Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lots new at the Newport Boat Show

Steve Brustein of Portland, ME with a 30 pound Block Island striped bass he caught Saturday on No Fluke Charters.

Fluke still holding inshore: Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown with two fluke to 22” he managed to catch while fishing in the Newport Bridge area after storms last week.

 Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle and Capt. Jack Sprengle of East Coast Charters with the 120 pound bluefin tuna they caught Friday in Cape Cod Bay.

Lots new at the Newport Boat Show

The Newport International Boat Show held this weekend was a great success.  I attended Sunday under threatening skies and the in-the-water show docks were crowded with attendees. Over 600 exhibitors were at the show with an assortment of boats and a wide variety of accessories, equipment, electronics, gear and services for boaters. I visited the People’s Choice Award Winning manufacturer and checked out a few other exhibits that impressed me. 

The Nordic Tug 40 foot Flybridge won the People’s Choice award at the show.  Its big sister the Nordic 44 Tug took second place in the People’s Choice.  The Nordic Tugs on display at the show were getting a lot of attention when I toured them. I ran into three different Nordic Tug owners who were just stopping by to say hello to the Nordic team.  One owner said, “You know what makes the Nordic a desirable boat… it’s the fit and finish, just look at this woodwork.”  Paul Tortora, sales representative for Wilde Yacht Sales that represents Nordic, said, “Nordic gives you the economy of a displacement hull (2.5 gallons/hour), yet it can comfortably cruise into the mid to upper teens.”  The Nordic 40 features a new wider swim platform with a large stern entry door and new this year a second side door at the stern. The Nordic Tug 40 brochure price was $729,950. Visit www.wildeyachts.com   for details.

The Parker 2510 walk around with a cuddy cabin is a fishing machine.  This stable fishing platform has been upgraded with some finer touches such as colored hulls and fabrics.  Over the past couple of years they added a stern cockpit door and live well.  Tom Grimes, sales associate for Don’s Marine in Tiverton that represents Parker in this market said, “Parker was always a great fishing boat appealing to fishermen.  They now have added some touches like hull colors and fabric colors that appeal to women and families.”  The 25 foot Parker on display a the show featured a Windlass Package, a  West Coast Bow Rail Package, a Sandy Tan Hull and two 200 horsepower engines.  The show special price on this 2016 2510 W/A was $132,366.  Visit www.donsmarineri.com  for details on this Parker and others.

Dockwa software application that can find you dockage or a mooring in Newport, Boston, the Cape and Islands, New York and a host of other destinations. Discover and stay in new harbors… just tap, book a slip or mooring. The app works from your telephone or the web.  The application can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google and it is totally free. So book in advance or make a last-minute reservation with Dockwa.  Visit www.dockwa.com  for details.

Zipwake dynamic trim control tabs.  These are not your conventional aluminum trim tabs but a system that incorporates a state of the art series of durable, fast-acting interceptors that eliminate the trim problems of planning and semi planning boats between 20 and 60 feet.  Zipwake sales associate Dan Schermerhorn of Pro Marine Distributing said, “The system eliminates boat pitch when passengers walk around the vessel automatically and the system automatically eliminates wave resistance which saves fuel and money.”  Prices for the system which includes a control panel, distribution unit and their state of the art interceptors that extend and retract as needed start at about $1,800 for vessels 18 to 20 feet.  To get a feel for how this system works, visit www.zipwake.com.

Fisheries Council reviews policy document

The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC), which makes commercial and recreational fishing regulation recommendations, met last week largely to review and approve a new policy and procedures document for the Council.  The document formalized new Department of Environmental Management (DEM) policy pertaining to how it solicits public input on fisheries regulations at newly formed public workshops.

The workshops take the place of specie advisory panels that use to meet multiple nights rather than at one workshop meeting.  The workshops are part of the Department’s “lean initiative” that identified ways to save time and money while enhancing public participation at input meetings.

Although most specie advisory panels were eliminated, two remain intact; the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) that coordinates recommendations from commercial fisheries sectors and the Shellfish Advisory Panel (SAP) which provides recommendations to the Council on all shellfish-related matters.

The RIMFC also welcomed two new councilpersons to their first meeting;  Michael Roderick, an executive at Town Dock, Narragansett and Travis Barao of East Providence, a recreational fisherman and a member of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) board of directors.

For information on RIMFC meeting material and minutes from past meetings, visit www.dem.ri.gov .

Where’s the bite

Striped bass fishing improved greatly this week as the water cleared from the storm.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Anglers are catching striped bass from shore in the lower Providence River from Pawtuxet to Conimicut Point using eels and lures. Fishing is also good on the Cape. Customer Elijah Depaolo (13 years old) caught a 32 pound bass using live eels on the Cape Cod Cannel.” Jason Macedo of Lucky Bait, Warren caught a 47 pound striped bass last Friday at Block Island using eels at night.  Angler Eric Appolonia said, “My son Alex and his friends fished the Southwest Ledge of Block Island this past week and caught nine striped bass on one drift using eels.” I fished with Steve Brustein of Portland, ME Saturday at the Southwest Ledge where he managed to hook up with bass to 30 pounds trolling tube & worm.  Bill Sokolowski reports on the RISAA blog that, “We fished the Southwest Ledge Saturday night and once the sun set bass started to hit on each drift. Three of us caught a total of ten striped bass. The largest was 35 pounds. We each kept a small fish and released the balance. So much for no fish on a full moon. It couldn't have been a more beautiful night!”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “School size bass are being caught in the East Passage with a few keepers mixed in.”

Black sea bass and fluke.  The fluke bite has softened a great deal, however the black sea bass bite is still good.  Angler Mike Swain of Coventry fished off Narrgansett Saturday and boated six nice black sea bass and one summer found.  I fished south of the windmill area at Block Island Saturday as well as the Hooter buoy area off Pt. Judith and did not catch as may black sea bass as we have in the bass with only short fluke caught at this time.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “Sea bass fishing for some customers is OK with fluke still being gh off Newport and at the mouth of the Sakonnet River.”

False Albacore. “ The albie bite from shore at Pier Five, actually anywhere from Narrow River to the West Wall has been outstanding from shore.  One customer caught 50 false albacore from Pier Five. Most people do not eat them but I have some customers that like eating them.  They prepare them using coconut milk.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

Cod fishing has been good.  Angler Lary Norin reports catchingt cod to 30 pounds on Cox’s Ledge.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Our largest fish this week was in the 20’s with fish taken on both bait and jigs.  Hi hook this week went to an angler that boated seven nice cod fish.”

Bluefish large and small are being caught in the Bay with skipjacks growing in size.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Some skipjacks are 6 to 10 inches long, and they are still very plentiful.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “Bluefish are all over the Bay, more plentiful than they have been most of the season.”

Tuna fishing for school bluefin is hot at the Cape.  Angler Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “I fished with Capt. Jack Sprengel of East Coast Charters, Warwick Friday on the Cape and landed a 120 pound bluefin using light tackle with a spinning reel and jig in 173 feet of water.”

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fishing after storms

Newport Blues:  Angler Steve Brustein of West Warwick with one of four bluefish caught when a school surfaced in front of 1st Beach, Newport. The fish were bled and iced in minutes ready for the smoker.

 Fishing after storms

The storm is over.  The seas are settling down.  Ever wonder what impact storms have on fishing?  
A storm like the one we had this past week can change fishing a lot.  Some species may leave the area totally.  Yet others species just won’t bite.  They may not bite because the water is dirty with sand and mud that either irritates the gills of fish so they stop moving around and feeding or they simply cannot see your bait in murky, cloudy water. 

But there is hope. Storms also create opportunities with reefs, clam and mussel beds that get torn up with broken shells providing a feeding ground for many of the fish we target.  Additionally, a good storm this time of year often provides a cleansing and a wakeup call to anglers suggesting that it is time to target fall species like tautog, migrating striped bass, surface feeding bluefish and false albacore.

“The water is like dirt.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.  “A stormy week like we just had can convince a species that it is time to move.  Like summer flounder.  Last week, right up until Sunday, we had a commercial rod & reel fisherman bring in 20 pounds of fluke.  So they were still here.  But very possibly with a storm like this, with water this dirty we won’t find them again.  We might get a few stragglers as the fluke move out to deeper water.  At the lower part of the Bay for example or it may come back for a while off shore.  We will have to wait and see.” 

There have been an abundance of school size striped bass in covers and ponds.  Wickford Cove and other ponds and coves around the state are holding Atlantic menhaden and a lot of smaller bait that the school bass are feeding on.  Matt Conti said, “Salt Pond is loaded with school bass.  This is a place and species you can target when the weather is bad out in front or offshore.”

At press time the water has started to clear so hopefully by the weekend anglers will be able to fish for species such as black sea bass, striped bass, tautog and cod fishing which has been experiencing a fairly  good bite close to shore. 

Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, said, “Customers have been catching cod fish just south of the windmill area.”  So the hope is that fall cod fishing will develop like last year… a good bite at the East Fishing Grounds and around Block Island and waters close to shore, like the waters off Newport that produced good cod fishing last year.

Another good thing about storms is that they create new fish habitats with a new food supply of insects, shrimp, shell fish and small fish that arrive with the water. These flooded areas and water adjacent to them can become good fishing areas as the water starts to recede.   Fishing is good at inlets and outflow too because water levels are high due to rain, abnormally high tides and heavy surf. Once water rushes out of rivers, bays, and inlets, bait that may have sought refuge up inlets gets tossed around as they leave for open water where larger fish are waiting.
Good fishing as the weather clears.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Catch & Release Tournament selects final winners

The Pabst Blue Ribbon catch and release striped bass, bluefish and summer flounder (fluke) tournament ended August 20th.  To be eligible for the season ending cash prizes, a minimum of three fish had to be caught and released.  The length of the longest three fish in each specie category makes up an angler’s total entry.

Last week after all winning candidates passed a polygraph test the results of the competition became final. 

Tournament winners: Striped bass category winners were Russell Zivkovich, 150”, $5,000 cash prize; John Hanecak, 149.5”, $1,500; and Keith Darrow, 147.5”, $500.  Summer flounder (fluke) winners were Gary Stephens, 87”, $5,000 cash prize; John Davis, 83”, $1,500; and Howard Ward, 74”, $500.  The bluefish winners were Russell Zivkovich, 110.25”, $5,000 cash prize; Al Tremblay, 108.50, $1,500; and Gary Stephens, 108.25”, $500.

Visit www.pbrfishing.com for details on the September 25 celebration event and for a listing of Junior Division winners.

Where’s the bite

Summer flounder and black sea bass.  Last week we bottom fished a portion of four separate trips.  The areas we covered included the West and East side of Jamestown and all along the Aquidneck Island’s southern coast from Elbow Ledge at the Sakonnet River to the Brenton Reef Area. We also fished the areas around the Newport Bridge.  The result yielded a number of nice sized black sea bass to 21” but only seven keeper summer flounder. So I am convinced that this storm is very likely to chase any remaining summer flounder up and out of the area and away from our coastal shores to deeper water for the rest of the season. Angler Mike Swain of Coventry said, “I checked my logs from last year and this time last year the fluke were gone.  So I think they are gone for good this year.”  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Fluke fishing had been great before the storm at Block Island in the wind farm area with tons of nice black sea bass being caught too.”  Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Fluke fishing was picky most of the week with big fish to 10 pounds being caught but the overall numbers were not good.” 

Bonito and false albacore.  The bonito bite is expected to be soft as they seem to be moving out of the area.  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “Earlier last week the bonito bite was good along the coastal shore.  They were mixed in with schools of bluefish so anglers were getting cut-off quite a bit.”  However, the false albacore are in.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “Toward the end of the week the false albacore were here pretty strong.  Generally when they arrive, the Bonito leave the area.  But they were blitzing pretty good last week before the storm along the southern coast shore.”

Bluefish were on the surface from Elbow Ledge all along the Aquidneck Island southern coast to Brenton Reef.  They were rather spotty, you had to look for them but they surfaced from time to time.  Angler Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich said, “We spotted schools of bluefish Sunday off of first beach and we casted into the fray when they surface. We landed four for a friend who likes to smoke them.  No false albacore on bonito were mixed in with them.”

Striped bass fishing remained very strong last week.  Angler Eric Appolonia said, “We fished with eels on the Southwest Ledge at Block Island just before and after high tide and did very well last week.”  Matt Conti of Sung Harbor said, “The commercial season opens again this week so I am sure we will have a lot of fishermen targeting striped bass as soon as the weather clears.”  Fishing for striped bass can be hit or miss as the fall migration starts.  Schools of fish move in and out so someday the fishing can be good and other days it is not good. 

“Yellow fin tuna fishing on our first trip of the season was successful last week as anglers caught fish in the 50 to 70 pound range drifting chuck bait during the day. The trips will be run into October.” said Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet.

Freshwater fishing for trout has not been good.  Anglers are waiting or the restocking of ponds and waterways with trout for the fall and winter season.  However, largemouth bass fishing has been consistently good.  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “The largemouth bass bite has been good with anglers using shiners and worms as well as spinner baits with success.  Worden Pond and Indian Lake have been yielding fish consistently for customers.”  Kim Petti of Fin & Feather Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “Fishing in our spring fed ponds had been good all season.  With no rain the ponds did not heat up.  The Wood River water level remains high but everyone is waiting for DEM to restock with trout.”

Light tackle tactics that catch fish

 Capt. Mike Roy shared tips Monday on how to catch fall striped bass using light tackle.
Cameron Sears (age 12) of Seekonk, MA caught black sea bass and fluke off Pt. Judith Saturday while fishing with Jack Leyden of North Kingstown.

Light tackle tactics that catch fish 

I looked across the room Monday night and in the audience I spotted Peter Vican.  Peter is a well respected fisherman in Rhode Island and is the state striped bass record holder (77.4 pounds).  He was listening intently as Capt. Mike Roy from Connecticut shared his technique for fishing a reef for striped bass. 

Capt. Roy had the full attention of Peter Vican as well as 200 other fishermen who came to listen to him at a RI Saltwater Anglers Association meeting at The Villa Restaurant, West Warwick. Capt. Roy shared his knowledge of fish and the new, exciting and effective techniques he has developed to land fall run fish (striped bass, false albacore and bonito) on light tackle.

Roy is a former school teacher that trailers his 21 foot Steiger Craft boat.  Capt Roy said, “I like to trailer the boat because it gives me great flexibility.  We can fish Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York waters depending on conditions.  It allows me to fish March to December.”

Here are some light tackle tips Capt. Roy shared.

  • Along the Connecticut shore, eels work best at night and live bunker (Atlantic menhaden) works during the day.  Roy said, “I know eels work during the day at Block Island but not along the Connecticut shore.  Perhaps the reason is that there is not much bunker out at Block Island and the fish are not use to feeding on them.”

  • His standard rig uses 50 pound braid line with a seven foot 50 pound monofilament leader tied directly to the braid so he can cast and reel more effectively than when a swivel is used.  His seven foot rod is custom made by him and last year he started to use Shimano reels exclusively. He using J hooks rather can circle hooks and pays attention to the hook set so fish are not hooked in the gut.
  • Capt. Roy said, “I enjoy a strong hook set.  I wait until I feel a thump, lower the rod tip and they set the hook hard.  I will generally set it two more times to make sure the barb in the hook penetrates the fish.”
  • Believes in using no weight with eels (as he often fishes in low water, 15 feet) but does weigh them down with slip shot (small pieces of lead) when ne needs some weight to get them down.  He is a firm believer in maintaining contact with the bait to know when you get a hit and to prevent the eel from burying itself in structure below.
  • When fishing a surface blitz of false albacore, bonito or striped bass he positions his boat up wind and up current casting into the edge of the blitz as he believes in the ‘iceberg’ effect.  Roy said, “The fish you see on top are only the tip of the iceberg, likely the school is a lot larger under the surface, often times you can see it on your fish finder.”
For additional information visit Capt. Mike Roy’s website at www.reelcastcharters.com .

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing has improved as the weather was not as warm this week.  Chris Catucci of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “Gorton’s Pond, Warwick, has been giving up some four to five pound largemouth bass but you have to work for them.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle Riverside, said, “Stump Pond has been producing a mix of largemouth bass, pickerel and perch for customers. There bait of choice has been shiners.  We sold a lot of shiners this week. “Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Bass fishermen have been landing fish shiners as well as with Yamsmoto Senkos.”

Scup/black sea bass fishing remains strong throughout Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays with fish being caught around structure particularly where there is moving water.  Chris Catucci of the Tackle Box said, “Customers have been catching a lot of scup at Conimicut Point and Rocky Point.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle  said,  “Scup, Tommy cod and some northern king fish are being caught around Lavin’s Marina on Bullock’s Point Cover, Barrington.”  Angler Ken Blanchard reports on the RISAA blog, “Fished from 9:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Saturday), lots of short scup and sea bass at the rock piles near the Quonnie Breachway. Fished the corner of the Breachway with rubber shad. Caught one schoolie bass about 14 inches and then got cut off by a bluefish. Started out cloudy and warm with an outgoing tide. Water is in the mid-70's, clear and weed free (pretty much).” Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown said, “Went out at 2:00 p.m. Saturday about one mile southeast of Pt. Judith in 64 feet of water and caught large black sea bass and small summer flounder on every drift.”

Striped bass fishing remains spotty a Block Island during the day with a much better night bite.  Anglers fishing the north rip and the southwest ledge in daylight have not done well. “The evening bite is pretty good at Block Island.” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait. “Customer Al and Kevin Bettencourt (and Kevin’s son) continue to do well at the southwest ledge at sunset.  This weekend they caught their three fish and returned to the dock at about 10:30 p.m.  They caught a total of 17 fish with 30 ells with black sea bass taking many of the eels.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “The striped bass bait of choice has been eels with fish taking pencil popper lures as well.”  Fly fishing expert Ed Lombardo, who has been fishing the Narrow River said, “Shad and small striped bass are vey abundant.  Lots of fun on a 7 or 8 wt. rod.  Both the incoming and outgoing tide worked well as the fish have been very aggressive on either tide.  Small all white or all hot pint streamers work well.”  Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet reports a great night time striped bass bite.  Capt. Blount said, “This week turned out to be extraordinary for striped bass night fishing. Not only was the boat easily limited out all three nights, but piles of good size blue fish mixed in too. Some better size bass mixing were in the 15 to 25 pound range.”

Fluke fishing.  Although somewhat of a slowdown in some areas Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “The fluke bite along the southern coastal shore has moved out to deeper water outside the Watch Hill Reef in about 60 to 80 feet of water. Although further out these fish are larger. The outside of the North Rip of Block Iland is producing fluke too as well as the wind farm area.”  I fished the lower west passage off Jamestown and Dutch Island and managed four keepers Friday and two on Sunday.  It has been a slow pick with some nice fish of size caught but not the steady pick we have witnessed the past two years fishing off Brenton Reef and Seal Ledge area, Newport.  Fishing off Block Island in the wind farm area continues to yield fish but not at the volume it had been early this year.  Angler Mike Swain of Coventry said, “We fished the wind farm area Sunday and hooked up with some nice fish, it’s arguably the best fluke fishing off Rhode Island, however, it was hardly worth the ride to fish there as we did not catch a volume of fish.”

The bluefish bite off Sabin Point and Barrington Beach has been very good.  Chris Catucci of the Tackle Box said, “Customers are catching some bluefish of size using poggy (Atlantic menhaden) chunks as bait.  We also have a lot on anglers catching skipjack bluefish in coves and ponds and inlets.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Bluefish are being caught in the Rivers.  In Pawtucket we have pogies three feet thick and some bluefish have worked their way up the river to feed on them.”  Reports of blue fish running at Block Island an along the southern coastal shore from Charlestown to Pt. Judith with some striped bass mixed in.

“Bonito have been running hot from the West Wall at the Harbor of Refuge to Watch Hill with the West Wall and Weekapaug areas being the hot spots.”,  said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.

Tautog fishing has started to pick up as anglers are targeting them early than usual due to a soft fluke season in shore.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Tautog are hitting Asian crafts with a fair bite off Jamestown and Newport.”  Sophia Garzoli weighted in a 5.7 pound tautog at Ocean State Tackle that was caught with Asian crabs off the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge.