It’s the holidays. Time to take stock and be thankful. Assess who we are, the direction we are heading and make adjustments.
First and foremost, I am thankful for the privilege to fish and take people fishing, get paid for it as a charter captain and then write about it. For me, it does not get any better.
Second, I do not like the direction the fishing community has been heading. Conservation and fisheries use to be a bipartisan issue, but not for the past several of years. The last vote on the House Bill (H.R. 200) pertaining to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the fishing law of this nation, was pretty much straight down party lines.
I am taking stock, believe we need to all work together for the benefit of the fish, so we grow them to abundance, so there are more in the water for all to catch and eat. The fish have no political party affiliation they just want to swim, eat and grow.
We should reach across the water, join hands, republicans and democrats alike and approach the fish, the environment, and if needed the reauthorization of our national fishing law in a bi-partisan manner.
Fisheries could be one of the first areas in recent history where we as a nation come together in a bipartisan fashion, keeping the best interest of the fish and environment in mind, rather than special interests and local politics. With the balance of power soon to be more even in our nation, now is the time to work together, give and take for the growth of the fish, the environment and to benefit all the people of the United States of America.
Trout ponds were stocked for Thanksgiving
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) stocked 2,000 hatchery-raised trout in four ponds this past week in advance of Thanksgiving weekend.
For a complete list of stoked ponds in Rhode Island visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/fish-wildlife/freshwater-fisheries/troutwaters.php, in Massachusetts visit www.mass.gov/service-details/massachusetts-trout-stocked-waters .
In Rhode Island, Lincoln Olney Pond at Lincoln Woods State Park; Meadowbrook Pond, Richmond; and Stafford Pond in Tiverton will be stocked with 1- to 1¼-pound rainbow and brook trout. Trophy-sized trout will be stocked at Carbuncle Pond, Coventry.
Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts plan to stock select ponds with trout for winter fishing in January, 2019.
In Rhode Island, a 2018 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years old and older. A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required of anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or ‘fly-fishing only’ area. Trout stamps are not required for persons possessing trout taken from a lake or pond that shares a border with Rhode Island.
Fishing licenses can only be purchased online at www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish. Online fishing licenses and the Trout Conservation Stamp can also be obtained via an authorized agent. Visit the DEM website for a current list of licensed vendors. Anglers are encouraged to check the list prior to visiting a vendor to purchase a license.
License fees are $18 for Rhode Island residents and current members of the Armed Forces, $33 for a combination hunting and fishing license, $35 for non-residents, and $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license. Licenses are free for anglers over 65 (trout stamp not required) as well as for those with a 100 percent disability.
Ocean wind farm seminar
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) will hold an ocean wind farm educational seminar on Monday, November 26, 7:00 p.m. at the West Warwick Elks, 60 Clyde Street, West Warwick. Non-members are welcome but are asked to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, RISAA members attend free.
Learn about recreational fishing’s interaction with wind farms to date, wind farms planned for off the cost of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and possible impacts of wind farms on habitat and fish. Research before, during and after construction will also be highlighted.
The scope of wind farm lease areas down the east coast will be reviewed as well. Presenters will include the three lease holders/developers off our shores… Deepwater Wind/Orsted, Bay State Wind/Orsted and the Vineyard Wind.
Optional dinner served by the Elks Lodge from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Visit www.risaa.org for information.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass fishing continued to be strong along the southern coastal beaches with a lot of school bass being caught with an occasional keeper to mixed in.
“My brother-in-law Damon Hamilton of Charleston caught 38 school bass and one keeper in the surf this weekend,” Capt. Rick Bellavance said. “The bite from shore has been very good this fall.” This was pretty much the case with shore fishing, with a lot of small striped bass which are a lot of fun and bode well for the 2019 fishing season.
Tautog fishing continued to explode this week once turbid waters settled from all the high winds and storms. Dirty or sandy water irritates the gills of tautog (and other fish) and reduces the amount of time they move around, and/or they have difficulty seeing your bait.
“We had a few slower days after a blow, but then a few days later, it was lights out,” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said. “Few fish this week in the 10-pound range with many fish in the 7-9 pound range. Sunday’s trip did see the biggest fish of the week with a 10½-, 11- and 12-pounder caught.” Angler Rick Hittinger, 1st vice president of RISAA, said, “When the water cleared a bit last week, we did extremely well fishing off Newport.” Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said, “Tautog fishing was slow last Saturday but much better when dirty water cleared.”
Cod fishing is improving.
“Fishing was as good as it gets on the sea bass and cod boat,” Capt. Frank Blount said. “You did not go more than two minutes without getting a bite. Everyone left with easy limits of sea bass to well over five pounds.
“We had some quality cod in the mix with the biggest tipping the scales at 30 pounds!!! A few other fishing in the low teens as well. We have been saying it for weeks now, once the scup thinned out, the fishing was going to greatly improve.”