Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What Will Happen with Opening Day of Trout Fishing?

What is going to happen with Opening Day of Trout fishing here in RI? As of right now, it is slated to open on April 11. This is a day that traditionally sees tens of thousands of fishermen descend upon the stocked waters of RI in search of trout.  Some places like Carolina Trout Pond, Lincoln Woods, Silver Spring Pond and many other hotspots see hundreds if not thousands of fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder.  In other places dozens of people camp in close quarters waiting for daybreak. Under the present circumstances, I see no way this will be allowed to happen. So, as of now, no one seems to know what will happen.
Nearby CT has taken a novel approach to this, one that I think RI should immediately adopt. Yesterday they opened all their trout waters to fishing.  They previously had the same Opening Day as RI, but they decided to open early to avoid the masses of fishermen that would normally hit the waters on April 11. It was also smart to open during the week.
Here is the press release from CT:
On March 24, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order opening many lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to fishing statewide.  Opening the fishing season early helps to limit community spread of COVID-19, by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity. 
DEEP is encouraging all anglers to follow social distancing practices.  Anglers should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, practice good personal hygiene, and stay home and away from others if you feel sick.  If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time. “
Smart policy!  Now, will RI follow? 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wading into the Unknown

In just about three to four weeks, the first migrating stripers will hit the RI oceanfront. We know the fish will be there, but will the fishermen? With social gatherings in RI  limited to 10 people, does anyone think you'll see crowds of fishermen lined shoulder to shoulder in some of our spring striper hotspots like we've seen in previous years? No social distancing practiced in those spots.  I have to wonder how that's going to be controlled. I also have to wonder what will happen to beach parking lots and on street beach parking, access points that lots of fishermen as well as beach goers use to get to the water. I hate to say this, but I'm guessing a lot of those places will be shut down if this current crisis persists.
I'm guessing that many of the experienced guys will hit the "off the beaten path" spots that get little attention and few fishermen. There are loads of these places tucked away along our shoreline, but you have to know how to get into these spots and you have to be able to park. Nighttime fishermen should have easier opportunities to get out and fish while at the same time avoiding any crowds since so few people fish at night anymore.
As for boaters, will those state ramps be open and available? They can get mighty crowded on weekends...certainly more than ten people at times.
We are headed for uncharted waters here in the next few weeks.  After what's happened in the last week or two to society in general, nothing would surprise me.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Look on the Bright Side, You Can Still Fish!

Here is a holdover striper that I landed just a couple of days
ago.  They are around the backwaters and rivers along the Bay
and oceanfront, but you have to find them.
Holy smokes, what a mess we are in right now. Did you ever think you would see a pandemic in your lifetime? Whether it's fear or panic or a combination of both, all you hear about is the coronavirus, and its disruptions on our daily lives. With just about everything all around us closing down, about the only bright spot is that we can still fish and be safe doing it.
I can tell you that just about no one is fishing right now.  Both freshwater and saltwater fishermen just don't think about fishing at this time of year even though it can be quite productive. And, with few people out and about, social distancing is not much of a problem. For those who may be bored and holed up at home, there are opportunities to get out and fish in saltwater and saltwater. Here is the scoop:
\Large carp are a freshwater option at this
time of year.  I got this one in the morning
the same day I landed the striper (top photo).
Saltwater- There are wintering over stripers to be had in many of the backwaters and river systems in the Bay as well as along the oceanfront. You'll have to do a lot of looking and casting to find these fish. In the last week my son Jon and I have gotten out and caught fish every time out on Zoom flukes mounted on jigheads.  Not many, but enough fish to say we caught.  While all these fish we landed were schoolies, I also know of keepers that have also been landed.  In addition to stripers, white perch also inhabit these same backwaters, particularly brackish rivers.  The perch will hit the same small jigs that the stripers are hitting. If we are lucky, the masses of migrating stripers should arrive early, maybe around April 10-15. It could be even earlier if this weather stays warm.
Freshwater-  All stocked trout waters are off limits to any type of fishing in RI right now until Opening Day, but all other waters are open to fishing.  I know some fishermen are now targeting crappie, white perch and largemouth bass in these spots.  I have been targeting carp and doing fairly well.  I've gotten many fish in the last two weeks up to 10 lbs., decent size for this time of year.  The hot bait has been sweet corn on the hair rig or combo baits.  Carp fishing at this time is best in shallow water spots that warm up quickly on warm, sunny days. Note that if you want to fish freshwater now in RI, you will need a new 2020 freshwater license.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

It's Official...Slot Limit, 28-35, for RI for 2020

It's been settled.  After many meetings in which the slot limit was debated, tweaked and argued over, the DEM director, Janet Coit, has made the final decision.  It will be a slot limit of one fish of 28 to less than 35 inches for RI recreational fishermen as well as charter boats in 2020.The RI regulations will now be consistent with all the states from NY to Maine which have adopted similar limits for recreational fishermen. Like many other concerned fishermen, I hope this works in reducing mortality and preserving our stocks of larger fish.