Winter is long, but the advent of spring awakens local anglers with the promise of great bay fishing.
The Portsmouth-based Aquidneck Island Striper Team held its annual winter meeting on Dec. 21. It was packed, a sure sign of angling camaraderie and the spirit of giving through their annual toy drive.
Generally set for established members, the club is always warmly welcoming new ones.
“There is lots going on this month,” said outgoing President Kurt Rivard. “We are doing a toy drive, a canned food drive, discussing having a table at the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association Show, and elections of officers. We will also be discussing memberships, tournaments, Leadfest (the annual making of lead sinkers and weights) and our annual AIST charter options.”
For the club’s annual Hasbro Children’s Hospital toy and canned food drive, members piled up bags full of new toys and canned goods, making it a success.
Dave Morton made an appearance to collect reels to be serviced. Two tables full of raffle ticket items – reels, line, lures, baits, weights, flies, other fishing gear, hats, shirts, you name it, were won by the 60 people in attendance.
Capt. B.J. Silvia and Mate Jackson of Flippin’ Out Charters presented a slideshow on striped bass tactics, such as tube and worm eeling, how to use electronic equipment and etiquette, among other topics.
“Some days they hit the tubes; some days they hit the eels,” said Silvia of the fisherman’s lament. “When you are doing tubing right, it catches big fish. And having a good deck hand is a key.”
“I agree with that,” said deck hand Jackson. “Basically, whatever bait you want to put on the back of it, [the tube] will work.”
He showed a gigantic striper on the slideshow, as big as a man, caught on tubes.
“This day, I went over to the spot, and I saw one monster mark on the fish [finder] machine,” Silvia said. “And we caught that monster mark. My rod just keeled over. I never saw a rod that bent like that. We don’t know how big the fish was, 60-something pounds.” (He then revealed that mates had accidentally dropped the loading scale in the water).
Legendary Swansea angler and author, Charlie Soares, who has fished with Silvia, was on hand to see the show. “Charlie’s tubes are awesome because he uses a twoturn hook, a really solid hook,” said Silvia.
Colors matter. “The big stripers just want orange,” he added. “Orange and red. There are days where they will not touch the eels. We try every trick in the book.”
As for the fishery itself, Silvia has never seen stripers look better or more plentiful. “A lot of healthy fish this year,’ he said. “The most fish I’ve seen in, like, forever. Enough fish for everyone.”
Additional discussion surrounded the pros, and mostly cons, of being forced to use circle hooks with bait. “Setting the hook used to be a fun part of fishing,” Silvia said. “We allowed [fisheries management] to change the game on us.”