#Stripers are nailing flies on the Narrow River in #RI

Ed Lombardo at Middle Bridge in November.

Ed Lombardo at Middle Bridge in November.

Striped bass are still biting in southern New England, so don’t put your fly-fishing tackle away.

Geno Rapa caught a fat 25-inch fish late last week on the Narrow River in Narragansett RI, reports fly-fishing guide Ed Lombardo.

Geno and Ed started around 3 p.m. near the Sprague Bridge on Route 1A where they spotted baitfish that appeared to be sand eels, according to Ed. “We didn’t do anything there, so we worked our way to the rocks at the mouth of the river. That didn’t work out either, so we headed to Middle Bridge, and that’s where we found the bass,” he said.

Heavy fog fell on the river, forcing the anglers to head home, but before they left around 5, each had caught four “footballs,” Ed said. He was fishing a sky-blue streamer, and the other anglers were casting shrimp patterns.

As good as the fishing was, it may get better, Ed said. His fishing log from 2011 shows a banner day on Dec. 18.

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Regulators plan to cut striped bass catch

Fly fisherman Ed Lombardo

Fly fisherman Ed Lombardo

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has voted to develop management options for reducing fishing pressure on striped bass beginning with the 2015 season. One option is to reduce the daily recreational limit from two to one fish beginning in 2015

The action by the 15-state commission came in response to a new assessment of the coastal striper stock, presented at the ASMFC’s annual meeting last week St. Simons Island, Georgia.

The stock report concluded that striped bass are not over-fished and that overfishing is not occurring, but it did show a dramatic decline in adult fish in recent years and projects that the breeding population is on course to cross the overfished threshold in the near future.

“The ASMFC did the right thing, responding to anglers’ concerns about the future of striped bass, concerns that are backed up by troubling trends in the science,” said Wild Oceans president Ken Hinman, who attended the meeting.

Some members of the Striped Bass Management Board argued for immediate action to reduce the current recreational bag limit from two fish of at least 28 inches to one fish, with an equivalent reduction on the commercial side. But a majority supported a more deliberate process that will allow them to consider all the options, after the board’s technical advisers determine how much of a cut in fishing mortality is needed to reach the target and what percentage would come from changes in the bag limit, size limit or season.

 

New book, ‘Inland Fishes of Rhode Island,’ is a keeper

libby book cover croppedTwenty years in the making, Inland Fishes of Rhode Island by Alan D. Libby, with illustrations by Robert Jon Golder, is a beautiful book meant for everyone who loves wildlife and surprises.

The 287-page book is published by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife where Libby is a  a principal freshwater biologist. He has been there for over 26 years.

He surveyed more than 375 sites on streams and ponds, and found more than 70 species, including some pretty exotic fish including the lookdown (pictured here), jacks and pipefish,  With each species, Libby describes its typical habits and habitat, and an accompanying map shows where he found it. He and his colleagues caught several saltwater species, including snappers and flatfishes, in estuaries.

Libby book lookdown croppedLibby found the greatest diversity in the Pawcatuck River (67 species) and the Blackstone River basin with 31 species. Since 2008, his team has found five additional species: guppies, rock bass, green sunfish, striped mullet and sea-run brook trout.

The illustrations by Robert Jon Golder are at once scientifically precise and stunning.  His paintings of sunfishes and herrings are outstanding.

Fishes of Rhode Island by Alan D. Libby, with illustrations by Robert Jon Golder is the perfect gift for anglers and nature lovers. It costs $26.75, and is available at the Division of Fish and Wildlife Headquarters at 277 Great Neck Road, West Kingston RI between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. where only cash and checks are accepted. To order by mail, click here for an order form.

This book is a treasure.

Striped bass, hickory shad are taking flies in #RI

Richard Santos with a healthy school striper

Richard Santos with a healthy school striper

Striped bass and hickory shad have been hitting flies in the estuaries of Rhode Island, says fly-fishing guide Ed Lombardo.

We fished the Warren River just above the old American Tourist building last Tuesday late afternoon and night and did very well,” Ed said. “Fish this time of the year are nice and fat, football like in size.

“On Thursday with an out going tide we also did very well at The Narrow River in Narragansett. The shad prefer a smaller sized fly; a size 2 works well in pink or black over white. Shrimp patterns for the bass and flies in a size 1/0 short shank in the same colors as above are very good choices as well.” 

Russell Kessler near the Sprague Bridge on the Narrow River

Russell Kessler near the Sprague Bridge on the Narrow River

All aboard the Fly Fishing Express train

Fly-fishing guide Ed Lombardo boards the Fly Fishing Express

Fly-fishing guide Ed Lombardo boards the Fly Fishing Express

The fly-fishing train, offering access to some remote hot spots, is returning to Rhode Island, along with other saltwater fly-fishing opportunities.

Old Colony Railroad photo

Old Colony Railroad photo

The state’s Department of Environmental Management aquatic resources program is planing a variety of fishing programs this fall. Stripers and bluefish are plentiful in Narragansett Bay, and autumn is one of the best times of the year to fish for them. Hosted by the Division’s Aquatic Resource Education program, the programs include an introduction to saltwater fly-fishing, a fly-fishing trip via train around Aquidneck Island, and autumn fly-tying workshops.

Most of the instructors belong to local organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Rhody Fly Rodders, and United FlyTyers. Together, they have over 60 years of fly-fishing experience to share. Kimberly Sullivan, director of the program, said the goal is to train future fly-fishing anglers in what equipment is needed and how to use the equipment safely, and share pointers on where anglers can find some of the best fishing spots in Rhode Island. The variety of programs isdesigned to accommodate beginning anglers to the advanced. Families with children 10 years of age and older are encouraged and welcome to attend.

Introduction to Saltwater Fly-Fishing will be held on Saturday, October 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kettle Pond Visitors Center in Charlestown. Fly-fishing instructors will teach participants fly-tying, casting techniques, and knot-tying. All materials and equipment are included with the $35 per-person registration fee. Lunch is not included, so participants should pack a lunch and bring a pair of waders. The program is open to adults and children age 10 and older.

Fly-Fishing Express, a fly-fishing safari around Aquidneck Island on the Old Colony train will be held on Saturday, October 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The train will stop at several remote public access fishing areas around the island. Fly-fishing instructors will offer advice on the best flies and fly- fishing tactics. The program is designed for advanced beginner, intermediate and advanced fly-fishing anglers, and is perfect for those who have already participated in the Introduction to Saltwater Fly-Fishing workshop and would like to hone their fly-fishing skills while fishing. Pack a lunch and your chest waders and join other anglers on this fishing adventure. All other equipment, including flies, is provided with the $35 per-person registration fee.

Fall Fly-Tying 2013 sessions will be held on six Thursdays from November 7 to December 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the North Kingstown Community Center. Professional fly-tyers will teach beginning and intermediate fly-tying techniques for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. All material and equipment is included. Cost of the program is $5 for each class or $25 for all six sessions. Pre-registration is recommended, although walk-ins are accepted.

For information and for registration, contact Kimberly Sullivan in DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education program at 539-0037 or via e-mail at kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov..

Learn surf fishing in Rhode Island

Surf caster croppedRhode Island’s Division of Fish and Wildlife will offer an introductory workshop on saltwater surf-fishing in Narragansett next week.

Hosted by the agency’s Aquatic Resource Education program, “Surf Casting: The Basics” will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Scarborough State Beach.

Participants will learn about saltwater tackle and gear, safety measures, surf casting and knot tying, and have an opportunity to fish at one of Rhode Island’s premier saltwater fishing areas.

Kimberly Sullivan, head of the program said families with children over 8 years old are encouraged to participate.

Space is limited and registration is required. All materials and equipment are included with the $10 per-person registration fee. The fee for families with three or more participants is $5 per person.

For information and to register, contact Kim at 401-539-0037 or email to kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov.

Hickory shad are early – and big – this season

If you have time this weekend, wet a line. Fishing is very good.

Hickory shad are giving fly fishermen plenty of action, and it’s early. Fly-fishing guide Ed Lombardo reports: “We fished the Narrow River and all of us did very well. The shad came in on the incoming tide about 6:30 p.m. Most of the shad this year are big, average size maybe 18 to 20 inches — lots of fun! A very simple fly that I tie worked very well. I tie this fly on a size 4 or 6 hook, tie in a body of Bill’s Body Braid the whole length of the shank, and a sparse wing of black over white bucktail. Black thread for the head of the fly. Eyes are optional. It seams that the shad like the incoming tide, and they have started early this year which is a good thing. I also took three schoolies schoolies!”

On Long Island Sound, Pat Abate of Rivers End Tackle says striper fishing isn’t that hot. “We’ve been saying it’s been getting better every week, well this week it didn’t. If anything it took a step backward. Some areas away from shore such as the Race did better, but only at night when you can get through the blues. Bartletts Reef has a few more schoolies as does Watch Hill, but they can be tough to hook up at times. They seem to be feeding on crab hatches.

“Some schoolies are showing up in the Connecticut River at times hitting Snapper Poppers and Kastmasters meant for snappers. Anglers fishing live bunker on the Westbrook reefs are also scoring bass when they avoid the blues.

“Shore fishing has been slow both here and the RI beaches. Hopefully the mullet will start running soon and the surf bass behind them.

“The bunker are back below the bridge in the Connecticut River.”