Friday, June 16, 2017

Fishing for fluke improves, Commerce Dept. agreement will hurt red snapper

Stanley Maigarie of Narragansett with a 47 pound striped bass he caught on a fluke jig and teaser under feeding bluefish on his way back from Block Island Tuesday. 

Mike Clini (right) with a 9.6 pound summer flounder and Matt Davidson with a 6 pounder, both caught in the Block Island wind farm area aboard ‘Skipjack’ captained by Rich Hittinger of Warwick. 

Where’s the bite

Striped bass. “There are so many pogies (Atlantic menhaden) in the rivers (Providence and Seekonk) that anglers are scooping them up with nets. School bass are being caught in the rivers with 20 pound fish mixed in.  Fishermen are catching 12 to 18 pound fish on pogie chunks in the triangle area of Barrington beach, Nayatt Point and Conimicut Light.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.  Andrew Cournoyer of Riverside Marine Bait & Tackle, Tiverton said, “Things really opened up in Mt. Hope Bay this week.  Customers are catching striped bass with pogies and umbrella rigs.” The abundance of bait in bays and rivers has made it a bit difficult to get the attention of bass so anglers have started using swimming lures of all type with success to attract striped bass.  “The bite has been solid in pre-dawn and late dusk hours with lures from Conimicut Light all the way up the Providence River”, said Jeff Ingber of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.  John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “We fished the upper Bay this weekend at night and landed fifteen striped in the 28” to 33” range using chucks of pogies.”

Black sea bass (BSB) bite is on.  The season opened May 25th and fish are being caught with anglers limiting out when fluke fishing. 

Last Monday night at a public workshop RI DEM took comments on their recommendation to reduce catch limits to meet Atlantic States Marine Fishers Commission (ASMFC) harvest limits.  Pending final ASMFC approval (which seems imminent) recreational anglers will be allowed to take just five fish and not seven in the months of November and December. So the season catch limits for BSB (minimum size is 15”) are as follows:  May 24 to August 31, 2017- three fish/person/day; September 1 to September 21, 2017 – seven fish/person/day; September 22 to October 21`- closed (when the Federal BSB season is closed); October 22 – October 31 – seven fish/person/day; and November 1 to December 31, five fish/person/day.

Summer flounder (fluke). Fluke fishing in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay on the shipping channel edges has been producing for anglers as well as the Warwick Light area and the West Passage south of the Jamestown Bridge.  Tuesday Margaret and Ken Choiniere of Seekonk, MA  hooked up with fluke to 22” on the edges of the underwater gully south of Dutch Island with fish being caught on the bank as we left the gully. This week Rich Hittinger and guests fishing the Block Island wind farm area on his vessel Skipjack caught multiple fluke to 9.6 pounds. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet, said, “Fluke fishing was solid this week.  A good mix of nice size fluke and good size sea bass on most outings with the largest fish being a seven pound fluke and a five pound black sea bass. Best trip of the week overall was Saturday. Some anglers had bag limits on both fluke and sea bass. Both bait rigs and jigs worked.” 

The scup bite at Colt State Park in Bristol has been good with anglers catching them at the mouth of the Sakonnet River from shore as well and just about on any structure where water is moving. 

Sea robins are being caught in the Bay and along the shore.  Anglers are now keeping them, cleaning the tails and eating them.  They are a great eating fish.

Freshwater fishing continues to remain strong with anglers catching a lot of large and small mouth bass.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Angler Brian Strayer caught a 5 ½ pound largemouth bass at Bad Luck Pond (Rehoboth, MA).  Anglers have also done well with bass at Brickyard Pond, Barrington.  The bass have not been large there but the bite is good.”  John Lavallee of Continental Bait said, “Customers are catching bass but the trout bite is a little off as the water is warming and some ponds are starting to get fished out.” 

Commerce Dept. agreement to halt red snapper rebuild

The Department of Commerce announced last week that an agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the five Gulf Coast states to extend the 2017 recreational red snapper season by 39 weekend days in the Gulf of Mexico for private recreational anglers.   

The action was lauded by some in the recreational fishing community and criticized by others. NOAA had reduced fishing days to rebuild the stock.  The red snapper fishery is rebuilding, however, scientists and conservationists felt it premature to liberalize regulations at this time as they estimate red snapper overfishing could occur in one year and damage the rebuilding plan for the species.

In a press release Wednesday, the Center for Sportfishing Policy, an industry group composed of recreational fishing industry supporters in tourism, boat manufacturing and fishing gear and tackle retailers said, “As a result of today’s action, red snapper season will reopen for private recreational anglers in the Gulf out to 200 miles every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including Monday and Tuesday of the July Fourth holiday and the Monday of Labor Day. This 39-day season will begin Friday, June 16, in time for Father’s Day weekend and ends on Labor Day, September 4. State seasons will run congruently with the federal season.”

Meredith More, director of Fish Conservation at the Ocean Conservancy said “Red snapper regulation liberalization will almost certainly lead to overfishing of red snapper, plain and simple. Private anglers of the Gulf of Mexico deserve a real solution to the problem of shortening seasons for red snapper, not an ill-conceived quick-fix.  Years of sacrifices and tough choices by fishermen and managers have begun rebuilding this valuable fishery. We’re finally seeing more fish in the water and any short-sighted decision that puts those gains at risk is an affront to their hard work.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources panel, agreed that the decision will interfere with ongoing efforts to recover the red snapper population.
In a press statement Rep. Grijalva said "Gulf Coast businesses literally cannot afford a fishery management fiat that eliminates all the progress that has been made… The public needs to see a scientific justification for this plan before it goes into effect."
Grijalva pointed to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, noting the law is intended to ensure the use of scientific data for fisheries decisions.
He noted that the Federal Register announcement of the extension suggested the amended fishing season "may delay the ultimate rebuilding of the stock by as many as six years."

Now… a drive-up bait window

Ocean State Tackle, Providence now has a drive up window for bait, fishing tackle, gear and soft drinks.  Dave Henault, owner of Ocean State said “People want to fish.  They do not want to stand in line so we developed the drive-up window to accommodate them.  This will get them in and out a lot quicker.”

Fly tying workshop at Free Library

A fly tying workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 21, 6:30 p.m. at the North Kingstown Free Library, 100 Boone Street, North Kingston.  John Smith, a lifetime angler, avid fly tyer and biology professor at East Stroudsburg University will tie a few different styles of flies and introduce participants to basic fly tying equipment.  Registration is requested but not required.  Call 401.294.3306.

Graduate School of Oceanography launches seminar series

‘Warming Seas and the Ocean State’ is the topic that will be discussed Thursday, June 22, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Coastal Institute Auditorium, 220 South Ferry Road, Narragansett.  The discussion will be led by students of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.  The seminar will cover how physical processes are responding  to warming sea surface temperatures.  The later portion of the program will focus on the effects of warming on coastal ecosystems, illustrating how fish species are being impacted by climate change and what it means for Rhode Island fisheries.  For information contact .

Friday, June 9, 2017

Catching that elusive striped bass

 Mike Swain with one of the many striped bass he has caught in the Conimicut Light area using live and chunks of Atlantic menhaden (pogies).
Rich Hittinger of Warwick with a 7.8 pound summer flounder (fluke) he caught off Block Island last Thursday when fishing on his vessel ‘Skipjack’.

Catching that elusive striped bass

You’ve tried to catch a keeper sized striped bass (28” or larger), but just have not hooked up with one yet.  It can be very frustrating because you can try and try with no luck. 

However, June is the time to try to catch one in Narragansett and Mt Hope Bays as Atlantic menhaden (pogies), a form of herring, are up in our covers and rivers spawning and the striped bass have followed them into the upper Bay on their northern migration.

I have two bits of advice that have helped me over the years to catch striped bass.  First, you can’t catch fish where there are no fish so you have to put yourself in places where the fish are feeding.  And second, you need to be ready with a number of strategies.  Some days they are biting on live or chunks of Atlantic menhaden, other days trolling umbrella rigs or tube and work, and yet some times of year they like eels.

To put yourself where the fish are read fishing reports/blogs and talk to friends and bait & tackle shop owners to develop a fishing plan.  Select five or six places you will go to find the fish based on the research you have done.  Now that you have your fishing plan, be ready with a number of fishing strategies to land that striped bass. 

Remember what works one day, may not work the next depending on what fish are feeding on, the weather, tides, temperature, etc. Here are some of my favorite striped bass fishing strategies.

Favorite ways to catch striped bass

Trolling with umbrella rigs.  Like to 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.  Hook two fish at the same time and you will experience a great fight.

Live menhaden.  Snag the live bait with a weighted treble hook or net them.  Hook the bait through the bridge of the nose, find a school of fish and put the live menhaden into the school of bait and let it swim. Used when menhaden are running strong, particularly up the Providence River in early spring.

Chunking fresh or frozen menhaden.  You can anchor (and chum); drift fish or fish the moving bait schools with chunks.  Some anglers use a weighted slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.

Surface plugs, swimming lures and soft plastics.  Have caught hundreds of school bass in the spring using surface plugs and swimming lures of all types.  Great way to catch fish in coves, on rivers, etc.  My favorite is a grey Yozuri Crystal Minnow.  Many anglers love soft plastics use them successfully in the spring.  Make sure the plastic baits are scented if they are not add some menhaden scent. Who wants to eat plastic?

Trolling with tube and worm.  I have had great success in the Bay using lead line weighted with two or three ounces of lead between the line and a five foot monofilament leader.  I find that bubblegum or red colored tubes work best in spring (the tube hook is tipped with clam worm).   The idea of added weight is to get the line down to where the fish are. Tube and worm trolling has been a successful technique for the Southwest side of Block Island using 300 ft. of wire line out in 35 to 45 feet of water, amber colored tubes seem to work best there.

Buck tail jigs with pork rind strips.  Have had success with this method to get under schools of blue fish and to the striped bass on the bottom.

Let me know if you catch that keeper and send along a photo to

DEM to hold fly fishing workshops

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold three day fly fishing workshops on Monday, June 12, 19 and 26, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Coventry Public Library, 1672 Flat River Road, Coventry and on Wednesday, June 14, 21 and 28, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Greenville Public Library, 573 Putnam Pike, Greenville.  Instruction and equipment needed will be covered with all gear provided.  However, participants are welcome to bring their own gear.  Adults and children 10 and older are invited to attend.  Space is limited.  To register contact Scott Travers at (Classes also stared at Glocester Manton Public Library on June 6).
DEM is also holding an introduction to freshwater fly fishing workshop on Saturday, June 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Addieville East Farm, Mapleville, RI.  Adults, families and children ten and older may attend. Participants will learn about equipment needed for the sport, fly-tying and casting and best areas to fish in RI.  Lunch will be provided. Fee is $15 per person.  To register contact Kimberly Sullivan at .

Where’s the bite

Striped bass.  I haven’t heard of fifty pound fish being caught in the Bay in a long time but this week they were. Capt. Randy Bagwell of River Rebel Charters weighted in a 50 pound striped bass caught in Mt. Hope Bay.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said “Randy came in with his customer to weigh and clean the fish; they were greeting customers at the door asking if anyone wanted some bass fillets.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “A customer sent me a picture of a 53 pound fish caught in the Bay and we have some very nice bass in the 30 pound range being caught in the Providence and Seekonk rivers.  There are big bluefish mixed in with the bass.”  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters,, Westerly said, “Bass are on the reefs eating squid and the worm hatches in South County Ponds (like Ninigret Pound) are still going strong on warm days. We also have a lot of Atlantic menhaden and bass in the Pawcatuck River.”  Peter Jenkins of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown, said Monday, “Today there was great fishing for bass on Sugar Reef.  The squid were everywhere.  Bass were caught on every drift using Slug Go lures and files.”

Summer flounder (fluke fishing).  I fished the Newport Bridge area with a slow bite and a lot of shorts this week.  Anglers fishing the southern coastal shore experienced mixed fishing.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “Fluke fishing at Fisher’s Island to Misquamicut Beach has been good.  Customer Mike Lacz landed a 27” fluke off Misquamicut this week.”  Fish for fluke in the Bay is spotty.  Anglers are catching fish but not in large numbers.  Angler Rich Hittinger said the bite was good a Block island catching fluke to 7.8 pounds last Thursday. Capt. Frank Blount, of the Frances Fleet said, “A lot of quality fish and a lot of limit catches. On Saturday's trip Capt. Rich found a hungry pile of nice size sea bass to four pounds limiting the boat out.”

Scup. “We had a customer catch a 17” scup off the Stone Bridge this week with some nice fish being off of Colt State Park, Bristol.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.  “The big news of the week is that scup are in… anglers are catching them off Tiverton and Greenwich Bay.” said Henault of Ocean State.

Sea robins. More anglers are keeping them to eat.  Cut of their tails and fillet them.  They have a delicious white meet.  In Europe sea robins are a major ingredient in bouillabaisse.  I have cleaned them for many charter customers and all have said they loved the way they tasted.

Black sea bass bite is on.  The season opened May 25th and fish are being caught with anglers limiting out when fluke fishing.

Freshwater fishing continues to remain strong. “Not many anglers are targeting trout but those that are continue to catch them.  And, we have a lot of anglers catching  good numbers of largemouth bass.  They may not be as large as last year but the bite is stronger.” said Henault.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fishing camp is a hoot

 Richard Reich, lead surfcasting instructor, explains some of the fundamentals of casting to youth fishing camp participants on Rocky Point Beach, Warwick, RI. 
Fishing appeals to our sense of adventure and builds a life time of memories with family and friends.

Fishing camp is a hoot

It is important to teach our youth about fishing.  Fishing appeals to our sense of adventure and teaches us patience. It is one of those activities where science and art converge. It teaches us to be good stewards of the environment and it allows us to build a lifetime of memories and friendships.
June marks the second year of a highly successful fishing camp for youth that will take place Tuesday, June 27 through Thursday, June 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Rocky Point State Park.
The three day camp, sponsored by the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), will host 50 children from seven to fourteen years old.

Steve Medeiros, RISAA president said, “The goal this year is to spin off our highly successful 2016 pilot camp.  Enhancements will include more fishing time on the water.  Yes we will have instruction on basic fishing skills, how to cast, safety and the environment but we plan to focus on fishing.  After all it is a ‘fishing’ camp. On the first day participants will fish from shore, a fluke fishing trip on the Seven B’s Party boat out of Galilee, RI is planned for day two, and participants will fish on RISAA member recreational vessels on the third day in the Greenwich Bay, Warwick Neck and Rocky Point areas.”

Medeiros said, “We find children of all backgrounds and cultures are attracted to fishing and our aim is to give them a proper introduction to the sport. We have about 35 volunteer recreational fisher men, women and captains working on the camp project.”

The pilot fishing camp was such a success last year that it has now been funded by U.S Fish & Wildlife in partnership with the RI DEM and RISAA for the next five years.  The aim this year is to post another success and roll the camp concept out to an additional location in 2018
The same children attend all three days of the camp split into groups by age and fishing experience.  There is no cost for children to participate and lunch is provided, however, parents must complete and sign all participation forms, provide their child with proper attire for an outdoor fishing camp and weather conditions and must provide transportation for children each day to and from Rocky Point State Park.

Topics to be covered over the three day camp include fish identification,  fishing laws, use of spinning and conventional tackle, basic marine biology, how and why to use different baits and lures, casting and fishing from shore as well as boating safety and fishing on a boat.

The fishing camp is sponsored by the RISAA, DEM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the City of Warwick.  Brewers Marina in Warwick Cove is donating dock space for 20 vessels that will be used for fishing at camp.

There is limited camp space available, sign up this week by calling the RI Saltwater Anglers Association office at 401.826.2121.

DEM to host Fly Fishing School at Addieville East Farm

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will host a fly fishing school on Saturday, June 17, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Addieville East Farm.  Learn the basics of entomology, fly tying, fly casting, the right equipment to use, knot tying and then fly fishing in a freshly stocked trout pond.   

Minimum age is eleven years old.  Cost of $15.00 will cover your lunch with the fly fishing program free.  All fly fishing equipment will be supplied but feel free to take your own. 

To register contact Kimberly Sullivan, DEM at or 401-539-0037; or Scott Travers, DEM at or 401-539-0016.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing slowed his week with cooler weather.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We are selling a lot of shiners but customers do not seem to be catching bass like they were last week.  It has been cold.  However, anglers are still catching trout at stocked ponds, even at Willet Avenue Pond (Riverside).  I can’t believe the amount of trout they are pulling out of that pond since the second stocking.”

Squid fishing was good this week.  Large numbers of boats are fishing for squid off the southern coastal shores, both commercial and recreational vessels. So the fluke bite has been on squid this week in that area.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Squid fishing was very good on Thursday Night with hi hooks filling upwards to a half bucket apiece. Unfortunately things did not stay that way  over the holiday weekend as even though the winds were light and variable the water was still churned up from last Friday's blow.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is heating up with fish being caught in the Bay, along our southern coastal shore and out on the south and southeast sides of Block Island.  Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “Customers are doing well in about 70 feet of water off the southeast side of Block Island in the ocean windfarm area and along the southern coastal shore keepers are being caught with a lot of shorts mixed in, a lot of fish are coming up just short at 18.5 inches (this year the minimum size for summer flounder is 19", four fish/person/day).”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “The fluke bite is pretty good off Warwick Neck and they are catching some keeper black sea bass when fluke fishing.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Good catches were made both on the local beaches and also around Block Island. A decent amount of limit catches were recorded. Best for size was on Saturday with an 8 lb. pool fish and other fish in the six to seven pound range. A few nice sea bass mixing in and plenty of short fluke.”

Striped bass fishing is good in the Bay with most action in the East Passage from Bristol all the way up to the Hurricane Barrier in Providence.  “There are a lot of school bass being caught with some keepers mixed in this week.  Customer Albert Bettencourt with his son and grandchildren caught over 60 small school bass using jigs and small spoons last Thursday night.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.  Holly Frye of The Tackle Box said, “One customer weighted in striped bass to 13 pounds this week fishing with lures at Conimicut Point from shore.”  “The southwest ledge and north rip at Block Island are yielding small but keeper size striped bass in the 10 and 15 pound range.  Anglers are trolling umbrella rigs with multiple fish hooking up at the same time. School bass with some keepers mixed in are being caught from the beaches as well as Pt. Judith Pond, Ninigret and other ponds along the southern coastal shore.” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Bass are being caught in multiple locations in the East Passage from Popasquash Point, Bristol to the Providence River Hurricane Barrier area. Anglers are using Atlantic menhaden with success, some are drifting with live pogies and overs are anchoring up and chumming with chunks.  Ohio Ledge and Napatree Point have been good..”  “We weighed in a 41 pound fish caught in the East Passage by Rocky Patriarca off Prudence Island but we also weighed in 27 and 31 pound fish caught in the Conimicut Light area this weekend.” said John Littlefield.

Warm water moving fish in and out of region

 Kevin Fetzer with a black sea bass caught last year.  The season opened Thursday, May 25th with a three fish/person/day limit, however, regulations are expected to change.
Bonnie Audino’s 31.5 pound Taunton River striped bass caught when trolling a T-man tube & worm with her husband Larry. As required on 34” or larger recreational fish the right pectoral fin has been cut.

Warm water moving fish in and out of region
Climate change and warming water is impacting the location and numbers of important fish species on the east coast.
A study published in Progress in Oceanography titled “Marine species distribution shifts on the U.S. Northeast Continental Shelf under continued ocean warming”, shows that some fish species are gaining more natural habitat in northern regions and others are losing suitable habitat. 
Those gaining habitat include spiny dogfish, summer flounder, black sea bass, and lobsters.  Yet we are losing suitable habitat for such species as American cod, haddock, thorny skate and Acadian redfish because the water is too warm and the fish are moving to deeper water. 
The projections indicate that as species shift from one management jurisdiction to another, or span state and federal jurisdictions, there will be an increased need for collaboration among management groups to set quotas and establish allocations.
“Species that are currently found in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and on Georges Bank may have enough suitable habitat in the future because they can shift northward as temperatures  increase,”  said lead author Kristin Kleisner, formerly of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)‘s Ecosystems Dynamics and Assessment Branch and now a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.
“Species concentrated in the Gulf of Maine, where species have shifted to deeper water rather than northward, may be more likely to experience a significant decline in suitable habitat and move out of the region altogether.  Given the historical changes observed on the Northeast Shelf over the past five decades and confidence in the projection of continued ocean warming in the region, it is likely there will be major changes within this ecosystem.” said Kleisner.
In a press release this week, the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said, “Scientists used a high-resolution global climate model and historical observations of species distributions on the Northeast U.S. Shelf and found commercially important species will continue to shift their distribution as ocean waters warm two to three times faster than the global average through the end of this century. Projected increases in surface to bottom waters of 6.6 to 9 degrees F from current conditions are expected.” 
It is important to note that sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean over the past decade.  Northward shifts of many species has already occurred from one management jurisdiction to another. These changes will directly affect fishing communities, as species now landed at those ports move out of range, and new species move in.
A copy of the article can be found at .

Black sea bass regulations changing

NOAA Fisheries announced revised 2017 and projected 2018 catch limits for black sea bass taking effect May 25, 2017 for both recreational and commercial fisheries.  The revisions were instituted because of the recent benchmark stock assessment completed in December, 2016.

Based on the new stock assessment information, NOAA is implementing revisions to the 2017 black sea bass specifications that represent a 53-percent increase in the 2017 commercial quota, and a 52-percent increase in the 2017 recreational harvest limit. 

Additionally, NOAA is removing an accountability measure that was applied to the 2017 commercial fishery at the beginning of the fishing year to account for a previous overage in 2015.  At press time Rhode Island commercial quotas and recreation fishing harvest limits had not been revised.

Trout Unlimited meeting May 31

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will hold its monthly meeting and seminar on Wednesday, May 31, 6:00 p.m. at the Arcadia Management Area Check Station, Rt. 165, (Ten Rod Road),  Wood River, Exeter, RI.

Members and guests are invited to come at 5:00 p.m. for hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, chips, and soda/water.  Park Regulations for the Arcadia Management Area do NOT permit consumption of alcohol. 

At 6:00 p.m. a short meeting will be followed by a spey casting demonstration by Vinny Diodato. Those wishing to participate are invited to bring their own equipment.  A limited supply of loaner gear will be available.

Contact Glenn Place at 1-401-225-7712 or for information.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing held up well last week with a variety of species being caught.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Anglers are catching smallmouth and largemouth bass, trout and everything in-between at Stafford Pond and other ponds in the area.”  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “With the cooler weather the fresh water fishing has held up pretty good.  We have actually extending the trout season with good numbers of fish being caught in waterways stocked by DEM.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Carp fishing remains very strong as well as the large and smallmouth bass bite.  Customers are buying shiners to fish for bass and then coming back for more.”

Squid fishing.  Capt. Frank Blount, owner of the Frances Fleet, reported some improved squid fishing this past Friday Night with a really nice shot of good size tubes later in the evening and a few anglers filling upwards to a half of a four or five gallon pail apiece.

“Striped bass fishing for school bass in the ponds has been very good and anglers are catching 28” to 32” bass at the north end of Block Island using Diamond jigs. And last night Andrew Crocker, an associate here, caught a 22” squeteague in Salt Pond using a Ronz lure.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.  Large numbers of fish being caught in the Bay with larger ones just starting to be caught.  Bonnie Audino caught a 31.5 pound striped bass on her husband Larry’s boat when trolling a T-Man tube and work in the Tauton River. Jeff Ingver of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “We have reports of customers catching 34” and 35” fish right at the Hurricane Barrier in Providence with fish even being caught inside the Barrier.  The bite is all on pogies most are chucking rather than live lining with success.”  “Customers caught 42” and a 44” fish in the Bay, one was caught trolling a Niner umbrella rig and the second on a pogie.” said Macedo.  “School striped bass are being caught from southern coastal beaches and in South County ponds where worm hatches have occurred on warm days last week. Not many fish over 28” are being caught but a volume of school bass are in the area.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “The bass bite is on in the Bay, we landed six nice fish in the 20 to 30 pound range one day with a modest effort when fishing the East Passage of the Bay.”

Fluke fishing has been pretty good in the Bay with anglers landing fish to 22” in the Greenwich Bay/Warwick Light area.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “Fisheries Island and Misquamicut have been pretty good with customer catching a 21”, even a 24” fish last week.”  “Customers fishing for fluke are saying it has been hard to catch a 19” fish in the Bay, but things are just starting so fluke fishing should improve this week as the water warms.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.  Reports of fish being caught along the south shore on the RISSA blog from several anglers, places like Green Hill, Nebraska Shoal are yielding shorts with keepers mixed in to 21”.  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said “Customers are catching fluke on the southwest side of Block Island and in the Green Hill area.”

Scup and black sea bass.  “The scup bite is just starting to heat up with customers catch nice sized fish at Colt State Park.” Said Manny Macedo.  The black sea bass bite has been slow put is expected to get better this week as the water warms with a season start date of May 25 with a three fish/person/day limit.

How big is fishing in RI?

 Large school bass like this 26” fish are being caught in coves, rivers and salt ponds like this one land by Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich when fishing in Wickford Cove Saturday. 
 Experimental reefs at Quonochontaug Pond aim to improve the growth and survival of recreationally important fish such as black sea bass, tautog, striped bass, scup, summer flounder, and winter flounder.
Bass in the Bay… Bob Signorello of Bethlehem, PA with two striped bass he caught of Cast-a-fly Charters last week.

 How big is fishing in RI?

The women and men, who catch, process and support commercial fishing do our state and country a great service.  They allow us to have fresh, nutritious seafood on our dinner table at a reasonable price.  It you do not fish yourself, or have friends and relatives that fish, there is no other way you can acquire this great source of protein.

Additionally, commercial fishing has a big economic impact in Rhode Island, with recreational fishing having even a greater economic impact according to the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Earlier this month NOAA released  an economics report (see link below) that said the 2015 economic impact of the Rhode Island commercial seafood industry was approximately $290-million in sales, $105-million in income, $147- million in value added to the economy, and the industry supports 4,522 jobs in Rhode Island.

What was surprising is that recreational fishing has even a greater economic impact on the state.  The report said that recreational fishing generated $332-million in sales, $141-million in income, $216-million in value added to the economy, and the industry supports 3,554 jobs.

A copy of the report titled NOAA’s Fisheries Economics of the U.S. can be found on NOAA’s website at .
The report said that nationally commercial and recreational fishing generated $208 billion in sales, contributed $97 billion to the gross domestic product and supported 1.6 million full- and part-time jobs in 2015. 

The four different measures in the report show how fishermen expenditures affect the economy in a region (state or nationwide): sales, income and value-added, and employment. Sales refer to the gross value of all sales by regional businesses affected by an activity, such as commercial or recreational fishing. It includes both the direct sales of the fish landed or those made by the angler and sales made between businesses and households resulting from that original sale. Income includes personal income (wages and salaries) and proprietors’ income (income from self-employment). Value-added is the contribution made to the gross domestic product in a region. Employment is specified on the basis of full-time and part-time jobs supported directly or indirectly by fish sales or the purchases made by anglers. NOAA Fisheries uses a regional impact modeling software, called IMPLAN, to estimate these four types of impacts.

Black sea bass regulations likely to change

Rhode Island’s black sea bass (BSB) regulations will likely change again becoming a bit more conservative for the later part of the season.  Current measures to meet 2017 Recreational Harvest Limits (RHL) for BSB have been revisited by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission based on the overfishing of harvest limits that occurred in the last two months of 2016 (which is referred to as Wave 6). 

The Wave 6 data indicated a reduction is needed to stay within the 2017 RHL and the Board decided to set the possession limit for wave 6 (November and December of 2017) at five fish in state waters from Rhode Island through New Jersey.  The Board said in a release last week, “All other state measures remain unchanged 2016.”

So this means we can expect a change in what were tentative 2017 Rhode Island BSB regulations, likely in the later part of the season.  The tentative split season regulations for BSB were: three fish/person/day from May 25 to August 31; seven fish/person/day between September 1 through September 21; a closed season when federal waters are closed from September 22 to October 21; and seven fish/person/day from October 22 to December 31. The final State of RI ruling will be reported once it is released, likely sometime in June.

Experimental reefs built at Quonochontaug Pond

The RI DEM and the Nature Conservancy have teamed up to develop nine experimental reefs made of recycled surf clam and oyster shell, and then seeding them with live oysters.  The idea is that the complex surge will attract marine life, and provide food and shelter for juvenile fish, increasing survival rates. 

State and Nature Conservancy scientists say the aim of the multiyear project is to  find out whether constructing oyster reefs in shallow coastal areas can improve the growth and survival of early life stages of recreationally important fish such as black sea bass, tautog, striped bass, scup, summer flounder, and winter flounder.

“Research in the Gulf of Mexico and Mid-Atlantic region has shown that constructing oyster reefs can increase fish and invertebrate biomass, as well as the growth and survival of recreationally important fish species,” said Eric Schneider, Principal Marine Biologist, for RI DEM Marine Fisheries. “Considering the former research and that current oyster populations in Rhode Island are less than 10% of those from the mid-1900s, we believe that enhancing this ecologically important habitat will benefit local fish communities and anglers. Rhode Island’s coastal waters offer many fantastic opportunities for anglers to enjoy the diversity and abundance of our local catch.”

The Nature Conservancy and RI DEM pooled their resources to fund this project, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program and many individual donors. 

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing for largemouth bass has been very good. With anglers catching some very large fish in lakes and ponds in Rhode Island.” said John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “The trout bite has been good in the six ponds DEM restocked and particularly good at Willet Avenue Pond where one customer landing four nice fish in a couple of hours.”

Striped bass fishing is starting to explode in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay from Mt. Hope Bay and Popasquash Point, Bristol all the way up the Providence River to the Hurricane Barrier. Schools of Atlantic menhaden have made their presence known in the East Passage. “Customer Rocco Patriarca landed a plump 35 pound fish that had four whole Atlantic menhaden in it and one head. The Barrington Bridge is good for bass fishing too with anglers using worms and clam tongue.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.   John Lavallee of Continental Bait said, “The Bay is lighting up with pogies and anglers are catching fish.  Live lining Atlantic menhaden seems to be working better than using chunks of menhaden.  Customers are catching a lot of smaller keepers in the 30” range at the Barrington Bridge and Collier Park.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “One customer caught a 34 pound striper off Colt State Park with a lot of school bass and keepers mixed in on the Warren River and off Bristol.” Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown,  said, “Last week we had a lot of fish being caught off the beaches in the 28” to 32” range but at the end of last week they seemed to have moved into the Bay over the weekend.”

Tautog fishing reports are mixed.  Some anglers are finding the fish and catching there limit, three fish/person/day and others are not catching many at all.  Overall it has been a very slow spring tautog season.

Summer flounder (fluke) have started to make themselves known.  “Anglers are catching keeper size fish south of Block Island and some fishermen are starting to catch them along the southern coastal shore.” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “A 21” fluke was landed at the mouth of the Sakonnet River this past week so the bite there is just starting.”