"Over there on the right!", "Did you see that swirl?", "I've got one… I'm on." That is the way it often goes when fishing a cinder worm hatch for striped bass. Cinder worms are small spawning worms almost tadpole like in their movements. They have a wormlike body up top with a tail that wags through the water propelling them in an erratic fashion at fast speeds in circles through the water.
Striped bass (bluefish too) key in on the spawning worms (often in May and June) and feed actively on the surface, close enough to the shore to be well in range of anglers casting with spinning reels or wading fly rod fishermen. They are also fished from boats on saltwater ponds, coves and in saltwater estuaries of all types.
In the June, 2013 edition of Saltwater Sportsman Magazine, Capt. Jon McMurray wrote a great article on cinder worm hatches in New England titled "Striper fishing during the cinder worm hatch." Capt. McMurray said, "Hatches are a spring event in most places, occurring in the dead of night, with some exceptions in Rhode Island and Martha's Vineyard when they can occur in late afternoon." I have experienced a worm hatch in East Greenwich (RI) cove in the early morning hours. The hatch may have started at night but continued into the morning hours so worm hatches do occur at different times of day. It all depends on conditions and Mother Nature.
Cinder worms are a polychaete (many legs) in the Nereis genus which also includes the sand worm and the common clam worm said Capt. McMurray. Like all Nereis worms, cinder worms are mud burrowers. They swim to the surface to release their sperm and eggs in frenzy. So the "hatch" is actually a spawning event rather than a "hatching" event.
You probably won't find a hatch under windy conditions. "When a female appears, she's soon surrounded by several males, which swim rapidly in narrow circles around her on the surface," said Frank Lillie, who has conducted one of the few studies on cinder worms. "Worms indeed might emerge from the mud during windy conditions, but they likely can't perform such mating behavior if there are waves tossing them." said Capt. McMurray.
There are a number of factors that experts claim contribute to stimulating the hatch…light from a full moon or from docks and buildings, water and bottom sediment temperature, extreme moon low tides that heat the bottom, tide and currant, etc. all come into play.
When the worm hatch is at its peak using a fly or bait that resembles a cinder worm may not be a good idea. If there is too much bait around the bass may not bite, however, if you present something different to the bass, to gain their interest, you could hook up with some nice striped bass. It's all about getting the bass interested in what you have to offer and they can be finicky and difficult to catch during a hatch. However, when the hatch starts to wind down it may be a good idea to present bait that looks like a cinder worm as the bass may be hunting for the worms as they are getting scarce.
I have found soft plastic baits a good option with spinning gear. Al Gags Custom Lures (www.algagsfishinglures.com ) makes red plastic baits in various sizes, a couple small enough to mimic cinder worms.
In you are a fly fisherman and want to be introduced to fishing the cinder worm hatch this you are in luck. Noted expert fly fishermen Dave Pollack and Capt. Ray Stachelek along with volunteers from the Connecticut/ Rhode Island Coastal Fly Fishers, the Rhody Fly Rodders, United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Salt Water Anglers Association, have been facilitating an instructional program for the past five years with the aid of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM). The first two sessions are devoted strictly to tying cinder worm emergence patterns.
There is also a session (usually on a Saturday afternoon/evening) that is devoted to fishing with the flies on Ninigret Pond. The program, which is free, attracts anglers from throughout the Northeast and is usually oversubscribed.
Fly tying is scheduled on two weekday nights Tuesday, April 29 and Monday, May 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the US Fish &Wildlife Service Kettle Pond Nature Center in Charlestown, RI. Fishing is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 from 4:00 p.m. to dark at Ninigret Refuge. There is no charge for this program. Novices as well as experienced fly fishers are welcome. Fly tying tools and materials, and fly rod outfits, are provided on request as needed.
The class enrollment is limited to 40 students, on a first come, first served basis. The program is free of charge, but pre-registration is required for all students. For further information and registration contact Janis Nepshinsky at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 401-364-9124, ext. 28 or Janis_Nepshinsky@fws.gov. If you are interested in instructing this year, contact Dave Pollack at email@example.com or Ray Stachelek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Marine to hold Grand Opening
West Marine announced the Grand Opening of its newest store in Warwick, RI is set for April 11-13 with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony set for Friday, April 11, 9:00 a.m. with Mayor Scott Avedisian as the guest of honor. "This new, larger Warwick store allows us the space to better serve our local community of boaters, anglers, paddlers and sailors, as well as folks who simply enjoy life on the water," said general manager Carl Hjerpe. The store is at Warwick Commons, 399 Bald Hill Road, Warwick. Festivities will begin each day at 8:00 a.m. with special in-store events, a mini boat show, tips from experts, marine electronic demonstrations, door-buster deals, giveaways and raffles.
Rhody Fly Rodders meeting
"Secrets of Fly Fishing the West" will be the topic at the Tuesday, March 18, 6:30 p.m. Rhody Fly Rodders meeting at the Riverside Sportsman's Club, 19 Mohawk Drive, East Providence, RI. Veteran fly fisherman Ed Lombardo will talk about fishing out west in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming over the past 30 years to enjoy great trout fishing. For information and directions contact Pete Nilsen at email@example.com.
New England Fishing Show March 28-30 keys in on learning experiences
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) will have over sixty seminars, demonstrations and workshops during their Friday, March 28th to Sunday, March 30th New England Fishing Show taking place at the RI Convention Center. The show is the largest of its type in the Northeast with over 250 exhibitors including tackle, rods, reels, lures, electronics, charter guides, boats, motors, accessories, clothing and much more.
The seminars will take place in four different locations… the "Main Stage", a 200-seat area that will continue to present some of the top anglers on the East Coast; "Workshops" in a more personal 50-seat seminar area; a "Casting Lane", to demonstrate surf casting and fly fishing; and a "Demo area" with no seats designed so anglers can see gear, products, and the speakers close up. View speakers and topics online. Tickets for the show are $10 with a special $1 online discount coupon at www.nesaltwatershow.
com. Sunday is family day, all women and children 12 and under admitted free.
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 . Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke Charters website at www.noflukefishing.com, his blog at www.noflukefishing.
blogspot.com or e-mail him fishing news and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.