Sunday, April 7, 2019

Trout fishing is great family fun... Mate school placement 75%

2018 Opening Day and year-round fishers, Yolanda Rios and Bill Whalen of Warwick with their sons Jowell and Brendon are a fishing family.
Opening day 2018 at Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown: William Harpin of Warwick; Chris Girard, Joe Enright, Bill Enright (with fish), Autumn Mitchell, and Jonathan Harpin all of Cranston.
Mate School:  Hillary Kenyon of Groton, CT attends mate school run by Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters. 

Trout fishing is great family fun

Opening day for trout season in Rhode Island is Saturday, April 13 at sunrise (around 6:09 a.m.).  However, the ritual of ‘Opening Day’ will start well before this time and continue throughout the weekend.  Often it starts before sunrise with fresh coffee on the banks of a pond or lake, a camping trip the night before, an early morning breakfast at home or at a local diner.
If you should have the desire to participate in the ritual, it does not take a lot of effort or money to get started. April is an ideal time for families to try their hand at fishing as Rhode Island and Massachusetts waterways are stocked well with trout and it is fairly easy for beginners to catch fish.  And, fishing can take place from the safety of shore while all enjoy the outdoors.

How to get started
It does not have to cost a lot to gear-up to fish opening day.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “If you have a rod and reel already all you need is $4 worth of bait and you are off fishing.”  Ferrara sells treble hook rigs and sinkers for about $1.50.  If a rod and reel in needed you can get a brand name rod (Daiwa), reel and line for about $29.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We have fresh water spinning rigs that start at $15 for rod, reel and line.  We hope to get some push button conventional reels later this week.”  John Lavelle of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston, said, “Opening day rigs with rod, reel and line range from $16 to $39.”

States stock ponds with hatchery raised trout that have been eating manufactured food so the bait of choice on Opening Day and early April is a prepared or formulated bait like PowerBait by Berkeley.  As the trout acclimate to the wild (two to three weeks) they begin to start foraging naturally so meal worms, other natural baits and lures work best then.  PowerBait can be purchased at bait & tackle shops as well as sporting goods stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Wal-Mart. 

Ponds being stocked
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Division of Fish & Wildlife stocks about 100 ponds, lakes and waterways with hatchery raised brown, rainbow and brook trout with an average individual weight of one and a half pounds. Visit for a complete list of trout stocked ponds in RI.  There are ponds for children fourteen years old and younger, for fly fishing only, and some ponds are for children only just the first two days of trout season.
For information on fishing laws and regulations in Massachusetts refer to the 2019 Massachusetts Guide online at or pick up a copy at sporting license vendor locations across the State (a similar guide is available in Rhode Island).
The trout season runs year-round in some Massachusetts waterways, however, most ponds, lakes,  smaller rivers and brooks have seasons that generally start April 1. In March and April Massachusetts will stock close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout.  Visit for a list of stocked ponds and regulations.

Where to get a fresh water license
 A 2019 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required in Rhode Island for anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or 'fly-fishing only' area.  Fishing licenses for residents in RI are $18 and the Trout Conservation Stamp is $5.50.  They can be obtained at any city or town clerk's office, authorized agent such as bait and tackle shops, can be purchased online or obtained at DEM’s Boat Registration and Licensing Office located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence.
Licenses are $33 for a combination hunting and fishing license, $35 for non-residents, and $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license. 
In Massachusetts a freshwater residential fishing license is $27.50 and a non-resident license is $37.50.  You can purchase an in state or out of state three day license.  For complete Massachusetts license information and to apply for one online visit .

Mate school placement is 75%

Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters, Pt. Judith, RI is an industry icon.  He was the first in the region to use a shark diving cage in the early 70’s, he has come in contact with hundreds of sharks (and released them all), and he had the first all female crew in a male dominated industry. 
And, this month he’ll be holding his third Mate School that will train students on how to serve as a mate on a charter or party boat.  The school makes no promises but the last class had a 75% placement rate. 

The school will be held Saturday, April 20 and 27 with six hour classroom/workshop sessions.  The program culminates with an on the water practicum aboard the charter fishing vessel Snappa the week of May 11.

Capt. Donilon said, “Students receive the basics at mate school with additional training occurring when they get their first job. The school is for female and males of all ages, anyone that wants to learn how to mate on a vessel or wants to sharpen their seamanship skills.”

Mate School teaches students how to prepare the vessel to fish, gear preparation and care, how to customer instruct on how to fish and how to treat customers.  Mate School’s aim is to introduce students to what it is like to be a mate and what is expected of them.

The cost of the school is $225. For information and to register for Mate School contact Capt. Donilon at 401.487.9044 or

Where’s the bite

Freshwater.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We have a customer that caught eleven fish last week both largemouth bass and pike at Bad Luck Pond in Rehoboth, MA.”   John Lavelle of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “Some larger fish have been caught in March.  As soon as the ice melts the largemouth bass are hungry and when the water warms they start to feed.  Our customers are doing well with shiners. Once opening day arrives local customers will be fishing at the kids only Seidel’s Pond and Meshanticut Brook but I like to point customers to southern Rhode Island lakes and ponds where things are not as crowded.  I can’t tell you all the maps I have drawn for customers.”

Cod fishing was off last week but as conditions improve the hope is that the fishing will improve too.  John Littlefield of Archie’s said, “One of my good customers put his boat in early last week and went to Cox Ledge.  They caught more haddock than cod but had a good day.”

Tautog season opened April 1 in RI and MA.  The minimum size is 16”. The limit until May 31 in both states is three fish/person/day. Check regulations as they change after May 31.

Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch... Fishing Show largest ever

Elisa Cahill and brother Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina at the New England Saltwater Fishing Show.  Cahill said, “Jigging rods were very popular this year.”
Anglers learn how to tie flies, fly fish and then try their hand fishing the cinder worm hatch.
Crista Banks of Vineyard Wind meets angler Steve Collins of Westport at the Fishing Show.  Most anglers had positive things to say about the wind farm as it creates habitat for small and large fish

Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Aquatic Resource Education Program, announced its annual Cinder Worm Workshop.  The program includes two weekday evening classes in fly tying instruction and one weekend evening of fly fishing. The program is free to registrants.
The course syllabus includes practical rigging and fly casting instruction for the novice on the day of fishing. .  “We would like to have everyone attend both workshops,” said David Pollack, one of the organizers of the program, “but you also have the option to pick just one.”  Introduction to practical rigging and casting instruction will be covered for those that need additional assistance.  Fly fishers will then fish the coves of Grassy Point area of Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.  “We don’t guarantee the weather or the fish,” said Pollack.
The program is open to any adult or accompanied child over the age of 10, regardless of skill level--40 person maximum so register early.  Instruction and guidance will be provided by some of the area’s most proficient and knowledgeable worm fishermen.   Also this year is the opportunity for kayak fishing - limited to experienced kayakers who have their own vessel, safety equipment and required lights. 
All fly tying materials will be provided.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own tools and equipment, but all necessary fly tying tools and equipment will be loaned to registrants upon request. Saltwater fly fishing equipment, including rods, reel, lines and leaders are available too.

The Fly Tying classes will be held Tuesday, May 7 and May 14. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the
Kettle Pond Visitor Center, Charlestown, RI.  The Fly Fishing portion of the program will take place Saturday, May 18, 4:00 p.m. until dark at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown, RI.
Capt. Ray Stachelek and Dave Pollack, fly fishing experts and USFWS volunteers will facilitate the program. For information or to register contact Scott Travers at 

The buzz at the Saltwater Fishing Show
The New England Saltwater Fishing Show this past weekend toped all past RI Convention Center attendance records.  Over 15,000 people were expected to attend.  A final tally will be forthcoming later this week or next.

Black sea bass regulations for 2019 recreational fishing was top of mind for anglers at the show.  Greg Vespe, Flippin Out Charters mate, Aquidneck Island Striper Team president and RI Saltwater Anglers Association board member said, “Black sea bass was the big angler concern at the show.  Anglers just cannot understand why the State of Rhode Island is once again proposing to start the season so late (June 24). These fish are caught in the Bay by boat and shore anglers in early June and it is often the only time they get to target black sea bass.  By delaying the season once again we are denying Bay anglers the benefit of this fishery as these fish move out of the area in July.  Pushing the season back to accommodate a handful of charter and party boats so their fall season can be extended is just not right.”
Most 2019 fishing regulations (for recreational and commercial fishing) will go before the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council including proposed balck sea bass regulations next Monday.  Anglers are urged to attend.  The meeting starts earlier than usual, 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 1 at Corless Auditorium at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus.  Visit for meeting agenda and background information.
Fishing gear and tackle trends at the Show
The Saltwater Edge, top lures.  From the surf Tom Dzis of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown, RI said, “Super Strike lures were hot at the show.  The Zig Zag Darter in the new Midnight Harvest color was a good seller.  Their Needlefish lure in ‘Eely’ color was a great seller too.  Other top lures included Ocean Born Lures.”
Ocean Born Lures by A Band of Anglers is a fairly new company from the world's top lure developer, Patrick Sebile.  He is known in the fishing world for developing such productive lures as the Magic Swimmer and the Stick Shad. 
The Saltwater Edge has a great online store that’s very easy to use and is loaded with product at or you can visit their retail store at 1037 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, RI.
Flippin Out Fishing Charters and lures was at the show marketing their summer flounder (fluke) lures, charter business and demonstrating how to tautog fish using saltwater electric trolling motors (the Minn Kota Riptide line with spot lock).  The new motor designs allow fresh or saltwater anglers to hover over their favorite fishing spots to hook up with hard to fish species like tautog.  
Minn Kota electric motors with Spot-Lock are now being used even on larger mid-sized boats to help keep you over the fish.  Their saltwater Riptide Ulterra model with i-Pilot features Spot-Lock, a GPS anchor.  Just hit a button and lock onto any spot you chose automatically.  For saltwater or freshwater anglers this means over structure, on a bank, next to a dock or jetty that is holding fish (saltwater bottom fish such as tautog, scup or black sea bass).
Many of the fluke fishing lures sold by Capt. BJ Silvia, owner of Flippin Out Charters and lures, feature a large plastic squid and large wide gap hook on a three way swivel.  The rig has a sinker clip that makes changing out different sinker weights easy.  These rigs have been some of my favorite fluke rigs for years and can be purchased at a number of bait & tackle shops in Rhode Island.  Visit Flippin Out Charters and lures at .
Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown, RI is a full serve bait & tackle shop.  They had a large show presence this year as usual with a variety of rods, reels and tackle.   Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor said, “Jigging rods and reels have been very popular at the show.  Anglers are interested in learning and fishing this way to mix things up.  All the popular rods have been selling well… Shimano, Lamiglass and a host of others. Anglers are jigging for striped bass, tuna and other species. By far… fluke rigs have been the bestselling rigs at the show.”
Snug Harbor Marina offers customers gas and diesel fuel, a complete selection of inshore and offshore bait and tackle along with marina supplies, seafood, groceries and a snack bar.  Visit them at or visit them at 410 Gooseberry Road, South Kingstown, RI.