Sunday, May 26, 2019

Landry lands monster bass in Bay

Monster bass: Ken Landry of Cranston landed this 52.25 pound striped bass Monday afternoon live lining Atlantic menhaden (pogies) in Narragansett Bay.
VIP Tournament: Jamie Legare of North Kingstown with a black sea bass he caught on last year Lion’s Club Visually Impaired Persons fishing trip aboard the Frances Fleet.
East End Eddie Doherty (formerly of Attleboro) with the 27 pound striped bass he caught on the Cape Cod Canal Wednesday.
VIP Tournament: Neil McCauley of Johnston with a scup he caught on last year’s Lions Club Visually Impaired Persons fishing trip on the Frances Fleet.

Landry lands monster bass in Bay

Ken Landry of Cranston, RI caught a 52.25 pound striped bass Monday afternoon when fishing the upper part of Narragansett Bay.  Landry a long time recreational and commercial fisherman caught the fish live lining Atlantic Menhaden (pogies).  Large striped bass over 50 pounds are sometimes caught at Block Island and along the coastal shore in the summer, however, this fish is a very large fish for a spring striped bass caught in Narragansett Bay.

Ken Ferrara, his father, owner of Ray Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “I said to Kenny, remember when you were a kid and I caught a 50 pound bass in the Bay?  You son of gun, you beat me by 2 pounds”.  Landry said, “Dad I beat you by 2.25 pounds.”

Fishing tournament for visually impaired

The RI Lions Sight Foundation (RILSF) will be hosting their 12th Annual Fishing Tournament for Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) on Sunday, June 23 aboard the Frances Fleet party boat in Galilee, RI.

The Tournament is a half-day fishing trip with participants competing for one of several trophies and an opportunity to represent Rhode Island at the “North Carolina Lions National VIP Tournament” in October.  Also included during the Nationals trip is a New England Lions Tourney which currently includes teams from RI, CT and MA.

The event is free to the VIP’s and their Guides and includes a continental breakfast, fishing, followed by a lunch and presentation of prizes and awards at Dan’s Carriage Inn, North Kingstown.  The VIP Tournament is available to any legally blind Rhode Island resident (minimum age is 17). 

There are over 2,500 visually impaired persons in Rhode Island so organizers are urging readers to pass along information about this opportunity. Information and applications on the RI VIP Tourney are available at  or call Ken Barthelemy at 401.447.4228.

Fluke experts share tips

Monday night I attended a RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) summer flounder (fluke) seminar with four great fluke experts.  The experts at the seminar were Kathy and Peter Lewis, RISAA Team Fluke Challenge tournament winners; Capt. Shamus Mara of Big Game Sport Fishing; and Michael Tilelli, the 2017 and 2018 RISAA Angler of the Year.

Here are some highlights:

When do you start fluke fishing?  Peter Lewis said, “I start when the Connecticut season opens, this year it was May 4.  However, the fish are generally offshore at this time so we fish the Montauk, NY area until the fish get a little closer.” Mid-May is a good time to start fluke fishing, however, we do not real numbers of keeper fluke until June.

At what depth do you find the fish?  Kathy Lewis said, “This time of year (May) we find them in sallower water about 30 to 50 feet  and as things warm up (June and summer) in the deeper water 80 to 100 feet.”  Capt. Mara agreed and added, “It all relates to bait.  Wherever the bait is, that is where the fluke will be.”

What type of bottom do you like for fluke fishing?  Michael Tilelli said, “I fish from shore so it is usually a matter of casting as far as I can and then work the lure back to shore.  The biggest factor is bait in the water, if I see no bait I generally move.”  Capt. Mara said “I like fishing humps and bumps and line up my drift so I can take advantage of as much structure as possible.” Peter Lewis said, “I like a sandy bottom, ideally that leads to a mussel bed and then falls off to sand.  I like to drift from shallow to deep water.”

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass.  Lorraine Danti of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “One of our customers fishing Narragansett Bay was having a blast catching school striped bass fishing and all of a sudden his line started to pay out quickly and it was a big fish, actually a 42” fish mixed in with the school bass. He was using a soft plastic lure.  Other customers are doing will with school bass too and like I said with an occasional keeper mixed in.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Capt. B.J. Silvia of Flippin Out Charters is landing some nice fish in the 30 inch range in the East Passage on the channel pad.  His customers are successfully jigging with Al Gag’s soft plastics.  From shore anglers are landing bass using claim worms sea worms, clams and soft plastics.”  Ken Landry of Cranston caught a 52.25 pound striped bass Monday afternoon in the upper part of Narragansett Bay.  Ken Ferrara, his father, of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “He caught the fish when live lining pogies (Atlantic menhaden).”

Tautog fishing has been very good.  Lorraine Danti said, “The tautog bite is very good from boats and shore.  Customers are catching their limit at the Stone Bridge and Bristol Narrows.”  I fished the General Rock, North Kingstown area Saturday with angler Steve Brustein of West Warwick in water 12 to 22 feet deep and caught short tautog only.  “Fishing for tautog from boat and shore has been good. Customers are catching fish 25” primarily south of the bridges.  Narragansett has been very good for customers.” said Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

Freshwater fishing continues to be very strong.  Mark Adler of Tiverton said, “We have been hitting the trout pretty good.  This weekend I fished Wallum Lake (Douglas, MA and Burrillville, RI) and landed rainbow trout using garlic PowerBait.  The trout were quality fish and there were a lot of them.”  “The trout bite is still good but the largemouth bass bite at Lincoln Woods Olney Pond, the Tiverton Reservoir and the Woonasquatucket River, North Providence has been very good.  Anglers are using shiners.  The bite in the North Cove of the Olney Pond is particularly good because of all the structure and bait there.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been improving offshore.    Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “It was a good week for fluke fishing and it is getting better with the warming weather. Every trip we are catching more and more fish covered in sea lice. This is a very good sign with more fish moving in to the area. The water is still in the upper 40s and fishing should only continue to improve as it warms.”

Squid fishing was good this week.  Capt. Frank Blount said, “Anglers who fish all night have been going home with a solid five gallon bucket full. The size of the squid is amazing as well. Wednesday night did have the best quality with tubes the size of your arm.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Ethane Phouthakoun of Providence and his father caught a half-bucket of squid Sunday night and then limit out on scup Monday morning.”

Spring tautog tips from the experts

Amanda Riffkin caught and released this 9.5 pound tautog this weekend on Flippin Out Charters, Portsmouth. 
Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Jason Christopher of Providence caught tautog to 22” this weekend. Out of 30 tautog, 12 of them were keepers, most released.” 

Spring tautog tips from the experts

If you have not tried spring tautog fishing, now is the time to do it as the spring fishing has been great. 

Chris Torre of Red Top Sporting Goods, Buzzards Bay, MA said, “The tautog bite in Buzzards Bay and in the Cape Cod Canal has been great.” John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston, RI said, “The tautog fishing has been the best it has been in years.  Fishing is so good customers have to work hard to catch an undersized fish.”

The tautog minimum size is 16” with a three fish/person/day limit and a 10 fish per boat maximum.  The catch limit in Massachusetts drops from three fish to one fish on May 31 for the months of June and July during the spawning season.  In Rhode Island the season close for June and July during the spawning season.

Here are some spring tautog fishing tips:

1.       Easy to bite and keep it still in spring.  Dave Hess of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charleston said, “I have found tautog jigs effective, particularly when there is little water movement.  Smaller baits seem to work best in spring. I cut the legs and often pull off most of the shell of a green crab cut in half.  And, I believe in keeping the bait still on the bottom.”

2.       Warm and shallower water in spring. Dave Henault, Ocean State Tackle,  Providence, said, “Tautog are in a pre-spawn state so they are looking for warmer water, that means you will tend to find them in shallower water in the spring and not necessarily over structure, they can be found on a sandy bottom next to or near structure too.”

3.       Feel the bite… tap, tap and then get ready for a tug of war.  Tautog is a quick hook set.  Feel a bite and get ready to set the hook.  Angler Rich Hittinger, vice president of the RI Saltwater Anglers, said, “If you get two bites with no hook-up your bait is gone. Reel in and re-bait.”

4.       Boat placement is important and chum.  Find structure with electronics, estimate wind/drift direction and anchor up current from where you want to fish and drift back to the spot as the anchor is setting.  Once in position, fish all sides of the boat.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick suggests casting a bit to cover as much area as you can.  If still no bites, let some anchor line out a couple of times to change your position, if still no bites it is time to move the vessel.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait said, “To attract tautog to where you are fishing many anglers find chumming effective.  Grass shrimp is a popular chum for tautog in the spring, other anglers grind up quahogs and we sell a lot of whole clams for chum.  Clams are easy to cut up when frozen and they are fairly cheap.”

Where’s the bite?

Tautog. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Jason Christopher of Providence caught tautog to 22” this weekend using jigs.  He and his party caught about 30 tautog, 12 of them were keepers.  And when fishing on Flippin Out Charters, Amada Riffkin of Lincoln caught a 9.5 pound tautog that she released.”  Charter Captains, like BJ Silvia of Flippin Out Charters, are often releasing large female tautog that have great egg producing and spawning potential. 
Dave Hess of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “The tautog bite is very good from boat and shore.  The fish are in 20 to 25 feet of water with green crabs and worms being the bait of choice.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle Warwick said, “The tautog bite is good, customers are catching them at Ohio Ledge, Conimicut Light and Plum Island light in North Kingstown.  Green crabs and worms are working for anglers.” 

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “The tautog bites has been good at the Day Marker off Rumstick Point, Barrington.  One customer caught sixteen keepers and released them all, the largest was 8.5 pounds off the Bridge in Barrington in the rain last Sunday.”

Striped bass fishing continues to improve along the coastal shore, in estuaries and in the Bay.  Dave Hess of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “Fishing has been great from the beaches, breachways and jetties with anglers catching school bass with 30” keepers mixed in.  The worm hatch in salt ponds has started with anglers catching bass on flies and lures that mimic cinder worms.” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “It will not be long before we have the large fish here.  Right now anglers are catching school bass, averaging about 20” in Greenwich Bay at Buttonwoods, Sally Rock and off Oakland Beach.  Soft baits such as Storm Shads are working well and many are having good luck with the Rebel Jumpin Minnow and lures like it.”

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “One customer caught a 35” and 31” striped bass from the rocks off Narragansett.  The fish were loaded with lice.  Keepers have also been caught in the Bay and up the Barrington River.  Anglers in river are floating worms, clam tongue and whole squid to catch keepers there.” Chris Torre of Red Top said, “Customers are catching school bass with some 28 to 30 inch fish mixed in on the Canal.”

Fluke fishing is still slow as the water is cold. A warm day or two and things will explode as bait is around.

Freshwater fishing.  Chris Torre of Red Top Sporting Goods, Buzzards Bay said, “We are behind on the largemouth bass season by a couple of weeks.  With this warmer weather the bass will start bedding, I fished New York last we and the pre-spawn had started there.  The trout bite from the Cape to Fall River has been great.  We weighed in a seven plus pond rainbow last week.” Dave Hess of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “The trout bite in stocked ponds continues to be very strong and now that the water is warming the largemouth bass bite has been good too.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait and Tackle said, “Customers continue to catch trout at stocked ponds like Barber and Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown.  The largemouth bite has been good for customers at Gorton’s Pond, Warwick.”  John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle said, “Hats off to DEM.  The trout bite has been so good in ponds stocked by DEM that even causal anglers are catching 2.5 pound trout.  The trout bite at Curran Reservoir and the Pawtuxet River is good in Cranston.”

Friday, May 10, 2019

Tautog, striper and largemouth bite explode

Congressmen Keating (center) opens door:  Congressmen Bill Keating (center) greets Joe Gugino of Boston and Ed Doherty of Mattapoisett (formerly Attleboro) in Washington, DC to talk about keeping fish conservation strong in our national fishing laws.

Tautog, striper and largemouth bite explode

This week tautog fishing turned on with many anglers catching their limit (16” minimum, three fish/person/day) with fish in the twenty inch range being caught regularly. Cape Cod Canal angler (and Attleboro native) East End Eddie Doherty said, “I caught a 25” striper at the West End at 5:15 a.m. on a five ounce Bill Hurley tan swim bait just as the current turned east and the tide started to rise.” Bruce Miller of Canal Bait & Tackle, Sagamore said, “All the action is on the west and south end of the Canal with hold over school bass up to 26”.  We have some scup and tautog in the area too.”

The spring striped bass fishing in Rhode Island has been good too. The East Passage Bay bite is stronger and the fish are larger than West Passage fish.  Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “I caught fish in the mid-20 inch range from the shore at Rocky Point, Conimicut and the Pawtuxet area.  I almost measured one of them but planned to release it anyway.”

The bite in Greenwich Cove and Chepiwanoxet Point was good this week.  I caught the smallest school striped bass I have ever caught at the Godard Park Boat ramp Sunday morning in the rain, however, the fish were larger there, averaging 18” and larger last week and early this week. 

If you plan to fish for striped bass now is the time to start.  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 soft plastic lures, other times shinny sliver lures like Kastmaster work well and as the season progresses live or chunks of Atlantic menhaden, other days trolling umbrella rigs or tube and worm works best.

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.  Based on the research you’ve done, select five or six places to find the fish.  Now that you have your fishing plan, be ready with a number of fishing strategies to land that striped bass. 

Fly Rodders Fishing Get-Together
The Rhody Fly Rodders will meet to fish at Colt State Park, Bristol on Saturday, May 11, any time after the high tide at 2:00 p.m. to fish the out-going tide.  For information contact Peter Nilsen, president, at

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing has been good, but like the saltwater, bad weather has deterred many anglers from fishing. The trout bite in ponds and lakes that have been stocked remains strong.  The freshwater largemouth bite has been very good too this week.  Matt McNair of the Northeast Trading Company, North Attleboro said, “The trout bite at Falls Pond (North Attleboro) has been very good.  And, for largemouth the Norton Reservoir has been hot.  Our young customers seem to be out fishing the adults for largemouth.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick, RI said, “We are at the being of the pre-spawn bite and largemouth bass are feeding.  Last week things exploded in smaller ponds like Warwick Pond and in larger waterways like Stump Pond and Lake Tioque, Coventry the bite was very good too.” Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “The water around here is still a bit cold for largemouth, however, Carbuncle Pond and Warden’s Pond has been very good for trout fishing… particularly golden, some anglers are catching three to four an outing.”  Visit for a list of stocked trout ponds and regulations in Massachusetts.  And, for stocked ponds and regulations in Rhode Island visit .

Striped bass fishing has been very good and getting better every day.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Fish in the 25” range have been caught in the Providence River but there is no indication that these are migrating fish. Squid fishing has been hit or miss but overall petty good at Goat Island, Newport as well as Ft. Wetherill and Getty, Jamestown.  We have also had pogies in the East Passage around Ohio Ledge with birds feeding but no indication that bass are under them.”  “Fish have been in the 18’ to 24” range in the East Passage.” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “A volume of school bass have been caught from the Pawcatuck/Westerly Bridge all the way down to the Bay with the best bite in the Cemetery area. Some keepers have been taken too, but don’t think they have been migrating fish.” Gil Bell, shore fishing expert said, “Maceral has been caught from the beaches and boats this week from Narraganset to Charlestown and there is Bunker now in the Pawcatuck River, Westerly.  I am casting big lures for large striped bass now trying not to catch school bass.”

Tautog fishing has been very good. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The Connecticut season ended and in Rhode Island not many have been fishing for tautog but the bite is very good in about 20 feet of water on reefs off Watch Hill.”  John Littlefield from Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Customers are catching fish at the Stone Bridge, Tiverton and off the Barrington bike path bridge.  Conimicut Light has been good for customers too.”  Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “I weighed in three fish for RISAA anglers this weekend in the 22” to 23” range.  The bite at Rocky Point has been good with anglers catching keepers.

We need fresh fish and ocean wind farms

The Block Island Wind Farm: the first and to date, the only ocean wind farm in the U.S.

We need fresh fish and ocean wind farms

We need renewable energy bad. The water is warming.  For years the ocean has acted as a heat absorber and last year it was the warmest ever. If we do not kick solar and ocean wind power into high gear, and the water continues to warm, even the warm water fish that have arrived in our area will leave.

We know the polar ice caps are melting from greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (created from the burning of fossil fuels) from above.  It is now melting from below too with warming ocean waters. So climate change impacts are accelerating.

Our cold water fish in the northeast have moved out to deeper and cooler water… no more winter flounder, no more American lobster, all the lobsters went to Maine.  And, we now have warm water fish in greater abundance such as scup, black sea bass and summer flounder (even though the stock is not in great shape). Speaking with fishermen from Maryland, they have an abundance of warm water species that are normally found further south in Florida.

So this is why we need to make ocean wind farms work. 

Our experience with the Block Island Wind Farm has been excellent. Not only has there been no remarkable adverse effects on fish and habitat, the fishing in the area is arguably better.  Recreational fishermen catch summer flounder, black sea bass and cod in the general wind farm area. Many say (including this fisherman) that fishing in the area has actually been better. 

Commercial rod & reel fishermen fish the wind farm area.  Commercial trawlers work the waters right alongside the windfarm. And, commercial gill netters set their nets right up to the pylons.  They do this because the fishing is good there, not because it is bad.

Looking at the bases of the turbines with underwater photography there is mussel growth on pylons, small fish eating around the mussels, scup and balck sea bass feeding close to the pylons with large bluefish and striped bass circling to pick off the smaller fish.

The cumulative impact of fish and habitat with 80 turbines, next to 100, next to 120 is what all are concerned about.  That’s why we need federal laws passed that put pressure on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to accelerate research before, during and after construction.  We need to see what positive or negative impacts (if any) the first 80 turbines will have on fish and habitat and apply the learnings to the construction of the next 80 turbines.

And by the way, the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) needs to play more of a role here, right now they are merely consulted.  If fish or habitat are at risk NOAA Fisheries needs the ability to put the brakes on as fish and habitat are their business, not BOEM’s business.

All fishermen and all Americans need to be vigilant about protecting fish and habitat.  But wind farm developers and fishermen posturing for mitigation is not a venue that leads to positive results of enhancing renewable energy while allowing fisheries to grow. 

The recent mitigation process used in Rhode Island on one lease area project built by Vineyard Wind (for a wind farm in Massachusetts) has set the table for some silliness.  The process was not inclusive of all fishery sectors in all states.  It did not include concerns of recreational fishers and those of Massachusetts fishermen.  If there are two to three projects in each of 20 lease areas, that’s 50 or 60 projects in the mid-Atlantic area to Massachusetts. 

We need to develop a process for addresses the needs of fishermen and the wind farm industry that is outside of mitigation, well before it. More of an inclusive planning approach that respects the needs and concerns of all at the table.

You also hear some totally false information spread by some designed to instill fear in fishermen and the public and position themselves for mitigation. Claims such as you will not be able to fish near the turbines, birds will be destroyed by the wind farm blades, the sound of the turbines will drive mammals away, the submarine cables emit electromagnetic fields that will kill fish, the turbines spinning will blow on the water and disrupt spawning grounds. I have not been able to find research that supports these claims.

So I say we have to work this out.  We need renewable energy. And, we need fresh, nutritious fish. NOAA needs a larger seat at the decision making table.  Wind farm developers and fishermen have to learn to live and work together. 

If we do not reduce the impacts of climate change, eventually even the warm water fish that have arrived in our waters will leave for cooler waters.

I am convinced we can develop renewable energy and yet have no remarkable negative impacts on fish and habitat.  We need to work to achieve this positive outcome today.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Striped bass in tough shape, mangers take action

Capt. John McMurray of One More Cast Charters, NY testified Wednesday before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Ocean and Wildlife.

Anglers advocate in Washington, DC this week: Capt. Dave Monti, No Fluke Charters; Todd Corayer, South Kingstown writer and kayak fishermen; Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown; Capt. Ian Devlin, East Norfolk, CT.

Striped bass in tough shape, fish mangers take action 

The Striped Bass Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) announced Tuesday that they plan to reduce striped bass total removals (commercial and recreational harvest, including dead releases) by roughly 17 percent. 

The 2018 Atlantic Striped Bass Benchmark Stock Assessment indicates the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing relative to the updated reference points defined in the assessment. Female spawning stock biomass (SSB) was estimated at 151 million pounds, below the SSB threshold of 202 million pounds. Despite recent declines in SSB, the assessment indicated the stock is still significantly above the SSB levels observed during the moratorium in the mid-1980s

The Draft Addendum that aims to reduce harvest will explore a range of management options, including minimum size and slot size limits for the recreational fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and along the coast, as well as a coastwide circle hook requirement when fishing with bait.

The Draft Addendum will be presented to the Board for its consideration and approval for public comment in August. If approved, it will be released for public comment, with the Board considering its final approval in October for implementation in 2020.

A more detailed description of the stock assessment results is available on the Commission’s website at .

Anglers advocate for conservation, enhanced data and climate change tools

Anglers, guides, charter captains and fishing industry leaders met in Washington, DC this week to push to maintain strong conservation measures in our national fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).  Provisions such as Allowable Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (fish sectors making up the difference if they overfish) are MSA provisions that have helped rebuild over 40 fish stocks since the year 2000.  

The group of anglers visited the offices of senators and congressmen advocating for enhance data (possibly through electronic recording) and providing fish mangers with enhanced climate change tools to manage species that have migrated as water has warmed. 

Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge outfitters in Middletown, RI and board chairman of the American Saltwater Guides Association said, “Our aim to run sustainable businesses through conservation and keeping the conservation measures in our national fishing law strong.”

In other Washington, DC fishing news this week, Capt. John McMurray of One More Cast Charters in Oceanside, NY and president of the American Saltwater Guides Association testified before the House Natural Resource Subcommittee on Water, Ocean and Wildlife Wednesday.  McMurray said, “Conservation provisions contained in the current version of our national fishing law reduced the number of stocks being overfished from 92 to 38 since 2000.  According to NOAA Fisheries recreational participation and seafood landings are up as a result and that’s because conservation provisions increased access by making more fish available to more people.”

Spring fishing off to a great start

The spring fishing season has gotten off to a great start.  Anglers had a great opening to the freshwater season with trout and golden trout still being caught in stocked waterways (see below report).  

And this week, the saltwater fishing season exploded with some anglers catching as many as 30 migrating school bass an outing with reports of a 30” fish being caught too (28” is the minimum size, one fish/person/day}.  To enhance the safe release of small school bass use in-line hooks, or snap off the barbs on treble hooks, and gently bring these fish in for a safe release. 

The tautog bite has been good too this week with many anglers limiting out (three fish/person/day, 16” minimum), some fish being caught are in the 20 plus inch range.

So get out there and fish.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass.  The striped bass migration started to hit Rhode Island early last week with school bass at the West Wall.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “We have customers catching holdover bass far up the Pawcatuck River at the Westerly/Pawcatuck Bridge and others at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge in South Kingstown catching migrating bass.  The fish are loaded with sea lice.”  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Anglers are catching migrating striped bass all the way to Conimicut Point and beyond up the river.  We have good reports of a striped bass bite in Apponaug and East Greenwich Coves.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “One of our customers caught a 30” keeper in the Barrington River and two others caught over 30 school bass.  They said they successfully released all of them.”

Tautog.  “Tautog fishing for commercial fishermen has been getting better.  Some are catching five to six keepers using clam as bait, not a lot of green crabs around year.  They are setting traps but the water is still too cold around here and the crabs are still dormant.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “Tautog fishing is very good.  Anglers are limiting out (three fish/person/day) using green crabs.  The bite is on in Tiverton, in the Sakonnet River and at the Barrington River Bridge.” Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, said, “The tautog bite off Newport and Jamestown was very good this week.  Anglers are using both worms and green crabs for bait.”  Angler John Migliori has been catching keeper tautog along Ocean Drive, Newport.  This past weekend he caught a 22” fish from shore.

Freshwater fishing. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “The bite at Bad Luck Pond for trout has been very good, however fishing at Brickyard Pond, Barrington has not been good at all.  The largemouth bite continues to be good in the area.” Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, “Customers are still catching golden trout.  We weighed in two that were caught at Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown. So the trout bite is still good.  The largemouth bass bite has been good for anglers too.”  Mike Wake of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The trout bite is still great at ponds that DEM stocked such as Carolina and Bradford Ponds.  And, they are still catching golden trout.  Once again DEM has done a great job stocking.” 

Visit for a list of stocked trout ponds and regulations in Massachusetts.  And, for stocked ponds and regulations in Rhode Island visit .

Catching spring bass is a hoot!

Capt. Dave Monti with an East Greenwich Cove spring bass caught in the month of May.
Kevin Fetzer with a 26” spring striped bass caught last year in Wickford Cove.
Personal Best: Mike Deryck of Blackstone, MA caught this 7.1 pound largemouth bass on a White Chatterbait. 
Angler John Migliori with a 22" tautog he caught off Ocean Drive, Newport.

Catching spring bass is a hoot!

It’s April and anglers are catching school striped bass in our rivers, bays and coves.  The typical spring pattern is that resident striped bass are the first to get active and then migrating fish kick in shortly after. 

Manny believe the fish we have caught up to this point are hold-over stripers, meaning resident fish that did not migrate south for the winter. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said “We have striped bass to 27” in the Barrington, Seekonk and Providence Rivers.”  And, we have received reports of school bass being caught in East Greenwich Cove and Bay.

So how do you catch spring striped bass, and in a week or two when migrating fish arrive, there’ll be an occasion keeper (28” or larger) mixed in.  Fishing for school bass can be lots of fun using light tackle or on a fly rod.


My personal favorite in the early spring is to use lightweight rods and reels as they provide anglers with the most challenging fight. I have a couple of light Penn rods and reels ready to go along with a couple of  St. Croix Mojo light and medium inshore spinning rods  paired with Shimano Stella 4000 reels.  The Shimano Stella reels are spooled with 20 pound braid and 20 pound fluorocarbon leaders just like the Penn rigs.

When a bass smacks your lure and runs with it there’s nothing more exciting.  With an abundance of small fish around the past couple of years most experts expect that fishing for school bass up to just keeper size (28”) will be hot once again this year.

Neil Hayes, manager of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, RI said, “I like to use a light action rod seven to eight feet with 20 pound brand, 30 tops.”  Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin Out Charters said, “I actually have a couple of freshwater rigs on board to target spring bass.”

Where to find the fish

Like most fish, finding spring striped bass is all about the bait.  Much of the bait in the spring is herring, or Atlantic menhaden.  So if you find the bait, the odds of finding the fish are dramatically improved.

An incoming tide is my preference.  Casting around jetties, sandbars, holes, ledges or small pieces of structure has been successful.  The idea is to cast into eddies, and just beyond them, that have been created by the incoming tide whirling around the structure.  Often times we cast in front of the structure, or if a sandbar in the low water on top of it, and then pull the lure away from the structure.  In this way your lure is acting much the same way a bait fish acts when it gets pushed up on the structure.   

Bait fish often get whipped around these areas and the bass are there to feed.  Capt. BJ Silvia said, “One of my favorite spots is around Ohio Ledge in the East Passage.  But to me honest, I look for the birds through my binoculars as the human I can miss the birds easily.”

Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “Early in the season the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge in South Kingstown is king.  Matunuck Beach is great too as well as the jetties along our South County breachways.

Enhance your catch and release skills

Striped bass are in trouble.  The last stock assessment shows that they are being overfished and overfishing is occurring so the last thing conservation minded anglers want to do is to kill a lot of school bass before they get to spawn.

To decrease the mortality rate of striped bass after you release them use inline hooks on lures.  If your lure has treble hooks consider change them or snapping down (and off) the barbs on each of the hooks.  In this was you will do minimum damage to a feisty fish.  I also try not to muscle in these fish as their lips and mouths are small and weak.  Just take it easy on them. 

Other catch & release tactics include landing the fish quickly to minimize stress; keep fish in the water as much as possible when removing hook; use gloves and wet your hand before handling the fish as dry hands remove the fish’s protective slime layer and leave it open to infection; gently remove the hook to minimize damage; return fish to water quickly and place them gently in the water in upright horizontal position.  Move it back and forth in the water holding its tail to force water across its gills.  Once the fish revives, allow it to swim away.

Favorite lures

Capt. BJ Silvia said, “I like to use Shimano Coltsniper lures as well as soft plastic,  4” top water poppers that rattle and when fishing deeper water we use small metal jigs with inline hooks.”  Dave Henault said, “I like to use small one once poppers, Cocahoe lures and Al Gag’s soft plastic baits.”  In addition to above lures, I have caught 1,000’s of spring bass on Yo Zuri Crystal Minnows (silver).  I like fishing them a various depths and find that ripping them through the water often gets the attention of striped bass. 

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing for trout remains strong a stocked ponds.  Visit for a list of stocked ponds and regulations in Massachusetts.  And, for stocked ponds and regulations in Rhode Island visit . Fishing for largemouth bass has been good too.  East End Eddie Doherty said, “Angler Mike Deryck of Blackstone, MA caught his largest ever largemouth bass this week, a 7.1 pounds fish. He caught the caught the largemouth using a White Chatterbait when fishing Lake Hiawatha in Blackstone, MA.”

Striped bass fishing is starting to come alive with resident hold over fish becoming active for the past couple of weeks in the Pawcatuck, Narrow, Providence, Barrington and Seekonk Rivers as well as in Greenwich Cove and Bay. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Customers are reporting a good bite from the beaches along the southern coastal shore with fish as large as 27”.  Many are saying the fish are larger than last year and the schools are larger too.”

Tautog bite is starting to build with some keepers being caught at the Stone Bridge, Tiverton and off Newport.  Angler John Migliori said, “I caught an 18” and a 19” tautog off Ocean Drive, Newport Wednesday using green crabs.”  The minimum size for tautog is 16”, three fish/person/day.

Squid/summer flounder (fluke).  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We have heard some rumors about squid starting to show up on the offshore grounds. The fluke should be right behind them.”

Wet start... wild end to Opening Day

Getting ready: Manny Macedo (center) of Lucky Bait, Warren with customers Brenda Ferreira of East Providence and her son Dan Decrescenzo as they stopped by the store to get ready for opening day.
Golden Trout is King: Jaymin Deandrade (center) with a golden trout he caught at Only Pond, Lincoln.  Shown with his brother Henry and uncle Joe Botelhs.

Food and funds donated:  Board and Annual Banquet committee members of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association with food donated to the Johnny Cake Food Pantry in South County. 

Family fun:  Matthew and Linda Terry of Richmond with their daughter Olivia at Frenchtown Pond in East Greenwich on Opening Day.

Wet start and wild end to Opening Day for Jose Lopez

Opening day of the Rhode Island trout and freshwater season had a wet start and a wild end last Saturday, April 13 for Jose Lopez Jr. of Central Falls.  At the start of opening day (6:08 a.m.) only a few anglers braved the pounding rain and wind at Rhode Island waterways to fish. Jose Lopez started his day at Carbuncle Pond in Coventry.  He and those anglers that fished in the morning were rewarded with some of the 75,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout that had been stocked by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

As the day progressed Jose moved to Only Pond, Lincoln during the midafternoon.  The sky had cleared and that is when things got wild for Jose Lopez as he hooked a 27.5 inch golden trout.  Jose said, “This fish kept teasing everyone swimming along the beach but no one could get the fish to bite.  Then I laid out some PowerBait just with a hook and no weight.  I saw the big yellow trout grab the bait and take off. I fought the fish for about 20 minutes and landed landing it at around 5:00 p.m.” The trout, which officially weighed in at 11.36 pounds at Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, may be a state of Rhode Island record for a golden trout.  At press time Jose was still waiting for the official word from RI DEM.

Henry Deandrade who also fished opening day at Only Pond, Lincoln (with his uncle and older brother), said, “The fishing is great. We caught ten fish so far, I caught the biggest and my brother Jaymin caught a golden trout.” 

Joe Botelhs of East Providence (Henry and Jaymin’s uncle) said, “We caught all our fish using PowerBait because the fish coming out of the hatchery are used to eating artificial food.”  Once hatchery-raised fish acclimate to the natural surroundings (in a week or so) they are likely to enjoy eating natural baits like meal worms or lures that look like natural baits. Hatchery-raised golden rainbow trout were stocked at 16 of Rhode Island’s most popular fishing locations for Opening Day including the largest fish so far caught by Jose Lopez Jr.

So if you plan to fish for trout this week I would suggest taking artificial baits (like PowerBait) as well as natural baits and natural looking lures.  Be ready to fish a number of different ways and then switch to the rig and bait arrangement that seems to be working best.

At Willet Avenue Pond brothers Nick and Ted Crevier of Riverside had landed two and three tout respectively in two hours.  I met Matthew Terry of Richmond, his wife Linda and daughter Olivia at Frenchtown Pond in East Greenwich at about 10 a.m. in a constant rain.  Linda said, “We just got here.  We fish together as a family all the time and thought we would come out and try our luck on opening day.”

Opening day had a wet start but great ending for anglers like Jose Lopez Jr. who landed a monster golden and just about everyone else who fished the weekend.  Once again our Department of Environmental Management did a great job stocking ponds and planning opening day.

Trout season in Massachusetts started April 1.  Visit for a list of stocked ponds and regulations in Massachusetts.  And, for stocked ponds and regulations in Rhode Island visit . In Rhode Island anglers who catch a golden trout from Opening Day through April 29 can receive a free golden trout pin. Take a picture of your catch and send it to .

Charter Boat annual meeting

Members of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) gathered Sunday at Spain Restaurant, Narragansett for their Annual Banquet.  About one hundred captains and guests celebrated last year’s catch.  Capt. Rich Bellavance, president, said “We are thankful for a safe year of fishing last year and look forward to a good and safe year of fishing in 2019.”

Captains and guests donated food and cash raised at the annual banquet to the Johnny Cake Food Pantry in South County as they have done for the past several years.

New Association promotes business through conservation

The American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA) officially launched this month with a mission to promote sustainable business through marine conservation.

Capt. John McMurray, president of the Association, said, “We represent fishing guides and charter captains, small business owners and like-minded anglers to protect marine resources.  Our board of directors is comprised of highly respected small business owners and guides from Maine to North Carolina.  In Rhode Island Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown, is our board chairmen and charter Capt. Dave Monti, fishing writer and fisheries advocate, is a board member and chairs our audit committee.”

The ASGA strives to provide a stronger voice and sound representation to the recreational fishing community, and intends to work with lawmakers and various fisheries management bodies by advocating for conservation through science-based management.  It will focus on the positive economic impacts that accrue from management that promotes abundant fish populations and the economic harm that will inevitably result from policies that promote excessive harvest.

The organization has identified striped bass, bluefish, menhaden and the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act as initial management issues that it will focus its efforts on in the near-term. 

Visit for information and as a resource on marine and fisheries management issues. 

Where’s the bite

Freshwater.  Trout fishing at Massachusetts and Rhode Island ponds that have been stocked has been outstanding and is expected to continue to be good this coming week.  Only Pond in Lincoln; Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside; Silver Spring, in North Kingstown; and Frenchtown Pond, East Greenwich were all yielding large brown,  brook and rainbow trout this week.  The largemouth bass bite was good too with angles using shiners as the bait of choice.  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Customers are catching trout with artificial baits (like PowerBait) as the food of choice of these hatchery raised stocked trout is still manufactured food until they acclimate to their natural surroundings.”

Saltwater fishing. Anglers continue to fish for small holdover striped bass in Narrow River, Narragansett, and the Pawcatuck River, Westerly.  A few angles have started to fish for tautog. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “Customers are buying crabs but no reports of high volumes of keeper tautog being caught.”  Some anglers are catching tautog but they are small fish. Tautog season started April 1, the minimum size is 16” and the limit is three fish/person/day.