed in on the tog runs and an occasional sea bass or two.”  Capt. Andy Dangelo of Maridee II Charters said, “We fished the Newport area this weekend for tautog and did very well, things had slowed there but now have picked up again.  Last month my son AJ Dangelo landed a fourteen pound tautog in the same area off Newport.”

Hooked on Block Island bass

 Capt. John Sheriff with a 43 pound striped bass caught off Block Island with an eel.
 George Poveromo with a striped bass he caught live lining an Atlantic menhaden when shooting one of his NBC Sports Network programs. His New England seminar is January 16 in Bridgeport, CT.
Eugene Barry from Stamford, CT with a fine brace of cod fish he caught last Wednesday, November 25th aboard the Gail Frances.

Hooked on Block Island bass

“You need to find the striped bass and repeat the pattern going over the same area.  Too many anglers set up on a drift and go forever.  Short drift just where the fish are.” said Capt. John Sheriff.  Sheriff was guest speaker at a fishing Block Island for striped bass seminar held Monday by the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association at the West Valley Inn.

Captain Sheriff’s Fishing Charters specializes in taking anglers to the striped bass and shared preferred striped bass locations, tackle and tactics to catch striped bass around Block Island.
“We fish all around the Island.  The North Rip has not been as productive the past two years but we jig at the Rip when the bass are thick.  We fish Clayhead, the Old Harbor area and the fertile fishing grounds on the southeast and south side of the island on the depth breaks and edges close to shore (often fishing in 15 to 30 feet of water). These are all great Block Island fishing spots in addition to the Southeast Ledge.  We find the heavy structure just inside the three mile limit to be great.  There’s also the Peanut and Fingers.” Two favorite structure areas closer to shore on the southeast side of the Island.

Capt. Sheriff uses a number of different tactics including jigging with wire and squid lures, trolling umbrella rigs and with tube in worm on a select basis, however, some of his favorite tactics includes fishing with light tackle using live eels and casting to bass on the surface often with Deadly Dick lures. 

“We use light tackle rods and reels.  I like Quantum reels and use 50 to 65 pound braid line with monofilament leaders when night fishing and fluorocarbon leaders during the day.” said Capt. Sheriff.

When asked about this year’s new striped bass regulation of one fish per angler at 28” minimum size.  Capt. Sheriff said, “It did not impact my business this year as it was often difficult to get two bass anyway.  The fish were just not there like they have been in the past.  Striped bass are beautiful fish, we have a great fishery.  We need to protect them.  After that first striped bass I caught in the Hudson River years ago, I was hooked for good.”

Visit Capt. Sheriff’s website at

Learn how to fish from the pros

The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series will be held in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Saturday, January 16, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Klein Memorial Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.

George Poveromo, host of George Poveromo’ s World of Saltwater Fishing on the NBC Sports Network, and contributing editor for Salt Water Sportsman magazine, will headline the program. This year Rhode Island’s very own Capt. Jack Sprengel of East Coast Charters will join Poveromo on stage as a regional expert captain.

Capt. Sprengel often targets such offshore species as wahoo, mahi mahi, tuna and sharks of all types.   He is also a light tackle fishing expert bringing his customers to inshore striped bass in Narragansett Bay in the spring and off Block Island in the summer. 

Poveromo and Sprengel will be joined by nine other national and local fishing experts who will talk about such topics as live-baiting for trophy striped bass and how to target summer flounder to bucktailing for black sea bass and how to find and fish near shore and offshore surface temperature breaks.

Visit for a complete list of speakers and topics and to register for the seminar or call (800) 448-7360.

Where’s the bite

Tautog fishing continues to be good.  Capt. Thom “ThomCat” Pelletier of Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “Customers are still doing well with tautog off Newport catching a few cod mixed in too.  I head an angler landed a 12 pound cod earlier in the week.” Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown said, “Anglers are doing well with tautog all along the coast fishing wrecks and reefs close to shore in 30 to 50 feet of water.  Anglers with boats haven’t had to go far off shore for tautog yet.” “Tautog fishing is still very, very good but the larger fish seem to have moved to deeper water now in the 50 to 80 feet range.  I had customers limiting out easily this weekend.  Areas that are doing well include the edges of Whale Rock and the Pinnacle, Washing Ledge as well as Breton Reef.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The tog fishing last week his past week was outstanding until late in the week. Prior to Friday all trips were either limited out or very close to it.”  Rough seas late last week seem to have dirtied the water a bit for tautog fishing.  I fished this weekend off Newport with angler Doug Nisbet of North Kingstown and did not do nearly as well as past visits, a lot of short fish, with a very gentle bite.

Squid fishing has remained fairly strong. Capt. Tom Pelletier of Quaker Lane Outfitters said, “We have been selling an awful lot of squid rigs as the bite is very good at Newport and Jamestown.”

“Striped bass fishing is good when the seas are calm enough to fish.  During the day shore anglers have been picking up school bass in the 20 to 30 inch range from the beaches and off the rocks using Kastmaster lures, sallow diving swimming lures, and surface poppers.  At night guys are picking up fish in the 20 to 30 pound range using eels.  I still think we are going to have a good run or two of big fish before it is over.” said Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle.  “Most of last week we had fish breaking 100 yards off shore at Charlestown Beach.  I saw it twice when walking the dog and then a customer said they saw the same thing later in the week.  There are garnets diving and herring in the water.  I think the warm water, still 58 to 60 degrees, is holding the fish here.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor.

“Cod/black see bass fishing has been good with customers catching fish in the 20 to 26 inch range close to shore and in the Bay.” said Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle. “Cod fishing at the East Fishing Grounds and the southwest corner of Cox’s Ledge is good.  Anglers are catching black sea bass too, however, somedays the dog fish are there which is hampering fishing.” said Conti of Snug Harbor.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The local cod and sea bass fishing was very strong last week. More and more cod are showing up and the boat has either been at or very close to its black sea bass limit most days with sizes to 5 pounds. Best cod fish of the week was taken last week was a nice green fish in the mid to upper teens, most pool winners were in the 10-12 pound range.” Capt. Rich Hittinger filed this report Monday… “Yesterday may have been my last trip of the year, but it was a good one. I went to East Ground with Mike Capparelli and George Allen onboard. It was great action on black sea bass, cod, and one tautog. We could have taken a full limit of sea bass up to 19” long, but only kept a total of 12 along with 12 keeper cod and one large tautog. There were many small cod that were released including some of the reddest color 12” to 18” cod that I have ever seen. The choggies were very active, but none of those gray guys.”