As you start to catch larger fish, the issue of how to land them successfully becomes more important. So here are some tips on how to land fish if you gaff, net or swing them into the boat.
Gaffing large fish
(you aim to keep)
I spoke with Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too charters out of Pt. Judith who often takes customers fishing for large striped bass, tuna and sharks said, “If we are going to keep the fish we always gaff the larger striped bass.”
Although he and his customers often practice catch and release, Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters said, “Gaffing is the best way to land a large fish you are going to keep. Try to get the fish horizontal to the boat so you have a larger target for the gaff and bring the gaff toward the boat.”
Getting the fish horizontal to the boat also gives you a good shot at the best place to gaff the fish which is in its back behind the gill plate. Start your gaffing swing out of the water, bringing the gaff towards the vessel and continue the swing after gaffing the fish bringing the fish up out of the water and into the boat. Be prepared for a bloody mess when gaffing a fish and the chance that you may destroy some of the best meat on the fish. Be safe and very careful not to have fellow angler’s arms in the water when gaffing and be sure no one is in the area you are going to start or end your swing.
Swinging fish into the boat
This method is reserved for smaller keeper fish (not catch and release) and can be risky as the fish can get away; particularly at the outer edge of your swing (it may swing right off the hook). Grabbing the leader close (about two feet) from the fish with a glove is important and never grab braid line as it will cut your hand, particularly when the weight of a struggling fish is added).
I often use this method when trolling with tube and worm for striped bass or blue fish. I bring the fish as close to the boat as I can and grab the rubber tube… with large fish I take the second hand and grab the fish under the gill plate and lift/swing the fish into the boat. I often use this method when fishing myself with summer flounder and tautog, but have lost fish in the process.
Make sure no one is the area where you plan to bring the fish over the gunnel and into the boat. That includes your own leg. I have punctured my leg with the dorsal fin of striped bass using the method hitting my leg with the fish as it swings into the boat rather than stopping the swing as the fish hits the deck of the boat.
Netting fish a safe bet
I have found netting fish the safest and most effective way to boat a fish, but it is often difficult to do when by yourself. Additionally, netting fish allows you to practice catch and release no matter what species you are targeting. I have found rubber nets to be most effective in capturing fish (the wet rubber is less abrasive to the fish and better for catch and release) and the rubber avoids time-wasting tangles with tackle, hooks, fish teeth and sharp fins.
Netting tips include leading the fish into the net head first (as I have never seen a fish swim backwards at capture). Move or swing the net towards the boat. Netting large fish often becomes a two-person job, leading the fish into the net head first and then lifting a large fish in the net out of the water and into the boat.
Make sure the fish is ready
Making sure the fish has given up and is ready to be taken is important. If the fish is diving downward, making a run, etc. hold off trying to land it as it may not be ready to come in. However, if you should see a fish surface and sort of roll on its side a bit it is generally ready to land.
New owner at the Tackle Box
Long time Tackle Box employee, Tom Giddings, has purchased the shop from Greg Burning. Tom said, “It is great to own the Tackle Box. I am keeping things pretty much the same as Greg, the former owner, had things set up pretty good.” The Tackle Box is located at 443 West Shore Road, Warwick, R.I.
Where’s the bite
Angler Bob Murry on Skipjack reported great fluke fishing off the south side of Block Island on Thursday and Friday of last week. Bob said, “We caught fish to 8.4 pounds on Thursday and did well on Friday too.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “It was a great week for fluke fishing with one of the best trips in at least the past three or four years last Thursday with everyone on the boat limiting out with eight fish per angler. Sixty fish were between five and eight pounds.” Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Fishing at the wind farm south of Block Island has been good. Fishing along the coastal shore has been less productive with some nice fish being taken in 60 to 70 feet of water with smaller fish in the low water.” “Fishing south of the Jamestown Bridge has yielded some large fluke for customers,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick.
fishing remains fairly strong on the southwest side of Block Island with fish being taken with eels. Fishing at night has been better,” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, said, “Chris Catucci (of Warwick), who works here at the Tackle Box, caught a 40-pound striped bass on his kayak fishing top water lures at the mouth of Narrow River last week. We also have reports of large bass still being caught in the Providence River.” “The striped bass bite off Newport is good. Anglers are catching them with eels in Block Island. Sunday we weighed in a 48-pound Block Island bass. Anglers are also catching them with eels and trolling tube and worm off Newport using red and orange tubes… the bass bite has slowed greatly in the Bay,” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.
Black sea bass and scup
fishing remains strong just about everywhere. I fished with the Lamarre family (led by 8-year-old Joe) Saturday and they had no trouble catching a dozen nice keeper scup to 18 inches on the west side of Jamestown north of the bridge in an hour and a half. Anglers continue to catch their limit (three fish/angler/day) of black sea bass when fishing for summer flounder. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The number of black sea bass varied from trip to trip last week, but many limits were observed, which made a nice compliment to customers fluke fishing.” “Scup are everywhere and they are large this year. We weighed in three fish over two pounds,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box.
Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “Scup are all over from the Warren River to Independence Park, Bristol as well as Ft. Adams in Newport and Ft. Wetherill, Jamestown. Shore anglers are doing good and the guys that have boats even better.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “We have a lot of scup bot at Sabin Point and Conimicut Point with sea robins mixed it.”
“The bluefish bite
has been very good in the mid-Bay area with large fish being taken at Ohio Ledge, Warwick Light and at Conimicut Light,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box. “Blues are in the Providence and Seekonk Rivers as well as at Sabin Point and Conimicut Point,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.
“The bluefin bite improved last week with a number of fish in the 50- to 60-inch range being taken at the northwest corner of the Dump and a few school-size bluefin in the 27-inch to 45-inch range being taken south of Montague. However, the full moon seemed to slow down the yellow fin and big eye bite further off shore. There were plenty of mako and thresher sharks being caught last week,” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina.
Fresh water fishing.
“We continue to see an increase interest in carp fishing. We have had several Barrington residents come in with visitors from Europe wanting to participate in our carp fishery as it has gained in stature thanks to Dave Pickering and others,” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.