Summer flounder (fluke) fishing should be pretty good this year. If you have not given it a try, now is the time. Our fluke fishery is in good shape, so good, fish managers lowered the minimum size in RI last year and this year to 18" with an eight fish/angler/day bag limit with a fluke season running from May 1 to December 31.
• In May, fluke move in shore from deep Continental Shelf waters where they spend the winter. They stay inland until October and then move back to the deep water.
• Fluke return to the same areas, bays, etc. year after year
• The local abundance of flounder, including summer flounder or fluke, has been on the rise. Studies shows abundance moving from off Maryland and Delaware in the early 1960's to off the coastal shores of NY, CT and RI today. Some scientists (including Dr. Jonathan Hare, NOAA's lab chief in Narragansett, RI) believe climate change is contributing to this movement.
• Fluke are a flat fish with two eyes on the same side of the fish. They are bottom fish that do not look aggressive, but they will chase bait aggressively and eat the same bait that bluefish and striped bass eat. The difference is that they feed off the bottom.
• They can be caught from a boat (usually while drifting) or from shore with little knowledge, so they are an ideal catch for beginners and children
• Fluke are chameleons; they change color to blend with the bottom.
• Largest fluke on record is 26.6 lbs. and 36" long. The RI State record is a 17 pound, 8 once fish caught by G. Farmer or Warwick, RI in 1962.
Fluke tips from
Capt. Robb Roach, Kettlebottom Outfitters, Jamestown, RI. "Wind and tide in line otherwise stem it. Bigger fish are on sharper edges… meaning a steeper drop off will hold the bigger fish. Don't forget to fish in the vicinity of wrecks. Live bait works best and snapper blues are THE BEST Fluke bait. Clean the skin off of the squid when baiting"
Capt. Rick Bellavance, Priority Too Charters, Pt. Judith, RI. "I typically use a large style pre-rigged fluke rig which I purchase from a local bait shop. We try to use a piece of fresh bait such as the belly meat of a bluefish to act as an attractant. We use a 3-way snap swivel with a large snap to facilitate changing sinkers. I believe the smallest weight that will hold bottom is best. Much of our fishing effort takes place around Block Island and just about any piece of shoreline will hold summer flounder and we always drift, usually picking the side of the island with the strongest tide or wind. When we start catching, I record the depth and I also make note of specific depths where bigger fish may be congregating… I coach our clients to drop the tip of the rod when they feel a bite and to then slowly, but deliberately, lift up on the rod to set the hook. We use circle hooks and modified wide gap hooks exclusively to reduce release mortality."
Cathy Muli, Jackpot Digger Jigs, Westerly, RI. This past January I met Cathy when she shared the stage with three national experts at the National Saltwater Sportsman Seminar Series with George Poveromo held at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT. Cathy and her husband invented a line of fishing jigs called 'Jackpot Digger Jigs' that actually stir up sand each time the jig is dropped on the bottom. "I use to fish for summer flounder with an old timer who said, when the tide is slow you have to move that jig like your churning butter." said Cathy. Cathy suggests fishing contours, from high to low or low to high and said, "just experiment" with different rigs and baits as the fish bite something different every day. Visit http://youtu.be/oUg29cuLzek for an interview with Cathy Muli.
Kettlebottom Outfitters and Conimicut Marine (both from Jamestown) have created a new summer flounder (fluke) tournament called Flukefest, a one-day fluke tournament that will be held Saturday, June 21, 2014 from sunrise to 3:00 p.m. (weigh in at Conanicut Marine, Jamestown). The cost of the tournament is $40 for adults, $20 for 12 and under. Capt. Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters said, "It is very easy to register online at www.conanicutmarina.com." There will be cash prizes for several categories including Heaviest Fluke, Heaviest three Fluke, Heaviest "trash" (non fluke) fish, Heaviest Shore-caught Fluke, and Heaviest Fluke 12 and under. Boat, shore, and young anglers are all welcome to participate. Visit www.kettlebottom.com or www.conanicutmarina.com for information and registration.
Trout Unlimited meeting
The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (#225 ) will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 6:00 PM, at the Arcadia Management Area Check Station, Rt. 165, Exeter, R.I. This will be the chapter's second Stream-Side Meeting at the Check Station. Hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages will be available. Members and guests welcome. Contact Ron Marafioti, president, at (571) 643-1452 for information.
Where's the bite
Striped bass fishing picked up a bit on the southwest side of Block Island but the larger fish this week were caught off Point Judith Light with eels at night. "We weighed in a 57 pound fish and then a 58 pound fish caught by Rich Chappell of Wakefield." said Al Conti of Sung Harbor Marina, South Kingstown. Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait, Westerly, said, "Striped bass fishing has been better along the shore with fish starting to get larger." Bass fishing in the Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays is fair to good. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said "We had some nice fish weighed in this week but not like the 37 pounder we had last week." Bass continue to be landed in the Providence River this week. Mel True, Sr. said "Went fishing for stripers in the upper Providence River this morning (this weekend) and we caught three stripers in about one hour. Found a school of menhaden near the I 195 bridge. Snagged some and hooked up right away. Stripers were about 35 inches and had sea lice on them." Scott Kiefer of Exeter, RI said Thursday, "Seems like the larger fish are making their way (to RI)… I caught five all in the 35-38 inch class covered in sea lice". Angler Kevin Bettencourt of East Providence said, "Didn't get out during the week but fished this past Saturday. The pogies were by Colts Park in the channel and by Barrington Beach. Fishing was slow with not many fish being caught. I was able to pick-up a 20 pounder by snagging a pogy and leaving it in the school. Also did some chunking and picked up one about 17 lbs. With the bluefish mixed in it's a great time to chunk."
Bluefish exploded this week. I fished in the very successful RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) Take-a-kid fishing event Saturday with 55 other vessels… all trolling for bluefish with about 180 children in Greenwich Bay. The bluefish bite was outstanding with all boats easily catching six to twelve fish in the 20 to 24 plus inch range. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, "The bluefish bite has been very strong with anglers complaining of too many hook ups when targeting bass, but they provide a great fight for anglers and when prepared well are tasty too." Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait said, "This weekend bluefish were on the surface at Weekapaug Light. There are more bluefish around now."
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been good in the Bay. I fished the Warwick Light red bell last week with Dave, Ed and Richard Jacques (of North Kingstown). They landed six fluke, three nice keepers, at the end of an outgoing tide fishing the channel banks for about 1 ½ hours. Mike Cardinal said "Fluke fishing along the coastal shore has been steady with anglers are finding fish in 40 to 55 feet of water." Fishing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River has been good too. "We weighed in a 7 pound, 4 once fluke this weekend that came from the Sakonnet. And, fishing under the Newport Bridge and off Ft. Adams has been pretty good too." said Manny Macedo. Roger Simpson of the Francis Fleet said, "There were quite a few limit catches recorded over the past week and quite a few hefty slabs between 7 and 9.5 lbs. On most outings the average keeper is in the 3 lb range." The minimum size for fluke in RI is 18", eight fish/person/day.
Scup fishing is heating up with large fish now being caught in the Bay at Colt State Park as well as along southern coastal shores.
Shore fishing. Noted shore angler and author Dave Pickering said, "I have been concentrating on the Cape Cod Canal this week with those big tides. Fished there several times and came away with schoolies. However, I did see some keepers up to 25 lbs. being caught. My son, Matt, landed a decent fish about 20 lbs. on a needlefish fished on top. Occasionally good size stripers are chasing mackerel and are breaking on the surface. However, most regulars would agree that Canal fishing is off compared to past years…"