The spring tautog season opened early this year on April 1, but few fish have been caught with no reports of keeper size fish being taken. The water is still cold, 42 degrees at Narragansett Pier and Sunday in Greenwich Bay the surface temperature was 52 degrees when I was out testing my boat. The water will warm this week with temperature highs hovering in the sixties. This is very promising as tautog come inshore when the water warms to get ready to spawn in June and July.
The rule of thumb is it’s time for spring tautog fish when the dandelions start popping up on lawns, and this week, they arrived on my lawn.
So get out early this year and give tautog fishing a try before the big striped bass start to arrive. Here are some spring tautog fishing tips to help.
The spring tautog season runs from April 1 through May 31. The minimum size is 16 inches with a three fish per person per day limit and a ten fish per boat limit, which does not apply to party and charter boats. The season closes in June and July and reopens August 1.
Keep rigs 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.
Anchoring or hovering.
Anglers often fish in lower water in the spring closer to shore and spawning areas. Rule of thumb is to anchor or hover with electric motor in GPS lock mode and fish the entire boat or area, even casting a bit as tautog are territorial, a few feet makes a difference, also let anchor line in and out to change position (or slightly jog the boat with you electric motor).
Be prepared to chum as needed, I use a mixture of cut-up sea clams and crushed crabs
I use 30 to 40 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 with a 4000 or 5000 size spinning reel.
Your rig should be on the bottom, be patient, pay attention and be prepared to set hook quickly.
Give the fish what they want.
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.
The RI Department of Environmental Management Aquatic Resource Education program will offer a local fish cooking class with Chef Andy Lussier of Culinary Connections and Addieville East Farm at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 29. The cost of the class is $30 per person, space is limited and registration is required. The program will be offered at the DEM Education Office, 1-B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter.
Chef Lussier will share tips and techniques designed to help participants prepare local fish and shellfish meals. Participants will learn how to process and store local seafood, along with special handling and cooking techniques.
Sue AnderBois, Rhode Island’s Director of Food Strategy said, “In the Ocean State, our fisheries are part of our identity – and we are so lucky to have access to diverse and high-quality seafood…This class – and efforts like it – help connect Rhode Islanders to the food being caught and grown right in our backyards.”
A registration form is available on DEM's website; send completed form and $30 check or money order payable to Culinary Connections to DEM's Division of Fish & Wildlife Education Center, 1B Camp E-Hun-Tee Place, Exeter, RI 02822. For information contact Jessica Pena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, will hold its annual Used Tackle Sale event on Saturday, April 28, 9:00 a.m. and Sunday, April 29 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The snack bar will open next week as renovations are still underway.
Rods, reels, combos, gaffs and lures are just some of the equipment you are likely to find at the Sale. Sell or buy used gear or update your tackle with new equipment. Elisa Cahill of Sung Harbor said, “We have some great stuff like some stand up tuna gear and quite a fell striped bass wire trolling rig combos. It’s a great opportunity for anglers to sell items and upgrade to some new technology.”
For information on how you can sell used gear at the sale or throughout the year call 401.783.7766. Snug Harbor Marina is at 410 Gooseberry Road, South Kingstown.
fishing for trout is still very good at stocked ponds in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Kevin Ferreira of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “The trout bite is outstanding this year. Olney Pond at Lincoln Woods has some trout in the two to three pounds range with an occasional golden trout being caught in the 4 to 5 pound range. The bite a Stafford Pond, Tiverton for small mouth and trout has been good with Melville Pond, Portsmouth nice for trout fishing with a good number of tiger trout be caught there. I have been limiting out using Gulp Power Bait and Gulp worms. Fly fishermen have been having a lot of fun a Willet Avenue Pond, East Providence. For freshwater and trout regulations along with a list of stocked waterways visit www.dem.ri/gov in Rhode Island, for Massachusetts waterways visit www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-fisheries-and-wildlife.
fishing is sluggish with a fair school striped bass bite at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge. Things have slowed but are expected to pick up with warming weather this week. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Hold over school striped bass fishing in the Narrow River, Narragansett has been great. One customer caught fifty earlier this week. They were chasing river herring.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box in Warwick said, “The striped bass and tautog bite for customers is just not there as the water is cold. Tautog should break this week with warmer weather.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We did manage to get out to the cod grounds and did find a few fish. The water temperatures for this time of the year is way below normal. We normally see water around 45-47 degrees but it just broke 40. This will slow down more bait pushing in the area. The fluke will be chasing the squid but the squid are going to be later unless something really changes.”
Captain 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 email@example.com or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com. #SB tautog – Photo E
Steve Brustein of Portland, Maine (and West Warwick) with a spring tautog caught with a green crab at General Rock, North Kingstown in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay.