Tautog tips from the experts
Last week I attended the RI Saltwater Anglers Association tautog expert’s seminar. Panelists included Travis Barao, who fishes for tautog in Southeastern Mass. and R.I.; Capt. Joseph Bleczinski who caught an 18.9 pound tautog in 2015; and Richard Reich, noted shore and boat angler. Here are some takeaway highlights from the panel discussion.
The best time to tautog is when the water is moving. Capt. Joe Bleczinski said, “I like mid high to high or mid low to low as the best time to fish.”
Early in the season they tend to be in lower water. The range to catch them is 25 to 50 feet of water, however, Rich Reich said, “I have caught tautog in up to 100 feet of water.”
Green crabs and Asian crabs are the baits of choice. Travis Barao said, “I like to freeze my Asian crabs. This way I can catch them whenever I want and freeze them. And, I have noticed no different in the bite when they are frozen.” Capt. Joe said, “Some days cut up green crabs work best with no legs, other days the legs on work, or one or two legs. You have to mix it up and see what the fish want on any given day.”
Rich Reich said, “I crack the green crab shell and expose the meat, I will frequently change the bait because after a while you will be fishing with cartilage and you’ll catch nothing.”
Reich is fairly stealthy with his rigging approach. “I like to spray my sinkers black, use black hooks and snap swivels along with fluorocarbon leaders,” he said.
Travis Barao likes to use fluorocarbon too as it is less visible.
DEM to stock local waters with trout
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is stocking ponds across Rhode Island with 10,000 trout in advance of Columbus Day weekend. A select number of waterways will be stocked given current drought conditions as conditions improve, additional stocking will take place.
As part of a new initiative aimed at making larger, trophy-sized, hatchery-raised brown trout available to anglers, 400 brood stock brown trout with an average weight of 4 to 6 pounds will be stocked at Carbuncle Pond in Coventry beginning this fall.
The following waters will be stocked: Carbuncle Pond, Coventry; Olney Pond, Lincoln; Silver Spring Pond, North Kingstown; Barber Pond, South Kingstown; Round Top Ponds, Burrillville; Meadowbrook Pond, Cronan Landing, Lower Shannock Fishing Area, and Beaver River (Rt. 138), Richmond; Ponagansett Fishing Area, Foster; Wallum Lake, Burrillville; Wood River, Dow Field, Mechanic Street, Barberville, Wyoming Pond, and the Pawcatuck River, Hopkinton; and Potter Hill Landing, Westerly. For timely stocking information, follow DEM’s outdoor education page on Facebook: facebook.com/rioutdooreducation.
A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp are required to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or fly-fishing only area. A trout stamp is not required for persons possessing trout taken from a lake or pond that shares a border with Rhode Island. The daily creel and possession limit for trout is five through November 30; and two from December 1 through February 28, 2018; except in the Wood River between Route 165 and Barberville Dam at Arcadia Road where the daily creel limit is two trout through February 28, 2018.
At this time of the year, cyanobacteria or blue-green algae may be present in local lakes and ponds. People should avoid contact with these ponds. There is an advisory at St. Mary’s Pond in Middletown, Melville Ponds in Portsmouth, Stafford Pond in Tiverton, Pleasure Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence, and J.L.Curran Reservoir in Cranston.
Weed treatment for Carolina trout pond
DEM is advising the public that Carolina Trout Pond in Richmond is being treated to help control invasive weeds. The chemical treatment, which will be applied two times this fall, poses no public health risk nor harm to fish or other aquatic life.
The next treatment will get underway on Monday, October 2 and will target invasive plants such as variable water milfoil and water hyacinth; the first treatment was on Monday, September 18. The public should avoid fishing and other recreational activities in the pond on treatment days; signs are posted around the pond with information about temporary water use restrictions.
For information on DEM programs, visit dem.ri.gov.
Where’s the bite
Tautog fishing started to explode this week with fish being caught in the bay and along the coastal shore. “Customers are catching fish but the short to keeper ratio is not very good. One customer fishing in the Ohio Ledge and Rumstick Point areas caught 30 shorts and two keepers and another fishing the Wharf Tavern caught 15 shorts to 1 keeper,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Lorraine Dante of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Tautog fishing was good in the bay this weekend with customers landing keepers at Stone Bridge, the Mt. Hope Bridge Lighthouse, even at Colt State Park. Green crabs worked well, Asian crabs are just starting to become available after the tropical storms and high seas that we had.” I fished off Beavertail this weekend and did pretty good catching eight shorts and two keepers. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Tautog fishing is just starting to pick up we had customers catching keepers at Hope Island, the Codding Cove Jetty and the humps off Beavertail.”
Striped bass and bluefish were in the bay. Bluefish were surfacing briefly and then going back down quickly once the bait moved. No prolonged surface action was seen on the upper and middle bay. Ferrara said, “Striped bass are being caught out in from off Beavertail and Newport with bluefish surfacing in the Bay.” Littlefield said, “Small striped bass are being caught at Rumstick Point, off Barrington Beach and in the Warren River. Only one report of a 29” keeper bass being caught a Sabin Point by a customer that was bottom fishing for other species.”
The scup bite has been very good in the Bay. Littlefield said, “Customers are catching very large scup in the bay once again and some are limiting out. One angler said the fish were getting smaller by this week they have been large. They are catching scup at Colt State Park and Sabin Point.”
Cod fishing. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We found a pick of nice green cod to about 15 pounds Saturday. Hi hook boxed four good cod. Fishers also had some big ocean perch, huge sea flounder to four plus pounds, quite a few good size scup and a bluefish. Monday's run way offshore did produce a handful of nice green cod fish to twenty pounds but there was not enough of them and not much else to go with them.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He 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 and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.