Get ready for bonito and false albacore
We had a run of bonito off the West Wall and Center Wall of the Harbor of Refuge a month ago, but no new reports of them being around this week.
However, it’s the middle of the fishing season and it’s time to start thinking about bonito and false albacore. Both of these species are hard to catch, but have thrilled local fishermen with their furious runs stripping line from light tackle giving anglers a memorable fight.
Many times false albacore and bonito are mixed in with striped bass and bluefish. They can be caught from boat and shore with lures and even on the troll. They generally range in the two foot range, weigh four to five pounds but have been caught as large as twelve to fifteen pounds.
Atlantic bonito are part of the same mackerel family (Scombridae) as tuna. Their meat has a darkish color and a firm texture, with a moderate fat content. The meat of young or small bonito can be of lighter color, close to that of skipjack tuna. They are often grilled or baked. However, false albacore are usually not eaten.
Local bonito and false albacore expert Susan Lema said “The first tip is use as little hardware has possible. We tie directly to a 25 pound fluorocarbon leader with a uni knot and no swivel. This keeps things simple with no hardware flashing in the water to spook the fish.” Roger Lema (Susan’s husband) said, “The second tip is to fish the outgoing tide in front of rivers, coves and ponds as the water and bait have to be moving.” Susan said, “These fish are ram feeders. They open their mouths and hit the bait at high speed so things are moving.” The third tip is to be prepared to mix it up.
Roger said, “When we go out we have five rods ready to go. Some prepared to cast silver lures like Deadly Dicks and Kastmaster lures. But, we are also ready to troll (at four knots) with broken back lures, shallow swimming and deep swimming lures to use depending on where the fish are in the water column.” And, one last tip, “You have to anticipate where these speedsters will surface again and be there when they do. So we like to fish the sides of the schools rather than getting out in front of them,” said Roger Lema.
Ed Parisi, a bonito and false albacore fishing expert from Tsunami Fishing Tackle, shared his thoughts on how to hook one of these speedsters last year at a RI Saltwater Anglers Association seminar.
One of my take-a-ways from the meeting was “lightening up”. Bonito and false albacore are very sensitive to line and tackle in the water. Parisi said, “These fish have large eyes, like most species form the tuna family and can see very well. They rely on their sight a lot when feeding so the more you have in the water in terms line, leader thickness and swivels the greater the chances are that these fish are going to see it and not bite. I use a 15 pound braid with a 10 to 15 pound fluorocarbon leader with direct tie offs and no swivels. I have never had a breakoff using this weigh line as long as my drag was set properly.”
Orsted follows with a New York win
Orsted, the Danish ocean wind farm developer that bought Rhode Island’s Deepwater Wind, was awarded an 880-megawatt contract for power from the State of New York last week. The project was accompanied by an 816 megawatt contract awarded to Norway’s Equinor for its Empire Wind farm located off New York. The Orsted win follows one they were awarded last month for a 1,100 megawatt wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “These projects will help make New York the hub for this growing, exciting, necessary future industry." The 1,700 megawatt contract awards will provide enough energy to power 1-million homes.
Locally, Massachusetts and Rhode Island commercial and recreation fishermen continue to be concerned about the pace of wind farm development off their shores as the power for the Orsted New York award will come from the Revolution wind farm at Cox Ledge, a popular recreational fishing spot for cod fish as well as pelagic fish such as tuna and mahi mahi.
Due to the type of bottom at Cox Ledge, recreational anglers have long voiced their opinion about the importance of rod & reel studies in this area before, during and after construction. “It may be too late to conduct proper fish and habitat studies before construction to see what is there because testing has already started that may be disruptive to conducting ‘before’ studies,” said Richard Hittinger, first vice president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association.
The Orsted New York award will likely translate to 80 additional turbines in the Cox Ledge wind farm lease area.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass fishing was mixed last week with reports of fish moving into the Narragansett Bay and close to our coastal shore. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “A customer at 2nd Beach, Newport said the striped bass were thick one afternoon in waist high water at the beach and another customer experienced school bass in just a couple of feet of water off the dock he was fishing in East Providence.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Fishing, Providence, said “Chris Higgins caught a 46 pound striped bass with eels fishing in the Bay on ‘Archangel Charters’ with Capt. Mike Littlefield. The bass seemed to have come into the Bay a bit this week.” Capt. Rick Bellavance, president of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association, said, “Striped Bass fishing took a nosedive last week as we were on less optimal tides. That is typical around Block Island. The night bite is very good though. Big blues are thick and available along the east side of Block Island.” Angler East End Eddie Doherty of Mattapoisett said, “There were a lot of nice striped bass caught this morning (Saturday) between the Railroad Bridge and the Bourne Bridge in the dark and at first light. 18 - 25 pounders and a few 30’s succumbed to the temptation of Hurley, Gags and Savage Gear soft plastic jigs on the dropping west tide.”
Summer flounder (fluke), scup and black sea bass fishing has been mixed too. Capt. Rick Bellavance said, “The large male black sea bass arrived and that fishery is excellent. Fluke is a pick but there are some keepers if you work at it. Scup fishing is fantastic around Block Island.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Fishing for black sea bass at the Fingers off Block Island has been very good. And, anglers fishing the Newport Bridge area find it is yielding fluke as skipjack bluefish seen to be infiltrating the bay. Even areas off Patience and Prudence Island where skipjacks have appeared are yielding fluke.” Reports of scup in bays, along the coast and out at Block Island has been very good with large fish being caught even in the Providence River. “Goat Island and Colt State Park have been great for scup fishing,” said Henault.
Freshwater fishing has been good now that anglers have access to minnows,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, as there has been a minnow shortage for the past two weeks. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Turner Reservoir has been good for largemouth bass and we weighed in a 4.5 pound largemouth bass this weekend for an area pond.” Anglers finding fish in deeper, cooler water in area ponds and lakes.
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. Follow Capt. Dave on twitter @CaptDaveMonti. He’ll be tweeting about ‘Where’s the bite’, fishing regulations, national fishing policy, and issues that impact the fish. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.