Fishing for a Cause a big success; public access under threat
The 7th annual Fishing for A Cause tournament, fundraiser and dinner raised nearly $200,000 to benefit children and families of the Schwartz Center, Meeting Street’s Dartmouth campus. The sold-out annual event which took place June 23 and 24 featured more than 100 anglers and over 350 guests at the seaside dinner, making it the largest annual fundraiser for The Schwartz Center to date.
“Our 7th Tournament and Seaside Dinner surpassed all expectations thanks to our incredible supporters and our Fishing Committee,” said Meeting Street President John M. Kelly. “The incredible spirit of giving and dedication to our work and to our children is truly humbling.”
Upon the culmination of the tournament participants enjoyed a seaside dinner emceed by comedian Lenny Clarke. The dinner celebrated tournament participants, dedicated supporters and the children and families that will benefit from the proceeds.
This year’s first place 48”striped bass was caught by Mike Marcello of Portsmouth; first place blue fish went to Richard Bellizzi of Dartmouth with a 31.50" fish; and first place summer flounder (fluke) went to Dan Abraham of Portsmouth with a 22.25” fish.
We need to be advocates for public access
On Thursday, July 13 the City of Cranston Ordinance Committee passed an ordinance to eliminate fishing at the Ocean Avenue, Cranston public access point. The ‘No Fishing” ordnance will now go before the City Council for final approval on July 24. The ordinance in part read, “There shall be no fishing at the public access point where Ocean Avenue meets the shoreline at any time”.
The primary advocate for the ordinance was the Rhode Island Yacht Club, whose parking lot is adjacent to the public access fishing area. The Yacht Club commodore (chief volunteer officer), past commodores and some property owners in the area said “Why should we be subject to people fishing there adding congestion to the end of the street,” “The trash in the area is terrible,” “I do not like walking down to the water with all those lines in the water,” “We work hard and deserve to go to our boats without this hassle,” said a Yacht Club member.
Some neighbors as well as Councilpersons Steven Stycos and John Lanni did not support the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance saying if approved the ordinance would deprive the people of Cranston and the State of RI of public access to the Bay to fish which is a constitutional right.
Councilman Kenneth Hopkins, vice-chair of the Ordinance Committee read portions of the Rhode Island Constitution online out loud to the committee saying “We can do this, it’s not illegal, it says we have a right to regulate the resource.”
The Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association testified that they did not support the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance, nor did they support the trash or conduct of some of the people at the end of Ocean Road. They felt that banning fishing is not the solution. “One more ordinance is not going to help.” said Barbara Rubine, EWPA president. “We need a long term solution. Maybe a fishing pier should be built somewhere else in the city.”
I visited the Ocean Avenue site Tuesday afternoon, July 11 at 2:30 p.m. There were four people fishing there, no trash was on the ground and a trash bag was tied to the fence which looked like it had been placed there by the fishermen.
Councilman Stycos said that the City has done nothing to address the challenge but the first step might be placing trash containers and emptying them regularly at the site as they presently do at Stillhouse Cove, a short walk away. Additionally, he recommended that a community/city task force or committee be formed to study the challenge and develop long term solutions to challenges noted at the meeting. Stycos said, “The intent of the ordinance is to prohibit fishermen from being at the access point, I do not know how you can single out a group like this.”
Councilman Stycos said “Seven years ago the Rhode Island Yacht Club asked me to address the challenge, I suggested we eliminate parking on portions of Ocean Road to help address the congestion issue, however, the Yacht Club did not like that solution because members (and those attending events at the Yacht club) park on the street.” Councilman Stycos said, “Initially the Yacht Club asked that the City of Cranston deed the public access point over to the Yacht Club, but I told them that this was not likely going to happen.”
As I left the Ocean Avenue site last Tuesday, I saw two Rhode Island Yacht Club members park their cars and walk to their boats to enjoy Narragansett Bay and the ocean. I thought, what a privilege, but yet club members at the meeting were quick to deny others without a boat fishing at the access point as they have done for years.
As fishermen, we need to be diligent about protecting public access points on coves, rivers, bays and the Atlantic Ocean. City Council advisors at the meeting said there were only three other fishing access point locations in the City of Cranston.
The ‘No Fishing’ ordinance is scheduled to go before the City Council at their July 24 meeting. The ‘No Fishing’ ordinance has a lot of political horsepower behind it: the sponsor of the ordinance is City Council president Michael Farina, and it has the support of the Ordinance Committee. The City Council meeting is open to the public.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass. Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown fished the Block Island North Rip last week and said the striped bass were on the surface and they landed multiple bass casting black Slug-Go lures, even picked up a few trolling the Slug-Go. “The bass were thick with a lot of bait, birds feeding too.” Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Last week we caught bass to 52 pounds fishing the southwest side of Block Island at night using eels.” Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “Striped bass fishing has exploded here. A customer jigging for black sea bass caught a 37 pound fish and anglers have been catching 40 to 45 pound fish using eels at Watch Hill and Sugar reefs.”
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing along the southern coastal shore and Block Island is hot. “The fluke have been in lower water this year… large fish are being caught in 28 to 35 feet of water close to shore at Misquamicut and along the coastal shore. Fluke fishing is excellent on the south side of Long Island as well,” said Wade. Angler Jack Leyden said he, Steve Sears and children fished the Block Island North Rip for fluke and limited out last Thursday. “The rip was loaded with sand eels and the fluke were there,” he said. Fishing the bay, including the lower bay around the Newport and Jamestown Bridges is slow. Anglers are catching some very nice fish but the summer flounder bite is a very slow pick. Congratulations to Dave of Wickford Veterinary Clinic for landing his first keeper fluke, a nice 22” fish, caught Saturday in the trench just south of Dutch Island when fishing on No Fluke Charters. Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Fluke fishing was great this week. We had four excellent days of fishing. Monday saw a near full boat limit close to the coastal shore while Thursday through Saturday fishing waters around Block Island paid big dividends. On Thursday's trip we had three extraordinary fluke taken between 11 and 13 pounds. Customer Tom Lombardi from Charlestown had an easy limit catch of fluke that totaled just over 30 pounds in combined weight on Saturday. Buck tail jigs of various kinds and hi lo Spro jigs set along with gulp seemed to do really well with the big fish this past week.”
Offshore fishing is starting to explode with bluefin and yellowfin tuna starting to be caught. Offshore fisherman Dick Pastore said on the RISAA blog Saturday, “Sharked at the horns in flat seas – 71 degree water. No drift. Two lazy blue sharks milled around but didn’t t take the mackerel baits which was a blessing. John Torgan caught a green bonito on a large popper. We then moved to the South West Ledge which was alive with bait and 74 degree water. Boils of large blue fish and strippers below. Diamond jigs and deadly dicks worked well. Tons of BSB and large scup on deadly dicks. Birds (shearwaters) were working the boils.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at email@example.com or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.