Category: Monthly/Fishing Reports


April 22, 2014–>> Earth Day 2014  Worldwide celebration

 ****Make  every day Earth DayPick up one piece of trash daily ****

Fishing in April

           The month of April ushers in the Rhode Island fishing season. Fresh and saltwater fishing take off during month, bringing much of the fishing population out of hibernation. However, if  the March that left like a lion continues to hang around for a while things may be delayed  a week or two.

Activity on all fronts begins in earnest when April arrives. Around the first of the month, Turkey Vultures can be seen spiraling up the thermals in the southern part of the state. That’s right, black vultures, they do reside in our state from April to November and several reside the year around. Also arriving around April 1st are Tree Swallows. Tree Swallows are the members of the swallow family with the metallic green-blue back and white breast. They return each year to reclaim their nesting site from the previous year in preparation for mating.

Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows

These jet like friendly birds will nest in bird houses erected for them and return to it year after year. Tree swallows will readily nest in Bluebird houses. I haven’t had Tree Swallow in my backyard for several years now. However when I did, they were a joy to befriend and watch. It doesn’t take long to gain their trust. Near their bird house I would regularly toss Mallard Breast feathers or other similar curved feathers up into the air. The swallows would then swoop down and catch the feathers in mid-air and quickly take them to their bird house to line their nests. One year I  managed to get one male Tree Swallow to trust me to where he would swoop down and take feathers from the finger tips of my out stretched hand. that was a memorable experience and I’ve never been able to repeat that feat. Besides the birds other migrations  take place during the month and one in particular can hardly go unnoticed.

At sunrise on the second Saturday in April, thousands of Rhode Islanders migrate to  their favorite trout fishing hole. Just like the birds, many return to the same site year after year regardless of the weather.  It has snowed  on some openers and  on one opening day several R.I. ponds had a  healthy skim coating of ice until early afternoon. Regardless of the weather the opening day of trout season takes on a festive, holiday type air and is enjoyed by all. From those who arrive at sunrise and leave thirty minutes later after catching their limit, to those arriving  later and fishing all day, it is a special day not to be missed. For some this will be the only day in the year they go trout fishing. Early season trout fishing is best accomplished by fly rodding with sinking lines with streamers and nymphs. Dry  flies and floating lines cannot be ruled out especially if we have some exceptionally warm days and some small hatches appear so most anglers carry their entire arsenal. On Opening Day four years ago I fished Hopkins Mill Pd, in Foster, R.I. in mid-afternoon. It was a sunny day with the temperature  in the low sixties and trout were rising everywhere. The surface was littered with Mayflies from a hatch that would rival one taking place on a warm June day. The rising trout were very selective and the streamers I typically use wouldn’t draw a strike. Even the Wooly Bugger and my Gray Nymph were drawing a blank. I had only a sinking line and no dry flies with me. I  finally began taking fish regularly with a small brown stonefly nymph fished just under the surface.

On the saltwater scene striped bass will begin to enter our waters early in  the month. The first reported rod and reel bass will probably be taken at the apex of the  west wall in Jerusalem, RI  around April 1st.. Second Beach in Newport normally gets a good slug of schoolies during the first week in April . These fish won’t be big but will be fresh from the ocean and full of fight. Last year my friend  Al Tobojka, a.k.a. “Al the Guide” once again took his first striper of the year on April Fool’s Day  at the West Wall and a several more schoolies a few days later in the Narrow River in Narragansett, R.I.. This year the sea water temps have just begun to creep out of the high 30s and things may be delayed a week.  In a typical year  there is a good chance of hooking a few stripers at the Bristol Narrows or Lees and Coles Rivers in Swansea, MA around mid-month.  Toward the end of April, stripers typically move into the area around Carpenter’s Bar in Matunuck, R.I. arriving toward  the end of the third week and remain there until months end.  Silverside imitations (Ray’s fly) of approximately three inches will probably work best, although in areas where alewives are returning to spawn, a big herring imitations (Bondorew Bucktail)may be just the number.  Actually any  fly pattern you tied up during the winter will work!. Simply fish it  confidently, leave it on for a while and you’ll most certainly catch fish!  Striper fishing begins to improve as May nears with more  stripers arriving daily as the waters warm up.

While it may be warming inland throughout the month, remember that the seawater temperatures will remain in the low  forties and  directly influence the coastal areas air temperatures so dress accordingly. Spring has finally arrived after a long harsh winter so regardless of what your favorite type of fishing is, go out and enjoy it!

 

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“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!”

Chief Sitting Bull – Lakota Sioux

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FISHING IN AUGUST

The month of August normally brings the hottest weather of the year.  To me it sometimes brings the coolest striped bass fishing of the season. Water temperatures are on the rise and will continue to do so until they peak in mid-September.  During this time most of the bait fish that inhabited the tidal rivers and estuaries earlier in the year have filtered out into the bay and along the coast. They are not yet congregated into the large schools normally seen in the fall, but seem to be concentrated into pods or small schools spread here and there.  Many a conversation overheard along the shore during this month will contain “I didn’t see any bait”.  Finding bait is a key ingredient to successful fishing anytime, but in August it seems even more important.

Striped bass fishing  this time of year takes a little more work.  Night fishing in August is usually more productive  than daytime outings and fishing in just one spot is more often than not, fruitless.  Leaving no stone unturned by covering as much water and as many places seems to be the best approach.  I guess you could say hunting them down. The hot, bright sunny days and relatively calm waters seem to drive striped bass out away from shore very early in the day and finds them returning only after the sun has gone to bed.  The best fishing is cusually from an hour before and after sunrise and again in the evening after sunset.  Cloudy days can sometimes lengthen these periods.  A change in the weather can dramatically improve things.  A low pressure system passing along the coast normally brings easterly winds to our shores.  Accompanying the low are overcast, cloudy skies and perhaps rain.  This combination causes the easterly facing shorelines of Narragansett, Jamestown, and Newport to have a slight swell with moderate chop to the surf.  These water conditions produce continuous white water along the rocky shores.  The water does not get too rough or the wind too strong to make fishing difficult and produces almost ideal conditions.  The only thing that could make it better would be to throw a little fog in for good measure.  This change from  hot, clear days and glassy waters can really improve shore fishing.   The best days I have had in August happened when the weather changed as  mentioned.  Of course this scenario holds true at any time during the summer and fall.

Bluefish  can be anywhere in August, from upper Narragansett Bay in search of menhaden or along the coast looking for anything they can chomp on.   August and bluefish go together.  Some good bets for bluefish  in R.I. are: The Sakonnet River, Second Beach, Sachuest Point, and Weaver Cove in Newport; Hull’s and Mackerel Coves and Potter’s Point in  Jamestown; Bristol Narrows and the waters south of the Narrows near Heffenrefer Estates in Bristol RI..  I’ve  had good success with bluefish in these areas in August.   If you should find some Bluefish around don’t forget that most of the time they will hit just about anything.  Try the flies you no longer care about or don’t mind having destroyed and save your best flies for other occasions.  The use of a six inch piece of wire in front of the fly will help you from being cut off.  I tie up some special flies I save just for bluefish.  They are tied on extra long 3/0 hooks.  These hooks are  nearlyt four inches long h and the fly itself is tied on just forward of the bend. The shank of the hook acts as the wire leaderg and any bluefish that tries to  cut through the hook shank is going to need some severe dental work.  What color?  If I had to choose one color for bluefish it would be yellow.

August usually finds our waters teeming with snapper blues.  Locally called “skipjacks” these young bluefish can be found in almost any harbor, tidal river or any other spot there’s food. Just like their big brothers these six to eight inch eating machines are always hungry and eager to strike at just about anything.  By the time they leave in the latter part of September, some will have grown to nearly a foot long. Almost any fly tied on a No. 1 or 2 hook will do.  I like to use calf tail for the wing, as it is just about the right length.  White is a good color choice. If you  top the white  with some olive and/or tan hair  these 1.5 -2” long flies will  work quite well for False Albacore, especially if  there’s Bay Anchovies around..  Caught on fresh water tackle skipjacks  offer excellent sport and these little guys present an excellent chance to introduce a youngster to  fishing.  Besides being caught on spinning tackle, there is no better opportunity to have him catch his first fish on a fly rod.  Their willingness to strike and the numbers that can be caught offer some exciting and fun times. I’m glad I still have some kid left in me because I’m looking forward to fishing  for some snapper blues on my 2/3 weight rod. My dogs love eating Snapper bluefish.

On the freshwater sides of things fishing can be slow in August.  With water temps in local rivers  are high and water levels low. Giving the surviving trout a break is perhaps a wise choice. Bass fishing in August can also be tough in the weed infested ponds in Rhode island. Seeking the shade that heavy  cover provides during the day  bass can be taken in early morning and evening away from the heavy cover. I for one don’t care to try for Black Bass  that live in thick weeds, lily pads or other heavy cover. Hooking up then becoming quickly entangled  in vegetation and  having to paddle over to free the struggling bass is not much fun to me. I prefer  fishing in more open water. Unfortunately Rhode Island doesn’t have many ponds that aren’t weed choked. Maybe that’s why I like Maine so much with their structure laden ponds and lakes that have  relatively little weed . Despite all its ups and downs fishing in  August can be a very productive month, all you have to do is put he time in. That’s probably not a bad idea when you consider that in a little over a month there’s a good chance of the first frost.

Although the first frost  and  is nearly a month away things have already begun to change. These changes are noticeable if you take the time to observe. I have long thought there are two migrations of birds and fish . The first begins  in early August and continues through the month. The second occurs in mid-October and continues into November. This year in during the first week in August several small flocks of cowbirds landed in my backyard in search seeds, grain or small insects. They were no longer  in single pairs with fledglings but mixed dozens of males and females all getting along  just looking for food.  Goldfinches have also  begun to flock together.  Thistle plants ripen during the second and third week of August and their swollen seed heads are  favored by goldfinches. Thistle plants are abundant where I run my dogs and they flush many feeding  goldfinches  while romping about.  Some days I see only  several dozen Goldfinches and other days a flock of a hundred or more. Still in their bright yellow mating plumage the Goldfinches coloration is a pleasant site that I look forward to seeing each August. Purple martins also begin to form small flocks and can be seen assembled on power lines at the same locations each year. They await nature’s call to migrate south to Central and South America where they’ll winter over.  Along the coast small menhaden(peanut bunker) begin arriving in to lower Narragansett Bay around the second week in August. They usually appear in the waters from Weaver Cove in Middletown, RI  south to the Newport Bridge and over to the eastern Jamestown shoreline.  For years you could count on bluefish arriving in the Mackerel cove area of Jamestown during  the second weekend of August.  After a brief stay the peanut bunker continue  south down along Hull’s Cove and Beavertail Pt. in Jamestown RI.  Near the end of the third week in August they will have made their way to the Narragansett, RI shoreline and often enter Narrow River. By months end they will head  out and  they’ll be replaced by migrating finger mullet who filter into  RI waters as August ends.

Ray.

“The more things appear to change the more they stay the same.”

Fishing in July

            The month of July begins the warm weather fishing season. The combination of rising air and water temperatures seems to alter the fishing patterns used in previous months. Rising water temperatures concentrate fishing in ponds and streams to specific areas. Deep holes in streams and deeper water or shaded areas in ponds are the likely spots. Along the salt, tidal rivers now relinquish their reign and fishing moves out to  along the coast.

Here in Rhode Island June 2013 was the third wettest on record .  As a result  in early July lakes and pond were full and along with rivers and streams at water at levels typical of early May. Water temps were also slightly cooler than usual and  this combined with high water levels may help a few trout make it through the summer and into the fall. However two extended early July heat waves have spiked water temps both inland and along the coast. This has caused a slow down in fishing activity in upper Narragansett Bay and in most pond and streams.  Despite seasonal weather variations annual events continue to take place with only slight deviations from their typical timetable. Whether they’re earlier, on time or later is often difficult to predict precisely but you can be certain they will happen.

During the first week of July the Hexagenia hatch should be at its peak. The best fishing during the “Hex Hatch” will be from just after sunset until well after dark. It’s a good idea to be on location before dark to familiarize yourself with the area you intend to fish. Gauging casting distances and knowing where obstacles are will save you from losing flies and having to re-tie in poor light conditions. If you arrive in the evening  before  sunset keep an eye out for birds like the Eastern Kingbird, American Robin and Phoebes beginning to be more conspicuous along  the bushes and trees that line the river. They’ll  be in the sections of the river where Hexagenias are likely to emerge and their activity will signal when these huge  mayflies begin to appear.. They’re as anxious to pick off one of these big fluttering mayflies as you are a nice trout. Trout will take up their summer residences and can be found in long deep pools or  near fast  rapid type water that yields more oxygen. Large and smallmouth bass will seek deeper water during the month in ponds which afford such luxury. Most Rhode Island ponds are shallow man made basins with little deep water to speak of. In these ponds Black Bass seek out heavy lily pad beds , stump laden areas or any other areas that provides shade. Around the second week of July, Brickyard Pond in Barrington, RI comes alive the two hours before dark. The Alewife (River Herring) that entered this pond in April now display the fruits of their spawning effort. From a distance the ponds surface looks as if a light rain shower is  occurring but a closer look will reveal and abundance of one inch long alewife fry flipping about the surface. The pond’s largemouth bass population takes full advantage of the seemingly carefree youngsters. The bass are focused on the surface and can be seen breaking here and there as they feed on the herring. Surface fishing with a popping bug can be spectacular at this time . My favorite popper here is a 1/0 Gaines Minnow. It’s  a pearl bodied popper with a white tail and black collar.  No doubt that similar events take place at other ponds where herring spawn in the spring.

Gaines Minnow

Down on the salt fishing spreads out to all along the coast. As water temperatures rise, bait that was once concentrated in tidal rivers and estuaries filters out to along the coast. Fishing for stripers picks up in July along the rocky shores and beaches. The first schools of good size stripers moves into the Narragansett, R.I. area around the first week of the month. The area near the mouth of Narrow River has always treated me well around the 4th of July as well as the area north of Point Judith Light. Small two inch long sandeels are a primary forage along the Narragansett beaches in July. Tidal river fishing in at the Bristol Narrows and Warren river will remain good throughout the month, especially if a few schools of big menhaden find their way to them. Some awfully large stripers have  come from the Narrows in July over the years.  Snapper Bluefish, called Skipjacks locally, arrive early in July. These six to eight inch eating machines will strike anything that moves. Because of their voracious manner many will be about a foot long when they leave in mid-September.  They’re fun to catch and provide great sport on a 3 or 4 weight fly rod and  my dogs  love eating fresh snapper bluefish.

Marabou Bondorew Bucktail

Marabou Bondorew Bucktail

Tidal rivers, rocky ocean shore fronts, and beaches will all harbor stripers in July.  Each area presents a unique challenge to the fly rodder. requiring the use of different techniques at each environ in order to be successful. The best way is to learn any one of these areas is to stay with it until you are familiar with fishing it and then move on.—Ray

Good bet—Cape Cod Canal EARLY  morning(DARK) slack tides ,+/- 45 mins.either side of slack water.

Narragansett Town beach-First two weeks in July, First light to shortly 30 mins after sunrise.  primary forage 1.5-2″‘sand eels

Fishing in June      

                June is the month when many species of birds and fish propagate their own kind.  Water and air temperatures will continue to rise as well as the quality of fishing.  Fishing conditions will be pleasant and the longer days give the angler more daylight time on the water.

This June  inland  water levels will be up during the month due to the recent heavy wet weather. Trout fishing during the month should be excellent, only the dedicated trout fishermen remain and numerous daytime and evening hatches will occur..  The most noted of these hatches is the largest of mayflies, the Hexagenia.  The “Hex hatch” will begin on the  Wood River here in Rhode Island around the third week of the month and continue on into July.  Lesser “Hex Hatches” also appear on the Moosup and Pawcatuck Rivers..  The ” Hex  hatch” usually begisn to occur in slow water stretches shortly after sunset  and continues well into the darkness of night.  White Wulffs, White Millers and even small white popping bugs will take fish when they go on a feeding frenzy during this hatch.  These insects are large and imitations should be tied on about a No. 6-8 hook.  If you plan on trying this fishing into the dark of night it may be best to get situated in your spot prior to nightfall. Getting a feel for where obstacles are, where and how far you can cast without getting into trees and bushes is time well. Total darkness is not a good setting to learn the area. Small and largemouth bass will have spawned in May and will  head into deeper water in June.  Of course, most of Rhode Island’s lakes and ponds are man-made basins which are shallow, heavily weeded and don’t offer much variation in structure. The ponds and lakes that are  natural basins  offer a greater variation in depth,  structure and fewer weeds. Numerous members of the Sunfish family will be on their beds during the month. They are readily visible from shore and can be seen in the shallows guarding their nests.  These aggressive and scrappy panfish put up a good fight for their size and offers  excellent  chances to introduce a youngster to fly fishing using small popping bugs or dry flies. It should be noted that the bigger Bluegills and Sunfish are not found close to shore but usually nest in 4-6’ of water.

Down on the salt it’s business as usual for Mother Nature.  The tidal rivers and estuaries which seemed so barren just a few weeks ago are now bustling nurseries.   Most of their inhabitants will be in the reproductive cycle during the month.  Much of this activity will go unnoticed while some of it will be clearly evident.  Large schools of silversides can be seen along grassy areas, sometimes in such numbers that the milt from the males will turn the water milky.  Stripers take full advantage of this by charging into the discolored area and slashing into thsee preoccupied baitfish.  Clam worms can be seen streaking around near the surface  dark during their mating ritual.  These one and one half to three-inch “tracer bullets” swim about doing figure eights and dipsy doodles and draw the attention of striped bass at this time.  During the height of the “worm hatch”, stripers may selectively feed only on clam worms.  Horseshoe crabs  also mate during June.  These fierce-looking, prehistoric creatures move clumsily about the bottom like motorized armored tanks without a guidance system.  They can be felt banging into your boots while attempting to mate with their own kind or your boots.  In areas where they are heavily concentrated it is best to drag your feet while wading in order to avoid tripping over them.  While bass are gorging themselves on clam worms and silversides, bluefish will be entering our area in large numbers.  They will continue to live up to their reputation of chomping on anything less than twice their size.  Bluefish have been on the decline in recent years and the cause of this is uncertain. Let’s hope it’s a cyclic thing and not overfishing or disease.  Nothing wrong with an occasional big “Chopper” Bluefish to make sure you’ve got your act and tackle together.  In years gone by June was the month to get some nice Squeteague(Weakfish.) Locally, East Greenwich Bay, R.I. was perhaps the best area. They could be caught at all hours of the day. Often times feeding near or on the surface taking shrimp and anything else that was passing by. My favorite fly for them then was the simple Yellow Brooks’ Blonde. The Yellow Blonde remains as one of my favorite flies not only for Squeteague but also stripers and I always carry several. Unfortunately,  “Tide Runners” have been relatively scarce in southern New England waters for many years now. My last Squeteague was seven years ago in early September when for some unknown reason a bunch of 4-6 lbers spent several weeks in a local harbor. This time they were near the bottom and a Chartreuse/White Clouser w/ gold flashabou and a Yellow/White Clouser worked well. There’s another type of fishing that occurs for several weeks in June and that’s the crab hatch. The crab hatch is very similar in most respects with the worm hatch. It’s a  fishery that seems  little known and seldom talked about    Click here for my post/info on the “Crab Hatch.

June offers something for everyone, fresh and saltwater alike. The fishing is peaking, weather is pleasant and the days are longer. From Bluegills to Bluefish and Smallies to Stripers it’s a great time of year to try it all and I intend to do just that.—–Ray.

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***  In June  I might be inclined to try:****

Early June –Rome Pt./Hamilton No.Kingstown, RI

“              “     Bristol  Narrows, Bristol, RI

June 2nd & 3rd weeks Narragansett town Beach /Dunes club –evening tides, 2.5 Hrs +/- hi tide

Father’s Day to end of June>  Bass Rock/Black Pt & rocks North of Narrow River, Narragansett RI

Taylor Pt, Jamestown R.I. Third week crab hatch out going tides—shore or kayak

(c) Ray Bondorew June 2013

Fishing in May

          The adage “April showers, brings May flowers” is certainly true most years. This year despite a relatively dry and cold April the trees, bushes and flowers are in bloom. Many are a full three weeks later than last spring.  Just as the flora and fauna are blossoming so is the fresh and saltwater fishing. Activity on both fronts will improve as air and water temperatures rise.

          On inland ponds and streams trout fishing becomes more productive in the warmer May weather.  Fly fishing for trout improves in May as insect life becomes more prolific and there’s fewer fishermen to contend with. Dry fishing comes into its own with more hatches occurring with each passing day.  Here in Rhode Island, the last week in May and first week in June is typically when the regularity of  hatches peaks. Largemouth bass will move into their spawning areas early in the month. Smallmouths on the other hand will be on their beds and will have spawned before the second week in May.  Typically smallies in Beach Pond on the R.I./ CT border and Wallum Lake on the R.I./ Mass border will  have spawned by May 5th. This year I think it may be a week later. American Shad on their spawning runs will be returning to the Palmer River in Seekonk, MA and  hopefully the Pawcatuck River in Westerly/Ashway R.I.  Shad are often called the “Poor man’s tarpon” because of they fight hard and jump frequently. Brightly colored flies tied on heavy wire No. 4 or 6 hooks like Mustad ‘s Model #7970   fished deep and close to the bottom work best. Here’s a pattern from back in late 1970s that worked well in the Pawcatuck River and should work well for shad anywhere. The pictured fly is tied on a fly jig head type hook  but Clouser or bead chain eyes  on  heavy wire hooks are useable.

Joe’s Shad Fly

Joe’s Shad Fly- as dressed by Joe Adamonis

Thread: Red

Hook:  Any heavy wire hook- (Wapsi Fly hook 1/64 oz  pictured)

Body: Silver Mylar tubing slightly longer than hook. Tubing is slipped over hook and tied in at head. The tail of the tubing is intentionally left picked out and shredded.

Wing:  A bunch of Barred Mallard Beast fibers

I tried the Pawcatuck R. early last May for the first time in many years and came up empty. I didn’t see any shad or river herring.  Another seasoned fisher nearby also came up short. I was fishing a pool where herring and shad normally congregate before continuing upstream. I watched the Cormorant make four,20 second long dives and come up empty. He then shook his feathers and flew off  and that was my signal to do likewise.

Meanwhile in tidal rivers and estuaries along southern New England the number of silversides returning will increase as each day passes. In pursuit of them will be an increasing number of striped bass. A Ray’s Fly or other silverside imitations from 3-4” in length work best this time of year.

Ray’s Fly

 Typically, the first bluefish arrive around mid-month and the first reported catch will probably come from the Sally Rock/Sandy Pt. area of Greenwich Bay, R.I. They will be about two pounds. Spring of 2012 was unusually warm and I fished a worm hatch the that began on Mother’s day weekend.  I feel it will be closer to Memorial day weekend  this year.   Clam worm activity typically heightens  toward the end of May  as water temperature rise. Clams worms can be seen actively swimming around near the surface after dark in circles, figure eights, and other patterns that only clam worms and stripers know.  There’s many different clam worm patterns. A Ken Abrames clam worm fly tied using orange egg yarn is one of the best prescriptions I know for these conditions. Not fancy, it just works. Pictured below is a clam worm pattern and one of its admirers from my good friend  Joe Adamonis of North Kingston , RI.

clam worm fly         Joes 36 in clamworm fly

May is also the month when Squeteague(Weakfish) arrive but with only sporadic reports for several years chances seem slim that they will return in substantial numbers if at all. I did get a nice seven pounder seven years ago in Greenwich Bay on a Chartreuse and White Clouser. Back in the 1970s when many squeteague returned annually I did well on a Yellow Brooks Blonde and Ray’s “Yellow Rebel.”

                The month of May offers the fly fisher a variety of species to fish for. Black Bass trout, shad and striped bass and squeteague fishing gives the newcomer to the sport a chance to find out what it’s all about, while offering the veteran fly rodder a chance to hone his technique, while adding to what he already knows.

Suggestions

Bass Rock in Narragansett, R.I. may be worth a shot for the first two weeks in May.

All tidal rivers and estuaries are productive in May, Early- Coles River in Swansea, MA .

Colt Park and Bristol Narrows  in Bristol, R.I->-from mid-month on

Hamilton/Bissel Cove , Rome Pt. area  and   Allen’s and Wickford Harbors in North Kingstown R.I.–> from mid-month on.

Greenwich Bay/Goddard Park,  East Greenwich, RI–>all month—few hours either side of high tide are best.

© Ray Bondorew

April 22, 2013–>> Earth Day 2013  Worldwide celebration

 ****Make  every day Earth DayPick up one piece of trash daily ****

Fishing in April

           The month of April ushers in the Rhode Island fishing season. Both fresh and saltwater fishing take off during month, bringing much of the fishing population out of hibernation. However if we continue to have February weather in early April things may be delayed a bit.

Activity on all fronts begins in earnest when April arrives. Around the first of the month, Turkey Vultures can be seen spiraling up the thermals in the southern part of the state. That’s right, black vultures, they do reside in our state from April to November and a few  reside year around. Also arriving around April 1st are tree swallows. Tree Swallows are the members of the swallow family with the metallic green-blue back and white breast. They return to reclaim their nesting site from the previous year in preparation for mating. These fast flying friendly birds will nest in bird houses erected for them and return to it year after year. Tree swallows will readily nest in Bluebird houses. I haven’t had Tree Swallow in my backyard for several years now. However when I did, they were a joy to befriend and watch. It doesn’t take long to gain their trust. Near their bird house I would regularly toss Mallard Breast feathers or other similar curved feathers up into the air. The swallows would then swoop down and catch the feathers in mid-air and quickly take them to their bird house to line their nests with them. Besides the birds other migrations  take place during the month and one in particular can hardly go unnoticed.

At sunrise on the second Saturday in April, thousands of Rhode Islanders migrate to  their favorite trout fishing hole. Just like the birds, many return to the same site year after year regardless of the weather. On some opening days it has snowed and on one opening day several R.I. ponds had a skim coating of ice on them until early afternoon. Regardless of the weather the opening day of trout season takes on a festive, holiday type air and is enjoyed by all. From those who arrive at sunrise and leave thirty minutes later after catching their limit, to those who arrive a bit later and fish all day, it is a special day not to be missed. For some this will be the only day in the year they go trout fishing. Early season trout fishing is best accomplished by fly rodding with sinking lines with streamers and nymphs. Dry flies and floating lines cannot be ruled out especially if we have some exceptionally warm days and some small hatches appear. On Opening day three years ago I went to Hopkins Mill Pd, in Foster, R.I. in mid-afternoon. It was a sunny day with the temperature  in the low sixties and trout were rising everywhere. The surface was littered with Mayflies from a hatch that would rival one taking place on a warm June day. The rising trout were very selective and the streamers I typically use wouldn’t draw a strike. Even the Wooly Bugger and my Gray Nymph were drawing a blank. I had only a sinking line and no dry flies with me. I  finally began taking fish regularly with a small brown stonefly nymph fished just under the surface.

On the saltwater scene striped bass will begin to enter our waters early in  the month. The first reported rod and reel bass will probably be taken at the apex of the  west wall in Jerusalem, RI. Second Beach in Newport normally gets a good slug of stripers during the first week in April . These fish won’t be big but will be fresh from the ocean and full of fight. Last year my friend  Al Tobojka, a.k.a. “Al the Guide”took his first striper of the year on March 31st at the West wall and a several more schoolies a few days later in the Narrow River in Narragansett, R.I.. This year the sea water temps are in the low 40s as April arrives so I think things may be delayed a week. In a typical year  there is a good chance of hooking a few stripers at the Bristol Narrows or Lees and Coles Rivers in Swansea, MA around mid-month.  Toward the end of April, stripers typically move into the area around Carpenter’s Bar in Matunuck, R.I. arriving toward  the end of the third week and remain there until months end. Silverside imitations (Ray’s fly) of approximately three inches will probably work best, although in areas where alewives are returning to spawn, a big herring imitations (Bondorew Bucktail)may be just the number. Striper fishing begins to improve as May nears with more  stripers arriving  as the waters warm up.

While it may be warming inland throughout the month, remember that the seawater temperatures will still be in the forties and they will influence the air temperatures along the coastal areas so, dress accordingly. Regardless of what your favorite type of fishing is, go out and enjoy it, as it’s been a long winter.

© Ray Bondorew 2013

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“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!”

Chief Sitting Bull – Lakota Sioux

“We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory.  But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit,” ->>Tom Brown-The Tracker
Fishing In March

             It came in like a lamb, but as to whether it will go out like a lamb or lion  remains to be seen. The month of March with its ever-changing weather is a month of waiting and preparing for the fly fisher.

            Trout fishing is a possibility e in all Mass. ponds and streams as the season is open all year around. Here in R.I., trout season is closed from March 1 until the second Saturday in April. A new 2013 R.l license will be required if you intend to dab in freshwater places not stocked with trout while waiting for the season to open. Largemouth bass fishing is available in most ponds during the month. On the warm, sunny days, bass frequent the shallows to bask in the warmer waters.  This makes shore fishing for them possible. This is especially true where there is rip rap or boulders on the northern shore. These rocks gather in the heat from the sun’s rays and act like radiators by giving off their warmth to the surrounding  water. They make this part of the pond warmer than the rest and the bass sense this. Down at the salt the water temperatures will start to rise and by mid month and life will slowly begin to return.

            While all this is going on it is a good time to prepare for the upcoming season. There are flies to be tied, rods to be built and reels to clean and lubricate for starters. Fly lines should he checked for wear and cracks, braided leaders and their loops should be checked as well. Check the tip tops on your rods for wear. Be sure to check them out with a magnifying glass for grooves. A casual once over is unlikely to spy any damage. If you’re on the water a lot, chances are they need replacing. . How about your waders? Go to a pond or stream and try them out for leaks, they may have developed cracks during the winter due to improper storage or plain old drying out. Your very first outing of the year is not a very good  time to discover new leaks. However,  thirty degree  water temperatures have a way of telling  things other leak tests can’t. You’re sure to expedite any needed repairs. March is also a good time to order or buy your replacement gear as well as the fly tying materials and hooks you will need later on in the year.

               As we  prepare ourselves for the fishing season ahead, nature will begin showing us signs of spring. The “harbingers” of spring will arrive this month. No, they are not the Robin Red Breasts many people associate with spring. They  are the Cowbirds, boat tail grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds which arrive well ahead of the robins. To me they are the true harbingers of spring.  So far this year has been unusual for birds visiting my yard. I’ve had an American Robin in my yard all winter long eating bruised apples I put out for him and a Mockingbird. I see Robins occasionally during the winter especially along the coast and in marshy areas but I’ve never had one winter over.  Apples work because he’s really fat but sure pleases the eye with his bright reddish orange breast  I’ve also had a pair of Carolina Wrens also winter-over. They typically visit my yard in December and stay until the 2nd week in January when the coldest winter weather arrives They then leave and return in late April. I’ve never had a pair of Wrens winter-over.  Around mid -February a few Boat tailed grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and Cowbirds usually arrive and at month’s end many can be seen. This year I didn’t see them until Presidents Day, a week later and only sporadic sghtings from then on. As the birds are  arriving the buds on the willows will continue to swell. By month’s end those bushes with a good  southern exposure will have opened, exposing their furry gray coat. Through these signs nature is showing us that the time for fishing is growing near and as usual she will be right.—-Ray

Copyright Ray Bondorew-2013

Fishing in February

*** I thought this was posted on Feb 1st, but it never made it.. Better late than never!

Fishing in February

          February marks the middle of the winter season, the point mid-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Here in the Northeast fishing is slow at best and cabin fever has infected manyanglers. Despite temporary cures such as fishing and outdoor shows,  spring time remains the only real cure.
The weather determines February’s fishing opportunities. Will winter become more entrenched or is spring just around the corner? Fortunately for us we have Groundhog Day annually on Feb. 2nd and we’ll get a reliable forecast on the remaining winter weather from two of nature’s best prognosticators; renowned woodchucks Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil and Georgia’s General Beauregard Lee.

what's the weather gonna be??

What’s the weather gonna be??

Lore has it that if the groundhogs see their shadow when they emerge from their borrow they’ll scurry back in as there’s six more weeks of winter to come but if they don’t  they may remain out for a while as an early spring is forecast. These two woodchucks have been forecasting the weather for years with an accuracy rate that is probably higher than that of radio and TV meteorologists. Gen. Beauregard Lee claims to have an amazing ninety-four percent accuracy record. Over the years I’ve come to trust Ole’ Beauregard Lee’s forecast and remain skeptical over that of Punxsutawney Phil as no self-respecting northern Groundhog would ever be caught out of his borrow in early February as they’re still hibernating.
Down on the salt the fishing is as if the groundhog saw his shadow and things are pretty much at a cold standstill. About the only fishing being done is in minds of anglers replaying memories from last year’s outings. Of course a trip to warmer climates like Florida can provide plenty of fishing opportunities.
Freshwater fishing is possible in February. A cold January will bring plenty of February ice fishing, Trout fishing in rivers and streams is always an option. Trout will be sluggish but streamer flies worked deep and slow will take an occasional fish. If the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow and an early spring becomes a reality, small lakes and ponds can become ice-free and offer a chance to try for warmwater species. Black bass, pickerel, and black crappie (Calico Bass) are always willing to strike. During years when February was a real sweetheart I‘ve put my canoe in several small shallow ponds to try for pickerel or whatever else would hit. I’ve always done well with pickerel but have also done surprisingly well with largemouth bass. Fortunately for me the largemouths I catch can’t read and didn’t know that books say they should be near the bottom in a sluggish, dormant state slowly digesting last November’s prey. I like to use a fast sinking line and a Chartreuse bunny fly with an orange collar during this late winter/early spring warmwater fishing. I usually use a slow-med retrieve but there have been days when I couldn’t move it fast enough.
Regardless of the groundhogs accurate forecast there’s things to do in February. Build a rod, tie some flies, order materials and hardware and check your tackle are a few indoor projects. Of course there’s several fishing shows and some fishing opportunities should you do need to get out. As I write this something came to mind that I truly miss this time of year;  the fishing shows and films of the late Paul Kukonen, a fly shop owner and exceptional fly tier and fly fisherman from Worcester MA.

Paul Kukonen's Cardinelle

Paul Kukonen’s Cardinelle

During my childhood my dad took me each year to Paul’s fishing shows. Paul, a champion fly caster would show 16mm films of his fishing trips and provide the ad-lib narration. His informative wit and wisdom made these films a treat and if they couldn’t stir you into a fishing frenzy –nothing could. I can still recall his films of the fantastic Atlantic salmon fishing up on the Penobscot River in Maine. Pictures of big Atlantic salmon jumping and cartwheeling down the Bangor salmon pool is something I’ll never forget. I consider myself fortunate to have gone to many of Paul shows to see his films. Hopefully some of you have had the good fortune of seeing them also. Paul Kukonen and his films are another example of one of the things we take for granted in life and so often fail to realize what we had until it’s gone.—–Ray

Fishing in January

****For daily January postings Click Here****

Fishing in January

As winter tightens its grip we have difficulty thinking of fishing as we know it. Ponds are frozen, rivers and streams display an icy border, and the idea of going fishing has little appeal to most. Yet, despite all of this, there is hope. If one can thaw his mind and  spirit to  start the adrenaline flowing, there are several things to do and avoid total hibernation during the upcoming months.

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On the saltwater scene, fishing is at a standstill. Years ago early January was often a time to try for Frostfish (Whiting) before things iced over. Frostfish could be caught at night along the water edge as they searched out the last remaining silversides and mummichogs. In pursuit of these small bait fish frostfish could be caught on small streamers or jigs rather than the traditional method of spearing them when they appeared in your headlamp as you walked the water’s edge. Typically the full moon tides were the best fishing and Barrington,  Beach and the Hamilton area of North Kingston, RI  come to mind as areas that produced.  That was many years ago and I haven’t heard of anyone trying for Frostfish for quite some time. Seems they’re no longer around.  During January we have an excellent opportunity to improve our catch during the upcoming season by doing a little exploring. Many January days have high pressure in control with a good Northwest breeze. These two elements coupled with a strong moon tide can result in some extremely low tides in southern New England.  Low enough to see clues not normally revealed. These extremely low tides offer us a chance to visit our favorite haunt or a new spot and find out what that section of shoreline is all about. You may see the tops of rocks or a ledge you never knew existed. Slots or mini channels between rocks will be readily visible. If a hole has repeatedly produced for you there is definitely a reason why fish frequent this area. By exploring the area the answers to why it’s successful may be revealed. In the bay, mini points and sand bars will be exposed and during these extremely low tides and you may find they are wider or longer than expected. New bars and points can also be found. No doubt that Superstorm Sandy altered the much of the ocean front in the Northeast. Some of the shoreline features will return to normal in time while other sections have been changed forever. Wear Polaroid glasses and bring along a camera to photograph your newly found hotspot or to help recall what a section of shoreline looks like .Remember these areas may not be exposed like this again for the rest of the year.  Exploring the shoreline this time of year is a  good way to spend a day and besides learning something you’ll also return home hungry and ready for a good nights sleep.

Trout fishing is possible throughout the winter if one chooses to do so. Local trout streams still have fish left over from the fall stockings and some contain a few that made it through the previous summer. These fish are normally found in the deepest holes and with water temperatures in the low to mid thirties they are very dormant. Streamers and big nymphs will work, but the fish have to be more or less hit on the head in order to strike. Fishing for sea run trout is another type of fishing that can be done during this time of year. Many of Cape Cod’s creeks, rivers and their respective estuaries contain a few sea run browns. During this time of year these fish feed primarily on the bottom on whatever offerings may be available. Small, sparse streamers representing silversides and mummichogs work best. There’s also a chance of hooking several wintering over school size stripers while trying for sea runs. It is an enjoyable way to spend a winter day, especially if the weather warms up a bit. Fishing for steelhead in upstate New York is another chance to do some winter fishing. Plenty of steelhead is in the Lake Ontario tributaries during the winter months. These fish are somewhat sluggish until hooked but can be taken if you can contend with the weather. On days when the temperatures moderate a bit, blitz like conditions can exist and fishing can be fast and furious during these mini thaws. Ice fishing is another thing to try during the winter. Most people picture ice fishing as using tip ups with shiners set in holes in the ice. Fishing through the ice can also be accomplished by “jigging”. “Jigging” is the technique of using small jigs or weighted flies slipped into cut holes and lowered down near the bottom then jigged up and down periodically to induce a strike. This type of fishing is very selective, (especially for yellow perch). Their strikes are very light and normally occur when the jig has stopped. A fly rod tip with a length of four or six pound mono attached to a fly or jig is all that is needed. One trick to this type of fishing is to catch the first perch, then remove one of its eyes and attach it to your lure. The fishing should improve drastically after that. If the strikes suddenly stop, check your lure because the eye has probably fallen off. A number of holes should be made and once the fish are found more holes should be cut in that area as these fish do not travel very far and will stay in the area. Many times you can quickly catch all you want from just one or two holes.

Maddie guards supper.

Maddie guards supper.

Yellow Perch are my favorite fish to eat. Cold, clean and fresh, Perch taste best when caught through the ice. Later in spring and summer they have a swampy smell and don’t taste like the ones caught thru the ice. Occasionally when jigging you may hook a bass, pickerel or pike, which will pull the rod tip into the hole. You then wonder what will break first, the line or rod tip. However if you hold your ground, the constant pressure will subdue them.  This type of fishing is also very productive for trout in ponds that contain them.

If you elect to stay indoors you can always build a new rod, tie up some new flies or clean up your tackle from last season. Peruse through the new fishing catalogs and order your hooks and materials for the upcoming year. You can also make plans for attending one of the winter fly fishing shows. If you enjoy all types of fishing, hunting and the great outdoors, the Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the Worcester, MA Centrum in early February may be just what you need.  As you can see there are things one can do during the coldest months of the year. All you have to do is go out there and try them.

****I’ll be adding some ice fishing tips from what I’ve learned over the years to this post later in the week.

Fishing in December 2012

Fishing in December

December slowly brings to a close the 2012 salt and freshwater fishing seasons here in southern New England. Some fishing still remains but on both fronts it’ll be slow going.

Along the coast, bluefish are gone, bait is sparse and only straggler stripers remain.  Several tidal rivers in Southern New England hold small numbers of stripers that winter over there.  Fishing for them will be slow and get even slower as water temperatures drop.  Small, sparse streamers worked slowly near the bottom work best.  Beside straggler and hold over stripers several of these tidal Rivers especially ones with freshwater feeders may have a sea run trout hanging around especially in the more brackish stretches. My fishing logs tell of catching some schoolies in the lower Thames River in Connecticut and Great Salt Pond and adjoining ponds in South Kingston, R.I. up until mid-December.

On inland ponds and streams several fishing opportunities remain until things ice over.  Warm water ponds will continue to produce black bass, pickerel, perch and calico bass.  Shallow ponds fish best this time of year as there’s no deep-water basin for the fish to edge toward as water temps drop.

Icy Foam Bug

Icy Foam Bug

Until the ponds become a uniformly cold temperature the warmer shallows close to shore, especially along south facing shorelines are the most productive areas.  It was much warmer last year at this time and fishing for warmwater species didn’t slow until just before Christmas. My favorite warmwater pattern for this time of year is a plain or Conehead Bunny Fly with an orange soft hackle collar. Trout fishing in cold water ponds and streams can be good in December if you’re willing to brave the weather. Trout remain active as a water temperatures drop and the techniques used for them in early spring will work in December.  Nymphs and streamers fished with sinking lines are the ticket. When fishing for December trout I usually tie on a Marabou winged Black Ghost or its cousin a Black Marabou streamer.

Despite the onset of winter don’t put your rods away.  Fishing opportunities still exist and although fishing can be slow it’s surely better than remaining indoors. So go out there and give it a try, after all it’s going to be a long winter.