Peter Vican of East Greenwich with his Rhode Island State record 77.4 pound striped bass. Peter caught the bass using eels as bait while fishing with Don Smith off Block Island.
Last week, I had the opportunity to meet, listen to and ask questions to, arguably, three of the best Block Island striped bass anglers in Rhode Island. I attended the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association monthly seminar held at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick.
Block Island striped bass fishermen Michael Lanni, Donald Smith and Peter Vican (RI striped bass record holder at 77.4 pounds) presented their thoughts and experiences about fishing for striped bass around Block Island. One of Michael's largest bass was 64 pounds and Don Smith caught a 52.40 pound bass just a couple of weeks ago. So all fishermen are quite accomplished and target fish in the fifty pound range when fishing. Here is what they had to say about fishing for striped bass around Block Island.
• All three anglers now fish exclusively at night at their favorite Block Island spots… all drift eels in relatively deep water, 55' compared to much lower Narragansett Bay waters and coastal shore fishing. Peter said, "We target fat lazy bottom feeders, around structure... ledge, contours, humps, etc... big bass feed at night around structure." Mike said, "Big fish hug the bottom in fast current… so you have to get your bait in the bottom 5% of the water column."
• Where specifically do they fish? Structure on the Southwest Ledge, southeast side, close to shore, the fishbowl on the south side, and one of Peter's record fish was caught on the west side of the Island, south of New Harbor close to shore.
• Baits. They almost exclusively use eels; however, they use hickory shad when available and sometimes Atlantic Menhaden. Mike sometimes would troll off Newport, Jamestown and Narragansett with a menhaden hooked thought the lips in a figure eight pattern
• Setting the hook. Mike likes to free spool and to take the pressure off the fish he drops the line when he gets a bite and counts 1,000, 2,000 and then engages the spool and sets the hook. Peter and Don usually do not have to set the hook as they generally use circle hooks.
• Line/leader. Mike likes to use 30 lb monofilament line while Don and Peter use braid line and fluorocarbon leaders or wire leaders (at night) as the fish cannot see a black wire leader at night.
• Closing advice from all three anglers was "Do not be intimidated by night fishing", go with someone, plan your trip and fish on a moon lit evening and ask help from other anglers if needed. Don Smith continued, "Pete and I are out there a lot. Look for the boat that is brightly lit, that will be us… do not hesitate to stop if we can help."
Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council meeting
The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9. Agenda items will include advisory panel reports from the IAC, summer flounder and herring ad hoc committees as well as a brief overview of the Oyster Substrate Enhancement project in Ninigret Pond, a continued discussion on Atlantic Herring as well as pm the fluke exemption certificate program. The meeting will take place at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus, Coreless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, and Narragansett. Anglers and interested parties are urged to attend and voice their opinions on the issues.
31st Annual Snug Harbor Marina Shark Tournament this Saturday and Sunday
Snug Harbor Marina will hold its 31st Annual Shark Tournament this Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8. At press time over half of the allowed 75 boats had registered. A Captain's meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 6, 6:00 p.m. at Snug Harbor Marina. Visit their website at www.snugharbormarina.com for a tournament application. Tournament funds will be donated to the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
Where's the bite
At press time fishing was very good in the Bay and ocean.
Striped bass being caught on chunks and live menhaden north of Conimicut light. Last week, Merrill True reported on the RISAA blog, "Left Bold Point at eight am. We had Menhaden on the surface near the hurricane barrier in the hundreds. Snagged some for bait and started chunking. The Stripers and Blues had them bunched up in a tight ball. There weren't many stripers or blues after them but I got lucky and had a 32 inch bass take my chunk bait." Angler Mike Swain of Coventry said, "We continue to catch bass in the Bay using menhaden chunks fishing outgoing tides at night in and around Prudence and Patience Islands." Fishing on Block Island for bass is good day and night with fewer bluefish mixed in. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown said, "Anglers are taking nice striped bass at the North Rip with diamond jigs with eels being the dominate bait on the Southwest Ledge." John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle said anglers Kevin and Albert Bettencourt landed six nice keeper bass to 23 pounds this past Sunday off Providence Point and Bear Point, Prudence Island using menhaden chunks.
Fluke (summer flounder) fishing is good when wind and tide are in line for anglers to establish a good drift. Angler Ron Nalbandian said, "Three of us started around 9:30 a.m. off the pink house in 73 feet of water. Squid with mummy chums on rubber glow squids, power drifting with 4-5 oz. of weight. 6 keepers up to 22". The 22" coughed up a whole squid half its size when brought on board." Anglers Rick Sustello and Lary Norin had a great fluke trip Saturday in front of the Sakonnet River that yielded them sixteen nice keepers and black sea bass to 20". Their largest fluke was 25 inches. Rick said, "Lary Norin and I left our Point Judith marina at about 7:30 a.m. … Within 15 minutes we started to hit some fish… We then went through an hour of continuous action taking many fluke and BSB until the drift slowed…We were fishing in 60 to 75' most all of the day. Deeper water yielded the bigger fish." John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle said customers are catching fluke under the Newport Bridge in water about 100 feet deep.
Scup fishing is good in mid and lower Bay with fish as large as 20 inches. John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle, East Providence, said fish to 18" are being taken a Colt State Park with so many anglers fishing it is hard to get a fishing spot to fish on the dock.
Offshore fishing for sharks continues to be good with bluefin tuna fishing not as good as it was last week, said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome…there's more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at email@example.com.