#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.

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..

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.”

Fly Tyers start a new season Wednesday

FoamBeetleUnited Fly Tyers of Rhode Island has scheduled its first meeting of the season for Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 245 Sandy Lane, Warwick, RI.

The meeting offers fly tying for all levels, and the group welcomes youngsters who are accompanied by adults.

Wednesday’s meeting will feature Glen Northup tying Bill’s Body Braid streamers, John McCall tying flat-wing streamers, and Peter Burgess tying a Foam Beetle, pictured above. They’re all effective for fall fishing.

The group provides tools and materials for everyone who has paid the annual dues of $30. For first-time visitors, the meeting is free.

It’s time again for ‘A River Runs Through It’

Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It was so wonderfully true to Norman Maclean’s book. It’s time to watch the movie and read the book again. Remember this scene about witnessing perfection?

Stripers eager to take flies – on the right tide

Fly-fishing guide Ed Lombardo and some friends fished inside Charlestown Breachway over the weekend and had two different experiences on two different tides.

Friday night, the tide was incoming and there was a ton of bait,” Ed said. “Silversides and a lot of skipjacks. The incoming tide brought with it some nice clear, cool water and a lot of schoolies. The fish were not selective at all, hitting flies of many colors and in sizes 1, 2, and 1/0. Pink flies worked very well. We managed to take a good number of fish up until just before dark.

Sunday morning was a different story, The tide was outgoing and full of weeds and grass, we were picking up weeds almost on every cast, not enjoyable at all. No fish were hooked, not even a bump.”

NH Fishing Report: Bass and trophy trout

Avery Traffie of New Ipswich, NH, age 15, caught this Brown Trout in July 2013 on Whittemore Lake in Greenfield. It weighed 11 lbs., 13 oz.; was 26.5 inches long, with a girth of 18 inches.

Avery Traffie of New Ipswich, NH, age 15, caught this Brown Trout in July 2013 on Whittemore Lake in Greenfield. It weighed 11 lbs., 13 oz.; was 26.5 inches long, with a girth of 18 inches.

After many days of high and discolored water conditions, the mighty Connecticut River is finally returning to more normal summertime levels. As such, bass fishing and bass locations should be more predictable in the coming week. Try fishing in and around aquatic vegetation for largemouth bass during sunny days and rocky drop-offs and deeper water for smallmouths.

I’m going to try to get out on the Connecticut River over the next couple weeks and try for channel catfish. There is an up-and-coming fishery for them below the Vernon Dam, and biologists have also reported them using the fish ladder at the Vernon Dam to move upstream. Fish caught by anglers in recent years have reached sizes of up to almost 12 pounds! Sturdy rods and reels and line will be the tackle of choice, and chunked up dead fish or chicken livers will be the desired bait. I will update you on any success I have in the coming weeks.

Reports are coming in of excellent bass fishing in Spofford Lake, with largemouth and smallmouth bass up to five pounds being caught. I also talked to one angler who recently landed a number of rainbow trout there that were over 18 inches.

A verified report has also surfaced of a brown trout recently caught at Whittemore Lake in Bennington that was just shy of 12 pounds! Who says it is too hot to fish!  Whittemore is known to produce some really nice browns and Milford Hatchery fish culturists relayed that a five-pounder was caught there this spring while they were in the process of stocking it.

– Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

The summer of 2013 has started to look more like a summer now. It hasn’t rained for a few days, the water levels are dropping and some of our ponds are in the mid to upper 70’s. For river fishermen, this means that trout have finally been forced into more identifiable areas. For the last few weeks, they have been spread out all over the place and difficult to find even after a thousand casts. Now I can fish runs and pools that look fishy and have a better chance of finding some. This also presents better opportunities for dry fly fishing on smooth water surfaces. Adding the recent emergence of large terrestrial flies like grasshoppers makes my fishing approach more effective. 

I have also been enjoying the hot and hazy days on some of our large bass waters. I fished Moore Reservoir and Lake Umbagog last week in hot, sunny, middle-of-the-day situations. Fish were not easy to find, but were aggressive once I located them. I did well casting near inlet streams with plastic baits and surface lures. The fish seemed schooled up, which may have been explained by groups of bass seeking thermal refuge. Either way, I was catching two or three in a row before moving to a different location. I had no luck on the fast and aggressive retrieves of a spinner-bait, favoring slower, presentations with more finesse. At the end of the day, I was hot and plenty sunburned but happy to have fished on such nice days.

— Andrew Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

NH Fishing Report: Hex in due in Lakes Region

Fly fishers in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region can expect some good fishing, reports regional fisheries biologist Don Miller:

This is the time of year that trout anglers anticipate with fervor. Due to the extensive rains we’ve experienced here in the Lakes Region, the “Hex” hatch has been delayed slightly this year, for whatever reason I trolled Lake Winnisquam at sunrise this past Sunday with my fishing buddy, daughter Holly, and was amazed at the amount of spent Hexagenia mayflies that littered the surface of the lake. Our big lake water temps are high for this time of year, mostly mid-70 degree range, although we measured 79 degrees this past Monday at Big Squam Lake. These large mayflies are a real great source of food for trout and salmon. Luckily, we don’t see the swarms of them, as some cities around the Great Lakes have endured, sometimes to the point of calling out snow plows to clear streets of them!

Lake-Winnisquam5Now is the time to hit trout ponds and fish till dark. Brook and rainbows go crazy when this hatch occurs. Any large dry fly, tied with a good amount of hackle, especially in cream or white color will do the job. Mayflies are a good indicator of the health of a pond or lake, as they require soft bottoms with a good supply of oxygen.

Speaking of trout ponds, fellow biologist John Viar and I have been busy stocking some great, surplus brook trout into area ponds throughout the White Mountains and Lakes Region. Boat stocking is the only method to use on these fish, as water temps are above normal right now. Enjoy these fish, raised by our great team of fish culturist’s right here at New Hampton Hatchery.

The summertime thermocline is well in place, and salmon anglers will find their favorite fish in this band of cold water, generally down 30-40 feet. I may sound like a broken record, but these salmon are growing at a rapid rate now, feeding on the abundant smelt found in most of our salmon lakes. Catch and release is problematic when we have surface temps in the range we see now, so be mindful of this fishery and the effects we may have on it.

The amount of rainfall we have seen these past few weeks in the Lakes Region is staggering! Lake levels are way above normal, and the problem does not seem to be going away. There is a ton of debris in the lakes now, so be careful boating and keep those lines clean!”

Photo: squamlake.org