Black sea bass are fun to catch and great to eat. The Rhode Island state record for black sea bass is 26”, about 8 pounds, 7.25 ounces.
The minimum size for black sea bass will likely be 16.5 inches in Rhode Island if the R.I. Marine Fisheries Council recommendation is approved this month by Terrance Gray, director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). The season at two fish/person/day for private anglers would run from May 22 through Aug. 26 and increase to three fish/person/day Aug. 27 through Dec. 31.
The party/charter sector will likely have a 16-inch minimum size with a season that starts later, June 18 to Aug. 31, with two fish/person/day, and from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 a six fish/person/day limit.
How and where to catch black sea bass
Rigs often used to catch black sea bass have one or two hooks that are approximately 12” to 16” apart with a bank sinker to hold bottom. Squid or sea clams are most often used as bait. Anglers often catch them while fishing for summer flounder (fluke) or tautog because they are often on or close to the bottom. They can also be caught with jigs, and many prefer this method.
Any underwater structure – ledges, rocks, wrecks, piers and jetties – will attract black sea bass. The larger males are generally found in deeper water.
Captain Mel Ture of Fishnet Charters is a black sea bass expert who prefers to fish with jigs in spring on the Cape.
“Finding schools of black sea bass is not difficult. Drift around the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal, Bird Island and Cleveland Ledge. I usually opt to avoid the crowd and find my own fish, looking for spots with similar depths and bottom structure. A broad generalization would be 25-40 feet of water with a rocky bottom,” said Capt. True in a Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Magazine article last year.
“I use conventional reels loaded with 60-pound test braided line on six-foot custom rods rated for 20-40 pound test line. Terminal tackle generally includes three feet of 50-pound test fluorocarbon leader attached to a 3.5-ounce vertical jig that’s rigged with assist hooks. Above that, using a dropper loop, there will be a soft plastic squid imitation with a 7/0 hook. The technique is simple: Send the rig to the bottom and jig it one to two feet up and down as the boat drifts. The assist hooks ride above the part of the jig that strikes bottom, and that helps to avoid snagging rocks or other debris,” said Capt. True.
Council votes to take more Atlantic menhaden
The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council voted Monday, April 3, to recommend circumventing the Narragansett Bay Atlantic Menhaden Management Area (MMA) program to harvest more fish, disregarding a Marine Fisheries Division staff recommendation for more study.
In a 4 to 3 vote, the Council voted to recommend allowing commercial fishermen to harvest 50,000 pounds of Atlantic menhaden/vessel/week, even though the Bay may be closed to fishing because the biomass falls below Menhaden Management Area program threshold levels. When the Bay is open under the MMA program, 120,000 pounds/vessel/day are allowed to be harvested.
The MMA model program uses ecosystem-based management approaches to ensure there are enough Atlantic menhaden left in the water to serve as food for striped bass, bluefish, tuna, dolphin, whales, osprey and other animals.
Greg Vespe, executive director of the R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association, said, “The Menhaden Management Area in Narragansett Bay has worked well for years. So why circumvent the program? When the biomass reaches 2 million pounds, the Bay opens to commercial fishing, and when it drops below the threshold of 1.5 million pounds, the Bay is shut down.” The program uses aerial surveys to estimate the bio bass of Atlantic menhaden in the Bay on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis.
Terrance Gray, DEM director, makes the final ruling on regulations. Visit www.dem.ri.gov for regulations.
Kids Fly Fishing Day
The Division of Fish and Wildlife with Trout Unlimited, United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island, Rhody Fly Rodders, and other volunteer organizations will host their annual Kids Fly Fishing Day at Addieville East Farm, Mappleville, R.I., on Saturday, April 15, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is open for children ages 10 and up and will teach them how to properly tie their own flies and knots and cast a fly rod. Participants will then have an opportunity to fish the stocked pond.
The program is free, lunch is provided, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeFCLlSpb7mFSpdrxXFrL7oUGmGzg3DlQJ-pDjPJAfeCIKU1Q/viewform?usp=sf_link.
Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch,
still some openings
The annual U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/DEM free Cinder Worm Fly Tying classes is Tuesdays, May 2 and May 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Kettle Pond Visitor Center, Charlestown, R.I. The Fly Fishing portion of the program will take place Saturday, May 20, from 4 p.m. until dark at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown, R.I.
The cinder worm hatch is a springtime ritual, as thousands of cinder worms wiggle their way from the mud to the surface to mate. Striped bass feed on the worms. To register, contact Marisa Podbros at email@example.com or call 401.213.4400.
Where’s the bite?
Freshwater: “Things were a bit slower than usual on Opening Day due to cold temperatures and high winds, but those fishing caught a lot of trout at stocked ponds,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.
John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “Things were jammed for trout fishing at Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside.”
For licenses and stocking information in Rhode Island, visit www.dem.ri.gov/fishing and in Massachusetts, www.mass.gov/service-details/trout-stocking-report .
“Anglers are catching keepers on the Warren River at the old American Tourister location,” said John Littlefield. “Customers are catching keeper tautog all the way up the Providence River. This is earlier than usual,” said Henault of Ocean Sate.
Expert fly fisherman and guide Ed Lombardo said, “We caught fish in the Narrow River last week.” As the water warms this week, the bite should be enhanced.
“We had striped bass arrive with the herring in the river this year, which is a bit unusual,” said Dave Henault.
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.