I love to fish like many of us. It is fortunate that the sport can be safely engaged by individuals, families and all. But it takes some planning and thinking to fish safely in the COVID-19 environment we live in today.
As a charter captain I plan on implementing the below guidelines, as part my COVID-19 Plan to get back to fishing with customers.
Yesterday I fished with a colleague practicing many of the below precautions to test them out and added a few based on the experience.
Masks were worm on the vessel and six foot separation was practiced, tackle box remained off limits except for the captain, bait was cut wearing gloves, ideally it should have been put in separate containers for each angler, each of us used our own gear. Hands were washed or sanitized frequently.
After the fishing trip all gear, tackle and tools touched by anglers were put aside. The vessel was washed with soap and rinsed thoroughly. All fishing rods, tackle and tools i.e. pliers, cutting board, knives, filet gloves, tackle were washed in soapy water and rinsed thoroughly. High-touch areas were then disinfected with cleaner.
Stay safe fishing as it is one of the few sports and activities that can be safely implemented bringing solace to individuals and joy to families and friends. Make sure you take a number of passengers that safely allows six foot separation.
The below list of guidelines was developed from proposals made to Governor Gina Raimondo from the American Saltwater Guides Association, the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and standing RI Health Department and executive orders from the Governor. It is an integral part by my charter fishing business COVID-19 plan and my personal plan for fishing with others recreationally.
No Fluke Fishing LLC, COVID-19 Guidelines
• Completion of a COVID-19 health screening the day before the trip which would include contact information on all trip participants (name, email address, phone number and city/state of residence) e-mailed to email@example.com .
• Passengers also asked to respond to the following question the day before the trip. “Are you or anyone else in your party experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms including fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, etc.”
• Request that all passengers who are feeling ill or showing any signs of being infected cancel the trip prior to arrival with no penalty for cancellation.
• Before boarding the vessel the temperature of passengers, crew and captain will be taken using an infrared thermometer. Any sign of fever, the trip will be postponed or cancelled with no penalty for cancelation.
• Limiting the number of clients on board: No Fluke Fishing limits vessel trips to three to four passengers depending on the type of trip. Phase I State of RI fishing regulations will change as conditions improve; presently they set the boats limit to six passengers plus captain based on the length and beam of the vessel.
• Passengers provide their food and drink in small personal container, no communal cooler.
• Vessel will practice social distancing (six feet) as required when fishing and when vessel is underway if at all possible. Passengers must practice social distancing.
• Passengers are asked to rinse, wash and sanitize hands regularly.
• All cabins, commonly touched surfaces, and equipment on the vessel will be sanitized between trips. The entire vessel is thoroughly cleaned at the end of each fishing day.
• Charter fees will be collected online whenever possible to encourage paperless transactions.
• All persons (captain and passengers) are required to wear face coverings during charter boat operations in accordance with RIDOH regulations. Gloves are encouraged when possible.
• No sharing of gear and tackle, ask captain to get supplies out of cabin and tackle boxes for you.
Where’s the bite?
Tautog fishing is good but seemed to slow this weekend. However, Kiana Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We weighed in a 25” male tautog this weekend. For some fishing has been good.” The bite seemed to improve in the upper portions of Narragansett Bay and in the Providence River. Ed Manning of Little Compton caught a 20” off Little Compton Beach. Catching tautog from the beach is often not an easy task. Ed used a tautog rig with green. “Customers caught keeper tautog this weekend at the Day Marker and Conimicut Light. At times there were so many boats fishing these spots it looked like a wagon train. One customer caught two keepers at the Day Marker but they were in the 16” to 17” range. Primarily small fish,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. “The tautog bite picked up this week with a good bite at General Rock, Plum Light and off Hope Island,” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick. Jeff Ingber of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “This weekend the tautog fishing was off. Once the front arrived things shut down.” Dereck Kolodziejczak reports on the RI Saltwater Angler Blog, “We fish all over Narragansett Bay, Newport, Providence for tog Friday, Saturday and Sunday both sides of the tide 10-40’ of water. STRUGGLE CITY!” The weather improved this week and going into the weekend and so should the fishing.
Striped bass fishing for school bass has been good. “Apponaug and East Greenwich Coves, Warwick Light and Bear Point, Prudence Island have all been good for school striped bass fishing,” said Ferrara. Ingber said, “Striped bass in the 22” to 26” range are all over the East Passage and in the West Passage they seem stretched out from Warwick Light to Quonset Point.” Macedo said, “Customers are catching fish all the way up the River to Pawtucket….We have bass in the upper reaches of the bay. The bite has been good off Veterans Parkway in front of the orthopedic medical office building and at Bull Point and India Point, Providence.”
Freshwater fishing remains strong for largemouth bass. “Customers are experiencing a good pickerel and largemouth bite at Stump Pond,” said Ingber. Littlefield said, “The largemouth bite is good in area ponds. Shiners are the bait of choice. We sold out this weekend."
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association, the American Saltwater Guides Association and the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com and his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com.