RI Fishing Report: 9/25/2014

RISAA Reconsiders Formal Position on Forthcoming Striper Regs

In a media release dated September 24, 2014, The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) issued the particulars of a decision to change the organization’s official position as it was presented by President, Steve Medeiros, on behalf of its 7,500 declared members and numerous affiliate fishing clubs, at the recent public hearing . The full text of the release follows:

“The RISAA Board of Directors has voted to change the RISAA “preferred options” for the proposed Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 of the Atlantic Striped Bass Fisheries Management Plan and to resubmit this proposal to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

The RISAA Board had previously voted to support option B7 which would have provided for two fish with a slot limit, but new information has been obtained that indicates this option may not provide the appropriate percent reduction as indicated in the ASMFC document.

The RISAA Board also considered requests by members that we seek more restrictive proposals. The addendum’s one-fish options ranged from 28″, 30″ and 32″, and while 32 inches was desirable, the Board had to consider the bay and shore anglers who would be severely penalized with the largest minimum size.

Therefore, the RISAA Board has unanimously voted (and will resubmit to the ASMFC) the following: That proposed management options, to take place on January, 1, 2015, shall obtain the maximum reductions within a *ONE YEAR TIME FRAME*, and – That the Coastal Recreational Fishery be reduced to *ONE FISH with a MINIMUM SIZE OF 30 INCHES* (option B3) which would achieve a reduction of 31% (or greater)….”


Mike Wade at Watch Hill Outfitters said there are still plenty of scup and sea bass crowding the hard pieces of real estate—not least a few of the wrecks in somewhat deeper water—but the degree of your willingness to scout new ground will have everything to do with how many and how big you catch. A couple of the local stripermen have been soaking menhaden for some XXL Watch Hill linesides, the bulk of their catching confined to brief windows during which big girls use diminished current to caloric advantage, walloping lunch just before a tide slacks completely, heading for the opposite side of the high ground, locating a nice hiding place and digesting the boiling tide away. Scup are big and piled thick around the rocks at Watch Hill Light.


Capt. Chris Willi at Block Island Fishworks has observed a major slowdown on the tourism front, and he’ll soon be putting a wrap on the 2014 charter season. Willi noted that, with the exception of fairly brief sweet spots in a given tide cycle, the striper fishery off the SW Corner is tough going, probably will continue at this diminished intensity until a new shot of migratory reinforcements kick-starts a bite again. There are still some good fish being taken, but it’s a pale shadow of what it was in late August. Surfmen have been taking a mix of schoolies, small keepers and a stray heavy slinging various soft plastics, needlefish plugs, or live eels on the south and east sides, or around Sandy Point on the north end. Blues are still big and almost everywhere.


Matt at Snug Harbor Marina was holding down the whole fort—fuel dock included—when I checked in Thursday afternoon. He said the Mud Hole has been turning out numbers of green bonito, some appleknockers, and semi-regular handfuls of small school bluefin. As was the case last week, we’re in crying need of some settled weather. The last wave of boats and crews that washed back ashore after canyon runs brought back confirmation that there are still some yellows outside—the main body of the meat 200-boat fleets were working on a month ago—somewhere outside the 500-fathom curve. Somewhere else not so far from there are great unwashed multitudes of the long-liners, who’ve been absolutely knocking the balls off tuna for a couple weeks at this point. Last folks who shot down to Coxes to sample the early-autumn cod catching managed decent numbers of markets around the SE Corner. There are still loads of sea bass on the hard bottom, but getting to the larger specimens will warrant some creative culling—tweaking rigs, mixing up baits, or even poking around some new areas. Bass fishing is fair at Block, with some bigger fish on the prowl the last week or so.


Kenny at Ray’s Bait said things have been relatively quiet around the Bay, especially given all the recent/immediate commotion over the combination of migratory stripers and bluefish, along with some much sexier quarry in the form of false albacore and green bonito. In fact, on various occasions since last weekend, all four species have merged for some big feeds on abundant peanut bunker, sand eels, and white bait, etc. He and his customers found tunoids, bass, and blues as far north as the Jamestown Bridge, and pretty reliably in the stretch from Bonnet Shores in northern Narragansett down toward Whale Rock, the mouth of the Narrow River, the Gansett rocks (Monahan’s southward), and ultimately, the feed-rich waters surrounding Point Judith Light. One of Landry’s trusted sources also found fast-roving pods of bonito between the south end of Dutch Island and Jamestown’s Fort Getty at least once over the last seven days. Landry also confirmed tunoid action in and near the East Passage—and around the corner out front along the Ocean Drive stones. These finned torpedos have responded to the usual array of weaponry, including Point Jude tins, the larger Deadly Dicks, Acme Need-L-Eels, L-Jacks and countless other small-bait dupes rigged to survive intense scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Kenny made one jaunt to Block in the hunt for saleable striped bass, working what appeared to be a theoretically-perfect window in tide and weather at the North Rip for a handful of fish, then picked a couple more along the south side (Black Rock to Lewis Farm). Best fish, at day’s end, was Landry’s first of the trip, a 35. It took Kenny over 8 hours to round up his limit. There are scup, black sea bass, and even tautog in our coastal fore—some places you can find all three without straining.


Sam Toland of Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown noted the “Harbor Mayhem” referenced in last Friday’s entry has continued ever since (over two weeks now)—the pogies meandering around into shifting headwinds but not yet making any bold moves toward an exit. As it often happens, the huge body of baitfish that pulled into Newport Harbor two weeks ago seems to have gathered bass, blues, birds, anglers, crabs, and who knows what else—and also turned out some heavyweight bass and/or blues in the meantime. As of Thursday morning, the bait was milling around the state pier, with larger predator fish blowing up on the outskirts and bunker snags—weighted trebles Sam has been manufacturing for so-called “snag-and-drop” guys, who yank and haul the hook through the school until a barbed point hits home in a one-pound-plus menhaden. Some advocate retrieving and re-rigging snagged baits before deploying them—mainly as a means to ensure a solid hookset. In the harbor at this stage of things, advises Sam, you shouldn’t be waiting too long for a stuck pogy to meet its destiny.

There are still a few bonito and/or albies darting around the East and West Passages—or at least were before the recent easterlies—and there are more tunoids dashing to and fro along Ocean Drive and points east. Scup are still thick on the wrecks and rockpiles—that fishing as good right now as it’s apt ever to get—and it will be some time before we manage to run down the last lonely black sea bass in the Northwest Atlantic. The yellowfin/bigeye/albacore activity out in the Fishtails sounds like it’s still somewhat intact, though word has it the main body of yellows has dropped back off the edge into the deep—the 500 or the 1,000 fathom. Toland’s final observation for the week: Where are the mullet? Was this summer’s unseasonably cool weather curtains for our autumn run? No matter what, Sam and I share one major suspicion about this fall, its shelf-life, timingwise: This is not the year to snooze.