The spring tautog season opened on April 15 and runs through May 31 with a three fish/person/day limit and a 10 fish per boat limit (which does not apply to charter boats). Tautog fishing is fun and there’s a certain knack to it as it takes a lot of concentration and a quick hook set. 

Here are some of my favorite tautog fishing tips I’ve learned from the experts: 

● Keep rig simple to reduce tie ups. I prefer an egg sinker rig with one hook extended below the sinker on a swivel, or a one-hook conventional rig with a dropper loop and sinker.

● Anchor over or near a structure, and fish the entire boat or area, even casting a bit as tautog are territorial, a few feet make a difference. Also let anchor line in and out to change position.

● Be prepared to chum as needed. I use a mixture of cut-up sea clams and crushed crabs.

● I use 40- to 50-pound braid line to enhance a direct connection to the fish and the line does not stretch when the fish tries to run back into structure. My fishing rod is a medium action rod.

● Your rig should be on the bottom. Be patient, pay attention and be prepared to set hook quickly.

● Be prepared to fish different types of rigs and bait presentations depending on conditions and what fish want (i.e. jigs with bait, green crabs as bait, Asian crabs, conventional rigs, etc.). 

Fishing for a Cause Tournament

The seventh annual Schwartz Center/Meeting Street Fishing for a Cause Tournament to raise money for students with special needs is now registering participants and dinner guests for their June 23-24 fundraiser.

Charter captains are offering their vessels and personal skills as fishing guides to take participants fishing in the recreational tournament.

Fishing for a Cause has raised more than $800,000 in its history.

“The incredible success of this tournament is due to the increase of corporate groups over the past seven years,” said John M. Kelly, President of Meeting Street.

More than 100 fishermen and women are expected to participate in the two-day catch and release tournament. After the tournament participants and guests will gather for a catered seaside dinner in New Bedford emceed by comedian Lenny Clarke.

For more information about the event or to donate your vessel and services visit meetingstreet.org/FFAC, or contact Beatriz Oliveira at The Schwartz Center (508-742-6425). 

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing continues to be very strong. “A customer caught a 3.5 pound largemouth bass at Brickyard Pond in Barrington this week,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle in Riverside. Craig Mancini of Continental Bait & Tackle in Cranston said, “Trout fishing has been better than it has been in a long time. Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle in Westerly said, “Trout fishing at Carolina Trout Pond and Meadowbrook Pond (both in Richmond) has been great but the rivers have been a bit too high for anglers.”  “Trout fishing is very good at Melville in Portsmouth. PowerBait is the bait of choice with spoons working good at Lincoln Woods for one customer,” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle in Warren. Gil Bell of Charlestown caught a four-pound, 25-inch chain pickerel at Watchaug Pond in Charlestown last week using a Sutton Frisby Spoon.

Some anglers targeted tautog last weekend with poor results as it was quite windy. Cardinal said, “We did not have many customers target tautog; things should get going later this week.” Macedo said, “Customers targeted tautog at Stone Bridge, Wharf Tavern and other places but did not get a bite.” Fishing further up the bay was not good either, said Littlefield. 

Striped bass fishing has not been very active. “Things have not started to percolate yet in the salt ponds. Once the worm hatches start the striped bass will start to come around in mass. We have had a few reports of schoolies being caught but I am not sure they are new bass or just holdovers from last year,” said Cardinal.

Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown said, “Anglers are catching fish at the West Wall but it is still spotty. Fish are still being taken in the Narrow River in Narragansett but these fish are likely striped bass holdovers from last year.”

Dave Henault said, “Capt. Billy Silvia (while quahogging) saw about 20 striped bass move though Ohio Ledge on Tuesday. So the bass are in the bay. Striped bass fishing at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge in South Kingstown has been spotty. Tuesday was a good day there [but] Wednesday morning with a change of wind was not good. Angler Jay Uhlman caught a nice size school bass at the Goat Island Causeway in Newport on Tuesday night when squid fishing. He caught seven squid that night.”

Cod fishing is still slow but picking up. The hope is that the volume of bait seen on the fishing grounds will continue to attract fish. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Cod fishing is hit or miss. One customer fished the south side of Cox’s Ledge with two friends and came back with 30 nice fish, yet others have come back with one or two fish. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.”

Capt. Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing 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 dmontifish@verizon.net or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.