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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Rhode Island for Quality Saltwater fishing

I have just returned from Rhode Island in the United States, the smallest State in the Union with a wealth of top class fishing. The fishing on offer is excellent for striped bass and bluefish in good numbers, they are being caught fly fishing, and on light tackle. The bluefish fishing has been incredible with many fish running 12 to 13 lbs. With some albacore inside the bay around 9 to 11 pounds. School tuna were around in August , but they may show again in October as the bluefish move out of the bay, The tuna could be waiting to feed on them. Its going to be a long winter, why not take advantage of the fishing this month especially with a drop in airfares.

Lots of Bait Fish

If we want to catch lots of blue's and stripers, there has to be a big concentration of bait fish to draw these predators inshore and get them feeding. Without a good supply of food fish our predators will lose weight and die. There are several species of bait fish which we anglers can imitate. There are Silverside and sand eels, in the herring family we have the American shad, a game fish in its own right, but as a juvenile an excellent food fish. Anchovies, are a small forage fish which are a great bait fish especially in September October when the False Albacore are around. I have used this imitation with great effect when hunting the Albies with Captain Dixon Merkt. Dixon ties an excellent imitation of this bait fish. The Atlantic menhaden, which I believe are often called bunker are an important bait fish, its an oily, bony fish with a high oil and fat content. They are unfit for human consumption, but are netted in their millions by commercial netters for processing into oil and protein meal. From talking with many experienced saltwater fly fishers on the eastern seaboard the wholesale slaughter of thise and other bait fish is having a dramatic effect on the size of stripers and bluefish.

The Right Guide is so Important.

If your planning a trip to the United States you will need a good guide. We all know there are good and bad ones, some extremely bad. I have experienced the latter twice, once in Florida, the other time in California. They were not nice experiences. Thankfully through my many American friends and getting to know several top class guides at various shows, I now have a good selection of top class guides. You need to trust your guide implicitly, not only in giving you a good experience on the water, but also making sure you return safely to the dock.
Check to make sure your guide is Coast Guard, drug and alcohol certified. Remember your guide isn't a servant he is offering you his services as a fishing guide. It doesn't matter how good an angler you, there are days when the fish don't co-operate. I usually say to my guide "Hello Charlie (or whatever his or her name is) I'm Martin, just remember you and me are a couple of buddies having a day on the water and please don't call me Sir". If you are on your own and there is room enough in the boat, why not invite your guide to fish. Three guides I can recommend are as follows. For Cape Cod Capt Andrew Cummins E-mail Long Island Sound Capt. Dixon Merkt E-mail and our guide today in RI Capt. Jim White E-mail

White Ghost Are One Of The Better Guiding Services

Captain Jim along with his son Justin operate the Grey Ghost guiding service in Rhode Island who specialise in light tackle and fly fishing. Last year fishing with Jim and Justin David Jones of Birtle Lancashire and me caught dozens of good size bluefish. One day we encountered seven big schools of blitzing blues One of these schools probably covered an area of two acres. It was awesome fishing, we could not have wished for better. One of the great things about some areas around Providence RI are the bays and inlets, where its possible to seek bluefish and striped bass under most weather conditions. Jim and Justin's boat are both 24 foot Tridents with the new quiet Honda 225 HP motors The boats are also equipped with all the safety requirements, both guides are Coast Guard, drug and alcohol certified.

On Thursday 30th September David Jones and me had some excellent fly fishing for striped bass and bluefish, in fact we couldn't have wished for a better session on the water. Captain Jim White of Coventry Rhode Island is without doubt, one of the top captains along the coast of not just Rhode Island, but Connecticut and Massachusetts. He collected us at our Hotel at 7-0 am. Within fifteen minutes we were at the East Greenwich dock. It was a great day to be on the water, we had a light wind from the NNE with warm sunshine. The sky was mostly blue sky with the odd small cloud. In ten minutes we could see terns and cormorants working close to the shoreline in one of the bays. Capt. Jim positioned the boat for our first drift then cut the motor. As we drifted closer towards the shoreline around mid-bay island of Patience, we could clearly see swirling bass as they slashed at the bait fish which had been herded into the reeds. Some of these fish were in double figures. We had both tackled up with Thomas and Thomas Helix 4 piece fly rods rated for nine weight lines. David used a Rio versitip on his Loop reel, while I had chose a Teeny 300 grain shooting line with ten foot of tapered Frog Hair leader with a 14lb tippet on my Aaron reel. We both chose Size 4 Clouser minnows in white and chartreuse.

Lots Of striped Bass and A Few Blue's

Capt. Jim had put us on a perfect drift, we both hooked up to stripers on our first cast, as I played my fish I looked down into the water where I could clearly see a far bigger fish following the hooked one. After a lot of head shaking I boated my first fish which was quickly returned. Another sixty foot cast was made dropping the Clouser close to the reed bed where the fish were avidly feeding. With two short strips I set the hook with a firm strip strike into another striper, which was determined to get into the reeds. The well balanced tackle decided otherwise as I bullied the fish into clear water. Looking towards the stern I could see David with his rod hooped over, the line slanting down into the water. This was fishing at its best. In fact I doubt if it could be better. We had perfect weather, feeding fish, picturesque surroundings and a skipper who did know what fishing and boating was all about.

Having unhooked my fish in the water I grabbed my camera to shoot some pictures of David who was having a tussle with a fish that didn't want to give in. Light conditions were perfect, with my Nikon digital SLR I could shoot dozens of pictures without worrying about the cost of processing. As I shot some action shots, David had his fish close to the boat where Capt. Jim grabbed it by the bottom lip. After quickly shooting a couple of pictures of David with his double figure bass, it was released.

Meanwhile Capt. Jim started tossing Lunker City Fin-S Fish seven inches long in white with Mustad keeper wide gap hooks that were weighted and known as Rip Tide Lures in the United States. The company make some great plastic lures for saltwater fishing. The two rods he used were Tsunami spinning rods with Quantum 30 and Penn 360 reels, loaded with Berkley Big Game line in 12 pound test with fluorocarbon leaders made by Triple Fish Line Co. The bass also grabbed Culprit shad bodies in white or purple smoke finish, On his first chuck he was quickly bitten off by a good bluefish. Seconds later as I lifted off my Clouser for another cast I too was bitten off by a bluefish. As all this was happening, we had drifted in close to the shore. It was time to move out for another drift.
As we slowly motored out into the bay to line ourselves up for another drift, I noticed a small boat with a fly fisher. Within seconds of seeing this guy, he was hooked up to a good fish. I pointed this flyfisher out to Capt. Jim who said "That's my friend Gene Matteson from Cranston RI" I then shot a few pictures of Gene playing his bass, I was pleased to see him wearing a life jacket.
Its most important when your out in a boat on your own to wear a life jacket. Should you go overboard you will keep afloat. In our next drift at Deer Cove fishing in four feet of water over a boulder strewn bottom we were quickly into action. Some occasions all three of us had hook ups. One fish I hooked up with gave a different fight to the previous ones, I soon realised I had a bluefish, this was soon confirmed when a good fish jumped clear of the water. As it crashed back and dived for the boulders I expected a bite off. It didn't happen. It was certainly my lucky day as some minutes later I had the fish alongside the boat where it was quickly grabbed by Capt. Jim who I noticed used a glove for the purpose.

Changing Tide.

With the water only five feet deep at high water we fished in a back cove of saw grass surrounded by trees and pines. With high water and no tide flow the fishing slowed right down. The feeding spell had virtually come to an end. Though the odd fish did still hit the fly or lure. I decided it was time to eat, then record an interview with Capt. Jim for my 'At The Water's Edge' Programme on BBC Radio Lancashire. Meanwhile Gene came alongside for a chat, what a nice guy he turned out to be. Although he is in his seventies he still fishes every day if the weather is good. Often Capt. Jim invites Gene out on his boat. Two other guests who fish with Capt. Jim are Nick Curcione, what a great guy he is. The best article I have ever read on shooting heads was one by Nick which was published several years ago when he was living in California. I recommend his book 'Tug of War' Its a good read with lots of good information. Lefty Kreh the number one master fly fisher often has a day out with Capt. Jim. Lefty is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest fly fisher alive today. His knowledge is tremendous. I would love to have got Lefty and the late Richard Walker together.

Back to the fishing, with an ebbing tide we moved off to fish Crab Claw Bar about a two miles away. As we stopped the motor for our next drift, we could see a lot of birds working on the bait fish which have been driven to the surface by the predators. A group of stripers could be seen swirling on the surface. It looked as if we were going to have another session of bent sticks and pulled strings. On my first cast I got bitten off, David did the same and Capt. Jim had a good bluefish. As David and me contemplated the tying in of a wire tippet, we both spotted some stripers. Casting our Clousers we both got hooked up to stripers. The session lasted some forty minutes before we lost the fish.

As we moved out into the bay Gene called across to say "Stripers moving off the point" Capt.Jim quickly changed direction, in a minute or so it was time to start another drift towards an area known as the Cave and Rock Gardens. I quickly had two more blues followed by several stripers. We were having one of those days we all dream about. Over dinner the previous evening I said to David "It would be nice if we could get a few striped bass tomorrow as its our last session" At the end of the drift, it was time to head back to the East Greenwich dock . We had to drive to Boston for our flight home. To end the day in style, the American Airlines check in girl gave us two first class seat. If you want to sample the fishing in Rhode Island contact Captain Jim White by E-mail

Martin James Fishing