#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.


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.


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

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.”

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.”

Look to the future: Release sharks today


Every once in a while a good fishing story comes along.

“I think I’ve got a good one for you,” writes Charlie Donilon, skipper of Snappa, a charter-fishing boat out of Point Judith, R.I.  “We were out fishing for sharks yesterday in the Mud Hole area when a huge mako shark decided to take one of our baits. Within 15 minutes of the hookup, a 350- to 400-pound mako shark jumped 15 feet  out of the water performing a spectacular spinning cartwheel. Upon landing in the water it once again displayed another jump equal to the first.  As the battle between the shark and angler approached 50 minutes I asked the angler Bob Ferrell who is a local Rhode Islander if he wanted to take the shark or tag it for research. Bob said that if I didn’t mind he would like to release the shark. After providing us with such a battle with two of the most unbelievable jumps one could ever imagine, there was no reason to kill such a magnificent animal. He said that if he wanted a mako steak he would buy a pound at the fish market rather than kill this one.  I fully agreed with him and tagged the shark for research.

“I have been shark fishing for over 40 years and have been an advocate for tagging and releasing sharks over this entire time. The total count of released sharks is now over 2,325. It’s not just by chance that over the last two years I have released 31 mako sharks without killing a single one. It’s something I work at from the moment a person calls to book a shark fishing trip right through until the first hookup. Informing  the public and making them aware of the current state of the shark population estimates that are down 90 percent from where they were 30 years ago. Trying to put into perspective that a 200-pound. mako shark is still immature and that it won’t reach reproductive age until it weighs 400 pounds.

“If I can take 31 groups who have paid a charter fee to catch and observe sharks and have all of them release the sharks for research why can’t other fisherman do the same?  It sickens me every time I see a small mako shark of 4 or 5 feet. killed for a few steaks or a picture. It may take giving up that picture of an angler standing next to his catch. It may take eating a burger rather  than a mako steak or not having a set of jaws hanging on your wall.  For anyone who truly cares about preserving the ocean and the fish it holds, you are going to have to give back a little. In doing so you may be giving your kids or their kids an opportunity at viewing  one of Nature’s most beautiful creations.

“I’m quite sure that the shark we released will eventually be caught again and will not be so lucky to be released a second time. But maybe it will have produced a litter of mako sharks at least once to preserve the species for future generations. I tip my hat to Bob Ferrell and his charter group for releasing this trophy fish.”