No Fluke

Where was the bite in 2016? Where will it be in 2017?

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The 2016 season kicked off with a very strong spring striped bass migration. Many said the striped bass in northern waters were larger and more plentiful than they have been for a few years.

Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle in Warren said, “We have guys catching big bass in the 30 to 40 pound range in upper Narragansett Bay that never caught a fish that big in their lifetime.” Fishermen believe the enhanced amount of Atlantic menhaden in the water improved striped bass fishing in the region.

The fishing season then turned the corner with a great summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass bite off Block Island. We had a remarkable bluefish and striped bass bite all along the southern coastal shore that stretched to the end of November. The 2016 season ended strong with a great tautog, black sea bass and codfish bite (particularly off Rhode Island) though the end of the year.

The big surprise of the 2016 season was a poor summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass bite off Newport and along the coast north to the Sakonnet River in Massachusetts. This was offset by an extremely good summer flounder and black sea bass bite in the area south and north of the wind farm off Block Island.

Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, president of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association, said, “Before the windfarm was built we had twenty boats fishing in the area of the windfarm and now there are about a hundred boats on any given day.” The windfarm added fishing pressure to the area and no one knows if there were more fish or did they just aggregate there from other areas. However the bite was good starting in May and running right through to the end of the summer.

Remarkable tautog season in 2016

Besides the hot fluke and black sea bass bite out at Block Island we had a remarkable tautog season in 2016. We caught so much tautog in 2016 even our dog Zsa Zsa got her fair share for dinner. Tautog fishing remained strong into December along the coastal shore of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I fished the last week of November with two anglers who managed to land eight keepers to 21” off Newport. The ratio was about six or seven short fish to every keeper 16” or larger. Not only were tautog being caught in our bays and later in the season all along the coastal shore in deeper water, anglers were also catching codfish and black sea bass when tautog fishing.

Angler Gerald Pesch caught a 25” cod when tautog fishing with me off Seal Ledge, Newport in November. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Limit catches of tautog were recorded in okay to good numbers on almost every trip and a few more cod are started to show up.”

The freshwater fishing in 2016 was very good. Trout fishing, particularly in ponds stocked by DEM, was outstanding with plenty of fish caught throughout the year except during the hottest periods of summer. Anglers waited for the restocking of ponds and waterways with trout for the fall and winter season and DEM delivered then too.

Largemouth bass fishing was consistently good in 2016. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “The largemouth bass bite has been good with anglers using shiners and worms as well as spinner baits with success. Warden Pond and Indian Lake have been yielding fish consistently for customers.” Kim Petti of Fin & Feather Outfitters, North Kingstown said, “Fishing in our spring fed ponds had been good all season. With no rain the ponds did not heat up (as much). The Wood River water level remains high but everyone is waiting for DEM to restock with trout.”

Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “This (2016) arguably is the best freshwater season we have had in some time. The water did not warm as much as usual and this kept bait and fish active.”

What’s in store for the 2017 season?

If the winter continues to be mild and the water stays fairly warm, our spring and summer fresh water fishing seasons should be very good.
On the saltwater side of the equation striped bass fishing should be excellent in 2017. We will start to experience more fish due to some good year classes coming of age and with a good supply of Atlantic menhaden (one of their primary food sources) in the water striped bass fishing should be very good.

Summer flounder fishing will become more difficult with a 30 to 40 percent harvest limit reduction expected and more conservative recreational fishing regulations on the way. The quota reduction is due in part to the summer flounder spawning stock biomass (SSB) being down for the past six years.

Black sea bass regulations are expected to be liberalized a bit as good news is hoped for with the recent assessment.

Tautog season is expected to be good again in 2017. And the codfish just keep on coming with strong numbers caught recreationally again this year and the hope is that the trend will continue in 2017.

Rhody Fly Rodders to host Capt. Ray Stachelek

On Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m., the Rhody Fly Rodders will host Capt. Ray Stachelek presenting a pictorial fly-over Rhode Island and its shore line fisheries from a drone’s perspective. The drone photography is from a 200 foot fly-over. Peter Nilsen, president of the Rhody Fly Rodders said, “These beautiful images of many of our beaches, estuaries and bays will give viewers a good perspective on where to fish as well as the type of terrain they could face when fishing new areas.” The meeting is at the Riverside Sportsman’s Association, 19 Mohawk Dr., East Providence. Contact Peter Nilsen with questions at pdfish@fullchannel.net.

Where’s the bite?

Cod fishing. Party boats sailing for cod this time of year include the Frances Fleet at francesfleet.com, the Seven B’s at sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at islandcurrent.com.

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 dmontifish@verizon.net or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.

Dave Monti

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