Fish keeping island anglers busy
By day Fred Brown is the Jamestown building official. By even earlier in the day, he is an avid fisherman who has been a member of the Jamestown Striper Club for 10 years. On any given morning at around 4 a.m. you may find Brown in his kayak, plying the waters in the East Ferry area in search of striped bass.
“The striper club is a great group of guys from all walks of life,” Brown said. “Everyone is willing to exchange ideas, tips and opinions. I’ve learned an awful lot about fishing from some of the veterans.”
Brown has been kayak fishing for the last 12 years and said that this has been his biggest year so far. He pointed out the fact that for the last seven or eight years there has been no fall run of stripers coming through Jamestown, and says that fishermen should get into the mentality that it’s an early season.
“In June and July, I was going three or four times a week in the morning,” he said. “There are tons of fish around this year.”
According to Brown, the beauty of kayak fishing is that the boat can be launched nearly anywhere, although it is important to keep the wind in mind to avoid being blown offshore and having to fight the current. That’s why he prefers the east side of the island – between Carr Lane and the house on the rocks – for his fishing adventures. He said that the area is loaded with bass.
“Chasing bass is a sleep-deprivation activity. The big bass like low light or no light. So you’re talking pre-dawn or at night. I prefer the early mornings. There’s no one out there.”
Brown said that sometimes when he is on his way to the offi ce at 7:30 a.m. with a couple of big stripers, he will see expensive sport-fishing vessels just starting their day of fishing. “These guys are missing the boat,” he said.
Brown’s biggest fish this season has been a 38-pound bass. One day he caught six fish – all over 25 pounds – although he points out that fishermen are only allowed to keep two. He usually only keeps one. According to Brown, a 25-pound fish can feed four families. He credits his use of live eels for his success this year.
“Live eels are filet mignon for stripers. It’s a little bit of a challenge to handle in the kayak. It’s a slippery proposition but it’s an effective way of catching big bass.”
Now that the water is getting warm and the fish are heading farther offshore, Brown has been following the bass on a friend’s boat. He said that finding them is much more difficult at this time of the year. Right now he begins to turn his attention to other fish such as fluke, bluefish and bonito. Blackfi sh begin to arrive in the area in mid-October. Brown keeps fishing as long as the air and water temperatures are above 60 degrees.
Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters agrees that this summer has been a great one for fishing in the local waters. He pointed to a good variety of fish, including a number of big ones.
“I’ve had a lot of charters, so my business has been very busy,” he said. “A lot of people have sold boats and are realizing that the cost of a boat is high compared to taking a charter a couple of times a season. I’ve had a lot more local people chartering and their reaction has been very positive. They realize that the value of a knowl- edgeable captain is worth the charter cost.”
According to Roach, bass fishing has been good, but now that the water is warmer, he’s been heading out to Block Island in search of stripers. He said the season started off with mackerel, tautog and cod. More recently he’s been doing well with sea bass and fluke.
“Offshore the shark fishing was very good, and there was a good bluefin tuna bite up until a week ago,” Roach said. “Right now is probably the slowest time locally because of the water temperature. A lot of the fish have moved offshore seeking colder water, but that will change in the next few weeks as the temperature starts to change.”
Over at Zeek’s Creek, Greg Zeek described this year’s fishing as “pretty good.” While he has found the season to be about average, he said that scup fishing has been great. There hasn’t been a lot of bluefish, he said, primarily because there are not a lot of baitfish around for blues.
“That’s been vacant for a couple of years,” Zeek said. “We haven’t had the big bluefish blitzes in late August and September. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year just because there are no big shoal baitfish present.”
Zeek agreed with Brown and Roach that this has been an excellent year for striper fishing, although he again pointed to the lack of baitfish, resulting in the fishing being somewhat spotty.
“It just hasn’t been what you might expect around here, but it still has been very good with a lot of big fish taken.”
According to Zeek, fluke fishing has been good at Mackerel Cove, Second Beach in Newport, Narragansett Beach, and under the Newport and Jamestown bridges.